Welcome to Jerusalem

A photo anthology in Hebrew and English highlights the city’s unique characters.

German Colony (photo credit: COURTESY RUTH TZFATY)
German Colony
(photo credit: COURTESY RUTH TZFATY)
A broom workshop run by the blind, old Jerusalem stone buildings inhabited by money changers, the luxury and history of the American Colony Hotel, fresh made tahini and halva in the Mahaneh Yehuda market – these are just some of the subjects captured in beautifully styled photographs in Ruth Tzfaty’s Jerusalem Album: People Creating a City.
In over 200 pages, Tzfaty captures the individuals who best embody Jerusalem, a city of spirit, tradition, creativity and so much more. While the album makes the statement that people give Jerusalem its character, it would be remiss not to point out that the city itself doesn’t have an effect on them.
The album is in both English and Hebrew, and the book can be opened and viewed from left to right or right to left. Opening the book as an English speaker, the first chapter begins with the Old City. To the Hebrew reader, the more modern city center defines how Israelis think of the capital.
“It was important for me to build a product that is accessible, interesting, intriguing and balanced,” Tzfaty told The Jerusalem Post Magazine. The album, co-designed by Ira Ginsburg, is a compilation of small communities, famous sites and a diverse mix of people.
Grand, sweeping location shots of the City of Gold are absent in this album, with more of the focus on individual people and places.
The album is a good coffee-table conversation piece and it’s not hard to imagine that it could find its way into chic apartments and homes of frequent visitors to Jerusalem.
Pointing out to guests their favorite spots, the photo album also allows for people to discover characters and locations they may not have known about. But since the book is also written in Hebrew, it is equally intriguing for what it says about the Israeli in Ra’anana and Hod Hasharon who has this book at home.
Tzfaty says she hopes it “awakens a desire to come and visit the places recommended in the book.” It allows readers to directly encounter Jerusalemites – in their workshops, businesses, places of creation – right from their own homes all over Israel.
Galit Dahan-Carlibach, an author, tour guide and columnist, wrote an introduction to each chapter. She gives the reader a miniature tour of the area about to be highlighted, such as in her opening for the German Colony: “On the way, you pass Givat HaTanach, one of the few places in Jerusalem that has not yet sprouted buildings and hotels, and in winter, the short climb to the top is recommended for the rewarding view it offers of the beautiful blossoming of seasonal flowers.”
For those who love Jerusalem, Tzfaty says that having an album like this in one’s home is being able to always feel the presence of the city. It is a beautiful and unique city, unlike any other in the world, and at times hard to describe.
“There is a continuum, there are ups and downs,” Tzfaty says in trying to describe what gives Jerusalem its essence. “There are dynamic processes occurring here, we are tested in our trust and commitment to it, and remember to be grateful even at points of difficulty... Jerusalem is a city that takes care to remind us all once again of the covenant between us.”
What appears to be an innocuous café in the German Colony actually started a revolution in the area, beginning the shift from a sparse community on the outskirts of the city center to a thoroughfare for restaurants and boutique shops. Caffit was the first café of its kind in 1987, having started out as a neighborhood coffee shop, and it set the tone for the rest of the area to evolve into a welcoming residence, a culture of leisure and a relaxed atmosphere.
The photos Tzfaty chose show fresh salads and happy patrons enjoying a casual lunch, a typical scene in the trendy neighborhood.
The brothers Tzidkiyahu and the King of Halva
The Brothers Tzidkiyahu, photographed in beautiful portraits almost otherworldly in composition, still capture the essence of the working-class man. Boaz and Yaron Tzidkiyahu (pictured above) run a fine foods take-out store that sells olives, salads, stuffed vegetables, Moroccan cigars, kubbe and more. The shop was started by their father and they continue to train the next generation of Tzidkiyahus.
They’re not relics of a bygone era, they are the soul of the shuk, seen every day outside their shops with an boundless energy that never seems to yield to the time of day.
Eli Maman (pictured left) is the grandson of the founder of The Kingdom of Halva, first established in the Old City. In the shuk tehina is made on site, and across is the halva shop with 101 types of sweet halva.
Maman’s trademark is handing out complimentary bites of halva and spoonfuls of tehina. One can easily imagine all of these men only able to spare a quick minute to pose for a photo before returning to waiting customers and busy counters.
The entrepreneur
Outwardly, Jerusalem doesn’t seem a center of nightlife and entertainment. But entrepreneur Adi Talmor is one of the foremost businessmen changing that perception. Photographed with a glass of wine, dark shadows and the hint of an expensive timepiece, Tzfaty highlights the serious business of having fun.
Talmor is most known for his partnership in HaOman 17 in Tel Aviv – a world-famous nightclub attracting some of the biggest names in music. Born, raised and continuing to work in Jerusalem, Talmor is active in social projects that bring the residents together to enjoy the city and is working on a venture to help people with special needs.