The art exhibition presents the beauty of Israel through the eyes of Russian-speaking Olim, former inhabitants of a once-great empire.
Thirty-six Russian-speaking Israelis from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) were invited to draw their vision of Israel. They come from diverse walks of life and have different professions, and their artistic talents and unique perspective as both outsiders and immigrants is fascinating, mixing an internal view of the country with an external one, as seen by outsiders and travelers. Their full-color artwork mirrors their varied life experiences.
Images include drawings of local personalities, historical monuments, and breathtaking landscapes, alongside the wonders of high-tech progress. The original postcards will be inserted into Yoffi’s unique gifts from Israel.
The pictures and sketches will be enlarged and displayed as full-color images for the exhibition.
Yoffi של Israel will feature fascinating interviews with notable personalities and Israeli VIPs!
View stunning artwork that expresses the beauty of the land of Israel!
Owner of the company Yoffi
A journalist by education. In 1990, he established one of the first non-state television companies in the Soviet Union. In 2015, it was closed by the authorities due to its independent editorial policy. After the closure of the TV channel at the age of 53, he repatriated to Israel, where he has immediately opened the company YOFFI together with his family (Yoffi is the part of the family’s last name, and also a phrase from Song of Songs). The company started to market delicious souvenirs from dates, olives, tahini and other traditional Israeli products under the YOFFI brand. Its products are sold in many countries around the world. Arkady describes the work of Yoffi as “gastronomic diplomacy.” When people eat delicious food, they don’t fight. But this seemed to him not enough. And he invited a variety of artists who came, like him, from the former Soviet Union, to paint Israel. The way they see it. It was decided to make art postcards from these works. Anybody can write a text on the postcard and send it to a loved one. Postcards turned into a unique part of the gift sets from YOFFI. This is how the YOFFI של ISRAEL project was born.
CEO of the company Yoffi
Liza got her first degree in International Relations and Second degree in international law at the Moscow University of International Relations. She immigrated to Israel with her father Arkady Mayofis and her family, when the youngest son was 2 months old.
She stood at the origins of the establishment of the YOFFI company. Now her director.
Liza believes that this exhibition shows a very different Israel to the whole world. It gives you the opportunity to look at your beloved country through the eyes of those who were not born here. “We live in the same country, but we are different. And this diversity is our strength”, says Liza. “The exhibition features works of 36 authors. These are 36 views of Israel.”
Art critic, curator of exhibitions, art-director of the SKIZZA Gallery in Jerusalem.
The gallery was created in 2007 and from the very beginning has become an art space for talented artists – new immigrants. Most of Skizza’s projects are associated with Jewish and Zionist history, told in the language of contemporary art.
The Skizza Gallery will host the YOFFI של ISRAEL exhibition.
Marina describes this exhibition as follows:
– everyone is an artist here, but the project is not artistic;
– everything is about Israel, but not about the State as such;
– everything is about love of country, but without showy patriotism …
It is about our life in Israel, how we become Israelis, and grow into this new reality –
All told in the laconic language of the postcard.
“Devik, hello! Look, your paintings have turned into postcards! In these postcards there is so much tenderness and love – so much of you! Remember, you said: “What should be done? Be occupied with family, children, friends; remove the trash in your stairwell; follow the laws. It is necessary to ‘circumcise’ yourself – and those around you. Self-improve, improve. Gradually. It is for this that we exist. Nobody promised to birth us in an ideal society. Not ideal, but our own. And if you do not do your job, everything falls into disrepair. We must act: this is my garden, my land. And if I don’t take care of it, who will then?” I will. Together with the children. I promise…Love. Yulia..”
“The first thing that caught my eye in Israel were the big families. The title “Jewish mother,” denoting the unreserved recognition of your child’s uniqueness, applies the same way to the hyper-attentive “Jewish father.” And the children respond to them with the same unconditional love. A Jewish family means reading in the evenings, feasts, holidays… and memory. Love and memory.”
“I have already been living in Israel for almost seven years. And these nearly seven years are especially discordant with the calendar, on which it is already 2021, or 5781 – because time here moves deceptively, convolutedly… Each time I arrive at Ben Gurion, I buy an espresso at the airport, go outside, sit on a bench under a palm tree, take a sip of coffee, light a cigarette, and physically feel that the past does not pinch, the present does not chafe, and the future does not squeeze. It is as if I returned home and finally took off my shoes.”
