Jessica Leveton and Ruby Blachowitz, matric students at Herzlia, are some of several high school students from around the world whose photographs have been chosen to be exhibited at the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv.
Each year, the Jewish Lens, an international organisation that aims to guide the exploration of Jewish values and identity through the medium of photography, runs a competition with participants from over 20 countries. The competition is aimed at Jewish students and requires entrants to submit photographs that relate to Judaism and Jewish identity in their own communities. In Cape Town, the Jewish Lens competition is run by the South African Jewish Museum in conjunction with Cameraland, with the images also being exhibited at the latter destination on Long Street until the end of March.
Both Ruby and Jessica’s pieces have been displayed in the Jewish Lens Gallery at the Museum of the Jewish People since 22 March as part of the 2019-2020 competition exhibition. The students, who both take visual art as one of their electives, entered the competition at the end of their grade 11 year in 2019 and were informed of the results in early February.
Jessica’s piece, titled Reflections, captures Jessica’s sister holding a siddur. She says, “What I was trying to incorporate into the photo was an idea of confusion, uncertainty, because I took a picture of a reflection of my sister and you couldn’t tell at first glance looking at the picture that it was a reflection. So, I wanted to get across how I feel in Judaic society. Like I’m not sure where I stand as a Jewish person.” Jessica played with the idea of reflection physically and figuratively to explore her own conflict regarding her positionality in Judaism.
Ruby’s photograph was taken during the March of the Living trip, on which she embarked last year. She says of her piece, “At this moment we were on the march in Israel to the Kotel to show that we survived. Thousands of youth from all around the world, coming together to show our strength, power and that no matter how you try, no one can get rid of us. I took this photograph to try to make everyone who sees it feel the same sense of empowerment that I felt that day.”
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