nilibassan Nili Bassan

Currently, I am an Israeli freelance photojournalist. I have been a photojournalist for the past 14 years as I started my career in 2000. For 4 years I was a staff photographer for a news agency in Jerusalem. In 2004, I left the news agency and have been a freelance photojournalist since. During my career as photojournalist I have covered everything from wars to politics to social to everyday life in Israel.
At the start of my career the Israeli / Palestinian conflict known as the Second Intifada had begun and from 2000 thru 2004 my focus was mainly on conflict / war photojournalism. Following the Second Intifada I covered Israeli politics and daily news events in Israel.
In 2005, I covered the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and in 2006 I returned to conflict / war photojournalism when I covered the Second Lebanon War in 2006. In late 2008, early 2009 I covered the Israeli / Gaza conflict known to the world as Operation Cast Lead. In 2012, I again covered conflict and war during the second major Israeli / Gaza conflict during Operation Pillar of Defense.
During and in between these conflicts I have worked with several journalists from Italy on a number of other projects. These projects have included conflict / war between Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli and Palestinian politics and every day life in Israel. With my associates from Italy I have been published in newspapers in Israel, Italy, Denmark, and the United States. In addition I have been published in eight books. In 2007, myself and my Italian associates produced the book, "In Nome Di" (In the Name Of), ETS Publishing House, Pisa, Italy. This book provided me the opportunity to showcase many diverse photographs and give people the opportunity to witness the ongoing Israeli / Palestinian conflict that is often unseen. When "In Nome Di" was published the subsequent exhibition in Italy, presenting the book, provided me with the opportunity to explain, the importance of my photographs.
Prior to "In Nome Di," my first book was published focusing on Bethlehem during the Second Intifada. Since, I have been published in a number of other books however, my two most recent books, "Kibbutz 3000" (ETS Publishing House, 2011) contains, exclusively, my photographs of life in a Kibbutz found throughout Israel and my latest book, "Israele 2013: Il Falco Sotto Assedio," (Israel 2013: The Falcon Under Siege)my photographs focused on the elections in Israel(2013).
Since the beginning of my career in 2000 I have grown as a photojournalist and I now want to show, through my photographs, that Israel is not a country based on war and conflict. My goals now are to share with the world the many amazing people and places found here in Israel. However, my experiences covering conflict and war will always provide me the ability to return to war photojournalism if the need arises again.

Media created

Thumb sm
Israeli Band 'Shotey Hanevuah'
Tel Aviv, Israel
By Nili Bassan
15 May 2005

A concert of the Israeli band "Shotey Hanevuah" (fools of prophecy) in Tel Aviv, 2005.

Document thumbnail
The Jewish Community in Livorno Article
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
16 Apr 2013

Livorno is considered the most modern of all the towns of the Tuscany region. It has the biggest port of the region and it is the most populated coastal town. The emblem of the town is the monument of the four “mori” - pirates - a famous sculpture that represents dark-skinned pirates constricted by chains at
the feet of the Grand Duke Ferdinando I. The artwork has been realized during the time in which the town was enhanced itself as cosmopolitan town, through establishment of rules that allows the town to welcome with open arms Jewish people banished from Spain and Portugal. The story of Jewish people living in Livorno starts since that moment. Historical tradition of Livorno and Jewish culture are merged permanently until nowadays and Livorno is defined as the town of Judaism. It was held by Jew family the memorable bookshop and the publishing house named Belforte. Typical dishes the “roschette”,
caucciucco(fish stew) and the Livorno-style mullet are of the Sephardic tradition.

Like the typical words as “sciagattato” – ruined, and “gadollo” - fat or “gavinoso” – funny, which are picked up from the Bagitto and Hebrew dialect and still in use today . Jew was the Mayor of the prefascist town of Livorno, the Socialist Umberto Mondolfi. The list is including religious citizens like Rabbis Elia Benamozegh – was the Rabbi of Livorno for 50 years, Rabbi Sabato Morais and Alfredo Toaff, famous people like the philanthropist Moses Montefiore, sages and intellectuals like Attias, D'Ancona and Enriques, famous painters like Tivoli, Corcos and of course Amedeo Modigliani. These are only few
famous names of the entire Jewish community of Livorno. Livorno is housing of an old Sephardic Synagogue, considered one of the biggest and beautiful Synagogue around the world, it was built in 1591 but seriously damaged by the American bombing in 1945, then it became the goal of several raids during
the last time of second WW, and this led to a complete destruction of the Synagogue itself. The works for the new Synagogue committed to the architect Mr. Angelo di Castro started at the beginning of the sixties, a building of reinforced concrete inspired by the tabernacle (sanctuary tent) that accompanied the Jewish along the desert during the exodus- the new Synagogue has a modern style that it is not well accepted among the Jewish community of Livorno. Whatever, the young Rav Yair Didi religious leader of the community and well known and respected personality in the city is suggesting to not look the outside but the inside of the Synagogue. next to the synagogue is the center or the house of the Jewish community, there is the archive of the community,400 years of documents written in Portuguese, Italian or Hebrew. But the real oral memory is Gabriele Bedarida. He is keeping memories of what was the Jewish Livorno in the past. In the 1938, during the fascism period, before that the King enacted racial laws more than 1500 Jewish people lived in Livorno. More than 120 Jewish people of Livorno were wiped out in the Nazi concentration camps. Many of the people in the Jewish community of Livorno were rescued in the Nazi search, fleeing to the bush, hiding kids in convents, in religious colleges, or finding shelter by antiNazi friends. By the end of the WW II the Jewish community of Livorno had less than 1000 people.

