This is a photo book I created as the result of a semester long project in Charlee Brodsky's Photo Narrative course. I spent the first half of the course photographing and developing my concept and then in the second half, designing and creating the physical book by hand.
Introduction: On October 27th, 2018, a man named Robert Browers opened fire on the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill, about a mile away from Carnegie Mellon’s campus, killing eleven people. The tragedy did not hit me right away. Having just started my freshman year in Pittsburgh, a city unknown to me, I initially did not feel as if someone had attacked my community. I wasn’t a Pittsburgh local and had never interacted with the Jewish community there. I hurt for the lives that were lost and was disturbed by such a disgusting act of hatred, but it still seemed distant from me. That is, until going to a service at a synagogue about a week later. This service, during which I stared at the exit the entire time, was the first instance I ever felt scared to be Jewish. This moment of realization prompted a period of self-reflection and curiosity with regards to my Jewish heritage that I had never before given much thought. I began looking into my family’s history as European Jews during the Holocaust, considering how the fear I felt that day in the synagogue was the same fear that had shaped many of their experiences. This book is a collection of photos and thoughts that delve into my feelings during this time. Most importantly, I want to stress that this book is not an all-encompassing representation of my Jewish identity but rather just the beginning of a process of discovery.