And These Are the Generations…

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…אלא תולדות נח נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדורותיו
These are the offspring of Noah – Noah was a righteous man in his GENERATION (Genesis 6:9)

Generations is defined as a single stage in the descent of a family or a group of people.

Generations, linking the past and future.

The Rambam teaches us that every single word in the Torah has equal importance, the same divine level of holiness. When reading the verses in the Torah listing the descendants of the sons of Noach (Shem, Cham, and Yaffet), it seems hard to believe that each name, famous or not, is as important as other verses with which we are all so familiar, such as ‘Shema Yisrael’ or the Ten Commandments. And so, we are required by the very presence of the complex and detailed genealogies found in the Torah, to create within us an understanding of the vital nature of our connection to the generations that preceded us.

Our roots in the past are the key to our continued and thriving existence as individuals, and as a people. We define ourselves through our lineage and refine ourselves as we lay the groundwork for future generations. By doing this, we simultaneously empower our people to be more than a simple story chronicling our successive generations. We also enable the continuous evolution and growth of a chain sustained with strength, endurance, and the divine light which we are commanded to impart in this world.

The photographs here all depict “living generations.” Parents with their children, grandparents with grandchildren, great grandparents with their children and grandchildren, great grandchildren, and GREAT GREAT grandchildren – 5 generations! These generations are interconnected in many ways: genetic and cultural, destiny and choice, accident and ritual . Most of all, though, there is a great sense, in seeing these pictures of our continuity, that the great chain that began with Noach continues, grows thicker, longer, and more intricately bound, as we embrace the task of spreading the holiness that is both inherent and developed in each link. How crucial is every word that teaches us our connection to our past and our future!

Rebecca Kowalsky, who made aliyah with her husband in 1985, is a photographer and mother of six. You can see more of her work on her site, and contact her at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.