Saturday, September 28, 2013

Kids Having Fun

The holiday of Sukkah is called a 'festival' because it is a time of rejoicing - for the bountiful fall harvest and for freedom from Egyptian slavery. During the holiday I went to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn which, although it is being gentrified, is a bastion of orthodox Jewery, especially of the intensely devout Satmar sect. At the direction of one of the people I photographed, I sought out a street fair that had everything any street fair in any town in America might have - kids' rides, games of chance, and food stands. And the kids were loving it.

Which reminds me, kids are blank slates. They just do what their biologically programmed to do - have fun. They grow into what we write on those slates. Some of us spend a good part of our lives trying to overcome what was written, and to getting back to having fun.

Monday, September 23, 2013

East Side Glatt

While walking around the Lower East Side, on several occasions I stopped into the East Side Glatt store on Grand Street. It's like focal point of the neighborhood that everyone stops at some time during their week. The first time I saw the store was in August on my first trip back to the neighborhood when I decided to revisit the work I had done of the community twenty years ago. I posted a blog entry about meeting 98 year old concentration camp survivor Max Davidowitz (with whom I hope to spend more time as the project unfolds). The owner of the store invited me to explore the back story (behind the double doors and down the stairs) and take whatever photos I wanted.

This is Baruch Weiss, proprietor of the establishment:

And the charming Eddie Brown, who has lived in the neighborhood his whole life:

And Raphael Estevez - he was kind enough to offer me some of those yummie looking potato latkes that he was cooking up:

But the highlight of any visit to the store is chatting with the social director (and ham - yes, yes, it's a kosher store) Nurit Bendavid, who would never forgive me if I didn't include a photo of her:


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Season of Jewish Holidays

For the past week I've been loaded with work: photos to edit and process, events to photograph, and meetings about my current project about the Lower East Side. It's good to be busy with what I love to do, but it's kept me from writing on this blog about what I do. I need to write about it - to have some kind of perspective on the whole process.

The real meat of the project is in pursuing the threads of the work I produced twenty years ago when I first began to work on Manhattan Diaspora. After this week when the holidays are over, I'll be able to start in on that. But it seems that as I work along, new avenues open and need to be explored. Besides digging back into the original stream of work, which is centered on the dissolution of the long history of the Jewish Lower East Side, I've decided to explore where it has moved on to: Brooklyn, upstate New York, New Jersey. And as I reconnect with some past acquaintances from the previous work, I'm finding new people, which lead to new directions to explore and gets me deeper into the culture and community.

I hope to be able to eventually have a show of the project - the original photographs shot in 1993-94, and the current work - and hopefully a book to accompany it. I can always dream. Becoming once again deeply invested in a long term project is invigorating, but being invigorated now is quite a bit more taxing physically for me than it was twenty years ago.  Boo hoo .... poor me.

Last week I revisited my friend Sholom Halpert - the Henry Street bookbinder - and received an invitation to visit him in Monroe, NY and to see his Sukkat. I'm hoping to get up there in the next few days. I've heard from several sources that Monroe is rich in subject material. When I was at his shop, Mr. Halpert was repairing and recovering a Talmud (the compendium of Jewish written law) that had been printed in 1860.

I'm hoping to write several more blogposts this week to catch up on material I've been shooting. But then again, I have several more events to shoot this week, so who knows how exhausted I'll be.....