The artwork titled "Jewish Pirate" was created in 2020 by Leah Raab. A young man is standing on a sidewalk in Jerusalem in the middle of the day wearing a costume pirate hat. Fringes of the tallit katan hang at great length from below his shirt. The artwork is a digital photographic print, 16 inches by 9 inches.

“Jewish Pirate,” Leah Raab, 2020, digital photographic print, 16″ x 9”

On the other hand, Raab’s photograph of a “Jewish Pirate” offers a wonderful oddness even within the oddness that is inherent in Israel’s socio-cultural contours. One might suppose—or not—that the occasion is the festival of Purim, (but it really is Purim) and that the figure we see has added a different sort of head-covering in order to be part of the costuming that is common to the holiday across the Jewish world. Costumes, since at least the medieval Purim Shpiels, have not been limited to being based on characters from within the Book of Esther, but all kinds of others. Part of the idea behind costumes in general is that they enable us to bring out what we ordinarily hide, and/or hide behind a different “I”—as Queen Esther hid her Judaean/Jewish identity from King Ahasuerus until the appropriate moment. The visual disconnect—were this any place other than Jerusalem, that is—is that the tzitziyot (fringes) of the tallit katan of this young man may be clearly discerned hanging at great length from below his shirt, a traditional sartorial feature that seems so at odds with a pirate’s hat. Maybe it is his inner pirate yearning to come out. But, of course, there were Jewish pirates in history—although they were not tallit katan-wearing Orthodox Jews…

Leah Raab was born in Trenton, NJ, began her studies at the University of NH, received her BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem and completed her MFA at the New York Studio School. Leah’s work depicts her environment and her reactions to her surroundings. She paints scenes and moments in time that are significant to her, reflecting internal tensions in a seemingly tranquil landscape overlaid with a sense of impending danger that may explode at any moment. Her most recent preoccupation is with photographing and painting unusual gatherings of people wearing masks or of those dressed in intriguing and striking garments. Having moved back and forth many times between Israel and the US, Leah now resides and paints in Raanana, Israel. To learn more about Leah, check out her website You can also view her work on Instagram @artwork_by_leah