The goal now is to find a permanent home for this historic exhibit in a museum that will show it around the country as a traveling exhibit!
Please help make the match!
to sponsor the digitizing of the photographs that have not been printed yet.
This exhibit consists of about 150 of the photographs of Houston;
1,000 more remain to be digitized and are As Yet Unseen.
This new body of work, "As Yet Unseen" is a unique and innovative collaboration between the Du Bois Library of U Mass Amherst, where the "Diana Mara Henry: 20th Century Photographer" collection resides, and the photographer, who will choose the images. Your support and encouragement will be greatly appreciated! If you wish to sponsor the digitizing of unseen images of yourself or one of your heroes,
please email us now.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Adapted from http://www.dianamarahenry.com/MyWalkThroughHistory.htm
All photographs Copyright © Diana Mara Henry. No reproduction of any kind, anywhere, without written permission of Diana Mara Henry
Woman on the Move....perhaps it’s from being a Gemini! When people hear of all the places I’ve been, they are amazed. For me, it just flowed. When something happens around me, it is a sign that I must pay attention to, even follow. “I’m so glad you were there with your camera!...with friendship, Gloria.”[Steinem] “ I want you to know how much I enjoyed reviewing the wonderful photographs on your website. They certainly evoked a time in our lives when all things seemed possible.” [Letty Cottin Pogrebin]
Being the official photographer for the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year... that flowed from hearing Bella, on the radio, in 1972, the year I also photographed McGovern, the Democratic National convention in Miami Beach, the Mini-convention in Washington DC, and did the photography for Liz Holtzman’s successful first bid for Congress. (As seen on my website: www.dianamarahenry.com)
Bella’s voice- booming, assertive, vibrant, - unlike my mother’s resolute silence and the traditional dictates of “feminine grace” attracted me like a magnet. Photographing her at that first press conference at the Battery, kneeling at her feet, I dropped my camera in excitement at the photographs I was getting and at the promise of wider vistas than any reality I had known before.
Edith Entratter, my mother, child of Polish immigrants to the Lower East Side, put her hair up when she was 12 and went to work in the factories.My father, Carl Henry, was a wealthy dreamer, a Communist, and, after their marriage, a combatant in the European Theater, World War 2. He wrote letters home every day, and those can be seen along with more of their remarkable love story and World War II adventure, at http://www.frontseattowar.com.
After the War, Carl and Edith Henry started Lucky Stride Shoes in Maysville, Kentucky.
My father was an influence on me, his only child, in ways that this photo of us playing checkers together on the Italian Riviera shows.
My father shared his interests, as in advertising, which he analyzed for me, pointing out how the images and the words conveyed a message and manipulated the consumer...Heady stuff and surely an influence on my fascination with and belief in the power of images to mold opinion. My father was also an amateur filmmaker who made long films of his European trip when he was 13, films that were shown for months on end back home in Cincinnati...and he indulged my early enthusiasm for the first film I ever saw, North by Northwest, by taking me to see it over and over when I was eleven, in 1959, the year it came out. Before that he took me to see animation festivals at the Cincinnati Museums which also sparked a wonder and a sense of fun that have never left me in my creative contact with photography and now with the computer and website design.
After a failed three-week stint of living in Rome, from which for some reason my parents thought they could commute to Maysville, Kentucky where they had their factory, my mother prevailed in getting my father to sell the business and relocate us to NYC.
I attended the Lycée Français de NY then from 6th to 12th grade, going to Radcliffe a year early at age 17 after 6 years of Latin and 4 years of Greek, winning all the top prizes for scholarship (well, except for Math and Sciences), being President of my class several years running, playing in our little Ionesco productions, and getting a taste of foreign policy and history-in-the-making with the election of Kennedy, Castro coming to Harlem, Kruschev to the UN, and the assassination of JFK.
Photo Copyright by Timothy G. Carlson, of “Diana the Huntress of Intriguing Imagery”
at her trade school training ground, the Harvard Crimson....
In four years of college I never had ONE, not one, female faculty member! And my experience was not the exception, but the rule. (There was however a great female dean who fought tooth and nail to keep me from failing out, even if it meant scheduling exams just for me that I had forgotten to take, or pleading with a prof of “French Culture” to change an E to a D, even though I had eschewed attending his class ...)
