The Jews—God’s People
Photographs by Hilla and Max Jacoby, &169;1984, Daybreak Books, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 245 pp, $49.95, hardbound.

It somehow seems strange that a photo essay of Israel and her people isn’t a more common sight in bookstores today, considering the tiny but strategic nation’s prominent place in world news. This alone would set apart Hilla and Max Jacoby’s book, The Jews—God’s People. But the book offers far more than just something different.” In it the Jacobys have managed to capture a depth of meaning beyond what could have been just the obvious shots of Israel’s customs, clothing and countryside.

Max Jacoby, who is a Jewish believer in Yeshua, prefaces the collection by describing something of his task—”to look directly into the faces of the people…I believe that every Jew is aware that somehow, something about him or her is ‘different’…Something about this people must be extraordinary…”

From the warmth of children’s faces to the intensity of prayers at the Wailing Wall, from scientists at the Rehovot Research Center to a Judean farmer following two donkeys pulling a wooden plow, from a yeshiva near Etzion to a street market in Tiberias, the Jacobys give us an intimate look into the soul of the Jewish people.

“We were motivated by two facts that are important in my life,” Max Jacoby explains. “First, I was born a Jew…Second, I have been a photographer all my life.” Some of the photographs are grouped into series, while others stand alone to tell an individual story. “It is a breathtaking book of unique beauty,” comments Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem.

And Shalamit Nardi, assistant to the president of Israel, says, “The Jews—God’s People…is a truly beautiful book, and one wishes to look at it again and again. Faces are caught with utmost sensitivity, and so are places—the wonderful shots of Sinai, Qumran, the Jordan, Jerusalem. The sequence at the Western Wall is unforgettable and so, too, an individual photograph like that of the fig tree’s roots.”

Scripture passages are interwoven throughout to focus the book’s message not merely on Jews as people, but on Jews as God’s people. “I want to add something from the human, and especially from the Jewish, perspective,” Jacoby explains. It is this sensitivity to our people’s historic identity which turns a “picture book” into a powerful message.

“I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God…I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”

Exodus 6: 7-8

“What God has said in his Word he has fulfilled,” Max writes, describing the purpose for this collection. “Our book intends to be a message for those who have open eyes, open ears, and open hearts.”

Hilla Jacoby describes the discovery which catapulted her and her husband into what became a published collection of more than 200 photographs: “Jesus…came to the world as a Jew, in accordance with God’s plan. He came to bring salvation, in the first place to the Jews. Only later it became clear that his teachings and his sacrifice would bring redemption to Gentiles as well. His teachings are those of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…God revealed himself to all mankind through the Jews.”

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Jeremiah 33:3

Hilla Jacoby was born in Berlin. She began her career as an actress and later became a stage director. After meeting Max Jacoby in 1958, she became his photographic assistant and worked as his picture editor while continuing her career in the arts. She has been primarily a photographer since 1973.

Max Jacoby, born in Koblenz, Germany, received his photographic training in Buenos Aires. He has produced numerous picture books and has been awarded four gold medals for his work.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the edge of his robe and say, ‘Let us go wiith you, because we have heard that God is with you.'”

Zechariah 8:23