Lori, Jonas and Rabbi Joshua Plaut are hosting two special summer art happenings featuring a new photography show entitled Sparks of Splendor: Portraits of Jewish Women From East to West. Exhibition and artist’s receptions occur on Sunday, August 3 and Sunday August 10, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in West Tisbury.

This world debut of a new traveling photography show by photographer and scholar Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut features 65 vivid and evocative color images of Jewish girls and women. The photographs are very large: 20 by 24 inches digital C prints. The Silk Road and Uzbekistan cities of Bukhara, Shakrisabz and Samarkand are represented as are colorful portraits of Jewish Women from New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, the American South and Israel.

Intimate portraits of Bukharan Uzbek women hang adjacent to images of women performing unique religious rites and daily cultural activities in Greece. Portraits of young girls eagerly learning Hebrew in the last days of the Soviet Union stand in stark contrast to the emptiness of a women standing in Martyr’s square in Minsk, Belarus. Regardless of the subject and the location, there is a distinct universality in the facial features, expressions and gestures of these women and young girls, rendering them instantly familiar. This exhibit provides an intimate view into the daily lives of these special women and children. Rabbi Plaut’s work has emotional content capturing the intimate connection between the photographer and his subject. The photographs, shown here for the first time, represent 25 years of Plaut’s photo-ethnographic projects worldwide.

Rabbi Plaut’s photographs are in major museum and private collections. After the Vineyard opening, this exhibit will travel to museums and galleries across the country and aboard. This unique show on portraits of Jewish women the world over is one of the very few photography exhibitions on this subject.

Still Kissing. — Joshua Plaut

A historian, scholar and photoethnographer, Rabbi Plaut spent the years from 1993 to 2001 as the spiritual leader of Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center and MIT Hillel. He was inspired by the example set by his father, Walter Plaut, a Rabbi and pioneering activist who spent his life fighting racial injustice.

Rabbi Plaut is the author of an upcoming book Silent Night? Being Jewish at Christmas Time in America, currently being prepared for publication, and of Greek Jewry in the Twentieth Century, 1913-1983: Patterns of Jewish Survival in the Greek Provinces Before and After the Holocaust, which entered its third printing in August 2000.

Rabbi Plaut’s family divide their time between the Island and Manhattan.

The public to artist’s receptions at 32 Bridge Lane in West Tisbury (Enter Lambert’s Cove Road Lower End, proceed for 1.5 miles, cross the West Tisbury town line, take first left onto Bridge Lane, then follow balloons).

For details, call 508-696-0487.

Miriam’s Timbrel: Dancing at a Jewish Wedding, USSR, 1990. — Joshua Plaut