After graduation in 1969, working for NBC News, the prospects are dim for women who want to go beyond researcher in broadcast journalism after 40 years at the company: either sleep with a man or go to Vietnam, and you might do something interesting...The women who first made it as anchors were class of ’72, we were three years too early. Friend Barbara, also working for NBC, who also graduated from Radcliffe (Harvard diploma) and I used to meet in the ladies room and cry during our breaks, we were so disappointed. (Barbara eventually became head of a major independent school and then Mayor of an important western city, so society benefited from her talents eventually, thank goodness....)
After NBC assignment ended, I became a general assignment reporter at the Staten Island Advance, and was assigned to cover the Alice Austen House, which led me back to photography through the work of this genius independent woman with a passion for all that was new, exciting, and humane. As I eventually came to know her work, I realized that when I was learning about photography by looking at the work of the greats in the photo sanctum at the Crimson, we had never turned the pages of a book on the work of a woman photographer- and I guessed suddenly there must be others than Margaret Bourke White, who was sometimes mentioned in an aside - just to be fair.
I still would like to do the book I thought of doing then- for young people on the work of the greats: Margarethe Mather, Alice Austen, Carlotta Corpron, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Tina Modotti, Laura Gilpin ....Eventually I did the photography for the historic structures report, lobbied for a Staten Island ferry to be named in Alice Austen’s honor, helped put a gravestone on her unmarked grave, and helped organize the successful lobbying campaign that got the city of NY to invest more than a million dollars in creating the historic house Museum in her name at the foot of the Verazzano Narrows as part of the NYC Park system.
I believe it is our noblest enterprise to pay homage and continue the work and name of the great and good human beings who went before us. It is a source of dismay that the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, that holds a collection of both Bettye Lane’s and my work rejected my pleas to nominate us for the National Women’s Hall of Fame despite the fact that if she, first, and then I and she had not documented the women’s movement, there would be no visual record of it today.
Where are the honors for us, your visual historians? Your Bella awards, your honorary degrees, your nominations for arts prizes...for her and for me? Nancy Cott - the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute - wrote me, when I asked for her to nominate Bettye and me for an award: “I hope you understand that no nomination can come from the Schlesinger Library itself, or carry its imprimatur. As a matter of policy the library does not engage in this sort of activity, which would require weighing and discriminating among the many women represented in our collections who might be seeking various sorts of nominations or honors.” And how exactly would an honor for Bettye Lane or for me - or better still for us both - denigrate anyone else at the Schlesinger?
I photographed one-room schools and school teachers, for which I received my first Museum exhibit - at the Brattleboro [Vermont] Museum - and my first grant - from the NY State Council on the Arts. I began to teach - at the International Center of Photography, for which I designed and directed the community Workshop Program in the late 1970’s, and at Federal Penitentiary, among many, many varied locations.
I became an independent scholar of the resistance and the Nazi concentration camp of Natzweiler-Struthof and its 70 kommandos that, like most of the concentration camps, enslaved mostly non-Jews and some secret Jews. I now lecture and publish on the brave warriors who for their actions merited to suffer the Nacht und Nebel decree, including André Joseph Scheinmann, the German Jewish spy who became my hero and my guide to facing the ugly realities of life in order to survive.
I had the incredible honor of bringing into the world and bringing up a daughter.
My work now resides in the archives of the Du Bois Library of U Mass Amherst as the “Diana Mara Henry; 20th Century Photographer” collection, yet I retain the copyright and rights to publish and license the work for 25 years. I speak to all groups and associations who will have me and have just published a first book of my work.
My opinions, informed by my government major as an undergrad at Harvard, as a person who has confronted and lived with those with a mental illness, and as an independent scholar of fascism and resistance in WWII, do not conform with the willingness of people to flock after demagogues (people with good speaking voices) and to welcome totalitarian rule or with those who say all cultures are the same and feminists who ignore the torture and terror and honor killings that afflict millions of women in our world today. I respect Phyllis Chesler, a thinker and writer who has kept her integrity.
