Land of Israel: Cultural Life
The movement for the return to Zion which emerged as a force at the end of the 19th century was based on a variety of motivations, including the political – the demand for an independent homeland where the Jews could forge their own destiny without dependence on the goodwill of others; the religious – based on the traditional belief in God's promise of the Land of Israel to the people of Israel; and the sociological – which maintained that only in their own land could the Jews revert to a normal occupational structure. In addition, from the early days of the modern movement, stress was laid on the cultural aspect, the argument being that true Jewish creativity would emerge only when the Jew was resettled in his ancient homeland. The spokesman of Cultural Zionism was *Aḥad Ha-Am, and one of his classical statements on the subject was made at a conference of Russian Zionists held at Minsk in 1902. He stressed the need to establish a great academic institution in Ereẓ Israel, emphasized that the Hebrew language was essential in developing the new Jewish culture, and advocated "a concentration of genius and talent in the service of Jewish culture to restore the Jewish people to its rightful place in the comity of human culture." Aḥad Ha-Am spoke of "the spiritual center of our nation which is destined to arise in Palestine in response to the insistent urge of the national instinct," adding, "We dare not neglect to do what is necessary to make Palestine a permanent and freely developing center of our national culture, of our science and scholarship, our art and literature." He envisioned "the larger cultural enterprise on which we shall embark after the establishment of the center in Palestine, when the work of the returned wanderers will serve as the starting point for an advance into higher realms of achievement" (Aḥad Ha-Am, translated by Leon Simon (London, 1946), 97–100).
Until the 19th century, Jewish cultural creativity in the Diaspora had been expressed mainly within a religious framework. The bulk of the literature had been on religious subjects, art had been confined to ritual spheres, and musical expression was liturgical. There had been notable exceptions, in particular in periods of freer contacts with the non-Jewish world, but in general the universal aspects of Jewish cultural and artistic talents had been stunted or shunted into a narrow context. Natural development only became possible as a result of emancipation. This was spectacularly evident in the 19th century as Jews in Central and Western Europe moved into those expressions that had hitherto been denied them. Toward the end of the century, a similar, if proportionately more limited, trend became discernible also among eastern European Jewry. This new cultural revival was marked by a strong secular trend, and it was confined to the Ashkenazi sector – no parallel flowering was possible among Sephardi Jewry (except for the few in western lands) or in Oriental communities. It was the strong upsurge of intellectual and cultural creativity in European Jewry which Aḥad Ha-Am sought to attract and harness to the Jewish nationalistic expression within the Zionist movement. Although political Zionism was the dominant motivation in the various aliyot, the ideals of cultural Zionism became interwoven in the fabric of Zionist ideology. There were those whose prime reason for settling in Ereẓ Israel was the conscious desire to participate in a new Jewish creativity; but even those coming as the result of other ideals or impetuses subscribed to the cultural ideals.
The first generations of settlers consciously struggled with the interrelations of the different components which they felt would be required for an Israeli culture. On the one hand, it would have to be solidly based within Jewish traditions and the Hebrew language; on the other, it would have to relate to a universal context. In the early decades of settlement, and especially in the first flush of nationalist sentiment, the particularist tendencies were dominant. A marked continuity with the eastern European Jewish tradition was perpetuated in all forms of cultural expression. But in the course of time, more stress was laid on universalism and less on introspection. The first generation was firmly based on its European roots; the second generation was rooted in its experiences in Ereẓ Israel, especially those connected with aliyah and the kibbutz movement; the third generation, emerging around the time of the 1948 War of Independence, was dominated by the sabra with his newly found self-confidence; the fourth generation (or the second sabra generation, coming of age around the time of the Six-Day War) was universalistic and outward looking, seeing Israeli culture as one expression of contemporary world culture; the fifth generation is totally attuned to western popular culture and in effect not different from its counterpart in Europe and America.
Against this background, Israeli culture has assimilated a kaleidoscope of varied elements. Jewish traditions, religious and historical, and the Hebrew language constitute the firm foundations – sometimes only subconsciously – of the cultural patterns that have emerged. A colorful originality has been imparted by the diversity of the Jewish elements. Jews arriving from communities in all parts of the world have brought with them both cultural expressions that developed within their own framework and aspects of the majority culture which they had absorbed over the centuries. The intermingling of the Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Oriental traditions has provided an immense opportunity. This has, moreover, been reflected by the physical location of this new creativity – in a Middle East setting at the meeting point of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The uniqueness of this situation and location prompted the consideration that this was a place where East meets West – to some extent geographically and to a large extent through the composition of population. As a consequence, considerable cultural and artistic activity has been devoted to an attempt to weld Oriental and occidental elements in an endeavor to achieve original concepts. Much of Israel's artistic expression has been characterized, therefore, by this east-west synthesis. However, one element that has as yet made little penetration is that of the Arab world. Especially since the establishment of the State of Israel, cultural developments in Arab countries have been largely sealed off from the Israelis, while achievements among Israel Arabs have been on a limited scale (see Arabic Literature, in Israel, State of: *Arab Population) and have had virtually no influence on the mainstream of Israel culture.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, Israel's culture has developed significantly. From small and sometimes artificial beginnings, achievements have been registered in most spheres, justifying the vision of Aḥad Ha-Am. This has been attested to by international recognition (e.g., the award of the Nobel Prize for literature to S.Y. *Agnon, international prizes for art and music, acclaim for Israel actors and actresses) as well as by the crystallization of distinctive expressions that are especially meaningful both for Israelis and for Jews in other countries.
The determination to revive Hebrew as a spoken language was intimately associated with the nationalist revival toward the end of the 19th century. The phenomenon was paralleled in other countries (e.g., Ireland), and the speaking of Hebrew became part of Zionist ideology. Although not spoken as an everyday tongue for some 17 centuries, Hebrew had remained a language of literature and of prayer, never forgotten and always cherished. The tradition of writing in Hebrew was maintained, even though the results were frequently clumsy and artificial. Already in the middle of the 19th century, Hebrew was being spoken in Jerusalem, where it provided a link between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews who had no other language in common. As early as 1855, a meeting of Jewish notables, convened in Jerusalem to discuss the foundation of the first secular school (the Laemel School), held its deliberations in Hebrew.
The tendency, however, was sporadic and ill-defined until the arrival in Jerusalem of Eliezer *Ben-Yehuda in 1881. He had launched his single-minded campaign for the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language while he was still in Europe. In 1879 he had suggested the foundation of a Jewish State with Hebrew as its language and in 1880 published a withering attack on the prevalence of foreign languages and influences in Palestine. At that time the Laemmel School, under Austrian influence, included German in its curriculum, while *Mikveh Israel and other institutions founded by the *Alliance Israélite Universelle fostered knowledge of French and admiration for French culture.
Ben-Yehuda found support in Jerusalem, especially among Sephardi circles, and conducted a campaign for teaching in Hebrew. At first this was greeted for the most part with a reaction of scorn and disbelief. Even scholars who supported the general concept of a Hebrew revival, such as Aḥad Ha-Am and Yehudah Grasovski (*Goor), were not prepared to follow Ben-Yehuda to the extent of using Hebrew as the language for general instruction in the schools. But Ben-Yehuda was adamant, writing: "If we want our people to survive, if we want our children to remain Hebrews, we must train them in the Hebrew language… We must make our sons and daughters forget the corrupt foreign dialects which tear us to shreds." To prove his point, in 1883 Ben-Yehuda accepted a teaching position in a girls' school run by the Alliance in Jerusalem. Although he had to give it up after a few months, he succeeded in that time in introducing the Ivrit be-Ivrit ("Hebrew in Hebrew") teaching method. The possibilities of the method were realized by the pedagogical authorities. Apart from the ideological aspect, it had a practical side, in that there were not enough Sephardi pupils to fill the schools and there was a desire to attract Ashkenazi students as well. Ashkenazim, however, would not attend schools where the language of instruction was Ladino or Arabic. Hebrew provided a common tongue through which Jewish children from any origin could be instructed. Ben-Yehuda won over to his point of view a number of influential personalities, notably David *Yellin and Joseph Meyouhas, and they rapidly succeeded in further spreading the use of Hebrew in schools. By 1888, all subjects were being taught in Hebrew at the school in Rishon le-Zion, which was also the site of the first Hebrew-speaking kindergarten (1898). A meeting of Jewish teachers in Jerusalem in 1892 passed a resolution advocating the exclusive use of Hebrew in schools. When the first high schools were opened – in Jaffa in 1906 and in Jerusalem in 1908 – their language of instruction was Hebrew.
Ben-Yehuda was not satisfied with the growth of Hebrew in the schools alone. He also wanted it to be the general language of conversation among adults. In 1883, together with Jehiel Michael *Pines, he organized a secret society called Teḥiyyat Israel ("The Revival of Israel") whose members swore to speak with one another solely in Hebrew "even in marketplaces and streets, without being ashamed." The following year, he founded the Safah Berurah ("Pure Language") society to disseminate the Hebrew language and its conversational usage. Ben-Yehuda was also disturbed by the fact that his various efforts were only reaching male members of the community. He wanted girls and women to learn Hebrew, so that it would be the language they would talk to their children. His advocacy led to the establishment in Safed of the first girls' Hebrew school in 1891.
The path of the Hebraists was far from smooth, and they met with determined opposition from various quarters. The Orthodox elements in Jerusalem were openly hostile and imposed a ḥerem. The officials of Baron Edmond de *Rothschild, who were the products of French culture, feared that the spread of Hebrew would endanger their own influence in the country and objected to changes in the language of instruction in French-speaking schools. Stalwarts of Yiddish and Ladino were apprehensive that the development of Hebrew would lead to the neglect of their languages (as eventually was the result). Moreover, there were objective reasons. The language still lacked the requisite elasticity for instruction. There were no textbooks or reading books in Hebrew. In order to establish recognized standards and bring order into the diversity that had been unleashed, Ben Yehuda organized the Va'ad ha-Lashon ("Language Committee") in Jerusalem (1890). Its task was to determine new usages. But after a year this committee, as well as the Safah Berurah society, went out of existence as a result of internal dissensions. In 1904 it was reorganized under the auspices of the *Teachers' Association. The Committee now consisted of leading philologists and teachers, and their mandate included decisions on the coinage of new terms, the determination of orthography, the preparation of specialized dictionaries, and the standardization of pronunciation. On the last point, the Committee decided that the Sephardi pronunciation should be standard, as this bore the closest resemblance to Hebrew speech in ancient times. School principals and teachers were informed of this decision in 1907.
Ben-Yehuda also started work on his monumental Hebrew dictionary, five volumes of which appeared in his lifetime (the entire 17-volume dictionary eventually extended over 8,000 pages). It covered all subjects comprehensively and was a basic reference work for the developing language. Further pioneer dictionaries in many specialized spheres were issued by the Va'ad ha-Lashon.
Recognition of Hebrew in Ereẓ Israel was not attained without a bitter struggle, known as the Language Conflict, to replace German by Hebrew in the schools of the *Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden and the newly established *Technion (see Israel, State of: *Education, 1880–1914). By the end of World War i, the Language Conflict had receded far into the distance, and the position of Hebrew throughout the country was unchallenged. Already in 1916–18, a census showed that 40% of the Palestinian Jews outside Jerusalem were Hebrew-speaking. The proportion among children was 54%, and in Tel Aviv and in the villages it was 77%.
The Palestine Mandate of 1922 gave Hebrew official recognition as one of the three languages of the country (alongside English and Arabic). It was henceforward used in the administration, on coins, stamps, and so on. Within the Jewish community the use of Hebrew was stressed as a patriotic activity. A youth organization, the Gedud Meginnei ha-Safah ("Language Protection Legion"), was founded in Tel Aviv in 1923 to combat the speaking of languages other than Hebrew (it remained in existence until the late 1930s). By 1948, 80% of the Jewish population spoke Hebrew, and for 54% of them it was their sole language of communication.
Hebrew became the official language of the State of Israel on its establishment in 1948. The mass immigration of the ensuing years posed difficult problems which were met by original approaches. Outstanding among these was the institution of the *ulpan, the intensive Hebrew courses for newcomers to the country which were introduced in various forms. The proportion of Hebrew speakers inevitably dropped somewhat (in 1954 only 53% of the adult population spoke Hebrew), but the figures rose steadily as the newcomers learned the language, and especially as all the children were Hebrew speakers. In 1953 the Ministry of Education established a Hanḥalat ha-Lashon ("Language Transmitting") department to work among new immigrants. Special techniques were devised for acquiring the language quickly, including a fundamental vocabulary of 1,000 words that served as the basis for special books, daily newspapers, and radio broadcasts.
In 1954, by act of the Knesset, the Va'ad ha-Lashon became the *Academy of the Hebrew Language, established to determine correct and grammatical Hebrew usages. The Academy works through various committees, each specializing in a particular field, and it has fixed tens of thousands of technical terms. The procedure for determining new words takes two to three years, during which time the various philological possibilities are carefully studied. Sometimes the Academy is overtaken by events, and by the time it has made its decision, the public is using another word which cannot be rooted out. But this is further evidence that Hebrew has become a living language used for everything from football to atomic physics.
Until the early part of the 20th century, only a few individuals of small significance were writing in Ereẓ Israel. The foundations of modern Israeli writing were laid by a group of literary pioneers from the Second Aliyah including S.Y. Agnon, Moshe *Smilansky, Joseph Ḥayyim *Brenner, David *Shimoni, and Jacob *Fichmann. Until World War i, Hebrew literature was centered in Eastern Europe. After the war and the Russian Revolution, many Hebrew writers found their way to Palestine, so that at the time Palestinian writing was essentially a continuation of the European tradition. In 1921, 70 writers from various parts of the country met in Tel Aviv and founded the Hebrew *Writers' Association, with the declared objective of working together to protect and promote Hebrew literature and spiritual interests. About this time the first literary periodicals made their appearance – Ha-Adamah, edited by Brenner, and Ma'barot, edited by Fichmann. The 1920s and 1930s witnessed the emergence of Palestine as the dominant center of Hebrew literary activity. In Palestine there was a Hebrew press, Hebrew publishers, and a Hebrew-reading public. Moreover, even when Hebrew writers had lived outside the country, the return to Zion had been one of their basic themes, and, now that they had the opportunity, many of them went to settle in Palestine. The great figures of the early part of the century – *Bialik, Aḥad Ha-Am, *Tchernichowsky – all spent their last years in Tel Aviv, and although this was not the period of their greatest creativity, they exerted a great influence on younger Hebrew writers.
The first generation of writers in the country was European-born and very much European-influenced. Although some of their writings related to the situation in Palestine, their main concern was still with the world they had left. Authors such as Y.D. *Berkowitz, Devorah *Baron, and Asher *Barash continued to write about Eastern Europe. The major writers of this school, S.Y. Agnon and Ḥayyim *Ḥazaz, were deeply rooted in their European background and served as links between the classical writers of the early decades of the Hebrew revival and the Hebrew writers in Israel during the following generations.
For the next generation of writers the center of focus was the Land of Israel, even when they were writing about other parts of the world. Their framework was the period of aliyah and, very often, life in the kibbutz. Their attitude to their new land (most of them were born elsewhere) was sometimes one of disappointment, but this generally led to a deeper understanding of the values of the new civilization in which they were participating. Among the outstanding names are Uri Zvi *Greenberg and Avraham *Shlonsky, who found in the Land of Israel the requisite antidote to the rootlessness of the Diaspora. The third generation of writers emerged around the time of the War of Independence (1948). Its key figures (e.g., S. *Yizhar, Moshe *Shamir) were all sabras or had been brought to the country at an early age. This was no longer a "desert generation," but young men for whom Israel was an established fact – to be criticized and fought for, like any other country. The eastern European symbols and even the renewed challenge of immigration played only secondary roles. Strong influences now came in from other literatures, especially western. A fringe group called the "Canaanites" even sought to deny the connection between Israelis and Jews elsewhere. The 1948 war was their great moment, and for a time they coasted on its backwash. But this was replaced by a feeling of emptiness and of searching for new values, leading to experiments in exploring other Jewish communities in Israel or the Jewish past. The subsequent generation – the second sabra generation (of the 1960s) – endeavored to place Israeli culture within a world context and stressed not so much the unique and particularistic aspects of Jewish life and Israel as the universal. This school of writers often identified with the "protest" literature of other countries. Of the writers who began publishing in the 1960s, Amos *Oz and A.B *Yehoshua have emerged as giants, fully engaged in political issues, in addition to producing their highly acclaimed works of fiction. The following generation, writers who were born in the 1960s and 1970s and made their debut in the 1980s and 1990s, examined the basic questions of Jewish-Israeli existence by exposing the collective tensions in individual characters and fates. Among the major concerns repeatedly treated are: the makings of Israeli identity and its relation to Jewish roots and Diaspora experience; the legitimacy and validity of the Zionist vision and the discrepancy between the initial Zionist project and its implementation; the recurrence of war and acts of terror and the inability to solve the over 100-year-old Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict in non-violent ways; the changes in the system of political, social and moral values and in the mentality of the Israelis; the long shadows of the Holocaust, the inner world of the survivors, as well as the duty and need to remember; problems of absorption, socio-ethnic difference and discrimination; and last but not least, gender issues, primarily the status of women in Jewish/Israeli life and culture and homoerotic proclivities. Grappling with these issues, writers turned to various genres and narrative modes such as the historical novel, the family saga, realistic allegories, expressionist and surrealist narratives or, more recently, to postmodernist narrative.
Apart from Hebrew writers, there is considerable creative productivity in Israel in other languages, notably in Yiddish. Before World War ii, Warsaw, Moscow, and New York were the main centers of Yiddish activity. In Palestine there was still a certain hostility to the language, which, it was felt, constituted a challenge to the Hebrew revival, and little creativity was recorded. However, with World War ii the whole picture changed. The European centers were liquidated by Hitler and Stalin and the New York center declined. Immigration brought many of the leading Yiddish writers to Israel and the internal attitude relaxed and became friendly, in view of the Holocaust in Europe, on the one hand, and the secure position attained by Hebrew, on the other. Yiddish writing in Israel can be marked by generations, similar to those in Hebrew literature. The first consisted of the old guard, such as David *Pinski and Sholem *Asch, who passed their last years in Israel. The second generation, led by Avraham *Sutzkever, started its career in eastern Europe but continued in Israel, writing about life in the new country. The third generation was centered on "Young Israel," a modernist group of poets and prose writers, most of whom are kibbutz members, whose work has been greatly influenced by the avant-garde schools of English and French writing.
