If you asked me what my story was, I would tell you that Milestones Israel was created in order to find a place in Israel to match every personal story.
After the emotional memorial for Barry Effress Z”L, I scanned my memory in search of someone I could introduce the family to that would create a personal connection for them. I immediately thought of a remarkable Jerusalem based photographer, Kevork Kahvedjian.
I enjoy introducing Kevork (George) to tourists, not only for his unique story, but for his calm personality and welcoming smile. I was drawn to the matching stories of Rich and Kevork. Both are living, or trying to live, with great respect for their fathers’ heritage.
Yesterday we remembered Rich’s father and today we met Kevork who makes his living honoring his father’s memory, Elia Kahvedjian (1910-1999).
Elia was a child refugee of the Armenian genocide in 1915. At the tender age of 5, he was made an orphan. After the Turks killed his family, more than 160 people, he was brought to Nazareth to live in an orphanage. One of the teachers there enjoyed photography and used to invite Elia on his photo shoots to carry the heavy glass plates. It was on these trips that Elia fell in love with photography.
Before the War of Independence in 1948, Elia owned 3 photography studios on Jaffa Road. After Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan, he opened a new studio in the Old City. It is at this location in the Armenian Quarter that you can visit the studio today.
Elia was a professional photographer, making his living photographing weddings and family events. His real hobby, however, was to walk around the city with his camera and take snapshots of people busy with their daily life. He took pictures of people enjoying a plate of hummus, a Yemenite Jew on his way to synagogue, fortune tellers and anything you can imagine people doing day to day.
In 1989, Kevork – a talented photographer in his own respect – was urged by his wife to clean out the attic of their home. There, they discovered a real treasure, boxes filled with glass negatives of Elia’s photos.
Kevork asked his father about the negatives and Elia dismissed them as nothing worthwhile. It is with these photos that Kevork proudly makes his living today.
Among the hundreds of photos in the shop, there are two objects that carry a special importance.
- A small photograph of Elia, Kevork and Reuben, 3 generations of photographers
- The book “Jerusalem Through my Fathers Eyes’ – an amazing book that Kevork put together to honor his father’s work.
This is what I call heritage!
Click here to learn more about Elia and Kevork’s story