Daughters of the king

Federica Valabrega

Genre: Photography


about the book

Portraits of Ashkenazi and Sephardic women from Jerusalem, New York, Paris, and beyond that seek to illuminate the femininity that accompanies “every gesture and every moment of their daily lives as religious women.”


from the book

Almost four years ago, the Garelik family invited me for Shabbat dinner at their home in Crown Heights, a Lubavitch Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. I had just sat down at the table when Rabbi Yossi’s wife, Chani Garelik, took me aside and uttered a sentence straight from the Torah: “col cvuda bat melech pnima.” Translated, it means, “the pride of a Daughter of the King resides in the most secret depths of her soul.” She said that if I really wanted my photographs to speak about religious women, I first needed to understand this concept on my own.

“Daughters of the King” began in that moment, although I was not able to take any photos that night. Chani Garelik became my mentor, my so-called muse. Interestingly, she never permitted me to photograph her. Rather, I kept going back to her house to seek advice on how to approach my subjects; specifically, how to behave among religious, Jewish women. Little by little, I became part of the lives of these women whom I randomly met on the streets of Brooklyn. After a while, they began inviting me to their weddings and dinners. Even now, they recognize me when I walk into their neighborhood to go shopping, as if I have become part of their world, as if—at least for a moment—I am one of them.

Read more