Another exhibition which I visited last week at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv was the very interesting and moving exhibition of photographs named Foto Rachel – open to the public until March 30. It marks and brings testimony from one of the remarkable moments in the fight of survival of the Jewish people, its return to the homeland and the formation of the state of Israel at the end of the 1940s.

foto Rachel

Rachel Fisher was born in Cluj (today in Romania) in 1926 and lives today in Haifa. Her family owned a photo shop and she received her first camera at the age of 15. Cluj was part of Northern Transylvania which fell under Hungarian rule during the second world war, as the Jews of Cluj shared the same fate as all Jews of Hungary (excepting those who were living in Budapest) and were deported to the death camps. From all the family only Rachel and her mother survived. When she returned back to Cluj she married her boyfriend Yehuda and they took the way to Eretz Israel.

behind barbed wires - again

These was the period between the approval of the plan of partition of Palestine by the UN in November 1947 and the proclamation of the state of Israel in 1948. The British had closed the gates of Jewish immigration in order not to change the demographic balance of the area, and the immigrants from Europe were deported in camps in Cyprus. These camps operated between 1946 and 1949. Many of the internees were survivor of the death camps. Rachel and her husband arrived in such a camp on January 1st 1948. Soon after they opened a photo shop in the camp, and photographed the life there. 146 negatives survived, and the form the base of the exhibition today.

haircut

I know the story from many sources, books and films, but also first hand from my own family. Liliana’s uncle David Moscovici was also interned with his family in such a camp. These were certainly not extermination camps, life was rough but acceptable. The principal pressure was psychological, as people who underwent and survived the Holocaust in Europe were again deprived of their freedom, and prevented to reach the shored of their new country.

the Zionist Worker factory

Yet, they could organize their own economic and social life and prepare for the alyah and the life in the future new state. Workshops opened, and people trained in skills and crafts.

playing games to pass the time

Much of the time was spent in waiting.

sculpture workshop

Arts also started to be created. A sculpture shop created works which were sold.

art exhibition in the camp

Painting was also created here – and exhibitions opened.

Shraga Weil - Winter Camp nr. 65

Here is one of the works belonging to Shraga Weil present in the exhibition. I am not sure if it represents a camp in Cyprus however, or rather reflects his experience during the war – as the wikipedia entry about him says that he immigrated illegally to Palestine in 1947 and settled in kibutz HaOgen without having passed through the camps in Cyprus.

preparing for the wedding

Life continued in the camp in what must have been a strange type of normality. Weddings took place …

a new born in the camp

… and children were born.

May Day parade

Holidays were respected but also the new celebrations of the Socialist beginnings of the young state.

locking the camp

A few months the proclamation of the state the doors of immigration of the state of Israel opened and the camps were closed. Rachel Fisher caught in a picture the last moments of existence of the camp.

What happened with my wife’s uncle? He also reached the state of Israel soon after the proclamation and almost immediately was sent as a medic on the front of the war of Independence. Then he started to work, but the salary of a doctor was not enough to keep a family, so at nights he worked in the orange pardesim in Petakh-Tikvah. In time he became one of the well-known and beloved doctors in Herzlya.