Ariel Jerozolimski
Photographer and Tour Guide
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PHOTO ESSAY – Mahane Yehuda opens

After the COVID-19 quarantine, the open market is a cleaner, less crowded human mosaic, where contrasts of light, colors, and faces can still stop a photographer in his tracks

The coronavirus pandemic provoked a positive thing: people are more alert about hygiene and cleanliness.

The Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem is an icon of the city, especially on Fridays, when people come to buy things for preparing Shabbat family’s dinner.

I wasn’t the chairman of its enthusiastic admirers association, as I found the place dirty and too noisy. I also did not enjoy people pushing me and stepping on my toes, but the shuk is truly paradise for a photographer: a display of the Jerusalem human mosaic, where the contrasts of light, colors, and faces can stop you in your tracks.

On Thursday morning, with the reopening of the shops that were closed in the framework of the Health Ministry regulations due to the coronavirus pandemic, I found the market cleaner, much more tidy, and much less crowded.

The entrance is limited and visitors must go through a checkpoint where municipal workers check each person entering the market for fever.

The vast majority of the people wear protection masks, some of them cover both mouth and nose (as the regulations stipulate), and a smaller group takes the protection even more seriously, and adds a plastic mask that covers the face.

I could feel the joy of the buyers and of the sellers in meeting again. Coming to the shuk is more than a commercial activity.

Enthusiastic and hungry customers stand on the line for falafel, after almost two months, and the scene reminded me of the opening of the first McDonald’s in Moscow (many eager customers, to say the least).

I came to Machane Yehudah a second time on Friday morning to see if there would be any change. I found that, although there are no crowds and the atmosphere is much more quiet than before the coronavirus crisis, you can feel Jerusalem’s Shabbat without waiting until sunset.

About the Author
Born in Uruguay in 1965 and lives in Israel since 1984. Since 1990 he worked as a freelance photographer for Israeli and international media including AFP, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, Stern Magazine, El Pais, and Xinhua. In 1999 Jerozolimski joined the leading Israeli business daily, Globes,as a staff photographer till 2009. He was the chief photographer for The Jerusalem Post between 1999 and 2010. His work has been exhibited at the Berlin Museum, "Israel Under Attack" about the First Gulf War. He's also participated in a number of group exhibitions. His photos have also been featured in such books as A Day in the Life of the IDF, 24 Hours at Prison, and Photographers in the Street. In addition to his photographic work, he is a licensed tour guide in English, Spanish and Portuguese and organizes photographic tours.
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