Tel Aviv Museum head Mordechai Omer dead at 70

Director and chief curator passes away after brief battle with cancer

Mordechai Omer, the director and chief curator of the Tel Aviv Museum and Professor at the Faculty of Arts at Tel Aviv University, passed away towards the end of last week after a relatively brief battle with cancer.
He was 70 years old.
Because he was religiously observant, his family rejected a proposal by the board of the Tel Aviv Museum to have his body lie in state in the plaza in front of the Museum so that the public could pay its respects and then proceed to the old Trumpeldor Cemetery which is the final resting place for many of Tel Aviv’s cultural icons.
The fact that he was buried on Friday, on the day that the Gay Pride parade had taken over so much of Tel Aviv, may have influenced his family’s decision to hold the funeral in Jerusalem’s Shamgar funeral parlor and later at the capital’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery which overlooks the Tel Aviv highway.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was among those who delivered eulogies, and declared in a voice choking with emotion, that in the 13 years that he had known Omer, who served as director of the Tel Aviv Museum for 17 years, the two had developed a deep and warm friendship and mutual respect.
Huldai compared Omer to Moses who had led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness, but had been denied the right to enter the Promised Land.
Omer had the vision for what the Tel Aviv Museum should be said Huldai, but he was unable to fully experience the reality of that vision, because he was taken too soon.
It was painful to realize the similarities between Omer’s fate and that of Moses, said Huldai.
Also among the mourners were Israel Museum director James Snyder and several other leading figures from the Israel Museum.
Omer was an intellectual with an incredible range of knowledge not only about art but on many subjects which in some way or another were related to art or to art history.
He contributed greatly to the fostering of Israeli art by encouraging young Israeli artists and showing their exhibitions alongside those of more established Israeli artists, many of whom made the journey to Jerusalem to bid him a last farewell.
He was also a prolific writer, and wrote many of the Tel Aviv Museum’s catalogues as well as several books.