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Mea Shaarim Nights (2022)

Mea Shaarim (100 gates – direct translation) is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem outside of Old City walls. Even after almost 150 years of existence, the neighborhood remains unchanged, trying to isolate itself from modern life. With its overwhelmingly Hassidic population, the streets of Mea Shaarim retain the appearance of pre-war Eastern Europe shtetls – and life revolves around prayers and the study of Jewish religious texts. As was in Eastern Europe, Yiddish is the language of choice for everyday communication, keeping Hebrew as a sacred language for religious purpose only. 

Born during the Soviet era in a small town in the South West of Ukraine, the narrow streets of Mea Shaarim are sprinkled with  Yiddish over-street shouting, suddenly reminded me of my childhood. During the nights when rare signs of modern times disappear in the dark, this resemblance is even more tangible. I started to capture my feelings, reminiscing  a walk back in time like a boy catching butterflies. Sometimes using my Leica, sometimes using iPhone as my red  butterfly net which I held far back in our backyard .  

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