Growing up in an Asian home in a predominantly Caucasian city had its share of challenges. Different customs, holidays and food set me apart more than my dark hair and slanted eyes did in school. While children ate fruit snacks, Oreos and bologna sandwiches for lunch, I had my bento box packed with rice and seaweed, pickled cabbage and braised chicken. I would beg my parents to buy lunch meat and juice boxes so that I could fit in. We’d celebrate Christmas with mah-jong and a feast of Chinese dishes and Chinese New Year with a bang. From the outside looking in, our family was strange, with weird traditions and speaking in a foreign tongue.
Jacob Nachum (Yaakov Naumi) is a photojournalist who grew up in the small Israeli town of Bnei Brak. He went to an “Orthodox school and ultra-Orthodox yeshiva.” In this photo series, Nachum gives us an inside look at the rituals, customs and traditions of the Orthodox Jewish culture. He admits that for Westerners, some of their ceremonies and customs may look “bizarre,” and even with his upbringing, some of the rituals were new to him as well.
In the series, there images from a wedding show a rope tied to a bride and a rabbi. The father of the groom and his brothers dance around her, careful not to touch her – as touching a woman who isn’t your wife is against the teaching of the Torah. The image below shows a bride waiting for the dance with the rabbi. Another image shows a man lying in an open grave after it had been exhumed, a practice that is believed will prolong someone’s life. Each image shows the deeply rich culture of the Jewish people.
Nachum says that, at first, people would be offended when he came in to photograph certain ceremonies, but after making various connections they now seek him out and welcome him to come and photograph the event to share their culture and its practices with those on the outside.
To see more of Jacob Nachum’s work, visit his Facebook page.