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With Me, For Rosh HaShanah

Ahron D. Weiner

For the past six years, internationally acclaimed photographer Ahron D. Weiner has traveled to Uman for Rosh HaShanah to document the ever-increasing numbers of Jews of every affiliation who make their way to Rebbe Nachman’s gravesite. An intimate look at the festivities in an exclusive preview of his upcoming exhibition.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Uman

For the past six years, internationally acclaimed photographer Ahron D. Weiner has traveled to the small Ukrainian village of Uman for Rosh HaShanah to document the Jews of every affiliation who make their way to Rebbe Nachman’s gravesite.

In his words, “Every year, an increasing number of Jews from every walk of life, from all over the world, converge in Uman, a small, unremarkable city in the Central Ukraine. They spend Rosh HaShanah united in meditation and prayer at the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. In 1991 (just following Perestroika), only 250 devout Breslov adherents traveled to Uman. In 2009, over 25,000 made the trip.

“For the past six years, I have joined this pilgrimage – camera in hand – to document this uniquely moving and increasingly spectacular event. The festival-like atmosphere is replete with dancing, singing, eating, drinking and a spirit of communal prayer.

“‘Next Year In Uman: A Journey To The Ukraine’ captures men at prayer and children at play, quiet moments of individual introspection and massive throngs of men worshipping in the streets.   

“There is an eerie dissonance in this mass of Jews returning to pray in Ukraine sixty-five years after the devastation of the Holocaust. The juxtaposition of these subjects praying in a forlorn Ukrainian town indeed hearken back to the lost era of the shtetl. Black-and-white images echo those captured by Roman Vishniak in his journeys across pre-war Europe, while color images convey the energy and vibrancy of this contemporary event.”

Mr. Weiner is a fine art and documentary photographer, born and raised in New York City. Having lived for several years in Prague, he traveled Eastern Europe extensively, documenting both the remnants of a disappearing Jewish heritage and a modern-day pilgrimage of Jews returning to rural Ukraine. His work has been featured in galleries, books, magazines, and newspapers in the US and Europe. 

“Next Year In Uman: A Journey To The Ukraine” will open as a solo photography show at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art on April 7, 2011. Mr. Weiner has granted Mishpacha exclusive rights to publish a selection of his Uman images for our Rosh HaShanah issue. 

 

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