Diaspora: Homelands in Exile
From Rome to New York, India to Yemen, Buenos Aires to Bukhara, Morocco to Ethiopia, Krakow to Jerusalem, Diaspora, Homelands in Exile is a chronicle of the Jewish Diaspora at the end of the twentieth century, a portrait woven over 25 years and in more than 40 countries.
Everywhere I went, I marveled at the prodigious memory of Jews. Many of the communities I visited were barely surviving – almost fossils, yet still living – and the remnant that did survive brought to light countless forms of acculturation. Each community transformed and was simultaneously transformed by the larger society in which it lived. How is it possible to take on so many identities, adopt so many roles, become others, and yet remain oneself?
When I started out, my project was almost ethnographic in nature, if not in intent. But the more I progressed, the more I was forced to abandon the myth of “one people.” I was searching for what I believed in, continuity. I found only discontinuity. Looking for oneness, I only found disparity and otherness. And the more Jews I met, the less I understood what a Jew looks like.
I felt I traveled not only across the globe but also through the entire spectrum of time, from antique to post-modern, passing through tribal, medieval and industrial, exploring how Jews survived with a portable identity.
Initially intending to record vanishing Jewish communities before they disappeared, the project became a probing pursuit of the multiplicity of dissonant identities of individual Jews and of the Jewish people among the nations.