Israel Then And Now

Translating his personal feelings through a camera lens, Arie Bar Lev’s photography provides a unique insight into the rise and growth of the State of Israel. Embodied by a pioneering spirit, Israel has flourished into a formidable cultural and technological hub. As the personification of that spirit, Bar Lev, in over fifty years of photography, shows that determination can cultivate beauty out of an arid wasteland. Bar Lev’s work confronts changes in immigration, education, healthcare, and military capability, which reflects Israel’s conscious effort to forge a cohesive nation.

For over thirty years, Bar Lev has been Associated with Sde Boker, the kibbutz established on May 15, 1952 in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Sde Boker is best known for being home to Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, from the time he resigned from office in 1953 until his death in 1973. Ben-Gurion moved to the kibbutz to realize his vision of cultivating the arid Negev desert and building up its surrounding towns; he believed that eventually the Negev would be home to many Jews who would move to Israel and felt that Sde-Boker was a trailblazer and example for what should follow. Ben-Gurion’s musings about the rejuvenation of the arid Negev is reflected in Bar Lev’s photography: “The desert provides us with the best opportunity to begin again. This is a vital element of our renaissance in Israel.”

“Arie Bar Lev’s life and works reflect the vigor, creativity, and vision of the founding generation of the State of Israel, who transformed a wasteland from its earliest agricultural roots into a vital, modern nation in the forefront of technology,” said Jean Bloch Rosensaft, HUC-JIR Museum Director. “Through Bar Lev’s photographs, we become witnesses to Israel’s extraordinary natural and human resources and rapid development throughout its sixty years.”


Arie Bar Lev was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1939. He studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and further developed his photographic skills while working with a London-based advertising photographer. He has worked for more than 30 years at the Sde-Boker Training Center and teaches photography at the Secondary School for Local Lore Education.

Bar Lev’s works have been exhibited in Budapest, Hungary (1992), the Beer Sheva Museum (1994 and 1996), the Jerusalem Theatre (1996), the Grand Museum in Warsaw, Poland (1996), the Grand Synagogue in Krakow, Poland (1997), the Masada Museum in

Israel (2005), and the Museum Adama in Israel (2007). In 1996 The Israel Foreign Ministry commissioned Arie Bar-Lev to create a gift portfolio for a state visit to Poland. His publications include Poetry of the Desert (1994), Jerusalem: Light of the World (1996), Desert Illusions (1997), Songs of the Desert (2002), and Dialogue with the Pioneering Spirit (2005).

HUC-JIR Museum General Information

Museum Hours

Mondays through Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Fridays and selected holidays (October 13 and 20), 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Selected Sundays (October 19, November 2 and 23, December 14, January 25), 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Museum is closed: Saturdays and most Sundays, September 1, 29, 30; October 1, 8, 9, 14, 21; November 27, 28; December 24, 25, 26, 31; January 1, 2, 19.


One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street), Manhattan


R/W to 8th St./NYU; 6 to Astor Place; A/C/E/B/D/F/V to W. 4th St.


FREE. Photo ID required.


Elizabeth Mueller,, (212) 824-2205, for group tours and more information.