Saturday, January 28, 2006

Field Notes From Author and Photographer Carolyn Drake

I come from a relatively small family and don't have any kids of my own. So it was quite refreshing to be able to spend time with a very family-oriented group of people. There were always kids running around and babies to cuddle, which tended to lighten up daily life a bit. The Lubavitch are serious about their work and following the laws of the Torah, but they also know how to let loose and have a good time once in a while.
I wanted to photograph a lot of things while working on this project, but I couldn't because of my gender. For example, I wasn't permitted to photograph in the men's section of the main synagogue in Crown Heights, New York. I also went to a bar mitzvah, and although the boy's parents allowed me to take pictures, I had to do it from the "women's only" side of the room. These rules weren't always easy to accept.
Once a woman gets married, she covers her hair with a wig as a sign of modesty whenever she goes out in public. The sight of a woman's natural hair is only for her husband's eyes. A wig is called a sheitel in Yiddish, and women usually have more than one, including a fancier one for special days like Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

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