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Photo Series Gives An Inside Look at the Rituals and Ceremonies of Orthodox Jews

By Hanssie on July 24th 2015

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.

[REWIND: CEREMONIES – HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH JEWISH ORTHODOX WEDDINGS]

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.

4 - Orthodox Jews dancing at a demonstration in Jerusalem against the government's intention to force the Israeli army to recruit them.

Orthodox Jews dancing at a demonstration in Jerusalem against the government’s intention to force the Israeli army to recruit them.

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.

Bride waiting for the moment when an ultra-Orthodox rabbi dance with her at her wedding. The bride covered to keep modesty and separation between men and women.

Bride waiting for the moment when an ultra-Orthodox rabbi dance with her at her wedding. The bride covered to keep modesty and separation between men and women.

23, 04, 2013. Photo by yaakov Naumi/Flash90.  éìã îöéõ îáéï çñéãé ñàèîø äòåîãéí òì äôøàðö'ñ (èøéáåðåú) áè÷ñ ÷áìú äôðéí áçúåðä ùì çñéãåú ñàèîø

Hasidic Jews dancing at a table called 'Tish' Jewish holiday Purim.

Hasidic Jews dancing at a table called ‘Tish’ Jewish holiday Purim.

23, 04, 2013.

Jewish men perform the Tashlich ritual, where they throw food into a body of water to cast out their sins

Orthodox boy watching Lag B'Omer bonfire where the carton to protect him from the heat of the fire.

Orthodox boy watching Lag B’Omer bonfire where the carton to protect him from the heat of the fire.

Orthodox Jew hassid lay on the grave of a long talisman comply with requests

Orthodox Jew hassid lay on the grave of a long talisman comply with requests

Ultra Orthodox Jewish men and children of the Darag chassidic dynasty seen during the reading of the Scroll of Esther, which tells the story of the Jewish festival of Purim, Wednesday night, March 4, 2015. The festival of Purim commemorates the rescue of Jews from genocide in ancient Persia. Photo by Yaakov NaumiFlash90 *** Local Caption *** ÷øéàú îâéìä á çñéãåú ãàøàâ ôåøéí îâéìä îâéìú àñúø ÷øéàú îâéìä çøãé çøãéí úçôåùú úçôåùåú îçåôù çøãé

Ultra Orthodox Jewish men and children of the Darag chassidic dynasty seen during the reading of the Scroll of Esther, which tells the story of the Jewish festival of Purim, Wednesday night, March 4, 2015. The festival of Purim commemorates the rescue of Jews from genocide in ancient Persia.

A ceremony called Redemption Son in which Jews redeem their son amount of money if you do not have to give it to serve as is the eldest son of the Torah and the Bukharan belong to the priests.

A ceremony called Redemption Son in which Jews redeem their son amount of money if you do not have to give it to serve as is the eldest son of the Torah, and the Bukharan belong to the priests.

To see more of Jacob Nachum’s work, visit his Facebook page.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Samuel Sandoval

    Is the first picture taken by a drone?

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  2. Ernesto Gonzalez

    Very interesting article in which you become more than a photographer and more reporter telling the story behind each picture.

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  3. Paddy McDougall

    Excellent set of pictures

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