Photo Exhibit: Courage and Freedom

Tomer/Tomerika. His dream is a reality, at least in pictures. (Photo: Rachel Herman)

Aviad and Rachel Herman post Facebook challenge that results in photography exhibition exploring courage of the disabled. Another show displays the fruitful collaboration of two mentally challenged artists, one from Israel and one from Britain

Tomer is a young man who more than anything wanted to become a woman. But his dream couldn’t come true – not because of the usual reasons, but because he has cancer. The treatments made his dream almost impossible.

Tomer’s story is one of many presented in “Swan Lake,” a new photography exhibition that focuses on courage and freedom in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

The exhibit curators, Aviad and Rachel Herman, were inspired to launch the exhibition through their friendship with Tomer. They realized that plenty of people needed some inspiration to pursue their own dreams.

How to go about it? The Herman siblings spread the word on Facebook, urging photographers from all over the world to send in pictures of people who lived life to the fullest, despite mental or physical disabilities. The response was rapid, and the exhibition quickly took shape.

Everyone involved in the project, including the photographers, volunteered their time and effort.

“When my brother first told me about the idea, I saw its potential to touch people, change their lives,” said Rachel Herman. “I was really

excited, and I devoted myself to making it a reality.” Rachel took the pictures of the Hermans’ friend Tomer that appear in the exhibit.

“Tomer and I connected immediately. When we talked about what to photograph, and what he dreamt of being, he got excited at the thought that his dream could come true in pictures. On the day of the shoot, ‘Tomerika’ was revealed, stronger than ever.”

Another photo by Lior Eldad portrays a group from Amihai – an association of people with various disabilities who work together to achieve their dreams. Nimrod Kapeluto chose to focus on Eitan Oved, who lost his leg in a car accident at age 20 but who kayaks across the Sea of Galilee every Friday.

Other photographs included a mentally challenged girl who began indoor climbing; a group of breast cancer patients; and an AIDS patient from Sweden.

“We decided to create a photography exhibition… that would inspire courage, freedom, personal expression, and a love for life. Everyone is welcome to come visit,” said Rachel and Aviad Herman.

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