Monday, 18 March 2019

Daniel's Album

My Bar Mitzvah albums have become a tradition with this young man's family. I have made albums for his older brothers, Ro'i and Yonatan, and hope that I will also one day make them for his younger brothers as well (yes, that's five boys in the family!).
Daniel chose what he wanted on the cover of his album. He wanted to see himself playing the ukulele, with a bonfire in the background. Mum added that he always wears camouflage patterned short sleeve T-shirts. She liked the tefillin (phylacteries) that I had given his brothers, and wanted me to show Daniel wearing them as well (Jewish men start wearing tefillin just before their Bar Mitzvah).
So I showed spiky-haired Daniel playing the ukulele. There is a small campfire behind him. Daniel is wearing a camouflage T-shirt and he is wearing tefillin on his head, on his left arm, and the straps are hanging down over his shirt. (Tefillin consist of two leather boxes with parchment with biblical passages inside. The first one goes on your arm, the second on your head. A right-handed person, which Daniel is, places tefillin on the left arm).
The navy blue background box matched the colour scheme of the Bar Mitzvah celebration. Daniel's name appears in Hebrew in gold lettering at the top, the words Bar Mitzvah and the date of the Bar Mitzvah celebration are written below.
Black and white tallitim also appear in two corners of the album cover. The tallit is the large sheet-like fringed prayer shawl worn during the morning prayers. Tallit is an Aramaic word from the root tll / טלל meaning 'to cover over'. By wrapping yourself in the tallit, or by covering your head with it, it is believed that the intention and direction of your prayers can be enhanced.
The album opens the Hebrew way, from right to left, and on each page I once again added a black and white striped tallit. Then, on the first page I added a paper version of all the musical instruments Daniel plays - a piano, a guitar, a harmonica and a melodica. I won't let on how long it took me to create those teeny-tiny instruments! Next came his beloved camouflage hat and, yup, his camouflage tefillin carry case. A page dedicated to Daniel's favourite Avengers superheroes followed. Once again, the list was a long one. I included Spiderman, the Hulk, Superman, Captain America and Iron Man. The Avengers logo features prominently in the centre.
Daniel likes to cook with a wok. I created a little paper wok for another page of his album and added curly noodles, chopped vegetables and some chopsticks.
Finally, on the last page, I showed Daniel's sleeping bag and walking shoes that he takes with him on Sayarut, or "Green Horizons", as it is known in English. Sayarut offers hiking, navigation, camping and nature activities for youth aged 10-18 in Israel. The organization was founded in 1974 by friends of Uri Maimon, a passionate hiker and charismatic leader of youth projects who fell in the Yom Kippur War.
It seems that Daniel and his mum were both delighted with the album. "We are speechless!" she wrote to me. "It's everything we talked about! It looks just like him! You nailed it! We all LOVE it! Daniel loves it!"
I also made Daniel a card to congratulate him on his Bar Mitzvah. It shows a tallit prayer shawl, a kippa (skullcap) and a Sefer Torah (a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses: the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). I made sure to include the camouflage pattern that he is so fond of as well.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Skateboarding and DJing

The question "Where's there a good selection of birthday cards here?" recently popped up on my local Facebook group. Fortunately several of my local customers answered and I quickly received an order for a birthday card for a soon-to-be 13 year old.
The young man is into skateboarding, science, chemistry and maths, especially pi, his dad told me. I suggested adding a big 13 to the card as well.
Dad seemed very happy with the card when he came to collect it and assured me that he will be back for more in the near future.
Max was turning 15. His auntie asked me to make him a birthday card on the theme of DJing. I have shown a young man wearing headphones and spinning a disk. A big number 15 marks his age.
"Great card!" his auntie messaged me. 

Monday, 11 March 2019


I have been making birthday cards for Eden for a number of years. Some of you may remember this lovely story, when she called me at the tender age of 9 to thank me for making her a great card - and it wasn't even from me! Ten years on and she is now on the same mechina (pre-army programme) as my eldest son, so for this years birthday card I have shown her wearing the programme's white T-shirt with its circular logo made up of a Star of David and an olive branch. (The State of Israel chose the olive leaves around the Menorah as its emblem. The olive leaves symbolise peace, as this is the wish of our state. The olive also symbolises light, as the oil produced from the olive lightened the Menorah in the Temple.)
Eden is interested in cosmetics and special effects makeup, so I created some tiny eyeshadow palettes, a brush and lipsticks. Her boyfriend appears on the card too, and a big red number 19 marks her age.

Monday, 4 March 2019

David Rubinger

David Ben Gurion speaking at the opening of the Sde Boker Field School, 1960s.

David Rubinger was an Israeli photographer and photojournalist whose famous photo of three Israeli paratroopers after the recapture the Western Wall in the Six-Day War has become a defining image of the conflict. I recently enjoyed an exhibition of his work, "David Rubinger/I Captured the Truth, 1947-1997", at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. The exhibition captures 50 years of the veteran Israeli photographer's most iconic work, and also allows the visitor a glimpse of the past, to moments of hope and despair in the State of Israel.
Rubinger was born in Vienna, Austria in 1924. When he was in high school, Nazi Germany annexed Austria in the Anschluss and with the help of Youth Aliyah, he escaped to Mandatory Palestine via Italy, where he settled in a Jordan Valley kibbutz. His father had already fled to England, but his mother died in the Holocaust. In the Second World War he served with the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in North Africa and Europe. While on leave in Paris, a French girlfriend gave him an American-made Argus 35mm camera as a gift, and he discovered he enjoyed photography. He bought his next camera, a Leica, in 1946, in post-war Germany - paying for it, he said, with 200 cigarettes and a kilo of coffee. Rubinger's first professional photo was of Jewish youth climbing a British tank to celebrate the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, creating the Israeli state.
After the war, he visited his father in England and learned that he had other relatives in Germany. There, he met his cousin Anni and her mother, who had survived the Holocaust. He offered to marry her to secure her emigration to Palestine, but the marriage of convenience ended up lasting more than 50 years until her death. The couple had two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Upon his return to Israel, Rubinger opened a photography business in Jerusalem, but broke into photojournalism in 1951 when he was offered a job at the weekly news magazine HaOlam HaZeh. Two years later he joined the staff of the Hebrew-language daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, and later the The Jerusalem Post. His big break came in 1954 when he joined Time-Life as a stringer, and two years later was given his first major assignment for Life magazine when asked to cover Israel's campaign in the Sinai during the Suez crisis. As Time-Life's primary photographer for the region, Rubinger covered all of Israel's wars and was given unprecedented access to governmental leaders. He ended up working for them for more than 50 years.
He also served as the Knesset's official photographer for 30 years and was the only photographer granted the right to enter and take photos in the Knesset Members' private dining room.
Left. Lifesavers “Emil and Yoske”, 1952; Yosef Weisman and Amiel Avneri, Tel Aviv.
Right, June 7, 1967: Three paratroopers mere minutes after taking the Western Wall, Jerusalem, during the Six Day War.

Rubinger's signature photograph is of paratroopers at the Western Wall, shortly after its recapture by Israeli forces in the Six-Day War, above, right. Shot from a low angle, the faces of (left to right) Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat, and Haim Oshri are framed against the wall, gazing off into the distance. Prior to taking the photograph, Rubinger had been at el-Arish on the Sinai Peninsula when he heard a rumour that something big was going to happen in Jerusalem. He hopped aboard a helicopter ferrying wounded soldiers to Beersheba, then drove the rest of the way, at one point asking a hitchhiking soldier he had picked up to drive because he was too sleepy. He arrived in Jerusalem's Old City and, after a quick visit with his family, made his way to the wall. The space between the wall and the buildings in front of it was very narrow, so he lay down to get a shot of the wall itself, when the paratroopers walked by and he took several shots of them.
As part of his agreement with the Israeli Army allowing him front-line access, he turned the negatives over to the government, who distributed it to everyone for a mere 2 each. It was then widely pirated as well. Although Rubinger was upset about his work being stolen, the photo's widespread distribution made it famous.
Haim Bar-Lev, Ariel Sharon and Yeshayahu Gavish arriving in the Negev, 1967.

Football game between Israel and Wales, Ramat Gan stadium, 1959.

In Foreign Minister Golad Meir's kitchen at her home, 1956.

Rubinger was also known for his intimate portraits of Israel's leaders, some in tender moments with their spouses or in their homes. His memorable shots included a quiet moment between Marc Chagall and Golda Meir, during the unveiling of the artist's work in the Knesset; Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin sleeping in an aircraft at the end of the Six-Day War, Jordanian and Israeli soldiers shaking hands, and the dead hand of an Egyptian soldier rising reproachfully skywards out of a sand dune, his helmet beside him. He later revealed one trick of the trade: He always made sure to take a few extra photos of the leaders with their security guards in the frame, then sent the guards copies, ensuring good access the next time.
Paula and David Ben Gurion at their hut in Sde Boker, 1953.

In 1994 Rubinger was commissioned by Harper Collins to spend a day with the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, for a book, 'A Day in the Life of Israel'. A year later he would take the last photograph concerning him, of the bloodstained lyrics of Shir Lashalom, or Song of Peace, that Rabin had in his pocket on the night he was assassinated in Tel Aviv.
Rubinger was awarded the Israel Prize in communications for 1997, the first year it was awarded in that category. He continued to photograph, taking his camera everywhere. Even in old age he rarely put it down. In 2007 his memoir 'Israel Through My Lens: Sixty Years as a Photojournalist' was published. Finally, in 2009, at the age of 85, Rubinger retired from Time-Life.
Rubinger died on 2nd March 2017 at the age of 92. On 5th March, Yedioth Ahronoth published a 21-page special photographic supplement in colour of selected photographs spanning his career. Meticulous about recording and cataloguing his thousands of images, in 1999 Rubinger had sold his personal archive of 500,000 negatives to the leading Israeli newspaper where he had been briefly employed in the 1950s, for $750,000. Interestingly, thirty percent of the archives are only pictures of football, as Rubinger was the official photographer for Beitar Jerusalem.
An IDF soldier patrolling the main street of Ramallah, 1978.

Israel's Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat of Egypt meet after signing the peace treaty in Aswan, Egypt,1980.

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