About Notes from the Holy Land

The Author and Photographer

Photography is my passion

 

I love photography. I discovered this medium a couple of years ago, realizing the amazing way of capturing moments, to share them with the rest of the world. And not only that, somehow manipulating or taking advantage of lights and shadows, to add mood or drama.

The ability to catch moments, to freeze them in time, is essential to me. I am an academic by training, having studied religion, both historically, and anthropologically and sociologically. And I always felt compelled to talk about the stories I studies, to share my thoughts on the subjects studied. With photography I can do this even better. This is what SAK Photo Projects is about, sharing stories and impressions.

Notes from the Holy Land

This is the focus for everything I do

 

I live in Israel, and as such this place is the natural context for everything I do and experience. But more than that, what I have chosen to call “the Holy Land” has been a focus for my studies, whether for my historical and comparative studies of religion, or later on, my sociological studies of religion. They have all been focused on the Holy Land, as it has been conceived in the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And while my interests are not just stopping there, the Holy Land is what creates the context of my thoughts and impressions.

But I’m not only a student of religion, whether historically or contemporary. I’m also a humanist, and I recognize the human destinies in this place, which is considered holy and – apparently – of utmost crucial importance to many. So much so, that there is no alternative for them, than to be in complete control of the area. And this takes center stage at almost all times. This makes us forget about the ordinary individual, just trying to make it through his or her life the best they can do. Without them, though, all this would be irrelevant, they form the societies of the Holy Land.

The Holy Land

Is a religious idea, and being fluid as such

 

The Holy Land is originally a promised land, a concept found in the Jewish Bible of a geographical area promised the Israelites, where they could live in peace, worshiping their God. The Israelites over time turned into the Jews, and their religion became Judaism, or a number of Judaisms. One man one day had to be sacrificed for the promise of eternal bliss with his heavenly Father, as long as you believed in his promise. That man was Jesus, and his spiritual teachings became the religion of Christ, Christianity, or rather, Christianities. After Jesus another man came with a final message for all mankind, promising a clear teaching from god, and heavenly rewards if you would follow this teaching, correcting what those before him got wrong. Muhammad was the messenger of god, who brought the Quran to us, so we would know God’s will and be able to submit to. With him came Islam, or Islams.

All three religions lay claim, one way or another, to this place called the Holy Land. In some cases the claim is for the physical manifestations of the land, in other cases it’s the spiritual claim. I’m not sure where I stand on those claims, but I acknowledge them – if not accepting them. However, the idea of the Holy Land, for all three religions, influences and impacts the lands of Israel, Palestine, and even beyond.

The borders of the Holy Land has never been finally settled, and maybe for the best. For the Jewish tradition there are two set of borders, for the Christian and Islamic traditions there are none, as far as I am aware. Therefore I won’t decide on any concrete definition of where the Holy Land begins or ends, but rather refer to it within the context of the historical references to it, which – since history is ever progressing – also includes territorial claims of Israel and the Palestinians today. That means, to use an example, that while Eilat in the southern Israel has never been part of the Holy Land, I will still include it within the context of the Holy Land today, recognizing the interesting double role of the city being both part of the modern state of Israel, but also not part of the Holy Land. There is a story to be told there.