I’ve been developing some visual ideas as I research buildings in West Philadelphia that were once synagogues.
One idea revolves around the Hebrew word, Vayehi – meaning, “And it was”.
I found this word in a illumination from a 14th century prayerbook. It’s the first word of the Book of Ruth. This context is less important to me than the simple symbolic meaning of the word as it relates to my project of researching Jewish history.
So I’ve been playing with this word, both with its meaning, and with the word as a symbol:
In my process of exploring this word, I’ve found myself thinking of ways of putting it to use that might refer to larger Jewish histories.
This work led me to the thought – wouldn’t it be interesting to pair this word Vayehi with images from the past, and the word Vehaya – “And it will be” – to images of a possible future?
Investigating the physical remnants of Jewish religious life in West Philly may be leading me both back and forward to a more expansive view of Jewish, and world, history.