"Your photos are beautiful and represent such a powerful and passionate time in American history. I believe these photos will last and many years from now they will be looked at and studied just as Mathew Brady' s classic and haunting Civil war photos are today." Please feel free to use this phrase and the one I gave to you the other day ['Thank you for being a part of history.'] as a blurb in your important new book! Best Wishes! Ron Kovic." Thank YOU, Ron!
And what about our world today?
Who besides Phyllis Chesler speaks for these women and girls today?
2/13/13 Hello from Dublin!
I had decided to send an occasional email from my trip ( remember postcards, you ancient ones?) so this is the first…Apparently it snows in Dublin, as the piles along the gate areas attest. So, why am I in Dublin, when I was SUPPOSED to be in Amsterdam, right around now? Well, about four hours into the flight, I felt and heard a rumble-might have been a muffled explosion, I presumed, from the underneath of the plane. The lights mostly went out, the Clint Eastwood film ( about baseball ) went off, and stewardesses marched up and down the aisles, so we knew it was something. The pilot eventually (maybe 10 minutes) came on an said that one of the “engines” had a problem and was not functioning up to par, so we would be landing sooner than Amsterdam…probably in Shannon. He did tell us the plane was functioning beautifully(his word) except of course for the engine in question. I was reminded that on those long propeller transatlantic flights (15 hours NY-Paris,) we used to stop in Shannon to refuel. Anyway, that was changed to Dublin and now they are thinking of diverting a Delta flight that was Detroit-Amsterdam to stop here in Dublin to pick us up. A big thank you to the pilot who seemed to have no trouble landing at a different airport in the dark and the fire trucks and all apparatus they said would be surrounding the plane- not to be alarmed – never showed up, so I suppose it was not an explosion/bomb as I thought after all and the possibility that the landing gear were affected, fortunately, was only another figment of my paranoid imagination. As we left the plane, I thanked the pilot profusely for doing such a good job, and he said: :Yes, on only one engine!!”
As I had a 12-hour stop-off in Amsterdam, I am not at this point expecting to be late or need toget a different flight to Israel. Stay tuned….
Oh, one more thing, I was happy to have a lovely sweet Valentine from Patricia F. to look at between rifling through my bag for pretzels, zinc spray, and psalms…See how every nice thing you’ve done can mean so much. Ditto the last minute emails and phone calls from Peter B, Karen T, Mitch P, Barbara M-L, back from Macchu Pichu and happy to be home!
Much love to all, be happy…Diana
12 hours later…(2/13)
Despite losing half of my day’s layover in Amsterdam, I still managed about three hours away from the airport. Beautiful train (about $12 round trip for the 15-minute ride) like butter into Amsterdam, then cute little tram (costs about $5 for an hour…) to the Rijksmuseum- stood and cried in front of the Night Watch, remembering standing there with my mom (Dad in the background, Mom pointing things out to me) about 55 years ago…It is all shiny and bright and colorful now, not at all gloomy as when we saw it. Went to the Anne Frank House which is so tiny and sad. Many people there experiencing her life being shut down, and the lives of those who were imprisoned with her, and their would-be protectors’, and the millions with her…Hope to write next from Israel…Be good! Diana
I got in at 3 a.m. on 2/14 and had a very Israeli time of it getting the jitney (shared van) from the airport, for $16 to your door in Jerusalem, about an hour’s drive…First you tell them where you want to go, standing on the sidewalk. The first driver discourages you by saying you have too much baggage and that you would be the last one to be dropped off. The next one isn’t sure about taking you either, but finally says okay. In you go and when every seat is taken, cheek by jowl, you decide to ask the pretty sweet-smelling young blond next to you if it is her first time in Israel…Yes, the young woman who grew up in NJ for four years, and has lived all over the world since then, probably originally from Russia, has been working for the same boss for 12 years. She has become friends with him and his wife, orthodox Jews, and they have invited her to show her Israel. Big business, she helped grow it from just a few people and every year she says it changes so much it is a completely new company. They fabricate Barbies in China and she has been there. She flew from Sao Paolo to Turkey and from Turkey on a terrible little plane to Israel. After Israel she is going back to Turkey for ten days before heading home. She wonders why the roofs are flat, and why the houses look so poor, and is so excited to see she is going to see what she has read about in books.
