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Heritage Museum exhibit showcases Jewish life in county

Torah Study, Cheryl Auditor’s first place winner in the amateur category, depicting, from left, Stewart Liebowitz, Fred Stone, and Jeffrey DiLucca. Photos by Kim Mejer of Kimera Photography
Torah Study, Cheryl Auditor’s first place winner in the amateur category, depicting, from left, Stewart Liebowitz, Fred Stone, and Jeffrey DiLucca. Photos by Kim Mejer of Kimera Photography

From an Orthodox boy asleep in a shopping cart, to volunteers preparing kosher meals-on-wheels at the Ruth Hyman JCC, to members of Hillel’s Angels on their motorcycles, the photographic images in the new exhibit at the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County offer a diverse and artistic snapshot of Jewish life.

More than 20 professional and amateur photographers entered the Freehold museum’s first juried photography exhibit, which opened with a reception on Sept. 18. Awards for winning entries were given out at the event, which drew close to 60 participating photographers, their supporters, and community members. The exhibit will be on display through March 4, 2012.

Beautiful sanctuaries at synagogues throughout the county were also represented in many of the entries, including that of first-place winner in the professional category, Stephen Ravner of Freehold. Ravner, a commercial photographer for more than 40 years, won top honors for his portrayal of the stained-glass windows of the Freehold Jewish Center, called Judaism, and an honorable mention for his artistically enhanced photo of its main sanctuary.

A starburst of light emanates from the sanctuary’s Torah ark, in the photo Ravner titled The Source. “That’s the source of all knowledge, all good, all everything. It’s simply the source,” said Ravner, who is the first of three generations of members at FJC.

For Howard Lamhut of Freehold, who took second place in the professional category, photography provided a creative release while he successfully battled cancer in 2007. “Many nurses and doctors were ordering copies of my photographs while I was in the hospital,” he said. His winning photograph, Coruscations of Faith, refers to the glimmering light depicted in his portrait of Temple Beth Shalom in Manalapan.

“My objective was to capture 100 percent of everything you can see with the human eye. I used high dynamic range photography with a stitched panoramic,” he said. “The modern ark and simple lines of this sanctuary appeal to me, plus the ceiling is made up of beautiful woodwork.”

There was something distinctly familiar in the feel of Cheryl Auditor’s photograph, which took first place in the amateur photography division. The photo, Torah Study, depicts congregants at a study group at Congregation Beth Shalom in Red Bank. The picture reflects a warm, Norman Rockwell-like glow, due to her use of a topaz filter in the editing process. “I wanted to enhance the artistic aspect and make it more dimensional,” said Auditor, a Middletown resident and a member of Temple Shalom of Aberdeen, where she is a teacher in the religious school.

The photo exhibit helps define the Monmouth Jewish community, said museum secretary and cochair of exhibits, Marc Diament of Freehold. He and four other museum trustees submitted entries to the contest exhibit, although they were not eligible for judging. “Our mission is to celebrate our community and give voice to our artists and performers,” he said. “We are building a historical timeline from the first Jews who settled here in the early 1700s and trying to capture our history within the community, as it happens.”

“The exhibit recognizes the wonderful talent in Monmouth County, and provides a reflection of the Jewish culture around us,” said Georgine Eberight of Marlboro, the museum’s vice president and cochair of exhibits.

Participants ranged in age from 10 years old to veteran photographers in their 70s and 80s.

The show was judged by Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, America’s first female rabbi, religious leader emerita of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, and an accomplished water colorist; Allan Goldberg, an award-winning photographer and owner of Coachman Studios in Freehold; and Richard Stromwasser, an award-winning portrait image maker and owner of Ardmore Custom Photography in Howell. Works of all three judges are also on display as part of the exhibit.

“I’ve been part of the Monmouth Jewish community for 30 years,” Priesand said. “The Jewishness, originality, and creativity of this exhibit really stand out.”

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