“Eternal Childhood,”exhibition highlights the importance of acceptance and inclusion in our society

“I just wanted to be a fly on the wall,” says internationally acclaimed photographer Vardi Kahana, the mind and the talent behind the exhibition “Eternal Childhood,” currently on display at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv. And so began a fascinating project, intended to familiarize the public with the world of people with disabilities, thereby increasing their acceptance and inclusion in society.

When Kahana shared her idea with Naama Sudkewitz, Director of ALEH Moriah in Gedera, Sudkewitz immediately secured approval from her residents’ parents. She then gave the photographer the keys to the center, enabling her to observe and photograph the residents over time, in a wide variety of contexts. In addition to photographing residents at ALEH itself, Kahana also joined them for outings to the beach and the supermarket.

The result of patient work over an extended period, the exhibition is a stunning collection of large-scale, high-definition photographs of ALEH Moriah’s residents going about their daily lives – sitting on the beach, buying peppers at the supermarket, blowing bubbles, watching television, and other slices of life. A quick glance at the photographs would not reveal the difference between these children and others, and that is exactly the point that the exhibition is trying to make: individuals with disabilities have an equal place in society and should be accepted just like anyone else. The exhibition’s venue, in the passage between the two buildings of busy Dizengoff Center, will expose thousands of people to these photographs and their important message during the coming month.

The exhibition’s opening event on February 7 marked the beginning of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) and was attended by ALEH staff and Board members, parents of residents, some of the residents who are featured in the photos, and members of the general public. Sudkewitz, Kahana, Director General of ALEH Center Yehuda Marmorstein, and the parent of an ALEH resident all spoke at the event, each one focusing on different aspects of ALEH’s unparalleled dedication and loving care for Israeli children with severe complex disabilities.