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Photography Photojournalism


The Unusual Friendship of Yosef Wosk and Tim Gidal, Letters and Photos

edited by Alan Twigg

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Jul 2022
Photojournalism, Historical, Jewish
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2022
    List Price

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An intimate selection of letters between Tim Gidal, a pioneering force in photojournalism, and scholar and art collector Yosef Wosk.

“Although four decades separated us, Tim and I were inexorably drawn together through the magnetic forces of art and culture; travel; history; exile and war; loves and loves lost; writing, teaching and forgetting; collecting and letting it all go."

—Yosef Wosk, from the Preface




Nachum Tim Gidal, Jewish pioneer of modern photojournalism, was born in Munich in 1909 and died in Jerusalem in 1996. He began taking photographs in the late 1920s, at a time when technological advances made photography equipment more compact and affordable than ever before. With his handheld Leica, Gidal was able to travel in interwar Europe, capturing rare images of Polish Jews prior to the annihilation of WWII.

Yosef Wosk is a rabbi, philanthropist, educator, author, scholar, community leader and prominent figure in the BC arts scene. Wosk first encountered Gidal’s work in the photo “Night of the Kabbalist” in a magazine in 1991 and, captivated, was determined to meet the photographer on an upcoming sabbatical in Israel. However, most of the trip passed without any signs that his search would be successful. One day, Wosk saw a small poster on a lamppost showcasing Israeli photography in a local gallery, and through the proprietor, finally met the person who he would later consider his close friend, teacher, and confidant—Nachum Tim Gidal.

On one level, the letters—selected from the hundreds the correspondents exchanged over two decades—memorialize Gidal as an artist, scholar, historian of photography and “hero among the Jewish people.” However, they also capture the essence of Gidal and Wosk’s friendship. Readers will be drawn into a rich conversation touching on philosophy, advice, personal issues, reading recommendations and more, with Gidal always brilliant, witty and cantankerous and Wosk curious, appreciative and intelligent. This fascinating and beautifully designed volume will appeal to those with an interest in modern Jewish history as well as anyone interested in early 20th-century photography.

About the author

Alan Twigg is the publisher and editor of BC Book World, Canada's largest-circulating publication about books. He has also been contributing editor of Quill & Quire, Canadian books columnist for the Vancouver Province, books columnist for Vancouver magazine, a contributor of profiles to the Toronto Star and the Writers Union of Canada representative on the board of directors of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. In 2000, he was the first recipient of the Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contibutions to literature and publishing.

Alan is the author of ten previous titles including For Openers: Conversations with 24 Canadian Writers, Hubert Evans: The First Ninety-Three Years, Vancouver and Its Writers, Vander Zalm: from Immigrant to Premier, First Invaders: The Literary Origins of British Columbia and Cuba: 101 Top Historical Sites.

Alan Twigg's profile page


  • Winner, Western Canada Jewish Book Awards

Editorial Reviews

“Looking at Gidal’s images from the 1930s and ’40s, one asks why we have not seen more of this extraordinary photographer’s work. His naturalistic eye, coupled to a keenness for formal experimentation, persuasively argues for both his deep humanism and creative ambition. Gidal’s photographs shed new light on some of our most critical historical moments while remaining—as only happens in the hands of a great artist—resolutely and startingly fresh.”

Reid Shier, Director of The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver, and curator for the Canada Pavilion, 2022 Venice Biennale

“Nachum Tim Gidal, considered by many an eccentric, enjoyed the rare privilege of belonging to the small fraternity of innovative, pioneering photographers whose work changed the face of modern journalism.”

Dr. Nissan N. Perez, photography historian and curator, Jerusalem

Gidal cements Tim Gidal’s importance as a photographer, scholar and chronicler of modern Jewish history within a broader history of photography that too often celebrates passing aesthetic and theoretical musings over the direct expression of the human condition that is the bedrock of Gidal’s impressive oeuvre.

Perhaps more importantly, the letters included between the photographer and his friend, patron and mentee Yosef Wosk lend insight into both men’s wit, compassion, professional ambition and understanding of the importance of nurturing and maintaining deep personal connections via written correspondence across two decades and continents.

The intimate letters exchanged by these two extraordinary men reveal both to be as compelling and complicated as the subjects depicted in the photographs themselves.”

Dr. Leesa Rittelmann, Associate Professor of Art History, State University of New York at Fredonia

“Great photography!”

Samuel Beckett on Tim Gidal, October 1975

Other titles by Alan Twigg