Voices of Jerusalem: A Textile Merchant in the Old City

Bilal Abu Khalaf is a textile merchant in the Old City.

Produced in association with Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from September 26, 2016, through January 8, 2017.

Bilal Abu Khalaf: I am the third generation of fabric. My family came from Kurdistan, when Saladin came to Jerusalem. We import from three famous countries of textiles, which are Damascus, Syria; Morocco; and India.

All of these fabrics come from Syria. It's natural material from silk and cotton. In Jerusalem, the customers coming from all over the world, but because I am a local store selling fabric, I keep my work more traditional.

The Arabs, they use the more traditional of these striped fabric, because that's the custom for them. I'm wearing what the Arabs use and the Jewish use. It's for men. They are a special material, bright colors. The Christians use more vestments. Normally you see the priests in black, but on the feasts, they use four colors a year. The Catholics use two pieces, as the white one over here. This cross is the Jerusalem cross. You have it on the face and also on the back. This is for the big rabbis of Israel. It's embroidered brocade, which is a kind of thread, metallic, from good quality. And here, this is a special menorah and also David star from the back.

I like people to come to contact each other from different religions in my store. We like to keep Jerusalem safe. We have the three religions sharing, and I hope in the future to be much better.

Producer and Director: Christopher Noey
Director of Photography: Alex Rappoport
Producer: Kate Farrell
Editor: Sarah Cowan
Production Coordinator: Ruthy Lustig-Dassa, A2 Productions Ltd.
Gaffer: Ya'ir Dahan
Sound Recording: Itamar Goldman
Sound Editing: David Raymond
Production Assistants: Kaelan Burkett, Munir Ibrahim, Imad Khuri, Lisa Rifkind
Transcription: Denise Rohlfs
Scholarly Advisors: Barbara Drake Boehm, Melanie Holcomb

Special thanks to:
Aish HaTorah World Center, Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque, Awqaf Administration
Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Chapel of the Flagellation and Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem
Custodia Terrae Sanctae
East Jerusalem Development Ltd.
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Hashimi Hotel
The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified
Indian Hospice
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park - Davidson Center
Monastery of the Cross, Jerusalem
Monastery of St. Saviour, Jerusalem
Dr. Yusuf Said Natsheh

© 2016 The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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