Born in 1910 in Czechoslovakia, Shimon Rudolf, “Rudi” Weissenstein studied photography in Vienna. He immigrated to Palestine in 1934. Upon his arrival, he photographed the daily life of Jewish immigrants at that time, from which he accumulated a vast collection of more than a million negatives.
The most famous are most certainly those of the Declaration of Independence of Israel by David Ben Gurion in 1948. Until Rudi’s death in 1992, he and his wife Myriam, a dancer, ran a photography store in Tel-Aviv, where all his collections were exposed.
The Allenby Street store was familiar to me, the black and white photos of the window reflected a bygone past that Israelis don’t like to be forgotten. I was particularly fascinated by this one photo of a very vital lady, leaping happily in the air and being snapped up in flight by a photographer, her husband.
I was also very touched by this unusual couple, Myriam and her grandson Ben Peter Weissenstein, who appeared in a documentary by Tamar Tal, called “ Life in Still.” They talked about their fears and difficulties to survive, and about how they fought to preserve this heritage and their photography shop, which was in danger to disappear permanently. The Tel Aviv City Hall wanted to renovate their building and offered them to move into a new building, in Chernichovsky Street.
Myriam Weissenstein died in 2011 at age 98, a few months after the store moved to its current location after years of fighting to save Allenby’s store. Her grandson manages the archives and photos of the store which is currently closed due to covid19 but available on the store’s website.