Zack Barwin was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1994. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography Studies at Ryerson University. His personal projects operate through street photographs and reflective essays. He uses the camera to ask questions; his work explores the meaning of everyday life in public space.
When I travelled to Israel for the first time this past summer, I spent the initial ten days with Taglit Birthright. The not-for-profit organization sponsors ten-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. Although our guide was quite open to discussion, the program exists to show participants the beauty of the country, not the politics. For the remainder of my trip, I travelled alone. I really began to explore my own ideas when I got to Jerusalem. I visited Palestine several times, including parts of Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron. I felt it was necessary to go to these places when given the opportunity. I wanted to see beyond the constructed position of the Taglit Birthright experience and of my own Jewish upbringing.
After being home for months, I seem to be even more confused. I came back a different person, I changed. Why do I as a cultural Jew, who does not necessarily identify with the religion, continue care so deeply about a country I had never even been to before? Can one still love Israel while at the same time question Israel? How can one possibly begin to convey these feelings through photographs? To me, Israel is a close family member, always present even when they are not there. You can love someone unconditionally even if they make mistakes.