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

1:00pm film: “Code Name Ayalon” (free screening)

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


This spring, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel the Temple Judea Museum (TJM) returns to one of its favorite subjects and one of its favorite mediums, Israel and photography. Photography exists as both an art form and as a documentary medium. This exhibition touches on both: the visual beauty of Israel and its story.

During the founding years of Israel, from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries, photographers seemingly documented every step of the way. The TJM permanent collection features many rare, little seen Press Photographs that document these early years. Many of these photographs we were able to buy from EBay. Family Israel pilgrimage photos were donated by Bud Fischer, a longtime museum supporter. With the addition of a gift collection from photographer Alvin Gilens, that captures the arrival process of immigrants to Israel circa the 1950s, the collection is an important treasure. 

The museum’s collection has a “ripped from the headlines” aspect to it as many of these photographs, long before the digital age, even before the ubiquity of international television communication, were the primary means of telling the story of the founding and building of the new Jewish homeland in newspapers and magazines around the world.  But the story of Israel is also told by photographers who are more than perceptive photo-journalists. Artist photographers, such as Alvin Gilens and David Harris, showcased here, who look at Israel with an aesthetic eye, convey their unique take on the visual image of Israel. 

In addition to the works of these two photographers this exhibition includes a few selected press photographs of Israel from the TJM collection. More of the collection can be accessed online at Temple Judea Museum Online Collection.


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.


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. 

*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