In Search of Human Grace
In Search of Human Grace is a unique story of what was left of the Jewish community in Georgia following the major exodus of the ‘80s and the ‘90s, when most of the Jews left their homes and immigrated to Israel or to other places around the world. This exhibition is also the tale of a group of Israelis, , who set out on a journey to their Jewish roots; to tell the story of the Jewish People’s moments of grace and concern for its most remote communities.
With a sensitive and inquisitive eye, the exhibition explores how the Georgian Jewish community, from being a thriving and flourishing community in the past, turned into small communities that no longer functioned. The Jewish community in Georgia was left with nothing and was on the verge of severe humanitarian crisis. It was the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) that entered the scene, by creating Hesed Welfare Centers. Today, one hundred and sixty five thousand people throughout the Former Soviet Union receive assistance through these Hesed Centers.
The photographs in this exhibition capture moments of Grace and Hope.
Nana Debishvilli, a journalist and co-director at the "Violin Theater", the Georgian satirical musical theater in Ashdod, says: "From the moment I set my feet on the land of Israel, I became an Israeli. But the heart, you know, has two chambers, and the two chambers for me are Tbilisi and Ashdod. This is my home."
The JDOCU group embarked on a journey to the Georgian community in Israel, to listen and see the two chambers of the heart beat together. They were with the community in times of joy and sorrow, work and at home, in synagogues and at community events.
The result of this journey is 'Our Homeland' – a unique portrait of an exciting community taken by 10 photographers.
Eli Atias, a member of the group and curator of the exhibition says: "It is a great privilege to document a different community and culture, and process human substance into digital raw materials that contain our accumulated experiences. In this exhibition we show only a small part of the vibrant community life of the Georgian community in Israel, but I think that we managed to faithfully document the community which is so dear to our hearts".
Nana Debishvilli concludes: "Being an Israeli means "The Jewish soul is yearning". We got it from our grandfathers and fathers, at home. Home is the real University of Life".
The Island within an Island
"The Island within the Island" tells the story of the isolated Jewish community in Cuba. On the 50th anniversary of the communist revolution, Jdocu people landed on the Island just to realize how a community that almost disappeared, is rebuilding itself and becomes a vibrant and supporting community to its members.
During the periods of the World Wars in the 20th century, Cuba was a shelter for tens of thousands of Jewish refugees. It would take fifteen years from the conclusion of WWII before that entire community disappeared as if swallowed by the earth. The sense of temporariness, embedded in the community from its inception, prodded the Jews onto the ships in Havana harbor for the short sail to the United States, their final destination.
Yet, with love and commitment, the Jews who did stay on the island continued to build their Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues and schools and communal institutions. The members of Jdocu took pictures, family by family. They are filled with a sense of urgency and pride, and when they look into to the camera you hear them say: We are proud Cubans. We've held on for all these long and difficult years. And we are proud of who we are. We are part of the Jewish people.