"Heirlooms: Memory and Cherished Objects" is a unique photo exhibition that preserves memories from deceased loved ones through “artwork and inspiration that celebrates life, hope, and choice.”

The exhibition features 33 photographs taken by visual artist Jay Garfinkel of “valuable objects left behind, victims of terror, souvenirs from the lives of the loved ones who have died.”

Garfinkel, bereaved father of Ilan Yosef, explains to Israel National News how the idea for the exhibition began.

His family made aliyah almost eight years ago. However, his son went back and forth to the United States because he had heart disease. But he tragically passed away unexpectedly at 43-years old.

“We didn’t think he was going to die. But no one ever does. That was a huge loss to us personally,” Garfinkel says.

He decided to use art to cope with his grieving and remembers being on the airplane coming back from the US carrying items from his son’s apartment after he’d emptied it out. He ended up with three suitcases full of his son’s belongings. He began photographing some of the items.

“I decided to take those things that I had an emotional connection to, for good and for bad. In the case of my sons, I took eight things. The jacket was one thing I really didn’t like but it was him. He wore that jacket from the time he was 17, and I created that piece of art,” he explains.

“There is a real connection between memory and an object which you inherit. I decided to do this for myself and find out if I could do it for others who were in the same process of grieving as I was.”

Garfinkel approached One Family with his idea that would help other parents who were grieving.

“I was very hesitant about going to One Family because I was in complete grief,” he recalls. “And why should I open myself up to other people’s grief?”

But then he sat down with One Family and realized that he could overcome his grief by helping others in a similar situation.

“I thought that was a good idea. I would try that because I needed to do something,” he adds.

The exhibition has 33 photos that Garfinkel took. One is of his son. The other 32 are personal items from the children of bereaved families who had some items belonging to that their son or daughter that were “very meaningful to them and they wanted to share it with others,” explains Batia Weinberg, Northern Region Director of One Family.

Garfinkel along with Weinberg and One Family staff went to peoples' houses. “They opened their heart and opened their closet and showed us various things they have in memory of the children. Jay, together with us and the family, chose the item that he thought would be the best thing to represent the child,” Weinberg says.

“Hopefully people will see and remember.”

For now, the show is exhibiting in the Jerusalem Theater through December 30 (admission is free). But they hope to take the exhibit all over Israel and then around the world.

“People should know that behind the pictures, there’s a story. There’s a whole life,” Weinberg says. “It’s not only a picture. It’s something that [parents] never overcome. As long as the parents are alive, they want to cherish the memory of the kids, whether it’s pictures or various ways of reminding other people they had the child.”

She adds: “The parents when they come and see the pictures, it’s unbelievable. They were so happy. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them as far as the memory of the child.”

Garfinkel says that be being in the company of others who are also grieving, he was able to use his experience to help others and to personally heal.

“It’s only by meeting other people that you begin to realize that by coming together we have an opportunity to heal together. It was being in the company of others who were in the same situation,” he says. “When you’re with other people who lost a child, we have a special bond and a special relationship that only happens in a club that nobody wants to belong to.”