Tag Archives: Tradition

Moving Pictures, Tzfat, Israel 1997

Tzfat, an ancient Jewish town in northern Israel, is a center for Kabala and Jewish mysticism, as well as an artist colony today.

Canopy, Jerusalem, Israel 2010

Drying laundry forms a canopy above this Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. In the foreground, several pairs of tallit kattan or tzitzit hang from the clothesline. Orthodox men wear this fringed garment beneath their clothes as a constant reminder of God’s commandments.

Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel 2010

A Hasidic man stands at a gravesite on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives has been the site of a Jewish cemetery for 3,000 years and holds about 150,000 graves. The rocks atop the gravestone reflect the Jewish tradition of placing stones, rather than flowers, as a …

Moroccan Rabbi, Be’er Sheva, Israel 2008

Since 1948, nearly a million Jews have come to Israel from Arab and Muslim lands—a large portion in just the first couple of decades of Israel’s existence. They came to escape religious intolerance and poverty, and to start new lives in their historic homeland. In 1948, there were over a quarter of a million Jews …

Graveste of Eliezer Ben Yehudah, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel 2010

Eliezer Ben Yehudah was born in 1858, in Belarus. Ben Yehudah is known as the reviver and creator of Modern Hebrew. His children are its first native speakers. He is buried in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives.

Ben Gurion’s Grave, Sde Boker, Israel 2009

David Ben Gurion was a primary founder and the first Prime Minister of Israel. He is buried at Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev Desert, along with his wife, Paula. Ben Gurion spent the last 20 years of his life at Sde Boker. His former home there is now a museum.

Flea Market Mincha Time, Yafo, Israel, 2009

In Jaffa, the port neighborhood which is part of the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, the centrally-located fleamarket (shuk) is like thousands of others across the Middle East, an environment of hustling, hollering and haggling. All of these changes at midday, when the hot Mediterranean sun is at its peak and for twenty minutes many of the …

The New Hurva, Jerusalem, Israel, 2010

The Hurva synagogue now stands in the center of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, but its long and dramatic history serves as a reminder of the struggles for control over the city and its neighborhoods. The original synagogue on this site was built in the early 18th century, when a group of European Jews dedicated to mysticism …

Priestly Blessing Cartagena, Colombia, 2011

In this photograph, a father draws his three sons to his chest during the Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing. In the tradition of many Sephardic communities, including this one in Cartagena, Columbia, men cover the heads of their children during the blessing so they can focus on the meaning of the Hebrew words while it’s …

Social Justice, Tzfat, Israel, 2008

Tzfat has the highest elevation of any city in Israel and is located north of the Sea of Galilee in a lushly forested and hilly area. Since the 16th century it has been considered one of four holy cities in Israel and has been the capital of the mystical practice of Kabbalah, for which it …

Shabbat Welcome, Holon, Israel, 2012

Israeli society is made up of Jewish communities from a variety of backgrounds as well as differing levels of participation in the rituals of Jewish life. It is possible to take the culture and language for granted and neglect the spiritual and religious dimensions of being Jewish in a Jewish state. At a community center …

Mt. of Olives, Jerusalem, Israel, 2010

Here is a photograph of The Mount of Olives (Har HaZeitim) with the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City and the rotunda of the Dome of the Rock in the distance. Once covered in olive groves, The Mount of Olives has been used for burials since Biblical times and is referenced in writings from the time …

Boys in Cartagena, Colombia, 2011

These young students in Cartagena are posed around the bimah after their morning prayers. Most of them have had a bar mitzvah and are wearing tefillin and a tallit, but a few of them are not yet of age. The community is also a relatively young one, primarily made up of recent converts to Judaism. …

Women Praying, Lima, Peru, 2003

At a house on the outskirts of Peru’s capital city, Lima, women pray the afternoon service, mincha. As part of a community of recent converts to Judaism, the congregation lacks some of the basic resources that other groups might take for granted. For instance, they read from a paper Torah scroll rather than a more …

Shema Yisrael, Medellín, Colombia, 2011

Prayer is a central focus of any Jewish community, whether it is conducted in the home, a synagogue, a community center, or outdoors. The rituals in this Latin American congregation may look like ones you have seen or participated in. Members of this community adhere to Orthodox traditions, with men and women sitting separately, and …

Bar Mitzvah Boy, Mexico City, Mexico, 2004

What does it mean to become a Bar Mitzvah? Among other things, it means being obligated to carry out the mitzvot that apply to all Jewish adults. For the young man in this photograph, it means wearing tallit and tefillin and being called to the Torah. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t mean being exempt from getting his cheeks …

Upsherin, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, 1995

What do you see in this photograph? A young boy sits on a rabbi’s lap, and together they point to Hebrew letters while a jar of honey sits beside them on the table. It is a custom in some communities that when a boy reaches three years of age, he gets his hair cut for the fiŒrst …

Klezmer Duo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2002

Klezmer is the traditional music of Eastern European Jews. Although many people think of it as oldfashioned music, young Jewish musicians all over the world have started playing klezmer again. The two men in this picture are from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although this photo was taken at their studio in Argentina, their band plays all over the world. …

Open Table, (Immigrants from Azerbaijan), Acco, Israel, 2007

Members of the Kavkazi community (Jews from the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and Azerbaijan) who have immigrated to Israel have strived to retain important aspects of their rich cultural heritage. This photograph refl‰ects one example of this—the value of hospitality that is central to their tradition. The woman in the middle (with her head covered) represents another …

Kapparot, Kew Garden Hills, Queens, New York, 1995

In this picture, Kew Garden Hills, Queens, is the setting for kapparot, one of the more unusual Jewish folk customs. This boy’s mother holds a prayer book for him as he waves a chicken over his head. Through this act, which is practiced just before Yom Kippur, a person’s sins are symbolically transferred to the bird. The chicken …

Scribe, Marseille, France, 2006

This sofer (scribe) in Marseille, France, is writing a Torah scroll. A kosher Torah scroll must be written by hand by a trained scribe

Cave, Haidan A-Sham, Yemen, 1992

You don’t need to be in a classroom or synagogue to study the Torah. You can do it almost anywhere—even in a cave. The town of Haidan A-Sham is located in a rugged and mountainous part of Yemen, and the Jews there made use of whatever spaces were available. These boys have gathered in a cave to …