The American tradition of “the great photographic journey” served as a blueprint for the initial phase of my “quest.” What separated and defined my journey was the size of Israel—as I discovered, the size of the territory shaped my proceedings. This resulted in a condensed experience: in any other country, a photography journey would have spanned months of continuous travel. By contrast, my quest here was inevitably reduced, as no matter what destination I chose, I was always home by midnight.

As I found myself passing through the same places over and over again, the personal identity of my project was revealed to me: I had to let go of the idea that I would narrate the physical, spatial journey. Instead, I needed to concentrate on the intimate, emotional reactions that these places evoked in me: I focused on my reactions to encounters with people and sceneries, and I attempted to understand how these elements appeared to be revealed and lost at the same time. It seemed that they were part of a scene that existed in contradictions: it was ever-changing, and yet in some ways, it never changed at all.

My journey started to reveal a message: I discovered that my initial search for a deeper understanding of my country—and what defines me as an Israeli—became an urge to investigate the in-between places, the unexpected situations.

Suddenly a detail called out for my attention: as a result, I stood for hours in one place, waiting for the meaning to reveal itself. Sometimes it pushed me away, puzzled. But in the end, I had to hold on to it.

I could not let go until the detail was made mine: until the elusive and enigmatic found their place in what I deemed as an authentic, real encounter.

Thus, my “quest” is an attempt to relay the reality of living in Israel. In this country, I feel that evidence of the past is strongly intertwined with marks of the present and questions about our future. This is why sometimes it is possible to see past, present and future revealed in front of one’s eyes at the same time. Part of my identity as an Israeli is to question everything and not leave anything for granted. I wanted to reveal the tensions that constantly exist and to convey the truth behind the constructed aspects of reality in present-day Israel.

Religious and social aspects filter into everyday life, and as the journey moves on, their meanings are exposed. Jewish missionaries, lost souls and individuals living on the fringe of society: all of them blend into this landscape of humanity.

—Yaakov Israel

Editors’ Note: This book was released by Schilt Publishing as a beautiful publication. Look at an extended video preview below and if you’re interested, you can buy it here.