MembersIsrael’s Growing Tattoo Culture is About More Than Rebellious Ink

Israel Today interview with Jerusalem’s top tattoo artist made us rethink views on a practice traditionally seen as taboo.

By Tsvi Sadan |
Photo: Gili Yaari/Flash90

Truth is that I had a different kind of tattooist in mind before stepping into the tiny Vizi Tattoo studio in Jerusalem’s city center. A tattoo artist, I thought, belongs to the kind of vulgar fringe sub-culture that I typically want nothing to do with. I expected to meet someone covered in ink from head-to-toe. I expected to meet a man angry with his people’s religion, which forbids tattooing.

Instead, I met a charming young man who patiently answered my misinformed questions. I became intrigued with tattoos after seeing one on the wrist of a dear friend, a terror victim who almost lost her life. The tattoo resembled a bracelet with a verse from the Bible inscribed on it. I wondered how she, a God-fearing person, overlooked the commandment to “not mark your skin with tattoos,” which has made the practice taboo in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She thought my raised eyebrows were a silly reaction.

That was almost 10 years ago. Today, the religious taboo has weakened. That doesn’t mean Israelis are flocking to tattoo parlors. Judging...

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