Donor Spotlight: Martin Cohen

Martin Cohen
Member, Board of Governors

Martin Cohen recently produced Sacred Land, a monumental volume of photographs by the renowned photographer Ralph Gibson, which depicts Israel as the oldest and youngest country in the world. He shares his thoughts about this significant project.

It is not until you see in person the beauty, history, culture, diversity, and spirit of this nation – as well as its challenges – that you can begin to understand this unique place on earth. The diversity of Israel’s population and visitors is often a great surprise. The ‘Jewish State’ is really home to many other faiths and attracts people from around the world to explore their links to the past. Jerusalem exists at the intersection of nearly all modern religions. There, every individual is unconditionally welcome and comfortable at holy sites that are well protected and preserved.

sacred landThe diversity of the landscape and climate is another surprise – the arid Arava desert, the warm Mediterranean shores, and the mountainous north could not be more different. So is the social climate – Jerusalem becomes totally quiet on the Sabbath while Tel Aviv bustles with social engagement.
Israel is regularly portrayed as a land bursting with conflicts and strife. Not surprisingly, the politics and social issues facing Israel are extremely complex and often maddening. But the objective in this book is not to offer commentary on this subject – this has been done, if not overdone, by many others already. On the other hand, the long history of Israel is one of endless external conflict, strife, and threats from every neighboring country. This has often led to all-out war and constantly affects every aspect of life here.

Yet the spirit of the people is palpably upbeat. Perhaps it is because while internal conflicts may divide them, external threats more strongly unite them.

Thus, the overall narrative about Israel is that in this relatively small nation one can witness and relive the very beginnings of world history; experience the world’s most advanced institutions in science, technology, and medicine – and everything in between. That is the central theme of this work.
Sacred Land is available at