I volunteer my time and talents in several charitable endeavors.
When all is lost, the one thing that people turn to is photographs – to relive and cherish their memories of loved ones. When my precious daughter Miya, died in 2007, it completely devastated me and my family. I turned to holocaust survivors to help cope with the fear of forgetting my daughter, the intricate details of what makes a person unique: the way she hugged and smelled and sounded and loved.
This was the beginning of the journey into my first book Living Witnesses: Faces of the Holocaust, a collection of portraits and stories of 90 Detroit area Holocaust survivors. I soon realized the experience was not only therapeutic to me and my daughter, Sabrina, who is a writer and wrote their stories… but, also therapeutic to the survivors themselves. My assistant, Linda Schlesinger, and I visited each survivor’s house. Quickly, we realized that they wanted their history told for the world, for their families to hear. Often, they had never shared their wartime suffering and experiences - not even with their families.
Soon, we expanded the project. We met with survivors throughout the US, Europe, Israel, and Canada. In all, 400 holocaust survivors are featured altogether. As a result of our continuing commitment we created Living Witnesses: Triumph Over Tragedy. The project is a testimony to the survivors’ lives today and the triumph over their past. But my work with those who have lost didn’t stop with the survivors.
Knowing firsthand what it’s like to lose a cherished person, I am also involved with Beaumont Hospital. They call me to photograph babies who are on life support and babies who have passed. People ask me, “How do I do it?” But, really my question is “How do I not photograph these babies?!” They are the only pictures that these parents will have of their baby. Closure after tragedy is elusive, difficult, and takes time. My intention is that my photographs will alleviate some of their pain.
Jewish Family Services Hospice Chaplaincy - This organization is very close to my heart. They honor the end of a person’s life with dignity and comfort. It’s a gift to be able to say good bye to a loved one.
In addition, I also support the Haven Project, Kadima, and GVAWL (Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League).