A conversation with Yossi Tarpon, DiD Israel guide for 19 years

In 2023 Dialogue in the Dark Israel marks 19 years of activity. It was the first Dialogue exhibition which opened at the Children’s Museum in Holon. Yossi has been a guide at DiD since its opening. Yossi became blind at age 45 due to an autoimmune disease, one of which is damage to the optic nerve.

A golden picture with an old man in the middle and a big 19 with candles.

*Note: The following text in its original Hebrew version is the content of the Children's Museum in Holon, Israel, from whom we received permission to reproduce it in its entirety in this medium and using artificial intelligence for its translation into English. The Hebrew version is available at this link. (Facebook)


What was the reason that brought you to guide at the DiD exhibition?

Money. Many of those who came to work at DiD at that time were motivated by financial need. The most common jobs for blind people back then were in sheltered factories; disability allowances were low, unemployment among the blind was high, and generally speaking, the economic situation was not great.

Do you remember the first tour? What was it like? Or do you have another significant memory?

Before I lost my sight, I worked as a car adjuster and safety officer. As part of my job, I engaged in professional training. Despite my experience in training, it was surreal to share my personal life publicly. It felt like a huge exposure, and I wasn't prepared for it. I remember the first tour vividly. The group entered; I sensed their fear, and I couldn't stop crying throughout the entire tour. I had always thought my fears were abnormal because I had no one to compare them to. Suddenly, witnessing the fears and anxieties of the audience, I realized I was normal and my fears were normal too. These were tears of relief and happiness. It was a transformative experience I'll never forget.

Whom do you dream of guiding at DiD?

I dream of guiding the singer Yehuda Polikar. Our life paths are similar in many respects. Our parents are from Thessaloniki, Greece, and we are both second-generation Holocaust survivors. I lost a brother, while he lost two nephews. His songs seem to resonate with the story of my life.

What does DiD mean to you, and did you ever believe you would guide here for so many years?

DiD is the lifeline of my life; I have no other words for it. It's miraculous. Initially, I joined for financial reasons, but I quickly recognized the immense value this place added to my life. From my first day here, beyond providing me with a livelihood, it also provided me with a form of care. Daily exposure to diverse people and groups prompted me to engage in self-reflection and internal growth.

What would be your life message?

Take nothing for granted. If we look at life this way, even the smallest or most trivial things gain added value. I appreciate life more today. I love what I have. Ignorance, lack, or even blindness don't define me. Blindness is not an issue for me today; I don't have to "put up with it." It doesn't stop me from feeling complete. I do feel complete. Blindness is like a bag on my back—sometimes heavy, sometimes light—but everyone has their own bag and frustrations. Oddly enough, the last 20 years have been the happiest of my life.

Do you think DiD succeeds in making a change?

We meet so many people here, and I can't say for sure if their tolerance towards others is due to their visit here or if it's just their natural disposition. We can't track the long-term impact on visitors. However, there's no doubt that DiD has opened doors for blind individuals, and not just those who have worked or are working here, by offering them opportunities to enter the job market. Personally, the exhibition has indeed changed me.

What is unique about your guiding approach?

I don't talk about physical blindness during my tours. I don't define myself as blind but as "sight-impaired." There are many kinds of blindness: mental, emotional, and ethical. So, I'm not fixated on the "blind spot." I focus on talking about life, its challenges, and struggles.