Subjects on which Yiddish writing in Israel has been outstanding are the European Holocaust (the leading writer on this is K. *Zetnick), and life among new immigrants, both of which have been experienced by many of the Yiddish writers at first hand. Yiddish authors were organized in a Yiddish authors' association with more than 120 members (see *Yiddish Literature).
The number of libraries in Israel has been estimated at 700, and the proportion of library books per capita is among the highest in the world. But these facts are misleading, as most of the libraries are professional, and there is a general lag in public libraries. However, municipal attention has been directed to this problem and the gaps are being filled.
The country's major library, both in size and in the scope of its activities, is the *Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. The nucleus of this collection was formed in 1892 when the city's B'nai B'rith lodge decided to start a library. In 1895 the Zionist and physician Joseph *Chasanowich decided to transfer his collection of 8,800 books from Bialystok to Jerusalem and donated them to this library. By 1899 there were 15,000 books in this collection and by 1910, 32,000 (of which 10,000 were in Hebrew). In 1920 the library passed into the possession of the World Zionist Organization, and with the opening of The Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in 1925, it was finally housed as the Jewish National and University Library. Between 1948 and 1967 it was cut off from Jewish Jerusalem, where a new library was established. In 1967 the number of books reached 1,500,000. By 2005 it housed around 5 million items.
The other institutes of higher learning have also built up significant libraries. Among other large ones are the central Tel Aviv library, Sha'arei Zion (130,000 volumes), the Schocken Library in Jerusalem (55,000 volumes) specializing in medieval Hebrew poetry and early printings, the Pevsner Library in Haifa (40,000 volumes), the library of Rabbi Yehudah Leib Maimon in Jerusalem (40,000 volumes), and the library of the Central Zionist Archives in the Jewish Agency, Jerusalem (35,000 volumes; see *Libraries).
The first theater production in Palestine was an amateur company's performance of Abraham *Goldfaden's Shulamit in Jaffa in 1894. Eleven years later a dramatic society was founded, also in Jaffa, in which teachers and writers as well as actors participated. Its initial productions were in Yiddish, but Karl *Gutzkow's Uriel Acosta was performed in Hebrew.
In 1907 Menahem *Gnessin founded a group called "Lovers of the Dramatic Art" in order to promote the Hebrew theater. They were motivated by the desire to foster theater for the sake of the drama, the language, and as an instrument of general culture. Performances were given in Jaffa and Jerusalem (the latter despite the opposition of religious circles) and were received with widespread interest and enthusiasm by the new Jewish settlement.
Dramatic activities were interrupted by World War i but soon after its conclusion were resumed. The first professional group, the Te'atron Ivri ("Hebrew Theater"), was founded in 1921 by David Davidov (d. 1976) (who had been an actor in eastern Europe before settling in Palestine). The group was a cooperative and every two weeks put on a new production, deriving its repertory from European and Yiddish classics. Despite a variety of difficulties, it continued to perform until 1927. Meanwhile, Menahem Gnessin had established a Hebrew company in Europe and, in 1925, brought this group (Te'atron Ereẓ Yisre'eli – "The Ereẓ Israel Theater") to Tel Aviv. About this time the first satirical theater company, Ha-Kumkum ("The Kettle"), began to perform successfully in Tel Aviv. Even more successful in this genre was Ha-Matate ("The Broom"), which opened in 1928 and continued to perform until 1954.
The *Ohel theater, which began to perform publicly in 1926, grew out of an actors' studio founded the previous year by Moshe *Halevy. Under the auspices of the Histadrut's cultural committee, it was originally a volunteer group whose objectives were the theatrical expression of the ideals of the Jewish workers' movement as well as the creation of an original Hebrew drama. Its repertoire was based on plays of specific Jewish and socialist interest. It ran into increasing financial difficulties, was disaffiliated by the Histadrut in 1958, and eventually disbanded in 1969.
In 1928 the *Habimah group opened in Palestine. This theater had been founded in Moscow in 1917 and had achieved an international reputation. The company had left Russia in 1926 and toured Europe and America until most of the actors decided to go to Tel Aviv (a small group remained in the U.S.). In 1932 they decided to make their permanent home in Palestine, with the declared objective of acting as a cultural bridge between the Jews of Palestine and the Jews of the Diaspora.
The intensive activities in the theater were accompanied by pioneer attempts at writing original Hebrew plays. These often went back to Jewish history for their content, but some of them dealt with the new life in Palestine. Not many of these were successful, and it took some time before the Hebrew drama developed out of its experimental period.
The third major company, the *Cameri Theater (Ha-Te'atron ha-Kameri), was founded in 1944 by a group of actors led by Joseph *Millo. Their aim was to establish a theater in the European tradition, which they felt was lacking in the country. They were critical of Habimah's stylized and dated performances, inspired by the methods taught by Stanislavsky and Vakhtangov some 30 years previously in Russia, and they were out of sympathy with the doctrinaire tendencies of the Ohel repertory. After early experiments with one-act plays and as a children's theater, the company commenced its career as a full-fledged theater in 1945. Its principles included the promotion of a contemporary international repertoire, together with the encouragement of promising Israeli talent. The Chamber Theater pioneered in presenting not only classics but also commercial successes from the Western capitals. Its breakaway from the eastern European influences that had hitherto dominated the Hebrew stage also had its influence on the other companies, and before long the Habimah theater revised its repertoire, adding popular "hits" and plays reflecting local life to its standard classic repertoire. In 1958, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, Habimah was officially recognized as the Israel National Theater. Both the Habimah and Cameri companies appeared abroad on a number of occasions and received international acclaim.
Another company that later made its mark was the *Haifa Municipal Theater, established under the direction of Joseph Millo. Apart from the major companies, Israel's theatrical life was marked by a plethora of smaller groups. Although generally of limited existence, these have played a role both in developing younger talent and in bringing experimental and avant-garde plays to the Israel public. A trend starting in the early 1960s was the success of the big musical play. This was pioneered by producer Giora *Godik with his productions of Gevirti ha-Navah (My Fair Lady) and Kannar al ha-Gag (Fiddler on the Roof), as a result of which original Israel musicals have been successfully presented by Godik and by the major companies (notably adaptations of Yigal *Mossinsohn's Casablan and Sammy *Gronemann's Shelomo ha-Melekh ve-Shalmai ha-Sandelar ("King Solomon and the Cobbler").
Another popular form of entertainment was the small troupe, presenting songs and sketches. These were initially influenced by army ensembles (the Chizbatron during the 1948 war, the *Nahal group, and those of the various commands). Former members of these groups formed the Baẓal Yarok ("Green Onion") group and its many successor ensembles, composed mainly of the same popular performers in varying combinations. There were scores of amateur theatrical groups throughout the country, many of them on kibbutzim. In addition there were companies performing in several languages other than Hebrew, although generally not of a high standard. The Yiddish theater also proved a disappointment from the artistic aspect. Although up to seven groups have been active at one time, the concentration was on the cheaper manifestations of the Yiddish theater, dominated by operettas and melodramas. The groups were largely made up of newcomers to the country, and their appeal was directed to recent arrivals. No original Yiddish play of merit has appeared in Israel, and for outstanding theatrical experiences in the language Israelis had to rely – apart from the numerous shows put on by Shimon Dzigan – on visiting companies such as those of Ida *Kaminska and Joseph *Buloff.
The Hebrew drama has, however, shown considerable development since the War of Independence. This brought many of the young authors to playwriting and the successes of that time, such as Yigal Mossinsohn's Be-Arvot ha-Negev ("In the Steppes of the Negev") and Nathan *Shaḥam's Hem Yaggi'u Maḥar ("They'll Be Here Tomorrow"), although inferior as plays, stimulated native drama. Many original plays have been written since that time, generally deriving from contemporary Israel life or from Jewish history.
The turning point in the Hebrew drama's attitude to society was the euphoric mentality that overtook Israel after the sweeping victory in the Six-Day War (1967). This was followed by a period of collective self-reckoning, soul searching, and myth shattering in the wake of the humiliating surprise of the Yom-Kippur War (1973). Whereas Israeli drama before 1967 was basically positive toward the ideal of the "New Jew," post-1967 protest plays adopted an asocial, agnostic, and deconstructive position, in order to warn society against the dangers of a militarist power-cult and the moral deterioration inextricably connected with the occupation of Palestinian-inhabited areas and the subordination of human values to the imperative of territorial expansion. In fact, one may argue that from 1967 to Rabin's murder in 1995 the core of Hebrew drama was politically mobilized, rhetorically militant, and ideologically leftist.
Yehoshua Sobol presented Ghetto (1984), which depicted everyday life in the Vilna ghetto in World War ii before the uprising there. This presented the Judenrat (Council of Jewish Elders) of the ghetto not as villains, but as sober men who were forced to face an impossible situation and to decide who has to die in order to save the lives of others. Understandably, the play was followed by a public discussion, and Sobol was praised by some, but vilified by others as a blasphemer, who was tarnishing the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.
The next Sobol play touched an even more sensitive nerve. In The Palestinian (1985) he retold the Romeo and Juliet story in the Israeli context of an ultra-rightist activist, a follower of Meir Kahane, falling in love with a Palestinian girl.
Other Israeli theaters continued to present the public with a wide choice of repertoire, of classical, modern and commercial plays, but the repertoire of the Haifa Theater set the tone and helped characterize the Israeli theater as intensely political. Even classical plays presented in these years acquired a local, political meaning. The Trojan Women by Euripides was presented at the Habimah Theater in 1982 (directed by Holk Freitag) as if it were happening in a refugee camp somewhere in Lebanon. Moliére's Tartuffe was presented by the Haifa Theater (adapted by Sobol, directed by Besser, 1985) as an attack on the Jewish clerical establishment; Beckett's Waiting for Godot was presented at the Haifa Theater in Arabic (1984, translated by Anton Shamas, directed by Ilan Ronen) as happening on an abandoned building site, with Gogo and Didi as Palestinian construction workers speaking in Arabic, and Pozzo as their Israeli employer who addressed them in Hebrew.
Theater thus became a public forum for discussing political issues, and politicians who preferred to see it as an art-form and entertainment intensified their attacks. The culmination of these conflicting points of view came in 1988, when a new Sobol-Besser production was presented by the Haifa Theater within the framework of "Israeli Play Celebration" for Israel's 40th anniversary. Jerusalem Syndrome concerned a group of inmates of an insane asylum enacting the conflicts that preceded the destruction of the Temple, but the stage images reminded the public of scenes from the Intifada (the Palestinian uprising which erupted at the end of 1987). The play got a very mixed reception from the critics, and political activists demonstrated in front of the theater and interrupted the performances with shouts, whistles, and stink-bombs. Sobol and Besser, at that time the artistic directors of the Haifa Theater, resigned from their posts.
In the same month, January 1988, the Cameri Theater of Tel Aviv presented its very professional, impressive, and successful production of the musical Les Misérables with an all-star cast, most of them signed especially for this production, and not company actors. This production marked a shift of gears, and the theater in the following years became more of a place of entertainment than a public forum for discussion of ideas. Other theaters followed the Cameri's example: Habimah presented Cabaret and Salah Shabati (a musical written by Ephraim Kishon), both of which demanded a huge investment, pleased the audiences (not the critics), but created a huge deficit in the theater's budget.
The end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s were difficult years for the Israeli theater. Artistic and managing directors changed posts, marketing wars intensified, deficits soared, and it seemed that the creativity of Israeli playwrights and directors waned. Some of them turned to writing personal stories, some turned to careers abroad. Others continued to portray actual events on stage, but those plays did not create a public debate; they became part of a cultural entertainment, using yesterday's newspaper as a basic material for drama. Plays like Gorodish (by Hillel Mittelpunkt, telling a story of a Six-Day War hero who became a symbol of the 1973 war disaster) or Pollard (by Motti Lerner, about the American Jew who spied for Israel and was convicted in the U.S.), both of them at the Cameri Theater, became huge commercial hits. But plays rarely – if ever – became a subject for journalistic coverage outside the arts pages.
Another interesting development in the Israeli theater has been its absorption of immigrants from the former U.S.S.R., both as actors and as audiences. Some actors learned Hebrew and found work within the existing companies. Others created a theater of their own, Gesher (meaning "bridge"), and started performing in Russian, counting on a Russian-speaking audience. However, they used simultaneous translation into Hebrew and impressed the Hebrew-speaking public (and the critics) by the commitment of their theatrical work. After their first production in Russian (Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, directed by Yevgeni Arie), they switched into Hebrew and presented The Idiot by Dostoyevsky in Hebrew, and continued to impress the audiences with their company spirit and sense of purpose, which has been absent to a certain measure in other Israeli theater companies.
The second substantial reversal in Israeli drama took place in the 1990s and characterizes plays written and performed at the beginning of the third millennium. The interconnected historical and theatrical developments (from the Oslo Peace Accord to Rabin's murder and the second Intifada) produce a complete renunciation of communal ideals, along with their formal objective correlatives.
The idealistic, committed, and selfless Hebrew plays of the early settlement period in Ereẓ Israel have thus reached the extreme opposite pole, as has indeed the entire Zionist ideology which generated them. However, both drama and theater are still engaged in the same quest for social identity.
[Michael Handelsaltz and
Gad Kaynar (2nd ed.)]
From the early 1900s the Yishuv in Palestine concerned itself with the organization of its musical life, by establishing schools and performing institutions whose aim was to preserve the rich tradition of European classical music and to create new Israeli classical and folk music, all in providing opportunities for the musicians to practice their art. Their model was essentially European and continued to be developed in the period of statehood. The performing bodies, especially orchestras, which have been central in this respect, required, to maintain themselves, the development of music education, research, and publishing outlets. All these needs were addressed in the period of statehood through official sponsorship and encouragement. Furthermore, the waves of immigration, especially the Fifth Aliyah of the 1930s and the later influx of immigrants from the U.S., Europe, and especially the former U.S.S.R., considerably affected the musical life of Israel and increased the number of performing bodies in the country.
As early as 1895, a community orchestra was founded in the settlement of Rishon le-Zion, which was a well-organized amateur wind band with a paid conductor. Other settlements followed the model, such as Petaḥ Tikvah and the Jewish community of Jaffa. Orchestral playing got under way seriously in 1927 with the foundation of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra under Fordhaus Ben-Zissi. There was intensive musical activity throughout the country and artists of international renown gave guest recitals. One of them was the violinist Bronislaw *Huberman, who became the guiding spirit in the establishment in 1936 of the Palestine Orchestra (later the *Israel Philharmonic Orchestra), initially composed of refugees from Nazi Germany. The orchestra gave its first concert in 1936 under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. It immediately became one of the pivots of musical life in the country and acquired an international reputation. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, with its leader Zubin *Mehta, continued to provide its subscribers with programs, and to make regular concert tours abroad and produce records which help spread its reputation throughout the world.
Another important development took place in 1936, the creation of the Palestine Broadcasting Service by the British mandate authorities (later Kol Israel and then Shiddurei Israel). The composer Karel *Salomon took charge of its musical programs, which included Western classical music, folk and art Jewish music, and special programs of Hebrew Oriental songs led by composer and 'ud player Ezra *Aharon. Seven musicians were at the service of the musical programs; in time they became the core for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra founded in 1950, which was expanded in 1976. Among its conductors and music directors were G. *Singer, H. Freudental, Lukas *Foss, Mendi *Rodan, G. *Bertini, David *Shalon, and Leon *Botstein. In 1948 the idf army orchestra was built to play light classical music and occasional music at official events. At the same time the army established a youth orchestra (Tizmoret ha-Gadna), which played symphonic music.
The Haifa Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1949. It also has regular series throughout the year. In 2004 the new Haifa Symphony orchestra was established on the initiative of the mayor and enjoys the support of the municipality. It has now as director Noam *Sheriff. The orchestra provides regular annual series of concerts in Haifa and the environment. In 1970 the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra was established, growing out of the Kibbutz Orchestra; its musical director, Noam Sheriff, was followed by conductors Shalom Ronli-Riklis in 1983–85, Lior Shambadal in 1986–92, and Doron Salomon from 1993. It continues to attract audiences in the kibbutzim as well as in the cities.
The influx of immigrant musicians in the 1970s and 1990s, especially from the former U.S.S.R., made the founding of new orchestras possible. The Beersheba Orchestra was founded in 1974 first under the direction of Avi Ostrovsky, and later with Mendi Rodan as the conductor and musical director; its name was changed to Israel Sinfonietta Beersheba. It continues to perform especially in the South of Israel.
In 1965 Gary Bertini established the Israel Chamber Ensemble and conducted it until 1976; it was taken over by Rudolf *Barshai in 1977 when he emigrated from Russia. Renamed "The Israel Chamber Orchestra," it was enlarged to a body of 45 musicians. Uri Segal became musical director (1982–83) after Barshai left Israel in 1981. Segal was followed by Yoav Talmi (1984–88), and Shlomo *Mintz was appointed its music advisor in 1988.
The Reḥovot Camerata Orchestra led by Avner Biron was founded in 1983 and in 1996 moved to Jerusalem. In 1988 conductor Shimon Cohen founded The Symphony Orchestra Rishon le-Zion, and in 1989 conductor-composer Noam Sheriff was appointed its music director. Since the 1989–90 season it has been the house orchestra of the New Israel Opera, which performs selected pieces from the international repertory at the Art Center in Tel Aviv.
The Ra'ananah Symphonette Orchestra, also consisting of new immigrant musicians, was founded in 1991.
institutions of education
The first music school, the Shulamit Conservatoire, was founded in Jaffa by the German-born singer Shulamit Ruppin in 1910 and maintained a pure German curriculum. The first director was the violinist and conductor Moshe Hopenko. The school stimulated lively interest, with an unexpectedly large enrollment (75 pupils in its first year). Other schools were founded in Jerusalem in 1918 and in Haifa in 1923. In the 1930s, with the Fifth Aliyah, nicknamed the German Aliyah, many prominent musicians came, among them the violinist Emil *Hauser (former member of the Budapest string quartet), who founded the Palestine Conservatoire in Jerusalem in 1933 with a faculty of more than 30 teachers. The comprehensive curriculum of the conservatoire comprised classes for most instruments, composition, history and theory, as well as Arabic 'ud given by Ezra Aharon, and courses on non-western music given by Edith *Gerson Kiwi. The conservatory was the source of teachers to both Academies of Music in Jerusalem, 1945, and the Tel Aviv Academy of Music, 1946, the leading professional music schools until today. In 1945 the School for Music Educators was established by Leo *Kestenberg, which continues until today under the auspices of the Levinsky College of Teachers. In 1947 the New Jerusalem Conservatory was established which later was united with the Jerusalem music academy. In 1951, the Oranim School for Music Teachers opened and operated for about 40 years.
