News, People

70 Faces Project Highlights Community’s Compelling Personal Narratives

by JCPConnect-

Memphis Jewish Federation’s yearlong celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday will culminate with an exhibit highlighting individuals from the Memphis Jewish community as well as from Shoham, Memphis’s partner city in Israel, announced Laura Linder, President and CEO of Jewish Community Partners.

The 70 Faces exhibit will launch on Monday, December 10 in the lobby of the MJCC, with a reception 5:30-7:30 pm, open to the community. Many of the featured “Faces” will be in attendance, and community members can browse the profiles and meet the subjects in person. Follow the link to learn more and RSVP on the JCP Facebook page. 

Subjects were chosen through a collaborative nomination process aimed at highlighting individuals who contribute to the community in a variety of ways but are not broadly known. A parallel process took place in Shoham. Stories vary— heartwarming, inspiring, and sometimes humorous, they represent ordinary people doing extraordinary things. There are women, men, and children; Jews by birth and Jews by choice; Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews; fifth-generation Memphians and immigrants. You’ll read about a doctor making strides in cancer research, a tween who writes for Scholastic’s “Kid Reporter” blog, the only female gabbai (synagogue sexton) in Memphis, a farmer and conservationist from Arkansas, and many more. And that’s just from the Memphis stories! Memphians will also enjoy “meeting” an equally diverse array of subjects from Shoham.

The 70 Faces project kicked off in March with a visit from Erez Kaganovitz, photojournalist and founder of Humans of Tel Aviv, an ongoing social media project Erez has described as “giv[ing] people around the world an inside look into the rich and remarkably diverse lives of Tel Aviv [residents] and showcas[ing] Israeli multiculturalism and vibrant civil society.” Erez came to Memphis through the MJCC’s Israeli Scholar-in-Residence program, funded in part by MJF’s Lemsky Endowment Fund. He presented a series of lectures and workshops to community members, including hands-on photojournalism training for those who volunteered to produce content for 70 Faces. Melinda Lejman, JCP’s Israel @70 Coordinator, matched volunteers with subjects and worked with Memphis Jewish agencies and synagogues to coordinate and market the project.

“It’s been a wonderful experience, tapping into a skill that I love and getting to know some remarkable people in our community who I didn’t know,” said Jaynie. “I’m very grateful to Melinda for her guidance along the way.”

The main idea behind Humans of Tel Aviv and 70 Faces is simple— find people with compelling personal stories, interview them, and publish a photo and short bio. “I’m not forcing my ideas upon others,” Erez said, “but rather simply taking a photo, telling a story, and letting it speak for itself.” And yet, subtle nuances of photography and storytelling can produce transformative results. Erez conducted several interviews in Memphis in order to provide shadowing and mentorship opportunities for the volunteer photojournalists. They learned practical photography skills in camera angles, focus, and lighting, as well as how to ask the right questions of their subjects to bring out compelling anecdotes.

The photojournalists, who represent all segments of the Memphis Jewish community and also come from a wide age spectrum, include Pesya Berezin, Rivka Braverman, Gali Du, Chany Fleischhacker, Zahara Goldkin, Leah Goldman, Natalie and Jimmy Jalenak, Jaynie Judaken, Rena Knopf, Stuart Lazarov, Michael and Melinda Lejman, Lynnie Mirvis, Jill Notowich, Jennifer Roberts, Amir Sharabi, Jillian Spiegel, and Sarah VanderWalde. They each spent extensive time getting to know their subjects, meeting them at their homes or in other places meaningful to them in order to capture compelling images and narratives.

Members of the 70 Faces Committee include Melanie Fine, Cindy Finestone, Rabbi Mordechai Harris, Rena Knopf, Jennifer Roberts, and Scott Notowich, who serves as JCP’s Vice Chair of Israel & Overseas.

“We are so excited to finally bring this meaningful project to fruition,” Scott said. “I am looking forward to the Memphis Jewish community getting to know better some of the hidden gems of our community as well as introducing them to some of our brothers and sisters in Shoham who also have compelling life stories. This American-Israeli getting to know each other is what the Memphis-Shoham Partnership is all about.”

Following the opening reception on December 10, the 70 Faces exhibit will run for two weeks.

The Memphis-Shoham Partnership is part of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership2gether Peoplehood Platform, connecting 450 Jewish and Israeli communities in 47 city-to-city and region-to-region Partnerships, engaging more than 350,000 participants each year in meaningful ongoing connections between Israelis and Jews through unique programs and one-on-one encounters. The Memphis-Shoham Partnership includes school twinnings, professionals’ exchanges, youth encounters, Israel mission visits and more.

Photos, from top to bottom. (Note- some mobile devices may not display the top {cover} photo.)  

  • Jessica Sukholdosky and Joel Siegel
  • Jordan Geller
  • Sylvia Appleton

Memphis Faces

Matthew Abis, Tania Addess, Sylvia Albert, Patrick Almalem, Leeya Alperin, Sylvia Appleton, David Bearman, Gabby Bray, Jeff Bronze, Charlotte Fineburg Bruechner, Maurice Buring, Jason Caplan, Marleyna Carpenter, Jed Dreifus, Gali Du, Rich Faber, Leslie Fargotstein, Sam Fargotstein and David Edelson, Freddie Felt, Sara First, Hal Fogelman, JoAnn Fusco, Jordan Geller, Dorothy Goldwin, Judi Harrick, Lisa Harris, Mark Hayden, Matthew Hollon, Linda Joffre, Shirley Kaplan, Sadie Kiel, Marty LeVine, Amara Levine-Reich, Marshall Levy, Richard and Aviva Lewis, Barry Lichterman, Jake Lipsey, Celia Lubin, Tresha Mandel, Fred and Elaine Miner, Susan and David Moinester, Yaakov Muchnik, Alvin Notowich, Sally Rosenberg, Randa Rosenblum, Carter Rosenthal, David Ross, Chana Rovner, Robin Salant, Harry Samuels, Sherri Samuels, Mildred Schwartz, Lee Schwartzberg, Irv Serenco, Dessie Sewel, Alayne Shoenfeld, Shoshana Silbermann, Felicitas Sloves, Daniel Snyder, Jessica Sukhodolsky and Joel Siegel, Rachel Sanderson, Joel and Mariette Turetzky, Curt Ward, Cindi Weinstein, Mike Weiss, Bert Wolff, Sofia Zamuel, Todd Zoblotsky

Shoham Faces

Monica Balachssan, Suzi Bar, Yossi Ben Haim, Levana Ben Naim, Yuval Ben Ze’ev, Tammy Brikman, Yael Dahan, Adi Deutsch, Gali Deutsch, Dana Edelstein-Yirmiyahu, Einat Elisha, Meital Eran-Jona, Sharon Gabriel, Gefen Gilinski, Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Nir Hamou, Hanny Karas, Shir Kochav, Assaf Loyton, Sigal Magen, Keren Muchnik, Lior Peretz, Iris Raber Cohen, Gilad Rabinovich, Frida Raz, Peleg Reshef, Sapir Ritblat, Zehava Shneor, Ofra Sion Retter, Tsofiya Silberman, Kokhy Sitbon, Ziva Sviatlowski, Florence Vaknin, Tali Versano-Eisman, Yaniv Wisney

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