The Way We Look Now

The Forward Documents Diverse Faces of Jewish Youth

By Ari Jankelowitz

Published January 15, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
(All photos: Ari Jankelowitz)


The American Jewish community today is a kaleidoscope of diversity. The fall of the Soviet Union, the decline of overt anti-Semitism in the United States, an influx of converts to Judaism and the acceptance of interracial and interfaith marriage have forever changed the face of American Jewry. Our community is wonderfully heterogeneous and full of fascinating stories.

The Forward is focusing on children under the age of 13 — our Jewish future — this year for a project examining and documenting the changing Jewish landscape. Readers are encouraged to join us by submitting photographs of their children, nieces, nephews and friends, using this photo essay as a guide.

In my search for a representation of this melting pot of Yiddishkeit I reached out to synagogues, online parent groups and almost everyone I know in the New York area. Each family I met was kind and understanding and willing to have their children photographed. In many cases they opened their homes to me — a stranger with a camera. The children I photographed were incredibly sensitive and forthcoming. Perhaps it was the emotionally charged atmosphere following the recent events in Newtown, Conn., but I could feel the families’ burning hope in the air each time I clicked the shutter.

Karina Weinstein, a Ukrainian-Russian Jewish immigrant to the United States, was in Mexico for a graduate school public policy project when she fell in love with Juan Cuautle Juarez. They now reside in Brooklyn and are raising their son, Max, in a Jewish home.

Alina Adams, who grew up Jewish in Odessa, found a common bond with Scott, an African American raised in Harlem, over their grandmothers’ stringent advice that they have to work twice as hard in school to be considered half as good. They are now raising their three children, Adam, Gregory and Aries, in a Jewish home on the Upper West Side.

Elena Tavarez, whose mother is modern Orthodox from Brooklyn and whose father is Puerto Rican, married Fritz, whose background is Haitian and Puerto Rican. They are now raising their children, Mateo and Edie, as Jews in Elena’s childhood neighborhood of Windsor Terrace.

Ellen and Peter Tilem adopted Eliana from China. During the routine screening required for adopting a child, Peter discovered that he had a large thymic carcinoma in his heart and lung. He has since recovered, and the couple continues to raise Eliana, along with her two sisters, as Orthodox Jews in New Jersey, where they attend yeshiva.

Sylvia and Sammy Fallas, whose families have remained in Brooklyn since their great-grandparents immigrated from Syria almost 100 years ago, currently raise their daughter, Betty, in Midwood.

Malka Husarsky grew up on a block in Midwood filled with family and now lives in Ditmas Park with her husband Menachem, a fellow religious Ashkenazi Brooklynite, and their two children Elie and Meira.

These children are just a handful of the thousands of young people whose stories force us to reevaluate our assumptions about who is an American Jew.

Won’t you join us in documenting the new face of American Jewry?

Ari Jankelowitz is a photographer and writer living in Brooklyn. He has been a contributor to the Forward since 2008.

The Forward will be accepting submissions for our online Jewish diversity photo project, “The Way We Look Now.” Please send photos of children up to 13 years of age to diversity@forward.com. They must be your children or you must have permission from their parents.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.