First piloted by Eshel in 2012, Photography with Joy has proven to be a life-changing experience for hundreds of Holocaust survivors.
In this program, each cohort involves fifteen survivors who meet weekly and take photography trips over a period of four months. Through therapeutic photography, survivors learn to confront their traumatic past and tell their story to the world, using their own creativity. The participants create a portfolio of photographs that helps them share and process their experiences of the Holocaust and its continued impact on their and their families’ lives.
At the conclusion of the course, an exhibition of their work is publically displayed and the public – including schools and army personnel - are invited to attend and hear the survivors present their picture and tell their personal story as part of the program. Survivors continually remark that the opportunity to exhibit their work and share their stories is both cathartic and empowering.
To date, 28 programs have taken place throughout Israel – with tens of thousands of people having visited and been impacted by Photography with Joy exhibitions throughout Israel, the USA and England. In 2016, one-time exhibits of Photography with Joy were hosted at both the Knesset and the House of Lords in London, England, where survivors presented their artwork and shared their stories.
In 2017, Eshel launched a new intergenerational model of the program in which high school students work with survivors in the photography class. These young Israelis will learn about the survivors' stories and the survivors will be able to share their stories with a new generation.
Able to better cope with personal memories and traumas associated with their past