The Mosaics of Migdal Shalom (Shalom Tower) Tel Aviv
9 Ahad Ha'am Street, Tel Aviv
This is the original site of the first high-school, known as Gymnasia Herzelya. The tower has an observation deck that affords a great view of the city and mosaics by Nahum Gutman and David Sharir.
Nahum Gutman (1898-1978) was born in Romania and immigrated to Israel in 1905. He grew up in Jaffa, opposite the sand dunes (later to become Tel Aviv), and these locations dominate his landscapes. He was one of the first children to live in the new city of Tel Aviv, and this influential childhood experience is reflected in his books A Small City with Few People and Between Sands and Blue Skies. He became known as prolific children's book author, and illustrator. His works earned him the title "the artist of early Tel Aviv" seeing as he had a knack for portraying the bohemian and realistic vision of the city and its people. Gutman is also famous for his illustration of Bialik poems and for mosaics he designed in Tel Aviv: in the Shalom Tower, the Chief Rabbinate Building, and the old City Plaza, Bialik Square. They were created in 1970 and they tell the story of the daily life in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
After his death the Nahum Gutman Museum was founded. It is located in what is considered Tel Aviv's first Jewish neighborhood, Neve Tzedek.
The Mosaic in the western wing of the Shalom Tower tells us of the beginning of the city. The mosaic is divided in four different colors each representing a period in the life of the city.
Chapter 1 - The Green Wall
Old Jaffa, with its houses piled up on top of each other, camel caravans and fishing boats. A large steamship is anchored in the harbour, looking at the children of Tel Aviv like a friend bringing greetings from distant lands. Jaffa is surrounded by orchards, wrapped in the idyllic atmosphere of an enchanted garden.
The trees are made of green arches, looking like the splendid fans of peacock tails. We see an Arab standing at the edge of a pool of water, a donkey turning a water wheel and women carrying jugs of water on their heads.
Chapter 2 - The Yellow Wall
The dominant color is yellow, the color of the sand dunes on which the city is built. All the pictures appearing here are taken from life in the neighborhood of Ahuzat Bayit, as described by the writer Nahum Gutman in his book: A Small Town, With Few People.
We can see a sycamore tree, a focal point for picnics in those days; the public water pipes, which sometimes bursted, producing a jet of water to the delight of the birds; the Gymnasium, taking a place of honor because of its central importance to the neighborhood; Dr. Hissin, the town doctor, riding his white donkey and holding a parasol. On Rothschild's Boulevard, the town's first gardener is watering a sapling whose shape is reminiscent of the emblem of the State of Israel. Mr. Diezengoff's horse is led to the water tower, and a large samovar can be seen in Mrs. Zinna Diezengoff's living room, welcoming the city's residents. Linking the green and the yellow walls is another picture, showing immigrants from the second wave of immigration. They are leaving the harbour carrying bags and cases and going to the Jewish neighborhoods.
Chapter 3 - The Red Wall
This is the axis of the entire picture. In the center is a street lamp, the first in the neighborhood. People are standing around the lamp, staring up at it in wonder, their heads appearing almost separated from their bodies. The atmosphere is both mystical and mysterious. The boys who leveled the sand dunes, are represented by three workmen: one old-timer- already a few days in the country- who has dared to take off his shirt and show signs of a suntan; the second an intellectual- a student, on his first day at the job – his skin still lily-white, apart from his nose which is beginning to redden from the sun. However, he too is determined to overcome the hardships. Leading them is a tanned, veteran worker wearing a middle-eastern keffya and serving as an example to the newcomers.
The cultural beginnings of Tel Aviv- the concert. The violinist and pianist are playing and the entire neighborhood has gathered around the house. On the left we can see construction work, done by a Yemenite boy with the face of an ascetic saint. In addition there is a couple, he a young poet holding a book, and by his side a young woman, new in the country, also carrying a book of poetry. The figure is the actress Hanna Rovina and the poet Uri Zvi Greenberg who are representing poets and artists. Alongside them, at the end of an illuminated patch, is the Gymnasium. On his lunch-break the workman has taken off his shirt and has hung it up to dry, and in the shade he and his friends are sitting and eating watermelon, a nutritious meal in those days.
Chapter 4 - Tel Aviv of the 30s and 40s.
