Joy in the City, Sukkot

We have just completed the High Holidays in the Jewish Calendar. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and most recently Sukkot. On a very basic level it is a time for people to reflect on the past year.  A time to see where they messed up and where they improved and see how they would like to move forward in the future.

Sukkot comes after Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and lasts for a week. It is a time where we build temporary “homes” that can look like small huts. Men are supposed to eat, sleep and even have your everyday basic conversations in the Sukkah. There is an idea that when you are in the Sukkah you are surrounded by Gd’s hug. It is a time of joy and celebration.

Here in Israel most people are off from work. There are concerts and gatherings all over the country, to help get into the joy of the holiday. Below are some photographs from the past week.

A group of Orthodox Jewish men look at Esrog's (Citron) for the holiday of Sukkot at a Sukkah market in Jerusalem.

A group of Orthodox Jewish men look at Esrog’s (Citron) for the holiday of Sukkot at a market in Jerusalem.

A family examines Lulavs (Palm branch) for the holiday of Sukkot in Jerusalem.  One takes 4 different species during Sukkot and shakes them.

A family examines Lulavs (Palm branch) for the holiday of Sukkot in Jerusalem. One takes 4 different species during Sukkot and shakes them.

A couple sits at a booth during a festival during Sukkot at a Moshav in Israel.

A couple sits at a booth during a festival during Sukkot at a Moshav in Israel.

A girl stands and looks at an audience during a concert on a Moshav, during the holiday of Sukkot.

A girl stands and looks at an audience during a concert on a Moshav, during the holiday of Sukkot.

A group of girls sit and eat in a sukkah during the holiday of Sukkot in Jerusalem.

A group of women sit and eat in a sukkah during the holiday of Sukkot in Jerusalem.

Esrogs (Citrons) for sale in a market in Jerusalem for the holiday of Sukkot.

Esrogs (Citrons) for sale in a market in Jerusalem for the holiday of Sukkot.

Lag B’Omer

It has been a few months since I have posted anything to the blog. I was distracted as I was recovering from knee surgery and had to learn how to walk again. That being said I am now back in Jerusalem, walking around and back to exploring the streets. I would like to share with you my most recent experience.

Last night was the start of Lag B’Omer, a holiday that reveals the mystical traditions within Judaism. One of the main ways in which Lag B’Omer is celebrated is by having massive bonfires in the street. The fire represents the light of the Zohar (Kabala) that was revealed in the world.

I wondered the streets of Jerusalem mostly spending time in the neighborhood Mea Shearim. Mea Shearim is an Ultra Orthodox religious neighborhood, known for being more secluded from the secular world.

 

A boy sits next to the fire that his family has lit for Lag B'Omer in the neighborhood of Nachlaot.  Photo by: Sarah Schuman

A boy sits next to the fire that his family has lit for Lag B’Omer in the neighborhood of Nachlaot. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

People stand around a bon Fire  in a apartment compound for Lag B'Omer.  Photo by: Sarah Schuman

People stand around a bonfire in an apartment compound for Lag B’Omer. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

Orthodox men dance around the bonfire that they have made for Lag B'Omer in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem.  Photo by: Sarah Schuman

Orthodox men dance around the bonfire that they have made for Lag B’Omer in the middle of the street in the neighborhood Mea Shearim, Jerusalem. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

Small boys play with the fire that has been lit for Lag B'Omer, while the men dance in the street. Photo by: Sarah Schuma

Small boys play with the fire that has been lit for Lag B’Omer, while the men dance in the street. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

Orthodox Chassidic men in the neighborhood of Mea Shearim celebrate Lag B'Omer.  Photo by: Sarah Schuman

Orthodox Chassidic men, from a Breslov movement, celebrate Lag B’Omer in Mea Shearim. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

Orthodox Chassidic women from a Breslov movement watch as men dance around a bonfire for Lag B'Omer.  Photo by: Sarah Schuman

Orthodox Chassidic women watch as men dance around a bonfire for Lag B’Omer in the neighborhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

Two Ultra Orthodox Chassidic men from a Breslov movement talk, in Mea Shearim, as a bonfire goes in the background for Lag B'Omer.  Photo by: Sarah Schuman

Ultra Orthodox Chassidic men from a Breslov movement talk, in Mea Shearim, as a bonfire goes in the background for Lag B’Omer. Photo by: Sarah Schuman

 

I hope you enjoyed looking at the images and getting a glimpse of what the Jewish holiday Lag B’Omer is like in Jerusalem.  I would love to hear from you, so leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Year in Review

This year has been incredible.  I have been blessed with so many wonderful opportunities that I could have only dreamed of.  I have met incredible people, learned a tremendous amount and have grown in many ways from the things I have seen and heard.

