By Rachel Smith, Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa
After graduating and feeling like I’d overdosed on anthropological theory but was lacking in real world experiences, I knew I wanted to travel. I moved to Abu Dhabi to work for a year as a Teaching Assistant at NYU Abu Dhabi, where I was also involved in building Jewish community and the NYUAD Writing Center.
This experience brought my Jewish identity to the fore. To explore it further, I moved to Jaffa, Israel for a study and volunteer fellowship. While spending a year on the Masa program, Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, I taught English and volunteered in education reform with HILA for Equality in Education. During this time, I lived with Jews from Colombia, Mexico, France, Hungary, and Israel, and realized that being Jewish meant something different to each of us.
When I came back to New York, I saw this magnified within the scale of a single city, inspiring me to apply for a PresenTense fellowship. My venture, And You Shall Tell, brings together interviews and portrait photography to document Jewish diversity in the city, and gives users the tools to record and share their own stories. Over the past few months, PresenTense has taught me how ideas are grown and how to grow ideas. They’ve helped me launch this venture, which combines my academic training in anthropology, my passion for Jewish diversity, and my love of New York. While New York is an ideal starting point, my goal is for the website to eventually expand to include other Jewish communities from across the country, and ideally from all over the world.
Originally from Philadelphia, Rachel moved to New York when she began studying Anthropology at NYU. After five years of studies, a year workingat NYU in Abu Dhabi, and a year in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, she’s now back in New York and putting her degree to good use. Her new venture, And You Shall Tell, is an online archive of interviews and portraits exploring the Jewish, New Yorkish world.