Tel Aviv has outgrown the appellation "little". The city is already established, with rows of houses, the port, the Yarkon bridge, and green avenues. In the 30s Tel Aviv achieved the status of a city and already has a mother whose loving arms embrace the city in all its colors. Her left sleeve is black, and we can make out airplanes on it, a reminder of the bombing by the Italian Air Force during the Second World War. However, in the city that is built and renewed, the main element is its heart. The heart of Tel Aviv is Ahuzat Bayit and the Hebrew Gymnasium.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the Second Generation. Western Wing, ground level.
Opposite the wall by Nahum Gutman is the mosaic wall created by David Sharir, who grew up in Tel Aviv,
Central Wall: Ahuzat Bayit the secondary school Herzlya. Herzl Street. Next to the railroad, some of the dignitaries like:
Levontin, Zalman David (1856-1940), born in Russia. Came to Palestine in 1882, acquired the land on which Rishon-le-Zion was built. Economic conditions forced him to return to Russia the following year. One of Herzl's earliest collaborators, he was the first director of the Jewish Colonial Trust. On his initiative, the Anglo- Palestine Bank was founded in Palestine in 1903 with Levontin acting as its director until 1924.
Dizengoff, Meir (1861-1936), born in Bessarabia. He joined the Hibbat Zion ("Love of Zion") movement in his youth. After living in Palestine for a period, he managed a glass factory in Odessa from 1897 to 1905. He founded the Geula Company to buy land for settlement in Palestine (1904) and returned there the following year. Dizengoff joined the Ahuzat Bayit Society, which was responsible for the foundation of Tel Aviv in 1906, and was henceforth intimately associated with its development. The Turkish authorities expelled him during World War I. From 1921 until his death (except from 1925-1928), Dizengoff was mayor of Tel Aviv and played a leading role in the city's life, founding a number of lucrative businesses and cultural institutions, including the museum. In the mosaic his wife Zinna waters her garden.
Halperin, Michael: Another of the colorful personalities of that period who acquired land and believed in military solutions to political problems in the Palestine of those days. His son Jeremiah Halperin founded the Marine Museum in Eilat.
Hupenko, violinist (in the mosaic seen crossing the street): All the members of the Hupenko family were musicians. He and his wife(a pianist) had a shop in Allenby Street, where they sold sheets and books of music, instruments and tickets to concerts. They also were amongst the founders of a school for music, which later became the Conservatorium.
Krishevsky, Lena (in the mosaic holding an umbrella): The wife of composer and music teacher Krishevsky who taught many of the future music teachers of the country. He composed a.o. the song "Al Sfat Yam Kinneret" (on the shore of Lake Kineret, Sea of Galilee). His violin is exhibited in the Rishon-le-Zion Museum.
In the Mosaic chatting in "The Kiosk" are:
Ben-Zion, Simhah (Simhah Alter Gutman) (1870-1932) a Hebrew Author, born in Bessarabia where he wrote stories of small-town life. After he settled in Palestine in 1905, his work became lyrical and symbolic. Besides fiction and drama, he published textbooks and translated German classics into Hebrew. He is the Father of Nahum Gutman, a famous Israeli painter and author.
Agnon (Czackes), S.Y (Shemuel Joseph) (1880-1970), born in Galicia, now Ukraine. He settled in Palestine in 1909 but he lived in Germany from 1912-1923. Agnon began to write in his youth and achieved success with the first story he published in Palestine, entitled "Agunot" ("Deserted Wives") from which he derived his (last) name. He is regarded as the great epic writer of Modern Hebrew literature, his works having a symbolic content mingling reality and imagination. He wrote in an original Hebrew style, blending elements from the Bible and Talmudic literature. In 1966 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature (together with Nelly Sachs, a Jewish Authoress from Berlin who settled in Sweden). Agnon also received twice the Israel Prize for literature.
Yan, Ira: (In the mosaic painting the old Sycamore Tree). She was Bialik's mistress, however not the only one.
Dr. Hisin, Chaim (1865-1932) (on the donkey): Came to Israel in 1882 as one of the Biluim who formed their Zionist group after the riots in Russia in 1881. In Palestine he got malaria and decided to return to Europe to study medicine. He returned to Palestine as a physician. He was a very beloved person who used to visit his patients on a donkey.
Hager, Samuel (Shmuel): He was the first town gardener.