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Maxim Dondyuk November 14, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ukraine.
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From a project about Rosh Hashanah, Uman, Ukraine 2010

Maxim Dondyuk (b.1983, Ukraine) began collaborating with Kharkov media as a photojournalist in 2007. The same year he moved to Kiev and worked as a photojournalist in one of the country’s biggest photo agencies till 2010. He  trained at the NOOR-Nikon Masterclass and also  attended Magnum Photos workshop at the Leica Akademie. Maxim freelancers with the World Health Organization, Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, Foundation for “Development of Ukraine”, Kherson charitable foundations Mongoose. His work has been published in PDN, Wall Street Journal , Esquire, Forbes, Russian Reporter, Tyzhden, Focus (Ukraine), The Independent (UK), De Volkskrant (Netherlands), Berliner Zeitung, and Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany) among others.

About the Photograph:

“I went from the old Jewish cemetery to the lake, where the Hasidim usually bathe. Before reaching the lake, I heard the sound of a violin. I didn’t see a soul except a fiddler, so took some photos of him. After a while a lonely Hasid came to swim. I prepared to take a photo as the fiddler moved a little and the sun reflected in the lake. That was a lucky accident when everything coincided and I took this photo. It was during the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year.”

“Uman is an ordinary Ukranian town with the population of about 90,000 people which became one of the largest centers of Jewish pilgrimage outside Israel. During this period about 20,000 pilgrims from all the continents come here annually to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and to pray at the grave of the founder of Hasidism Rabbi Nahman from Breslav, who died in Uman in 1810. Before his death Rabbi Nahman swore an unusual oath: If anyone comes to my grave, sacrifices a coin and reads ten chosen psalms, I’ll catch his side-locks and will draw him out of the hells depth. And it makes no difference what he has done before. Every year more and more supporters of Breslav Hasidism gather in Uman, at the grave of their Rabbi. Rabbi Nahman’s charisma is so strong, that Hasids have never chosen his successor. I have been shooting the Rosh Hashanah project for five years and am currently finishing a multimedia version of the story.”

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