Other young people are going to be dropped off at the Jaffa Gate…they will be met, they say (by whom?)
Oh and on the plane from Amsterdam I insisted on keeping my aisle seat even though a man had taken it to be with his wife and child. They gave him a seat right behind her but she was furious, and kept turning her back on me and pushing her butt under the armrest into my lap, to which I responded by doing the same. I didn’t reciprocate the elbows in my arms, however…After about two hours of skirmishing, she turns a glowing smile on me which was even more terrifying than the previous m.o. and asks me what time it is. She then proceeds to “make friends,” telling me in very broken English (better than my Portuguese!) that she was in Carnaval on a float in costume this year and that her daughter, 5 years old, is going to be baptized in the River Jordan, that it is their first time in the terra sancta and that she is head of the department of Pedagogy at the University of Rio and her husband a professor of Archeology there, and when I take out a book to show her my photographs, she throws her arms around me to hug me and thank me for the gift and asks me to autograph it and her husband insists that when I come to Rio I will stay with them….Five bottles of wine she had …
2/15/13 From Jerusalem
Went shopping with Bruce at the supermarket and learning how to use my cell phone. A brilliant sky and sunshine, didn’t realize how grueling the cold had been until I stepped outside last night and the 60 degree night air greeted me.
Amazing the cherry blossoms and fennel and the wild cyclamens in the great canyon between my cousin’s house and the hill with another community opposite. It will be made into a park any day but for now the jackals yip and howl there at twilight. The streets in this religious neighborhood become thronged with people and excitement as the day of revival ends and a week of new strength begins.
After Shabbat, my cousin’s son and I went to the Jerusalem mall to buy him running shoes and jeans…Feasted my eyes on a 20 year old young macho man with bling watch, black leather jacket, lots of attitude, and his sidelocks tucked around his ears and tsitsis (strings to remind him of G-d).
2/17 Starting out with Roxane, Bruce’s cousin, on the bus- I had an amazing day last time I came to Jerusalem, starting out on my trip downtown with her. Today would be the same, I hoped, if I started it out with her, and it was. We galloped down the hillside of the canyon to catch the bus at the bottom, Roxane stopping to admire the flowers in bloom under the rain and the wild places where a rushing stream sometimes comes. I changed some Swiss francs I had kept for 20 years, thinking some day I might need them to make an escape. My Jewish friends will understand and others might note this is a consideration that is always with us. I just decided if I have to escape anywhere, it won’t be to Switzerland and I’d rather have a good time here. The funny thing was, one of the bills was suspicious to the young change woman, and so I had to come back so her boss could give the okay that it was good. After shopping for sundries, and Hebrew primers, I was drawn inexorably toward the place where I had gone to catch a city bus two years ago for the grave of Rachel, ( as in Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, the matriarchs, wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.….) Since I am now paying only 80cents senior fare I revel in the best-kept secret in Jerusalem, which not even many locals know, that one doesn’t need a tour to go there, since it is only 6 miles away, in Bethlehem – basically a suburb of Jerusalem, although for a short time one side of the road offered a view of a Bedouin shepherd with about a dozen sheep ( or were they goats?) The entrance to the tomb has been built up since even two years ago- one now enters one’s heritage site through a canyon of concrete walls on each side to protect the buses. I don’t think of Jews being safe visiting Bethlehem and they are forbidden to visit Jericho, the first town that surrendered to Joshua on return from Egyptian exile 3,500 years ago. The house next to the tomb which my brave friend Evelyn Hayes has kept in Jewish hands as a community center has shot-out windows and steel shutters on the second floor where the house of study is. ANYWAY, Rachel, Born: 1514 BCE.Died: 1552 BCE giving birth to her second son, Benjamin (her first was Joseph of the Technicolor dreamcoat) died on the way from Haran (today’s Syria) as Jacob was bringing his family home from her father’s house, and was buried where she died, and is said to cry for her children to return to their land. Her crying must be working, because her children are coming home, and even yours truly loves to visit her each time I go to Jerusalem and look forward to being with her there when at last she is comforted and all her children come home. (The above- mentioned six other ancestors are all buried in Hebron, as well as it is thought, Adam and Eve, in a site that Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for an exorbitant sum, recorded in that ancient text of ours.) Wikipedia has extensive quotes from that text as well as a description of the control of this site by a predatory political entity that takes over and occupies other religions’ sacred sites when it isn’t destroying them ( the giant Buddhas of Afghanistan, the grave of Joseph in Shechem/Nablus, the Egyptian antiquities savaged and now being threatened…)
ANYWAY- I met the most amazing woman on the way home to Jerusalem and she invited me to come stay with her when I journey up North in a couple of weeks, G-d willing. She was born three days after her family made aliyah ( moved up) to Israel in 1950 from Mumbai, where she said her family lived for generations. So stay tuned, y’all…I have to get some sleep and be up early early to go to the Army!