Today there are around 600 Jewish people registered as Jewish community of Livorno, that leads, the community of Livorno to be considered one of the most important Jewish community in Italy after the one in Rome. But the Jewish community of Livorno is an old and aged community with no turnover. The last migration of Sephardic Jews in Livorno is dated to 1967 when due to the six days war many Jews abandoned Arab countries and part arrived in Livorno. Mainly people from the Bengasi community in Libya decided for moving to Livorno. Today the majority of the Jewish community of Livorno is made up by older people with only few young that rarely participate to the life of the community. There are around 70 Jewish people in Livorno that actively attend Jewish liturgies such as Shabbat and even more than 400 persons during Pesach or Yom Kippur. In the last three years 6 young Jews decided to leave Italy to
flee to Israel for aliyah. In the city center and in the market many shops are still run by Jew families: like the Disegni, Zarrugh, Doha, Modigliani, Bueno and Lombardo are some of the common names. On the other hand the Jewish school closed during the fascism has never been reopened and the same destiny
has occurred to the Jewish hospital and after a while to the old cemetery. There is no any Israeli restaurant in Livorno , the last running was closed four years ago. There is a bakery that works under Jewish rules producing bread without milk or animal fat/lard. There is also a kosher batcher that supplies
kosher meet to members of the Jewish community of Livorno. There is a Jewish museum, located in Villa Marini belonged to Marini family until 1867,was used as a synagogue until the new synagogue was open and on 1992 opened as a museum. the small collection is including a Hechal(temple) of the XVI
century,shofar,tallit on the wall are old marriage agreements.

There is an old cemetery closed and in a state of completely decay. The new cemetery is in use and located in the north of the city and it is near the general cemetery. In the new cemetery are the grave of Modeliani family and two memory boards one perpetuates the Jewish people that died during First World War and the other perpetuates the victims of the holocaust.

Document thumbnail
Little Jerusalem in Italy
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

On the last strip of the Tuscan Region, overlooking Lazio, is Etruscan land. This is charming Maremma, standing out of Pitigliano cliff. An ancient village with perched houses, Pitiglian is also known as “little Jerusalem”. The resemblance with the Holy City is noticeable, as it can be seen observed arriving from the sea.

The narrow and steep alleys leading to the ancient Jewish quarter are another mark of the connection between Pitigliano and Jerusalem. In the 800s the ghetto of Pitigliano was inhabited by hundreds of Jews, and for this reason the village took the name of “Small Jerusalem”. Jewish migration towards Maremma started four centuries ago, and the Synagogue was built in 1598. It collapsed due to a landslide in the 60's, but was was re-built by the Municipality in 1995. Today the Synagogue, the Kasher butchery, the Milkvè bath, the bakery of the “Azzime” and the winery, are all part of a touristic itinerary. There is also a Museum managed by the "Small Jerusalem" association,“ that gives 20% of its revenue to the Municipality.

Every day tourists visit the Jewish complex to buy kosher products in the souvenir shops of the hamlet. The kosher wine is produced in the local wine factory, and is on sale in every shop of Pitigliano. The shops also sell kosher olive oil, azzimo bread and traditional Jewish “sfratto”cake.

The cake is made in the shape of a cane, and was prepared in the past to remember the 17th century tradition of knocking on doors intimating the edict of the Grand Duke Cosimo II, and announcing to Hebrew people that they were obliged to leave their homes and move to the ghetto of Pitigliano. It is now considered a Christmas cake. During the summer, “bollo” cakes of the Sephardic tradition are prepared, made with lemon and anise.