“At some point, I suddenly realized that my relationship with Jerusalem had become like the relationships I used to have with my favorite places in Moscow– friendly, tender, and full of love. It was then that I felt I was a part of this extraordinary city, felt like me, felt at home. But most importantly, I felt affection for the inhabit- ants of this new home of mine… Of course, here as anywhere else, we meet all kinds of people, but on the whole, this diverse, noisy, super-emotional public wins one over with its openness, generosity, ability to sincerely sympathize with both joy and sorrow, and willingness to help.“
“The true beauty of Israel is revealed through interactions with its people. It is impossible to see the soul of the nation, but it shows itself through joy and pain, yearning and bliss – and through creation.”
“You know, I always thought that the saying “two Jews, three opinions” was greatly exaggerated. In reality there are more opinions, and the diversity of Jews in Israel is staggering. Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Sabras, Ethiopians, people of all skin shades and with very different appearances – all these different Jews live in Israel together.”
“Israel is so distinct and multicolored, resembling a bright patchwork quilt. You examine the pieces separately and the brightness seems almost kitsch, but all together it attains a strange balance and beauty. Extraordinary energy, places, and people… Even time here moves differently, and I believe it is true that Israel is closer to heaven than all other places… Forgive me for the pathos. Hugging you!”
“What is my Israel like? Sunny! Bright, colorful! Each day, the sky overhead is piercingly blue, the sea beckons with foamy waves, the wind unfurls the green palm tree fronds. The entire country shimmers with a precious scattering of colors. Everything here glimmers, chimes, and sings.“
“My dear ones, it is so strange that I am older than the State of Israel, even if only by a month. You know, I lived in Odessa my entire life – a mathematician, programmer, guide, and Hebrew instructor – but now, for the third year already, I am an Israeli. I live in Kfar Saba, which is small, cozy, and friendly in an Israeli way. It is as if life is just beginning, and it is full of impressions. I have returned to my childhood interest in drawing!”
“I don’t believe it myself – this year marks 30 years of me being in Jerusalem. My studio was on the border with Mea Shearim, and I didn’t even need to go anywhere in order to remember the shtetl: the same images, the same smiles, children singing in cheder… Here in Jerusalem, earth and sky, music and painting all blend into one. The city that has gathered all the warmth of the world radiates it now, but not flashy or loud. And here this simplicity turns into a treasure…”
“For half of my 27 years in Israel I’ve been living in Tel Aviv. This is my city: open to the world, relaxed, and multivoiced, and it might seem dirty, but I love this artistic untidiness. Sun and deep shadows, the surface roots of ficus trees, fragments of newspapers, the glass of high-rise buildings, friendly people… In the beginning, I often went out here to sketch and take many photographs. Gradually this city became part of me to such an extent that I can paint it with my eyes closed, the landscapes coming from inside.“
“Israel, for me, is a constant state of dialogue: with neighbors in the building and with biblical personages, with the energetic Tel Aviv and sublime Jerusalem. And, of course, with the Judean Desert. Yes, this austere ‘martian’ landscape is surprisingly communicative. Here you can hear the footsteps of ancient pilgrims and warriors, the quiet prayer of hermits, the rustling of lizards and the bleating of sheep – everything here is unchanged and produces a wondrous feeling: I have already been here,
I am from here…”
“I did not attend Yitzhak Arad’s funeral. I was working at the time in a woodshop in Kfar Saba with Haim, a retired soldier who had captured the Golan; Arie, who would be 100 years old in two weeks, along with his wife Leah, who had married her commander, Arie, during the War of Independence; another Haim, and his wife Rahel; Hulda, whose father sat in prison during the Mandate period and admirably carved wood out of boredom; Shmuel, a regimental intelligence officer of the 2nd Belorussian Front; Dvora, a childhood friend of Shmuel’s. That is why I could not be at Arad’s funeral. For some reason, it seems to me that he would understand..”