So two weeks in the Army really takes its toll on the diary, especially since I didn’t want to risk bringing my computer ( even though we had safes but I didn’t know that ) and we weren’t allowed to go on the internet ( even though about half of the volunteers did anyway.) I will have to sum up which isn’t fair to the vivid and fun times we had.
We were a large group for the program, about 35 men and women from age 18 to 87, from Sweden, the US, Canada and England…Christians from Texas doctors, lawyer, retired government educational consultant in budget, retired primary school teachers, art advisor, chiropractor, massage therapist, retired farmer, kids waiting to get into the Israel Army, the girls from Sweden just bumming around before college, a woman from Manchester, England, whose physician husband who stayed at home and she started an emergency help call center for Jews victimized by Moslems in that city and requiring medical and social work assistance.
Many old-timers in this group, which was impressive: some had been back to the program dozens of times, and one couple over 85 times. I figure that means they had spent over 4 years in the army.
Now we’ weren’t “really” in the Army- just housed on an IDF base and not allowed to leave for 5 days while we slept in dormitory rooms ( 4-6 to a room)
Wore uniforms that just barely fit and were full or holes, darned or not…My fly had only one working button, one too small, and one broken, so you can imagine the scandal!
We ate with the soldiers at lunch but only a few of the guards at Breakfast and dinner, as this is a base where the soldier population (unlike us) is there mostly during working hours. Actually, I can’t say the base…just the part of it we were in, which was a locked area within the vast perimeter. It is the medical base for all Israel’s armed forces. We unpacked boxes of supplies that might have expired items, searched and destroyed those ( saline, bandages etc.) and repacked into wooden chests, boxes, and backpacks, to go back to the medics in the field. We only worked about 5 hours a day, some more, but we were told the economic benefits of our volunteering are tremendous. And as mostly type A personalities, we worked like dogs. Our “clubhouse” room had a library of books left, fridge, coffee maker, microwave, and treats everyone contributed, as well as a flat-screen TV where we could catch Seinfeld or CNN or the Discovery channel. Mostly people gabbed and the US veterans swapped tales. Helped a veteran of 16 trips dress for Purim as a bride - in all the discarded strapping tape and broken gauze and unwrapped tourniquets ( better not to visualize any of this stuff in use) and acted as her “Bridesmaid” with some of the same but far fewer acoutrements, including a “bouquet” or pink and white labels and a scissors, wrapped in a gauze bow. Pretty! She won a pair of earphones. I got the fun of seeing her so excited and happy
I’ve attached Rochelle’s poem at the end, written when she was last on a tour of duty with Sar-El, five months ago....
Dynamite speaker, great topic, eye-popping videos: former IDF colonel Benzi Gruber, Ph.D, on “Ethics in the Field” I recommend asking him to speak to your group in the US, where he will be visiting in April...(dial from US 347-216-5180) www.bentzigruber.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Food: impressive at lunch, with a dozen raw and cooked salads, tahini, hummous, and dubious burgers and hotdogs, pretty monotonous at breakfast and dinner with cucumber and tomato salads ( no dressing) cottage cheese, sour cream, jelly and vegetable soup, with either some kind of egg or “pancaki” and a slop that was sometimes grey and sometimes pink and looked like starch and that I don’t think anyone of our group tasted. Some folks brought their own food and one could understand why! Back at the warehouse, our boss Moshiach, from Iraq, was really a hon, and he loved driving that forklift around like he was playing at bumper cars. We joked about the working conditions which would have had OSHA shut us down in a twinkling. But we had fun dodging the forklift and working the plastic sealing machines and yanking our fingers away from the strapping tape sealing machine…
Here’s the sweet video the counselor made of our group and our activities:
As for the rest of the days past, two weekends ago I was in Shilo for Shabbat, arriving well ahead on the bus from Jerusalem and an empty highway through the “settlements” as the world calls the Jewish villages and the Arab villages with their signs of “No Israeli citizens allowed as a danger to your lives.” One can’t even imagine that at the entrance to a Jewish village and no one talks about Palestinian “apartheid.”
