Back to Work
On a day off from his new job, the photographer-turned-nurse relaxes in the modest but artistic Water Hill home that he shares with his wife, Deb Gordon-Gurfinkel, and their two young children. Slight, with close-cut dark hair and stylish geek glasses, he points to the home office where he holed up while studying medicine.
"My kids and wife hardly saw me," he recalls. "My head was always in a book. As soon as you are done with one exam, you have to start studying for the next one." Making it through nursing school, he says, was the "hardest thing" he's ever done in his life.
That says a lot, considering Gurfinkel was just eleven when he and his family moved from the Soviet Union to Israel. He struggled to adjust to a new language and country and spent a lonely period living with relatives in Tel Aviv while his parents went through a six-month Hebrew immersion program and lived in temporary housing.
He met his first wife, an American, in film school at Tel Aviv University. They moved together to San Francisco, where he attended San Francisco State. When the marriage broke up, Gurfinkel decided to try photojournalism--he had been taking pictures since he was eight, he says, with a "little Russian camera."