Photo exhibition focuses on birth of state of Israel


Famous scenes and faces captured by a not-so-famous photographer depicting the birth of the State of Israel will be on display at the gallery at Congregation Neve Shalom and are already on display at the May Photography Gallery at Webster University.

One famous photograph — showing Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion doing a headstand on a Hertzilya beach — was sought by Time magazine for its millennium issue in 1999. The only problem was no one knew who had taken the photograph.


“In those days, photo-journalists were not ordinarily credited for their work,” said Rabbi James Stone Goodman of Neve Shalom.

David Rubinger, Time magazine’s Israel correspondent, was sent to track down the picture and eventually came up with the name Paul Goldman.

Goldman was born in Hungary in 1900 and settled in Palestine in 1940, where he photographed Israel in its formative years as a freelance photographer.

Susan Hacker Stang, professor and head of the photography program at Webster in the School of Communications, said Goldman was “the pre-eminent person showing up at everything happening in that decade, through the War of Independence, through the early years, through Operation Magic Carpet … all of this really important pre-history of Israel, plus the early years of the State of Israel.”

Rabbi James Stone Goodman said Goldman’s photos document “the immigrants, the first leaders, the rescue operations, all of it.”

Goldman did not receive credit for most of the photos he shot, however, and died in 1986, blind and poor and nearly forgotten.

Rubinger was, however, able to find Goldman’s wife and daughter living in Kfar Saba, and they showed him an archive of 40,000 negatives, carefully cataloged and stored in shoe-boxes, including the famous photo of Ben-Gurion on the beach.

“Take a look at the famous picture of Ben-Gurion that brought Goldman back into the world’s attention,” Goodman said. “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 a beach.”

Years after this collection was discovered, Rubinger was introduced to Spencer Partrich, a philanthropist with an interest in both Israel and photography who ended up buying the entire archive without even having seen what it included.

Today, the photos are being presented in what Stang calls “a world class show.”

There are 67 photographs on display at Webster, and 15 at Neve Shalom.

Goldman’s photography will be opening at the Neve Shalom Gallery on Sunday, Sept. 10, from 3 to 5 p.m. The May Gallery at Webster is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with Goldman’s work on display there until Sept. 22. There is no cost to view the photos at either gallery. For more information, visit or

Keren Douek is an assistant editor and can be reached at [email protected]