The Work of Paul Goldman from 1943-1961

On View

September 15, 2005-January 20, 2006


Thursday, September 15, 2005, 6:00-8:00 pm

The Forgotten Photographs: The Work of Paul Goldman from 1943 – 1961, from the collection of Spencer M. Partrich, is an exhibition displaying over 100 rare images documenting Eretz-Israel during the final years of the British Mandate and Israel’s struggle for survival during its first thirteen years. Goldman’s privileged access – as a British Army member and later as a journalist befriended by Israeli leaders – offered a front-row perspective of personal moments at a time of sweeping, historic change.

Goldman was a Hungarian-born photojournalist who fled from Budapest in 1940 with his wife Dina to escape Nazism. Goldman’s simply composed, brightly lit shots represent more than a bystander’s snapshots at a turning point for the Middle East. His images document events, families, leaders, struggles, and hopes, from the period of the British Mandate in Palestine and the arrival of Holocaust survivor immigrants, to the War of Independence, the formative years of kibbutz and agricultural life in the young state, and the development of Tel Aviv as a modern city. Highlights include unusual, personal portraits of Israel’s earliest leaders: David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, doing a headstand at Sharon Hotel beach in Herzliyah in September 1957 after a period of instruction by Dr. Moshe Feldenkreis; Chaim Weizmann, the nation’s first president, and emerging figures destined to gain international fame – Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin, and a young lieutenant colonel commanding a paratrooper brigade in March 1957, today Israel’s prime minister Ariel Sharon.

“This exhibition pays tribute to Paul Goldman, a man whose ability to document extraordinary events with such clarity deserves our renewed recognition,” notes Laura Kruger, curator. “Goldman worked at a time before photojournalism was a respected creative form, and his photographs are now enjoyed as artistic and iconic images. The faces of diplomats, leaders, and ordinary men and women reveal the destiny of Israel. ”

Goldman lived with his wife, Dina, in an apartment in Kfar Sava, outside Tel Aviv. Goldman’s eyesight failed in the early 1960s and he died at home at the age of 86 on November 29, 1986. His only child, Medina Goldman Ortsman, had stored his crates of negatives at her apartment. The tens of thousand of unprinted images remained in kitchen cabinets until a former Goldman colleague, photographer David Rubinger, came looking for one in 1999. TIME magazine had assigned Rubinger to obtain the whimsical shot of Ben-Gurion’s beach headstand for a millennium issue reviewing major figures of the 20th century. Guided by Goldman’s meticulous notepad records, he found negative No. 4410 amid the trove of musty, moldy relics from the Speed Graphic and other cameras.

By 2000, Rubinger was introduced to Partrich, a real estate developer from Farmington Hills, Michigan, by a mutual friend — Dr. Eliezer A. Rachmilewitz, a prominent Israeli hematologist — who knew of Partrich’s interest in historic Israeli photos. Partrich acquired the collection in 2001 before determining its condition or contents. Paul Goldman’s “lost photographs” were on their way to being preserved and presented, moving from kitchen boxes to museum walls. More than 100 of his newly restored images, many never published, were unveiled in September 2004 at the collection’s debut exhibition, held at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel. “It was clear that if we didn’t rescue the collection, it would come to a bitter end,” Dr. Rachmilewitz told Haartez, the Israeli daily newspaper, at the time of the inaugural exhibition.

Goldman’s camera captured peaceful 1945-46 streetscapes and beach scenes in Tel Aviv, including a roasted corn vendor at Mugrabi Plaza and a beggar with a performing monkey. On other days in 1945, however, the same camera pointed at Holocaust survivors from Buchenwald, Auschwitz and other Nazi camps as they landed at the Port of Haifa and reached resettlement camps in Palestine. In July 1946, Goldman raced in his Jeep to the site of an historic attack by Israeli underground fighters against British Army offices at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. He arrived in time to photograph casualties being evacuated from the explosion site, where 91 people died and hundreds were wounded. Historic rarities are part of the treasures restored at a Jerusalem lab. A 1949 photo essay shows the secret journey of Yemenite Jews from Aden to immigrant camps in Israel. Families seen in images of the Goldman exhibition are among 47,000 refugees relocated in an Operation Magic Carpet airlift by 380 American and British planes.

Though the subject matter suggests Goldman earned prominence himself, he worked in anonymity at a time before photojournalism was respected as an art form. News pictures generally appeared un-credited or with a tiny name line. “His images made their way into the national pantheon in almost total anonymity,” notes Shlomo Arad, curator of the collection. “This collection is a treasure for historians and sociologists, students and researchers.”

As they gain wider attention, Goldman’s photographs are earning more admiration than when he was alive. “This exhibition aims, somewhat belatedly, to do justice,” says Arad. Goldman’s close friends and colleagues included the renowned photojournalist Robert Capa, a younger Hungarian who came to Israel in 1948 to cover the new state’s first battles with its neighbors. Capa co-founded the Magnum Photo Agency and became a well-known war photographer, before being killed in 1954 on assignment in Indochina. Two shots of Capa at work in Tel Aviv are featured in the exhibition. Unlike Capa, born in Budapest 13 years after Goldman, the older Hungarian photographer never achieved recognition or financial security from his work.

This exhibition demonstrates the enduring power of Goldman’s photography in capturing history and as a form of artistic expression.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalog, Paul Goldman Press Photographer, 1943-1961.
This exhibition and catalog were made possible by the generous support of Spencer M. Partich and by the coordination of veteran TIME magazine photographer David Rubinger.

Public Program

Spying Out the Land: The Word and The Image in Israeli Culture
Andrea Siegel

(5 weeks) Thursdays | 6:30-8:30 PM | Sept. 15-29 | Oct. 27, Nov. 3. | $160
Using the photographs of Paul Goldman, currently on display at HUC-JIR, as well as those of other photographers, we will examine the image of Israel in photography and literature. Our literary focus will be upon two important modern Hebrew texts: Yehuda Amichai’s poetry collection, Open-Eyed Land, and Ronit Matalon’s novel, The One Facing Us. Andrea Siegel is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern Hebrew Literature at Columbia University and is the Israel Educator at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York. An alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program, she has taught workshops in Israeli culture and the history of Zionism at Makor and HUC-JIR New York Kollel.


Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum The Brookdale Center One West 4th Street New York 10012-1186 (Broadway and Mercer)

Registration/Contact Information

New York Kollel at 212.824.2296 or email

Catalog and photographs available

please contact Rachel Litcofsky, 212-824-2205;

Museum Hours

Mondays-Thursdays, 9 am-5 pm; Fridays, 9 am-3 pm; Selected Sundays, 10 am-2 pm, Sept. 11, 25; Oct. 16; Nov. 13; Dec. 11.


(212) 824-2205;


Free, Photo ID Required