one day: tribute to ben gurion

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“The future of the Jewish people will not be founded on the sword. We will not make war into a Jewish profession. The vision that we will bestow on our youth and future generations is a vision of honest men’s labor. A vision of justice and peace. A vision of friendship and human freedom. The young people who will give their lives for these values will never been vanquished. If I have any great dreams or passionate desire, it is that a day should come when we will dismantle the Israeli Defense Force, because we are certain that we live in safety and security. That wars should cease in Israel. I still dare to hope that the young women and men among you, and perhaps I too, who knows, will live to see that great day,” David Ben Gurion – Farewell speech to IDF in 1963.

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gl’insegnamenti della nonna …

Deserto di Masada

“Ciao Sora Ganna, come andiamo? Tanti Auguri comunque!”
“Si (c)ampa, si (c)ampa, Sora Federica,” risponde la mia Nonna adorata che oggi compie 81 anni.
“Si va per la discesa, ma si va ancora. Non mi fermo finche` da lassù non mi chiamano.”

Io sono a Tel Aviv, in Israele alla ricerca di storie da raccontare come da anni oramai nella mia vita. Lei invece e` a Castel di Lama, quello che quando ero piccola, io chiamavo, il paese più bello del mondo. Il solo ed unico paradiso dei bambini, la campagna marchigiana aperta e deserta, dove da piccini si poteva andare ovunque e con chiunque, senza orari e senza paure. Si usciva con il cane di turno e ti guidava lui e basta. Non importava dove andassimo, bastava che andavamo. Le avventure erano in ogni dove, dalle lucertole bruciate sulla brace, ai pozzi profondi dove spiare le rane che saltavano, ai fagiani colorati in gabbia da infastidire per farli volare. Bisognava tornare per l’imbrunire, ma per il resto andava tutto bene. Spensieratezza pura. Spensieratezza vera. Liberta` assoluta e animali di ogni tipo, ovunque, sempre. Senza di loro non si andava da nessuna parte.

Un po` come i ragazzini di adesso. Magari… altro che anni novanta, qui siamo nell’oltre millennio ed i cani e i gatti sono solo quelli degli emoji sul telefonino ahime`.

Le conversazioni telefoniche con la nonna sono le migliori comunque. Anche se magari loro non si rendono conto che chiami da oltreoceano e che stai spendendo meta` del tuo stipendio a parlare con loro e quindi ti tengono oltre un`ora al telefono, sono i migliore $30 spesi della tua vita. Si passa a parlare del “che tempo che fa oggi in campagna e la`, ci sta il sole, il vento, la neve? Alla storia dell’ennesima signora che e` morta nel paesello accanto al suo…” Ma oggi era tutto diverso. Non so come ma si parlava di uomini e donne e di relazioni e di come sono cambiate le cose dall’epoca dei nonni, da quando tutti erano piu` buonintenzionati e da quanto ci si faceva male di meno in amore perche` la gente era più interessata agli altri che a se stessi e quanto questo altruismo smisurato faceva si che non ci fossero quasi mai liti, oppure che le liti fossero immediatamente risolte con il perdono senza peccato ne` peccatore. Un buon abbraccio faceva dimenticare tutto a tutti.

“Oggi invece non ci sono speranze,” dice la nonna. “Se ti sposi, ti ritrovi dopo 40 anni da sola perche` tuo marito ti lascia per un`altra donna di 20 anni piu` giovane, oppure ti uccide. Comunque vada, non ti sposare, Federi`, convivi, divertiti finche` puoi, ma non ti sposare mai. Almeno che non trovi uno come tuo nonno Vittorio. Senno` davvero, meglio la solitudine”

“Ma nonna come? Non mi dire pure te cosi` che gia` mi sono lasciata un`altra volta con l`ennesimo ragazzo meraviglioso che pero` aveva paura di impegnarsi per un lungo periodo di tempo etc. etc…non mi dire anche te cosi`, senno` perdo la speranza e davvero rimango zitella a vita! Nonna…pronto, pronto!”

“Ma che cosa ti devo dire…e` cosi`, non vale la pena. La gente non ha piu` gli stessi valori, non ci sono piu` le persone che ci stavano una volta. E` tempo perso. Meglio fare le foto.”

“Ossignor, nonna, ma non dire cose senza senso, dai. Almeno te…dammi una speranza!”
“Nessuna speranza, se fosse vivo tuo nonno te lo direbbe anche lui. La vita e` una, breve e va vissuta bene. Non sperare nei miracoli, non esistono spesso e se ci sono, svaniscono presto, come le storie d’amore nate a mo` di lampo. L`amore e` lento, lascialo crescere negli anni, poi vedrai dove andra` a finire, ma non ti aspettare nulla dagli uomini di oggi, sono poco convincenti e poco affidabili.”

Ma ora dove lo trovo uno come nonno io. Mica li fanno piu` con lo stesso stampino, magari! AIUTO!!!

taliban women

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Their name is erroneous and quiet misleading, but their garment and hidden identity is explicatory of exactly who they are: Non-women. Non-individual. Just a walking black tent resembling Sarah’s tent in the desert. Nothing can show, nothing can come through, no words are spoken, no gaze are given through their ‘fake burkas’ nothing to show even if they are Jewish or Muslims. Except if you ask. Then they tell you, but that’s all you get. A whisper in the air: “Yeudia!” Although you remain astonished and hard of hearing since they look nothing like they say they are. They peruse the streets of Meah Shearim as if they were constantly followed, they move fast, across the crowd, trying to disperse and give in little to the eyes of curiosity.

