DebbieWinks – Debbie’s Blog from Israel #18

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DebbieWinks — Blog #18 — June, 2024

Blog #18

Our homes belong to us and are the spaces that we return to after we take a break from it all.

We just returned home after a 18 day trip to Crete an island belonging to Greece. We stayed in the northwest part of the island in a town called Chania. This recent respite was most welcome. We invited family to join us and to stay in this beautiful apartment with an incredible ocean view.

Ironically this view provided a reminder to all of us that although we are on vacation and resting, our country is at war and that our hostages are still not back. We did remain tuned in to news in the evening yet for most of the day managed to stay tuned out.

One afternoon while strolling along the stunning boardwalk in the old city of Chania, we chanced upon a photography exhibit called “Stone House/Greek Island”. The man sitting at the entrance was James Greenberg and he was invited by the Cultural Society of Chania to display his many photographs while promoting his recently published book. I had a brief chat with James about his black and white photographs depicting the four year process of building his stone house on an island in Greece. He invited us to attend his evening talk the next day.

James began his talk by expressing his disdain with modern day construction techniques that use steel, concrete and mass-produced bricks. He wanted to build things differently by excavating stone and rubble and to build his customized stone house stone by stone. He employed Greek workers who did not speak any English. He began to photograph the process. He told me that he chose to take pictures in black and white to do justice to form and faces. He began by referring to child psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim and his conviction of the importance of play and also referred to the founder of the Waldorf movement Rudolph Steiner who believed that creating spaces with no corners and angles is optimal for children to discover in a more open architectural environment. He also quoted many architects who were foreign to me.

What impressed me most was what he said midway into his talk. James began with stating that he is Jewish and that his ancestors were the Hebrews that built the pyramids in Egypt. I believe that their hard work and sweat subliminally echoed in the men that James photographed.

James Greenberg is by no means of the word a Pharoah type of photographer! He honoured the labourers and made them feel appreciated throughout the four year construction project. His objection was not to highlight the outcome but rather the painstaking process of honest hard working labour that honoured the stones that were laid.

Greenberg wrote four essays called: Destruction, Obsession, Surrender and Chance.
It was not by chance that I stumbled upon this photography display and a few more words I had exchanged about my views of divine intervention to which he responded with an astrological reference.

What a terrain we all walk through whether we are tourists in Crete or photographers or architects, educators or inhabitants of our respective homes.
James A. Greenberg built his house of stones on a Greek Island perched on a mountain top. We build our homes from within and from without in differing locations. We climb our personal mountains falling and getting up again granted if we have the inner fortitude and wherewithal.

We just finished to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot in our daughter and son in law’s home in Harish, Israel. Shavuot is the holiday when Moses descended from Mount Sinai bestowing on us the Ten Commandments. These divine written words are the blueprint of how to live an ethical life.

During the chaos of our turbulent world and our war with Hamas, we continue to pray for our hostages who were stolen from their homes or from fields and army duty. We fervently cry for them to be returned to their homes or….. to be laid to rest by the headstones that honour their sacred lost lives.

Rachel Devorah Broitman Havusha




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DebbieWinks – Debbie’s Blog from Israel #18