This documentary series pertains to Hanukkah, which is the holiday when we celebrate the inauguration of the altar. This event connected with the victory over the Greeks and the miracle of the tin of pure oil that occurred years later.
During the Second Temple period when the Hasmoneans conquered Jerusalem, they wanted to renew the traditional work of the Temple and turn on the lamp. They found only a small tin of pure oil that was supposed to last for one day; however, miraculously there remained enough oil for eight days. To commemorate this miracle we celebrate the lighting of the candles on every Chanukah night for eight days. According to tradition, the lighting of the oil lamps (Menorahs) is done outside of the house or inside the home by the windows so that everyone can see the lights.
I photographed these pictures in a small Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem called Mea Shearim. The Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem is an old, closed Haredi neighborhood, the fifth neighborhood built outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. The neighborhood was plan for a small Orthodox community that supported its members and ran the organization’s needs. Today, some orthodox communities live there just as they did in the earlier times religiously observing the old traditional life.
In each family, the number of menorahs in the home is equivalent to the number of men in the family, including the male children. The atmosphere all around the neighborhood is a spiritual charm with small lights everywhere.
On day seven of the holiday, I was invited to an ultra-Orthodox family home, it was a special experience.
All images and text © Efrat Sela
By Efrat Sela