New exhibition celebrates the beauty (yoffi) of Israel

Commissioning 36 artists who made aliyah from the former Soviet Union, their artwork is now presented to the public as part of the Yoffi shel Israel (Beauty of Israel) postcard exhibition.

 WESTERN WALL by Irina Peres. (photo credit: Yoffi)
WESTERN WALL by Irina Peres.
(photo credit: Yoffi)

Russian-born entrepreneur Arkady Mayofis founded YOFFI in 2015 after he made aliyah. YOFFI, a family-owned business, produces and markets Israeli gastronomic souvenirs sold in Israel and around the world. Following the coronavirus crisis and the social distance, YOFFI decided to connect between people through postcards that combine ancient and modern scenes of the Land of Israel. Commissioning 36 artists who made aliyah from the former Soviet Union, their artwork is now presented to the public as part of the Yoffi shel Israel (Beauty of Israel) postcard exhibition.

Over the past 50 years, more than 3000 artists have made aliyah from the Soviet Union to Israel. Israelis call them “Russians,” but in truth, they come from many different lands. The Soviet Union included in fact 15 large national republics, all of which were separate states, and each with its own art schools and educational institutions. Many of them were world-class institutions, responsible for accomplished artists with different styles and directions. 

Representatives of these schools ended up in Israel as well, adopting a new homeland, and reflecting on their experience in their work. Many of them arrived in Israel as well-known, established artists but not all of them are professional.

We conceived the Yoffi shel Israel project as more than art. It is primarily about all of us who made aliyah – we, who radically changed our lives and fell in love with our new homeland. Our artists arrived at different times to Israel – some 35 years ago, while others came just a few months ago. Some speak Hebrew perfectly and others are just starting ulpan. Among them are children, people with special needs, doctors, diplomats, and even a 90-year-old brigadier general. 

 Yoffi's art exhibition  presents the beauty of Israel through the eyes of Russian olim, former inhabitants of a once-great empire. (credit: Yoffi) Yoffi's art exhibition presents the beauty of Israel through the eyes of Russian olim, former inhabitants of a once-great empire. (credit: Yoffi)

It is for this reason that we chose postcards – a forgotten genre – because the project is not only about art but about each of us and our personal connection and recognition of Israel. Each artist depicted his own impressions of Israel in colorful postcards, and then wrote something very personal and significant to a loved one on the reverse side. Therefore, the motto of our project is “I am writing to you from...”

The fact that these are postcards is very important to us. Postcards are easier to distribute around the world, and unlike paintings they do not need to hang on the wall. They weigh almost nothing and present a warm representation of Israel. Especially during this pandemic period of lockdowns, social distancing and limited travel, these postcards bring the beauty of Israel closer to those who are far away. 

The Yoffi shel Israel exhibition will be held in Jerusalem for almost a month. We would like to expand it to different cities in Israel, perhaps even at Ben-Gurion Airport. We dream of exhibitions in other countries, of seeing our postcards “flying” around the world. We are sure that many in the world, seeing our postcards, will be very surprised at the beauty, positivity, and friendliness of Israel.

The YOFFI company produces gastronomic gifts grown and produced in Israel. With the help of dates, tehina, olives, pomegranates, herbal tea, honey and much more, we help shape the image of our country. Six years ago, immediately after we made aliyah, we decided that delicious can also be beautiful. For six years, we have been making delicious things. Excellent Israeli designers help us make these things beautiful. Today, YOFFI brand products are distributed in Europe, America, India and Latin America. In essence, we are engaged in gastronomic diplomacy. Creating unique, beautiful, and stylish postcards was a logical next step in helping express the beauty of Israel to the world. 

A unique postcard exhibition – “Yoffi shel Israel” (The beauty of Israel) – showcasing the works of 36 Russian-speaking Israeli artists will launch at the Jerusalem House of Quality, on Derech Hebron 12, on Wednesday, October 20. The postcard exhibition will run through November 15 and is open to the public at no charge. 

The writer is Russian-born entrepreneur Arkady Mayofis founded YOFFI in 2015 after he made aliyah. YOFFI, a family-owned business, produces and markets Israeli gastronomic souvenirs sold in Israel and around the world. Following the coronavirus crisis and the social distance, YOFFI decided to connect people through postcards that combine ancient and modern scenes of the Land of Israel. Commissioning 36 artists who made aliyah from the former Soviet Union, their artwork is now presented to the public as part of ‘Yoffi shel Israel’ postcard exhibition.