"My culture, their culture, our culture."
April 16, 2015 12:05 PM   Subscribe

 
A culture so rooted in old traditions that their photographs are published in a giant Flash application. Currently scrolling at 2 FPS, basically unusable.

Here's another article about the work that includes some images and is simple HTML.
posted by Nelson at 12:11 PM on April 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Those were really interesting. The photographer's got a great eye.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:11 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some of these traditions seem like an institutionalized form of scrupulosity (religion-based OCD.) (Previously)
posted by larrybob at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wonderful, amazing shots.
I assume the focus on men is because the photographer is a man and isn't allowed access to women's spaces. I'd love to see a similar series from a female photographer!
posted by holyrood at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


A culture so rooted in old traditions.

Yeah, I just want to call this trope out as utter bullshit. The ultra-orthodox Haredim do not reflect anything 'old' or 'traditional'. They are religious extremists practicing a form of Judaism that did not even exist 100 years ago.

"Like Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism is extremely new. It arose in response to modernity, and it radically changed Jewish values. Formerly, the Jewish mainstream balanced strictness and leniency: In the battle between the strict Shammai and the lenient Hillel, Hillel always won.

But the Haredi world is a phalanx of Shammais. The strictest is always the best. Moses wore a shtreimel, the fur hat that many married Haredi men wear, at the Red Sea. Scientific knowledge is evil. These are radically new Jewish ideas presented as radically old ones. Those of us who do not share them must recognize them as a threat."


They are backwards sexist assholes that actively make the world a worse place to live. They engage in such charming traditional behavior as throwing rocks at little girls in wheelchairs for showing too much skin.

Fuck them and the anti-humanist horses they rode in on.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2015 [96 favorites]


Yeah, I just want to call this trope out as utter bullshit. The ultra-orthodox Haredim do not reflect anything 'old' or 'traditional'. They are religious extremists practicing a form of Judaism that did not even exist 100 years ago.

This!!! 100 years ago women and men could walk on the same sidewalk and a woman could pass her husband the salt when she was menstruating without fear that he would be so turned on that they would have sex. The romanticization of ultra Orthodoxy drives me nuts.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:36 PM on April 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Being the bride at one of those weddings must be absolutely terrifying. Especially when you're 17.
posted by echo target at 12:42 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


These are amazing. Keep an eye out for the giant gragger.

Incidentally, for anybody confused by the picture of the men burning an Israeli flag, a number of ultra-Orthodox Jews are deeply anti-Zionist, to the point of refusing to recognize the state of Israel. They hold this position no less powerfully when they live in Israel.
posted by ostro at 12:45 PM on April 16, 2015


They are religious extremists practicing a form of Judaism that did not even exist 100 years ago.

Yeah, generally whenever you find some cultural practice that's claimed to be an ancient tradition you should wonder if it's actually a relatively recent invention. Someone should write a book about the subject. Oh wait...
posted by asterix at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


am i the only one who's seeing these photographs as horribly pixelated? (in addition to the accursed side scrolling and flash etc...) this seems horrifically unusable.
posted by shmegegge at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I just want to call this trope out as utter bullshit. The ultra-orthodox Haredim do not reflect anything 'old' or 'traditional'. They are religious extremists practicing a form of Judaism that did not even exist 100 years ago.

The best explanation I've heard for why we might expect extreme fundamentalism in modern society is the idea of evaporative cooling of group beliefs. Basically, in the old days no one could leave the group, so all groups were composed of a representative sample of people. So no group could be pure extremists; groups were always mostly composed of moderates, who kept things from getting too crazy. But in modern times, it's much easier to leave. And who leaves a small, religious community first? Moderates. Who doesn't leave? Extremists. And so over time, the group gets more and more extreme.
posted by officer_fred at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [42 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Criticism of the group's views is fine, but regardless of intent, comparisons to non-human life forms are edging into uncomfortable territory.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:31 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Until very recently I lived right on the border with the epicenter of Chabad-Lubuvitcher chasidism in Crown Heights, and would head in to the neighborhood to pick up kosher meat periodically. It's intersting how familiar some of these photos look (seas of men in black hats for a wedding; men with big beards carrying the four species for Sukkot) and how totally alien others are (women in full burqas; burning the Israeli flag).
posted by Itaxpica at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't figure out how to see captions after the first picture. I can see half the second picture off to the right of the first. If I click it, a slide show opens with no caption.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:52 PM on April 16, 2015


(Context for the uninitiated: despite being full-on black-hat chasidim, Chabad tends to be more liberal, relatively speaking, than other ultra-orthodox sects, and they are not anti-Zionist).
posted by Itaxpica at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2015


I can't figure out how to see captions after the first picture. I can see half the second picture off to the right of the first. If I click it, a slide show opens with no caption.

There should be a reel/line of photos across the top of the page. Click on each one and it shows up larger down below with the caption below the photo.
posted by andoatnp at 1:54 PM on April 16, 2015


Context for the uninitiated: despite being full-on black-hat chasidim, Chabad tends to be more liberal, relatively speaking, than other ultra-orthodox sects, and they are not anti-Zionist

The Lubavitchers are always trying to get folks, regardless of where they are starting from, to become more observant, and they do it in a really warm and welcoming way. They're always offering ways to learn more about (their practice of) Judaism, which is great.

