Professor Yossi Tamir, the Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Israel operation and a noted expert on the elderly, addressed a special gathering sponsored by the Israeli Mission to the UN on July 5, 2017 as part of the UN’s Open-end Working Group on Ageing conference. In addition, a photo exhibition – A New Look at Aging – featured original, bold, and witty photos from photographer Oren Biran taking an inventive look at the vibrant lives of Israeli seniors. Asher Kleingold, 87, who was featured in the photos,also shared his experiences as an active senior.
“We are proud to join with our colleagues at the Israeli Mission, and in the international community, to provide an unique look at aging—one that is reflective of the optimism, joy, and active lives of seniors,” said Professior Tamir. “While there are many challenges that seniors face, and innovative solutions that can ensure their independence and dignity, Oren Biran’s photography reminds us above all that the elderly remain keen to stay involved in their communities and our societies are best served by welcoming their talents, wisdom, and contribution.”
The photograph’s subjects are residents of the Nofei Yerushalayim senior housing facility in Jerusalem. The playful images, reflecting the wistful pleasures and excitement of seniors at play, coupling off, and enjoying a party, were aligned with JDC’s ongoing efforts in Israel to contribute to changing attitudes towards the elderly as well as to improve and strengthen the image of the elderly themselves. The photos were included in a calendar published by JDC’s ESHEL partnership, a JDC-Government of Israel initiative dedicated to services for seniors.
A variety of diplomatic delegations, as well as leaders in the New York Jewish community, took part take in the Israeli-sponsored event. Among them were JDC CEO David Schizer; the director of the Nofey Yerushalaim senior housing facility, Pnina Zolzbacher; and the exhibition’s photographer Oren Biran.
“Working on this project was exciting and empowering, drawing on our innate perseverance, emotional strength, and the ability to overcome the fears related to aging that we find in ourselves and others. By choosing realistic and timeliness scenes, I hope that viewers will connect to them and see themselves in the situation,” said Oren Biran. “The use of bold colors emphasizes the spirit of youth found in each subject and the basic humor and joy of life as a juxtaposition to the seriousness of aging. Working with the seniors, my personal heroes, I was impressed by their ability to move outside their comfort zone as simple people not used to being photographed and embracing the spotlight that turns them into cultural icons.”