Marc has been doing security assistance for 30 years for this area and a man from Eish Kodesh (HOLY FIRE) a village of 25 souls, came to receive a pair of binoculars from Marc that were donated by One Israel Fund. They came with instructions from Marc: look into the Arab village and watch the movements, so you can figure out when they are coming against you before they are on your hillside. And indeed, after Shabbat, Marc heard that the binoculars had really saved lives; the watchers (doing this on their “day off” – Shabbat is meant for prayer, family, food, sleep, making love and a taste of Paradise) saw the mass of 250 men forming to come up against them, and were able to get the IDF there to protect them by the time the hostile force reached their homes.
Of course you won’t, and most of Israel doesn’t, hear this on the news….Marc says the West Bank is in upheaval and attacks and planned attacks are continuous and continuously being foiled, many by the group he started under One Israel Fund, No More Jewish Victims.
(Some of you know Barbara and I toured Israel with OIF in 2003, and had the privilege and pleasure of seeing Gaza’s greenhouses before they were destroyed by the occupiers when Israel turned it over in 2004, and dedicated a playground no doubt also destroyed, and ate lunch on its beautiful beach…What a paradise this region could be without its hate mongers calling the shots for people who want to enjoy the beauty of life and interfering with the glory the alliance of two peoples could engender.)
Here's one of those "setlers" you so revile ( see all the beautiful land they are "occupying?") Mother and child at Adei Ad, homeland of the Jewish people.
Well, Marc, also showed me the beginnings of a dig that is uncovering the site of the tabernacle that resided in Shilo for 369 years before David brought it to Jerusalem to prepare for his son Solomon’s building of the temple. Nearby is a small “museum” or three-room building mostly graced by Marc’s wife Suri’s looms and weavings, where she teaches biblical crafts. A visitor’s center on the hill is up and will hopefully greet more people soon to this historic Jewish site.
Back early on Sunday morning to the base allowed for not much sightseeing but after my second week I have been catching up. Today all day I roamed around Jerusalem, first with cousin Bruce in the fabulous ( for ingredients ) shouk or open air and covered passageway market of Machane Jehuda ( encampment of Judah) which is one of Jerusalem’s dozens of small neighborhoods. ( By the way, we learned during the quiz show program one evening ( every evening a program of a film, speaker, fun and games with an Army information or Israeli pride theme) that J. is the largest of Israel’s cities- with over 800,000. It really is becoming beautiful, unlike Tel Aviv which, as we drove through it, someone in our group compared to Tijuana. ( We weren’t near the beach or big buildings of downtown when he said this though.)
I bought figs, and dates, and pistachios, and you should have seen the radishes as big as oranges and the spice markets and smelled the fragrances and heard the men calling out their prices…avocados, 25cents, etc. I had a grin on my face that would not stop. I had a roll of black and white film developed from a camera I found still had film in it, and there were photos from 23 years ago of Barbara in her bonnet hiking in Hatton Canyon. Perfect as could be.
Yesterday I went to the Dead Sea by bus and picked the nearest beach, Hof Mineral (Mineral Beach). What a dreamy day of smearing mud over the body, letting it dry, going in the barely cool water to wash it off, chat with Sender the life guard who came here ( “made aliyah” or “went up”) from Brooklyn in 1959 and up for a massage with the lovely lady Bar from Sweden, salad lunch, hot sulphur springs pool, reprise of beach routine….and an icecream. No Israelis there as visitors (must have been working, says my cousin) but tons of Japanese, Germans, Scandinavians, and three business school students from U of Michigan…. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g293979-d1181603-Reviews-Mineral_Beach_Dead_Sea-Dead_Sea_Region.html (gives phone number and they speak English so you can make an appointment in advance.) Check with them when leaves the last bus right from the Beach.
