Shalom/Salaam! I’m Rebecca Goldschmidt, I grew up Jewish in Chicago to a first generation Filipina mother and German-Jewish father who was born in Haifa, Israel. Between them I was bestowed the blessings and curses of American and Israeli passports. I grew up with pansit, eggrolls, and shrimp, matzoh balls, hummus, kosher chocolates, kugel and falafel. I loved the Chicago Bulls. I loved singing songs by the Beach Boys and Elvis and Hebrew songs in choir. I danced Israeli folk dances, collected money to plant trees in Israel, and doodled doves w/olive branches. We mourned the assassination of Yizhak Rabin and tracked the developments of the Peace Process. Every Friday afternoon we welcomed Shabbat with family and friends, dipping our challah in salt and waving our hands over the candles flames. I still hum the prayers and melodies when I’m doing the dishes even though I never go to synagogue and don’t really belong to any sort of Jewish community…

I went to Israel this winter for the first time since I was 12 and I photographed the whole way, from the Israeli consulate in Chicago at the top of a financial building, to the northern border with Lebanon, the streets of Jerusalem, the seaside in Tel Aviv. I saw the development, the settlements, the wall, the checkpoints, the olive trees, the ocean, the ruins, the razed houses, the families, the markets, the schools. I talked with old people, soldiers, my cousins, shopkeepers, and kids, heard the myths and ancient histories from all sides. My aunt told me the story of how my grandmother got out of Germany: apparently, at the last minute, my great grandfather changed his and and decided to send the family to Palestine instead of Argentina. They crossed into Holland via a rural checkpoint and the next day the borders closed. The ship to Argentina sank. My grandparents met in Haifa and lives continued, babies were born, moves were made to the US…

This small group of photos is a glimpse into my personal experience of a tiny slice of the world. I have no idea what the “Middle Eastern Experience” could possibly mean, yet somehow, I am a part of it! And somehow, via a long series of decisions and coincidences, the universe has allowed me to be connected to the “Land of Milk & Honey,” has gifted me this identity, and has left me, like the rest of us, just praying for a future of Peace.

Photos and writing:

-Rebecca Goldschmidt

a few hairs by d. marvi
my relationship with my unibrow is tempestuous. some days i hide it away, plucking out each hair with hatred. others, i smooth it down lovingly with rosewater and feed it coconut oil at night to hasten it’s growth. these hairs are one of the many ways i’m navigating my own body while i navigate the liminal space of diaspora. my unibrow evokes both the racial privileged of the homeland and the racial alienation of the hostland. painting my unibrow gold can be seen as an act of beautification and self-acceptance. conversely, it can be seen as self-orientalization, or, making a prominent physical sign of my racial “otherness” even more so. or, simply, it could be an innocent whimsy. i choose to keep the meaning of this as ambiguous as possible, to mimic my own fluid, love-hate relationship with my unibrow.

a few hairs by d. marvi

my relationship with my unibrow is tempestuous. some days i hide it away, plucking out each hair with hatred. others, i smooth it down lovingly with rosewater and feed it coconut oil at night to hasten it’s growth. these hairs are one of the many ways i’m navigating my own body while i navigate the liminal space of diaspora. my unibrow evokes both the racial privileged of the homeland and the racial alienation of the hostland. painting my unibrow gold can be seen as an act of beautification and self-acceptance. conversely, it can be seen as self-orientalization, or, making a prominent physical sign of my racial “otherness” even more so. or, simply, it could be an innocent whimsy. i choose to keep the meaning of this as ambiguous as possible, to mimic my own fluid, love-hate relationship with my unibrow.

shot in 35mm in the backyard of my childhood home.
i was born sarah mohammadi alikhan.
i grew up in a pakistani household and was raised watching tennis championships, ‘i love lucy’ and shah rukh khan movies. korma was the ultimate “khansolation” in my home, my first language was urdu and the Quran was the most loved literature in my family. i grew up attending islamic school until i got kicked out in the eighth grade because i was labeled as deviant and disruptive. throughout my life, i have always felt like a lone wolf without any true feel of community. too westernized for my muslim brothers and sisters, and too “other” for everybody else, 
much love to my fellow westernized “others” of society.
i know you’re all out there and all i want to do is hold hands and eat some saffron rosewater ice cream with ALL of you.

shot in 35mm in the backyard of my childhood home.

i was born sarah mohammadi alikhan.

i grew up in a pakistani household and was raised watching tennis championships, ‘i love lucy’ and shah rukh khan movies. korma was the ultimate “khansolation” in my home, my first language was urdu and the Quran was the most loved literature in my family. i grew up attending islamic school until i got kicked out in the eighth grade because i was labeled as deviant and disruptive. throughout my life, i have always felt like a lone wolf without any true feel of community. too westernized for my muslim brothers and sisters, and too “other” for everybody else, 

much love to my fellow westernized “others” of society.

i know you’re all out there and all i want to do is hold hands and eat some saffron rosewater ice cream with ALL of you.

We look to each other for support
They see us as twins, it’s true, we’re bonded
We’re strong
But I’m older
She’s wiser
A pillar -
A weapon
/
We’ve fought to understand
the differences we have
Us versus them
And the differences, they hover over us
A mangled mess
(Hi! Congrats on this powerful residency! Sending love and thanks.)
Rafaela Fadda is a Lebanese-American woman creating in San Francisco.
To contact: rafifadda@yahoo.com x 858.220.1639

We look to each other for support

They see us as twins, it’s true, we’re bonded

We’re strong

But I’m older

She’s wiser

A pillar -

A weapon

/

We’ve fought to understand

the differences we have

Us versus them

And the differences, they hover over us

A mangled mess

(Hi! Congrats on this powerful residency! Sending love and thanks.)

Rafaela Fadda is a Lebanese-American woman creating in San Francisco.

To contact: rafifadda@yahoo.com x 858.220.1639