Shadowed rabbi in the frame

By Faga Speker, November 11, 2010
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Rabbi Dovid Lewis: a year recorded

Rabbi Dovid Lewis: a year recorded

Newcastle photographer Paul Brown has published a pictorial account of a local rabbi after shadowing him for a year.

Fifty people attended a presentation of The Rabbi – A Year in the Life Of at Newcastle United Hebrew Congregation. At the event Rabbi Dovid Lewis and Mr Brown, who is not Jewish, spoke about how the photographer spent time with the rabbi and his family following their personal and public life.

Rabbi Lewis said: "At first it felt very strange, but very quickly Nachi, my wife and children Chaya and Tzivia settled and relaxed with Paul.

"Paul, his wife and family even spent a Friday night dinner with us, followed by the Brown family now sitting down at their home every Friday for a family dinner!"

Mr Brown's shadowing of Rabbi Lewis included a four-day visit to Auschwitz by members of the local Jewish community and faith leaders including Newcastle's Bishop Martin Wharton.

Mr Brown recalled the idea for the book came from travelling in Europe where he photographed Holocaust sites and traces of shtetl life.

He also studied publications by photographers such as Roman Vishniac and Mendel Grossman and became aware of the pivotal role of a rabbi within communities.

He said: "I took 8,500 images over the year, of which 156 were chosen for the book, but there are many, many more that are stored in my mind as pictures I will never forget.

"I went into a Jewish community as a stranger and came out of it with many good friends, especially Rabbi Lewis and his family."

A travelling educational exhibition entitled "They are only pictures" has also been made from the photography project.

Rabbi – A Year in the Life Of can be purchased from Paul Brown's website www.fromtheedge.co.uk. It costs £28.95 and is self-published by Blurb.com.

    Last updated: 9:53am, November 12 2010