An Israeli jewelry maker, originally from Philly, looks to her new country's beaches for inspiration.
Rita Ackert will every so often walk along the beach in Nahariya, Israel, and stumble upon beach stones and beach glass.
The items often end up on a necklace and then in a gallery space Ackert shares in Tzfat. The small northern city is rich in arts, Jewish history and Kabbalistic culture and a frequent stop for tour groups. That means Ackert, a 51-year-old immigrant from Philadelphia, sells to customers from around the world, as far away as Japan.
“Tzfat is a very special place,” said Ackert, who made aliyah in September 2011 with her husband and three children. “I have customers that have bought my jewelry, and they say, ‘I feel like I am taking Israel home with me.’ I’ve been blessed with opportunities and with networking that I just didn’t have in Philadelphia.”
Ackert’s jewelry is heavy on earth tones and evokes images of an empty beach covered in sea shells. Some of her creations are included in a new exhibit, “From There to Here,” which runs until Feb. 28 and showcases art from 15 immigrant artists who now live in northern Israel.
The exhibit is a collaboration between Ort Braude Academic College of Engineering in Karmiel, where it is being hosted, and Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that helps immigrants make aliyah.
Ackert, whose own family was helped by Nefesh B’Nefesh, said her first loves were drawing and painting. She only turned to jewelry-making after watching her daughter take a class at Main Line Art Center in Bryn Mawr.
She started making jewelry about a decade ago and would sell her products at women’s organizational events and at fundraisers at her shul, Chabad of Penn Wynne.
She said her family discussed making aliyah for years before finally leaving their home near Penn Wynne and moving to Ma’alot in 2011. She said she was touched when at a lunch prior to their departure, a number of congregants showed up wearing her jewelry.
“I found that for myself and for my husband, we feel like we are starting our life again,” said Ackert. “It’s had its challenges, but those challenges are good because that’s how you learn. We pinch ourselves and say, ‘We’re really here.’ ”