The come upstairs through a cluttered and jagged stairwell. They ring the bell. They sit on the green and purple couch in the middle of the room and they wait their turns. Zip-lock back in one hand, house keys and cell phones in the other. The other set of hair comfortably sitting on their heads awaiting to be cut and combed to perfection for Shavuot.
“Everyone in town comes to Shela’s,” said Miriam Marciano a 24-year-old speech therapist who travels from Queens leaving her 5-months old son with her husband to get some free time for herself and take care of her wig. “I come to Shila’s because I know she will work her magic on me and she will make me look good.”
As of 2001 there were 8,9 million Jews in the world, 4.9 after the diaspora reside in Israel But the biggest Jewish hub in the world is North America with its 6.5 million. Almost 2 million of them found their homes in New York City a metropolis of 8 million. More than half of them are Orthodox of which the majority is from Russian descent and lives in Brooklyn. Women comprise more than half of such majority. For more info on statistics click here.
But every married woman has to “cover her own hair because it becomes her husband’s property at the time of their holy union in matrimony.”
If you are a non-Orthodox Jewish woman grown-up without a traditional Jewish education in Italy, the most Christina country there is in the world like myself, you may not understand they reasons behind such demeaning traditions.
Yet, again, one cannot judge what one does not know. And so I have decided to spend the next year or so (while I write this few words I am on week 3 of my project) reconnecting to my Jewish faith to rediscover the power of those women I am named after.
And what better place to do so if not in New York City, the biggest Jewish Community outside of Israel with the most varied traditions of Chassidic and Litfish Jews?
And what better place to do so if not in New York City, the biggest Jewish Community in the world with the most varied traditions of Chassidic and Litfish Jews?
The photography and reporting project I am embarking will serve others like myself who have for years wondered (wrongfully so) for so many years that the Jewish women (especially the Orthodox ones) are subdued to their “staying home” duty while their husbands are the ones “conquering the world.”
They women are indeed more humble in their way of dressing and less “out there” like women in our “equal opportunity society,” but their contribution to the family, starting with the average 14 births they carry on to their children’s education and, often, their involvement in charity and volunteering works are enormous and must be considered.