Next to the Jerusalem Academy of Music and the conservatory, a musical high school was established in 1961. The Tel Aviv musical high school Thelma *Yellin had already opened in 1959.
The Jerusalem Music Center was initiated by Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals, and Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem, was established in 1973 and opened officially in 1975. Its aim was to create a center of highest professional standards, where outstanding experts would provide master classes and promote Israeli performers and Israeli music.
The pioneering stage of ethnomusicological and historical music research in Israel entered a new phase with the opening of departments of musicology at the three main universities in Israel: the department at The Hebrew University was founded in 1965 by Alexander Ringer, that of Tel Aviv University in 1966 by Eric Werner, and that of Bar-Ilan was opened in 1970 under the guidance of Bathia Churgin.
The vision of Israel as a western country can be very well seen through the founding of an opera house in Tel Aviv. In 1923 Mordechai *Golinkin arrived in Palestine and forthwith organized the first opera company, which lasted four years. The opera presented mostly mainstream works such as La Traviata, Otello, and The Barber of Seville. The performers were immigrants mostly from Russia. Due to lack of funds the opera collapsed in 1927. In 1941 the Folk Opera of Erez Israel was established as a cooperative and premiered one of the first native Hebrew operas in 1945: Dan ha-Shomer ("Dan the Guard") by Marc *Lavry. The Opera ceased to exist in 1946 due to financial and technical problems. A permanent opera was eventually established in 1947 as a result of the efforts of Edis *de Philippe. The opera was directed by her until her death in 1978. The New Israeli Opera was founded in 1985 in order to reestablish operatic activity after the Israel National Opera had closed down in 1982. Until 1990 performances were coproduced with the Israeli Chamber Orchestra. Since 1990 the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Le-Zion has taken part in all its productions.
Choirs had been formed in many parts of the country and some still continue. Many children's choirs perform and children's choir competitions take place annually. In 1925 Menashe *Ravina arranged the first choir festival. In 1926 Moshe Bik established the Workers Choir in Haifa. The Rinat chamber choir, the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir, The Cameran vocal ensemble and other groups were well known and promoted original pieces as well as classical music.
dissemination and preservation of jewish music
In 1925 the pioneer of Jewish music in the country, Joel *Engel, organized concerts in Tel Aviv. In 1925, Hopenko, Golinkin, Abileah, and *Rosovski founded the Society for Hebrew Music, which provided monthly chamber concerts.
In 1928 the educator David *Schor founded the Institute for the Dissemination of Music, called the Nigun Society, which included members from the Jewish Folk Music Society. That same year David Schor, along with Shlomo Rosovsky and Menashe Ravina, established the music department of the National Library of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which is still the central library of music and holds the largest collection of Jewish and Israeli music in print and in sound. The National Sound Archives, which is now part of the music department of the National Library, was initiated in 1935 by the famous scholar Robert *Lachmann, who came to Jerusalem on the invitation of The Hebrew University and founded there an institute for Oriental music that made ethnographic recordings, especially of Arabic music. Lachmann's studies in Jerusalem during the last years of his life (1935–39) marked the beginning of modern ethnomusicology in Israel.
In 1938 Dr. Sali Levi established in Jerusalem the World Center for Jewish Music in Erez Yisrael to promote new compositions by Jewish composers, and he published a newsletter. The Center ceased to exist in 1940. Both Lachmann's and Levi's archives are at the Music Department of the National Library. Next to the Music Department of the National Library, Israel Adler established in 1964, the Jewish Music Research Center which promotes research and publications on Jewish music.
Publishing houses for Israeli music were established as early as 1949, namely Israel Music Publications under the direction of Peter Gradenwitz. It continued to publish mainly Israeli art music until 2000. The Israel Music Institute was established by the Committee for Culture and Arts to publish scores and later recordings of new Israeli art music. It has been the major publishing house for Israeli art music from 1961.
In 1953 the Israeli Composer's League was established to protect the rights of Israeli composers and promote their music. In 1956 Moshe Gorali opened a music museum and library in Haifa. In 1960 he edited a music journal, Tazlil, for musical research, which was issued for 20 years.
The Renanot Institute for Religious Music was established in Jerusalem in 1957 to teach and promote traditional Jewish music. It produces books and records; it also organizes a yearly conference on Jewish music.
international festivals, competitions, and congresses
The biennial Zimriyyah Choir Festival, founded by A.Z. Propes in 1952, attracted a large number of choirs from many countries, which sing together with local groups all over the country in friendly collaboration. Originally conceived as an exclusively Jewish choir festival, it has long since become an ecumenical meeting, with non-Jewish choirs in the majority.
Propes was the initiator of another two events: the Harp Contest, founded in 1959, which was the first of its kind internationally and occupies an important place in the international harp community, and the Israel Festival, founded in 1961. The Israel Festival was discontinued in 1980 for budgetary reasons, but was renewed in 1982. New venues for its activities included local historical sites such as Jerusalem's Sultan's Pool, used for the first time for music performances in 1982, the Roman Amphitheater of Beth Shean, and the citadel of Jerusalem's Old City. It commemorated Stravinsky's centenary in 1982 by performing a number of his works for ballet.
Under the significant name of Testimonium (Testimony), a contemporary music festival was conceived and initiated by Recha Freier. The idea behind it was to reveal evidence about the various aspects of the history of the Jewish people and its significance. There have been six Testimonium festivals between 1968 and 1983, at which 35 works of famous international and Israeli contemporary composers were written for those festivals. These works represent a unique synthesis between the reopening of historic events and musical composition.
In 1974 Yaakov Bistritski established the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition, which takes place every four years and includes a new Israeli piece each time. Since 1978, a new festival has been added: the Liturgica, Vocal Music from Jerusalem, organized around Hanukkah and Christmas, availing itself of the many choirs coming for the season to Jerusalem (and Bethlehem), presenting programs of music with spiritual content of great interest.
In 1959 the Musical Youth Organization opened a branch of the World Musical Youth Organization, promoting meetings of young musicians from all over the world for the purpose of playing together. The Congress of the Jeunesses Musicales was held in Israel in 1973.
The First World Congress of Jewish Music was held in Jerusalem in 1978, with the participation of many scholars from Europe and the United States. In July 1980, the Festival of Contemporary Music was organized by the local section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, with some 65 works performed in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, and Kibbutz Shefayim. In 1998 the first international chamber music festival, under the musical direction of Elena Bashkirova was held; the festival takes place every year for ten days, during which musicians from all over the world perform chamber music.
The music department of the Broadcasting Authority played an important role in promoting local composers and soloists, as well as in the development of musical life in Jerusalem (see also *Music). It records its symphony's concerts as well as chamber music, which promote Israeli premieres and performers. The Broadcasting Authority also played a major role in promoting and performing Oriental music.
In 1948, the Israel Broadcasting Authority started an Oriental ensemble, led by Ezra *Aharon and comprising selected known Jewish artists in their countries of origin; they were joined later on by a few Israeli Arab artists. They performed and recorded Arabic and Jewish Oriental music and appeared in public concerts as well.
Finally, the 21st century is becoming the scene of a more pluralistic attitude to music to include Oriental, classical, and Israeli and popular song in concert, as well as in broadcasting and teaching.
[Ury Eppstein /
Gila Flam (2nd ed.)]
the first period – 1882–1904
Israeli song – the song of the people in the Land of Israel – started evolving some 135 years ago. It was first heard in the last decades of the 19th century, when Jewish poets in Europe took to writing songs in Hebrew expressing Zionist themes. There was Naftali Hertz *Imber, Menahem Dolitzki, Mane, and a number of artists who wrote children's songs in Hebrew such as A. Liboushitski and N. Pines. They used ḥasidic melodies, songs in Yiddish – including songs from the *Goldfaden plays – and Romanian, Polish, and Russian folksongs; they also took up themes from Jewish composers such as A.M. Bernstein, P. Minkowski, D. Novkovski, and A. Zonzar (whose song "Ha-Shoshanah," published in 1863, is considered one of the first Hebrew songs). Most of these songs reached Ereẓ Israel with the immigrants of the First Aliyah, who then made up new songs such as "Ḥushu Ahim, Ḥushu," the work song "Ya Ḥalili Ya Amali" and others. This was the beginning of the Hebrew song repertoire.
the second period – 1904–1923
This is the time of the Second and Third Aliyah. Because of the shortage of suitable musical material for schools and kindergartens, some music teachers simply composed the songs they needed. Among those teachers mention must be made of Hanina Kratshevski (1873–1926) and A.Z. *Idelson, who were the first composers in the Land of Israel, and the poets Levin Kipnis and Israel Dushman, who wrote the lyrics of "The Ma'pilim Song," "Poh Ereẓ Ḥemdat Avot," "Ḥanukkiyah Ḥanukkiyah," "Ha-Ḥaluẓim be-Yad Ḥaruẓim," "Ḥad Gadya," and others.
At the same time there were a number of popular songs whose influence is still being felt in the Hebrew repertoire today. Some of them were Hebrew adaptations of Oriental melodies such as "Hakhnisini taḥat Kenafeiḥ," "Yad Anugah," "Bein Nahar Perat," "Ani Re'itiha." These songs were generally characterized by the interval of second or augmented second, slow tempo, and a free rhythmical performance. Another group included songs based on ḥasidic melodies from eastern Europe with short lyrics taken from the biblical books or prayers such as "El Yibaneh ha-Mikdash," "Ve-Taḥer Libenu," "El Yibneh ha-Galil," "Ẓibḥu Ẓedek." It was mainly from these songs that members of the Second Aliyah took the musical themes for Hora and Rondo dancing.
During World War i the yishuv in Ereẓ Israel was cut off from all other Jewish centers. Consequently a chasm developed between the repertoire of songs from Ereẓ Israel and Hebrew songs in Europe, because of changes in Hebrew accentuation and in the repertoire itself. Henceforth there was to be a reversal in the process: Ereẓ Israel was no longer importing songs but exporting them to communities abroad.
the third period – 1924–1948/9
This period is considered the golden age of songs from Ereẓ Israel. In the late 1920s, composers such as Shalom *Postolski, Yedidia *Admon, Menashe *Rabina, Nahum *Nardi, Sara Levi *Tanai, Moshe Bik (1900–1979), and others started their work. Some of them, who are considered the fathers of Hebrew song, had no musical education at all, and indeed there were those who could not even read or write musical scores. In the beginning they took their lyrics from the works of Bialik and L. Kipnis, and then went on to new poets such as Avraham Broides, Itzhak Shenberg (Shenhar), Sh. Shalom, Emmanuel Ha-Russi, Avigdor Ha-Meiri, David Shimonowich (Shimoni), Anda Amir, Yehiel Heilperin, Raḥel, Lea Goldberg, Miriam Steklis, and others.
Work and the homeland were the main themes of the songs, but there were also songs about the Galilee and the valley, songs about building and creating, songs for the children and for festivals. The 1930s saw the arrivals of composers like Moshe *Wilensky, Daniel *Sambourski, Mark *Lavry, and others, who contributed greatly to the musical scene.
Many composers saw themselves as taking part in the creation of a reemerging Hebrew culture, and their songs as folk songs expressing that culture, even though folk songs are usually derived from anonymous sources. They believed that the Dorian melodic mode, the Yemenite-Oriental trills, and the use of syncopated rhythms in their various forms were the expression of the roots of the New Hebrew song. The themes of the songs served as an historical common link. It was during these years that country and shepherd songs were written, songs for ceremonies and festivals, as well as many of the children's songs. One can hear in some of them the impact of Middle Eastern influence, either through composers originating from that part of the world (Sara Levi Tanai, Nissan Cohen Nelamed, and others) or through the effect of the surroundings on other composers (Y. Admon, N. Vardi, D. Zahavi, A. Amiran, for instance). Attempts to create a "country culture" brought popularity to the composers, essentially in the kibbutz movement (D. Zahavi, M. Shalem, Y. Sharet, S. Postolski and others).
The onset of World War ii and subsequent enlistment in British army units of youngsters brought a new trend of Hebrew "army songs" (M. Ze'ira, D. Sambourski, and others). Another theme appeared: the Holocaust of European Jewry and the destruction of Jewish culture. This theme was to become dominant in the next period and bring back to Hebrew song Jewish folk songs – "the songs of the shtetl" – with their melodies in minor tones and, in the wake of the new political orientation, a great number of Russian melodies.
These songs were disseminated orally and in writing. Most publishing houses of the time, which published the songs, were national ones, like that of the Keren Kayemet le-Israel, the educational system, and the Histadrut.
the fourth period – 1948/9–1967
There was nothing at first to distinguish this from the previous period; however, there soon appeared a melange of varied themes and currents. On the one hand, songs of mourning and sorrow together with victory songs, on the other, a new genre – songs written under the influence of modern "salon" dances such as the tango and rumba, but also waltzes or songs from the pop charts of Europe and the United States. This led to a number of new styles which took shape in the 1950s, such as new versions of country and shepherd songs scanned by exclamation – "Ho, Ho," for instance – which dominated the Hebrew song festivals organized by Kol Israel in the years 1960–67. The melodies were in minor scales and modes, constructed fairly simply, generally with a guitar, accordion, and drum accompaniment. This style was popular among some of the composers of the first period to follow the establishment of the State of Israel: Emmanuel Zamir (1925–1962), Gil *Aldema, Dubi Zeltzer, Amti Neeman (1926–2005), Effi Netzer, Arieh Lebanon, and Yosef Hadar.
New audiences were emerging too: people who danced folk dances, but also new immigrants in camps or development towns. These songs were made possible by the support of the Music Division, the Information Department, the Histadrut, and local authorities.
At the same time the "salon" style, which was flourishing, was being strengthened by the diffusion of international hit parades on radios and records and in movies. This style was characterized by salon rhythms, which were then considered foreign or incompatible with the motives of Ereẓ Israel. The songs emphasized the individual, the "me" which was to flood Hebrew song in the next period.
The best-known composers of that style are Sando Ferro ("Yafo," "Josephina Swing"), Tuli Raviv ("Sekharoret," "Al Na Tomar Li Shalom"), Zvi Gold-Zahavi ("Arẓenu ha-Ketantonet"), Ari Tselner ("Ha-Samba rak ha-Samba"). Yafa *Yarkoni, Israel Itzhaki, Jetta Luka, and Lilith Nagar were some of the singers who sang these songs.
The year 1951 saw the first appearance of the *Naḥal band, the first of the army bands. Indeed, its success paved the way for the creation of other army bands that were to leave their mark on the Israeli musical scene – both in the style of songs and in their rendition – for more than 25 years. Alexander *Argov, Moshe *Wilensky, Dubi Zelzer, Naomi *Shemer, Arieh Levanon, Nurit *Hirsh, Matti *Caspi, Beni Nagri, Eldad Shrem are among the better-known composers of songs for the army bands.
In the second half of the 1960s there was a change in the accompaniment of the songs: synthesizers, drums, electric guitars, and bass guitars made their appearance. Among those responsible for this sound change in army bands was Yair Rosenblum (1944–1996). Other bands adopted the new style to create something both young and modern similar to what was then popular in the western world where rhythm was becoming more dominant. These changes were instrumental in the appearance of "rhythm bands" and rock bands. It began as an almost underground phenomenon in suburban areas – the Ramleh band and the bands in Misgad Street and in South Tel Aviv.
This was the golden age of the varied vocal ensembles and most specifically of the duos, trios, and quartets such as the Batsal Yarok band, the Tarnegolim, Mo'adon ha-Te'atron, Ha-Tayelet, Gesher ha-Yarkon and well-known duos Ilka and Aviva, Ran and Nama (Nehama *Hendel and Menahem Lezerovich), the Dudaim (Beni Amdurski and Israel Gurion), Ha-Parvarim, Ha-Ofarim, Hedva and David, and more. Great singers of the time were, among many others, Shoshana Damari, Shimshon Bar-Noi, Yosef Goland, Ya'akov Teiman, Israel Itzhaki, Yafa Yarkoni, Jo Amar, Tzadok Savir, Miriam Avigal, Hana Aharoni, Hadassah Sigalov, Aliza Gabai, Gila Edri, Shimon Israeli, Geula Gil, and Freddi Dura.
During the previous period, it was the composer who was responsible for the success of the songs, but now the singers were taking center stage. They were the ones who went looking for material and saw to its diffusion. Nearly all the bands that came into being during this period were using the material of composers who did not belong to the bands.
It was through the Ha-Ḥalonot ha-Gevohim band that rock made its entrance into Hebrew and Israeli songs. Shmulik Kraus, who was a member of the band, composed some of its melodies.
The themes of the songs of that period were taken from current events: the conquest of Eilat, the creation of the Lachish region, absorption of immigrants in the camps, the murder of travelers to Petra, Operation Magic Carpet (mass immigration of the Jews of Yemen), the creation of the new towns of Ashkelon and Dimonah, etc. Hebrew song was still looking for itself, moving from one musical style to another, between ethnic song from the various Jewish communities and song from Europe and the United States, as if it were trying to find its identity but all the time enriching itself toward the future.
the fifth period – from 1967
The Six-Day War (1967) was to be a watershed for Hebrew song. It was followed by an outpouring of patriotic songs not unlike those of Ereẓ Israel. These songs mixed well with the wave of nostalgia that swept the country from the beginning of the 1960s. To this day, old (in new renderings) and new patriotic songs constitute a mainstream known as "Songs of Ereẓ Israel."
With the inauguration of television in Israel, a new dimension – quite unlike what had preceded it – was introduced into Israeli songs. The change was due to the influence of European and American culture, to the methods of diffusion, and to the greater visibility of composers and singers. The various festivals, concerts, and shows of singers and pop and rock bands throughout the world created new possibilities for the artists and performers of Hebrew song. Henceforth it would no longer be a question of "how you sound" but of "how you look."
