LUBAV­ITCH­ERS RE­VEALED

A new photo ex­hi­bi­tion will fo­cus on the Lubav­itch com­mu­nity. Si­mon Round re­ports

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - Kosher face is at the print space gallery, 74 Kings­land Road, Lon­don E8, Novem­ber 13-De­cem­ber 4. www.fred­ericaranda.com

AT FIRST sight, Fred­eric Aranda and Cha­sidic Jewry seem worlds apart . One i s rooted in tra­di­tion, Or­tho­doxy and ha­lachah, while the other is a young, award-winning fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher who spends his time work­ing with mod­els and stylists.

Yet, be­cause of a chance ex­pe­ri­ence at uni­ver­sity, Aranda has been able to gain ac­cess to Charedi com­mu­ni­ties around the world to pro­duce a col­lec­tion of re­veal­ing im­ages of Or­tho­dox life.

The 30-year-old, Geneva-born pho­tog­ra­pher forged close links with the Lubav­itch while he was a stu­dent, read­ing English at Ox­ford. “I needed a place to live in my fi­nal year and I ended up stay­ing in Chabad House. It was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. Ev­ery Fri­day night there would be 30 peo­ple in the liv­ing room for Shab­bat — there was al­ways some­thing go­ing on. “

Aranda does not con­sider him­self par­tic­u­larly re­li­gious, de­scrib­ing him­self as a “cul­tural Jew”. But he does feel a real affin­ity for the Chabad world. “The amaz­ing para­dox of the Lubav­itch is that they have very strict per­sonal stand- ards and they live in a kosher world, but they do not try to co­erce or judge peo­ple. They are ef­fec­tively an Or­tho­dox move­ment for non-Or­tho­dox Jews.

“I had a lit­tle pho­to­graphic stu­dio set up in my room at Chabad House. Peo­ple would drop by. I was just do­ing what I nor­mally do which is to take pic­tures. Af­ter all th­ese years I have an in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion of pho­tos.”

Some of th­ese pho­tos will be on show in an ex­hi­bi­tion which will fuse Aranda’s in­ter­est in Charedi Jews with his day job as a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher. “The show is a mix of por­traits of Lubav­itch Jews with my own artis­tic im­pres­sions of Lubav­itch style, as posed for by mod­els or real peo­ple.”

So what made the Lubav­itch an in­ter­est­ing sub­ject for an ex­hi­bi­tion? “I find their ap­pear­ance fas­ci­nat­ing. I look at their style which is very ba­sic for the men. The for­mula is very sim­ple — the men wear black hats, white shirts and black jack­ets. This is ac­tu­ally a clas­sic for­mula in men’s fash­ion. For women, the key word is mod­esty, which is re­ally re­fresh­ing for me. It’s so far re­moved from the women I see in the fash­ion world.”

Pho­tog­ra­pher Fred­eric Aranda

The Lubav­itch rabbi of Ox­ford, Eli Brack­man, punt­ing on the river Isis. Be­low: Some of the 3,000 rab­bis at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence for Lubav­itch emis­saries held an­nu­ally in Crown Heights, New York

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