Tamar Sandalon Photography

Israel

In the winter of 2016/17, I took a trip to Israel; the country where I was born. I departed on Birthright for ten days and explored every inch of the country available to tourists. Needless to say, this was a radically different experience than what I had come to know. The first part of this trip was explorative but frustrating. I saw my country through a different lens. On an organized trip, with their rigid rules and tight schedule, I felt like somehow, I didn't know my country as well as I thought I did.  Nevertheless, I retained curiosity and a sense of adventure. Throughout this journey, I explored the country for wonders both foreign and familiar. When Birthright was over, I stayed an additional eight days with family and explored the domestic part of Israeli life.       

It is difficult to return home only to realize that you are an outsider there as well. Through haunting portraits of my grandparents and larger than life landscapes of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, I found pieces of my soul scattered across my estranged homeland. Most of my time spent on this journey, I felt ambiguous. I was happy to be back, and I didn't want to leave, but I felt foreign in Israel, and in the United States. Making this project made me consider what it means to really belong somewhere - because I really don't feel like I belong anywhere.