Well, the birds are beginning to twitter and I must get two hours sleep.
Sleepless in Jerusalem…Going up today to the Ghetto Fighter’s House Museum, claiming to be the first holocaust history museum, with an emphasis on resistance, My cup of tea! Meeting with the moderator of the H-Holocaust listserve who is doing me the honor of joining me there. The archivist has 80 documents from Natzweiler ready for me. What a thrill. I feel quite blessed to be treated with such courtesy and consideration. Perhaps will go back to Acre with my new listserve friend for some R+R and a visit to that lovely “Crusader port” city, that I haven’t seen in over 50 years…
From Jerusalem to Acco, round trip: cost $17. Lohamei Hagetaot offers a vast, stunning and a devastating explication of the Holocaust, with more emphasis on the resistance than I had seen and great documentation. Many of the founders of that Kibbutz of the same name were fighters of the Warsaw ghetto and elsewhere. The Library and archive are overseen by the incomparable Dafna, who served as an officer in the IDF ( Israel Defense Forces ) for 10 years. The kibbutz, one of the few in Israel still working on the old communitarian system, provides rooms at $50 per night. Still, I was met by the moderator of H-Holocaust who lives in Acco, and there was no where to eat nearby, so we went tot the best small appetizers and fries place I have been to, next to the bus station. I ended up in a room on the beach….
Acco ( Acre ) Eli the chef at my hotel wants to marry an American woman and come to the US, because there is not enough money to be made in Israel.
I changed to the hotel next door because I couldn’t get internet, and decided to rest and then go sightseeing. That wasn’t a success.
First I had a gonif of a taxi driver who charged me twice the going rate for the short trip to the beginning of the old city. Then I was turned away from the Acre Underground Prisoners Museum They asked for my passport and I told them I didn't have it with me, but I gave them the Matzrap Volunteer card and my Vermont driver's license. The guard spoke very good English; he asked me how many times I had come to Israel. I said it was my 6th trip and that I had first come to Acco in 1959. He took my cards to his "director" and came out immediately to say that I was being refused entrance, that this was a government museum and their rules were different. I got the Director's name: YoavVaknin... I am devastated. I spent all of yesterday at the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum, doing research, being given an office and every consideration, for my websites www.natzweiler-struthof.com and www.callmeandre.com. The AkkoHotel said they have heard of this happening before, I want to write a letter to the minister of Tourism or something. The Palm Beach Hotel is nice. I walked to the old port and from there asked a Jewish-flag flying restaurant to call me a cab, which only cost 14 shekels instead of the 30 the first driver charged me to go half the distance.
Anyway…the old city of Akko is a very exotic place- look at the fat man in the corner of the hookah palace, on the square, leering with woozy eyes…look at the mutilated cats, others mewing in terror as they can’t know where to go in this torture zone…you’re in a non-Jewish culture now…
3/7 Back to Jerusalem what a relief! Back to Agrippas street, the little shops, the open air market with the quaint old books, jewelry, fresh pomegranate and orange juice, and sleep. Found the quaintest little inn, y’all- quiet beautifully clean apts….right off the market. Around the corner from the little Moroccan shop where the lady Mazal rules… Amazing jewelry, djellabahs from the Atlas mountains, pottery with filigree of silver….
3/8 I ‘ve decided to go hear Pinchas Zuckerman, who I heard is the most amazing violinist…I reserved by phone and walk my big fancy hauler (it’s an Israel thing- they’re very tacky and very handy…) to …”Is this the way to the shymphony?” I ask the woman my age walking past me….”Do you mean the Philharmonic or the symphony?” she asks…”They’re very different things….” OMG, I want to throw up. Anyway, I get to the symphony which is introduced by a 15 minute pompous monologue in Hebrew about the pieces to be played…What’s the deal here? And then the pieces themselves which were…well…not the best. I mention my impression to my neighbor in the subscription seat next to me, who waves her hand “It’s one of his best!” Where was that barf bag, again?
