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Photo Essay: Spiritual Expressions in Israel

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Western Wall
Western Wall

Street Photography in Jerusalem: Spiritual Expressions in Israel

There’s probably no more religious place than Jerusalem. A hub of 3 major world religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it has been fought over for centuries.  So it is fascinating to observe the different expressions of these religions. This photo essay is a “street photography” take on people of religion in and around Jerusalem.

Spiritual Expressions in Israel
Spiritual Expressions in Israel

The first full day I was there, I got an unusual invite, with my camera, into a Syrian Orthodox service, conducted primarily in Aramaic. The verbal content of the service was completely unintelligible to me, but the visual richness was tremendous.

Later we hit the streets of Old Jerusalem. The eclectic attire of the people of Jerusalem was fascinating. Most of the clothing has distinct religious significance.


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Traveling to the key sites around Israel where Jesus has lived and walked, we encountered people from many variations of Christianity – Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and many from the “normal” Western Hemisphere.

walking down the streets of Old Jerusalem
walking down the streets of Old Jerusalem

This man is wearing a Tefillin that contains specific passages of the Torah. The wearing of tefillin is thought to be a “good deed” or “mitzvah. The tassels at the man’s waste (Tzitzit) is to remind the wearer of the precepts of God.

man wearing a Tefillin
man wearing a Tefillin

At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, this Syrian Orthodox Church service was taking place, with the priest burning incense in a gold censer. The golden bowl of incense is referred to in both the Old and New Testaments.

Spiritual Expressions
Spiritual Expressions
burning incense
burning incense
reflections
reflections

The Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall are some of the most venerated and contested parts of the world. The wall at the base of the Temple Mound is often referred to as the Wailing Wall because Jewish believers come here to mourn the loss of the Temple.

Western Wall
Western Wall

These are scenes of men returning from praying at the Western Wall. The long sideburns that many of the men wear is from the Torah which instructs men not to round off edges of your head. This is interpreted by the Talmud as a prohibition against cutting your sideburns.

Men with sideburns in Israel
Men with sideburns in Israel
Man returning from church at the Western Wall
Man returning from church at the Western Wall
A Jewish male must leave sideburns (peyot) down to the joints of the jaw that are opposite the ear, approximately a third of the way down the ear.
A Jewish male must leave sideburns (peyot) down to the joints of the jaw that are opposite the ear, approximately a third of the way down the ear.
Jews with beards and black hats
Jews with beards and black hats

The day we visited Old Jerusalem was the anniversary of its fall to Israel. These people were celebrating that event.

Street parade in Jerusalem
Street parade in Jerusalem
Celebrating the mass
Celebrating the mass

Across the way from the Syrian Church, at the base of the Mount of Olives is the Church of All Nations, next to the Garden of Gethsemane.

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