May 29 2013 12:00 AM

Photography exhibit depicts relocation of Ethiopian Jews


“It Takes a Village: From Gondar to Jerusalem” begins the minute you get off the elevator on the fourth floor of the Michigan State University College of Law. As you walk along, you follow the journey — told in 37 photographs — of a group of Ethiopian Jews from their home city in east Africa to their resettlement in Israel. 

“It shows what it really took to get from a rural existence to a place where they could prepare themselves for their new life,” said Lisabeth Lobenthal, director of Israel and Global philanthropy of the Jewish Agency for Israel, at the exhibit´s reception last week.

Stan Kaplowitz, president of the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation and MSU professor emeritus of sociology, said the emotional response captured in the photos of the group arriving left the biggest impact on him.

The photos were taken by Offer Dahan, a former employee of the Jewish Agency of Israel, and Atalia Katz, an independent photographer. Lobenthal said the photos were taken over the course of several visits, beginning 30 years ago with Operation Moses in 1984. She said that program moved about 8,000 Ethiopian Jews out of Ethiopia, and in 1991, over 14,000 more were moved during Operation Solomon.

She said the photos highlight both the agency’s work and the journey of the people. The exhibit focuses on the Jewish Agency’s compound in Gondar, which was established to address a variety of needs, ranging from language training to medical treatment. 

“It Takes a Village: From Gondar to Jerusalem”
Through June 7
MSU College of Law,
648 N. Shaw Lane, MSU campus, East Lansing
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday