Jewish Geography: Africa

OSAKA, Japan — I’ve literally been playing Jewish geography. Nope, not my app quiz game on iTunes. I’ve been scouring Google maps and managed to locate all my 50 or so photo appointments in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa and I printed them out. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a little too organized, anally so. Well, once I hit the road, I have no practical means of printing, so this advanced map game preparation is a crucial, if tedious, task.

Now I have to get there.

MapsJHB,CPT (click to enlarge)

Puzzling all the appointments together into a coherent diary is a bigger challenge. I’ve done my best to book photo shoots in a logical fashion by proximity. But getting permissions in the first place makes me into something rather like a human pinball, pinged and ponged from one email address to another before scoring the right contact and, ultimately, photo permission. It all starts with an internet search and a query to the “info@” or “office@” email address listed on community websites. Then, with no initial response, which is the case more often than not, I send a determined follow up email a few days later. A tentative response comes at last, followed by a few to several back-and-forth missives. And so it goes.

And so I go. I’m off to Johannesburg on Tuesday, July 31, and my first photo appointment just hours after touchdown. I expect to be delirious with jet lag, but also with anticipation and excitement. I look forward to making the acquaintances of all my cyber buddies who have so graciously welcomed me. I’ve even been invited by some perfect strangers to attend a few private affairs, including my first ever upshernish (a ritual hair cutting ceremony on a Jewish boy’s third birthday) and a bat mitzvah. In Bulawayo and Harare, Zimbabwe, I’m staying in the homes of two people whom I’ve never met, one with whom I’ve only exchanged a handful of emails.

But not everything can nor should be prearranged in life nor travel, and so my calendar purposely has open wedges of time. Some things, perhaps the best things, will be left to chance and serendipity. I think that is when and where I will discover the true spirit of Jewish Africa.

Indeed, that is when and where we discover the true mettle and moxie in ourselves.


JONO DAVID 10-minute live interview on the radio: On Friday, August 3rd, 2012, I’m going to be interviewed about my Jewish Africa photo project on Chai FM radio 101.9 in Johannesburg, South Africa at 7:50 a.m. (that’s 1:50 a.m. EST USA; 6:50 a.m. GMT; 8:50 a.m. ISRAEL;  2:50 p.m. Japan; 3:50 p.m. Sydney). Check out their website for internet listening options (e.g. iTunes) and podcasts:


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One thought on “Jewish Geography: Africa

  1. Jono,
    Best wishes on this journey! I look forwrd to your stories and photos.
    Sol Levy
    Rockville. MD, USA

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