ISRAEL - GOD WENT SURFING WITH THE DEVIL

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Jun 3 2008, 1:12pm

Photographer Bryan Derballa has just finished shooting a film about the lives of surfers in Israel and Gaza called God Went Surfing with the Devil. He's taken some great photographs during his travels in the region, most of which you can find on his blog. Here are a selected few...


We went down to the Dead Sea on our day off. Its shores are the lowest dry land in the world at some thousand feet below sea level. It's also one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. You could float on your back for miles. It's believed that the mud is good for the skin, but I think it's good for the soul.


One week we found ourselves in Jerusalem where the Hasids were protesting the sale of leavened bread during Passover. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers waited up the street while many more disgruntled men in dark coats and fur hats gathered in the square. Old men with grey beards shouted vehemently in Yiddish about the desecration of their Jewish state by secular interests.


Despite being a country at war, Tel Aviv is a pretty relaxed place. It looks like how I'd imagine Miami did in the 70s. Everyone goes to the beach, which they refer to as the sea, and there are restaurants that just serve bowls of hummus. The girls are beautiful, but their boyfriends could inflict serious damage on you. Military service is mandatory for 18 year-olds.


Jaffa is the Arab neighborhood south of Tel Aviv.


Nachman Meu'man is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Apparently it's a bunch of ex-rave kids that turned to religion. They spread the word of the Torah by driving around in vans late at night blasting techno remixes, replacing all the words with "Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meu'man". They pull over and dance like madmen. Nachman believe that dancing is a supreme form of prayer.


Sderot is a poor town in the south of Israel near the Gaza border. It has been the target of thousands of Qassam rockets from Hamas over the last seven years. Those who could afford to move away have. Those who can't must be strong.


This photo is from Independence Day. We'd just got back from a weekend in Gaza. Everything was going great until we got arrested by Hamas.


Soldiers are omnipresent at the border, given recent Hezbollah activity in Lebanon. Fearing border raids and sniper activity from a neighboring Druze village, teens with M-16s told us to leave the area.


I was just in Egypt visiting my father and family I never see. Despite hardly knowing me, they were incredibly loving. The patch on my Uncle Mohsen's forehead is a result of prayer.


After beach time it was skateboard time. Slalom and leap-frogging and chestboarding a plenty.


The full God Went Surfing with the Devil website launches July 1, with trailers and more information about the film. If you would like to be placed on a mailing list, send an email to godwentsurfing@gmail.com and they'll send you an update every so often.

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