Winter Reflection Eliana Adler)
Winter Reflection (Photo by Eliana Adler)

The 2020 competition was the largest in the program’s five-year history, with more than 2,000 participants from 23 countries.

Eliana Adler has not been to Israel, but her photo, “Winter Reflection,” is on digital display from there.

Adler, 13, an eighth grader at Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor, is among 20 winners of the Jewish Lens @ Museum of the Jewish People 2020 Competition held through the Museum of the Jewish People (formerly Beit Hatfutsot) in Tel Aviv. The program challenges Jewish teens worldwide to photograph and describe their connection to Judaism.

The museum is closed during the coronavirus pandemic, but its exhibits are available for viewing online, including the gallery of Jewish Lens winners and the permanent exhibit on historic synagogues as well as family photos from around the world.

Adler’s winning image, taken at Ann Arbor’s Gallup Park, shows her in front of a large mirror.

Winter Reflection Eliana Adler)
Winter Reflection (Photo by Eliana Adler) Eliana Adler

“I have always preferred nature photography over taking pictures of people, so I knew I wanted to involve nature,” explained Adler, whose family belongs to Beth Israel Congregation.

“Judaism is connected to the natural world. The Torah talks about protecting the Earth and leaving it for future generations. Natural preserves, like where this photo was taken, help save habitats for the future. Nature is a place for reflection, which is why I chose a mirror, and where I find peace.”

The 2020 competition was the largest in the program’s five-year history, with more than 2,000 participants from 23 countries.

Although the museum had to cancel the March 22 opening reception for the photography exhibit, competition organizers scheduled a replacement celebration on Zoom so the winning photographers could be together online. Adler texted a link to friends and family so they could watch.

Adler entered the competition after watching her sister enter two years ago, when Beth Israel Religious School had a Jewish Lens curriculum.

“I thought it would be a good new experience for me to try to connect photography with another aspect of my life,” said Adler, who used a Panasonic Lumix, a bat mitzvah gift from her grandparents.

Her interest in photography launched at a zoo camp, where she started taking pictures of animals using the family camera.

“Photography helps me notice little things that I otherwise wouldn’t,” said Adler, who aspires to be a wildlife biologist or a park ranger. “I think this quarantine is a good time to spend in my backyard and get pictures of birds and squirrels.”

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Suzanne Chessler’s writing-editing career has spanned many years, and her articles have been featured in secular and religious publications across the state and around the country. There was a period of time when she maintained three regular columns in three different publications – one appearing weekly to spotlight metro volunteers, another appearing weekly to profile stage enthusiasts in community theater and a third appearing bimonthly to showcase upcoming arts programs. Besides doing general reporting, she has had continuing assignments involving health, monetary subjects and crime. Her award-winning work builds on majors in English-speech and journalism earned at Wayne State University, where instructors also were writers-editors on Detroit’s daily newspapers.