Pitigliano is the historic location of the cultural meeting between the Christian and Jewish populations. This kinship was sealed in 1799 when the population of Pitigliano embraced pitchforks and compelled the soldiers to flee instead of pillaging the ghetto. Years later during the Holocaust, Pitigliano again defended its Jewish dwellers.

Cava and Servi are common names of the Jewish families that were restrained in the Roccatederighi's camp, sent to Fossoli camp, and from there shipped to Auschwitz. Other Jewish families living in Pitigliano hid themselves in the countryside avoiding the endless Nazi roundups, thanks to the solidarity network of dwellers and farmers living nearby. In 2002, the Dainelli, Perugini, Bisogno, Simonelli and Sonno families were awarded with the honor of “right” amongst nations bestowed by the Institute Yad Vashem of Jerusalem.

“A human chain of solidarity preserved us. I remember the people who brought us foods. We lived in a cave me, my father, my mother, and mine of two sisters. To let us know that we were in peril we had a special sign agreed before. The farmer riding a black horse was the alarm sign”.

These are the words of Elena Servi, founder and chief executive officer of the Small Jerusalem association. She is 83 years old, and lived through Nazi occupation. She is cheerful, hearty, with a very clear memories of those youthful days when Fascists and Nazis constrained her to a bitter life.

Jewish inhabitants of the town have unique and extraordinary testimonials. Another is the story of Carlo Frischumann, a dentist in Pitigliano's during the war. A Jew from Eastern Europe, he arrived in Italy with his real identity concealed under the name of Carlo Schemmari. He never disclosed his real Jewish origin to the people of Pitigliano. He was killed by the American bombing on the 7th of June 1944 that hit the crowded old town and destroyed part of it. The tradition tells that he was killed in his medical study while he was curing a German soldier.

Another tradition tells that his assistant was wrongly brought his medicine bag to the office of Carlo Schemmari in Pitigliano and so the doctor was obliged to go to his office to recollect his bag. When the war was over, the population of Pitigliano was left astonished when the girlfriend of Carlo Frischumann, alias Carlo Schemmari asked to exhume the body of Carlo from the Christian cemetery and then she revealed this real identity.

Elena Servi is at the core of the Jewish community of Pitigliano, nowadays made up only by three people.

"My son Enrico is 50 years old and he is the latest Jewish people born in Pitigliano. There is no Rabbi in Pitigliano and the community goes to the Synagogue of Livorno, managed by the Rabbi Yair Didi. "

Elena was in Israel during the first Gulf war. She lived in the Holy Land from 1986 until 1995. She decided to live in a typical Israelis allocation. She lived in the kibbuts named to the memory of Sereni. In the kibbutz Elena was also in charge of managing the laundry service, amongst other duties. From that experience of life she affirms: “frankly if the kibbutz was not real, it should be surely invented”.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (1 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
16 Apr 2013

In Livorno, Italy, of the four Jewish cemeteries only this one is still active and has been since 1939.
In this cemetery there are plaques commemorating the Jewish who perished in WWI and the Holocaust.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (2 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
16 Apr 2013

The Jewish cemetery located at Via Corallo which is no longer in use, this cemetery was in use from 1739 until 1939.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (3 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
16 Apr 2013

Jewish gravestones located at the old Jewish cemetery in Via Corallo, Livorno, Italy.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (4 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
11 Apr 2013

The Jewish museum in Livorno,Italy.
Among the small collection, there are Jewish artifacts which include candlesticks, tefillin, mezuzah, and the hechal(a closet which contains the Torah scrolls) and more.
The museum is located in Villa Marini and which has been open to the public since 1992.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (5 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
11 Apr 2013

One of the many lifelong customers shopping for bread at the only bakery that makes and sells kosher bread in Livorno, Italy.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (6 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
16 Apr 2013

The Jewish museum, Livorno,Italy.
Among the small collection there are candlesticks, tefillin, mezuzah.
In this photograph one can see (in the center) the hechal (a closet which contains the Torah scrolls) which date back to the 16 century. On both sides are displays of Jewish artifacts.
The museum is located in Villa Marini and has been open to the public since 1992.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (7 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

Yair Didi ,the Rabbi of the Jewish community in Livorno, Italy, opens the faucet in the Mikveh (a bath used for ritual immersion in Judaism) located in the Jewish Community House next to the synagogue in Livorno, Italy.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (8 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

Livorno, Italy, Rabbi Yair Didi, praying at the new synagogue.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (9 of...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

Livorno, Italy, Rabbi Yair Didi praying in the Livorno synagogue.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (10 o...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

A view from above of the synagogue in Livorno, Italy, during prayer.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (11 o...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

In the Jewish community of Livorno,
Gabriele Bedarida holds a book containing documents, in Hebrew, related to the history of the Jewish community of Livorno, Italy.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (12 o...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

Rabbi Yair Didi of Livorno, Italy (on left) and
Gabriele Bedarida searching for Hebrew written documents in the Jewish community archive located in
Livorno, Italy.

