Photographer Neil Martinson was working on a book about
Jewish life in Britain in 1981 when a rabbi told him about the
Jewish blessing of the sun festival, Birkat Hachama.
“The rabbi mentioned it in passing,” said Neil. “He just said,
“You might find this interesting tomorrow. We’ve got this ceremony.
Why don’t you go along and have a look?”.”
Not knowing what to expect, Neil went along to the
school playground the next morning before sunrise.
He can’t now remember at which school it took place.
“I got there a bit early. You tend to if you are taking pictures
and you want to see what’s going on,” he said.
“It was all a bit empty. I thought, “This is a waste of time”.”
But suddenly hundreds of ultra-orthodox Hasidic men
and boys converged on the playground.