The week before last, I was lucky to see three separate rainbows. Certainly, impressive and rare for this part of the country. I even managed to pull from the recesses of my brain, the appropriate prayer for sighting a rainbow. Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, ruler of the Universe, who remembers the covenant and keeps promises. This specific promise was to Noah to never destroy the Earth again. It seemed like a particularly good time, given the world situation, to be assured that we would continue. To borrow from another part of our tradition, “Dayenu”. Not one, not two, but three rainbows might have been enough, but that wasn’t my only miracle for the month.
For the past several weeks I have been bouncing around Westchester shooting photos of congregants on their doorsteps, in their front yards, in their backyards, hanging from trees, creating human pyramids, holding hands, making faces, holding puppies and engaging in myriad conversations about WJC. Tami Arnowitz had spotted a Facebook posting from another Synagogue which had initiated a Front Steps Project similar to that of a local photographer in Boston. He had posted a series of photos as he traveled around town, photographing folks who were situationally forced to be home. He was doing this in order for their friends and neighbors to “see” them. In return, a small donation to a charity of choice was suggested. (To date, around the country, these Front Steps donations have totaled close to 1.5 million dollars.) Tami asked if I would be willing to shoot similarly themed photos and the WJC Front Steps Project was born. Little did I know…
During the past few weeks, I have shot close to a thousand photos of just over fifty WJC families with nearly 180 family members. The youngest was under two years of age and the oldest was ninety-five. There were new members, folks who had been members for over fifty years, and everything in between. Everyone was in place, on time, and unbelievably gracious and appreciative. Not a single solitary cranky person in the bunch (speaking of miracles). I am deeply appreciative of all the folks who volunteered to be photographed.
What I found was that despite a difference in generations, in religious backgrounds, in life situations, and in personal stories, all were sufficiently interested in a WJC experience and in what was happening with their synagogue neighborhood. Our family and others of my generation have spent much time, resources, and effort contemplating the future of our synagogue and of our spiritual community. While I am optimistic by nature, the past several months clearly has made this difficult at times. What I would ask you to do is spend the next few minutes looking at just some of the families who make up the Westchester Jewish Center. I have every reason to believe you will find the experience soul-nourishing. If you are in one of the photos, thank you and please resist the temptation to see if you are standing straight, or regret the “wear shorts idea” or… and just enjoy the community of which you are a part. Miracles do indeed happen all around us.
If you would have liked to participate, but couldn’t, there will be another round. Feel free to email Harold.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to the waitlist. Again, you may enter the contest even if you are not in the photos.