David Vaaknin

Commissions / Jerusalem Santa for The Washington Post

Commission for The Washington Post

Author: Ruth Eglash

Photo Editor: Chloe Coleman


Photos for a story about the Holy Land's Father Christmas, played by Issa Kassissieh, an Arab-Christian and former professional basketball player, who is thought to be Jerusalem’s only Santa Claus. For over a decade, Kassissieh has been donning out his father’s old Santa suit, becoming an annual fixture around the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. He has turned the first floor of his 700-year-old house into Santa's House and was recently fully ordained as Santa Claus. According to him, he is the only one in Israel and perhaps even in the Middle East.

Read the story online here

Santa's House in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem
People wait outside Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, before it opens for visitors, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus greets visitors at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, greets visitors (not pictured), at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus hugs a child, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, hugs a child, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus interacts with children, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, interacts with children, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Children ride the sleigh with Santa, as artificial snow falls from above, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Children ride the sleigh with Santa, played by Issa Kassissieh, as artificial snow falls from above, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
A child sits on Santa's lap at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
A child sits on Santa's lap, played by Issa Kassissieh, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus writes letters to children, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, writes letters to children, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus writes letters to children, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, writes letters to children, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus gestures as he's reflected in the logo of Jerusalem Santa, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, gestures as he's reflected in the logo of Jerusalem Santa, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa's assistant is seen next to diplomas and certificates hanging on a wall, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
A woman playing the role of assistant to Santa Claus, is seen next to diplomas and certificates hanging on a wall, at Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
Santa Claus greets visitors at the entrance to Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel
Santa Claus, played by Issa Kassissieh, greets visitors at the entrance to Santa's House in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, on December 19, 2018.
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