Grandma in the living room



June 22, 2017

A stigma persists in Israel around “the grandma in the living room,” older immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who don’t speak Hebrew and who left careers and interests behind in the Old Country. To conquer that stigma, within society and within themselves, 13 Russian speaking Hillel Israel students, assisted by two Hillel staffers, researched their own grandmothers’ stories and sat for portraits recreating photographs of their grandmothers at their age.

The project, “Tzilumey Savta-Photos of Grandma,” resulted in a 12-month calendar, which you can download below, brought students closer to their Jewish roots and identity, and changed minds.

Download calendar (13.83 MB)

“I grew up with ‘a grandma in the living room,’ and I am so thankful for that. I can’t thank her enough, because it formed the woman I am today,” said Miryam Khononov, a student at Haifa University, about her grandmother, Sonia Gutin-Khononov. “Not just that I speak Russian, but I am a strong female figure that knows how to deal with life.”

The photo shoot was held at The Hecht Center for the Arts, Haifa University, and was supported by Genesis Philanthropy Group. Checkout this behind-the-scenes video featuring participating students from Hillel centers at Haifa University and The Technion.