A Look at Chassidic Life, Do Not Photograph (Book Review)

By BJLIfe/Sharon Altshul
Posted on 06/05/18

Jerusalem, Israel - June 5, 2018 - Walking around Jerusalem, Israel, with my camera, I have heard, "Don't take my photo!"  dozens of times.  Very often I have had no intention of taking a photo of the person who either verbally or physically indicated that he did not want to be photographed. Sometimes I regretted the missed opportunity for a great image to capture and share.

In his new book, "Do Not Photograph," London-born photojournalist Joshua Haruni has captured and presented an impressive collection of images. With more than ninety enhanced black-and-white photographs, elegantly displayed in an impressive coffee table volume, Haruni presents us with an inside look at Hassidic life in Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak. 

Haruni was able to connect with HaRav Yitzhok Dovid Grossman of Migdal Ha'Emek, who  introduced the photographer to the late Admor of Pinsk-Karlin, HaRav Aharon Rosenfeld, z"l. With the influence of the Admor z'l,  "Mach Nisht Kein Builder" turned into introductions and the consent of Hassidic families to share their personal and community events. According to Haruni, it was more "tolerate" than cooperate, and the process took years to complete.

The photographs span the decades, from early images taken in the mid-1990's which were exhibited at Yeshiva University Museum in New York City in 1999, under the title "The Healing Power of Kabbalah." 

After YU Museum showing, the exhibit traveled and was shown in various US museums. In 2012,  the popular photography exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem,  "A World Apart Next Door-Glimpses into the Life of Hassidic Jews" included Haruni's work.

It was a "chance" meeting in Hong Kong with a friend from London, printer Danny Chau, that the idea for the book was born.  Chau encouraged his friend to share the unique collection and enhanced the black-and-white images digitally with selected coloring. All Haruni's original photographs were shot in black-and-white on film. 

The volume is written in Hebrew and English. The Glossary at the end of the book is a valuable source of information on Hassidic communities and leaders, as well as Jewish customs and holidays.

Title: Do Not Photograph  Author: Joshua Haruni

ISBN: 978-965-572-544-5

Format: Hardcover  Pages: 303  Price: $90  Pub Date: April 2018