“For me, Israel is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Any landscape, street scene, or simple individual object is perceived as part of the history and culture of our nation. Past and present are intertwined here in the most peculiar way. And the entire time, everything is in motion. You often notice with surprise that when you yourself change, your attitude toward this incredible country changes. Drawing Israel is an unbelievably enthralling activity.“
“I live in Ma’ale Adumim – a small, blooming town on the edge of the Judean Desert. But the source of my strength is Jerusalem– its extraordinary atmosphere, old streets, the latticework shutters on windows and sunny reflections on houses lined with Jerusalem stone, the Old City, the Western Wall, its inconceivable antiquity and remarkable youthfulness. All of this fills me with energy and inspiration. I want to wander these streets for hours, enter the noisy, multilingual crowd at the market, and share this splendor with friends. Come, I await you!!”
“You understand, looking at Israel on photographs is like listening to Chopin on a smartphone. Our paintings, of course, are better than photographs – after all, they reflect the rapturous gaze of the artist. But even they barely open the curtain.”
“…All night we worked on assembling bombs in Palmach’s ammunition depot in Tel Aviv, filling small tanks with gas and explosives. We prepared 15 bombs. I demanded to be given the opportunity to fly the plane to Nabi Daniel and drop the bombs. In the morning, we loaded 4 bombs and flew out on a mission. We discovered dozens of convoy vehicles south of Bethlehem. We were told that the attacking Arabs were on the hills looming over the highway, surrounding the convoy, and we had to drop the bombs on them. My friend was flying the plane, while I lit the fuse. The burning time of the fuse was 12 seconds… This was apparently the first bombardment in the War of Independence…”
“I don’t know why with all the variety of Israeli landscapes, I am constantly drawn to drawing sunsets: above the road, above the sea, above the city. Perhaps in these sunsets there are simultaneously calming and disquieting qualities – like the transition from one state of nature to another.”
“You understand, I can draw anything – a favorite armchair or a street in the Old City, Vasechka the dog or the garden outside the window, a bouquet on the table or a teapot on the stove – but I still draw Jerusalem, my home. And the reflection of the light from the setting sun on a jar of pickles – this, too, is Jerusalem. When it sometimes snows or drizzles here, St. Petersburg appears through the drops… and there’s no way around this beautiful duality.”
“Do you remember how many times I relocated from one place to another during the early years? And now, it’s hard for me to even imagine that I could have lived not in Safed. Between the blue Kinneret and the blue heavens stands my blue city. A city that, through the efforts of its residents, strives not to disrupt the harmony of this divine blueness. The inhabitants of this city are the loveliest, strangest, and most naive people on earth: kabbalists, artists, musicians – and very often all of this is combined in one person. This is because in Safed, it is impossible to not sing, not draw, not become a mystic…”
“I am so glad that this painting has been turned into a postcard! See, shepherds once sat under this tree, and the Eternal City looked upon them from afar. The grass here has been plucked, the trails of the sheep flocks have been imprinted onto the ground and become part of it. If you sit down under an ancient olive tree at sunset, you can hear how the evening sings. Just listen!”
“I love to draw Tel Aviv, its stalls, its old houses that are jealously competing with skyscrapers for the love of the city’s inhabitants, and the sun-saturated life partially on the beachfront. For me, it is one of the best seaside cities: happy, merry. “I very much appreciate Tel Aviv for giving this world a little bit of normalcy.” (Meir Shalev)”
“What is Israel for me, you ask? It is the aroma of oranges blossoming, the feeling of spaciousness that happens despite the fact that the country is so small, and this sense of freedom that you feel only at home. A home can be not big or rich, but one’s own – cozy and reliable. Surrounded by blossoming trees. Filled with children and elders, and noisy and annoying relatives without whom you can’t imagine your life… And love.”
“For me Israel is first and foremost about tastes and smells. The sweet taste of watermelon, the fragrant smell of coffee, the honeyed aroma of baklava in the early morning. All of this is in my paintings.”
“It was a difficult year; no one was able to drive to friends or visit parents who are far away. We all looked at the screens of our phones, with the hope of seeing a dear face in full health and positivity. I so wanted to send something to my parents, to express my love for them, so they would feel my embrace. My parents are very proud of me, and postcards with my paintings have flown over borders and imparted to my parents a part of me and what is dear to me in Israel – the beauty and eternity of Jerusalem.!”
