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Veiled Women of the Holy Land: New Trends in Modest Dress

No’am Bar’am-Ben Yossef

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This exhibition catalogue presents a relatively recent socio-cultural phenomenon in Israel: women from the three religions who cover themselves from head to toe in multiple layers of clothing, concealing themselves completely from the public eye. In this there is a clear – if latent – dialogue between Jewish and Muslim women, and both may have been inspired by the religious habit of Christian nuns. Presenting the fruits of years of research by ethnography curator No’am Bar’am-Ben Yossef, the publication includes a survey tracing the historical background of “modest dress” and conversations with women from each group who speak openly about their decision to adopt this extreme form of dress, how it makes them feel, and how their circle – and people in the streets – react to them. Gracing the entire book are striking artistic photographs, and concluding it are illustrated entries detailing the set of clothing worn by each group, ingeniously designed so as to allow readers to peel off each layer and understand the complexity of this mode of dress – as well as of the thoughts and feelings that lie behind it.

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