The year started in the south of India for a month, where I had the privilege to photograph inside a traditional Ayurvedic Hospital.  The next 10 months were spent in Israel.  I had the opportunity to focus on photography.  Had the privilege of meeting many fascinating people while out with my camera- people from all religions and woks of life.  I am now in NY where I am waiting my return back to Israel.

Below are some of the photographs from the past 12 months.  Enjoy!

January, India

A local woman picks up traditional Ayurveda medicine at the Ayurvedic Hospital, January 2013, in the south of India.

A local woman picks up traditional Ayurveda medicine at the Ayurvedic Hospital, January 2013, in the south of India.

A patient sits in her room in the woman's ward waiting for treatment at the Ayurveda Hospital in the south of India, January 2013.

A patient sits in her room in the woman’s ward waiting for treatment at the Ayurveda Hospital in the south of India, January 2013.

February, Arriving in Israel- Tel- Aviv

Young boys, on top of an abandoned building, light up a cigarette during a Purim party in Tel- Aviv on February 23, 2013.

Young boys, on top of an abandoned building, light up a cigarette during a Purim party in Tel- Aviv on February 23, 2013.

March, Arrived to Jerusalem

A group of Christian pilgrims walk down the Mt of Olives in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. March 24, 2013.

A group of Christian pilgrims walk down Mt of Olives in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. March 24, 2013.

Christian priests pray on top of the Mt of Olives in Jerusalem on March 24, 2013 on Palm Sunday.

Christian priests pray on top of Mt of Olives in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013.

April

A young Jewish boy runs through the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem on April 3, 2013.

A young Jewish boy runs through the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem on April 3, 2013.

Soldiers take a moment of silence April 15, 2013 (Yom Hazikiaron) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Soldiers take a moment of silence April 15, 2013 (Yom Hazikiaron) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

A pile of hay sits piled in the Negev on April 23, 2013.

A pile of hay, in the Negev on April 23, 2013.

May

Muslim women walk the streets of the Old City in the Muslim Quarter on May 19, 2013.

Muslim women walk the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem on May 19, 2013.

A christian pilgrim bows in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on May 26, 2013.

A christian pilgrim bows in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on May 26, 2013.

June

Women at the Western Wall reach to kiss the Torah as it is raised during a prayer service on June 9, 2013.

Women at the Western Wall reach to kiss the Torah as it is raised during a prayer service on June 9, 2013.

James Joseph (Yaakov) walks the streets of Jerusalem on June 26, 2013.

James Joseph (Yaakov) walks the streets of Jerusalem on June 26, 2013.

July

A young boy plays in the fountains in Jerusalem on July 26, 2013

A young boy plays in the fountains in Jerusalem on July 26, 2013

August

Two young boys walk past a group of Muslim women while praying during Ramadan on August 1, 2013.

Two young boys walk past a group of Muslim women while praying during Ramadan on August 1, 2013.

September

A Jewish man holds a chicken on September 11, 2013 in order to take part in a old Jewish Tradition, Kaparot.  The man will swing the chicken over his and his families heads before it is slaughtered and given away to charity.

A Jewish man holds a chicken on September 11, 2013 in order to take part in a Jewish custom (Kaparot). The man will swing the chicken over his and his families heads before it is slaughtered and given away to charity.

October

A young man walks through a crowd at a Chassidic wedding in Jerusalem.  October 2013.

A young Jewish man walks through a crowd at a Chassidic Orthodox wedding in Jerusalem. October 2013.

November, Leaving Jerusalem and going back to New York for a visit

A young Jewish woman watches as women from Woman of the Wall partake in their monthly prayer service on November 4, 2013 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  It was the 25th Anniversary of Women of the Wall.

A young Jewish woman watches as women from “Woman of the Wall” partake in their monthly prayer service on November 4, 2013 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was the 25th Anniversary of Women of the Wall.

A young woman who is a part of Women of the Wall wears Tefillin (the black band around her arm) at the 25th Anniversary on November 4, 2013.

