In the summer of 1994, days after the Iranian-orchestrated bombing of the main Jewish community offices in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed, I flew to Argentina for The Jerusalem Report to write a cover story on the aftermath of the blast - an attack that had come just two years after the Israeli Embassy in the same city had been blown up. Accompanying me was the Report's Argentinean-born photographer, Esteban Alterman.
Esteban, who had immigrated to Israel three years earlier, acted as guide, translator and fixer - helping, notably, to secure an interview with the terrified president Carlos Menem, who plainly believed he was next on the Iranian hit list. But mainly, of course, Esteban took photographs - pictures of a shell-shocked Jewish community, a shell-shocked nation.
The cover photo we chose when we got back home to Jerusalem shows an Argentinean woman caught in the crowd at a post-bomb rally. She wears a yellow "Jewish star" on the lapel of her tailored jacket. The handle of her umbrella vertically bisects her face. And she looks at the camera with eyebrows raised. "Tell me," she seems to be asking, "are the Jews of Argentina being abandoned to the forces of darkness?"
Warm, modest, gifted and passionate about his work, Esteban, who is 46 and married with two young children, has taken dazzling photographs for The Jerusalem Report for almost 20 years. But he can't anymore. Last year he was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease widely known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Thirty-five of his most striking portraits go on exhibit from today, Friday, at the Jerusalem Theater. Life in a Frame is the poignant title of the exhibit. I encourage you to go see it. And please feel free to contact Esteban directly about framed photographs and prints, at