Because it was now possible to reach hundreds of thousands of viewers and listeners, all parameters underwent change, including style, number of participants, choice of repertoire, and adaptation to the greatest possible number of viewers and listeners (ratings).
During this period, a number of composers were also performing. The dominance of the singer Arik *Einstein for some 35 years led composers such as Shalom *Hanoch, Miki Gavrielov, Yoni Richter, and Itzhak Klepter to unique creative directions. In the early 1970s a new band, Kaveret, appeared on the scene. Though it did not last long, Kaveret was to bring a new sound to Israeli songs. Among the participants in the band – who later kept on writing songs after it broke up, each in his own style – were Danny Sanderson, Ephraim Shamir, Alon Oleartchik, and Yoni Richter.
Shalom Hanoch, Tsvika Pik, Shmulik Kraus, Mati Caspi, Meir Ariel, Yehudit Ravitz, Hava *Alberstein, Dani Litani, Shlomo Gronich, Shlomo *Artzi, and others were representative of a group of composer/performers who either were solo performers or part of groups such as Lul, the Churchills, Ha-Keves ha-Shesh-Esre, etc.
Several specific styles developed after the Six-Day war. One of them was ḥasidic song, led by dancing rabbi Shlomo *Carlebach. The ḥasidic songs festivals held yearly after 1969 had a great influence. The main characteristics of the style are short lyrics taken from biblical and prayer books. Their melodies are mainly in minor scales, having middle to middle + range; they are made of simple and symmetrical structure, their tempo is fixed or uses accelerated movement, and their harmony is mainly based on the basic functions of the scale.
Ethnic influences on Israeli songs were prominent before the creation of the State, but they were centered on Yemenite song. After the Yom Kippur War (1973), but essentially after the political upset of 1977, there was heightened ethnic consciousness, and more weight was given to performers from Oriental communities. In less than two decades the Oriental/Mediterranean style became one of the dominant styles in Hebrew song, characterized by melismatic ornamentation, recurrence of the augmented second, microtonality, and melodic fioritures; they are accompanied by electric instruments (synthesizers), electric guitars and bass guitars, stringed instruments and Oriental instruments such as violin, 'ud (lute), qanun (zither) darbuka (goblet drum), as well as Greek instruments such as the bouzouki. Avihu *Medina, Moshe Ben Moshe, Boaz Sharabi, Shlomo *Bar, and Yona Roeh are among the leading composers of that style. Among the notable performers in this style are Nissim Seroussi, Zohar *Argov, Eli Louzoun, Haim Moshe, Zahava *Ben, Yoav Itzhak, Margalit Tzanani, Shimi Tavori, Sarit Hadad, Shlomi Shabat, Eyal Golan, and ensembles such as Ẓelilei ha-Kerem, Ẓelilei ha-'Ud, etc.
During the 1990s, some performers/composers set up bands to work with them: Yuval Banai and Machina, Arkadi Duchin and Natasha's Friends," Aviv Gefen and Toyut, Rami Kleinstein and Ha-Mo'eẓah, Shlomo Artzi and his band, Kobi Oz and Tippex, Zeev Nehama and Tamir Klisky with Ethnics and others.
Israeli songs and songs of Ereẓ Israel are performed in Jewish communities throughout the world and for the most part express the solidarity between the Jewish world and Israel. The beginning of television programs in the fifth period helped to introduce Hebrew song among other cultures. From time to time, Israeli performers made it to the top in international song festivals: in two successive years – 1962 and 1963 – songs by Moshe Wilensky "Stav" and "Layla ve-Ashan" sung by Rivka Raz took first place at the Polish song festival. Hedva and David took first prize in a song contest in Japan with "Ani Ḥolem al Noemi." Since 1973 Israel has participated regularly in the Eurovision song contest and has won three times. Ofra *Haza won world fame with her specially adapted Yemenite songs. It is possible that the large diffusion of these songs can be seen as an attempt to merge with the Middle Eastern native culture.
[Nathan Shahar (2nd ed.)]
Israeli Folk Dances
Israeli folk dances represent a special kind of communal and social dance, created by Israelis. Unlike traditional folk dances of most other cultures, which were created years ago in rural areas by anonymous farmers and shepherds, and transmitted from generation to generation, Israeli folk dances can be defined as "contemporary folklore" reflecting social and ideological phenomena.
At the beginning of the 20th century, their main function was to enrich and diversify the rather meager repertoire of social dances of the "Zionist pioneers," who would start and conclude all gatherings with the same "Hora" – a Romanian-influenced dance – and the "Rondo" – a communal series of walking and running and changing forms, including simple dance steps. As time passed there was an increasing eagerness to have original "Ereẓ Israeli" or Hebrew dance for the enhancement of their social and cultural life.
An important development in this respect took place in the 1920s and 1930s with the arrival in the country of the first skilled dancers and professional choreographers; mostly from Germany and Russia, some of them became members of kibbutzim.
Like the many national revival movements in the 19th and 20th centuries that made use of folk music and dance as means of strengthening national pride and identity, the Zionist political movement made a similar attempt, but without having a genuine source of traditional folklore. Being reluctant to rely only on traditional Jewish folklore, they were led to invent a new one compatible with the Zionist ideology, which sought "normality."
The sources from which Israeli dance was drawn were in this phase biblical or ḥasidic, and the traditional dances the immigrants brought with them from their countries of origin. Among the latter, the rich folklore of Yemenite Jews gained particular favor in the belief that they were the genuine heirs of biblical tradition. Another important source of inspiration was the dances of the Arabs and the Druze, and to some degree, the Circassians who live in Israel.
The first original Israeli dance, a solo dance with a shepherd's staff, was created and performed in Tel Aviv in 1924 by Baruch *Aggadati (1895–1976). The Ohel theater company later transformed this dance into a group dance for a performance. Gurit *Kadman, the "mother of Israeli folk dance," revised it and changed its name to "Hora Aggadati," which has continued to be known and danced as such until our day. Kadman created several folk dances and was a leading force in the formation of the "folk dance movement" in Israel. She believed that in order to be a "normal people" we had to create "Israeli folk dances," and that the people of Israel should become a "dancing nation." With regard to creating and spreading folk dances she was of the opinion that one can consider as folk dances those created by individuals, artists, and amateurs, and not according to the traditional processes qualifying the emergence of folk dancers of other nations.
During the 1930s professional dancers and choreographers began to create "pageants" for holiday festivals, trying to revive the old biblical way of celebrating the Jewish holidays as festivals of farmers and shepherds. Lea Bergstein, a member of kibbutz Beit Alfa, established the shepherd's festival, which she created in 1930 to the music of Matityahu Shelem. Later they both moved to kibbutz Ramat Yohanan, where they created the "Omer" and "Seder" (Passover) celebrations, "Ḥag ha-Bikkurim" (the festival of the fruits of the season), "Ḥag ha-Asif" (Sukkot). Rivka Sturman, a member of kibbutz Ein-Harod, introduced the communal dance Ha-Goren ("The Granary"). The steps and the formation of her dances still serve as a basis for many of the new Israeli folk dances.
Other leading dance creators were Yardena *Cohen; Sara Levi-Tanai, who in 1949 founded, along with her leading dancer Rachel Nadav, the Inbal dance theater; Shalom Hermon, who in 1946 created in Tel Aviv the first Hebrew communal folk dance event (harkadah) and in 1953 the first folk dance parade in Haifa on Israel's Independence Day. Another great contributor to staging the holiday's festivals was Shulamit Bat-Dori of kibbutz Mishmar ha-Emek. She was a leading director of mass pageants, among them the Daliyyah National Israeli Folk Dance Festivals initiated by Gurit Kadman and the members of Kibbutz Daliyyah.
In July 1944 the first festival took place, in which 14 folk dance groups, 200 dancers, and 3,500 spectators participated. The program included 22 folk dances, of which only eight were created in Ereẓ Israel; the others were folk dances brought to Israel by pioneers from various countries. In this festival Jewish Yemenite dances, the ḥasidic "Sherale," and "Debka dances," performed by Arab and Druze groups, were presented.
The festival was opened with a performance called Davka (in spite of), created by Gertrud *Kraus. The festival gave a fresh impetus to the folk dance movement in Israel and was followed by four additional festivals in the amphitheatre of Daliyyah: in 1947, 1951, 1958, and 1968.
The Daliyyah festival also marked the first stage in making Israeli folk dance an established movement through the sponsorship of the national authorities, including first and foremost the Histadrut (Labor Federation), which established a Folk Dance Section in 1952 that became involved in the organization of many dancing projects; then came the establishment of the Inter-Kibbutz Committee of Folk Dance and that of the Ethnic Dance Project in 1971 by the Histadrut and the Ministry of Education and Culture. In the 1980s the Ministry of Education and Culture introduced projects initiated by Shalom Hermon, such as the "dancing school" and "dancing kindergarten," which contributed to the dissemination of folk dances through the educational system.
It should be noted that the Daliyyah festival also gave rise to several regional and national folk dance festivals, as well as to dance groups that emphasized the "theatrical" and "show" elements of the folk dances. However, some of their staged dances became folk dances. The leading figures in this field were Zeev Havatzelet and Yonatan Karmon, who created the "Israeli style" of folk dance performances on stage. In 1988, an annual national Israeli dance festival was initiated in the city of Karmiel and directed for 12 years by the choreographer Yonatan Karmon. This festival, which presents folk and modern Israeli dances, attracts thousands of folk dancers every year, and 250,000 spectators.
There are about 120 performing folk dance groups, including Jewish ethnic and Arab Debka dance groups, which present on stage their traditional ethnic dances; many of them represent Israeli dances in international folklore festivals.
Israeli folk dances created by Israelis in Israel and abroad number today more than 4,000. According to a survey conducted by TeleSeker in 1994, there were in Israel about 100,000 people who dance regularly, at least once a week; 100,000 more people dance every 2–4 weeks; and about 200,000 dance from time to time.
It is noteworthy that the first creators of Israeli folk dances were influenced by the works of Rudolf von Laban (1879–1958) of Vienna, a choreographer and dance teacher who devised a theory of movement which still constitutes the basis of modern dance. He felt that the folk dance was disappearing because of the changes brought about by modernity, and that therefore a new way had to be found. The means that seemed to him central in this process of renewal was a "chorus of movements" which combined a speaking chorus group with the simplest dance movements that people could perform without prior technical knowledge.
In spite of the fact, that Israeli folk dances have many sources of inspiration, they have a style of their own. Israeli folk dances were the products of the emerging "Israeli culture" of the Sabras. They symbolized the ideas of collectivism and equality; all were equals in the circles of the dances and their sources, thus a real integration and interaction of cultures and dances was achieved in the dances. Today the folk dances are still popular, but they have lost some of their ideological basis and serve mainly as popular entertainment.
Many of the new dances are still based on the basic steps created in the 1940s and 1950s; but, in comparison to the "old" dances," the "new" underwent many changes due to the processes of urbanization, commercialization of folk dances, the impact of globalization, the development of multicultural societies, and the emergence of professional dance instructors who make a living from creating and teaching folk dances.
Some of the "new" dances, of the last 20 years, are beautiful and follow the style of the "old" dances. But many of them are just artificial combinations of steps. These changes reflect the decline of the sense of belonging to a collective expressed in the circle shifted to a feeling of isolation. Many of them lost their ideological basis and became fashionable forms of leisure-time activity, and their melodies are mainly those of "pop" songs. Nevertheless, when dancers are asked, "why do you dance?" they will tell you that it is because they "enjoy dancing"; but many of them would also say: "Because I feel that the dances represent beautiful Israel."
G. Kadman, A Dancing Nation (1969), 86–88 (Heb.); R. Ashkenazi, The Story of Folk Dances in Dailyyah (Heb., 1992); Z. Friedhaber, "Israeli Folk Dance between Folklore and Entertainment," in: Israel Dance, 2 (Sept. 1993), 59–60; idem, "A Hundred Years of Zionism in Dance," in: Folk Dance in Israel. Supplement to Israel Dance, 4 (1997), 3–16 (Heb.).
[Dan Ronen (2nd ed.)]
Except for a few minor manifestations, there was no expression in the field of graphic arts in the 19th century. The beginning of modern art in Ereẓ Israel can be traced back to the activities of Boris *Schatz, who in 1903 met Herzl and propounded his scheme for establishing a Jewish art center in Ereẓ Israel. The plan was developed and approved by the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905, and the following year Schatz opened the *Bezalel School in Jerusalem. He was breaking completely new ground, apart from which he had to contend with a number of objective negative factors, including the small size of the Jewish population, the paucity of local support, and the forceful hostility of the extreme Orthodox elements.
Schatz had won the support of the Congress on the basis of his program "to establish suitable enterprises and thus provide the Jewish population of Palestine with new ways of sustenance and possibilities of existence." The first group of Bezalel artists and teachers (Schatz, *Lilien, Hirszenberg) felt an immediate need to evolve a national style. They felt that this could only be founded on Jewish tradition and must illustrate Jewish themes from history and folklore, as well as establish close connections with Ereẓ Israel (e.g., pictures of Bedouin). Their aim was to use European techniques to illustrate Jewish traditions, but with the emphasis not so much on the pictorial as on the decorative. Schatz developed painting and sculpture and also promoted handicrafts for both artistic and economic objectives. The early Bezalel group stubbornly opposed the influence of modern art, which they felt as a threat to the Jewish nature of their work. They set up a permanent exhibition of artists connected with their school and working within their tradition.
During World War i most of the teachers were exiled or fled, but they returned soon after the war when new elements began to come to the fore, composed both of recent arrivals and of a younger group of painters who had received their artistic education at Bezalel. These painters also envisioned a national art not based primarily on eastern European traditions. They were dazzled by the land itself, by its color, light, and inhabitants, and were captivated by Oriental and Muslim influences. The organizational milestone at this stage was the foundation of the Association of Jewish Artists (later, the Association of Painters and Sculptors in Israel) in 1920 in Jerusalem. This group held its first display in the citadel of the Tower of David in Jerusalem in 1923, and their annual exhibitions became major events in the cultural life of the country. From 1926 they began to exhibit in Tel Aviv. About 20 to 30 painters participated in the show each year, displaying 100 to 150 works. Among the leaders of this group were Israel *Paldi, Reuven *Rubin, Menahem *Shemi, and Nahum *Gutman, all deeply influenced by trends in other parts of the world, especially Paris, with expressionism as the dominant style. The group came to the understanding that national art cannot be created artificially but must develop organically from within.
A further stimulus to artistic life came with the opening of the Tel Aviv Museum in 1931. The development of the theater turned some of the artists to stage designing. An additional dovetailing with European trends resulted from the immigration of refugee artists from Nazi Germany after 1933. Many of these were mature artists who had made their mark in Europe and were well within the European tradition. Their own enchantment with the School of Paris was conveyed to the painters in Palestine, and Palestine art began to faithfully reflect European models, notably in expressionist, cubist, and other abstract styles. Under the impact of all these forces Israeli art took on more universal proportions. The outstanding expression was the establishment in 1948 of the New Horizons group to promote abstract art and free Israeli art from provincialism. The leaders of this group were Yoseph *Zaritzky and Marcel *Janco, the latter a founder of the Dada movement who had settled in Palestine in 1941.
By the 1950s the artists of Israel reflected all the European styles, and the work was extremely variegated. Apart from the variety in style, diversity also emerged from the multiplicity of ethnic backgrounds, some of the noted artists deriving from the Oriental communities. Intensive art life developed in the country, and important artists' centers were founded in *Safed and Ein *Hod. Some of the younger artists developed in the kibbutzim, where the tendency was to remain closer to their surroundings and be somewhat less abstract than was the general trend. However, one of the significant directions of the 1960s was toward a synthesis incorporating both the influence of western Europe and aspects of Jewish tradition, which had been so stressed by the pioneers of art in the country. The extent to which art is practiced is illustrated by the fact that by the mid-1960s the Association of Painters and Sculptors had more than 400 members (see also *Art).
Considerable attention has been given to the development of handicrafts and home industries. The Bezalel School trained craftsmen even in its early days, looking to artistic traditions of the Orient as well as the Jewish past, and many of the objets d'art produced have been Jewish ritual objects. The fostering of handicrafts was particularly successful after the period of mass immigration, with each community contributing from its own artistic traditions. Both *wizo and the government-sponsored Maskit organizations have developed and marketed home-industry products. These have incorporated Yemenite, Persian, North African, and European, as well as Bedouin and Druze styles. The crafts include, notably, ceramics, glass, woven fabrics, mosaics, clothing fashions, and wood compositions.
Boris Schatz, himself a sculptor, influenced the early development of the medium in the country. Conditions for sculptors were even less favorable than for painters, in view of the traditional Jewish religious objections. However, despite criticism, Schatz persevered with his own work and with training pupils. Even after World War i, sculpture developed only very slowly, despite the arrival of a number of sculptors in the country. The kibbutzim, in the absence of pressures exerted by religious elements in the towns, pioneered in the commissioning of sculptures. A certain development can be traced in the 1930s, when sculptors proceeded with the execution of work even in the absence of specific commissions. After World War ii governmental and official institutions began ordering various types of sculpture. The monuments erected after the War of Independence gave an impetus to the art. Of the towns, Haifa was the most active in siting sculptures in public places.
The outstanding influence in the 1930s and 1940s was Ze'ev *Ben-Zvi. He taught at Bezalel, and his pupils (David *Palombo, Itzhak *Danziger) gained prominence in the 1960s. There is no defined school of sculpture in Israel, even less so than in the area of painting. Sculpture is marked by a variety of styles, influenced by the origin and outlook of the sculptor. Examples from antiquity and archaeology have been strong influences. Abstract sculpture was virtually unknown until the 1960s, but has become one of the popular forms of expression under the influence of the French school in general and expressionism in particular (e.g., the works of Yigal *Tumarkin). New techniques have been employed with the use of new materials, and a further development results from the combination of plastic arts for the adornment of public buildings (see also *Sculpture).
developments in art through the 1970s
Art in Israel in recent years has been characterized by a diversity of trends. In addition to abstract and figurative painting, there is minimal, conceptual or environmental art, portrayal of ecological elements, photography, film and video as artistic media, as well as happenings and performances.
A major figure who has emerged in the abstract field is Moshe Kupferman (b. 1926), member of kibbutz Loḥamei ha-Getta'ot, who studied with painters of the New Horizons group, Streichman and Steimatsky. Spontaneity, expressiveness and chance characterize his art. The grid on his canvas is created simultaneously by means of markings and erasures. In his paintings one can observe several planes.
