I made my first trip to Poland in 1992 for CBC’s The Fifth Estate. My next trips were also for documentary film work, in 2002 and 2007. On all these occasions I was struck by the richness and beauty of Jewish material culture in the land most often associated by Jews with the Holocaust. I returned a second time in 2007, in September, to begin making still photographs in the Jewish Cemetery in Lodz, the largest in Europe, and I have returned to Poland seven more times since.
Poland, for a thousand years, was the home of a diverse Jewish community that became the most populous and most important in Europe, and the world. I have travelled there to photograph the heritage remains of that society which include many historic cemeteries, ruined and restored synagogues, former Jewish neighbourhoods and ghettos, buildings and other cultural artifacts, as well as physical remnants of the community’s demise in the Holocaust.
Partly due to the efforts of Evelyn Tauben, guest curator for this exhibition and my colleague, the 2013 edition of Holocaust Education Week agreed to sponsor an exhibition of this work, and Dorion Liebgott, curator of the Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum at the Beth Tzedec Congregation, agreed to provide the venue for the show. The exhibition features twenty-six large scale colour prints that survey a variety of Jewish sites, some terrible but many surprisingly beautiful, all part of a civilization whose remnants are slowly being reclaimed by contemporary Poles and Jews the world over.