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Contributions by Joel Snyder. Text by David Travis.
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"We are still a people in exile, wandering in the desert," said David Ben Gurion, quoted at the beginning of Brenner's wondrous photographic essay celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Israel. Brenner, winner of the 1992 Prix de Rome and creator of Jews/America/A Representation (Abrams, 1996), spent nearly two decades photographing Jews throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. Here he presents photographs of individuals and families who have since emigrated to Israel. Stark, powerful, and artfully posed, the black-and-white photographs showing these strangers in their strange new land are juxtaposed with their original photos: a Russian steelworker with her teenaged son, the mother now retired and the son a draftee; a group of Russian barbers bathing?and barbering?in the Dead Sea; a Yugoslavian banker (now a gas station attendant) and his family picnicking at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; an Estonian girl on her wedding day in Jaffa. In the stillness of these images one can hear the silent cries of exile, the anguished whispers of "Who am I? Who was I?" American photographer Wolke presents an entirely different view of the Jewish experience: his color photographs, exhibited this year at the Art Institute of Chicago (this book is the catalog), show Jews of Chicago and its suburbs, full of life and passion, glorying in their communal life: a baby's bris, men reading the Torah, boys at a morning service, a Passover seder, Chanukah candle lighting. As University of Chicago art historian Joel Snyder remarks in his introduction, Wolke's snapshot-like photographs allow "a view of the complex culture of a people whose devotion to the past everywhere intersects with the anxieties and pressures and pleasures of the present." These two very different documentary volumes are highly recommended for both Judaica and photography collections.?Marcia G. Welsh, Guilford Free Lib., CT
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