Woman knitting outside Majdanek concentration camp, wartime forced labor and killing center. Most of the camp’s original buildings and grounds remain intact. The camp-museum is open to the public. Lublin, 1975. ©Chuck Fishman
Special Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. Event on November 5th, from 2:00 – 3:00 pm:
Roots, Resilience and Renewal: A Portrait of Polish Jews, 1975-2016, by Chuck Fishman.
Join us for a private exhibition talk for Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. members and guests, by photographer Chuck Fishman on Sunday, November 5, at the Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home in Riverdale, located at 5901 Palisade Avenue in the Riverdale section of The Bronx.
The exhibition includes 36 black and white photographs made during multiple trips Fishman took to Poland over a period of more than 40 years, first as a young college student and later as a professional photojournalist. He first traveled to Poland in the summer of 1975 during the Communist era, accompanied by a writer, in search of what remained of Jewish life and culture in a country that Jews had inhabited for 1,000 years, a once-vibrant community whose history and legacy lay on the brink of extinction. What Fishman found were synagogues, locked, decaying and/or abandoned, and cemeteries in ruin; older Jews, living on pensions, by and large “underground” and with scant communal resources: the “kosher kitchens” in Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw; a Jewish club in Lodz, Friday night or Shabbat services in Warsaw and Krakow, and the Yiddish theater in Warsaw. That first journey resulted in the publication of Polish Jews: The Final Chapter (McGraw-Hill and New York University Press, 1977). Returning several times between 1975 and 1983, Fishman’s images provide rare glimpses into Jewish life during a period when Jews in the West had little or no access to their Polish forebears in the post-Holocaust era.
His more recent images – made after returning to post-Communist Poland for the first time in 30 years in 2013 -- more than two decades after the fall of Communism – chronicle a spiritual and cultural return to identity that Fishman says, “would have been unthinkable before.” His latest work speaks “to themes of resilience and renewal, exploring and elucidating the myriad faces and facets of recovery and regeneration,” he explains, as younger generations are discovering their Jewish roots, and what it means “being Jewish.”
Chess players at the Jewish Club in Lodz. At the outbreak of WW II, one third (230,000) of the city’s residents were Jewish. In 1975 approximately 500 remained, some gathering here to socialize. The mural, completed in 1960 by Adam (Aron) Muszka and no longer extant, depicts the Holocaust. Lodz, 1975. ©Chuck Fishman
Chuck Fishman has focused on social and political issues with a strong humanistic concern. His work has been extensively published, exhibited and collected worldwide, and has earned him prestigious World Press Photo Foundation medals four times. His photographs have appeared on the covers of Time, Life, Fortune, Newsweek, The London Sunday Times, The Economist, and numerous others, and have been selected for publication in the American Photography and Communication Arts juried annuals. Fishman’s work is included in the collections of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; The Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona; The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Hogan Jazz Archive., Tulane University, among many others, as well as in private and corporate collections. Fishman’s first monograph, Polish Jews: The Final Chapter, was published in 1977 in the United States. He has worked on book projects for publishers worldwide, from France to Singapore to Papua New Guinea. Exhibitions of his work include solo shows in the U.S. and Europe, and influential group exhibitions globally, including the International Center of Photography in New York City and the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China. For more information, visit ChuckFishman.com .
Exhibition jointly organized with Jewish Studies at Fordham University.
Photo I.D. required for admission. The NYC Marathon will also take place on November 5th, so plan your trip accordingly. You are welcome to arrive early to view all the exhibitions at the Derner Judaica Museum, as well as the Art Collection and Sculpture Garden and Grounds at Hebrew Home at Riverdale.