EFRAT, Israel — Rebecca Sigala has photographed over 1,000 women in intimate settings, using boudoir photography — nude, or in lingerie — to help her clients achieve a positive self-image. But her latest assignments have an additional purpose: she is taking sexy portraits of wives to send to their husbands, who have been called up to serve in the war against Hamas terrorists, now in its sixth week.
In so doing, she helps couples stay connected to each other — and gives women, especially moms, a moment of escape.
Sigala works from a studio in Efrat, a predominantly religious community roughly 15 minutes south of Jerusalem. It is an airy loft illuminated by the light that floats in over the Judean hills, the landscape of the Bible.
On one side of the room is an ornate bed, the sensual setting for Sigala’s subjects. On the other side, behind a curtained partition, there are a mirror and a table for makeup and hair styling.
On full boudoir shoots, Sigala uses a professional lens and editing equipment. But lately, she has been working with her iPhone to create a different, more relaxed aesthetic for her “IDF wives” shoots.
The demand is intense, as countless husbands — most of whom only do reserve duty occasionally — have found themselves away from their wives for weeks at a time.
Together with makeup artist Rhonda Lev, she offers 45 minutes of preparation, then 20 minutes of shooting, producing dozens of beautifully edited photographs. Turnover is so fast that one woman is usually preparing for a shoot while the next is busy posing.
The cost is $250, and Sigala has organized a fundraising effort through her Instagram page to help couples afford the cost of the sessions.
For Sigala, boudoir photographs are not just about the gaze of the admirer, but about the experience of the model. She works as a “body positivity coach,” helping women to understand and appreciate their beauty.
Usually, she stages her boudoir shoots as the culmination of a process of counseling, reflection, and meditation. Posing nude or nearly nude, she says, is an expression of “self-love.” Sharing the images with a husband or lover can add excitement to the relationship, but that is a “bonus,” not the focus.
Most of her clients are religiously observant women; many ask their rabbis for permission before participating in a boudoir shoot. Some are the wives of rabbis themselves.
Sigala, who became more observant in her teenage years, sees her role as connecting the spiritual and the sensual, for women and the men they love.
She has maintained that philosophy in the war, even though there is more of a sexual edge to photographs for couples separated by military duties.
“I’ve had a lot of women tell me that their husbands requested sexy photographs,” Sigala says. “A lot of the women are surprising their husbands. … I think that it still has to come from a woman’s desire to do it for herself.”
Sigala also sees her work as a way of fighting back against the Hamas terrorists who murdered, tortured, and raped Jews on October 7. By celebrating the beauty and power of Jewish female bodies, she is fighting back against their degradation.
(She would be eager to work with Arab women, she says, but few have been willing to approach her.)
Not everyone in the “body positivity” movement understands. Sigala was shocked, at the outbreak of the war, when colleagues whose work she admired began posting anti-Israel, even antisemitic messages.
She slammed those who advocate “for all bodies, except Jewish ones.”
The war has been an opportunity to Sigala to explore, in a much deeper way, the respect shown to the body in Jewish tradition — whether the sacred ritual of preparing bodies for burial, or the monthly immersion in a ritual bath (mikvah) that wives perform at the end of their menstrual cycles and before reuniting with their husbands.
She says she is proud of the Israeli soldiers who are doing their best to avoid civilian casualties — even when fighting terrorists who are prepared to blow up their own bodies, or to mutilate the bodies of others.
Her photos — and the feelings they inspire — are her answer.
While the terrorists celebrate death, she says, Jews celebrate life.
She corrects herself, with a smile and a spark in her eyes: “We value living, not just life.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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