OU Jewish Emerging Communities Fair Inspires Dr. Saul Landa’s Publication, “A Timeless People”

01 Aug 2011


In 2006, a New Jersey dentist with a passion for photography, travel and the Jewish people, attended the Orthodox Union’s first “Emerging Jewish Communities Fair” held in New York. At the Fair, some 20 small and mid-size Jewish communities showed their wares to the hundreds of people participating to attract them to relocate there to escape the high cost of living in New York. When he visited the Fair, the dentist, Dr. Saul Landa, was germinating an idea. Checking out the communities helped bring the idea to realization.

With the publication in May of “A Timeless People, Photo Albums of American Jewish Life” (Gefen Publishing) Dr. Landa focuses his photography, text and historical memorabilia on 18 Jewish communities — from Bangor, ME to Seattle and from San Francisco to Charleston, SC — many of which were represented at the Fair. Because of the OU’s influence on his thinking, Dr. Landa dedicated the book to the Orthodox Union. The dedication reads: “To the Orthodox Union, whose Emerging Jewish Communities Fair, promoting Orthodox growth in communities throughout North America, inspired the journeys that produced this book.”

Since 2006, the Orthodox Union has presented three more fairs, including one in March, which Dr. Landa attended to scout out future communities.

“We are delighted that Dr. Landa used the OU Emerging Jewish Communities Fair as a guide to the places he chose for the book,” declared Frank Buchweitz, OU National Director of Community Services and Special Projects, who has coordinated all of the OU fairs. “By seeing how vibrant these communities are, through their presentations and through talking to their rabbis, educators, and other representatives, he saw that his idea was not far-fetched or a pipe dream, but rather a project whose time had come. This beautiful book is a tribute to his vision and also dovetails nicely with the OU’s similar vision that there is vibrant Jewish life throughout the country.”

Dr. Landa’s four-year odyssey resulted in a coffee-table sized book of 380 pages, with more than 1,000 photographs, a combination of current photos taken by the author and archival images from the featured communities. Taken together, the collection of images “provides a moving look at American Jewish life, emphasizing the common threads that bind American Jews to each other from generation to generation,” Dr. Landa says.

Dr. Landa is as handy with a camera as he is with a drill. He has been an avid photographer, traveler and hiker throughout his life. His passion for photography and nature has taken him on journeys throughout the world, including reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in central Africa. His photographs have been published in various Jewish magazines and newspapers and he maintains a stock photo company called JI-Judaic Images. Dr.Landa did his undergrad work at Yeshiva University and graduated from New York University Dental School. He is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and has served as Chief of Cosmetic Dentistry at Monmouth Medical Center. He is also an ordained rabbi.

So why did Dr. Landa embark on this journey of Judaica? “The book represents the rich history, values, and culture of Jews in communities across the United States,” he explains. “It was my intention to explore the growth of communities, the people who pioneered their founding, and those who continue their legacy. It features holiday observances, lifecycle events and the emotions they evoke, as well as the institutions of Jewish life — synagogues, cemeteries and schools — that have enabled Jews to fulfill the biblical injunction to ‘be strong and of courage’ for more than 350 years on American soil.” Dr. Landa added that to create a vivid picture of each community’s past, present and likely future, he interviewed many of the area’s prominent rabbis, historians and elders.

“I invite readers to follow me as I visit fellow Jews in their homes and synagogues, exploring archives and attics for clues to the past. No doubt they will find this a rewarding journey,” Dr. Landa says.

The communities in the book include Bangor, Baltimore, Charleston (SC), Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, the Lower East Side (New York), Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, Newport/Providence, Oakland/San Francisco, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Seattle, Washington, DC.

The book can be obtained from the author’s website www.atimelesspeople.com along with a personalized inscription, Judaica stores, Jewish museums, and online at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble and at other sites. It retails for $50.

The author is also available for speaking engagements across the country. He can be reached at 732-672-8257.

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