Israel's Good Name

Eretz Israel Museum

In Israel, Tel Aviv on March 28, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Continuing on with my museum spree, following the trips to the Diaspora Museum and the Palmach Museum, my next stop was the Eretz Israel Museum of Tel Aviv (not to be confused with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem – which happened to have been visited by Barack Obama and entourage on the very day I was at the Tel Aviv museums). The largest of the three museums, the Eretz Israel Museum showcases numerous different exhibitions, each somewhat related to the Holy Land. This was the first museum that charged me an entrance fee, but I was still impressed by how far I’d gone without spending money. In I went, to explore the numerous attractions. Having seen so much, and having so many great photographs to share, I’ll just breeze through the multitude of museum pieces.

The new coming out of the old - Tel Qasile ruins and the towers of Tel Aviv

The new coming out of the old – Tel Qasile ruins and the towers of Tel Aviv

First on the path I chose was the Planetarium. There was a chain blocking the entrance so I gave a holler. A man came out and told me it was closed, and not to worry because it was geared towards children anyway. I shrugged and continued on my way, finding a recreated olive press next. Coming from the home of the olive oil, the Galilee, olive presses – new and old – are not a foreign sight.

Olive press machine

Olive press machine

After passing a flour mill, powered by a mini-aqueduct, and a fancy building exhibiting large amounts of beautiful Judaica (officially known as the Ethnography and Folklore exhibition), I approached the dusty Tel Qasile ruins. An archaeological site on the Yarkon River, the ruins are said to be the remains of a Philistine port city. While I was trying to capture that snazzy shot up above, a giant insect caught my attention. It was a locust, a straggler from the huge swarm that invaded the country a few weeks ago. I was surprised at the size of it, and whilst attempting to photograph the behemoth, lost him to the wind.

Tel Qasile excavations

Tel Qasile excavations

After the ruins, I headed over to a exhibition called “Man and His Work”, presenting the tools and trades of mankind throughout the ages. Outside, a manifestation of human livelihood was arranged as if it were a marketplace. Rows of niches, each containing a different trade, displayed the many industries found in the olden days.

Workshops of man

Workshops of man

Entering into a building called the The Rothschild Center, I found several collections and mini-museums. The first was befitting for the building, an exhibit by the name of “The Land of the Baron”, following the life of Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild. Instrumental in the eventual restoration of the Holy Land, the Baron was avidly interested in buying land and starting settlements. One of these is the picturesque Rosh Pina; and here is the original property plan:

Plans for Rosh Pina

Plans for Rosh Pina

I had written about the Baron some months back when I covered an army trip I took to Ramat HaNadiv, where the Baron was finally laid to rest. Here is a photograph from that memorable day in April 1954:

Laying the Rothschild couple to rest at Ramat HaNadiv

Laying the Rothschild couple to rest at Ramat HaNadiv

After the immersion into the Rothschild family history and the mark they left on the Holy Land, I found an interesting photograph staring down at me from a wall – a photograph by Ethiopian-born Benny Vodo (or Woodoo):

Benny Vodo photograph

Benny Vodo photograph

In theme with the photograph, there was a large temporary exhibit called “Ethiopia, A Land of Wonders”. Within the walls I found a history colourful and rejoicing, the story of a people who returned to their roots. I have several Ethiopian friends and I must say, their stories can be quite interesting. Here is a photograph of an Ethiopian Jewish family finally arriving to the Holy Land:

Ethiopian olim coming off the plane

Ethiopian olim coming off the plane

On to the next couple of exhibitions, the Valero Bank and the history of currency was quite interesting. The first Jewish bank to open in recent times in the Holy Land, the Valero Bank was founded by Jakob Valero in 1848, just inside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. A family comparably, in a smaller scale, to the Rothschilds, the Valeros held power and authority in their environs and the bank thrived. Dealing with currency, here are two interesting pieces:

Turkish coin die, 1900s

Turkish coin die, 1900s

Tyrian shekels from the Ussfiyeh hoard

Tyrian shekels from the Ussfiyeh hoard

What came next was an exhibition that caused me great joy – The Alexander Museum of Postal History & Philately. I used to collect stamps when I was a kid, a collection less dear than my coin trove, but yet this tasteful, modern-looking revelation of the Israeli Postal Service (something most people don’t think twice about) could spark interest in anyone. One gem is the eyebrow-raising requirements for the position of postman in the Turkish Empire: one must be “a hero – tall and broad of shoulder – his weapon slung in his belt, and a steel rod in his hand, sow[ing] fear wherever he went…”. Another is a post office box which explicitly states that there shall be no mail headed for Kiryat Chaim (I cannot fathom the reason why Kiryat Chaim cannot get mail). And here, an early-age “Doar Yisrael” mail-truck, with yours truly, posing for the friendly guard who offered to take my photo:

The old postal truck and I

The old postal truck and I

And then, to finish off, a selection of wonderful old photographs, coming from two collections. First, a coloured photo from the “Images from the Land of the Bible”:

Camel caravans crossin the Yarkon River estuary, 1933

Camel caravans crossin the Yarkon River estuary, 1933

And now, some amazing photographs from the talented Zvi Oron-Orushkes, who upon being honourably discharged from the British military, was appointed by High Commissioner John Chancellor in 1929 to be the official photographer for the British government in Mandate Palestine. Despite being Jewish, and being involved in Zionism, Zvi was able to photograph from all sides of the diplomatic die, capturing a little bit of everything. Here are three of my favourite photographs from the collection (which opened the day I visited the museum):

A drippy day

A drippy day

A zeppelin above the King Daviv Hotel, Jerusalem, 1929

A zeppelin above the King Daviv Hotel, Jerusalem, 1929

Draining the swamps of Yagur, 1930s

Draining the swamps of Yagur, 1930s

Well, that just about covers it, if really briefly. Again, the Eretz Israel Museum is so vast, with such a large assortment of exhibitions and collections, as well as the permanent buildings and Tel Qasile ruins, that one blog post would just run on and on and on. So, let this be a wrap. More trips, and more posts, coming soon!

Advertisements
  1. […] Israel Museum in Jerusalem, for the very first time. Not to be confused with the similarly-named Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, the Israel Museum is considered Israel’s national museum and is highly regarded […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: