Tag Archives: immigration

The photographer and the History of the country – Rudi Weissenstein

 

MYRIAM WEISSENSTEIN

MYRIAM 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.

 

RUDI ET MYRIAM WEISSENSTEIN

RUDI ET MYRIAM WEISSENSTEIN

 

The amazing Bialik street – Tel-aviv

Bialik street

Bialik street

Bialik Street is located in the heart of Tel Aviv. It begins on Allenby Street and ends with Bialik Square, where the first City Hall of Tel Aviv was situated.

This is probably one of the most beautiful streets of Tel Aviv. One must take the time to stroll and admire the abundance of beautiful homes and historic monuments, which are a delight to the eyes.

Most of the buildings were renovated in 2009 to celebrate the commemoration of the                                                            Centenary of the City of Tel Aviv.

The first Tel-aviv Town Hall

The first Tel-aviv Town Hall

Some of these houses are of great beauty with all architectural styles coming together,                                                     Ecclectic, International, Art Deco and Modernism.

Next to the old Town Hall there is the Felicia Blumental Music Center, dedicated to the pianist of the same name. The building, constructed by the notable Shenkar family, with its orange color also incorporates the Music Library of the city.

Haim Nahman Bialik House

Haim Nahman Bialik House

Bialik Street is named after Hayim Nahman Bialik, one of the greatest Hebrew language poets, who today is considered to be the National Poet of Israel.

Born in a religious family he studied in a yeshiva (Talmudic school). After that he moved to Odessa, a mythical city of cultural crossroads , where he met Ahad Ha’am, the spiritual Zionist, who became his friend.

He traveled to Palestine for the first time in 1909. In 1920 his friend Maxim Gorki helped him fleeing the Bolshevik dictatorship and Hayim Bialik left his native Russia.

As a very wealthy man with a great reputation,  he was much in demand by the local figures  and was promised that a street be dedicated to his name, where he would build his house in 1925.

Bialik Street has four museums:

The Bialik House, the Museum of the painter Reuben Rubin, the Bauhaus Museum (house of Shlomo Yafé), and, at the Bialik Square, the new Museum of the History of Tel Aviv – Jaffa, where once stood the Town Hall of Tel Aviv.

Six mayors of Tel Aviv held their functions there : Meir Dizengoff, David Bloch, Moshe Shlush (a few days), Yisrael Rokach, Haim Levanon and Mordechai Namir.

Bialik Street un 1930

Bialik Street un 1930

 

Cafe Sapphire in 1930

Cafe Sapphire in 1930

At the end of Bialik Street there is a cafe with an unusual history. It was called the Sapphire Café, Café Nightingale, Gan Rave and, for fifteen years Café Bialik.

Since its construction in 1930, it became an attraction for students and intellectuals living in the neighborhood. Hundreds of people would come to admire the fascinating new interior design style of the building. On Thursday evenings, the terrace was used as a dance floor.

During the second Intifada a Palestinian person committed a bomb attack on Cafe Bialik.  One man died and several were wounded. It was quickly reopened, but today it covers only a part of its original surface.

In October 2007, the owner of the building, Danielle Weiss, with the permission of the Mayor of Tel Aviv, wanted to destroy this historical building in order to build a high tower.

How ironic… at that specific time the city was making preparations to celebrate the 100th birthday of the White City….

A petition was then signed by the residents’ associations and friends of Tel Aviv . They succeeded in restraining the decision to tear the cafe down..

Additionally, another scandal  was going to be unveiled: the beautiful mosaic of Nahum Gutman, telling the history of Tel Aviv – Jaffa through time was exposed for many years in the square of the old Town Hall and had disappeared mysteriously!

This mosaic was removed during the renovations of Bialik Square and nobody knew where it was. However, it was found in a very dark and rubble place, ready to be forgotten… This scandal reveals once again that the past has little importance for some notables representing this city.

This piece of art was then installed in a new surrounding between Rothschild Boulevard and Neve tsedek,  at the foot of a tall tower so adored by the Mayor of Tel Aviv …

                       whose dream is…  that Tel Aviv will become a Second New York!

 

Nahum Gutman mosaic - Bialik Square

Nahum Gutman mosaic – Bialik Square