“I now look with surprise at my pre-Israel works: dark, “correct”, academic. And I understand that in that life I was like a fish in a pond, and I was quite satisfied with that pond. But then, 8 years ago, I ended up in Israel. And I find myself in the ocean, and to my surprise, in that ocean everything is familiar to me! I know for certain that I have already been here, and now I have returned. Here I’ve become an entirely different artist: a ridiculous contemplator of the absurd, spectacular Israeli life assembled out of incompatible elements. In Israel, you don’t need to seek out avant-garde paths; it is enough to go through the portal, and the avant-garde bursts into the picture on its own.!”
“Once again, I have spent the entire day wandering the Old City… Through the centuries, Jerusalem has been layering its stones, olive trees, palms, cypresses –layer on top of layer, layer after layer. Touching a stone, you think: here is my reality. And you feel other realities dissolving into the dense air. They shine through each other, intertwine, and weave together a new reality, in which everything has grown and manifested itself. It appears for a split second and then disappears… I enter the archway and hear a distant echo. I think I recognize the voices of my loved ones…”
“And we have a holiday today – Tel Aviv is 112 years old. A wildly ridiculous figure against the background of all the many thousands of years here, but also wildly serious, because the city grew up not even on excavations, but on bare sand dunes and in the middle of those who did not want it very much. So we live – in spite of everything, all in the sand and laughing….”
“For some, Israel is about sun, sea, relaxation.. But for me, it is first and foremost about the people. After all, it is these people who will comfort, help, and support during hard times and joyfully embrace at times of happiness. This country connects people to each other. And perhaps this connection is another one of the many meanings of the red thread?’”
“Surprisingly, in order to get acquainted with a German-born architectural style, one must come to Israel! Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus is truly unique, magnificent, and harmonious. There are 4,000 Bauhaus style buildings – an inspiring example of a dream come true. Jewish architects who fled from Germany to Israel in the 1930s were able to implement, here on Tel Aviv’s dunes, their wildest architectural ideas!”
“Our story began with the exodus from Egypt, and then continued with walking through the desert, the entry into the Promised Land, the exile from Israel, two thousand years of wandering, and finally, the attainment of our own state. Our journeys are both a search for refuge and a search for our own selves. For two thousand years, we lived with our suitcases ready. It was only upon our return to the Land that we could finally believe our wanderings were over and we could “get off the cart.” That essentially is the topic of my series “Jewish Cart.” “
“Many years ago, when I was still little, my parents were supposed to leave for Israel. But they didn’t go through with it… And I, after much deliberation – does Israel need me, do I need Israel – made the decision and made Aliyah. Less than four years have passed from that moment, and we’re still familiarizing ourselves with each other. In any case, I now have two homes – here and in Siberia, where my entire family lives…”
“Just imagine to yourself – an entire four seas, and in whichever direction you head, you will inevitably find a romantic and picturesque place, with either water, desert, or other incredible landscape. And everything that is not a building is history, legend, or architectural art. It is impossible to describe it in words; it must be seen for oneself. Come, you won’t regret it! :)”
“We have already been living in Israel for 6 years! I cannot believe this is actually happening to me. Before, I used to dream all year about going to the sea, but now I don’t dream about it – I just get in the car and drive to it. Everything around me is blossoming and birds are singing, while I spend entire days drawing. I am very happy!”
“Jerusalem is beautiful and ugly, ancient and constantly building upon itself, like an eternal anthill. Everything that ends up in Jerusalem changes and is reborn, like the ingredients of a very complex soup that has already been boiling under the Middle Eastern sun for several thousand years. You can spend a thousand years drawing Jerusalem, and still for many more thousands of years it will surprise, inspire, fall apart and come together, like the patterns of a kaleidoscope that never repeat themselves.”
“Those who bake matzah know that they must hurry, since flour that is mixed with water can ferment. Those who work with fire know how quick the flames are. After all, mere seconds separate its creative power from its destructive one. That is why I create my “fragile worlds” from fire and matzah. Fire, flour, water, and air give birth to simple and clear symbols: the tree of knowledge, a menorah, a person…”
“Hello! My name is Valya, short for Valentin. I’m thirteen years old, and I am a special child – that’s what they call me… I am very glad that my mother decided to move to Israel. This is a country where everyone is a bit special in their own way, which is why I feel really good here. The number of friends I made in my first year in Israel is more than I had in my entire life in Moscow. I also love Jerusalem. Sometimes, I see the things around me as if piece by piece, through shattered glass, but in Jerusalem everything suddenly becomes clear and correct: the old walls, the people, the cats – everything is in its place.”