|Photo © Stan Raucher-All Rights Reserved|
Over five decades ago, Ezequiel Gamonal, a humble Peruvian cobbler founded an evangelical sect called Asociación Evangélica de la Misión Israelita del Nuevo Pacto Universal, and declared he had been chosen by God to build a new Israel in the Amazon wilderness, and many people answered his call and formed this sect.
The members of Ezequiel's followers strictly observe the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath and, imitating the ancient Israelite "look", the men grow out their hair and beards while women keep their hair covered with kerchiefs...a sort of Israelite hijab. The cult founder is said to have been an admirer of Cecil B. DeMille’s work, and based his belief system on these biblical movie epics.
During weekdays, the men wear regular clothes and baseball caps as they go about farming and farming. The women teach in the local school and care for children. However when Saturday arrives, the cult members meet for elaborate, day-long festivities with bible readings, singing of hymns to the tune of a brass band and a feast.
Stan Raucher's Los Israelitas features 15 gorgeous monochromatic photographs of members of this sect, made as he traveled down the Amazon River by boat with several members of this Peruvian evangelical sect.
The UK's Daily Mail newspaper also featured a whole spread of Mr Raucher's photographs, along with interesting captions.
Stan Raucher, now based in Seattle, was born and raised in Minnesota during the age of black and white television, and LIFE magazine photo documentaries. Although he did not begin to do photography seriously until 2003, these early influences are reflected in his work. His work was widely exhibited, with three recent shows: the 2013 Newspace Juried Exhibition, in Portland, The Decisive Moment, Black Box Gallery, Portland, and 2013 B+W Exhibition, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins. After 36 years as a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington, he retired in 2011 and now devotes his time to photography, travel and outdoor activities.