‘Iwill find beauty in anyone,” says photographer Karen Abramson, who made aliya
from Britain in 2007. Specializing in portraiture, she will soon be displaying
her works in the foyer of the Tel Aviv Opera House, where 12 of her works will
hang for a month in an exhibition titled “Faces of Israel.”
In the six
years since she arrived, she frequently left the home she shares with her
husband, Martin, in Herzliya Pituah to travel all over the country with her
faithful Nikon, often catching her subjects unawares.
“I love to
photograph people in their own environment,” she says, “and we are such a
melting pot here; there is no such thing as a typical Israeli face.”
work in some way compensates for the difficulties she encountered in the first
year – mainly loneliness, having left her three children and several
grandchildren in England.
“I used to walk along the beach with my dog and
ask myself what I’m doing here,” she recalls.
Since that initial time of
confusion, she has become involved in serious charity work as well as pursuing
her photography – and now, she says, she feels her aliya has meaning.
still misses her family but says cheerfully that as long as there’s El Al, she
can accept the separation.
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“I’m very much a hands-on grandmother,” she
says. “When they want me, I’m there.”
She and Martin were both very keen
Jewish National Fund workers back in Manchester, and that’s how they
Always a passionate Zionist, Karen became chairperson of the
Manchester group and even presided over the glittering event that brought Bill
Clinton over as guest speaker in 2001. “We raised a lot of money,” she
Living in Israel was always a consideration and they had owned a
home here for many years.
They were here within two weeks of deciding to
make aliya and soon after, she rented space in a Tel Aviv studio and set up as a
photographer specializing in children and later maternity. The business did not
go smoothly at first.
“The Israeli attitude is ‘why would I want a photo
of my child when I can see them every day?’” she reports
“And when they did make appointments, they never arrived
on time. I’ve had to learn to be extra tolerant.”
When she’s not
traveling around the country, she’s at work in her studio. But Thursdays are
reserved for another activity. That’s the day she travels to Jerusalem to
volunteer with the charity Ohr Meir U’Bracha, which offers support for terror
“I pack food parcels for Shabbat,” she explains. “It’s not
glamorous the way the JNF work was, but it’s important.
We take care of
400 families who have been traumatized by terror in the past, people who can’t
work and have many psychological problems.”
She got into the work through
her rebbetzin back in Manchester, whom she would telephone to talk about her
loneliness at the beginning. “She put me in touch with Liora Tedgi, a terror
victim herself, who founded and runs the charity, and after I began helping,
suddenly everything had a meaning,” she says.
If she sells any photos
from her exhibition, she intends to donate a percentage to the
“If there’s not enough money, people will go hungry,” she
Another project she has become involved with is the OR Movement,
established by two young men, Roni Flammer and Ofir Fisher to develop the Negev
according to Ben-Gurion’s dream and to bring people from the overcrowded center
of the country to new communities in the South.
“We got to know them also
through our JNF work, and we’re very involved,” she says.
are keen patrons of the opera in Israel and Karen is very happy that her
exhibition will be in a place she enjoys. “I think the cultural life here is
beyond belief and I’m very happy to support the opera, which I believe in,” she
Choosing 12 pictures out of thousands was not an easy task but she
feels she has picked a good representative selection of her work.
up in the United Kingdom, she says she did not experience anti-Semitism, but nevertheless has a much greater sense of freedom to
be herself in Israel.
“I really feel as though I belong here; I’m at
home,” she says. “At home I can talk to the cleaner about what we’re both going
to be cooking for Shabbat, what Purim outfits we’ll be looking for.
in. I know it sounds corny but on Yom Ha’atzmaut [Independence Day] I feel such
pride in my country.”
The exhibition will be the culmination of years
that she has spent viewing the world from her own particular
“I always try to see the positive side and not the
negative,” she says. “I’m very idealistic and I believe there is goodness in
everyone – I try to bring that out in my photos.”
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