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New Milford native finds inspiration in northern Israel to ignite her artwork

Special to the Ledger

Linda Leiff Altabef with her artwork, which is on display as part of the “From There to Here” exhibit. Photo by Boaz Lanir.

Linda Leiff Altabef with her artwork, which is on display as part of the “From
There to Here” exhibit. Photo by Boaz Lanir.

KARMIEL, Israel – New Milford native Linda Leiff Altabef, who made aliyah in the summer of 2009 with her husband and daughter, is among several artists whose work will be featured as part of a new exhibit showcasing the creative talents of western olim – immigrants to Israel — living in northern Israel.
The first collaborative exhibition of its kind, “From There to Here” is the cooperative effort of Nefesh B’Nefesh — the aliyah organization that works in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel – and the Ort Braude Academic College of Engineering in the northern Israeli town of Karmiel.
The exhibit showcases the works of 15 immigrant artists who live in northern Israel. The works of art span a range of artistic expression, including photography, paintings, installations, crewel work and more.
Like Altabef, many of the featured artists made aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh’s “Go North” program, which was launched in 2009 to encourage olim to settle in Israel’s northern reaches and provides resources, support and assistance to the more than one thousand olim from North America and the United Kingdom who have chosen to do so.
While living in the U.S., Altabef was a practicing artist and art teacher, showing her work in New York City galleries, and museums in and around the tri-state area.
“As an artist, I had increasingly branched into different media and varying forms of expression, including paper and metal sculptures and stained glass, and working with such materials as parchment,” she notes.
In the last 13 years Altabef’s work has been bound up with an exploration of her Jewish roots and her growing connection to the land of Israel.
“I have found inspiration in Biblical text and imagery and believe that many aspects of our ancient lives had a power and meaning that are only faintly appreciated today,” she says. “Living in Israel has been a challenge for me, as it is for all olim. Much of my recent work is inspired by the powerful landscape and atmosphere of our new home in Rosh Pina. Life here has also enabled me to tap into Israel’s spiritual energy, and I have tried to capture this in my work as well.”
More than a hundred people attended the opening of the art exhibit on Jan. 5, which was held at the Lady Roslyn Lyons Gallery on the Ort Braude Academic College’s campus. The exhibit will remain open through Feb. 28.
“The exhibition was designed to empower olim from the North, by providing a platform to show off their unique and uplifting art talent which is inspired by living in this special part of the country,” says Michele Kaplan Green, director of the Nefesh “Nefesh “Go North” program. “The artistic works are a form of self expression that helps them cope with the challenges they meet as they build their new lives in Israeli society.

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