Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Midtown New York This Afternoon

Traffic was controlled chaos. With the opening of the UN and all the diplomats and heads of state
attenting streets were closed all over midtown. Seems to me a terrible waste of manpower and money, just to ensure the safety of an institution that is a meaningless anachronism of the Twentieth Century.
The bright spot for me as I walked around was to visit the Mitzvah Tank that's parked on Fifty Seventh Street near Fifth Avenue every Wednesday afternoon.

Today was an important day in the Jewish calendar, called Chai Elul - the 18th of Elul: the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, Yisroel Ben EliezaR - the founder of the Chassidic movement, and the birthday of Sneur Zalman of Lliadi - the founder of the Chabad Lubavitche sect of Judaism. Also for the entire month of Elul leading up to the first day of Tishrei - which is the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is sounded during each of the three daily services and also for anyone who happens by and would like to hear the sound.

My friend Kalman, one of the regulars on the Mitzvah Tank (and a fellow photog):

Rabbi Levi Baumgarten blowing the shofar after the afternoon Minchah service:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Abundance of Bris Photos

Last October, after looking at all the work of the past few years on my Diaspora/Dream project, I realized I had gaps in the the overall story. One was the lack of brit milah photos. Now I have too many to choose from, and narrowing it down has become very difficult. The photo story has to be told in twenty images, so I don't have the luxury of several photos of the same subject. I have thirteen 'finals' to choose from, and as I'm writing this entry and listing the photos the stronger ones are becoming more obvious to me, but here they all are arranged by event.

I like this series of three photos because they have the intimacy of being in a private home. And the family and community are average mainstream middle-class Jews. The first is of the father holding his son before the ceremony:

The paternal grandfather holding the baby: 

Looking on while the mohel does the circumcision:

Another home setting with the paternal grandfather, baby, and mohel:

The next two were taken at Chabad World Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. 

The last set were taken in a restored synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side.  The first two are of the father holding the baby. They're very similar and each has it's strengths and weaknesses.

I have a special feeling about this last shot because of the view of the wine cup and the rabbi holding the baby. It's technically not great, but that's the problem when, as a photographer I become attached for emotional reasons to an image.