Tag Archives: Art

A very special visitor to the Holy Land – MARK TWAIN



Mark Twain is a pseudonym for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, born on November 30, 1835, into an American catholic family.

He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, a region famously known as the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. During his adolescence Mark Twain worked odd jobs, like a a printer’s apprentice, but he also contributed to the articles in the journal of his older brother, Orion Clemens. In addition, he worked as a miner, as well as a maritime pilot on the Mississippi River. Later he would joke about his lack of success in mining, eventually turning to journalism.

In June 1867 he joined a commission of journalists, which traveled with a group of passengers to Europe and the Holy Land on the steamer “Quaker City”. The purpose of this trip was to write an article for the magazine “Alta california” on “New Pilgrims and Tourism”, called “the Pleasure Trip to the Holy Land”.

In his book ”The journey of the Innocents”, Mark Twain talk about his traveling companions, whom he found difficult to sympathize with. They were too pious for his taste.

After Europe they arrived in the Middle East via Syria, Lebanon and, finally, to Palestine. Marc Twain was astonished at the small size of Lake Tiberias, being used to the huge American lakes. He continued to Nazareth, Mount Tabor and crossed Samaria. From Nablus he then left for the Jordan Valley in the middle od August at 40C!  He tells about the difficulty of finding a tree, a water point to cool off after hours of walking … that of the arid desert, an ultimate desolation.

At that time, the Bible was the sole resource to find and recognize the holy places, but these famous places seemed a lot less grand than he had anticipated!

Finally he saw he Jordan River, a river that can be crossed on foot! What a disappointment it was, compared with Missouri! He later would call the Jordan River “Mississipee!”

Upon arrival in Jerusalem however, he was very impressed by the walls ,examining them four hours. He found the Old City smelly, dirty, dilapidated and outdated. Another disappointment! He stayed at the “Mediterranean Hotel” in the Jewish Quarter of that time. This is the same building that Ariel Sharon would buy 150 years later in 1987. Since Sharon’s death the hotel has been transformed to a “yeshiva”, a Talmudic school.

Monks guided him through the old town, but Twain was upset by their lack of culture. At the Holy Sepulcher he saw Adam’s tomb. Finally, a member of his family and he is moved !!

Upon his return to the USA he was asked how this ‘journey of pleasure in the Holy Land’ had been. Since it had been far from a pleasent trip, the title did not suit anymore.

We should call the article:” A trip for the great burial of the Holy Land! “A country in mourning and cursed, which has lost all its grandeur, its beauty and has become a cursed land forgotten by God ”

The Israeli Prime Minister during a meeting with Barack Obama offered him Mark Twain’s book, telling him this is what the Jewish people had done in this cursed country …

Mark Twain met Theodore Herzl and wanted to perform the latter’s play ‘The New Ghetto’ on Broadway. Mark Twain believed that Jews should not return to Palestine because they could be more influential by staying in their respective countries.

He wrote his autobiography in 1910 and according to his request it was not to be published until 2010 on the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death.

His wit and satire, in prose and speech, earned praise from critics and his peers, he has been hailed as the “greatest comedian the United States has produced.”

Twain was born shortly after the appearance of Halley’s comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with” he died on April 21, 1910, one day after the comet approached Earth.

Le voyage des innocents (Petite bibliothèque payot) (French Edition): Twain, Mark: 9782228889506: Amazon.com: Books

The photographer and the History of the country – Rudi Weissenstein




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.





The painter JonOne in visit in Israel

JonOne ''Marianne'' at the Bourbon Palace

JonOne ”Marianne” at the Bourbon Palace

JonOne. a painter and graffiti artist,  is the guest of honor at the Gallery 32 Tel- Aviv, where a magnificent exhibition of his works is being presented.

I  am very happy to have guided him, his family and friends for a few days.

Andrew John Perello, was born in 1963 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York to parents from the Dominican Republic. As a Harlem street child his introduction to street art began at an early age. He became acquainted with tags and graffiti drawn on subway cars and on the walls of the city, ” The subway is a museum that runs through the town ” he said. At 17, he entered the world of graffiti with his childhood friend “White Man,” he is marking his name Jon with the number 156 on walls and trains in his neighborhood. He moved to Paris in 1987, this city  was a revelation to him, he said Paris was the nucleus of street art, he is still today inspired and fascinated by this beautiful city.

