How to be gnarly even if you’re frum–Chareidi Jew jamming on a skateboard

01_ami095I just saw the cover of this week’s Ami Magazine (November 29, 2012), and it just made me feel good all over (and I’m pretty sick today, so that’s an accomplishment). On it, Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser is on his skateboard and playing guitar. He looks so frum and like he’s having so much fun. He’s an amazing speaker, by the way, and I think he’s in the States right now promoting his Possible You seminar.

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been hearing about images that break your heart or just make you angry. But this photo warms my heart.

Anybody out there care to share the details of a photo that warms their heart? Please do so in the comments.

A picture is worth a thousand words: what photojournalists don’t want you to know about their images

Two recent articles are worth a peek for what the reveal both about contemporary politics and about the nature of photography itself.

The pieces–one in the Washington Post, the other on Breitbart.com–describe misleading pictures published during the recent Gaza conflict. Most notably, photos of dead and maimed children were used by pro-Palestinian journalists in order to accuse the Israelis of being brutal assassins of the young. Whether you feel Israel’s actions were justified or not, Palestinian children were hurt and killed during battle (and so were Israeli children). However, further investigation revealed that one of the photos–said to portray a Palestinian child gravely wounded by Israelis–was in fact a child attacked by Syrian forces in the conflict in that country. And another child, supposedly killed by Israelis, was most likely killed by a Palestinian rocket that misfired. These are only two among many “photo-ops” that were intentionally mislabeled for political purposes.

ink bottle

If I spill some ink from this bottle, what will you see?

Of course, as the Washington Post article points out, the misrepresentation isn’t always by the pro-Palestinian side (although usually Israeli press just doesn’t publish images of Palestinians who are hurt or injured). And I don’t really want to get into the political aspects of this case. What I would like to do is point out how this issue goes far beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Continue reading

Using your art to touch the Divine

I subscribe to a service called PhotoBotos, which delivers gorgeous and thought-provoking photos from around the world to your inbox daily. Today’s photo exemplifies something that I’ve spoken about on my blog before–use of one’s talents to bring goodness and G-dliness into the world.

The photo is entitled “Beautiful Flower”–you can see it here–and the photographer’s goal was to capture the singularity of G-d and His tenderness for His creation. Take a minute view it and enjoy as you admire the wonder of G-d’s creation.

Moving photoessay online based on book "Where Children Sleep"

This piece in the New York Times contains selections from an upcoming book about the lives of children worldwide. When I saw these pictures of children and their bedrooms, I was greatly moved. James Mollison’s exquisite photos let you draw your own conclusions without any commentary, and–boy!–I drew quite a few.
For one thing, you can clearly see the variety of ways in which human beings live. Everyone knows that intellectually, but these pictures really send the message home.
The other thing that becomes immediately apparent is the material simplicity in which many of these children live. In some cases, there is obvious poverty and even oppression (the child in Appalachia, the pregnant 14 y o in Rio and the domestic worker in Katmandu). In other cases, material simplicity reflects a completely different way of seeing the world (Tvika in Beitar Ilit, the two Rendille children in Kenya and 8 y o Kraho boy from Brazil).
Here in the U.S., we see images of perfectly appointed bedrooms with matching furniture, bedding, and decor (there are some of those in Mollison’s photos, too) in Pottery Barn and Ikea catalogs and long for them. We see material excess and long for it. But for the vast majority of children on earth, those perfect bedrooms are impossible to obtain. These photos even make you consider–are they worth obtaining, after all? Is the child on Park Avenue happier than the one sleeping on the bare earth in the Sahara?
Something to think about.
Also interesting is that many of these bedrooms contain no visible reading material.