“From Tesfa to Tikvah: From Hope to Hope,”

“From Tesfa to Tikvah: From Hope to Hope,” an exhibition of 20 photographs by Irene Fertik about Israel’s Ethiopian community, is at the Gershman Y’s Open Lens Gallery (www. gershmany.org) through to August 7th.

Born in Philadelphia, Fertik is the daughter of the late Fannie Fertik, who wrote about kosher cooking in the pages of this newspaper for many years. The photographer, who now resides in California, travels to Israel every year, primarily to follow their Ethiopian community.

Tesfa means “hope” in Amharic; Tikvah is “hope” in Hebrew. The transition from the language of their former homeland to that of their new home is just one small indication of the many changes and adaptations this community has faced since moving to Israel almost 20 years ago. The move from isolated agrarian mountain villages in Ethiopia to a modern technological culture in the Jewish state has meant incredible sacrifices for the older immigrants and enormous challenges for their children.

For a photographer such as Fertik, this transition offers a veritable cornucopia of images.

According to Fertik, “The visual contrasts are extraordinary — an ancient African people in a mostly white modern society. A young boy who was a shepherd in Gondor is now a computer jockey in Tel Aviv.”

Fertik’s photographs show both aspects of the Ethiopian reality in Israel. An intimate family moment — an obvious reminder of the old ways and traditional clothing — is juxtaposed against a group of 21st-century kids in T-shirts and jeans leaning against a modern bus.

Israel’s Ethiopian community now numbers 85,000. From this pool of possible subjects, Fertik has managed to create an intimate portfolio that has caught the attention of galleries and museums from Israel to Europe, as well as throughout the United States.

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