The sunrise over Haifa. An Israeli flag at the top of Masada. Pomegranates and oranges from the shuk (market) in Tel Aviv.
These were among the hundreds of images that Leah Kleiman captured with her camera in April during CJP’s Spark experience. As the group traveled throughout Israel learning, eating, connecting, and celebrating its 75th Independence Day, Kleiman looked for color, texture, and beauty.
She returned home with a stunning collection of photos from all corners of Israel.
“Whenever I travel, I love to take photos and capture the beauty of the environment,” says Kleiman, who lives in South Boston. “In Israel, there was so much to take in—the sunsets, the views, and the fascinating culture.”
After the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, Kleiman—who works as a full-time graphic designer and part-time photographer—knew she wanted to use her photos to help make a difference. She launched an online gallery to sell high-resolution downloads and prints of some of her favorite images from Israel, with 100% of proceeds going to support Israeli troops.
Money raised is being donated to an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troop through a connection from her fiancé, Ethan Shapiro, who has a college friend who served in the IDF. The troop is collecting money to help pay for additional supplies, including clothing, tourniquets, equipment to protect them from explosives, helmets, and headlamps.
“With the attacks, there was a lot of grief and confusion,” Kleiman says. “I felt that—and I know the entire Jewish community felt that. I wanted to find a way to give back. So, I leaned into my strength, which is photography, to help. I had these beautiful photos from my time on Spark, so I decided to create a fundraiser around them.”
To date, Kleiman has raised $200 in proceeds. Her fundraiser will remain open through Dec. 15 to allow the community to purchase images and prints to give as Hanukkah gifts.
“It’s been great getting support from CJP and from friends and family for my photos,” Kleiman says. “And not only are we raising money, but we are also raising awareness and reminding people of Israel’s beauty during this hard time.”
For Kleiman, Spark was her fifth—and most meaningful—time in Israel.
“Every time I go, it feels like home,” she says. “It was so amazing to be there with a community of young adults and people from across Greater Boston. We really bonded with each other and had the chance to explore deep topics. I loved our tour guide, Shira. She was such a shining light and hearing about her experiences in the IDF really connected us to her, each other, and Israel.”
Kleiman says she and Shapiro have stayed in touch with friends from Spark, sharing Shabbats in Boston and attending local events as a group. Since Oct. 7, the couple has been even more grateful for the Spark community, which has helped them process the attacks and the aftermath.
“If something happens to the Jewish community, it doesn’t just happen to a few people, it happens to us all,” she says. “The war broke everyone’s hearts. Seeing the community come together has been really inspiring.”