DAVID and ME* – Two Photographers in Israel

Alvin Gilens and David Harris

David Harris and Alvin Gilens met in Israel in 1965 and bonded instantly over their mutual love for Israel and for photography. The photographs displayed in this exhibition attest to their friendship and their talent for capturing the land and its people. 

April 16 – June 30, 2023

Program and reception: Sunday May 7th, 2023

1pm film: “Code Name Ayalon” (free screening)

Following the film: Museum reception (3:00 – 4:00pm)


 “David Harris, born in Jerusalem in 1927, photographed his country from before its beginning. He was capturing images when David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel. He photographed the great people and the small people, the buildings of the cities and the beauty of the deserts. He was the photographer of the Dead Sea Scrolls excavation and the treasures of Israel’s museums. He was honored with a solo exhibition at Beit Avi Chai as well as by the Israel Museum. He was a photojournalist and an artist.

And he was a dear friend. We would wander together through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, ascend Masada, share the wonders of the Negev, be guests of the Israel Air Force, walk amongst the deserted trenches that had been dug by the Syrian Army on the Golan Heights, set up a photo shoot in the Israel Museum. Later, we would compare images taken at the same place, at the same time, and talk about how our vision was the same…and so different.

David and I met during a United Jewish Appeal mission to Israel in 1965; an instant bonding. He was a master photographer, educated at the studio of Jerusalem’s Leo Arthur Rubitchek and the School of Modern Photography in New York. From him I learned about light and shadow and how to control each in a photograph. I learned how to print large murals in a small darkroom. I learned about how important are visual angles.  He was a mentor, a guide, a friend, and an inspiration for life.” ~ Alvin Gilens


Alvin Gilens

A Gladwyne resident, Alvin Gilens’ West Coast roots are evident in this conceptual photographer’s strong sense of light and imagery. The drama of black and white is especially suited to his documentary work, eloquent landscapes and intimate portraits. In 1984, Mr. Gilens was honored with a solo exhibition of his Holocaust-related imagery at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, the first American photographer to be exhibited there.  His many solo exhibitions include London’s Imperial War Museum, the Urania Institute in Berlin, the United States Congress, the State Jewish Museum of Prague, the University of Alabama, Villanova University, The Deutser Gallery in Houston, Tel Aviv’s Lavan Gallery, and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.  Mr. Gilens’ work is in public and private collections throughout the world.

*Although Al knows that grammatically, the title should read, “David and I”, he has exercised artistic license, preferring ME to I.


The Temple Judea Museum

Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel

8339 Old York Road (NE corner Old York and Township Line Roads)

Elkins Park, PA 19027

For more information: TJMuseum@kenesethisrael.org, 215-887-8700, ext. 416

Rita Rosen Poley, Director/Curator; Karen Shain Schloss, Chair