Album of first Knesset meeting donated to museum

The photos depict Israel’s early leaders, including first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, future prime ministers Moshe Sharett and Menachem Begin, as well as then-chief rabbi Yitzhak Herzog.

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January 21, 2019 00:56
2 minute read.
Danny Levin, Michal Levin, Batya Levin and Knesset Director General Sacharovich

Danny Levin, Michal Levin, Batya Levin and Knesset Director General Sacharovich. (photo credit: MOSHE LEVIN)

 
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The family of an editor of The Palestine Post, renamed The Jerusalem Post in 1950, donated a rare album of photos to the Knesset Museum of the Knesset’s inaugural meeting in 1949 – 70 years ago on Monday, according to the Hebrew calendar.

The photos depict Israel’s early leaders, including first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, future prime ministers Moshe Sharett and Menachem Begin, as well as then-chief rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, president Chaim Weizmann and first Knesset speaker Yosef Sprinzak.




Another photo shows crowds gathered outside the site of the first meeting, in the still-extant National Institutions Building on Jerusalem’s King George Street. The Knesset eventually moved down the block to Beit Frumin in 1950 – the future site of the Knesset Museum – before moving to its current building in 1966.

The photographer, Moshe Marlin Levin, was born in 1921 in Pennsylvania, and was a cryptographer in the US Army in World War II serving under Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in Europe and Gen. Robert Eichelberger in Japan.

Levin moved to Jerusalem with his wife in 1947 and joined The Palestine Post under founding editor-in-chief Gershon Agron.

Agron “looked up at me, asked me what I did, and told me to get in the newsroom,” Levin told the Post in 2012, explaining that he was one of the few people in Jerusalem with a journalism degree.

Levin’s new position at the Post, as a copy editor “rewriting the bad English of some of the German refugees who wrote for them,” sparked a 13-year tenure at the paper that included stints as news editor and diplomatic editor.

On February 1, 1948, Levin survived the bombing of the Post’s headquarters because he had changed his usual seat in the office.

“I generally sat opposite the window, but that night I decided to sit over in the corner in someone else’s seat, who had also gone to Tel Aviv that night. Just before 11 p.m., there was a tremendous blast,” Levin said. “A huge chunk of iron blasted through the window and lodged in the wall right behind my desk. If I had been sitting there, I would have been decapitated.”

Two people died in the blast that was set off by Arab terrorists.

Levin also reported for UPI during the War of Independence, and founded Time-Life’s Jerusalem bureau in 1958. During this career he was an amateur photographer, and at one point was said to be the only person in Israel to own a camera that could take color pictures. He died in 2016.

His wife, Batya Levin, 99, and son Danny Levin, 59, donated the album of their own initiative, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Knesset’s inaugural meeting.

Knesset Director-General Albert Sacharovich called the photo album a “historic gem” that will be used in future Knesset Museum exhibits.

“I call on anyone who has objects or rare photos like these and wants to share them with the public and preserve them in the way they deserve not to hesitate and bring them to us, so we can present them in the Knesset Museum when it opens in 2020,” Sacharovich added.

David Brinn contributed to this report.

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