Of course, there's also this other thing, which is that a significant percentage of Lubavitchers are messianic in their beliefs about the the last Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Once you've got a messiah, are you still Jewish, or do you become something else?
posted by leotrotsky at 2:09 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was raised Conservative and currently attend a Reform temple, with Reconstructionist leanings-- so obviously, some of the things are definitely a "yeah, nope!" (super young bride, women all covered up, using a chicken for the kaparot etc., etc.) but I was still struck by some of the things that are still in common. My dad jokes every now and then about how he "bought" my brother back from his good friend who was a Cohen (I think a beer was involved), wearing a veil at a wedding , doing tashlich, getting smashed on Purim, etc., etc. I think the thing that most stood out was the picture of the men holding their hands out to the candle for Havdalah-- that for me is always an intense and meaningful gesture (particularly, say, at the end of Yom Kippur) that it's interesting, to say the least, to see it performed as a part of a strain of Judaism that's quiet alien to me.
posted by damayanti at 2:18 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Once you've got a messiah, are you still Jewish, or do you become something else?

That depends -- is he a messiah, or is he just a very naughty boy?
posted by Etrigan at 2:21 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why are there always dozens of men trying to cram into a 2'x2' space? I started feeling claustrophobic here.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:35 PM on April 16, 2015


What was up with the guy laying in the recently excavated grave? Does it have any Talmudic basis or is it straight up just folk superstition?
posted by Falconetti at 2:47 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


n the recently excavated grave? Does it have any Talmudic basis or is it straight up just folk superstition?

I'd say I know more about Hasidism than the average (non-Hasidic) bear, and I've never seen nor heard of anything like that. It may be an old minhag specific to whichever sect that is.
posted by Itaxpica at 3:20 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are these the same arseholes who keep causing problems on airlines because they won't sit next to women?
posted by adamvasco at 3:56 PM on April 16, 2015


I want to know more about the guy lying in the grave too.
posted by reuvenc at 4:03 PM on April 16, 2015


I'm actually Hasidic, and I'd never heard of the grave thing. The only thing I found was the man pictured, who attributes it to an unnamed Rav and prefaced it with "it is known."

Make of that what you will… most Hasidic traditions are emulating this or that Rebbe's custom. So the custom may be a decade or a century old (not much older, chassidus is only a couple of hundred years old), but this particular one seems to be a twist on the old segulah of being in the chevrah kadisha = long life without the usual documented tradition.
posted by mhz at 5:33 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've never heard of the grave thing. I think most learned Jews would immediately associate the practise with the statement in the Talmud (Hagiga 3b):
What is [the definition of] a deranged individual? [That would be] someone who wanders alone at night, and someone who sleeps in a cemetery, and someone who destroys his possessions ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:39 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


So many things I've never seen before (and I've had a lot of interactions with the tamer end of the Ultra Orthodox community) - this is fascinating, in a weird way. The fish in the wading pool is the oddest to me - even the caption acknowledges that Tashlich is done over a flowing waterway, so a pool wouldn't count.

Another vote for never heard of the grave thing - I feel like it has to be a folk practice.

It's also worth pointing out that there are lots of groups and most of them don't interact with one another. The number of actively anti-Zionist Ultra Orthodox is really, really small. The woman in the burqa surprised me, since the woman responsible for that practice was completely discredited - I thought this had died out (but it may be an old photo).

I do have an issue with this: Being the bride at one of those weddings must be absolutely terrifying. Especially when you're 17. I've been to lots of Orthodox weddings, including Chassidic ones, and I have never seen one that wasn't joyous all around. Marriages aren't coerced and arranged marriages only mean the parents set you up -- they still go on dates, say yes or no, and pick the person they're marrying. I'm not saying some marriages aren't disasters - obviously that can be true even in secular marriages. And yeah, 16 is too damn young. But when the bride is a teenager, so is the groom - saying she must be terrified, implying that of course he wouldn't be, is a little paternalistic if not misogynist. Kids are having sex as teens in pretty much every culture, marriage is the only way for that to happen in these groups, so a lot of them are pretty excited. Also, kids are invited to these weddings, they go to them all their lives, and as they grow up they celebrate their friends' engagements and weddings -- the photos aren't showing the women's side of the mechitza, but there is just as much dancing, costumes, silly string, you name it These photos are lovely but they give everything a solemn air which belies what's actually in them -- when it says "dancing" and you see guys on the floor, that means break dancing. It doesn't mean that there's one woman, a zillion men, and no women. You're just seeing one piece of what happens over a good 4-5 hours.

Here are more photos of the Belzer wedding, for anyone interested. This was the Chassidic equivalent of a royal wedding, so it shouldn't be seen as a look into an ordinary wedding, any more than Wills and Kate's was.
posted by Mchelly at 5:45 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm only vaguely aware of the Jewish-burqa people. Wikipedia says that there are two groups (I had presumed that there was only one). The differences between the groups are IMO more interesting than the similarities: the one in Israel (Bet Shemesh) seems to be a female led and directed outburst of scrupulosity, largely against the wishes of the adherents' families and their rabbis. The other one is a more typical cult with a strong leader and (as seems typical of this sort of thing) is accused of both sexual and physical abuse; it has fled several jurisdictions as a consequence.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:21 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


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