The first time Michael Datikash, native of the Soviet republic of Georgia, went to Israel in the late 1980s, he was a staff photographer for the TASS news agency. He spent a month in the Jewish state, and returned to the USSR with photos that reflected his visions of Israel. TASS ran his pictures, but his communist bosses were not pleased — they had anticipated photos more critical of Israel. Datikash, who immigrated to the United States in 1991 and has worked as staff photographer for The Jewish Week for 22 years, retuned to Israel earlier this month, for the seventh time.
With a base in Tel Aviv, and armed with a Fuji camera and a single-zoom lens, he traveled north to the Galilee and south to the Dead Sea, capturing digital images of faces and landscapes that appeal to his photographer’s eye. Including Tel Aviv’s ultra-modern architecture and Safed’s ancient scenes. “I wanted to show the people, how the country has grown, how they are united,” he says.
Datikash was particularly attracted to Safed, the mystical city on a Galilee mountain. Hence the photos here of a shopkeeper closing up for Shabbat and of a stack of shofars for sale.
Near Safed, he photographed sunset at the Dead Sea; along the Mediterranean, he took the shot of a towering Tel Aviv office building. This time, as more than 20 years ago, Datikash’s goal was the same, he says. “I wanted to show the beauty of the country as it is.”