David Ben-Gurion standing on his head, Sharon Hotel beach, Herzelia, 1957
25 August - 22 September 2006
opening reception at Neve Shalom,
Sunday, 10 September, 3-5 pm
A joint exhibition with
the May Gallery at Webster University
opening reception at the May Gallery,
Sunday, 27 August, 3-5 pm
Congregation Neve Shalom is located at 1240 Dautel Lane, Creve Coeur MO 63146, in the Rainbow Village, synagogue and gallery hours 314-863-4366.
The May Gallery is located on the second floor, west wing, of the Sverdrup Building at 8300 Big Bend Boulevard, St. Louis MO 63119. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-9:00 pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5:00 pm.
Isn't it somehow timely, more than timely - synchronistic, some sort of mystical conflation of world events and artistic vision, to host at this time a gallery showing of an almost-lost record of the early story of Israel? Isn't it good to reconnect with the dream of the pioneering spirit that settled the land - Ben-Gurion and his generation, now that we are trying to present the visionary nature of the Israel dream of life in a clear way to the world?
It's a good time to connect the dots to our rootedness, the political, social, and spiritual realities of what birthed Israel, the strength, the beauty, and the terror of its earliest settlers. Don't we want to connect to that pure vision of how we saved our people -- now that we are trying to preserve our public face in the world, our seat in the council of nations, our rights to tell our story accurately? At least the right to tell our story our way? It is a very good time.
In our gallery at Neve Shalom, we didn't plan it this way, that is, we didn't plan to host a show of one of the earliest photo-journalists of the founding of Israel, a man who documented the immigrations, the first leaders, the rescue operations, all of it, we didn't intend to bring this story of early Israel to the public when we needed it most, but that is how it has turned out.
The storyteller is Paul Goldman, a photographer born in Hungary in 1900, who settled in Palestine in 1940, and from there documented the struggle for the state in its most formative years. Goldman worked as a freelance photographer for Israeli newspapers and international news services during the 1940s and 1950s. He died in 1986, penniless and almost forgotten, outside of Tel Aviv.
In those days, photo-journalists were not ordinarily credited for their work, other than "Associated Press" or "UPI." How Paul Goldman's work was rescued from the dustbin of history is almost as interesting as the work itself.
In 1999, Time magazine wanted the famous photograph of Ben-Gurion, in a bathing suit doing a headstand on a Hertzilya beach, for its millennium issue. Time dispatched its Israel correspondent, David Rubinger, to track this well-known picture. Rubinger had been taking photographs in Israel for nearly fifty years. He remembered the photograph well but couldn't remember who took it.
As he researched the picture, he found that many people remembered it as well. In an interview for the Forward, Rubinger recalled, "At the start of my career, one man was at the pinnacle of photo-journalism, and that man was Paul Goldman. No one was greater than him."
Rubinger recalled a Christmas Eve, mid-Fifties, when the borders between Jewish and Arab Jerusalem were opened. He had taken a photograph that night of an eight year old girl using a Rolleiflex camera herself photographing the Jordanian legionnaires visiting Jerusalem. Rubinger remembered her unusual name, Medina, daughter of the photo-journalist Paul Goldman. It occurred to him, perhaps it was Paul Goldman who took the famous picture of Ben-Gurion.
How did Rubinger remember Medina? Medina was born on the 29th of November, kaf tet November, 1947, the day the United Nations passed Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan to establish a Jewish state. The night of her birth, Goldman the photographer was not with his wife, he was with Ben-Gurion, soon to be the first Prime Minister. "What shall I name her?" Goldman asked Ben-Gurion. "How about Medina," suggested Ben-Gurion, and so she is Medina Goldman Ortsman; Medina -- Hebrew for "the state," not a common name.
Rubinger found Goldman's daughter, now in her 50s and living in Kfar Saba with her mother, Dina, Goldman's widow. In their kitchen, he found Goldman's archive, old shoeboxes with 40,000 negatives, catalogued carefully in Hungarian. Among the negatives, no. 4410, was the celebrated picture of Ben-Gurion doing a headstand on the beach.
Several years later, Rubinger was introduced to a collector of photo-journalism from Detroit, Spencer Partrich, who bought the entire archive sight unseen. Paul Goldman's work has been touring the world ever since. Most of the salvaged negatives, Goldman's work from 1943-61, are of never-before-published images shot with his chunky Speed Graphic news camera.
Take a look at the famous picture of Ben-Gurion that brought Goldman back into the world's attention. It's not a common picture of a head of state: A white-haired, bare-chested, 71-year-old man in a black bathing suit, 1957, doing a headstand on the beach. If you are wondering what Ben-Gurion was doing standing on his head at the beach, it's not a stunt. Ben-Gurion was a devotee of the Feldenkrais Method, a gentle form of body work designed to enhance human functioning.
These are the first pictures from the hidden shoeboxes of Paul Goldman's fine work. We hope you enjoy it.
Rabbi James Stone Goodman
Congregation Neve Shalom