A young woman who is a part of the organization “Women of the Wall” wears Tefillin (the black band around her arm) at the 25th Anniversary on November 4, 2013 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Women from Women of the wall hold up their Prayer Shawls during the 25th Anniversary on November 4, 2013 at the Western Wall in Jerusaelm.

Women from Women of the wall hold up their Prayer Shawls during the 25th Anniversary on November 4, 2013 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Packing up to leave Grandma's house, on Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013 in New York.

Packing up to leave Grandma’s house, on Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013 in New York.

December, New York

A small cottage in the Catksills of NY on December 25, 2013.

A small cottage in the Catksills of NY on December 25, 2013.

Three frog sculptures sunbathe in the snow.  December 25, 2013.

Three frog sculptures sunbathe in the snow on December 25, 2013 in the NY Catskills.

Happy New Year!

25th Anniversary of Women of the Wall

This morning was the 25th Anniversary of Women of the Wall.  There were a lot more women that had come out to support Women of the Wall than in the previous months.  I heard that about 150 people had flown in specifically for the event.  There were still some protestors out, but not as many as there usually are.  The “protestors” are generally school girls that are told to go to the Wall to pray in order to take up space from the other women.  What usually ends up happening though, is that some of them pray and  a lot of them watch the Women of the Wall pray because they find it amusing that these women are putting on Tefillin (the black boxes that you place on your arm and head) and Tallit (a prayer shawl).  These two things are traditional reserved for men within Judaism.

 

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Chassidic Wedding

I had the opportunity to witness my first Orthodox Chassidic Wedding here in Jerusalem the other day.  It was something I have never experienced in my life.  I wasn’t invited to the wedding, but when I find out about it- it’s just one of those things you have to see for yourself.  It was the wedding of the son of the Amshinover Rebbe’s son.  This Rebbe is very big within the Chassidic world and to be in his presence and watch how everyone responded and interacted to him was a site in itself to see. 

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Swinging Chickens

*Warning if you have a weak stomach or are an animal rights advocate don’t look at these photographs*

There is an ancient custom within Judaism between the time of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur called Kaparot.  It is when Jews will take chickens and swing them over their heads as well as their families. The chickens symbolically represent them and what should be happening to them as a consequence of their sins.  Once they are finished swinging the chicken they will take it to be slaughtered.  The chicken will then be given to charity.  I went to Mea Sharim, an Ultra Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, in order to see this happen.

 

Girls participate in the custom of Kaparot on September 11, 2013 in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem.

Girls participate in the custom of Kaparot on September 11, 2013 in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem.

 

Children  look at the chickens that will be taken place in Kaparot in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11. 2013.

Children look at the chickens that will be taken place in Kaparot in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11. 2013.

 

A girl participates in the custom of Kaparot on September 11, 2013 in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem.

A girl participates in the custom of Kaparot on September 11, 2013 in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem.

 

A man participates in Kaparot with his family in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11, 2013.

A man participates in Kaparot with his family in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11, 2013.

 

A man holds his chicken before partaking in the custom of Kaparot in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11, 2013.

A man holds his chicken before partaking in the custom of Kaparot in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11, 2013.

 

A man slaughters chickens in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11, 2013 after people partake in the custom of Karparot.

A man slaughters chickens in Mea Sharim in Jerusalem on September 11, 2013 after people partake in the custom of Karparot.

 

Ramadan

These pasts few weeks have been Ramadan, which means on Friday the Old City of Jerusalem is packed with even more people then usual.  Muslims from all over Israel and the West Bank come to Jerusalem’s Old City in order to pray at the “Al- Aqsa” mosque.   As only Muslims are aloud inside the premises during services I found a spot outside the gates in order to photograph.  Since there are many people coming to pray they cannot all fit inside and many will find spots surrounding the perimeter of the Mosque.

A Muslim man walks through the streets of Jerusalem to go to pray at the Mosque during Friday prayers.

A Muslim man walks through the streets of Jerusalem to go to pray at the Mosque during Friday prayers.

Two men stand outside of the mosque during Friday prayer before the service starts.

Two men stand outside of the mosque during Friday prayer before the service starts.

Women pray outside of the mosque, while two boys walk past.

Women pray outside of the mosque, while two boys walk past.

Men pray during Friday prayer services in Jerusalem, outside the walls of the mosque.

Men pray during Friday prayer services in Jerusalem, outside the walls of the mosque.

