OSAKA, Japan — On February 4, 2016, I will embark upon the 8th and final leg of my Jewish Africa photographic survey project. But “final” this project is not. Jewish Africa can never be fully documented, of course, because it is in continual growth, change, and flux. Its history is in the making daily. For followers of this project, it goes on to exhibitions, presentations, and a book. For me, however, it goes on through the personal connections I’ve made. Certainly the experiences and memories will last a lifetime. And Jewish Africa itself, I think, will continue to call to me in ways that I perhaps do not even yet realize.
This final jaunt will take me to Egypt, Cameroon, Gabon, South Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Ceuta (Spanish enclave), and Tunisia before wrapping up — and winding down — in Israel and Turkey. As I wonder about what lies ahead, I muse on all that’s gone before.
The end has me feeling nostalgic for the beginning. I’m recalling the audacious plan I set out for myself and wonder how it must have sounded to others. “You wanna do what?” they must have thought. I had even considered quitting my job to give the project my undivided time and attention.
From landing on leg #1 in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 1, 2012 onwards, Jewish Africa blossomed for me like a baobab tree of life. Each in their own way, the communities of Jewish Africa have welcomed me and revealed their ways of life and Jewish observance. Each and every soul I’ve met has been a friend, a guide, a teacher, and a partner. Without them, my project would never have gotten off the ground.
As I clean my lenses and pack up my gear for this final leg, I question whether I have adequately captured the soundtrack of Jewish Africa to visually play the symphony in a book or to play it in a presentation. I wonder if I have sufficiently answered the question, Who are the Jews of Africa? Is my doubt a lack of confidence or a lack of material? I am not sure I can be the one to say. But that uncertainty propels me till Jewish Africa is completed (whatever “completed” means).
JEWISH AFRICA PHOTO EXHIBITIONS:
- “The Children of Abraham and Sarah” (January 28~November 30, 2016) — featuring 34 of my “black Jews of Africa” photos from 8 countries. Beit Hatfutsot Museum (the Museum of the Jewish People), Tel Aviv, Israel.
- “Jewish Africa” images will also be on show at The Goldman Gallery at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, D.C., USA (spring 2017); The Jewish Museum of Morocco, Casablanca, Morocco (dates pending); The Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa (dates pending); The Jewish Museum of Australia, Melbourne, Australia (dates pending).
- “Ama Juda eAfrika? Yes, Jews in Africa.” The Irish Jewish Museum. Dublin, Ireland. July 13~October 15, 2015.
Click for JEWISH AFRICA PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS.
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