The day after coming back to NYC from Havana, I got a text from Jason Eskenazi. Although these days he calls Istanbul home, I was not entirely surprised to hear from Jason, knowing he was in town to promote the release of The Americans List II, for which I had contributed a short essay.
The text simply said: You're Jewish right?
I replied that indeed I was of that most exotic variety, the Guatemalan Jew.
He replied: we are taking a group shot with Robert Frank and other New York Jewish photographers at 7 Bleeker Street.
An hour and a half later I was standing in a tight huddle with some distinguished colleagues and friends for that portrait. It was shot by John Trotter, who with his usual wit referred to himself as our Shabbos Goy. After the portrait Robert asked his wife, June Leaf, for a camera and took a photo for himself. Clearly, the moment meant something to him as well.
And then we all had a chance to meet the great master and exchange a few words with him. Robert is now 93 years old. I have admired his work since I was in my teens. To grasp his hand in mine, look into his eyes and have a moment together was was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'll treasure the memory of it for many years to come.
Later, over drinks at a neighborhood watering hole I asked Jason about the portrait. He said, a couple days earlier Frank had spoken to a few friends about how proud he was of his Jewish heritage. The portrait was a spontaneous response to that conversation. It was shot on Saturday March 11th, which happened to be the festival of Purim.