Geometric abstraction typifies the work of Alima (b. 1932) and the hard-edge compositions of Reuven Berman (b. 1929). The approach of Michael *Gross (1920–2004) approach can be described as abstract minimalism. His work was characterized by reduction and translation of reality into stains and lines. Sometimes he used materials as artistic means – a tree can be represented by a piece of wood attached to the canvas. Gross did not reduce and frame reality, but created abstract equivalents. He also designed sculpture such as the half arch in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat ha-Yovel, overlooking the Judean Mountains.
Important retrospective exhibitions of Arie *Aroch (1908–1974) were held at the Israel Museum and at the Tel Aviv Museum in 1977–78. These exhibitions emphasized his major influence on Israeli art. In the 1950s his abstract paintings began to reflect his interest, by representing experiences in a child's manner, as can be seen in the scribbles etched into the oil paint. His works include collages of objects which are remote from the present, although they are strikingly modern. The absence of polish gives his work a patina which otherwise is only created with time. One of the artists who was influenced by Aroch is Raffi Lavie (b. 1937) who in turn serves as a source of inspiration and influence to the younger generation. In his abstract paintings he applies, in addition to color and line, collage elements such as faded photographs, in which the patina may have some nostalgic associations. In other paintings he pastes new, shiny photographs on paper. His exhibitions have demonstrated that the enfant terrible has turned out to be almost a "classic" figure in the history of recent Israeli art, proving that his artistic values have drawn a relatively large audience. His substantial influence is a result of his teaching in the State Art Teachers' Training College, his encouragement of young artists, and his activities as an organizer in the art world. The group "Ten Plus" was founded by him together with Buky Schwartz, Benni Efrat, Uri Lipchitz, Pinchas Eshet, Siona Shimshi and others as an alternative to the dominating lyrical abstraction prevalent at the time. The group did not succeed in creating a consistent ideology. "Ten Plus" provided a focus for artistic fermentation and served as an organizational framework.
The geometric shapes of Menashe *Kadishman's minimal sculpture reflect the influence of his teacher, the English sculptor, Anthony *Caro. The resistance to gravity and reductive, simple, geometrical shapes are features in his work. Composition is based on the tension between weights, shapes and sizes, as in the yellow painted steel sculpture in the Israel Museum's Billy Rose Art Garden or in the sculpture in the plaza in front of the Mann Auditorium, Tel Aviv. Another aspect of his art is his involvement with nature and landscape as expressed by his varied attention to trees. In addition to painting real trees, he painted metal sheets which were attached to trees in Montevideo and in New York's Central Park (1969), In Jerusalem he created his Laundry Forest (1975) in the plaza in front of the Israel Museum. White canvas sheets were cut into shapes of trees and hung, through which visitors had to cross. It suggested the Israeli habit of hanging laundry in the street outside buildings. Thus Kadishman introduced urban landscape into nature.
Buky Schwartz (b. 1932) was also a student of Anthony Caro in London. Schwartz creates large-scale minimal sculpture. In 1969 he designed a memorial for Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
The sculptor Yeḥi'el *Shemi (b. 1922), a member of kibbutz Kabri, created sculpture from scrap iron, violently torn and welded. Later, he made his sculpture from ready-made standard construction units. He designed some important public monuments such as the welded steel and cement memorial in Achziv (1967) facing the Mediterranean and the monument at Ben-Gurion Airport (1972). He did a sculptural system for the Jerusalem Theater (1970) consisting of three pieces: a relief over the entrance which was designed as an integral part of the wall, a sculpture in the lobby and another in the central plaza. These sculptures help to emphasize the general sculptural quality of the building.
Dani Karavan (b. 1930) designed an environmental sculpture for a memorial in Beersheba and for the Venice Biennale in 1976 which was dedicated to peace. A year later he won the Israel Prize and was invited to participate in Documenta 6 in Kassel. For this exhibition he designed another environmental sculpture made of white cement. The sculpture's shapes invited visitors to climb the tall stairs and penetrate into the sculpture. Peace was again the theme in his large show at the Belvedere in Florence and, at the same time, in Prato's ancient Castello.
Whereas in Documenta 5, one of the most important exhibitions for contemporary art, only one Israeli artist was invited to participate, several Israelis were asked to exhibit their work in Documenta 6. Among them was Michael Gitlin (b. 1943), who marks space by means of standard wooden sheets painted black and cut by an axe. The breaking lines are not completely straight and reflect an expressive quality. Pinchas Cohen-Gan (b. 1942), whose earlier work focused on political issues, exhibited drawings. Beni Efrat's (b. 1935) contributions were performances and Michael Druks (b. 1940) showed video art. Earlier works by Druks include sculpture of discarded billboards, and a photo-collage of an electric power plant in Tel Aviv whose smokestack (which raised ecological concern in the general public before it was built) was turned to an angle of 45° like a cannon, with possible sexual connotations.
On the works of Joshua Neustein (b. 1940) the fold, the tear and the cut replace the lines and create the composition's structural interrelationships. In a conceptual work, "Jerusalem River" (1970), Neustein, with Georgette Battle and Jerry Marx, used a tape recorder with sounds of flowing water in the Jerusalem mountains in order to create a fantasy river by means of sound. A conceptual work by Neustein with political implications was the marking by dogs of their territorial area in the Golan Heights as a way of defining border lines.
Political involvement by artistic means interested Pinchas Cohen-Gan. In addition to his sensitive drawings, he expressed his political concern by constructing a temporary shelter in a refugee camp in Jericho (1974). A comment on the hostile environment of Israel is the work in which Cohen-Gan created living conditions for fish in the Dead Sea (1972–73) by means of plastic pipes filled with sweet water. In the 9e biennale de Paris for young artists (1975) he exhibited another political work, "Reconciliation with Asia."
Other artists with varied artistic interests are Micha Ullman (b. 1939), a conceptual artist who also produces video art. Yair Garbuz (b. 1945), who paints and creates assemblages, photographs, films as well as video; Yocheved Weinfeld, Moti Mizrahi and Gideon Gechtman produce interesting body art. The latter used male nudity as opposed to the more conventional use of female nudity. Gechtman artistically expressed personal problems of internal and external pain as a result of an open-heart operation he had undergone and documented on video tape and photographs. The work of the late Yitshak Danziger (1916–77) reflects a serious interest in ecological and landscape problems. Danziger created a relatively limited number of works of art, but most of these serve as milestones in the short history of Israeli art, from his first important works "Shbazia" (1938) and "Nimrod" (1939) inspired by Near-Eastern archaeology to an architectural interest in the Bedouin tent, as can be seen in the "Negev Sheep" (1956). For the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv, he designed a white cement landscape sculpture which is planted into the ground and integrates with the topography and plants of the park. The ecological concern is expressed in the rehabilitation project for the Nesher quarry near the Haifa-Nazareth road (1971).
Art Museums and Galleries
The Israel Museum was inaugurated in 1965 and serves as the major center for artistic activities and exhibitions of well-established artists as well as young, unknown, artists. Numerous exhibitions of Israeli and international art are organized annually and are an important source of up-to-date information for artists and the general public. The museum also awards several prizes, among them the Sandberg Prize, a prize for young artists, and a prize for industrial design. The Tel Aviv Museum moved to its new building in 1971, and in 1977 a new director and staff were named. The guiding principles for selecting exhibitions are similar to those of the Israel Museum. One of the innovations is a strong emphasis on photography. Many galleries were opened in recent years, most of them completely commercial ventures. Only a few galleries are willing to take any risks in exhibiting works of art which cannot be sold. The public continues to prefer oil paintings on canvas to prints, but graphics are becoming increasingly popular. Several years after this art form was in demand in the West, printing studios were opened in conjunction with the Artists' Houses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as the Israel Museum.
Periodicals devoted to art are Gazith, founded 1933, edited by Gabriel *Talpir; Qav, Journal of Modern Art, 1965–1970, edited by Yona *Fischer and Rachel Shapiro (twelve issues were published); Ẓiyyur u-Fisul (Painting and Sculpture Quarterly), founded 1972, edited by Dan Tsalka; Journal of Jewish Art, founded 1973, edited by Bezalel *Narkiss, a journal devoted to Jewish art in Israel and abroad. The journal is published and edited in Israel for Spertus College of Judaica Press in Chicago. Mussag, founded 1975, edited by Adam Baruch, ceased publication after 13 issues, owing to lack of support.
The first department in art history to include the history of Jewish and Israeli art among the subjects taught was founded in 1964 by Prof. Moshe Barasch of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Since then, departments of art have opened at Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa. They also include courses in these areas.
developments in art through the 1990s
Israeli art from the 1980s can be characterized by its increasing pluralism and by the expansion of its significant dialogue with major urban centers of international art. Although minimalism and conceptualism were clearly hallmarks of the 1970s, the art scene has grown more complex largely due to the increasing number of artists. One can, however, cautiously generalize art of the early 1980s as more emotional and expressionistic in character, while in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a more intellectual, understated, and intentional approach was discernible.
The undaunted art lover can see in Israel's museums, galleries, and beyond (in out- and indoor monuments, parks, or nature reserves, etc.) a dizzying number of exhibitions. The Gabriel Sherover Information Center for Israeli Art at the Israel Museum records approximately 2,000 per year. Older or established artists are often seen in solo retrospectives, and the younger generation is exposed in group or thematic shows.
Important internal art stimuli during the past decade have included biannual exhibitions for sculpture (since 1988), and photography (since 1986). There were four Tel Ḥai events for outdoor environmental sculpture (since 1980). There are also prizes awarded by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, the America–Israel Cultural Foundation, and the minister of education to encourage the young artist. The opening of the Museum of Israeli Art, Ramat Gan, in 1987 added another exhibition space for emerging talent. Smaller museums in Arad, Bat-Yam, Herẓliyyah, Petaḥ Tikvah, and Tefen also contribute to the dynamism.
Not all art in Israel is in the museums. In the field of sculpture, manmade efforts are united with nature's aesthetic in reserves or parks, such as the Desert Sculpture Park on the edge of the Ramon Crater (curated by Ezra Orion). A project that began in the early 1960s but was only realized in the mid-1980s, its object was to add contemporary sculpture along the rim of the cliff which was sculpted by nature itself into geometrical rock formations. Israeli sculptors who worked there in dolomite stone from 1986 to 1988 were Ezra Orion, Dalia Meiri, Noam Rabinovich, Itzu Rimmer, Hava Mahutan, Dov Heller, Sa'ul Salo, Berny Fink, and David Fein. Israel Hadany, whose work can be found in many sculpture gardens and urban spaces, also sculpted a stone monument for the Albert Promenade to counterbalance the natural beauty of Miẓpeh Rimon (1992).
In an effort to bring art to the streets of Tel Aviv, its municipality sponsored a project which brought 15 sculptures to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area from 1989 to 1992. Participants in the project were Ilan Averbuch, Zadok Ben-David, Gideon Gechtman, Isaac Golombeck, Yaacov Dorchin, Yaacov Hefetz, Dina Kahana-Gueler, Motti Mizrachi, Lawrence McNabb, Sigal Primor, Gabi Klasmer, Zvika Kantor, Yuval Rimon, and Yehiel Shemi.
Dani Karavan's "White Square" environmental sculpture of stone, water, and landscaping was completed in 1988 in the Wolfson Park, Tel Aviv. A homage to the pioneers of the "White City" – Tel Aviv – it was one of four works chosen to represent Israel in the architectural biennale in Venice (1991). (The others were the Sherover Promenade in Jerusalem by Shlomo Aharonson, Zvi Hecker's spiral house in Ramat Gan, and Moshe Safdie's design of the extension of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem.)
The international Tel Ḥai Contemporary Art Meeting, a project of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, began in 1980 with the aim of promoting sculpture in nature, installations in interior spaces, and of creating an alternative space to the sociocultural concept of museums. It provided artists with a place of historical meaning and sentimental identity. Three additional Tel Ḥai events (1983, 1987, and 1990) attracted scores of local, and some international, participants.
In the final analysis, however, the museums carry the greatest weight concerning artistic quality. In the past decade homage was paid to solo figures considered to be singularly important and influential artists. Following are short descriptions regarding a limited number of them, chosen because they signify unique trends and/or are of seminal importance throughout the period under discussion.
Moshe Kupferman (b. 1926) was honored with an exhibition at the Israel Museum and Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 1984–85 (curator: Yona Fischer) which surveyed this prominent non-representational artist's work in paint and on paper from 1963 to 1984. Employing purposely limited color palette and formal vocabulary, Kupferman constructs his unique oeuvre by a process combining subtle layering, erasing and recombining color, and adding and subtracting planes and lines. The resulting abstract black-white-violet grid and scaffold compositions formed by decisive strokes of the brush are laden with emotion and expressionism relating to the artist's own outlook on life.
Abstraction in contemporary art has another strong protagonist in Lea Nikel (b. 1918) whose solo exhibition at the Israel Museum in 1985 (curator: Yigal Zalmona) was devoted to her thunderously bright, multicolored canvases. Nikel's paintings are afire with painterly instinct and values, which she has never deserted for any kind of propaganda content in her work.
Philosophical and poetic qualities can be found in the work of the minimalistic sculptor Micha Ullman (b. 1940), who was chosen to participate in the last two Documentas (8 and 9). Ullman's "Containers" were the subject of an exhibition at the Israel Museum (curator: Yigal Zalmona) in 1988. To his simple formal vocabulary of forms (often chairs and pits made of clay, mud, soil), Ullman added massive steel house-like elements ("Day," "Night," and "Havdalah") to express the nuances of concepts like borders, shelter/grave, reincarnation. In his latest work he dealt with negative and positive areas in red sand within a steel and glass vitrine, another variation on the theme of the relationship between the container and the contained.
The versatility of Menashe *Kadishman (b. 1932) spans three decades and three major areas: painting, sculpture, and prints. In the past decade he has dealt with humanistic and universal themes: the sacrifice of man, as portrayed by the Abraham–Isaac/lamb–God story (an example stands in the plaza before the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in corten steel); births: the subject of an exhibition of that title in the Israel Museum in 1990 (curator Yigal Zalmona); nature, focusing on trees – as cotton sheets in the 1970s, and later on in prints and in steel. Examples of the latter are the blue metal tree silhouettes before the Wolfson Towers and near the Knesset in Jerusalem.
Oswaldo Romberg (b. 1938) is an architect-artist-teacher concerned with the language of art. "Building Footprints," a mixed-media installation at the Israel Museum in 1991 (curator: Yigal Zalmona), was another step in his continuing research of prominent art historical paintings and monuments. By isolating their formal and/or color components, Romberg helps the viewer analyze the details of the powerful whole.
Yigal Tumarkin (b. 1933) has been on the map of Israeli art since the late 1950s as a painter, sculptor, and printmaker. A retrospective on his sculpture covered the decades 1957–1992 at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (curator: Ellen Ginton). It surveyed his artistic growth from his earlier tortured and maimed Grunewaldesque bronze figures, his anti-war mixed media paintings to his most recent period with more abstract/less explicit metal sculptures.
As an artist and teacher at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Pinchas Cohen-Gan (b. 1942) has played an influential role on the younger generation of artists. Active in different media (painting, printmaking, photography), Cohen-Gan works with conceptual and socio-political content while he varies stylistically from expressionistic to minimalistic. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art (curator: Talia Rappaport) devoted a retrospective "Works on Paper 1969–1992" to him. A stick-like human figure, often running, and a big human head are recurring motifs in his work and hint at the trials of an Everyman in constant search of answers.
In the 1980s, there were a series of historical exhibitions which were critical attempts to understand the roots of earlier Israeli art. These exhibitions may have actually raised questions relating to national identity before they were asked in other fields. The conflict between localism and internationalism, between provincialism and urban centers, between group vs. individual values were relevant to the art arena, as well as reflecting the duality of Israeli society's values.
At the President's House, Jerusalem, an exhibition in 1983 titled "The Archetype of the Pioneer in Israeli Art" (curator Dr. Gideon Ofrat) traced the subject from the early 20th century until the 1980s in two- and three-dimensional works. Artists working in the 1980s and concerned with this vein of ideological expression included the late Abraham Ofek, Naftali Bezem, Yossl *Bergner, Yair Garbuz, Oded Lerer, Motti Mizrahi, and Menashe Kadishman.
Another manifestation of the historical/heroic approach was seen in the graphic work of David Tartakover, who often nostalgically bases his images on idealistic graphics of the Mandate Period. Tartakover also created a series of famous "Tel Avivians," paying homage to local heroes of the first Jewish city in 2,000 years. The name of the exhibition "Produce of Israel" (curator: Izzika Gaon) at the Israel Museum and Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1983–84, was devoted to many positive aspects of Israeli cultural life.
A few years later, in 1987, "To Live with the Dream" at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (curator: Batia Donner) presented an analysis of the idealism and the following disillusionments, using documentation from graphic, painting, and sculpture media from the Mandate to post-statehood decades. Stereotypes, cultural heroes, places, cultural symbols, borders, and territory were the sub-topics of the show. (In 1980 an important exhibition titled "Borders" [curator: Stephanie Rachum] also investigated how artists define this concept.)
After the Gulf War in 1991 an exhibition called "Real Time" at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (curator: Batia Donner) reviewed the patriotic expressions, largely in the graphics medium, seen on billboards, in newspaper advertisements, posters, etc., during the war itself. Many of them used the blue-white motif of the flag as a rallying point. However, this type of expression was as short-lived as the war, and Israeli society quickly returned to normalcy and its ideological problems.
At the Israel Museum in 1991, 24 artists participated in "Routes of Wandering: Nomadism, Voyages and Transitions in Contemporary Israeli Art" (curator: Sarit Shapira). The show dealt with questions relating to the most contemporary version of the pioneer/place/land ideology. Art and philosophy seem to have gone full circle. Deterritorialization has replaced the concept of "place," with borders being burst both conceptually and actually. The show dealt with images relating to means of transportation in Israeli art; maps; and most importantly, the concepts represented by travel and moving around. Some examples of the work on exhibit were Moshe Gershuni's "There," Benni Efrat's 1989 sculpture, "Quests for Air Spring 2037," a bed-shaped cell with a suitcase in it; and Moshe Ninio's "Exit," blurred text on a photograph. The few human figures were generalized and transitory, like Pinchas Cohen-Gan's arrangement of a "Cardboard Box Figure," an image of an anywhere man fleeing.