Thumb sm
The Jewish community in Livorno (13 o...
Livorno, Italy
By Nili Bassan
15 Apr 2013

Gabriele Bedarida searches for Hebrew written documents in the archive of the Jewish community located in Livorno, Italy.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (1 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano, Italy. Pitigliano is known as "Little Jerusalem." During the 19th Century 10 per cent of the Pitigliano population was Jewish. Today there are only three remaining Jewish residents.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (2 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano, Italy. Pitigliano is known as "Little Jerusalem."
The entrance to the visitor center that is named
"Little Jerusalem", in the past it was the Jewish Ghetto of Pitigliano.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (3 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano, Italy. Pitigliano is known as "Little Jerusalem."
In the entrance to the visitor center there is a shop for kosher products (wine, cookies, olive oil and more).

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (4 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

A basket with unleavened bread in the entrance to the shop "3/4" which offers kosher products as unleavened bread, wine, olive oil and more.
The shop located near the entrance to "Little Jerusalem", once known as the Jewish Ghetto and today a visitor center in Pitigliano, Italy which also known as "Little Jerusalem".

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (5 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

The entrance to "3/4", a shop that offers kosher products as wine,olive oil, unleavened bread and more. The shop is located near the entrance to "Little Jerusalem" , in the past it was the Jewish Ghetto and today a visitor center in Pitigliano, Italy.
Pitigliano also known as "Little Jerusalem" .

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (6 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

A kosher wine named "Pitigliano" which is produced in Pitigliano area is one of other kosher products for sale in the shop "3/4", in the entrance to "Little Jerusalem", in the past it was the Jewish Ghetto and today a visitor center in Pitigliano, Italy.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (7 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Kosher products such as wine, unleavened bread, as well as cookies are for sale among the many other products found in "3/4", a shop at the entrance to "Little Jerusalem." In the past, where the shop is today, was the Jewish Ghetto in Pitigliano, Italy.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (8 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy, also known as "Little Jerusalem", the view is one reason for it, but not the main one, During the 19th Century 10 per cent of the Pitigliano population was Jewish and for that reason "Little Jerusalem".

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (9 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy.
Pitigliano also known as "Little Jerusalem."
The small streets and alleys of Pitigliano reminiscent the alleys and streets of Jerusalem.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (10 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy.
Pitigliano also known as "Little Jerusalem".
Other points of similarity between the two cities, the small streets, the landscape and the light.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (11 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy.
The new synagogue of Pitigliano.
It was inaugurated in 1990 and was built almost identically to the old synagogue that was destroyed after WWII.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (12 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy.
The old winery of the Jewish community of Pitigliano.
Now it's part of a visitor center named "Little Jerusalem" that preserve and present the Jewish community in the past.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (13 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy.
Elena Servi, the founder of the organization "little Jerusalem", that preserves and presents the history of the Jewish community of Pitigliano.
Elena Servi is one of only three Jewish residents still living in Pitigliano.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (14 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

Pitigliano,Italy.
The Jewish museum.
Part of "Little Jerusalem", today a visitor center, in the past the Jewish Ghetto.
Among the small collection there are candlesticks, Kippah, Plates for Passover and more.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (15 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

A small presentation of Passover (Seder) table - Seder plate containing different symbolic foods that represent ideas related to Passover and the Exodus , Haggadah, Kiddush cup.
This Passover collection is presented in the Jewish museum of Pitigliano, Italy.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (16 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

The entrance to the old winery in "Little Jerusalem" , today a visitor center, in the past the Jewish Ghetto.
On the wall (on left) part of The Declaration of Independence of the state of Israel is posted.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (17 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

The entrance to the wine cellar in the winery of the Jewish community of Pitigliano.
Today is part of "Little Jerusalem" visitor center, in the past the Jewish Ghetto.
On the sign on right it's written "winery" in Hebrew ("Yekev").
Pitigliano, Italy.

Thumb sm
Little Jerusalem in Italy (18 of 19)
Pitigliano, Italy
By Nili Bassan
17 Apr 2013

The entrance to "Little Jerusalem",today visitor center, in the past the Jewish Ghetto.
On the left wall explanations about Jewish holidays and about the destruction of the Holy Temple.
In front is the entrance to the winery.
Pitigliano, Italy.