Men pray during Friday prayer services in Jerusalem, outside the walls of the mosque, while a cleaning crew waits for the service to be over in order to clean the streets once finished.

Men pray during Friday prayer services in Jerusalem, outside the walls of the mosque, while a cleaning crew waits.

Have a good rest of Ramadan for all of my Muslim friends.  Hope the fasting isn’t so hard now that you’re at the tail end.

Prophet in the Holy Land

For the last few months I have been living in Jerusalem.  The things I have experienced have been absolutely incredible. I have been on a 5 month work program here in Israel and it is officially coming to a close.  I will be getting kicked out of my housing in a few days and still need to figure out where I will be going next.  I developed a love affair with this place in the short time I have spent here.  So if you’re reading this from the states and was wondering when I would be returning back to NY.  The answer I will give you is that you might want to start thinking about a trip to Israel.

Since my last post I have been busy working on a project that has taken up a lot of my time and I would like to share a few images with you now.

Schuman (15 of 27)

I would like to introduce you to a man named James Joseph, who likes to go by Yaakov.  He tries to live life as simply as possible by following the Catholic Church.  He has no home, no money and what you see in these images is basically everything that he owns.  He spends his days at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and walks around the Old City talking with people in the street.

Schuman (2 of 27)

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Schuman (8 of 27)

Schuman (10 of 27)

Schuman (27 of 27)

This is just a small portion of what I have done.  Please comment and let me know what you think.

An Old City

This little country that causes so much controversy in the media throughout the world is truly a remarkable place.  I go to the Old City in Jerusalem almost everyday to wonder around the streets. Within .9 square kilmometers Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all represented.  You have the Western Wall, Al Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  I am able to wonder the streets and explore at my own will.  And slowly I am trying to figure out this complicated country a little more each day.  Here is a glimpse of the everyday life that I have seen so far.

A Muslim woman stands in front of the Damascus Gate.  The Damascus Gate enters into the Muslim quarter of the Old City.

A Muslim woman stands in front of the Damascus Gate. The Damascus Gate enters into the Muslim quarter of the Old City.

Women sell vegetables at the entrance of the Damascus Gate.

Women sell vegetables at the entrance of the Damascus Gate.

Soldiers bow their heads at the Western Wall as there was a two minute moment of silence throughout Israel to commemorate the Fallen Israeli Soldiers on Memorial Day.

Soldiers bow their heads at the Western Wall as there was a two minute moment of silence throughout Israel to commemorate the Fallen Israeli Soldiers on Memorial Day.

A man in the Old City sits on the ground fixing his tire for his cart.

A man in the Old City sits on the ground fixing his tire for his cart.

A man entertains a boy as he waits for his clothes to be fixed in the Old City.

A man entertains a boy as he waits for his clothes to be fixed in the Old City.

Three friends walk and chat in the Muslim quarter of the Old City.

Three friends walk and chat in the Muslim quarter of the Old City.

Women place their hands and pray on a holy stone at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre located in the old City.

Women place their hands and pray on a holy stone at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre located in the old City.

Orthodox Jewish children play in the Jewish quarter of the Old City.

Orthodox Jewish children play in the Jewish quarter of the Old City.

Small Orthodox Jewish boys play on couches that were left out in the Jewish quarter of the Old City

Small Orthodox Jewish boys play on couches that were left out in the Jewish quarter of the Old City

A Woman bows and prays in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A Woman bows and prays in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A woman holds a candle during the Ethiopian Easter celebration in the Old City.

As always please feel free to leave any suggestions you have, I love to hear your feedback.

Women of the Wall take 2

This past Friday Women of the Wall was out again praying at the Western Wall.  The difference this time was that for the first time in history they were allowed to be wearing Tallit (traditional prayer shawls, traditionally worn by men) and put on Tefillin.  For the first time the police were protecting the women rather then arresting them. The orthodox community is not happy with the court decision to allow women to wear tallit and tefillin at the Kotel, so they organized a protest.  There were thousands of Orthodox that were bused in the morning the Women of the Wall were supposed to pray.  The idea was that if there were enough Orthodox Jews at the Kotel then the Women would have no place to pray.  The police acted as borders in order to separate the two communities.  So while the Orthodox Jews were throwing coffee and food and trying to brake the human police shield Women of the Wall were able to pray in “peace”.  There were 1000s of people there and it was literally one of the craziest things I have ever experienced in my entire life.

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