Anyway, racing off to Efrat on the next to last bus before they stop service on Friday afternoon (til after sunset on Saturday.) The Bermans, Gayle and Harold from the house behind me in Springfield, who left for Israel five years ago….have written a wonderful diary of their journey to traditional Judaism, he from a reform Jewish background and she from a Christian one...I skipped services that night in the bunker ( services in Shilo were held in the neighborhood bunker too…) There must be something about a bunker (like that it’s less than a black away) that makes it all friendly-like. Anyway, the next day, we go to a “real shul,” and at the Kiddush afterward- zam! A great, amazing, deep, challenging devar torah (lesson) in English by Rabbi Mois Navon! Off to Hilary and Eliyahu, old friends who started out as guests from B&B daysfor a delicious delightful lunch….then on the way back, a most charming time in the playground with exercise equipment and Gayle, Ilana her daughter and moi on the whirly gigs and the teeter-totters. Sometimes (often) the best times aren’t exactly what you would have predicted…
Did I tell you about going to see Quartet at a cute little art theatre (the Smadar) in the quaint old shaded German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem, where you can also sit and have coffee or a meal, and borrow a book? I recommend the film highly - anything with Tom Courtenay, whose role in The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner was the first troubling hint of the real world I caught, when I was 14, in Greenwich Village….
March 10- Finished packing and off to Tel Aviv, which has the weirdest bus station - weirdest public building - bar none - anywhere – scene from hell, stairs that don’t lead anywhere, floors on different levels, no way to find the ticket office or the departure gates! So rattled I decided to go stright to the coffee shop where I was to have my first meeting and fell into the beauty salon next door for a manicure that mercifully lasted until my rendez-vous with the charming Jan Suzanne Krasner whose blogs are the best! Since every café in Tel Aviv has liquor I just had to order a large cappuccino with a half shot of Irish whisky on the side, to further settle my nerves. Then another meeting and another Irish coffee with the delightful curator of photography and then dinner with two of cousin Bruce’s most charming daughters - only the one who is in the army now, and works for public radio, couldn’t join us. Rizzotto and crème brulee were great, company even better. I made them promise not to make me get back on the bus alone and Leyla accompanied me to the bus station and put me on the bus, after we toured a few more scenes from hell…..
3/11, departure day. I go to Yad Vashem to hear the verdict on Call Me André, and there sits the man riffling through the pages of my book, and I think, OMG, he hasn’t read it until now and he’s just skimming it to be able to say something before he gives it back, and he says: “With your permission I will submit this to our editorial director for a reading by two peer reviewers (in all humility, where will they find anyone as knowledgeable about Natzweiler as yours truly?) and we will have an answer for you in 3-6 months. André is smiling now, I owe him so much I hope this works.
What a great way to conclude my visit to Israel! I am off after dinner with Roxane and Avi, my cousin Bruce’s wife and son ( Bruce is teaching ) at a quaint Moroccan trendy busy place in an alley off Agrippas, which has become my favorite hangout in Jerusalem. Absolutely delicious send off …. Going home was a bit easier than coming, made friends with the nice “Palestinian” woman in the seat next to me, who worked from the time she was 14 as a domestic until she married at 19, and now was returning to Atlanta from a two-week trip to Jordan, paid for by her daughter who is on SSI…with suitcases full of dresses and gifts for the wedding of her granddaughter, coming up. Kind of a great transition.
So I am thinking of going back to Israel with friends, within a year. Anyone up for the adventure?
PS. Some of my favorite websites/blogs about Israel:
Countering media lies:
News about the economic miracle, debunking Palestinian demographics:
From the heart reporting from the everyday point of view:
An amazing film short about the birth of the Israeli airforce with 4 planes and 4 world war 2 US pilots:
A daily dose of joy and pride about Israel:
Nobel Peace Laureate David Trimble, member of the British House of Lords, took the floor at the UN Human Rights Council, in a debate on Israeli settlements, to deliver this statement on behalf of the Geneva human rights group UN Watch. March 18, 2013:
"Stop Undermining Peace by this Councils's habit of singling out only one specific country [Israel] to the exclusion of virtually everything else."
And with a wide-ranging expertise about the problems, and this link in particular to put it in perspective: