One Nation: 36 Hidden American Jews
The mission of this Photo Book Project is to create a visual catalyst to evoke thoughts and provoke dialogue on issues affecting Jewish unity and continuity in twenty-first century America. Through portraits and interviews of thirty six Jews of disparate backgrounds, beliefs and practices, the artist endeavors to create a portrait of American Jewry enabling the observer to look at American Jews and each the members of the American Jewish community and ask; “What makes me Jewish? What makes me an American? What do I believe in? Where are we going as a people?”
These questions are put to thirty-six Jews from a wide variety of backgrounds from across the country. Their thoughtful and candid responses appear next to their image compelling the viewer to ask; “Am I like this? Can I relate?” We are a dynamic people which is ever living and evolving, and have an opportunity to now take a step back and look at ourselves in the mirror, and appreciate not only where we have come from, but who we are and where we are going.
Unlike any previous photo essay on American Jewry, this project does not put the Jewish people or a group of Jews behind a museum glass, but rather engages us to grow and thereby understand each other and ourselves as coreligionists.
While similar to Vishniac’s work in importance, this project seeks to go beyond his and other encyclopedic works by taking down the walls we have created with stereotypes. This work seeks to portray the Jewish people as individuals different from one another, but with one common tie. We are not only peasants of Eastern Europe nor the famous movie producers of Hollywood, neither are we all the magnates of Wall Street,; we are ordinary people with our own thoughts and unique personalities. This project seeks to identify the common personality of American Jewry by allowing us to see ourselves for whom we really are; a nation of righteous individuals, comprised of disparate individuals with dramatically differing views on Judaism as individuals and as a nation.