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Kroke. Orthodox Jews in Krakow

The exhibition Kroke. Orthodox Jews in Kraków is the result of a long-term photography project by Agnieszka Traczewska.

November 6, 2023 - New Eastern Europe - EventsStories and ideas

Agnieszka Traczewska has been documenting the Orthodox Jewish community of Kraków with her camera since 2008. For over 15 years, she has taken hundreds of photos, creating a unique collective portrait of the community captured during Jewish holidays, synagogue prayers, private events in family homes, and rituals related to keeping kosher or celebrating Shabbat.

Although Jewish identity is a broad concept, Traczewska’s story is focused on those for whom Jewishness equals religious observation at its most traditional, orthodox form. In this sense, the panorama that she has outlined is narrow and a consequence of her subjective choices.

“Kroke portrays Jewish religious life in contemporary Kraków, not an eminently optimistic story. And she tells it faithfully, sometimes almost painfully. But, paradoxically, she depicts it beautifully and, despite all doubts, optimistically. She manages to capture true spirituality, amazing vitality, diversity and – above all – the continuity of a genuine religious life. Without simplifications, embellishments, or easy sentiments. Wisely, beautifully, poignantly.”

— Professor Marcin Wodziński, Wrocław University

Agnieszka Traczewska is a photographer and documentary film producer. She specializes in photographing the hermetic world of Hasidim, showing a world of Jewish rituals, ceremonies and daily life closed to outsiders. Through her photographs, she presents an intimate glimpse into the worldview of Orthodox Jews, whose lives are subordinated to religious precepts and spiritual tradition.

Her first photo album, Powroty / Returns (Warsaw, 2018), depicts Hasidic pilgrimages to the graves of the great tzaddikim in Poland. Her next album, Wskrzeszony Świat /A Rekindled World (Krakow, 2021), presents a kaleidoscope of revived ultra-Orthodox life on four continents. Rejecting the usual stereotypes, Traczewska brings viewers closer to contemporary Hasidim as individuals. Kroke (2022) is the culmination of fifteen years of documenting the Orthodox Jewish community in her hometown of Kraków.

Agnieszka Traczewska’s photographs have been presented in dozens of solo and group exhibitions in Poland and abroad, including in the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Israel and Australia. Her photograph “Pierwszy Raz” [First Time], depicting newlyweds from an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, was one of the winners of the prestigious National Geographic Traveller Photography Contest in 2014.

On October 12th, the exhibition premiered at the Galicia Jewish Museum. Already today we would like to encourage you to participate in the program of events accompanying this exhibition, the details of which will be revealed soon.

Shacharit (morning prayer) at the Remuh Synagogue, 2018
© Agnieszka Traczewska

The project was financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.


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