Kahana managed to penetrate into the heart of ultra-Orthodox society, and his photos – the product of a decade-long fascination with a world mostly unknown to secular Israelis – are intriguing, and at times disturbing.
Repository for religious documents (all photos by Menachem Kahana)
Some of the photos are particularly unsettling: One picture shows a crowd of worshippers sitting around the body of Rabbi Kadoury wrapped in a prayer shawl and placed on the floor of the Nahalat Yitzhak Synagogue in Jerusalem shortly before the funeral procession begins.
In another photo, members of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta stream are seen cheering as they burn down an Israeli flag.
'Pidyon Peter Chamor' ritual
The audience's responses are accordingly strong: "This is appalling, un-Jewish and shouldn't be on display," one distraught visitor said. "I'm ashamed that there are such pagan, primitive people in my country."
Kahana's presence at the venue prompted some of the angered visitors to direct their criticism at him: "How are you, as a Jew, not ashamed to display here photos of flags being burned and a donkey being abused?" asked Hulda.
'Pidyon Haben' ritual
"I'm amazed by the quality of the photography, but shocked by this idol worship in our midst in the 21st century. This is simply outrageous," she added.
Kahana replied: "Each person has a right to live his life and believe in what he wants to believe. I opened a window for us to peek into the haredi world. They didn't ask for it. They don't force anyone to look inside, and those who are not interested shouldn't come to the exhibit, just like they shouldn't visit Mea Shearim or Bnei Brak."
Near Rabbi Nachman's grave in Uman, Ukraine
Kahana told Ynet that despite the emotional responses, "I'm glad that my camera is the key to a world that many of them don't know.
"Perhaps now they will understand there are people who may look different – but underneath we are all Jews and we all resemble each other much more than we can possibly imagine."
Haredim – Menachem Kahana, photographs
February 1 – June 30 2006
Eretz Israel Museum Tel Aviv
Sun-Wed: 10 am-4 pm
Thu: 10 am-8 pm
Fri-Sat: 10 am-2 pm