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Arnhel de Serra August 15, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in England.

Lubavitch Family on the Night Before Passover. London 2006

Arnhel de Serra (b. 1964, England) studied photography under David Hurn at Gwent College, Newport, South Wales. Initially starting out as a portrait photographer his focus soon changed to a reportage based approach. His clients include: The Sunday Times, Stern Magazine, The Independent Magazine, Saatchi and Saatchi, BP, and The National Trust among others. Arnhel’s work was shown at the London Festival of Photography in 2012 as part of the exhibition The Great British Public. He is represented by Blunt Management and resides in London.

About the Photograph:

“This image is taken from a commissioned series entitled “Identities”, shot for The Jewish Museum in London in 2006 to mark the 350th anniversary of Jewish Life in Britain. It was taken on the evening before the Jewish holiday of Pesach or Passover, at the Kesticher’s, a Lubavitch family living in Stamford Hill. Hametz, or leavening, is made from one of five types of grain added to water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes. During Pesach it is forbidden to consume or to have any leavened products in one’s home, and in many traditional households a search is made the night before following days of meticulous cleaning.”

It is customary to conduct the search by candlelight using a feather and a spoon; by candlelight to illuminate the corners without casting a shadow; the feather dusts crumbs out of any corners and the wooden spoon is used to collect crumbs which are burned with the Hametz the following day. The Kesticher’s went as far as cleaning the inside of the taps on the kitchen sink with a blow torch. Mr. Kesticher is searching in one of his son’s room for the ten pieces of Hametz that his children have hidden throughout the house. His younger son can be seen holding the feather and the spoon, and the Hametz is hidden in the small pack of kitchen foil attached to the top of the symbol. As for Tony Blair, well who knows?”