Attracting thousands of participants from over 100 countries, the Jewish Festival of Sukkot includes a lively parade through the heart of the city to demonstrate support for Israel.
Images by Marcelo Bendahan, Text by Heidi Gleit
Images copyright by Marcelo Bendahan and Maestro Books
“Though I have traveled extensively throughout the world, Jerusalem has long held a special place in my heart. I decided to attempt to capture the spirit of this dynamic city with my camera, my aim not to merely show the great historic monuments and tourism sites … but to convey to readers of Jerusalem Always, www.jerusalemalways.com, the unique atmosphere of Jerusalem.
“To this end, my family and I spent several months living in Jerusalem in 2007-8. I would awaken early, just as the sun was beginning to illuminate the city, and roam its streets and alleys, observing its colorful mosaic of inhabitants and pilgrims as they began a new day. I would join them for religious festivals and cultural events, for a night out on the town, and for a tranquil stroll in a park. The city’s vitality and colorfulness constantly enchanted and amazed me.” (Marcelo Bendahan)
The Old City of Jerusalem is protected by the walls that Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built in the 16th century. Only a century ago, almost all of Jerusalem lay within these walls, which were locked each night to keep the residents safe. Today the walls encompass only a small part of Jerusalem.
Shadowy nooks and crannies in the Old City’s alleys mix private homes, religious and educational institutions, and museums. Many buildings have an interior courtyard that more than compensates for the lack of a garden in front of them.
Welcoming visitors into one’s home by breaking bread with them has been a tradition in the Land of Israel since the days of Abraham the Patriarch. Each of the many different ethnic groups has its own type of bread. Here Iraqui-style flatbread is sold at the souk inside the Damascus Gate.
Jerusalem’s residents include thousands of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children. While some schools require uniforms, the vast majority do not and their pupils dress like most children in Europe and America — in t-shirts and jeans.
All Israelis are required to serve in the military after high school. Men serve for approximately three years and women for two years. The universal military service is one of the equalizing factors in Israeli society, creating a bond between citizens from different socioeconomic and ethnic groups.
On the day of Purim, children can be seen delivering colorful packages of pastries, fruits, and candies to their friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers. Giving generously to those in need and sharing with one’s friends are central values in Judaism.
The religious Jewish community in Jerusalem is far from monolithic. It includes Ethiopian kessim (above), who lead the Ethiopian community in maintaining unique Jewish traditions that precede the Talmud, as well as Ashkenazi rabbis (below), who continue to build on the knowledge accumulated in study houses in Europe over centuries.
Both the completion of buildings and of Torah scrolls are occasions for celebration. A joyous ceremony, complete with music, dancing, and festive speeches, was held in the new neighborhood of Har Homa to welcome a Torah scroll into the new synagogue.
The Church of Mary Magdalene overlooks the Church of All Nations, constructed after World War I. The Church of All Nations, whose construction was financed by a dozen different countries, signified a respite in the struggle for power in the Holy Land.
Jerusalem Always, www.jerusalemalways.com, introduces to readers this fascinating city and its colorful mosaic of inhabitants. A beautifully designed, lavishly illustrated album featuring over 140 full-color images, this large-format 176-page book is a moving journey into the heart of the Israeli capital and the daily life and festivals of its people and pilgrims. Marcelo Bendahan’s photographs bring the awesome beauty of the city to life and offer revealing glimpses into various religions and cultures that thrive in Jerusalem.
Many of the photographs were taken with a panoramic camera that allowed Bendahan to capture the vigor and diversity of Jerusalem’s streets and alleys. The photographs are accompanied by an insightful, informative, and entertaining text by American-born Heidi Gleit that draws the reader into the Jerusalem she knows so well.
Bilingual text in English and Spanish. ISBN- 978-90-809396-6-0. Jerusalem Always is available on www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.maestrobooks.nl/order.html and in local bookstores.
Marcelo Bendahan is a graduate of the School of Communication in Madrid and studied at the Westminster School of Media and the London College of Printing. His work has appeared in BBC Music, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times and Gala magazine. He is the author of Amsterdam Always and Melilla Viva.
Heidi Gleit has lived in, studied, and written about Jerusalem since 1992. She has served as the Tel Aviv correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, and the foreign press liaison for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She currently resides in Tel Aviv and is the editor of Eretz Magazine, a bimonthly magazine which focuses on the history and culture of the Land of Israel.
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