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women who rock

I had tears in my eyes today and not, it was not for the tear gas I inhale straight on and neither from the sprained ankle as a result of my jumping the ditch to run away from the fumes. I had tears in my eyes, because the women I met today were real, angry, motivated, ready for a change and not willing to give up or give in. they were women who rocked, women worth sitting and singing with, women with a spirit of madness and hope. women with wolves souls and animal hearts. women who stood still to shout out loud their ideals and their way of life. women untouched by fear. only by the hope of a different future. women who care to make a difference even if it takes 35 years of activism like Alya, who moved from the U.S. 57 years ago and have been part of the Black Women movement since the 1980’s and is way over 70 years old and still standing with her signs and her beautiful believes in a future where Palestinians and Israeli will walk hands in hands. women to take as examples and to help standing in their beliefs for as long as it get to make change happen.

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The Picasso of the Middle East

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There are days when you think you have met a normal man, but instead you have met someone who have lived several lives more than you and in a completely different dimension. An ex-Brigadier General who served as an F-16 Pilot in the IDF Army for 24 years and who was a reservist for 15 more and later took part to a refusers movement, because he felt he could not longer endure the ‘immoral’ behaviors of some of his superiors. You read part of his book “Loud and Clear,” you interview him in his house near Hod Ha Sharon while eating strawberries and drinking black coffee, one too many for he is a heavy drinker, and, despite you have Italian roots in you, he beats you head on. And you later realize, when you put him in front of your camera in your studio, he is just a normal man who hates posing and being at the center of the frame with you directing him. But who looks oh so natural and handsome in all of his 74 years of age. Then, you slip him a little more coffee and your game is over, he is yours now, you can do what you wish with his persona, he will listen and will stare at the lens for as long as you need him. Voila`!

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I have covered the Jewish, religious beat for quiet sometimes now. Mostly for personal interest and not for breaking news purposes. It all started with curiosity five years ago, which then became more of a search for hidden identity in a world that I later discovered to be too disconnected from reality itself to be broken through. This search later became a pure obsession for wanting to know and photograph everything regarding these communities I would come in contact with daily in Brooklyn. Both the curiosity and the obsession grew stronger to force me to travel across the world in four different countries to deepen my search for the essence of being a religious orthodox Jew. After years of wandering, a book published and a few exhibits under my belt, I am back on the hunt, a much different one, one that does not entails spending more times within religious communities, but the same that, one way or another, keeps on crossing paths with them as if there is indeed much more to be said and much more I still need to discover. My only concern this time though was that I was not welcomed. For the first time in five years working within these communities I felt very uneasy seeing angry faces of religious men looking at me as some ‘creature from another planet,’ calling me names and even spitting at me, because I went around taking photos in ‘their section.’ The angst one feels when it is not welcome where he/she is photographing becomes a real problem, one that enrages you from head to toes, one that you cannot control, especially when my only other allies, the women themselves, reprimanded me about my un-proper clothing and the use of my camera and wanted me out just as much as their men. This time I will not forget, this time I did not like their way of being one bit. I felt the disrespect all over me and my womanly figure and it was not the slightest bit ‘kosher’ and neither human.

little bird experiment

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This was the first time I decided to look up instead than down while walking through the religious orthodox neighborhood of Bnei Brak in Tel Aviv. Pigeons are dirty animals, they bring all sorts of disease around and they, more often than not, poop on your hat, shoulder, umbrellas and shoes. But for some reason when they fly on power wires assuming all sorts of restless shapes, tail up and then down, alternating bicks etc, the sky looked like a white canvas to me and their feathers like paint brushes. I am not a bird loved, seeker and, let alone a bird photographer, I just found some sort of odd perspective in seeing the freedom of such creatures flying bye over a much less free and more rules-driven place, such as this very orthodox part of town is. It was almost an oxymoron how the same black and white colors of the bird feathers and the religious garment warned by the religious men underneath them could symbolize something so different. But, then again, this was only my humble point of view. The one from below to above. But, which turned out to be quiet escapist in the end.

skepticism about love

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“I am not such a believer in universal love. Love of everybody for everybody- we should maybe leave that to Jesus. Love is another thing altogether. It is nothing like whatever like generosity. It is nothing like whatever like compassion. On the contrary. Love is a curious mix of opposites, a blend of extreme selfishness and total devotion. A paradox! Besides which, love, everybody is always talking about love, love, but love isn’t something you choose, you catch it, like a disease, you get trapped in it, like a disaster…”-A tale of Love and Darkness- Amos Oz.

the holy mikve of Tzvat

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up and down the stairs they go.
with their wet towels on their coats
and their peyotes flying in the wind.
up and down the stairs they go

to the holy water and then back to the holiest of it all

kabala’s texts are not for everyone to explore

but the dwelling keeps them up days and night

until the next shower time.

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