Mea Shaarim Nights | By Alexander Bronfer
Mea Shaarim is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem outside of the Old City’s walls. Even after almost 150 years of its existence, the neighborhood of “100 doors” remains unchanged, trying to isolate itself from modern life. With its overwhelmingly Hasidic population, streets of Mea Shaarim retain the appearance of pre-war Eastern Europe shtetls and life revolves around prayer and the study of Jewish religious texts. As it was in Eastern Europe, Yiddish is the language of choice for an everyday communication, keeping Hebrew as sacred language for religious purpose only. The neighborhood reminds me of a huge vessel, drifting over time using hanging laundry as sails, trying to isolate itself by closing their already non-existent one hundred gates.
Born during Soviet era in a small town in South West of Ukraine, narrow streets of Mea Shaarim “salted” with Yiddish over-street shouting, suddenly reminded me of my childhood – my grandma, my parents. During the nights when rare songs of modern time disappear in the dark, this resemblance is even more tangible and I started capture my feelings, reminiscences walking back in time like a boy catching butterflies sometimes using my Leica, sometimes using iPhone as my net which I held far back in our backyard.
Thank you, Mea Shaarim! Thanks that you exist… Float on, sail in peace.
Raanana, Israel (2022)
Born in the USSR (Ukraine), studied in St. Petersburg and lived in Lithuania. After arriving in Israel, I lived in a kibbutz in South Israel where I fell in love with the Dead Sea region and desert. After a serious illness in 2007, I decided to change my life and decided to devote my knowledge to environmental and suitability issues, seeing photography as a continuation of my efforts. Therefore my main interest in photography is environmental issues and human environmental interactions. Over the last four years I have been working on a book about the mystery of the Dead Sea and its ecological catastrophe. On top of that I spend a good amount of time on personal projects mainly in Eastern Europe and Armenia.
I am a finalist of multiple international and Israeli photography festivals.
Photo Essay edited by Alejandra Martínez Moreno