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Katie Orlinsky October 6, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Israel.

Shoshanna and her children at home in Mea Sharim, Jerusalem. 2010

Katie Orlinsky (b.1983, USA) received a B.A. in Political Science/Latin American Studies from Colorado College in 2005. Her interest in international politics and a desire to raise awareness on social and humanitarian issues led her to photojournalism. Katie is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and various non-profit organizations. Her work has been published in Life, Newsweek, Le Monde, Stern, Time, Adbusters and the International Herald Tribune among others. Katie is the 2011 POYI Emerging Vision recipient and was awarded the Le prix ANI – Pix Palace in 2010. She is currently a fellow at the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University.

About the Photograph:

“In April 2010 I began a project in Mea Sharim, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem that is notoriously closed off and anti-Zionist. I was interested in exploring the problems going on at the time between mainstream Israeli society and the Hasidim. The project never panned out because I received an assignment in Gaza for the following week. Knowing I wouldn’t have the time to complete a full story, I decided to wander around Jerusalem and just have fun with street photography. I still went to Mea Sharim almost every day however- changing into a black skirt, black shoes, tights, and carrying my camera in a small purse before entering the extremely religious neighborhood. I did so to blend in with the local Jewish women in the area. I can’t imagine being able to photograph there any other way. The tension in Jerusalem is palpable everywhere you go; rules, social norms and identity politics often dictate who you speak to and what you see. This photo, and the larger series “Jerusalem Journal”, is a view of the city that both addresses these constraints and actively ignores them. It is a letter to Jerusalem from a newcomer and outsider, open to exploring a place and it’s people.”

“Shoshanna and I met on a side street one afternoon after I asked to take her picture. I assumed she would shake her head no, as most people did, but instead she said, ‘Where are you from?’ in what sounded like an American accent. Meeting Shoshanna was a truly fascinating and memorable experience. We were both 26 at the time, and got along very well despite our drastically different beliefs, background and way of life. Shoshanna, her husband, and their children had recently moved to Mea Sharim from a Hasidic neighborhood in Toronto, Canada. She didn’t speak Hebrew and was excited to have someone to talk to in English. In fact she was so energetic and talkative that it was extremely challenging to photograph her. One of the only times I could make a picture was when she was cooking, like in this image, or engaging in other household tasks that forced her to stand still. “