TitleLos Israelitas - The New Promised Land
Entry descriptionA lengthy journey down the Amazon River leads to a remarkable location that hearkens back to Biblical times. There, in small agricultural villages, live Los Israelitas, an Evangelical sect founded in Lima by Ezequiel Gamonal in the 1960s. Gamonal proclaimed the Amazon rain forest to be the new Promised Land, and many of his followers left their homes to colonize these remote territories and begin a new way of life.
The tenets of the group reflect early Christian beliefs and reject many doctrines of Catholicism. Los Israelitas observe the Sabbath on Saturday. Their sanctuaries do not contain any crosses or representation of Christ; instead, the tablets of the Ten Commandments and a small ark occupy the front of the building. Most men have long hair and beards, and women and girls wear headdresses.
From Sunday through Friday, the men fish, tend their livestock, and work the fields growing rice, maize and other crops. The women care for the children, teach in their local school, prepare meals in a common dining area, and mind a small general store.
The Sabbath is observed every Saturday with an elaborate celebration. Men dress in long, flowing robes and hold their well-worn bibles, women wear their finest garb, and young girls carry tambourines festooned with colorful ribbons. The day-long services, with men and women sitting on opposite sides of the sanctuary, include bible readings, sermons, and the singing of hymns accompanied by a brass band and shaking tambourines. At midday, a burnt offering is carefully prepared, anointed with olive oil and place on the flaming altar outside the sanctuary while the congregation looks on. After a hearty meal in the common dining room, the congregation returns to the sanctuary for more prayers, hymns and readings. These images provide a glimpse into this unusual community.
About the photographerStan Raucher was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, during the age of black and white television, Life magazine photo documentaries, and the publication of The Family of Man. These early influences are reflected in his photography. Since graduating from the University of Washington Certificate Photography Program in 2004, his photographs have been shown in eighteen solo exhibits and over sixty juried group exhibitions around the world. He was featured in LensWork #97 with his Return to New York series, and he was highlighted in Adore Noir magazine #10 with his Avoid Naples! series. His Metro series was published in Slate Magazine and Lenscratch blog. His photos have also been published in F-Stop Magazine, Camera Arts Magazine and Shots Magazine. His prints were included in Portland’s Blue Sky Gallery Viewing Drawers in 2012 and 2014. He was selected for the Artist Trust EDGE Professional Development Program in 2008, and he received the Lucie Foundation E-pprentice Award in 2010. He was a 2012 and 2013 Critical Mass Competition finalist, and he was selected for Review Santa Fe in 2013. He was a CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography finalist in 2012 for his Metro series. He received an Excellence Award in the 2013 Black & White Magazine Portfolio Contest and the Juror Award of Merit in the Street Photography/Documentary category in the 2013 Grand Prix de la Decouverte International Photography Competition. Stan is currently working on several photography projects in the US and abroad.back to gallery