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Photo: Rafi Gross
David Ben-Gurion at a brit milah
Photo: Rafi Gross

Photos in new exhibition show a different side to David Ben-Gurion

Exhibition set to open Oct 16 includes photos and letters gathered from the public, showing the personal connection Israel's first prime minister had with citizens. 'The people mattered to him,' says curator.

We're used to seeing David Ben-Gurion in photos memorializing him declaring Israel's independence, giving speeches at the Knesset, or in meetings with heads of states who were visiting Jerusalem. A new photo exhibition, set to open on his would-be 130th birthday, reveals the more private, day-to-day side of Israel's first prime minister, who was fondly known as "The Old Man."

 

 

One such photo shows Ben-Gurion at the brit milah (circumcision) ceremony of Roee Zivun, a baby born to members of Kibbutz Sde Boker, where the prime minister resided. Ben-Gurion, who was chosen to be little Roee's Godfather, is seen holding the baby and recoiling at the sight of the circumcision.

 

Ben-Gurion at the brit milah of Roee Zivun (Photo: Rafi Gross)
Ben-Gurion at the brit milah of Roee Zivun (Photo: Rafi Gross)

 

Those photos and many others will be exhibited at Ben-Gurion's Hut in Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev starting October 16.

 

The exhibition, titled "The Old Man and the People," will feature photos, letters and other exhibits collected from the public over the past year.

 

Ben-Gurion after the brit milah, looking far more at ease (Photo: Rafi Gross)
Ben-Gurion after the brit milah, looking far more at ease (Photo: Rafi Gross)

 

One photo shows him shaking the hand of Ora Dat, also a member of the kibbutz, on her wedding day.

 

"He was the star of our wedding, so what? He told us to have many children, and we did as he commanded," said Ora Dat, who was in charge of the brit milah ceremonies and other family celebrations in Sde Boker. "He would come to all of the weddings and brit milah ceremonies held in the kibbutz. I think our wedding, in 1968, was the last he attended. Two months earlier, Pola (his wife) had passed away and we were surprised he even shown up."

 

Ben-Gurion at Ora Dat's wedding (Photo: Shlomo Kogel)
Ben-Gurion at Ora Dat's wedding (Photo: Shlomo Kogel)

 

Dat said after the photos from the wedding were developed, she had Ben-Gurion sign them.

 

Ze'ev Zivun, the father of baby Roee, Ben-Gurion's godson of, said: "In 1971, our second son came into the world. In our family photo album, there is a photo of the proud grandfathers, welcoming their second grandchild. In center sits the Godfather, the tribe's elder, David Ben-Gurion, holding eight-day-old Roee—after he met the mohel (the circumciser)."

 

Ben-Gurion, the uneasy Godfather (Photo: Rafi Gross)
Ben-Gurion, the uneasy Godfather (Photo: Rafi Gross)

 

"Ben-Gurion really suffered at brit milah ceremonies," Dat said. "It was quite the torture for him, but he came as a show of respect to the parents. I used to stand close to him to support him, less so the baby."

 

Another photo shows Ben-Gurion getting his hair cut. "Pola came to me and asked that my husband Haimkeh cuts his hair," said Rachel Goldberg. "He wasn't a barber, but a sheep-shearer. Nevertheless he became a barber for everyone. I told her there was no problem, but that I was coming to take a photo of that. Pola sat on a chair next to me and told Haimkeh how much to cut. 'Cut from here and from there.'"

 

Ben-Gurion getting his hair cut by a sheep-shearer as wife Pola looks on, giving instructions (Photo: Rachel Goldberg)
Ben-Gurion getting his hair cut by a sheep-shearer as wife Pola looks on, giving instructions (Photo: Rachel Goldberg)

 

According to Goldberg, "Ben-Gurion's hut was adjacent to the children's house I worked in. He called the kids 'mischievous' and smiled at them. When my son Eran was born, he asked me, 'Why didn't you give him a Biblical name?' When my second son was born, (Ben-Gurion) was the Godfather.

 

"On his 70th birthday, I picked some carnations for him that were growing in the kibbutz. Pola was very involved in what was happening at the kibbutz, and when they came back from trips, they'd show us picture slides. The relations were very friendly."

 

Miri Palmach, the director and curator of Ben-Gurion's Hut, said, "We received hundreds of photos and letters, we haven't had time to go over everything. We're calling on people to bring more things they may have."

 

She went on to say there was a common theme in all of the photos: "Ben-Gurion's personal treatment of the common man, the people. The people mattered to him."

 


פרסום ראשון: 08.28.16, 11:46
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