Since 1991, Irene Fertik has been working on this project, documenting Ethiopian Jews in their new/ancient home of Israel. The title of the book, From Tesfa to Tikva, means from hope to hope – the first word in Amharic, the other in Hebrew. Both in photos and text, Fertik chronicles the story of 25 years of change and transition. In this stunning book, the visual contrasts are extraordinary, showcasing an ancient African people in a mostly white modern society.
The story of the Ethiopian Jews spans millennia. Holding fast to a dream of returning to Jerusalem, this ancient biblical community began immigrating to Israel in the late 1970’s. However, the move from isolated agrarian mountain villages in Ethiopia to a modern technological culture in Israel has meant an incredible sacrifice for the older immigrants, and enormous challenges and adjustments for their children. These graceful, reserved people are enduring from tesfa to tikva.
Fertik has been a journeyman photographer for more than 50 years. Her photographs have appeared in multiple newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Time Magazine. Her mélange of employment includes a six-year stint as a staff photographer for the largest newspaper in Vermont, The Burlington Press, followed by a 15-year period as the staff photographer for The University of Southern California. An award-winning photographer, her work has been on display at The African American Museum in Los Angeles, The Gershman Gallery in Philadelphia, the U.N. in Switzerland, and The Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., among others. A Philadelphia native, Fertik now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.