PhotographyJewish History

Poland and Palestine: Two Lands and Two Skies

Feb 26, 2015–May 25, 2015

Poland and Palestine: Two Lands and Two Skies is an exhibition of approximately fifty images made in the 1930s by photographer Ze’ev (Wilhelm) Aleksandrowicz. The images selected for this exhibition depict everyday life for Jews in Poland and the British Mandate before the Founding of the State of Israel in 1948. 

about the exhibition

Aleksandrowicz was born in Kraków in 1905 and became interested in photography as a young man. In the 1920s and 30s, he began work on a series of photography projects that took him around Poland and Europe as well as to Japan, the United States, Egypt, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He visited the Holy Land three times between 1932 and 1935 and took hundreds of photographs of life in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem, Tyberias, Hadera, and the Jezreel Valley. Aleksandrowicz died in Tel Aviv in 1992, his photography unknown. Eleven years after his death, his family discovered a suitcase full of his life’s work—over 15,000 negatives. The collection has since been scanned and catalogued in Israel’s National Library.

The images paint a powerful picture by showing their subjects, Polish Jews, in two distinct cultural contexts—in the streets of their home city and in distant Palestine. In turn, the photographs become the starting point for telling stories about the relationship between those two worlds, full of contrasts and contradictions. The exhibition also illustrates the highly personal journey of Aleksandrowicz between two essential capitals of Jewish culture in the twentieth century, with a focus on the vibrancy of Kraków, once known as the “Paris of the North,” and the rapidly-changing land that would soon become the State of Israel.

image gallery
about Ze’ev Aleksandrowicz

Ze’ev (Wilhelm) Aleksandrowicz (1905­–1992) was born in Kraków and became interested in photography as a young man. In the 1920s and 30s, he began work on a series of photography projects that took him around Poland and Europe as well as to Japan, the United States, Egypt, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He visited the Holy Land three times between 1932–1935 and took hundreds of photographs of life in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem, Tyberias, Hadera, and the Jezreel Valley. Aleksandrowicz died in Tel Aviv; his photography unknown. Eleven years after his death, his family discovered a suitcase full of his life’s work—over 15,000 negatives. The collection has since been scanned and catalogued in Israel’s National Library.

exhibition cataloG

The exhibition catalog for Poland and Palestine: Two Lands and Two Skies, consisting of portraits made in the 1930s by photographer Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz, is available through The Museum Store.

Supporters

Poland and Palestine: Two Lands and Two Skies was created by the Galicia Jewish Museum, Kraków (galiciajewishmuseum.org). Patron Sponsorship for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s presentation is provided by an Anonymous Donor, Gaia Fund, the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, and Anita and Ronald Wornick. Major Sponsorship is provided by the David Berg Foundation and Siesel Maibach. Participating Sponsorship is provided by Shelli Semler and Kyle Bach.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

Image Credit

Header image: Ze’ev Aleksandrowicz, Yehuda Carmel (1905-1989), his wife Hayke and his daughter Noa in Kibbutz Beit Zera, 1932. Carmel was born in Kraków to a wealthy Orthodox Jewish family and was one of the founding members of the kibbutz. Photograph, 131/5 x 194/5 in.