“Under My Window” by Michal Ronnen Safdie— Jerusalem From a Window

Safdie, Michal. “Under My Window”, with an introduction by Ari Shavit, Powerhouse Books, 2018.

Jerusalem From a Window

Amos Lassen

Jerusalem is a city where Jews, Muslims, Christians, believers, nonbelievers, residents, tourists, and so many others have come for millennia. It is one of the world’s greatest crossroads and is host to the diversity of humanity. Michal Ronnen Safdie’s home is on a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem, along the border between the Jewish and Muslim Quarters. To the East, it overlooks the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. To the north is the Muslim Quarter with Mount Scopus in the skyline and to the west is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Christian Quarter.

Directly under her window is a narrow alley that is a passageway for thousands of people every day. It is a passage for those entering the Old City through Dung Gate on the south side (mostly Palestinians who go to their workplaces, schools and markets. It is the route of Christians to the Holy Sepulcher and of Muslim pilgrims during Ramadan, and other holidays to the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount. It is also the path that Jews residing in the Jewish Quarter and in the western part of the city us to get to the Western Wall. Most of us can only dream about what she sees from her window everyday.

Safdie has two contrasting perspectives from that window. Across toward the Western Wall precinct are vast ceremonial spaces and the silhouette of the Old City quarters. Directly below the window in the alley and terraces are a great variety of people who seek both the sacred and the morning and evening cycles of life’s routines. Safdie’s photographs capture personal moments alongside large-scale public events in the city of Jerusalem, where belief and ritual come together and shape life.

Michal Ronnen Safdie was born in Jerusalem and studied sociology and anthropology. Her photographs have unusual range. There are subjects from the natural world and there is Jerusalem. I find it difficult to express the emotions that we feel as we look at the photographs in this book and therefore I am better not describing them at all. For me, viewing them is a highly personal experience as it will be for many of you.

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