Israel: Then & Now Opens at Maltz Museum before traveling the country

A new world premiere special exhibition has launched at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Israel: Then & Now is a first of its kind special exhibition that invites visitors to see the landmarks, learn the history, explore the culture, and meet the people of Israel — without leaving Cleveland. This is the only exhibition on Israel of its kind, making its debut in Cleveland before traveling across the country. Former Israeli Ambassador Ido Aharoni who acted as senior consultant to the project said, “No place is perfect, including Israel… but this exhibit transcends differences to look at what Israel has been able to accomplish in 70 years.” On view now through May 12, Tuesday – Sunday, 11AM to 5PM & Wednesdays until 9PM; included with general admission, members are free (2929 Richmond Rd, Beachwood; 216-593-0575; maltzmuseum.org).

Now in his late 80s, Maltz Museum’s founder Milton Maltz envisioned this exhibition coming to life as he stood at his hotel room window, gazing out to the city of Tel Aviv. He marveled at how Israel had changed over the last seventy years, from desert to sky scrapers, and he knew he wanted to tell the story of Israel: Then & Now. Working in partnership with the world-renowned exhibition production company, Gallagher & Associates, the Maltz Museum began the year and a half long process of collaborating with contributing curator and historian Lauren Strauss, PhD, of American University, in addition to senior consultant, former Israeli Ambassador Ido Aharnoi, a professor at New York University’s School of International Relations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Artifacts were identified and secured, historic images and milestone moments were selected and mounted, and voices of Israeli’s answering questions that both American and Israeli Jews grapple with were recorded to be shared here in the United States.

One young woman, Or Seri, from Israel who was interviewed by Gallagher & Associates arranged to be in Cleveland during the exhibition. She arrived with her father and brother to the Maltz Museum to see herself and her country on display. She said, “One of the questions they asked me was about whether Israelis and Palestinians can live together. And of course I answered yes. Because I believe all people can live together peacefully, freely and securely with equal opportunities, respecting each other. Eventually all conflicts can be solved.” Visitors are invited to listen to opposing views to questions like this one, then cast their own vote. “As Israelis it’s interesting to see how this exhibit shows Israel. It reminds you that even with all the criticism it’s a quite impressive place to live in. I would even say it’s a miracle. It’s nice to look at yourself from the outside and feel proud. It’s a very positive expression,” she said.

Managing Director David Schafer knew he wanted the special exhibition to debut in 2018, as part of the Cleveland community’s celebration of Israel at 70. “We couldn’t think of a better time to produce this exhibition,” said Schafer. “Politics aside, we set out to explore Israel beyond media headlines. There is so much more to Israel than conflict.”

This year marks Israel’s 70th birthday. The exhibition, Israel: Then & Now, looks at what the country has accomplished in just seven decades. An intro film goes back 2,000 years to when the Jewish people were living in the land of Israel. Displaced by war, most Jews fled only to be rejected across the globe for religious beliefs. Ultimately, the Jewish people found hope for themselves and their children in 1948, when Israel was declared the first Jewish state and many Jews returned to the land of their ancestors. But, what would come of the land, the people, and a culture? Visitors are invited to take a look back and imagine what’s ahead through milestone moments, historic images, interactive media, and film to explore Israel: Then & Now.

Surrounding the special exhibition is a robust season of programming, the result of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between two great educational institutions: Case Western Reserve University’s Siegal Lifelong Learning Program and Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

“In partnership, we have organized a full season of dynamic Israel programs designed to engage, enrich, and educate,” said Alanna Cooper, Director of Jewish Lifelong Learning at CWRU who worked with Dahlia Fisher, Director of External Relations at the Maltz Museum to create the programming. Gallery talks, lectures and discussions, arts and culture events, and family fun activities offer something for most ages and interests. See the full program guide here >>>

Israel: Then & Now is on view now through May 12, Tuesday – Sunday, 11AM – 5PM & Wednesdays until 9PM; included with general admission, free for members. For more information about the exhibition or programming offerings, please contact 216.593.0575