HALALA
01/02/2018 12:21 SAST | Updated 01/02/2018 12:42 SAST

Images Explore Quiet Realities Of South African Jewish Life

A Johannesburg photographer is mounting an exhibition exploring the diversity of the city's Jewish community.

Marc Shoul

Photographer Marc Shoul has just released a series of rarely-seen perspectives from within the homes, schools and synagogues of Johannesburg's Jewish community, revealing surprising images of the vibrant local community.

Shoul's says the series, called "Landsman" ( a Yiddish word meaning "someone from your same town; a fellow Jew"), uncovers a culture that is rapidly urbanising, but holding on to its traditions.

"Jewish life was, in the past, spread out over the country. There were far-flung communities of 'Boere-Jode' - Jews who integrated into the Afrikaner culture they found around them. But those have dwindled, and the concentration of Jews is now found in the main cities of South Africa," he explains.

Marc Shoul

"Johannesburg has always had a Jewish population; very diverse in its thinking and actions. They form the backbone of my photographic project that shows Jewish life still thriving broadly in and around Johannesburg."

The images are inspired by his wife's conversion to Judaism, and one image stands out in particular for him.

"I am drawn to the photograph titled Oxford Shul, Riviera, 2016, which is one of my favourites from this body of work. The image is of a door, the entrance to a disused choir box at the synagogue. It says to me that one has to look beyond the surface of things to actually see and understand something. It's much the same as learning and understanding texts from the Torah – open to a lot of different interpretations, and one has to dig to find the answers. They are not just going to pop out at you without a bit of effort."

Marc Shoul

"Landsman" is on display at the South African Jewish Museum from January 29 until the end of March.

Check out some of the eye-opening images below, and follow @MarcShoul for updates.

Marc Shoul
Marc Shoul
Marc Shoul
Marc Shoul