Israel Museum: “A World Apart Next Door – Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews”
Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 19, 2012
If you haven’t seen “A World Apart Next Door – Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews” at the Israel Museum, it’s on until the end of November. The exhibit, filling six rooms, is organized by themes: marriage, men, women, the rebbe (leader of a Hasidic community).
In the photo above, a married couple watch a video of a mitzvah tanz (dance between a bride and the Rebbe). The videos are outstanding. The last room of the exhibit shows video clips on a large screen of tishes (Yiddish word for “table,” a festive meal with the Rebbe and hundreds of Hasidim) held on Purim, Tu beShvat, and other occasions.
The Hasidic world is notoriously difficult for outsiders to photograph. Many of the photographs are by Israeli photographer Gil Magen-Cohen, who spent a decade photographing Hasidic communities for his book, Hassidic Courts. His photos are superb. Speaking of photography, the Israel Museum now allows photography without flash!! The shutterbugs were out in full force, running through the archaeology wing, photographing everything in sight.
Clothing is part of the exhibit. Children’s garments appear in the photo below, boys’ on the left and girls’ on the right. The light gold satin coat with a striped sash is a bar mitzvah outfit.
This head covering (sterntikhl in Yiddish, which translates loosely as “star scarf”; an ordinary headscarf or handkerchief is a tikhl) was worn by married women on festive occasions. Although it appears old, it was made in 2005. The “pearls” are glass beads, sewn on a long strip of cloth that is carefully folded and stitched to resemble hair. Sterntikhl are made by women of the Spinka Hasidic sect, who keep their methods a secret.
The photo below was deliberately over-exposed so that you can see the intricate pleats and gathers in the fabric.
Torah scroll crown, thought to have come from the court of the Israel Friedman, the Ruzhiner Rebbe. He was known for his opulent lifestyle. This crown is made of gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and turquoises. The Rebbe had crowns made for each of his six sons. This crown belonged to Menachem Nochum Friedman (1823–1868), the first Rebbe of Stefanesht.
The last photos show neckbands (atarot) of prayer shawls (tallitot). They interest me because they’re fine examples of Spanierarbeit (“Spanish work” in Yiddish), weaving with metallic threads.