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Hasidic man walking on the street in the neighborhood of Williamsburg during a blizzard, New York, December 2010.

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Hasidic women and kids praying in front of the Navy Yard in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, New York, September 2010.

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet, City Field, Queens, New York, 20 May 2012.

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Sukkot holidays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, October 2012

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Kapparot between Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. September 2012. Kapparot is performed with a live chicken (rooster for men, hen for women). The families were gathering in different places in Williamsburg were for $8 they "rented" a chicken from a seller and used it to bless all the family. The ritual is preceded by reading Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24. While swinging the chicken, the following paragraph is recited three times: This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. (This rooster (hen) will go to its death), while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and to peace. The person swings a live chicken over one's head three times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the chicken. The purpose of the sacrifice is for the expiation of the sins of the man as the chicken symbolically receives all the man's sins, which is based on the reconciliation of Isaiah 1:18 in the Hebrew Bible. After the ritual, the family returns the chicken to the seller. The chicken were not sacrificed during the ritual also if in the Jewish tradition the chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor for consumption at the pre-fast meal.

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A group of people pray, sing and dance in the Redeemer Christian Church in Brooklyn, New York, October 2010.

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Kid baptized at the Redeemer Christian Church in Brooklyn, New York, October 2010.

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A group of people pray, sing and dance in the Redeemer Christian Church in Brooklyn, New York, October 2010.

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People pray on the curb in front the Murid Islamic Community in America. MICA is an Islamic Religious non profit organization founded in 1989 and located at 46 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem, New York. "You can come here to eat, to pray, to get free food, to ask questions, to use the bathroom. It’s for everybody. That’s what we call Islam", they say. New York, June 2011.

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Senegalese men at the Murid Islamic Community in America. MICA is an Islamic Religious non profit organization founded in 1989 and located at 46 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem, New York. "You can come here to eat, to pray, to get free food, to ask questions, to use the bathroom. It’s for everybody. That’s what we call Islam", they say. New York, June 2011.

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People chanting in the zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. The cornerstone of Zen training is zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. The ZCNYC is one of the few residential Buddhist training centers in the city and represents the metropolitan branch of the Mountains and Rivers Order located upstate NY. New York, September 2011.

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People chanting in the zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. The cornerstone of Zen training is zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. The ZCNYC is one of the few residential Buddhist training centers in the city and represents the metropolitan branch of the Mountains and Rivers Order located upstate NY. New York, September 2011.

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People chanting in the zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. The cornerstone of Zen training is zazen, the formal practice of seated meditation. In its beginning stages, zazen is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. The ZCNYC is one of the few residential Buddhist training centers in the city and represents the metropolitan branch of the Mountains and Rivers Order located upstate NY. New York, September 2011.

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Zendo at the Zen Center of New York City in Brooklyn. New York, September 2011.

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Woman offers her lamp during the Sharad-Purnima Festival (Festival of the Autumn Moon) at the Krishna Temple Radha Govinda Mandir at 305 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, New York, October 2011.

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Women dance at the Krishna Temple Radha Govinda Mandir at 305 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn, New York, November 2011.

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Procession for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe organized by the Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, New York, December 2012.

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Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, New York, Easter, April 2012.

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Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, New York, December 2012.

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Teaching the Gospel to deaf Mormons at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at 144 W 15th Street in NY. February 2012.

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Waiting for the service for deaf Mormons at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at 144 W 15th Street in NY. February 2012.

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Vodou altar in Brooklyn, New York. Vodou rituals and pantheon reflect a lot of the Roman Catholicism tradition as well as African religious heritage. Haitian Vodouists revere a supreme God - Bondye - and a world of powerful spirits, Iwa, who link the human with the divine. There are hundreds of lwa in the Vodou religion, and each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and favorite objects. Ceremonies move to the rhythm of the drum; induced by sound and glitter, the lwa may possess their servitors or, as Haitians say, ride the horses. Gede is the name of a family of raucous spirits who personify the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration; the Gede Iwa are some of the most interesting and outrageous spirits in the Vodou tradition and generally, when they decide to show up, they ride the horses at the end of the celebration. New York, March 2012.