As previously mentioned, the types of art available reflect the pluralistic approach dominant in Israel's museums and galleries. If one is looking for specific information or documentation of contemporary life, there are few painters working in a realistic style. Outstanding among them are Israel Hershberg, who paints fastidiously hyper-realistic still lifes and interiors; Pamela Levy, who bases her paintings on photographs of leisure time and situations (such as swimming) which she reworks into allegorical and tense situations; David Reeb, also inspired by televised or photographic images of actualia, such as soldiers in action, converts them into compelling paintings freezing significant and formerly fleeting images; and Ivan Schwebel depicts biblical stories by placing his characters in contemporary cityscapes, such as Jerusalem's Ben-Yehudah Street, to give the viewer a feeling that the ancient conflicts are still relevant to our own times.
There is a significant group of artists whose work reacts to the political climate from symbolic, emotional angles. An exhibition in New York's Jewish Museum (curator: Susan Goodman) titled "In the Shadow of Conflict: Israeli Art, 1980–1989" summarized a decade of work along this line with a wide variety of artistic reactions to war, the neither-nor situation, and the dream of peace. Artists included in the show were Arnon Ben-David, Pinchas Cohen-Gan, Yair Garbuz, Moshe Gershuni, Tsibi Geva, Michael Gitlin, Menashe Kadishman, Gabi Glasmer, Moshe Kupferman, Dudu Mezah, Motti Mizrachi, Avner Moriah, Moshe Muller, Joshua Neustein, David Reeb, Yigal Tumarkin, Micha Ullman, and the late Aviva Uri.
Although much is heard of orientalizing music, levantization in the visual arts is rare. The closest to it are the paintings of Tsibi Geva, with their Islamic-inspired style or content: allover patterns with overtones of meanings such as the 'kefiya' paintings or patterns of terrazzo floor tiles; or a series of works which combine names of Arabic words and towns written in Hebrew with illustrations ostensibly drawn by Arab children.
Since 1981 there have been a series of group exhibitions by Jewish and Palestinian artists whose aims were to promote both political and artistic peaceful co-existence by constructing bridges of understanding. Several exhibitions were held at the Artists House and at the "El-Quwaiti" theater in Jerusalem during this period. There were group exhibitions of Palestinian artists in 1988 and 1990 at the Artists House, Jerusalem. In 1992 the group of 12 Palestinian and Israeli Artists (curator: Ariella Azoulai) joined forces again in a show which coincided with the peace negotiations and renewed their commitment to the process. Participating were Moshe Gershuni, Tamar Getter, Pamela Levy, Assad Azi, Arnon Ben-David, David Reeb, Sliman Mansour, Nabil Anani, Taisin Barkat, Kamal Butalah, Khalil Rabel, and Taleb Dweik. Sliman Manzur and Israel Rabinovitz were invited by the Swedish Socialist Party in Stockholm for a joint exhibition, "Out of the Same Earth," which contained a work they created together.
On the international scene, and in Israel as well, compelling work has been based on the written word as the central image. An exhibition at the Janco-Dada Museum, Ein Hod, titled "Imagewriting" (curator: Sara Hakkerts, 1992) investigated how 24 Israeli artists use letters, words, and sentences in their work, and in this way illustrate their points of view about local events. There were very few political statements (with the exception of works by Yair Garbuz, Arnon Ben-David, and Tsibi Geva). Other participants included Nurit Isaac-Polachek, Shaul Bauman, Jenifer Bar-Lev, Eli Gur Arie, Tamar Getter, Michael Grubman, Moshe Gershuni, Elisha Dagan, Svetlana Dubrovsky, Alexander Rudakov, Nurit David, Rachel Heller, Boris Yuchvitz, Pinchas Cohen-Gan, Raffi Lavie, Chaim Maor, Bashir Makhoul, Michal Na-aman, Moshe Amar, and Michal Shamir.
Poetic texts written by Oded Yedaya in white or black ink on black and white photographs were the subject of an exhibition curated by Nissan Peretz at the Israel Museum in 1988. Yedaya's compositions combine figurative elements (images and words) with a strong abstract substructure.
In a solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1992 (curator: Ellen Ginton), dreams were Jenifer Bar-Lev's subject. She interspersed original stream-of-consciousness poems in English with Hebrew biblical texts with a patchwork of painted shapes and/or other materials, like blue jeans or kitsch paintings.
Nurit David and Yocheved Weinfeld are two other artists whose multimedia creations intersperse textual elements with imagery. Zvi Goldstein is another multimedia artist whose texts are integral to his work. His verbal manifestos are of a didactic rather than a personal nature, and he combines them with objects that look as if they belong to a highly technologically advanced culture. These installations deal with the position and options of a third world country.
Recently there have been very personal, humoristic works which contain underlying, serious meanings created by a few mavericks in the art world. Philip Rantzer converts found objects into adult, kinetic toys which provide the museum viewers with a piquant black humor. In his exhibition "Sometimes I Get a Hankering for My Wife" at the Israel Museum in 1992 (curator: Yigal Zalmona), he created a house with his ready-mades and collectibles, running water, and delectable, sundry items such as a breadbox with a small video screen and songs by the Andrews Sisters.
Zvika Kantor uses banal, domestic objects but constructs them out of absurd kitschy materials. An example is his "Duet of Happiness" piano made not for music lovers but for those with a sweet tooth, as it is made only of sugar cubes and chocolate. Dudu Gerstein also makes light colorful and amusing sculpture cutouts, such as a flowering plant, by painting aluminum with duco paint. Elisha Dagan paints wood with industrial paint and makes three-dimensional word sculptures, such as "Oh Baby Wolffff" and "Motherrrr" which can be read by looking down at the generally waist-high structures.
Dr. Gideon Ofrat's choice for Israel's representative to the Biennale was Avital Geva, a conceptual anti-art establishment artist who has chosen not to be exhibited since the early 1970s, when he executed some bold conceptual projects (like the yellow line beginning on the road near his kibbutz, Ein Shemer, and ending at the Israel Museum). Geva has spent the past years experimenting with knowledge in the form of growing tomatoes and fish, and thus studying the artistic process.
Photography clearly influences a number of contemporary artists, who rework it in other media. However, it is also the chosen sole medium for certain artists. There were many exhibitions devoted to young and established photographers concentrating on this art form alone. Notable among them were exhibitions showing the work of Pesi Girsch, Bareket Ben Yaakov, Judy Orgel Lester, and nostalgic shows by the young Gabi Salzberger called "Rusted Pioneers" and homage to the late Alfred Bernheim, all curated by Nissan Peretz at the Israel Museum. At the Museum of Israeli Art in Ramat-Gan there was another homage to the late Alfonse Himmelreich, "Dance Photographs: Mood and Movement," curated by Vivienne Silver in 1987. Moshe Ninio's exhibition titled "Cycle of Days" in 1991 at the Israel Museum (curator: Yigal Zalmona) incorporated mixed media with photography. His blurred, enlarged photographic details printed on metal plates were clearly detached from their original contexts, and the sparse, iconic images resulting were intended to supply new meanings, above and beyond the former content.
Zvi Tolkovsky, a versatile painter and printmaker, organized a quasi-documentary exhibition in 1991 containing photographs and found objects which had been left at the deserted refugee camp of Nueima, at the Israel Museum (curator: Rika Gonen). Displayed like archeological remnants from a forgotten people, the show brought out the poignancy of this relatively recent "tel."
In 1992 Sigal Primor's "The Antarctic Challenge," (curator: Yigal Zalmona) at the Israel Museum moved from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho to the South Pole, and the indefatigable sculptor Ezra Orion celebrated the space year by transmitting a laser beam column to infinity from Israel and international locations.
Critical post-modernist attitudes, which became quite dominant in Israeli art in the 1980s, express a growing tendency to give voice to the "Other" – artists raised in immigrant families, homosexuals and lesbians, or artists belonging to minority groups. The "Israeli experience," based on a collective, monolithic memory, had fallen apart. The paintings of Yair Garbuz (1945– ), David Reeb (1952– ), Tsibi Geva (1951– ), and Avishai Eyal (1945– ), or the photographs of Micha Kirshner (1947– ), Michal Heyman (1954– ), Shuka Glotman (1953– ), and Adi Ness (1966– ) are examples of a new critical and deconstructive examination of the Israeli experience, of local history and its visual representations, and of the manipulations of the collective-political memory. Various aspects of the post-modern condition gained in prominence in the course of the last two decades. These include an erasure of the borders separating illusion from reality (art based on the virtual worlds created in the cinema, for instance, as reflected in the paintings of Anat Ben Shaul; the sense of apocalyptic threat expressed in the works of Dorit Yacoby and Moshe Gershuni). The threat of loss of the family home or the national one is given form by the prominence of the "house" motif in the sculptures of Micha Ulman, Philip Renzer (1956– ), Gideon Gechtman, and Buky Schwarz (1932– ). For more than a decade now, there has been a growing emphasis on the Holocaust as one of the major constituents in defining the Israeli identity, especially on the part of artists such as Yocheved Weinfeld, Simcha Shirman (1947– ), Haim Maor, and Uri Katzenshtein (1951– ), who are second-generation survivors.
The particular problems of identity and the tensions surrounding the broad concept of the "Israeli experience" largely account for the development in the Israel of recent years of an art that is fully sensitive and attentive to what is happening both in the public sphere and in the private domain, and that has gained a prominent position in the global art scene, as evinced by the interest shown in exhibitions of Israeli art in various venues abroad.
[Haim Finkelstein and
Haim Maor (2nd ed.)]
Modern architecture in Ereẓ Israel, i.e., from the end of the 19th century, is basically European in style and outlook. This is expressed in the use of new building technology and in the functional approach to planning. The European-type building was first brought to Ereẓ Israel in the later part of the 19th century by settlers of European origin (Jews, and the German Templers) and by consular and missionary circles. They introduced the fashions of their country of origin, while local conditions and influences were scarcely reflected in their constructions. However, in the early 20th century, a first attempt at an individual style was made. This was expressed in the first Jewish housing projects in Jerusalem, in the villages under the auspices of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, and in other moshavot. In town buildings, too, there was the first groping for a style characterized by Muslim, Oriental, and even Assyrian elements (notable examples are the buildings of the Herzlia High School in Tel Aviv and the first Technion building in Haifa). After World War i a number of architects went to Palestine from western Europe and England. A strong influence was exerted by Richard *Kaufman, who stressed the horizontal structure; another group was influenced by expressionism; while the British school used local Arab designs, expressed largely in the buildings of the Mandatory government. The 1920s saw the first functional buildings (for example, the Jewish Agency building, the Bet ha-Kerem High School, certain kibbutz dining rooms), while particular attention was paid to the designing of kibbutzim.
From 1933, a considerable number of architects went to Palestine from Central Europe, particularly from Germany and Austria. The first modern apartment buildings, built in a European style, date from this period. By this time, also, the Technion was producing many architects, and their common background contributed to a uniformity in style throughout the country. In the 1940s the tendency was toward greater simplicity in architecture, although further experiments were made in applying Oriental aspects.
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 enabled the undertaking of large-scale national and regional planning. Under the urgent pressure of mass immigration, however, sacrifices were made in quality, variety of design, and architectural values. Many of the buildings put up hastily were shoddy, and a depressing sameness characterized many of the shikkunim ("housing projects"). The Mandatory rule insisting on natural-stone construction in Jerusalem had to be disregarded. It was only when the pace of immigration slackened in the mid-1950s that it proved possible to concentrate again on improving quality and on aesthetic aspects. More attention was now paid to the finish, to externals, and to the development of surroundings of houses. Overall planning, which to some extent had remained on paper, was now implemented. The quick expansion of the towns led to pressure on space, and the high-rise building began to appear in Israel. Many impressive public buildings were erected in various parts of the country, and the style was generally international, rather than specifically Israeli. The reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 presented a new and significant challenge to Israel's architects (see also *Architecture).
Developments in the 1970s
The changes that have taken place in Israeli architecture from the Six-Day War on are a reflection of the changes that took place in Israeli society during the same period – changes in the political, social, economic and psychological spheres.
When a nation's development is stable and gradual, and architectural development parallels that process, architecture develops gradually and over a long period. When a society experiences crises (war, revolution or any traumatic event), they find expression in abrupt changes in architectural development.
Between the years 1948 and 1967, social development in Israel, the consolidation of social classes and social concepts, economic development, formation of life styles and values, all evolved in a gradual and consistent manner. The Six-Day War brought a social and cultural shock in its wake which led to a turning point in social development. As a direct result, architecture took on a new dimension.
The dominant influence on architecture in Israel had hitherto been that of western Europe and America. The way of thinking and concepts of form were adjusted to economic conditions, building techniques and the system of values that characterized Israeli society, and the specific needs of the time.
Generally speaking, one can define Israeli architecture during the years 1948–67 as being neutral, international and lacking any special or national quality relating to a particular locale. It was architecture based on the need to supply physical and economic needs and had very little to do with emotional or symbolic needs.
Before 1967 the need to supply housing on a massive scale predominated, and only relatively minor attention could be paid to the building of public and private services beyond this basic one. As Israel's economy expanded, however, more resources were diverted to such projects.
The Six-Day War broke the natural curve of development, A significant change took place in the psychology of Israeli society and in social and economic development. Economic development accelerated and a large amount of capital became available which immediately affected the building sector. In a short time the economic expansion reached increasingly wider social strata, which led to social changes and created a new social class with a higher income.
These developments created a greater demand for expanded services, both private and public.
In the 1960s changes took place in western culture regarding architectural ideas. These were years of reaction against the previous decade. The architectural ideology of "between the wars," which was applied to building in Europe and the United States during the 1950s, created a specific type of architecture which was the subject of harsh criticism during the 1960s.
This reaction took expression in the form of a search for a new, human scale. Man and his relationship to society became the cornerstone for all architectural theories in the 1960s. The relationship of man to his environment, environmental design as a part of social formation, the place of the individual within the larger context, and providing the individual with the possibility of maintaining his identity vis-à-vis himself and his surroundings became the basic principles of every significant concept in planning.
Social, anthropological and ecological research, which established links between planning and environmental behavior, became the intellectual basis in the search for new solutions in planning. The planner was confronted with the goals of providing the individual with privacy and the opportunity to create his own immediate surroundings, while at the same time providing involvement and strengthening the feeling of community and belonging. Some of the urban and architectural projects of the 1960s and 1970s are applications of the fusion of the social sciences with architecture.
Public participation in the area of physical planning also increased during this period. The Israeli public, which for years had been almost totally inactive in making or influencing planning decisions, became aroused as the first large-scale projects, bearing great impact on their surroundings, were initiated, The construction of the Dan Hotel in Haifa on the skyline of the Carmel range, the demolition of the old Herzlia High School, one of the first public buildings in Tel Aviv, and the erection of Binyenei ha-Ummah, the first large-scale structure built near the entrance to Jerusalem, were the first projects to gain attention. In fact, however, public involvement grew in keeping with the increasingly large scale of building projects. The public became aware of the influence of the physical environment on day-to-day living. In Israel, too, the 1960s were years of criticism after a lengthy period of building. An attempt was made to learn from the mistakes of the past and to find the causal relationship between planning and the various social problems, Israeli society of the 1960s, especially after the Six-Day War, demanded of the planner environmental and social quality, and visual significance in addition to quantitative and physical solutions to the problems at hand.
All these factors – economic and social, psychological and theoretical – were instrumental in creating the architecture of the past decade in Israel. It was designed to deal with a more massive building program, with new symbolic and psychological demands and with new architectural terminology and a new social and urban philosophy. Jerusalem's. historical and international status, its geographical position, the emotional response its evokes, and its resources were diverted to Jerusalem, and the city became the building center of the country. The primary goals in the planning of Jerusalem were to reunify the city, to increase its population substantially, and to convert it into the center of the country's spiritual and public life.
Jerusalem's historical and international status, its geographical position, the emotional response its evokes, and its uniqueness are factors of the first importance in the planning of the city and dictated the approach that architects would have to take in dealing with urban and planning problems.
Because of the need for haste and, at times, even a lack of understanding of the periodic element and the critical factors which determined the architecture of the past, the solutions provided in the new building were exclusively formalistic.
Elements borrowed from the past and the existing environment provided the answer to new and more complex problems with which it was difficult to deal. The use of stone, the arch, the dome, the wall, the roofed passage and the dense infrastructure were elements borrowed from the past, copied and offered as a solution in bridging the gap between the existing and the new, and the answer to the search for a national architecture and a link with the historical environment. The new neighborhoods that were established around the periphery of Jerusalem represent a good example of this – Ramat Eshkol (J. Perlstein); Neveh Ya'akov (Hertz); Gilo (A. Yaski); East Talpiot (D. Best); Ramot (Y. Dreksler, stage a; Y. and O. Ya'ar, stage b). These communities were built immediately after the Six-Day War and include all the problems that plagued the architects of Jerusalem. Each neighborhood was planned in its own unique way, but several elements are characteristic of them all: the use of stone and of visual elements taken from the surrounding environment, the separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and the attempt to create a center especially designed for each particular neighborhood, which would provide the neighborhood with its own unique character and offer a meaningful focal point for its inhabitants.
The architects who designed these buildings contributed their own personal expression of form and spatial conception to the life-style suited to the area. Traditional roofed passageways, terraced housing, arches, domes, compactness, defined interior spaces were all utilized, while at the same time an attempt was made to employ the latest building techniques and modern housing standards.
Outstanding examples of such contributions are to be found in the buildings of Z. Hecker in Ramot, which sought to define new formal spaces, those of A. Sharon in Gilo, which provided a different rhythm to a neighborhood subunit by using open elements, the buildings of M. Lofenfeld and G. Gemerman in Gilo, which addressed themselves to the enclosed street and massive building on a hilltop overlooking Jerusalem, and, finally, those of R. Karmi in Gilo, which were meant to enhance interaction among the residents by establishing various grades of private and public space, and providing many public meeting places.
The confrontation between the old and the new also took place in the heart of Jerusalem – the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The historical and emotional significance of the old Quarter is paramount; therefore, the desire to restore the existing structures and preserve the ancient character as much as possible affected the solutions open to the team of architects.
