Life in stills

For more than 70 years, the photo studio at number 30 Rehov Allenby has been a Tel Aviv landmark and a museum of sorts.

family photo 311 (photo credit: courtesy of Len Goodman, Ruth Cohen, Hillel Kuttle)
family photo 311
(photo credit: courtesy of Len Goodman, Ruth Cohen, Hillel Kuttle)
For more than 70 years, the photo studio at number 30 Rehov Allenby, near the Ben-Yehuda intersection, has been a Tel Aviv landmark, and a museum of sorts. All the nation’s political leaders and cultural personalities were photographed by the late Rudi Weissenstein, a highly talented portrait photographer, who also photographed Ben-Gurion’s declaration of Independence of the State of Israel. Following his death, his wife Miriam Weissenstein, now aged 97, continued to operate the studio, selling prints from his archive, which, inter alia, contains many valuable photographs from the British Mandate period. She had been his assistant throughout their married life and preserved his memory by continuing to run the photo shop.
A few years back, the building in which the shop is located was purchased by real-estate developers who plan to build a new high-rise complex, although Weissenstein has received assurances that a special place in the project has been reserved for her photo shop.
Meanwhile, with the help of her grandson Ben Peter, she moved this week to her new, temporary premises at Rehov Tchernikovsky 5, which is not too far away from all that is familiar to her.
Among the many visitors to the studio over the years was a young photography student by the name of Tamar Tal, who kept returning again and again. Tal formed a friendship with Weissenstein and decided to make a film about her, which was shown at DocAviv 2007. Tal subsequently met Weissenstein’s grandson, struck up a friendship and decided on a sequel, Life in Stills, which premiered last Monday at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and will be screened again Saturday at ZOA House.
The film also deals with the complex but loving relationship between Weissenstein and Peter, which is occasionally hampered by a family tragedy which, instead of drawing them closer together, tends to push them apart.
The entertainment industry does not impose a retirement age. If the public likes you, you can continue doing your thing indefinitely. Thus entertainers such as Rivka Michaeli, who is in her seventies, are still going strong – though she’s doing less dancing these days.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, but living in Tel Aviv for all of her adult life, Michaeli is one of the stars of the Israeli version of the popular American sitcom Golden Girls, which focused on four retirees who shared a house in Miami, and also shared each others’ problems, including those related to their love lives.
The other three actresses in the series, which premieres on Channel 10 on May 26, are Hannah Laszlo, Tiki Dayan and Mikki Kam – all seasoned, all-round performers whose CVs, like Michaeli’s, include singing, dancing and acting on both stage and screen. However, Michaeli has an edge, with her long-term anchoring of radio and television shows as well. The quartet will help boost the morale of viewers who are in the doldrums as a result of the aging process.
Michaeli plays the role made famous by Estelle Getty who played Sophia, the mother of Dorothy, played by Bea Arthur in the original award-winning NBC series that ran from September 1985 to May 1992.
The show inadvertently got a boost last Friday when Dayan, at the Israel Theater Awards ceremony at the Gesher Theater in Jaffa, was named Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Leitsche in the Beit Lessin/Cameri co-production of Grocery Store.
The Tal Hotel in Tel Aviv has once again become home away from home for the 30 overseas contestants competing in the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein piano competition.
Tal general manager Amnon Krichevsky said that each of the rooms in which they are staying has an addition not usually found in the hotel’s guest rooms: a piano, so the contestants can practice whenever they’re not actually competing.
Other hotel guests who are classical music lovers but were unable to get a ticket for any of the recitals have been able to follow the competition on the hotel’s closed-circuit television. Proving that music is the language of peace, Moroccan pianist Marouan Benabdallah included in his repertoire five pieces for piano by Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim.
The Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv is used to hosting world-famous entertainers, but few if any ever stayed as long as Deep Purple, which had a nine-day booking, even though it had only two concerts scheduled for Israel.
The first concert at the Caesarea amphitheater last Sunday night was a sell-out, which is somewhat spectacular considering that the British rock band was founded more than 40 years ago and lead singer Ian Gillan is 65.
In an interview with Israel Radio’s Eli Lapid, Gillan said that the band has been touring the world, with concerts sold out in 48 countries. During the Communist era, he said, many young people behind the Iron Curtain learned English from records by Western rock singers, which they had acquired through clandestine means, as such records were officially banned.
One of his most moving experiences, Gillan recalled, was when he was on tour in Germany. A man came backstage to see him, told him that he was originally from East Germany and that he had spent three years in jail for being caught in possession of a Deep Purple record.