Through Others' Eyes 2017

The Through Others’ Eyes program culminated their yearlong photography and encounter work with a three-week visit to the United States. The first two weeks the group stayed at Camp Shomria in New York, run by Hashomer Hatzair. At the camp, the youth engaged in self and group exploration through photography and camp activities, and interacted with the American Jewish campers, which widened their conception of group and community. Being away from Israel and the influence of media and their families, combined with living together had a profound impact on the Israelis. As they were in a setting that is foreign to all, they focused on their similarities rather than differences, became freer to discuss difficult political issues, and increased their cohesiveness as a group.  American Jewish campers also had the chance to become friends with Arab and Jewish Israelis and learn about the situation in Israel firsthand rather than from the news or preconceived notions.

The group also traveled to New York City to exhibit their work and share their experience in the program and message for peace and shared society in Israel. This year Through Others Eyes’ was featured in a major exhibition event at the Puffin Foundation’s Cultural Forum on Sunday, July 30th. The event included speeches by three of the youth and their Program Director – Samer Atamni. This year’s event was a major success, bringing together both new and old supporters of the program. This year was also the first time some of the photographs were sold to event attendees!

Following their exhibition, the group spent three days in New York City, participating in a number of famous tourist activities – sunset walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, dinner at Shake Shack, a visit to Coney Island and much more. Additionally the group visited the Islamic Cultural Center of New York and listened to a lecture from the Palestinian Imam about the realities of Jewish-Muslim relations in NYC. We were also lucky enough this year to have a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the theme, “Exploring Art through Cultures.” 

This year was the first year of a new tradition, bringing Through Others’ Eyes to Houston, Texas! One of our board members is a Houstonian and worked for months to raise the money to bring a small group of the youth and their program director to Houston for two photography exhibition events at Congregation Emanu El and Temple Sinai, and a youth exchange with the Houston Center for Photography’s Collaborations program. We had a wonderful time connecting with the community and forming new friendships in Texas!

Overall it was a wonderful conclusion to a year of hard work, challenges met, and new lifelong bonds formed. Upon departing the United States, the youth pledged to make their final exhibition in Israel not an end to the program –  but the beginning of their new status as Ambassadors for Peace, working together and staying connected to share the values they gained and put to use over the year and during the summer in the United States.