• Miri: 'Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised' - 30, Proverbs. Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Miri: 'Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised' - 30, Proverbs. Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • 'I stopped believing in God after I had my accident, but sometimes I still put on tefillin," says Oded. Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    'I stopped believing in God after I had my accident, but sometimes I still put on tefillin," says Oded. Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • 'The Holy Trinity': Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    'The Holy Trinity': Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • Anita: 'All my life people see me as the 'Other,' but I think it's because they don't understand who I am. I don't care. I live my life as I want to, and it's a great one to live.' Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv'

    Anita: 'All my life people see me as the 'Other,' but I think it's because they don't understand who I am. I don't care. I live my life as I want to, and it's a great one to live.' Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv'

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • 'Two worlds colliding': Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    'Two worlds colliding': Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganowitz
  • Chen: "As long as I can remember, I wanted to become a lawyer. I am curious fellow so I always want to get to the bottom of things." Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Chen: "As long as I can remember, I wanted to become a lawyer. I am curious fellow so I always want to get to the bottom of things." Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • Amnon 'Matkot' & Gabi 'Hatotach': 'We are childhood friends, since 1948 which means we know each other 64 years.' Amnon says. 'People come and go in your life, but you should keep your childhood friends. A friend like Gabi is a friend for life'

    Amnon 'Matkot' & Gabi 'Hatotach': 'We are childhood friends, since 1948 which means we know each other 64 years.' Amnon says. 'People come and go in your life, but you should keep your childhood friends. A friend like Gabi is a friend for life'

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • Asher: 'I didn't go to the ballot box today because all the politicians are the same. Once they have claimed their throne in the Knesset they tend to forget the people who sent them'

    Asher: 'I didn't go to the ballot box today because all the politicians are the same. Once they have claimed their throne in the Knesset they tend to forget the people who sent them'

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • 'No.: 157622' Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    'No.: 157622' Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • 'The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.'  Audrey Hepburn. Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    'The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.' Audrey Hepburn. Street photography from Erez Kaganovitz's 'Humans of Tel Aviv' series

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • Zehava Barash: 'Today's her birthday. To be more specific, her 95 birthday. Zehava was born in an age where most people used carriages, and if they wanted to correspond with somebody they actually wrote a letter'

    Zehava Barash: 'Today's her birthday. To be more specific, her 95 birthday. Zehava was born in an age where most people used carriages, and if they wanted to correspond with somebody they actually wrote a letter'

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • Ronit: 'At the age of six I fell in love with flamenco. I left Australia to fulfill my dream to live in Spain, perform and study under the best and most famous flamenco dancers in the world. From Spain I came to Israel...'

    Ronit: 'At the age of six I fell in love with flamenco. I left Australia to fulfill my dream to live in Spain, perform and study under the best and most famous flamenco dancers in the world. From Spain I came to Israel...'

    Erez Kaganovitz
  • Erez Kaganovitz, creator of the 'Humans of Tel Aviv' photographic series

    Erez Kaganovitz, creator of the 'Humans of Tel Aviv' photographic series

    Erez Kaganovitz
Experience Israel

Meet the 'Humans of Tel Aviv'

"I'm certainly not trying to whitewash Israel; this is reality as I see in it Tel Aviv," says Erez, "but I want to show that Israel is not only a war zone; we are a vibrant civil society."

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Members of The Jewish Agency's Board of Governors recently had a chance to marvel at Erez Kaganovitz's unique street photography, which was featured in an exhibition from his Humans of Tel Aviv series.

When he'd travel abroad, however, Erez had begun to expect a certain look of disdain when he'd tell people he was Israeli. He became annoyed that he was being judged by people who be says knew so little about his home country. 

"I'm certainly not trying to "whitewash" Israel; this is reality as I see in it Tel Aviv," says Erez, "but I want to show that Israel is not only a war zone; we are a vibrant civil society."

Inspired by Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York blog, Erez has been shooting and posting online portraits of Tel Aviv's denizens for over a year, some days walking upwards of eight hours to capture just the right shot.
 

Haifa-born Erez is a producer and researcher at Israel's Channel 2 television. Having studied International Relations and Communication at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and holding an MA in Political Communication, he notes that never thought he would end up using his degree in such a roundabout way. 

Erez believes Tel Aviv's magic is its attitude of "live and let live." He says that a tolerant society like that of Tel Aviv can only exist and thrive thanks to the respect that the inhabitants have for one another.

Although Erez's photographs are remarkable as stand-alone portraits in and of themselves, like the ever-present New York backdrop of Woody Allen's films, the main character of his project is Tel Aviv itself. 

The human subjects and their tales tell the story of Israel's center of commerce and culture. Like Amnon and Gabi of the old Neve Tzedek neighborhood, who have been friends since 1948. Like Israeli celebrities, such as pop singer Muki and fashion designer Yuval Caspin. Then there is Thomas, a refugee from Eritrea who, despite his engineering degree, sweeps the streets for a living. There are the descendants of Holocaust survivor Yosef Dayement, who each tattooed his concentration camp number on their forearm as a tribute and a living memorial.

Naturally the Humans of Tel Aviv include its olim – like Australia-born Ronit who fulfilled her dream of studying with the best flamenco dancers in the world. From Spain, she came to Israel – where she says she feels a strong sense of belonging, strengthened by ConnecTLV.” 

The Jewish Agency's Connect Israel project is an innovative social networking venture that connects Jewish young adults to each other and to life in Israel's vibrant urban centers. 

"I love Tel Aviv," says Ronit. "I cannot think of anywhere else in the world I would rather live."

Then there is one-armed Oded, caught looking straight into the camera lens while wearing his pair of tefillin.

"I stopped believing in God after I had my accident, but sometimes I still put on tefillin," he says, adding on an ironic note, "I know it's a paradox, but from my experience, life is full of them." 

As is Tel Aviv, highlighted in Erez's one-of-a-kind images.

 

24 Feb 2013 / 14 Adar 5773 0
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Margot Saffer is an olah chadasha writing from Jerusalem, Margot holds degrees in English, Media, and Psychology (cum laude), and a MPhil in Life-Writing. Her poetry, prose, journalism, and academic work have been published in three languages, on four continents. Her interests are social activism, giving voice to minority populations, and personal profiles.