Hamsa Aleinu is a joint initiative of Beit HaNasi – the President’s Office, and Vibe Israel. The exhibition brings to life Israel’s unique and groundbreaking story and sheds a light on the various faces of Israel that make up the cultural diversity of our society, and contribute to Israel’s success and fortitude in a variety of areas. Each of Israel’s “Tribes” – the secular, national religious, ultra-Orthodox, Arabs and the Jewish communities abroad – can be found in this exhibition, which features true stories of prominent and inspiring people, projects, and activities that are helping to shatter prejudice, change paradigms, and break down boundaries. The stories that make up the exhibition are living examples of what true cooperation amongst Israel’s Tribes can look like, and serve as an inspiration to us all.
Whatever the religious or ethnic origins of the palm-shaped amulet, today, it is simply an Israeli symbol.
Muslims, Christians, and Druze in Israel hang Hamsas on gold chains around their necks. Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel nail silver-plated Hamsas to the walls of their homes. And both religious and secular drivers in Israel dangle Hamsas from strings on their rear-view mirrors—without a swinging pendant at every hairpin turn, no Israeli drive would be quite complete.
The Hamsa Has the Power to Connect.
Some Israelis believe the Hamsa brings good luck. Others see magic in its mysterious origins, or beauty in its graceful curves and lines. But all Israelis love the Hamsa; it may be the one thing on which we can all agree.
Just as Israelis are all both alike and different, so too are Hamsas both the same and singular at once. They come in every color, and with endless decorative touches. They are made in every size, and from metals, wood, porcelain, and clay. They hold in their palm a wide-open eye, or delicate flowers and beads; they are spare and bold like a statement, or liberally embellished in blessings and prayers.
Every Hamsa, in the end, is a world unto itself: Five separate fingers, which together make up one hand.
Every Finger is a “Tribe”, and Israel—the Entire Hand.
Israeli President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin famously described Israel as a vibrant and fascinating mosaic. Some of its tiles are different from one another, while others are astonishingly the same. Some tiles make for unexpected effects, while others are perfect complements. And if this weren’t enough, every Israeli tribe contains a full range of sub-groups and communities, each expressed in a unique shade and hue. They all make their own contribution to the mosaic, creating a whole that is far more dazzling than the sum of its parts.
It is only natural that the differences and divides between the various groups in Israel are frequently a source of friction. Yet friction between them can at times create a spark. And when nurtured into a flame, that spark can fuel the fire of a vibrant, innovative society. With each encounter, the spark is lit anew. Distinct traditions, beliefs, cultures, and values—all these contribute their own creative potential. As they overlap and conjoin, their edges dissolve and something new takes shape.
The social, cultural, and religious diversity overflowing this small piece of land challenges all of us to forge a common Israeli language. The state’s fascinating mosaic, again in the words of Rivlin, “offers a tremendous opportunity. It encompasses cultural richness, inspiration, humanity, and sensitivity.” This mosaic can be seen in all aspects of life, from science to music, fashion and hi-tech, medicine, food, art, even agriculture—everywhere that Israelis make their mark.
These groups and communities, then, are the tiles in Israel’s growing mosaic, and the source of its society’s success. So, too, is the encounter between them the key to a shared hope for the future—the Israeli Hope. We chose the Hamsa to express our desire for partnership, and for sparks that turn into flames—Hamsa Aleinu, may we all share the hope for a great future, together.
Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa.
Content, Graphic design & Production: Promarket Group | Curator: Hila Segev Israel | Artistic consultant and chief photographer: Eldad Rafaeli | Texts: Hila Blum
Additional Photographers: Amit Sha’al, Oded Karni, Alex Kolomoisky