There are places in the world where time appears to have stood still. One of them is Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, which was founded two hundred years ago by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The inhabitants, ultra-orthodox Jews, also called Haredim, are still keeping their old customs and style of clothes, they keep strictly to the Jewish law and live according to clear rules. They regard the surrounding world as rotten and live in their own ghettos.
Czech photographer Eliska Blazkova allows us to peek behind the curtain of this neighborhood. Her photographs surprise not only by the tough theme but also by the author's quiet way of observation. They are definitely not just random snapshots, but rather strongly experienced and deeply felt images in which we can see the author's personal approach. This project is remarkable by Eliška's close – almost domestic – glance at the whole issue, despite the fact that the ultra-Orthodox Jews can not even communicate with an unknown woman.
Eliška Blažková as a photographer had to overcome many obstacles in the law of Halakha, that is fundamentally respected by the Jewish believers. As a matter of fact, in the tradition of Judaism "one may not make an image of a person, the creature of God" (Shulchan Aruch ibid, Taz 8. / Based on this shita, many orthodox Jews are careful not to have their pictures taken).
Due to strict rules, only very little of extraneous influences penetrate into this society. The time here has stopped in a kind of timelessness – maybe somewhere in the 19th century. Black and white photographs support this feeling adequately. These images bring us into a different world and a different time for a moment and force us to ask ourselves all sorts of questions. In the photographs, we can hear the echoes of history that have been so tragic for the humanity. There used to be thousands of such little towns, villages, and neighborhoods that lived their lives until the World War II. These places, together with six million of our Jewish brothers and sisters, were devoured by the Holocaust.
One of the often-mentioned issues of today is the topic of religious extremism. Historical, theological, psychological and political factors in their combination induce different behavior of human societies, that seem to have troubles sharing a place in the world with respect and understanding. This set of photographs is unique by the author's point of view, which pushes to the background all the devotional rules and prejudices of otherness, and which is characterized by sincere respect and beauty of humanity. This project is a result of a unique integration of very different worlds – Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and secular, male and female...