Photographs of Evelyn Goodman
Photographs of Evelyn by her dear friend Marilyn Ellmer are available for sale, with all proceeds benefiting Random Acts of Kindness (each photos provides a free book to an underserved child). The story behind both photos follows:
Almost 30 years ago I met Evelyn at a week-long program at the National Yiddish Book Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts. One Shabbat night that week at 4 o’clock in the morning, out of the blue I was awakened. Although I was alone in my room, I heard something or someone calling to me to open my heart and express my feelings about my Judaism. I got dressed and walked outside to collect my thoughts and was drawn to a secluded area with trees, shrubs, and a bench configured in a semi-circle. I sat down, closed my eyes, and suddenly an image appeared in my mind’s eye as if it was familiar with me, like an old friend. The image was real, but it was not of this time or place. It was a small, shadowy figure, draped in a tallis, wearing a kippa, suspended in space, bathed in a soft radiant light which seemed to be emanating from its being. When I opened my eyes, the trees and the surroundings were illuminated with the soft light at sunrise through fog. I was inspired, my vision and this moment was a photographer’s dream.
I knocked at Evelyn’s door, holding a tallis, a kippa, and a prayerbook, explained my vision to Evelyn, and we quickly realized just how connected we were. We returned to that secluded area where together we created a dialogue which found its own voice. As we spoke, I walked around Evelyn, wearing the tallis and kippa and holding the prayerbook, in her meditative state. A window was opening and a divine presence was extending a hand and guiding me as I was recording all of my feelings and the experience on film. I found myself in an out-of-body experience flying in all directions, observing Evelyn’s facial expressions and her responses to our dialogue. I continued to pray, to listen, to eavesdrop. I was in another dimension, another reality, riding a magic carpet through the cosmos. It was as if the pictures were taking themselves. I was inspired, frightened, amazed, and in awe of what was happening. For 45 minutes, I was in a different dimension with the most inspiring guide of my life. The encounter, the setting, the subject were a gift, a matana, from God. Evelyn was with me on every level for this entire experience, participating and creating with me. This began a most blessed journey of creating together for years the most profound life experiences in many different places and dimensions. No matter how lost we got, we always helped each other find our way.
~Marilyn Ellner, photographer, friend, and
traveling companion to Evelyn