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We are one – a photographic portrait



When the world was sent into lockdown because of COVID-19, our religious gatherings were brought to an abrupt halt. Synagogues, mosques, churches, and temples, the broadcasters of fervent prayer and meditation, had their inner sanctuaries silenced. An eerie silence.

No more children running the corridors, the absence of sermons, and the invisibility of friends at prayer time. Places of worship are traditionally the heartbeat of the community, the soul glue to bind the community together.

As the months have passed, levels of lockdown have changed and currently, with limitations, worship is now allowed and strictly regulated prayer can refill sanctuaries of worship.

This reawakening offered the opportunity for a beautiful portrayal of people at prayer. Through my lens, I realised that no matter what religion you are, each has a mask and each is at prayer as one. We are all the same, mask or not.

The socially-distanced solitude of prayer portrays peace, and in so many ways, seems more meaningful. No distractions. More direct prayer without interference. As it has been through the millennia, prayer is the tool to reach for help, to better the world, to save a soul from corona death. To pray for an unseen enemy of the earth to go away, and never come back.

In the end, no matter what religion we believe in, we are one on this delicate earth.

  • Ilan Ossendryver is the SA Jewish Report photographer. He has been a photojournalist for more than 25 years covering international news such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Gulf War, the war in Lebanon, the Israeli Jordanian peace agreement, and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

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