September 13, 2011

Photo of the Week: Aug. 4, 2011

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: As an Ashkenazic Jew, I have always admired the Torah scrolls used by our Sephardic brethren, simply because they are different and I encounter them less frequently. Sephardic Torahs are carried in a round case fashioned from either wood or metal and read in the upright position, as opposed to lying flat on a table in the Ashkenazic tradition. Although this makes photographing the reader more complicated, the scroll cases are often quite colorful and ornately adorned. In addition, they always have a piece of material hanging from the top to allow the oleh to mark the place where his reading begins and ends.

I photographed this Torah during a bar mitzvah reading at the Kotel. The case is crafted entirely from wood and was so large and heavy the bar mitzvah boy could barely lift it. A brightly colored tallit was clipped to the top and draped beautifully along one side. Normally, I might shy away from mixing the earth tones of the wood with the bright rainbow colors of the fabric, but here the two strong symbols of my heritage merged comfortably into visual harmony, helped along by the soft, diffuse light of early morning.

Technical Data: Nikon D300, 18-200 zoom at 105mm, f8 @ 1/125th sec., ISO 400

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