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Societe Racine Sans Bout, Haitian priest, during a Vodou ritual in Brooklyn, New York. Vodou rituals and pantheon reflect a lot of the Roman Catholicism tradition as well as African religious heritage. Haitian Vodouists revere a supreme God - Bondye - and a world of powerful spirits, Iwa, who link the human with the divine. There are hundreds of lwa in the Vodou religion, and each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and favorite objects. Ceremonies move to the rhythm of the drum; induced by sound and glitter, the lwa may possess their servitors or, as Haitians say, ride the horses. Gede is the name of a family of raucous spirits who personify the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration; the Gede Iwa are some of the most interesting and outrageous spirits in the Vodou tradition and generally, when they decide to show up, they ride the horses at the end of the celebration. New York, March 2012.

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Vodou ritual in Brooklyn, New York. Vodou rituals and pantheon reflect a lot of the Roman Catholicism tradition as well as African religious heritage. Haitian Vodouists revere a supreme God - Bondye - and a world of powerful spirits, Iwa, who link the human with the divine. There are hundreds of lwa in the Vodou religion, and each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses, and favorite objects. Ceremonies move to the rhythm of the drum; induced by sound and glitter, the lwa may possess their servitors or, as Haitians say, ride the horses. Gede is the name of a family of raucous spirits who personify the ancestral dead and sexual regeneration; the Gede Iwa are some of the most interesting and outrageous spirits in the Vodou tradition and generally, when they decide to show up, they ride the horses at the end of the celebration. New York, March 2012.

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Washing before Friday's Jumm’ah prayer at Columbia University, New York, May 2012.

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Student after Friday's Jumm’ah prayer at the Islamic Center at NYU, New York, April 2012.

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Friday's Jumm’ah prayer at Columbia University, New York, April 2012.

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Orthodox Jews at 15 Old Broadway Synagogue, Harlem, New York, April 2012.

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Orthodox Jews at 15 Old Broadway Synagogue, Harlem, New York, April 2012.

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Reading of the Torah at 15 Old Broadway Synagogue, Harlem, New York, April 2012.

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Greek Easter Vigil at Saint Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, Queens, New York, April 2012.

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Greek Easter Vigil at Saint Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, Queens, New York, April 2012.

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Greek Easter Vigil at Saint Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, Queens, New York, April 2012.

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End of Sukkot and celebration for the election of a new rabbi between Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 9 October 2012.

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End of Sukkot and celebration for the election of a new rabbi between Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 9 October 2012.

Religion is something that has inflamed the United States of America for almost their entire history. Today, religion still preoccupies Americans as approximately 1,200 different denominations and sects compete for people's allegiance. Gallup reports that 93% of Americans believe in God, while 89% are sure that God loves him or her personally. In his book The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation, literary critic Harold Bloom argues that religion in the US is a national faith that shapes the way Americans think and act. He defines it as a "religion of the self", one that is “not likely to be a religion of peace, since the American self tends to define itself through its war against otherness". Defining Americans by what they are against helps to explain the religious fragmentation of the country and its individualism.

New York prays is the result of three years long photographic investigation about different religious cults in New York City, some practiced by immigrants and others where the majority of the faithful are Americans. In the immigrant communities that I began photographing in 2010 – Italian Catholics in the Bronx, Greek Orthodox in Queens, Haitian Vodouist and Hare Krishna in Brooklyn, Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and Harlem, Dominican Jehovah's Witnesses in Queens and Senegalese Muslims in Harlem - spirituality represents an element of unity for people that, whether they migrated here fairly recently or many generations ago, still belong to very separate social, linguistic and religious groups.

New York is not just a multi ethnic, dynamic, consumer-driven metropolis but also a babel full of enclaves, mainly faith based. For many people in the city, religion represents a source of community and intimacy with their fellows and at the same time an element of separation from the rest of the world that doesn't share their beliefs. In a metropolis that is all about melting, faith allows many people to preserve their identity by segregating them from the rest of society.

The project was realized in the metropolitan area of New York City from 2010 to 2013.