IN PHOTOS: A Stunning Journey Above and Below Israel’s Waterlines

In Israel, swimming is an escape – from the security situation, everyday woes, social divides and above all from the oppressive summer heat

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Eilat.
Eilat.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik

Bathing sites provide a haven from the security situation, from everyday woes, the headache of dealing with bills and paperwork, from social divides and tension, and above all from the oppressive summer heat.

The transition from the stifling air to the cool, pleasurable water is an experience that’s hard to remain indifferent to. These sites provide a rare democratic space in Israel in which we not only shed clothing but also are far from the injustices and discrimination that impede us on land.

The waterline elegantly separates two worlds. Above is life itself, warm and familiar, and below is a whole world, mysterious and unknown. At a time when the country is filling up with enmity, segregation, incitement and environmental pollution, the broiling sun oversees from on high a dark and depressing reality. In a period like this, the neutrality of the water washes away the fear, purifies and becomes a safe haven of peace and equality.

Gan Hashlosha National Park, aka the Sachne.
Gan Hashlosha National Park, aka the Sachne.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

A few months ago, I bought a waterproof analog camera.

Of course, working with this camera is substantially more challenging than shooting with a digital one. It requires leaving the water after every 37 shots, changing the film, drying off the camera, and re-entering the water. Another technical issue that hampers underwater work is that the light conditions aren’t familiar and are constantly shifting, and worlds are revealed and disappear almost instantaneously.

At the same time, the working process heightens the interaction with curious bathers and exposes previously unseen points of view in places I’ve often photographed in the past.

In this voyage among Israel’s water sources, I found myself not only in the role of documenter but a participant in the experience as well. The riveting dual situation induced a heightened awareness such as I rarely encounter.

The Sea of Galilee, Maagan Beach.
The Sea of Galilee, Maagan Beach.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Nahal Kibbutzim, Beit She’an Valley.
Nahal Kibbutzim, Beit She’an Valley.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Eilat.
Eilat.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Charles Clore Park beach, Tel Aviv.
Charles Clore Park beach, Tel Aviv.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Hanechim Beach, Herzliya.
Hanechim Beach, Herzliya.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Charles Clore Park beach, Tel Aviv.
Charles Clore Park beach, Tel Aviv.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Nahal Kibbutzim, Beit She’an Valley.
Nahal Kibbutzim, Beit She’an Valley.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Eilat.
Eilat.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Nahal Kibbutzim, Beit She’an Valley.
Nahal Kibbutzim, Beit She’an Valley.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
The Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Gan Hashlosha National Park, aka the Sachne.
Gan Hashlosha National Park, aka the Sachne.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
The Jordan River, near Kvutzat Kinneret.
The Jordan River, near Kvutzat Kinneret.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Elroi Spring, Kiryat Tivon.
Elroi Spring, Kiryat Tivon.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Princess Hotel beach, Eilat.
Princess Hotel beach, Eilat.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

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