Women of Bershad
Contemporary Judaism in Eastern Europe is a complex hybrid of lingering traditions and memories, a culture deeply influenced by the environment of post-war Soviet Ukraine and the relentless march of modernity. The title of the series, "There Was a Forest", alludes to both the forest of the natural world, and the metaphorical human forest of Jewish life, both of which have been placed at risk of destruction by the force of technology, industrialization and war. The photographs depict Jewish community, traditions, and identity, gradually transforming communities there today: extinction in the remaining smaller enclaves and growth in the larger communities. Spanning five years, I have traveled continuously to Ukraine to photograph Jewish life and culture in this part of Eastern Europe. Research began with my own family's history as survivors of the Holocaust and sought to study how the Second World War and post-Soviet era have impacted Jews currently living there. Using digital color photographs to examine home life, religion and traditions, Jewish lives and rituals emerge as vibrant and colorful representations of struggle, identity, and strength. The vivid and highly saturated pigment prints convey the tangible reality of these places, representing the full palette of the region's hues and offer a glimpse into the survival of a traditional Jewish community through present time.