Today hanging around in Coney Island I felt as if I were seeing Rachel Benjamin from the book “The Romance Reader,” walking along the board walk.
Rachel was a Jewish woman living in Brooklyn in an Orthodox community. She could not bathe in the ocean in a swim suite, she had to keep her legs and arms covered and behave like a “modest” woman does, never attracting the attention of other strange men. She had to follow restrictions that may seem absurd to most of us Western, emancipated women. But, yet again, she respected them because that was her family tradition and because that was the only way she could continue swimming and that was what she really cared for.
Seeing such Orthodox women dressed in heavy stockings and long, black shirts getting wet and playing with their children along side the Coney Island shore Sunday, made me realize, despite all the misconception and the misjudgment our Western society may have regarding them, they are free and happy within their restrictions and their traditions. They are not subdued by them and they do not suffer from any “being-different-from-all-other-women” complex. They are beautiful and solar no matter the stockings and the long skirts. They do not need a biking and a Brazilian wax to feel comfortable with their femininity. They are above it all. They can walk passed all the “almost-naked” women laying on the beach and feel just the same.
I will never get tired of photographing them.