Encountering Israel by Susan Ressler

Issue 93

Part memoir and part spiritual journey, Encountering Israel asks, "Who am I?" and "What does Israel mean to me?" For most, these photographs may spark the burning question: "In what ways can we understand Israel today?" These images explore that question from diverging and often contradictory points of view: sacred and secular, ancient and modern, war and peace, and ultimately, Arab and Jew. Israel is a lodestar for the three Abrahamic faiths: Christians, Muslims and Jews all trace their ancient roots back to this place. Dry and sere, mostly desert, and yet filled with an unfathomable presence that has drawn worshipers and pilgrims throughout time, I went to Israel to honor my parents. Only weeks after they'd passed away, I arrived in this wondrous, yet perplexing place. As Israeli Supreme Court Justice Elyakin Rubinstein once commented, "Israel is a normal country that is not normal." What I saw was much more than paradox. With my heart torn open, I saw challenge and conflict – progress and pain. I was moved by so many poignant stories. I was moved by the people that I met. I did plant a tree for my parents. I did learn so much on the way. The spirit of Israel has touched me, and these photographs are my witness. 


Susan Ressler lives and works in Taos, New Mexico.
To view more of Susan's work, please visit her website.

Kibbutz Neot Semadar, the "Artists' Kibbutz," founded to investigate how to live together in a spirit of cooperation, Negev Desert

Kibbutz Neot Semadar, the "Artists' Kibbutz," founded to investigate how to live together in a spirit of cooperation, Negev Desert

 
Military Training Camp, Golan Heights

Military Training Camp, Golan Heights

 
Abandoned Tank outside Highway Rest Stop, Galilee

Abandoned Tank outside Highway Rest Stop, Galilee

 
Sunglass Store, Jerusalem

Sunglass Store, Jerusalem

 
"Tomboy" at Street Cafe, Galilee

"Tomboy" at Street Cafe, Galilee

 
Russian Tourists at Beach Spa, Dead Sea

Russian Tourists at Beach Spa, Dead Sea

 
Grace After Meals and Sephardic Rabbi thought to work Miracles, Galilee

Grace After Meals and Sephardic Rabbi thought to work Miracles, Galilee

 
Timna "Copper Kingdom" Visitor Display, Negev Desert

Timna "Copper Kingdom" Visitor Display, Negev Desert

 
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem

 
Druze Children (Arab minority loyal to Israel) Embrace, Nimrod Fortress, Golan Heights

Druze Children (Arab minority loyal to Israel) Embrace, Nimrod Fortress, Golan Heights

 
Protestor calls attention to Terrorism, Eilat

Protestor calls attention to Terrorism, Eilat

 
Checkpoint, Jerusalem

Checkpoint, Jerusalem

 
Kamikaze, Tower Relic from former Amusement Park, Eilat

Kamikaze, Tower Relic from former Amusement Park, Eilat

 
"Follow Your Idol," Jerusalem

"Follow Your Idol," Jerusalem

 
Median and Highway, Nofei Prat Settlement, West Bank

Median and Highway, Nofei Prat Settlement, West Bank

 
Audio Information System and Roman Fragments at Temple to Pan, Banias Nature Reserve, Golan Heights

Audio Information System and Roman Fragments at Temple to Pan, Banias Nature Reserve, Golan Heights