My name is not Moshe…

5th November 2020

Meandering through the crowded shouk in Jerusalem I slalomed my way to one of the coffee stands. I nabbed the last available table and heaved myself awkwardly onto a high stool. Despite it being late evening the summer humid air still hung low.I ordered an iced coffee and people watched, relaxing in to the din of the market buzz.

Eventually he arrived and shook my hand smiling innocently whilst nervously explaining his English was not great. His immaculate black attire hung from his slight frame and he glanced up at me from the rim of his customary black hat.

After speaking slowly for a few minutes, I felt a shift and we both seemed more at ease. There was an unspoken trust and acceptance . The conversation felt genuine and warm. He smiled and said to me:

“I have to tell you something”
“Yes, I said”
“My name is not Moshe… it is Baruch”

“I don’t understand” I said with a puzzled frown.” I felt like I had met an undercover spy.

“I need to be careful.I have to live both lives.”

I felt daft for not assuming this alias status and it made me wonder what it would be like to live with two identities.

Before we had a chance to sip our coffees a crowd was beginning to gather around us. I glanced behind me to see what they were all taking pictures of with their phones.

” Hey, can I take your picture?” A man enthusiastically shouted in a thick Israeli accent. Again, confused I turned to Baruch. He laughed and said :

” They think we are a strange sight”

Before I had a chance to digest this the crowd grew in numbers and we were papped from all angles. What a bizarre scenario. I glanced down at myself, denim shorts and a vest top; and then to Baruch in his full orthodox garb and realised it must have been unusual.

Baruch had never spoken to a woman outside of his family unless it was in a shop within his community. This situation was alien to him, and we were an obvious rare occurrence . I admired his open-minded bravery.

As I walked home with the heat still lingering ( my favourite type of stroll) I felt a buzz of excitement. After months of recces, meetings and research I had finally met someone who understood my project and who had a wonderful story to share.

Tomorrow the imagery and film will finally be released. It’s been over a year and a half of blood sweat and tears on this project and I could not be more grateful to all of those who have supported me on it. You know who you all are.

The links will appear tomorrow OAO x