Europe hasn’t always been the friendliest place for Jews and Israelis, especially in light of the current Israel-Gaza war, but Yehoshua Aryeh Stauber has succeeded where many others have tried. Stauber’s breathtaking artwork is all about Israel, and inspires the onlooker to get involved, to become a part of it, and to feel a personal connection to Israel and to the artist.
“Israel is both extraordinarily beautiful and there is a deeper connection to the land,” explained Stauber. “My photography takes you to this deeper association, allows you to connect. Every part of the land has a story to tell, a message.” Stauber’s acrylic prints are not a typical travelogue documentary, and often don’t include routine tourist sites. Rather, “not only are the holy sites holy, but every part of the land is. I focus on the beauty and the life of the land—it is a different perspective than most see from outside, especially via the media.”
Stauber is a master craftsman, as can easily be seen by his work. He sets out to different locations throughout Israel, capturing the scene in the best lighting (usually at sunrise or sunset). Similar to how a painter or sculpture views their subject when creating art, Stauber treats nature as his subject, and strives to show it at its most beautiful moment.
His array of special photo techniques allows him to view the scene, capture it, and then print it for an exquisite piece of art. All pieces come with a written reflection explaining the deeper meaning of what one sees. For example, the piece “Hidden Light” is a gorgeous, striking image of an olive tree with a blueish-purplish sky behind it. The story behind it is captivating: Stauber took the photo right after sunset on the eighth night of Chanukah using a long-exposure lens. Though dark was settling in (to the human eye), he was able to capture the light out of the darkness, creating the perfect Chanukah story, stirring inside us the belief that indeed, good will triumph over evil.
Stauber lives with his wife, Jordyn (who runs the gallery’s business side) and their two children in Jerusalem. They grew up in south Florida, have family in the Five Towns area, and Stauber went to university in New York. They met on a March of the Living trip in Poland, further cementing their feelings not only for each other but also for Judaism and Israel. They made aliyah right after their wedding five years ago.
Upon their arrival in Israel, it was clear that they wanted something more than just doing commercial video and photography. Jordyn and Yehoshua Aryeh are both very passionate about sharing the ideals of Israel and contributing in a positive way to the world, feeling Divinely inspired on their journey.
Stauber is always looking for unique angles from which a photograph can be turned into a work of art. Jerusalem, for example, can be difficult because it is hard to find something that hasn’t been seen before. But one of his most iconic photographs, entitled “Light Unto the Nations” was taken in the Old City of Jerusalem, facing the Kotel and the Temple Mount. It was shot with a wide-angle lens—a stunning work that is best seen in person, where you feel enwrapped by the city. He took this high-resolution photo consisting of 25 different images at the same moment, then overlapped them.
How does an Israeli artist wind up presenting a show at the European Union Parliament in Brussels? A Swedish member of the European Parliament, David Lega, was staying across the street from Stauber’s gallery in the Mamilla area of Jerusalem, and was captivated by what he saw in the window. Working together with the Israeli ambassador to the EU, Haim Regev, he set about to have Stauber’s work on display in the main hall. As fate would have it, this was a few years ago and due to COVID, the exhibition was canceled. In 2022, however, the idea was revived, and the date was set for December 2023, with such fortuitous timing as to be able to present a beautiful and meaningful side of Israel, despite the mass media headlines of war and strife. “It has become more important than ever to show the world that war doesn’t define Israel, rather the land and beauty do, that Israel is truly a ‘Land of Life’ [as the exhibit is called],” said Stauber.
Most people seeing the exhibit are very supportive, with some being less so even though they comment that they like the work. Stauber tells of the day that he saw some members of the EU Parliament who were fighting for Israel but were clearly tired and drained, but when they saw the exhibit, they lit up and could see the beauty of the land—it was refreshing to them, and they expressed much gratitude. “I was not expecting to hear that,” he said. Lega, the Swedish member of the European Parliament, said: “I am honored to host Yehoshua Aryeh’s exhibition in the European Parliament. To show Israel in another perspective in Europe and not only the one of conflict and wars has been important for me for a long time. And now indeed it is more timely than ever.”
After the EU parliament, the exhibit is scheduled to be shown in the Jewish Center in Brussels and then in other cities in Europe and elsewhere.
The Staubers use their Jerusalem gallery as a place for art education as well. They host seminars and lectures, have set up wine and cheese evenings for visiting groups, and more. And they are happy to arrange webinars and in-person speaking engagements in America with the “Land of Life” presentation, where one can “tour the land through the lens of the photographer.”
Stauber’s photography is sold as limited-edition acrylic prints, delivered ready to hang, and shipped free worldwide. On their website you can use a special tool to send a picture of your wall and ask for a print that fits exactly what you need. In addition, they have created a beautiful coffee table book with the photography and inspiring written reflections, and one can order their new unique benchers filled with Stauber’s artwork.
Coffee Table Book: yafineart.com/book
The Aretz Birkon Set: yafineart.com/products/the-aretz-birkon
Arnie Draiman is a philanthropic consultant helping people and foundations give their tzedaka money away wisely, efficiently and effectively. He is also an experienced social media and website guru, and enjoys reviewing restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. He can be reached at [email protected] or www.draimanconsulting.com