A tribute to two of the greats

  • 2008-02-13
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - As the old saying goes, a picture can be worth a thousand words. And that is the ideal that many photo journalists strive to achieve 's
a picture which not only arouses emotions but tells a story in itself.
But every once in a while, a photo journalist comes along whose pictures are so emotional, so moving, that no amount of words could compare. Paul Goldman and David Rubinger are two such photographers.
Until the end of the month, the Jewish community center in Riga will be hosting an exhibition which features these two artists' greatest works. The exhibition is titled "Israel: History in Pictures."
All the photos in the two part exhibition were shot in Israel from about 1940 up through the 80s. The fact that they are all in black and white adds to the feeling that these were monumental times for the newly formed country.

The photos cover a wide range of topics 's there are pictures of war and peace, pictures of everyday life and pictures of the great leaders and controversial figures of the times. There are pictures of refugees and settlers, warriors and holy men.
Paul Goldman's photos, the first collection that people will see upon entering the exhibition, focus mainly on daily life in Israel. Photos of street performers surrounded by awed onlookers and of young news boys on the street give a powerful impression of life in Tel Aviv. Photos of settlers setting up small villages and vineyards, meanwhile, show what life was like outside of the city, on the fringes of the country.

Many of his pictures are dedicated to operation "Magic Carpet," the top secret mission to bring Jews from Yemen to Israel. These are some of the most moving of his still shots, showing groups of people huddled in a dilapidated building, waiting to go to the holy land. The best photo, however, was a shot of huge crowds of revelers flooding the street, broken only by a circle of people engaged in traditional Jewish dance.
Goldman (1900 's 1986) began his professional photography career in 1943, shortly after a short stint in the British army. He collected about 40,000 negatives over the next 20 years while working for various international press agencies.

Rubinger's photos, by contrast, focus more on war and prominent political and religious figures. Pictures of soldiers and generals training, patrol-ling and resting after battle dominate the exhibition, along with numerous face shots of powerful figures.
The most touching photos were those of soldiers and officers after the battle, looking weary but strong, catching some rest in the small window of time before the action starts again.

Rubinger (born 1924) began working as a freelance photographer with "Ha'olam Hazeh" (This World, a local publication) in 1948, after serving with the British army in WWII. In 1954, he started regularly taking pictures for Time magazine, eventually signing a contract with them in the 70s. Though now 84 years old, he still regularly works for Time. He is currently on a tour of the United States promoting his new book.
"Israel: History in Pictures" is the first of a string of events the Israeli Embassy, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, will hold to honor the country's 60th anniversary. Other events include a film week and a modern dancing festival sometime this summer 's the Embassy will release more information once there are concrete plans for the events.

The Jewish Community Center
Skolas Street 6
Exhibition open until Feb. 29
Entrance free of charge