The neighborhood of Yemin Moshe (S. Mendel and G. Kertesz) was also restored with the primary aim of preserving, as much as possible, the character of that old quarter. The Hebrew University on Mount Scopus was the largest and most prestigious project in Jerusalem after the unification of the city. A team of architects consisting of R. Karmi, D. Reznik and S. Shaked was set up to design the campus. They strove to accommodate the massive bulk of the university to its location on Jerusalem's sensitive skyline without altering its natural beauty, while, at the same time, enabling the university to function properly and giving it the prominence it deserved.
The faculty buildings include: the Library (Rechter), the Humanities building (R. Karmi), the Social Science building (Eitan), the Student Center and Buber Institute (A. Yaski), the restoration of the Faculty of Law and the Administration building (Rabina), and the Education building (D. Reznik).
In the rest of the country the visual-historical impetus was smaller, the socio-economic transition determining the pace and nature of construction.
The projects increased in scale and were carried out by groups of architects who had to find a common language and to adjust not only to local features but also to each other.
Tel Aviv, which has maintained its place as the economic center of Israel, was transformed into a metropolis of high-rise buildings and suburban settlements.
In housing, a trend developed toward planning for defined social and ethnic groups: when the architect knew beforehand who the future inhabitants of the proposed neighborhood would be, he attempted to offer solutions in terms of the specific needs of the population by consulting its representatives in the various planning stages. In Ḥaẓor in the Galilee, Reznik sought to respond to the communities of the Gur Ḥasidim, as did S. Mendel and G. Kertesz in planning for the Bedouin of Santa-Katarina and Dahab, and Ya'ar in relocating housing in the slums of the Manshiya quarter in Tel Aviv.
The Ben-Gurion University of Beersheba was designed by a team which strove to coordinate the various elements in an overall framework. The planning and coordination was done by a team headed by A. Yaski. The library was designed by M. Nadler, the Humanities building by A. Niv and R. Reiffer, and the Science and Engineering building by A. Yaski.
The planning of Kikar Namir (Atarim) of Tel Aviv and the Marina on an urban scale (Rechter), the changes in Dizengoff Center, the high-rise office buildings, the ibm Center (A. Yaski), Asia House (M. Ben-Horin), and America House (Sharon), were all projects which helped change the face of the city.
Additional buildings worthy of mention are the Hilton Hotel, Jerusalem (Rechter); the Rothschild Cultural Center, Haifa (A. Mansefeld and D. Havkin); the Carmel Hospital, Haifa (Rechter); the Soldiers' Home, Afeka (A. Yaski); the Amal Technological High School, Tel Aviv (R. Karmi); the Safed Hospital (M. Zarḥi), the Municipal Library, Tel Aviv (M. Lofenfeld and G. Gemerman), the Rest and Recreational Home, Zikhron Ya'akov (Rechter), and the new Supreme Court building, Jerusalem (R. Carmi and A. Carmi Melamed).
Galleries and Museums
The country's major museums are comprised in the Israel Museum Association. Foremost among these is the Israel Museum, opened in Jerusalem in 1965. It incorporates the Bezalel Museum, founded by Schatz in 1906 in association with the Bezalel School, but from 1925 to 1965 an independent institution. Its collection includes paintings by Jewish and non-Jewish artists, Jewish ritual art, manuscripts, and a comprehensive art library. The Israel Museum also houses the archeological museum of the government's Department of Antiquities, the Shrine of the Book (which contains the *Dead Sea Scrolls and the *Bar Kokhba letters), and the Billy *Rose Sculpture Garden. In 1967 the Rockefeller Museum (formerly in the Jordanian-held section of Jerusalem) came under Israeli control and was placed under the administration of the Israel Museum. Other members of the Association are the Tel Aviv Museum (including the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Modern Art), the Haifa Museum of Modern Art, and the Mishkan le-Omanut (Home of Art) in kibbutz *En-Harod. Smaller archaeological museums include those at Jaffa, with antiquities of the Tel Aviv area; Haifa, which has several, including a sea museum devoted to the history of navigation in the Mediterranean and a prehistoric museum displaying finds from the Carmel region; Acre, where the museum is housed in a Crusader structure; and Beersheba, namely the Negev Museum, situated in a former mosque, as well as many kibbutz and rural museums and those on the sites of excavations (e.g., Megiddo, Ḥaẓor, and Tell al-Qasīla on the outskirts of Tel Aviv). Other collections are housed in the Haaretz Museum in Tel Aviv (which includes museums of glass and numismatics), the Museum of Japanese Art on Mount Carmel, the Museum of Ethnology in Haifa, the Glicenstein Museum of painting and sculpture in Safed, the Mané *Katz gallery in Haifa, and the Bat Yam Museum displaying Sholem *Asch's collection of Jewish ceremonial art. The artists' houses of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa provide permanent exhibitions by the artists of the three main cities, and there are many private galleries. In addition to permanent exhibitions, traveling exhibits (organized in particular by the Israel Museum) are widely circulated throughout the country, especially to schools.
The modern era of the Hebrew press in Ereẓ Israel began in 1863. As early as 1841, Israel *Bak had established a Hebrew printing press in Jerusalem. Bak, however, belonged to the ḥasidic community, and the Mitnaggedim resented their dependence on his press for their printing activities. They therefore sent two members of their community – Joel Moses *Salomon and Michael Cohen – to study printing in Europe, and, on their return, they established a press. In order to keep the press occupied, they founded the newspaper Ha-Levanon in 1863. Shortly thereafter, Bak produced a rival paper, Ḥavaẓelet. The two Jerusalem newspapers became involved in a campaign of mutual recrimination and were closed down by the Ottoman authorities within a year. Ha-Levanon was revived as a newspaper in Paris in 1865, but Bak persisted in his efforts to reopen Ḥavaẓẓelet in Jerusalem and eventually succeeded, in 1870.
The Ereẓ Israel press from the very first aired vital problems of the Jewish community, such as agricultural policy, and thus developed political and topical journalism. There was a sharp battle in the Jerusalem press with regard to the charitable funds (*ḥalukkah), touching on the basic administrative arrangements of the Jewish community. The conflicts between newspapers at times reached such intensity that they were banned.
A new era opened for the press when Eliezer *Ben-Yehuda arrived in Ereẓ Israel in 1881, where he worked on Ḥavaẓelet. In 1884 he left to form his own newspaper, Ha-Ẓevi, which revolutionized the Jerusalem press by introducing a secular tone and a modern journalistic style. The use of Hebrew as a spoken language was part of his Hebraist ideology: the revived national language would serve to unify all sections of the Jewish community. Ben-Yehuda conceived of the idea of a Hebrew dictionary, containing simple, precise language serving everyday needs. In any case, the existing language employed in the Jerusalem press failed to meet modern needs.
The first agricultural settlements were established in the early 1880s, creating a new Hebrew community different in essence from the "old" yishuv in Jerusalem and other towns. In his paper, Ben-Yehuda became the spokesman of this new yishuv, while Ḥavaẓelet retreated from its Haskalah tendencies and became the mouthpiece of the "old" yishuv. Ben-Yehuda's advocacy of the *Uganda Scheme served to alienate many of his supporters. At the turn of the century, his son, Ithamar *Ben-Avi, joined him on the staff of the paper, introducing further modernization, under the influence of the French press, with which he was closely acquainted. Weekly publication proving insufficient; they began publishing Ha-Ẓevi as the first daily newspaper of Ereẓ Israel.
The major changes in the country's life brought about by the Second Aliyah (1905–14) were not reflected in Ben-Yehuda's papers, and the newcomers, who advocated immigration to Ereẓ Israel and the development of Jewish manual labor, required a labor press. With meager financial resources they established their own papers, Ha-Po'el ha-Ẓa'ir (1908) and then Ha-Aḥdut, sponsored by the Poalei Zion Party (1910).
World War i put an end to all these papers, and a new period opened up for the Hebrew press after the war, under the influence of the new wave of immigration (the Third Aliyah), mainly from Eastern Europe.
In 1919, Hebrew writers and journalists, educated in the liberal journalistic tradition in Russia, established the daily *Haaretz (initially Ḥadashot ha-Areẓ), as a continuation of a Hebrew paper initiated by the British military administration. Haaretz became a Zionist progressive paper "in the Odessa style," edited by the best of the Hebrew writers, with a minority of local contributors, among them Ben-Yehuda and his son. The local journalists, however, soon found that they had little in common with the "Russian" trend, and established their own paper, Do'ar ha-Yom (1919), edited by Ithamar Ben-Avi. In 1923 Haaretz moved to Tel Aviv, under the editorship of M. *Gluecksohn. With the transfer of Haaretz to Tel Aviv, this city gradually became the center of journalism. Later, in 1937, Haaretz was sold to Salman *Schocken, whose son Gershom then became editor.
In 1925 the labor movement decided to publish its own paper, Davar. The first editors were Berl *Katznelson, Zalman *Shazar, and Moshe *Beilinson. Published by the Histadrut, it reached many of its members and became the most widely circulated morning paper. The growth in the number of parties led to a parallel growth in the number of papers, as each party was interested in propagating its views through its own organ. Thus the Revisionist party took over Do'ar ha-Yom (1928–30); then it published its own newspapers, Ha-Yarden (1934–36), and Ha-Mashkif (1938–48).
The struggle against the British Mandatory authorities was characterized by frequent seizures or temporary closure of papers, particularly from the 1930s onward. Papers were often obliged to change their names and utilize unexploited licenses. This situation was at its worst in the 1940s, during the closing years of the British Mandate, when an illegal press made its appearance – consisting mainly of wall posters – which represented the underground movements.
A clear distinction began to emerge between the dailies and the weeklies. The latter no longer gave straight news, placing their emphasis on signed articles. A further consequence now was the clearer distinction between the writer and the journalist; hitherto the dividing line had been blurred, but now there emerged the journalist-reporter type, familiar in Western journalism.
Until 1929 all the daily papers apart from Do'ar ha-Yom were, of necessity, published at noon, for technical reasons: Reuter bulletins, for example, until then arrived by train from Egypt. The riots of 1929, the Nazi rise to power in 1933, as well as the murder of Arlosoroff in the same year, increased circulation and resulted in the establishment of afternoon papers, which appear at noon. Haaretz, Ha-Boker, and Davar began to publish afternoon papers, but all these were discontinued upon the appearance of a new type of afternoon paper. The first such paper, founded by Azriel *Carlebach, *Yedioth Aharonoth, appeared in 1939. After a disagreement over personality and management differences with the publisher, Yehudah *Mozes, Carlebach left the paper in 1947 and founded *Maariv.
The wave of immigration from Germany, which began in 1933, confronted the Hebrew press with the problem of a readership insufficiently acquainted with the Hebrew language. The result was a new type of paper written in easy Hebrew with vowels; the more difficult words were translated (first into German and later into other languages). Initially, these formed voweled supplements of the established press, but in 1940 the first independent voweled paper, Hegeh, was introduced. Many immigrant journalists from Germany took their first steps in Hebrew journalism in Hegeh. It ceased publication in 1946, but was renewed in 1951 as Omer, published, as its predecessor was, by Davar.
[Getzel Kressel and
in the state of israel
The press in the State of Israel was characterized by a number of trends: first, the role of the party political press in political recruitment and its subsequent decline; second, the growth of the independent press, and competition among the popular papers; third, challenges faced by the independent press from radio, television, and the Internet; fourth, the decline of the foreign language press; fifth, greater independence from official pressures.
The first 20 years of the state were characterized by the continuation of a vibrant and lively party political press which owed its origins to the Jewish struggle for independence during the British mandate. The party press declined in the 1960s and 1970s, both as Israel began to enter a period of normalization after the economic and defense struggles which characterized the early years of statehood, and because the independent press offered readers a more diverse and comprehensive coverage. Key party newspapers included Omer (Histadrut, 1951–79) and Lamerḥav (Aḥdut ha-Avodah, 1954–71), which amalgamated with Davar but closed in 1994; Ḥerut (Ḥerut, 1948–65) and Ha-Boker (published by the General Zionists, 1935–65), which were replaced by Ha-Yom (1966–69) after Ḥerut allied itself with the Liberal Party to form *Gaḥal; Ha-Dor (Mapai, 1948–55); and Al ha-Mishmar (United Workers Party (Mapam), 1943–2005). The daily party press was replaced in some cases by periodical party literature.
The only daily party political press remaining comprised the *ḥaredi religious press: Ha-Modi'a, the organ of Agudat Israel, which represented the ḥasidic wing of Ashkenazi ḥaredim, and Yetad Ne'eman, the organ of Degel ha-Torah, which represented the Lithuanian wing of Ashkenazi ḥaredim. These organs fulfilled extra-party functions providing readers – under the slogan of the "right not to know" – with a censored version of public information which excluded content offensive to ḥaredi sensibilities. The rigorous social-religious controls which characterized the Ashkenazi ḥaredi establishment failed to stop the growth in the 1990s of a commercial ḥaredi weekly press including Erev Shabbat, Yom ha-Shishi, Mishpaḥah, and Ba-Kehillah, which applied modern techniques of newsgathering and graphics to newspaper production. She'arim (1951–81), organ of the Poalei Agudat Israel closed. Ha-Ẓofeh was sold to commercial interests in 2005 but continued to reflect thinking in the National Religious Party. A short-lived attempt by Shas, the ḥaredi Sephardi party, to launch a daily, gave birth to Yom Yom as a weekly.
The independent press comprised Yedioth Aharonoth, Maariv, and Haaretz. Until the mid-1970s the mid-market, and politically right-of-center, Maariv was the most widely circulated daily in Israel. Its position was taken over by Yedioth Aharonoth, owned by the Mozes family, which under the banner of "the country's paper" tried to cater to all tastes from right to left, and which, while popular in layout with provocative headlines and human interest stories, also engaged in more serious reporting. Maariv, a cooperative controlled by its journalists, was hampered by a cumbersome decision-making process. After Maariv was briefly owned by the British media magnate Robert *Maxwell (1988–91), the paper was bought by Ya'akov *Nimrodi, whose son Ofer as the publisher downmarketed the paper in an unsuccessful attempt to compete with Yedioth Aharonoth. The rivalry between Yedioth Aharonoth and Maariv grew so intense that charges of wiretapping in the 1990s by one paper against the other resulted in Nimrodi's being placed on trial and imprisoned.
Haaretz's comprehensive coverage of political, economic, and social affairs and the arts inside Israel and foreign news turned it into the country's quality newspaper read by decision-makers and leaders in the political, economic, and artistic sectors. With the demise of the party political press, Haaretz enjoyed a singular role as Israel's elite newspaper. An attempt by Haaretz's publishers to establish a popular newspaper, Ḥadashot, in 1984, in order to compete with Yedioth Aharonoth and Maariv, proved short-lived, and it ceased publication in 1993. The creation of a quality financial daily, *Globes in 1983, was accompanied by an expansion of economic coverage by the other three newspapers. With the exception of Globes, which published in the evenings following the close of the stock market, Yedioth Aharonoth and Maariv had also become morning newspapers like Haaretz.
Forty-two percent of Israelis in 2005 surveyed by tgi Teleseker read Yedioth Aharonoth every day, 23% Maariv, and 7% Haaretz. Readership of the weekend Friday issues of Yedioth Aharonoth and Maariv was 25% higher than that of their dailies. In the face of the parallel growth in radio and television, newspapers carved themselves a new role of providing background and analysis of breaking news, for which the broadcast media did not have time. The Internet caused a decline of newspaper readership. Israelis used the Internet an average of 6.5 hours a week in 2005 according to tgi; 39% reported that the Internet was their first source of information. The three newspapers, and others, answered the Internet challenge by initiating their own on-line news operations. While Haaretz's was based on the newspaper's existing newsgathering operation, Yedioth Aharonoth's Y-Net and Maariv's Walla had separate newsgathering operations.
A large number of foreign-language newspapers existed in the first decades of the state, fulfilling important informational and acculturating roles for the new immigrants in their new homeland. There were newspapers in English, German, Russian, Polish, Romanian, Yiddish, Spanish, French, Hungarian, and Bulgarian. Key newspapers included Jedioth Ḥadashoth (1936) and Jedioth ha-Yom (1936) in German; the *Jerusalem Post (1932) in English; L'Echo d'Israel (1948), L'Information d'Israel (1957), and Le Journal d'Israel (1957) in French; Uj Kelet (1948) in Hungarian; Israelskie Nowiny I Kurier (1958) in Polish; Letste Nayes (1959) in Yiddish; Izraelski Far (1959) in Bulgarian; and Viata Nostra (1959) in Romanian. With the exception of a few, most had ceased publication or had become weekly or monthly publications by the end of the 1970s, as most readers turned to the Hebrew media, given the Hebrew media's greater resources and consequent wider coverage. The aliyah of hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews in the 1980s and 1990s created a Russian press, but these were more commercial in orientation than the earlier newspapers. Key Russian dailies included Vesty (1992; owned by Yedioth Ahoronoth), Vremny (1991), Novosty Nedely (1991), and Nasha Strana (1971).
Over the half century since independence, the Israeli Hebrew press became more critical of Israeli officialdom. In the early years, government leaders saw the Hebrew media as channels to generate support for governmental policy, such as through the Editors Committee system, a framework in which Israeli editors were briefed by senior ministers and officials on defense-related matters. But the military intelligence surprise preceding the 1973 war, the 1984 Shin Bet affair involving the No. 300 Tel Aviv–Ashkelon bus hijacking, and a series of Mossad operational failures produced a more critical approach by journalists toward the defense establishment. As Israel's regional and international status improved, and as the standard of living rose, Israelis became less fixed upon the singular goal of national development. Both exposure to the standards of other countries and societies, in particular the United States, and a greater role in public affairs by the Israeli Supreme Court, strengthened demands for official accountability. Yet, both the expansion of governmental public relations in Israel's official bureaucracy since the 1970s, characterized by the public relations work of spokesmen in government ministries and attached to ministers, and a plethora of specialist reporters covering "beats," defined in many cases according to government ministry, created a subtle framework for the transfer of official information into the public sphere.
Local newspapers expanded in the 1980s as Yedioth Aharonoth, Haaretz, and Maariv established newspapers in different cities and large towns in an attempt to tap local advertisers. Yedioth Aharonoth had a chain of 170 local newspapers. News coverage of local developments in the local press have improved public awareness of municipal matters and incrementally moved the public's focus and identity toward the peripheral, local areas, away from the geographical centers of Israeli power. By contrast to the growth in local media, the periodical press (some of which is also owned by Yedioth Aharonoth, Maariv, and Haaretz) comprising special interest publications – on travel, hobbies, cars, family, television, and food – showed, with the exception of women's magazines and youth magazines, much slower growth, despite rising consumer standards. News magazines, including Ha-Olam ha-Zeh, the satirical, sensationalist weekly, and the more sober Koteret Rashit, proved to be passing media phenomena as news consumers found their needs fulfilled by the daily press. The far-flung media interests of Yedioth Aharonoth, Haaretz, and Maariv, which extended also to television, raised questions regarding a danger to press freedom from media concentration.
While there have been Israeli Arab dailies sponsored by political parties, their growth was limited due both to their ideological orthodoxy and to government controls over content. A government and Histradut newspaper Al-Yawm (1948–68) was replaced by Al-Anba, which had a broader range of non-governmental views. Many Israeli Arabs are exposed to the Israeli Hebrew media. There were a number of Arab commercial magazine initiatives in the 1980s, often tied to a specific local community. Two dailies in East Jerusalem, Al-Quds and the defunct Al-Fajr, had a wide following among the Palestinian population. A Palestinian press flourished also in other areas, including Gaza and Ramallah, after the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1993.
The opening of departments of journalism in universities and academic colleges since the 1980s contributed to raising the professional standards of journalists. More than half the country's journalists are women. A minuscule number of Israeli Arab journalists work in the Hebrew press.
Israel is also a major center for foreign news organizations. Three hundred and fifty foreign news organizations have either correspondents posted from abroad or are represented by local journalists, making it the tenth largest foreign press corps in the world, and the largest in the Middle East. Most foreign media come from Western Europe and North America. The media revolution inside the Arab world resulted in nearly 50 Arab news organizations having correspondents in Israel since the 1990s. The considerable foreign coverage that Israel receives, and the sympathy in western liberal opinion for the Palestinians as the underdog in the Arab-Israeli conflict, increased the importance for the Foreign Ministry and the Army Spokesman's Division to brief the foreign media about events and give them access to cover them.
[Yoel Cohen (2nd ed.)]
press in palestine: G. Kressel, Toledot ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit be-Ereẓ Yisrael (1964); G. Yardeni, Ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit be Ereẓ Yisrael bi-Shenot 1863 – 1904 (1969); Sefer ha-Shanah shel ha-Ittona'im, 1941 – 1968 (1969). add. bibliography: press in israel: A. Barness, The Israel Press (1961); D. Caspi and Y. Limor, Ha-Metavvekhim (1986); idem, The In/Outsiders (1999); D.Caspi, Media Decentralization: The Case of Israel's Local Newspapers (1986); Y. Cohen, Focus on Israel: Twenty-Five Years of Foreign Media Reporting (1994); D. Goren, Secrecy and the Right to Know (1979); U. Lebel, Bitahon ve-Tikshoret: Dinamikah shel Yahasim (2005); M. Negbi, Hofesh Ittonut be-Yisrael: Arakhim bi-Re'i ha-Mishpat (1995); tgi Teleseker survey (2005).
Local radio began to operate under the British Mandate (1922– 48), which established the "Voice of Jerusalem." This official radio station came on the air for the first time on March 30, 1936, and served the Jewish and Arab populations as well as British administration officials. With the establishment of the State of Israel, the name of the radio station was changed to Kol Israel (Voice of Israel) and an army radio station, Gallei Ẓahal (idf Radio), was also opened. For many years, these two stations constituted the country's entire broadcasting system – monolithic and government-controlled.
In 1965, the status of state radio underwent a major change. Kol Yisrael, by then broadcasting on two wavelengths, became an autonomous body, the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Three years later, when Israel Television was established, it also became part of the Authority.
In 1996 the government declared its intention to privatize public broadcasting as part of a general policy of privatization. Supporters of public radio argued that the stations should be kept free of commercial constraints, in order to guarantee freedom of speech in a democratic society. Subsequently, in the mid-1990s, 15 regional radio stations were added to the Kol Israel and Gallei Ẓahal national stations.
The network operates several stations, geared to various audiences. Reshet Alef (first station) broadcasts general, cultural, and children's programs. Reshet Bet (second station) focuses on news and current events. Reshet Gimmel (third station) offers light Israeli music, especially Hebrew songs. Kol ha-Musikah plays classical music, Kol ha-Derekh combines traffic reports and music, and Reka is aimed at new immigrants, broadcasting mainly in Russian and Amharic. Kol Zion la-Golah is beamed to Jewish communities abroad and Kol Israel in Arabic is broadcast for Israeli Arabs and listeners in Arab countries.
Gallei Ẓahal, the army radio network set up in 1950, broadcasts on two stations and enjoys great popularity. The first station provides news and talk shows and the second (Gal-Galaẓ) offers music and traffic reports. Although funded by the army, it is popular among civilians.
The licensed regional radio stations set up in the mid-1990s operate privately. Two of them are aimed at specific audiences: Radio 2000 for the Arabs of northern Israel and Kol Ḥai in central Israel for Jewish religious listeners. Broadcasting Authority licenses are limited to a 4–6-year period. Revenue is from commercials.
unlicensed (pirate) stations
An unusual phenomenon in Israel is the proliferation of radio stations operating without licenses. The first such station, the Voice of Peace, started broadcasting in 1973 on the model of similar stations in Europe, transmitting mainly from a ship anchored outside Israel's territorial waters. Today, many more such stations operate around the country. Although they are illegal, the authorities tend to be lenient. Some are amateur, others provide ethnic music or religious programs, and some are commercial, funded by advertisements.
L. Yeḥiel, "The Electronic Media: Television and Radio," at http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfaarchive.
Local television started fairly late in Israel – in 1968 – mainly out of economic and social considerations. Israel's first prime minister, David *Ben-Gurion, opposed its introduction despite the recommendations of a committee that he himself had set up in 1951. He was put off by the entertainment factor and was afraid that television would promote materialistic and individualistic pursuits among the country's youth. Levi *Eshkol, the minister of finance, thought that television should be kept out of Israel indefinitely because it would create pressures for higher living standards.
Orthodox Jewish circles also opposed television, fearing it would show women in immodest dress and broadcast unsuitable programs. Thus tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox households do not have television sets. Religious circles also fought against television broadcasts on the Sabbath. In the early days of Israeli television, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (iba) tended to accede to the demand for a Sabbath blackout. However, with the backing of the Supreme Court, and against the will of Prime Minister Golda *Meir, the iba decided not to stop broadcasts on Friday evenings.
For many years Israeli viewers had only one channel, broadcasting a few hours for children (Educational tv) in the afternoon and a few hours for adults in evening in black and white. The year 1994 marked a revolution in Israeli television viewing. After more than a quarter of a century of living with its single channel, Israelis were now offered a choice of 40 channels in more than a dozen languages. To the state-owned Channel One were added, gradually, three networks: the commercial Channel Two, the commercial Channel Ten (both financed mainly by commercials) and cable tv, which captured a considerable portion of the national market.
Starting full operations in November 1993, the network awarded three companies franchises: Tel-Ad, Reshet, and Keshet, each getting two days a week of air time with the seventh day rotated among them. Channel Two has its own news division, shared by the licensees. Broadcasting 22–24 hours a day, it produces 40% of its programs locally, getting high ratings, and thus exerting a great influence on the Israeli entertainment scene.
On the air since January 2002 after the merger of the winners of the concession (Israel 10 and Eden Broadcasting), the network has been plagued by financial problems, with ratings and revenues not as high as expected. Programming is similar to that of Channel Two.
The year 1994 also saw the completion of the country's cable tv infrastructure. By mid-1994, some 720,000 Israeli households were able to receive cable television and, in 2004, the average penetration rate was 60 percent. The two major cable companies were Hot and Yes, which started broadcasting in 2002.
The law governing cable tv divided the country into geographical areas, with one licensee per area and revenues provided by user fees. The cable networks offer dozens of channels, some Israeli (although broadcasting many foreign shows) and some foreign, picked up by satellite (including mtv, sky news, cnn, bbc, and espn, as well as channels from Arabic and European countries).
Among the local channels, many are aimed at specific population groups, including Israel Plus (the Russian channel), Tekhelet (national-religious), the Mediterranean channel (aimed at Sephardim), the science channel, and a planned Arabic channel.
In 1965, Israel became the first country in the world to have educational tv before regular tv. etv provides not only educational programming but also enrichment programs and broadcasts on current events. It broadcasts on Channels One and Two, as well as on cable tv. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
A study of leisure culture in Israel conducted in the early l990s showed that Israelis spend about half of their free time in front of the tv. This is somewhat more than the average in Western countries. The preference of the Israel public, confirmed in every survey, is for news programs and news-based talk shows, with the three major networks always ready to interrupt regular broadcasting with breaking stories. Another penchant is the taste for South American melodramas.
Another important influence of television is its rapidly growing share of the advertising market, reshaping the industry.
Y. Elitzur, "Israeli Television and the National Agenda," at http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfaarchive; L. Yeḥiel, "The Electronic Media: Television and Radio," at http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfaarchive; http://www.channel2.co.il/broadcast_channel10.asp.
Though small in scope (an average of 10–15 films a year since 1967 and even fewer before that), the Israeli film industry offers a wide range of styles and genres and has always had substantial audiences in Israel and abroad. In fact, in the 1960s the number of tickets bought in Israel annually was similar to the number in countries over twice its size. Although not artistically acclaimed until recent years, the Israeli film has faithfully mirrored the country's culture and politics.
Israeli cinema began even before the State of Israel was established. Though very few feature films were made before the 1950s, many informational shorts, documentaries, newsreels, and promotional films were produced and funded by various Zionist organizations (Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, etc.). These films were made primarily for distribution abroad. One example is Eretz Yisrael Mitoreret ("Eretz Israel Awakens"; Ben-Dov, 1923), which tells the story of a wealthy American Jewish cotton broker who decides to return to the land of his fathers after traveling in the country for a month, meeting famous figures from the yishuv and visiting various towns and kibbutzim.
The key figures in this early cinema were Baruch Agadati and Nathan Axelrod, both filming from a Zionist perspective emphasizing the building of the land. Both established film companies: Moledet, Carmel, and Geva, which made daily newsreels. Later (in 1958), the Carmel Studio was incorporated into the Herzliyyah Studio.
Key films in the early Zionist cinema are Oded ha-Noded ("Oded The Wanderer"; Chaim Halachmi, 1932), Sabra (Alexander Ford, 1933), Land Of Promise (Yehuda Lehman, 1935), On The Ruins (Nathan Axelrod, 1936), Bet Avi ("My Father's House"; Herbert Kline, 1947) – all emphasizing the land and nature, all dealing to a certain extent with Zionist pioneers, Jewish labor, and the liberal and humanistic sides of Zionism. One can see the influence of Soviet socialist cinema in the visual style and editing techniques.
During the 1950s the Heroic-Nationalist genre was constructed, following the patterns of the early Zionist cinema. Filming became more organized with the establishment of Israel, and now had both a propaganda aim vis-à-vis foreign audiences and a pedagogic aim for new immigrants, who found the medium easy to understand.
Key films are Giva 24 Eina Onah ("Hill 24 Doesn't Answer"; Thorwald Dikenson, 1955), Ammud ha-Esh ("Pillar of Fire"; Larry Frisch, 1959), Hem Ḥayyu Asarah ("They Were Ten"; Baruch Dienar, 1959), Hu Halakh be-Saddot; ("He Walked in the Fields"; Yosef Milou, 1967), and Ha-Matarah Tiran ("Target Tiran"; Rafi Nosbaum, 1968). In these films national issues are at the center of the plot, constituting an axis around which the exploits of the heroes revolve. The tools of the cinematic medium (photography, editing, music, etc.) are used to glorify the idea of building and struggling for the land. In very dynamic scenes we see people plowing, reaping, and dancing the pioneer hora, sometimes with the use of montage editing, which make them even more vivid.
But as the country changed, so did its films, with the materialism and individualism of the post Six-Day War period starting to make itself felt. First, popular romantic themes began to creep into the Heroic-Nationalist genre, as in Kol Mamzer Melekh ("Every Bastard a King"; Uri Zohar, 1967), and later the national film itself began to give way to two new genres: the Class Cinema and the Personal Cinema, which were dominant in the 1960s and 1970s.
The popular films of the late 1960s and 1970s dealt with ethnic problems between Sephardim and Ashkenazim. These productions, later called "burekas (knish) films," were either melodramas or comedies, all with a happy ending and often involving a "mixed" marriage. Even though received very poorly critically, these films were enthusiastically received by the public. Films like Sallah Shabbati (*Kishon, 1964) and Kazablan (Frisch, 1964) were huge successes, each with 1.2 million viewers. Films like Charlie ve-Ḥetzi ("Charlie and a Half"; Davidson, 1974) and Ḥaggigah be-Snuker ("Snookerfest"; Davidson, 1975) are considered cult films, shaping the culture and imbued with nostalgic echoes.
As opposed to the popular Class Cinema, influenced by popular radio and theater shows, Personal Cinema (also called the New Sensitivity) drew its inspiration from European Modernism and the French New Wave. This cinema was acclaimed by the critics but had very limited audiences. Films such as Ḥor ba-Levenah ("Hole in the Moon"; Zohar, 1964) and Mikreh Ishah ("The Case of a Woman"; Katmor, 1969) were highly sophisticated in plot and filmic expression but were box-office flops. An exception was Sheloshah Yamim ve-Yeled ("Three Days and a Child"; Zohar, 1967), Based on a short story by A.B. *Yehoshua, it starred Oded Kotler, who won the Cannes Film Festival award for best actor, and had a large audience.
In the late 1970s, three films foreshadowed the coming political cinema of the 1980s. Ḥirbet Ḥizah (Ram Levy, 1978), dealing with the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was the first of the "conflict films." Masa Alunkot ("Paratroopers"; Judd Ne'eman, 1977), the first anti-heroic war film, set the stage for a dozen more. Rove Hulliyot ("Wooden Gun"; Ilan Mosensohn, 1978) dealt, for the first time in Israeli cinema, with the shadow cast by the Holocaust on Israeli society and presaged a number of films on the subject.
The Israeli cinema of the 1980s was mostly political, offering a radical critique of Zionism. The loss of political power to the nationalist right-wing parties in 1977 prompted a new moral and political stance among the left-wing cultural elite.
The Israeli cinema reacted to the results of the 1977 elections with a new school of film. The films of the 1980s attacked the Zionist master-narrative that had dominated the cinema of the 1930–50 period. This trend had begun in 1978 with Ḥirbet Ḥizah, Ram Levy's television drama (based on a story by S. *Yizhar), and continued to develop in such films as Ḥamsin (Daniel Wachsman, 1982), Me-Aḥorei ha-Soregim ("Beyond the Walls"; Uri Barabash, 1984), Ḥiyyukh ha-Gedi ("Smile of the Lamb"; Shimon Dotan, 1986), Avanti Popolo (Rafi Bukai, 1986), and Saddot Yerukim ("Greenfields"; Yitzhak Yeshurun, 1989). Not only did these films represent the Arab-Israeli conflict as an uncompromising struggle between two national movements but in some cases judged the entire Zionist enterprise to be misguided.
Films in the 1990s took a different turn, less political, more escapist. Many of these can be termed "Sheinkin films," for the bohemianish street in Tel Aviv, and deal with the problems of young people in a big city searching for meaning. Major examples are Shuru (Gavison, 1991) and Shirat ha-Sirenah ("Siren's Song"; Fox, 1994), both focusing on the life of career people in their 30s looking to find their way in society. Another direction was seen in films that tried to come to terms with the past and the older generation. Sheḥor (Hasfari, 1994), The New Land (Ben Dor, 1994), and Aya – Autobiographiyah Dimyonit ("Aya – An Imaginary Autobiography": Bat-Adam, 1994) all focus on childhood experiences, the generation gap, and the identity crisis among people of different origins in a new country. Political themes can be traced in films like Ha-Ḥayyim al pi Agfa ("Life According to Agfa"; Dayan, 1992), which portrays a self-destructive society.
The most controversial film of this last period was Jenin, Jenin (Bakri, 2002), a 54-minute documentary purporting to present Israeli military operations in the West Bank town of Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. Condemned as a distorted version of events, it was banned by the Israel Film Board, a decision subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court, reasoning that "lies do not justify a ban."
After 2000 one can discern a general period of growth in the Israeli film industry. Due in part to the country's new Cinema Law passed in 2000 and a budget increase for the Israeli Film Fund (from $2.5 million in 2000 to $7 million in 2003), about 12–14 new feature films are getting roughly two-thirds of their budgets funded. Foreign investments are on the rise and local box-office sales jumped from 140,000 in 2000 to 450,000 in 2002.
Although these years were not the most auspicious for Israel economically and politically, the industry has turned out some widely successful films since 2000, including Yossi & Jagger (Eytan Fox, 2002), Kenafayim Shevurot ("Broken Wings"; Nir Bergman, 2002), Massa'ot James le-Eretz ha-Kodesh ("James' Journey to Jerusalem"; Ra'naan Alexandrowicz, 2003), Ha-Assonot shel Nina ("Nina's Tragedies": Savi Gavison, 2003), and Nissu'im Me'uḥarim ("Late Marriage," 2001) by the Israeli-Georgian filmmaker Dover Kosashvil. Made before the most recent Intifada, these latest Israeli films focus on personal and not national politics, engaging themselves with politics in a metaphorical way – which may be the reason for the films' successes both at home and abroad.
N. Graetz, Sippur me-ha-Seratim (1993); D. Fainaru, "The State of the Arts: Israeli Cinema," at: http://www.Mfa.gov.il/mfa/meaarchive/1990–1999; A. Kaufman, "'Yossi,' 'James,' and 'Broken Wings': Next Generation Israeli Cinema Strikes a Chord Without Politics," at: http://www.indiewire.com/biz/photos/biz_030924israel.jpg; J. Ne'eman, Israeli Cinema of the 1980s & 1990s: A Radical Critique of Zionism, at: http://www.sfjff.org; E. Shohat, Israeli Cinema (1989). websites: http://www.sfjff.org/guide/imgguid/IsraeliFilm; Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com)
[Anat Biger (2nd ed.)]
For sports in Israel, see *Sports.
"Land of Israel: Cultural Life." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 16, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/land-israel-cultural-life
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