Photo Essay | My City by Ben Ruttenberg, Israel

For the past week, I’ve tried to notice the little and interesting things about living in my city. Situations that I would maybe miss otherwise if I weren’t tuned to the ”look for a photo” state of mind. I think these little moments can help me share a few things about what it’s like living in Tel Aviv with you:

  1. We Eat Cats

Actually, that is not true at all! In general, Tel Aviv boasts the title of being the city with the highest number of pets per capita in the world.

23119910_10155834036198838_3173443233360296466_o (2) I don’t know if this is actually true or not, but people here love their pets and treat them like kings. I used to have a dog for fifteen years, my current roommate has two cats, and one of my friends has a rabbit roaming around her house, so maybe that claim isn’t that far-fetched. We also have a lot of stray cats, which people leave food and water for out in the street. Luckily, this cat wasn’t actually for sale, but a pet of a vegetable merchant in a market near my house.


  1. We Have Many Religions

Sometimes you can find a mosque, a few types of synagogues and a church in the same block. Near where I live, people get along pretty well, even though there is so much diversity. In other parts of Israel that might not always be the case. Here (surrounded by stray cats, obviously) are some Hassidic Jews, coming out of a Synagogue in my block.

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  1. The City Doesn’t Sleep

A bit of a cliche, but something which I experience all the time. No matter what time you go out into the street, especially on the weekends, there will always be people hanging out, partying, or even working. I took this photo on the main street of my neighbourhood at 11PM, and on the bottom left you can see someone still working in a small woodshop.

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  1. There’s a big generation gap

This is probably true for all ”western” cultures, and mostly true about the secular population of Israel (which I’m a part of). Often things change so fast and so much over the years that people from my generation hardly keep any aspects of the way of life our grandparents used to have. I think that this is related to a cultural phenomenon known as ”FOMO”, or ” Fear of Missing Out”. Which comes from the desire to always stay ”on top of things”, have the most advanced technology, the best experiences, the best style of living and so on… Which leads many people of my generation to feel anxious or depressed.

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  1. Wacky Things Happen

I don’t know if it’s something that’s true just about my life, or if other people share it too, but I feel like you need to always expect the unexpected! 23157371_10155834038588838_2278995070652316750_o (1)

This photo-essay was created by Ben Ruttenberg, Israel, YaLa Citizen Journalist


This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region.

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