icnext 7: Israel in Focus


Photographs in this exhibit were taken by the 25 student members of israel.cleveland.next (icnext) Cohort 7, during their Israel Mission in June of 2019. Creating and curating this exhibit is one of their leadership engagement projects. The exhibit will travel to various educational settings throughout our community, engaging and educating those who see it about Israel. icnext is a unique experience – yearlong educational program with a second year Fellowship opportunity that educates a dedicated group of Cleveland’s Jewish 10th and 11th graders to become the next generation of Israel advocates in high school and on their college campuses. icnext prepares… Israel advocates and Jewish leaders.

During the 2 years of involvement, participants attend seminars, take part in an exchange program with teens from Beit Shean/Emek HaMayanot, and enjoy a 10-day fact-finding trip to Israel. Ultimately, they are leading educational and cultural activities designed to build understanding and support for the state of Israel.

Members of icnext Cohort 7: Yossi Berkowitz, Ana Butze, Shai Galili, Ezra Galili, Micah Goldfarb, Isaiah Jacobs, Sophia Jennings, Spencer Kawalek, Max Kornblut, Ariel Lawton, Emma Lenson, Hannah Light, Zachary Mangel, Noam Paz, Alexa Plotkin, Rylan Polster, Rebecca Powers, Naomi Reizes, Eli Rosner, Jacob Rudin-Luria, Zachary Segar, Laine Silverman, Avery Steinberg, Gabriel Wolf, Ben Wyant.

The Photo Exhibit Team: Yossi Berkowitz, Micha Goldfarb, Hannah Light, Ori Milman (Shin Shinit), Noam Paz, Naomi Reizes, Laine Silverman, Gabe Wolf 
Project Advisor: Morgan Mann


As our Cohort prepared for the June 2019 Israel Mission, there was much conversation about taking pictures in Israel. Amnon stressed that we needed an immense number of high quality pictures to produce an effective photo exhibit. We needed a few themes that photographers could focus on so that they could pay attention to taking a good picture, and not have to worry about what to actually take a picture of. To identify these themes, we used the foolproof method of brainstorming. As we all shouted out possibilities, Amnon was writing down the words he heard to be possible themes. English, Hebrew and acronyms from both were included, and by the end Amnon was the only one who could understand what was on the board. After translation into language suitable for humans, we had a nice, simple list of 6 themes to photograph while we were in Israel. And in the end, the group completely ignored the results of this laborious process.

A plethora of relatively high quality pictures were taken in Israel. However, when the photo exhibit group began to meet after the trip, the ruse was up and it became clear that nobody had paid any attention to our planned themes. While the photo exhibit group was originally supposed to simply choose the pictures that fit best with the themes, they now had the responsibility of creating our trip’s entire identity basically from scratch. So they got to work. They looked at all of the photographs, and started to see that these pictured revealed that our trip had
four natural themes: B’Achutz (Out of Doors), Jerusalem, B’Ir (In the City) and The People of Israel.

Using these themes, our group categorized the pictures, then chose the best few from each to be part of the exhibit. While all of the pictures looked awesome, some seemed to capture the moment as we experienced it more successfully when put in black and white. However, even after completing this process the exhibit still seemed incomplete. Looking through the pictures that had been discarded because they hadn’t fit the theme perfectly, it became obvious that they were just as important to our experience in Israel as those that easily fit the centralized ideas. The decision was made to put these pictures in a fifth category, Best Of (The Trip) category. This category now includes gems like group pictures, random objects, and Ben dunking on a (somewhat shortened) basketball hoop. Yet even then, the exhibit was not finished. While doing our final review, a member of the group had insisted, with good reason, that several photographs needed to remain in their original color version, and this adjustment was also made. Ultimately, these five categories work together to create an exhibit that genuinely shows what our time in Israel was like.

This is not a photographic representation of our experience in Israel: This is our experience in Israel.

Zach Segar, icnext Cohort 7