OSAKA, Japan — I am leaving for Africa again today. My favorite word in that sentence is “again”. When coupled with “Africa”, I marvel at how lucky I am.
I have taken many “trips of a lifetime” and I take none of my travel and good fortune for granted. Travel has long been a part of my life not just as a get away from the daily grind, but as a central component of my existence. I travel. It’s what I do. I have not even left for my next trip and already I am thinking ahead to February and March when I will next be on the road in Africa.
Between now and then, over the new year, I’ll be journeying in Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Even there, in HCMC, I’ll be photographing Jews at the Chabad Center.
As I look ahead to spring, I see the halfway point in my Jewish Africa photo survey project. It will be leg #4 of an anticipated 8 legs. That trip will be a huge milestone because when I set out on this daunting project and task that I laid out for myself, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. I saw two obstacles: logistics and money. I felt if could manage and overcome those hurdles that photographing all of Jewish Africa was in itself a reasonable ambition. The continent is huge, but the Jewish community is relatively miniscule. My goal now seems very attainable, even reasonable. But it seemed audacious this time last year when I was about to embark on leg #1.
My spring trip will also be a milestone because it will likely include the 100th country in my Jewish photo archives. Though I’ve traveled to some 125 countries and territories, only (yes, only) 91 of those include images from the Jewish world. Many of those photos are quite horrible as they are from the earliest days of my Jewish photography, some even before I ever realized I would be on this path, and even before I ever considered myself a photographer. On this forthcoming trip, I will be adding Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, and Swaziland to the library.
I’ve come a long way. I am going a long way. Join me on my Jewish African safari…again.
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