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Under My Window

Introduction by Ari Shavit

Jews, Muslims, Christians, believers, nonbelievers, residents, tourists, and so many others have ocked for millennia to the cultural richness of Jerusalem. It is one of the world's greatest crossroads, hosting the variety that is humanity. From her stunning viewpoint, Michal Safdie invites you to see what she sees every day.

Perched up on a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem, along the fragile bor- der between the Jewish and Muslim Quarters, is the home of Michal Ronnen Safdie. Facing east, it overlooks the Western Wall precinct, the Dome of the Rock, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. To the north unfolds the Muslim Quarter with Mount Scopus in the skyline; to the west, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Christian Quarter.

Directly under her window is a narrow alley, through which thousands of people pass every day. The alley is a conduit. It is a passage for those entering the Old City through Dung Gate on the south side-mostly Palestinians making their way to their workplaces, schools, markets. It is the route of Christians to the Holy Sepulcher and of Muslim pil- grims during Ramadan, and other holidays, on their way to the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). It is also the path connecting Jews residing in the Jewish Quarter and in the western part of the city, to the Wailing Wall (Western Wall).

The view from the window o ers two contrasting perspectives. Across toward the Western Wall precinct: vast ceremonial spaces, and the sil- houette of the Old City quarters. Directly below, in the alley and terraces: a great variety of people seeking the sacred as well as the morning and evening cycles of life's routines.

The photographs capture personal moments alongside large-scale public events in the city of Jerusalem, where belief and ritual significantly shape day-to-day life.

Born in Jerusalem, Israel,Michal Ronnen Safdiewas educated in the fields of sociology and anthropology. Her photographs have been noted for their unusual range, encompassing subjects from the natural world (studies of ice, anthropomorphic trees, and vapor trails) to human crisis and sociopolitical issues (refugees from Darfur, Gacaca trials in Rwanda, the Western Wall, migrant workers' quarters in East Asia, and orthodox women in Israel). Her photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. She now divides her time between Jerusalem and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Leading Israeli columnist and writerAri Shavitis the author of the critically acclaimedNew York TimesbestsellerMy Promised Land: the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. An outspoken columnist forHaaretz, Israel's newspaper of record, and a prominent commentator on Israeli Public Television, Shavit has become one of the strongest voices in the nation's public arena. He challenges the dogmas of both right and left with his unique insights into the roles of Israel and Zionism in the 21st century. Shavit is also a frequent contributor to theNew Yorker,The New York Times, theNew Republic,andThe Sunday Timesof London.

"The true delight of Under My Window comes from the aesthetic serendipity of layers upon layers of feet and people and fences mimicking the architecture of the landscape, stacked tables and chairs standing before the layered stones of the Western Wall, and the repetitive vision of cobblestone and rooftops reproducing into the horizon, evoking the history of this space, and becoming the layers of the past and present. Lingering in the midst of this is the question of ownership, and Safdie's work renews questions of who owns the in-betweens, the liminal passages between significant religious and cultural pinpoints. This book not only captures the streets and buildings, but the occupants of a contemporary Jerusalem, both changing and destined to change, honoring this history while creating it."

– Musee

As seen in: Jewish Telegraph, Jewish Review of Books, PDN Photo of the Day