On Eagles' Wings

Curator: Maya Cohen-Mossek
Location: The Yemenite Heritage Center and Jewish communities of Israel, Rehovot
10.07.2019 - 10.07.2020


The 70th Anniversary of the Exodus of Yemenite Jewry

“I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Me” (Exodus 19:4)

Seventy years ago, between December 1948 and September 1950, the ancient exiled Jewish community of Yemen was liquidated. Some 50,000 Jews were airlifted from Aden to Israel in a special operation, one of the largest and most complex that Israel has ever known, organized and funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the Joint).

The exhibition retells the story of Operation 'on Eagles' Wings' on several levels. Documents and photos from Dr. Beigel, the first manager of the camp, give historical testimony about its establishment and its early days. Photographs taken by Beno Rothenberg, which document the camp and its inhabitants, reflect the personal identity of the ‘olim within the larger national collective story of the operation. Video interviews with ‘olim, conducted as part of the “Seeing the Voices” documentary project, view from an additional angle the history and the immense suffering that they endured en route to the Hash’ed camp and the hardships of life there.

Beno Rothenberg and his photographs from Camp Hash’ed:
After the operation was cleared for publication, Israeli journalists were sent to Aden. One of them, the photographer Beno Rothenberg (b. 1914 in Germany, d. 2012 in Israel), was dispatched in May 1950 by the weekly Haolam Hazeh. Rothenberg visited the camp at an advanced stage of the operation; by then, the inhabitants were in an improved state and were confident that their ‘aliya would happen soon. Rothenberg’s articles from the camp are of cultural and historical value. In a set of some 100 photographs, he focuses on the aesthetic side of the story: images of the immigrants and the staff, day-to-day realia in the camp, and boarding the aircraft, with the city of Aden and the vicinity in the background. With his typical sensitivity, Rothenberg successfully expresses, through the lens of his camera, both the gaze and the personal identity of the ‘olim and the collective story that became a national myth.

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On Eagles' Wings