Peaceful, Naive and Equal: Israel’s Beaches, at Summer's End

Armed with a film camera, our photographer searches for his childhood on the beaches of Tel Aviv, where people from all walks of life come to swim, eat, drink and bathe together

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Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik
Daniel Tchetchik

When I was young, which was quite some time ago, my father used to wake me very early on hot Saturday mornings to take me to the beach. Tel Aviv has numerous beaches - but it was usually the one on Frishman Street or the one across from the Charles Clore Park that we’d go to. Sometimes, he would drive us up north or down south to get away from the crowds that flocked to the city’s beaches on weekends.

Me, photographed by my father

It was the 70s and Israel was naive - or at least it seemed so to me. There was still a sense of a warm vibe that seemed to be radiating through society and despite the political divides - people seemed to take pride in always having each other's backs.

Times have changed. Many believe that era is gone forever. Social media, the rapid pace of life, fake news, post-truth, smartphones and strange presidents, it seems the world, if it were ever sane, has gone mad, and that there is just no way back.

There is however one place that gives hope or at least offers a small taste of salvation, a place that has maintained the peace, quiet and tranquility of yesteryear and - despite the crazy prices in Israel - is still even free. I’m talking about the shores of the Mediterranean, of course.

Israel’s beaches are still a place you can go back to and feel the old timeless breeze breathe, a warm sense of belief back into your modern soul. It unburdens you with its overwhelming beauty and mesmerizing simplicity. A class-free arena where people from all walks of life come to swim, eat, drink and bathe together. I guess you could call it a democracy.

Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

While I am working, different people stop by to chat, some ask me why there is no display screen on the back of my camera? I tell them that I shoot in film, that’s the ethics of my Israel, of my childhood, and this is the way I can still get glimpses of the place I grew up in that has since faded into the past.

It’s been years since my father passed away. He was an amateur photographer and used to take a lot of pictures wherever we went. I guess that’s the reason why I became a photographer. Every time I open the camera and unroll another roll of film, I get the fleeting sensation that I am five again, sitting in the back seat on the way to beach on Saturday morning with my dad again.

Today, it is me waking up my daughter early on Saturday mornings, taking her to the beach. Sometimes, on the way, in the car, I share with her how my father did the same with me when I was a child. She smiles kindly and asks indifferently: “Dad, can have an arteek [popsicle] when we get there?”

Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

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