Renowned painter, he has recently executed for the ”Palais Bourbon” a painting of the famous  ‘Marianne’ in his own style. This painting will soon be printed on French Republic postage stamps.

JonOne A Beautiful Madness -about the artist  YouTube

The artist with one of his paintings

The artist with one of his paintings

Mount of Olives and view of the old city with Shanae, Christophe, Gemal, Jon and Mai

Mount of Olives and view of the old city with Shanae, Christophe, Gemal, Jon and Mai

Jon in front of the Dome of the Rock Jerusalem

Jon in front of the Dome of the Rock Jerusalem

Tel-Aviv’s ”Cafe Tamar” and the Lady with the blue hair

cafe tamar 2While passing in Sheinkin Street in Tel-Aviv yesterday, I could not resist to glimpse at the remain of what once was  ”Cafe TAMAR”,  the mystic cafe where so many writers, artists and journalists sat down and wrote their articles, books and even songs related to the place.

The cafe was closed at the end of June after having being managed  by Sarah Stern for 74 years, the Lady with the blue hair, who celebrated her 90th birthday this year.

The café opened in 1941, and in 1956 was taken over by Abraham and Sarah, after they had met in the British army in the Egyptian sands. After the death of Abraham in 1966 Sarah took over and managed the café in a mastering manner. The toasted bagels were unique and it became the favorite place for the Sheinkin-south Tel-Aviv’s boheme, which spent many hours sitting and discussing about politics, religions and last trend of the day.

Sheinkin Street, called the ”Boheme street” became this mystical, amazing and interesting street thanks to the combination of reporters from the nearby daily newspaper Davar and the many politicians who would conduct their business there together with the people from the world of culture and art who had made the café their ”Home”.

I felt very sad to see the door closed. Gazing through the window I could see all the furniture remaining inert, motionless like in a picture.



”Know Hope” Street Art

A conference of the Israeli artist “Know Hope – Truth and Method” in Tel Aviv last Friday.

In his new exhibition “Truth and Method”, he reveals his symbiotic relationship with the environment.

It also outlines the portraits of people he has tattooed himself texts / phrases and unlike these immutable walls undergo the interaction of everyday life and pass this concept to other perspectives.

“The process was extremely intimate, emotional and technical” he said !




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The Chagall Stained Glass windows at Ein Karem

Naftali-Marc Chagall

Naftali – Marc Chagall

The Synagogue of the Hadassah Medical Center Hebrew University in West Jerusalem was inaugurated on February 6th, 1962.

It contains the twelve magnificent stained glass windows, created by Marc Chagall.

Marc Chagall donated those windows to the Hadassah Hospital. The only thing he requested was compensation for the cost of materials, the labor specialist Simon Atelier of Reims and expenses relating to the artwork.

When it was decided to request Marc Chagall to paint the stained glass windows, a delegation travelled from Jerusalem to Paris to meet with the famous Jewish French artist. The great violinist Isaac Stern was aboard the same plane and joined the delegation in its cause.

Asher - Marc Chagall

Asher – Marc Chagall

Levy - Marc Chagall

Levy – Marc Chagall



During the two hours of this remarkable visit, Mrs. Chagall revealed that her husband had always hoped to be approached by the Jewish People one day. The answer of the delegation was:                                                     

 “This is the opportunity to work for posterity and create an unbreakable bond between you and the Jewish people.”    

During the last thirty years of his life, Chagall’s artworks were mainly inspired by the Bible.

Marc chagall photo

Marc Chagall

“I felt while working, that my father and my mother were watching over my shoulder and behind them millions of Jewish people”. 

It took Chagall two years to design, develop and execute the twelve stained glass windows for the Synagogue. They symbolize the twelve sons of Jacob, from whom the twelve tribes of Israel originate.                                                   

Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Gad

                                               Judah, Zebulon, Issachar, Naftali,

                                                                                                              Levy, Asher, Joseph, Benjamin

Naphali, Joseph, Benjamin - Marc Chagall

Naphali, Joseph, Benjamin – Marc Chagall

How can one not be carried away by these vibrant colors of red, green, yellow and blue, and the animals, flowers and trees? As required by Jewish tradition, there is no human figure but only biblical symbols like :

                                                  The Torah              Star of David                    The Menorah

                                          Hebrew letters          The Horn of ram      The Protective Hands

Judah, Zebulon, Issachar - Marc Chagall

Judah, Zebulon, Issachar – Marc Chagall