JERUSALEM – Facial hair is trendy worldwide these days, but in Jerusalem beards have never gone out of style, projecting religious mysticism, nationalism and ideals of masculinity.
For men of all faiths in the holy city, a beard can be an important statement of religious devotion, connecting past generations to God through the tangled strands of history. Facial hair also reflects social mores in many communities. In some cases, it can reflect political views.
Nowhere is this more visible than in Jerusalem's Old City, where bearded ultra-Orthodox Jews, Christian clerics and devout Muslims all come into contact in a densely packed mix of some of the world's most sensitive holy sites.
For 40-year-old Eitan Press, growing a beard is a spiritual journey that embodies ancient concepts of Jewish mysticism while challenging modern perceptions of masculinity.