It’s been a little over three months since I started Humans of the Old City. I was on a hike in the Golan with my yeshiva and thinking about how crazy it is that I’m living in the Old City for the year, and how many people from around the world come to see the place that I currently call home. I shared my thoughts with a friend who is also learning in the Old City and that’s when Humans of the Old City was born.
We have made it our mission to share the stories of people who pass through the Old City. Many come to the Old City to go to the Kotel and maybe grab a shawarma, but not many people take a minute to look around and see how diverse the city really is. So far, among those we’ve interviewed are a couple from Mozambique, a tourist from Germany, a tailor who’s lived in the Old City since before the War of Independence, and that’s just the start! I like to tell people that living in the Old City is like living in Times Square. It is a place everyone wants to be.
When we started we limited ourselves to the Jewish Quarter, but we decided that there are many more stories to share, so now we feature people from all over the Old City. We’ve ventured to all four quarters, all three holy places and many of the gates. As a result we’ve interviewed Catholic priests, Armenian artists, Muslim shop vendors and Jewish soldiers.
The couple from Mozambique (top) said they came to Israel “for faith, for love, for religion and also for a nice time.” A man from Germany (bottom left) said he “came to Israel to see the Jewish things: the Western Wall, the Citadel, that stuff...I am Christian. I have not the biggest clue about Judaism, but I am here to learn about it and enjoy it.” The tailor (bottom right) was born on Chabad Street in the Old City in 1935. Without ever moving homes, he’s become a national of five different countries. He has some truly incredible words to say: “If you love God, He’ll love you and take care of you and that will bring peace. We all just need to love.”
As someone who thought that the Old City was populated and visited mostly by Jewish, often Chasidish, people and maybe the occasional Christian, it has been a real eye-opener to meet hundreds of people from around the world who are drawn to Israel, to Jerusalem and to the Old City.
Be sure to check out our page on Instagram (@humansoftheoldcity) and on Facebook (Humans of the Old City) to follow these incredible stories.
By Justin Sohn