Yaacov Agam - Sculptor
Yaacov Agam, born Yaacov Gipstein on May 11, 1928, is an Israeli sculptor and experimental artist best known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art. Born in Rishon LeZion, Israel (Palestine at the time) to a religious family and the son of a Rabbi, Agam trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, then moved to Zurich, Switzerland and later settling in Paris in 1951. Agam had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Graven in 1953 and established himself as one of the leading pioneers of kinetic art at the Le Mouvement exhibition at the Galerie Denise René in 1955. His best known pieces include "Double Metamorphosis III" (1965, can be seen at the Modern Museum of Art in New York), "Visual Music Orchestration" (1989) and fountains at the La Défense district in Paris (1975) and in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv (1986). He is also known for a type of print known as an Agamograph, which uses lenticular printing to present radically different images, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. His works are placed in many public places including "Communication: Night and Day" at the AT&T building in New York (1974). In 1996 Agam was awarded the Jan Amos Comenius Medal by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) for the "Agam Method," demonstrating the visual education of young children.
Nurit Zarchi - Writer & Poet
Born in Jerusalem in 1941, Nurit Zarchi was moved and raised by her mother in Kibbutz Geva after her father died. Later she trained as a teacher during her military service and returned to Jerusalem to study humanities at the Hebrew University. She has worked as a journalist and published essays about literature and art. She teaches creative writing to university students and conducts workshops for adults and young adults. In Israel, Zarchi is famous for her children’s books which are characterized by a creative and inventive use of language and humor. Her poems tell stories or fairy tales and incorporate a strong associative language. Words and expressions comprise the outer layer and underneath readers must dig deep to perceive all the different meanings – of the words and metaphors she uses. Zarchi has received every major Israeli award for authors for young readers including the Bialik Prize (1999) and the Ze’ev Prize (four times). She has also received four IBBY Honor Citations and she was twice the winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for her literary work.
Hayyim Nachman Bialik- Poet
Although he was born in Ukraine in 1873, Hayyim Nachman Bialik received a strict Jewish education and at 18 years old he became active in Jewish literary circles. By 1901, critics were calling him "the poet of national renaissance,” and after working as a bookkeeper, he taught, published, translated, and was the literary editor of the Odessa weekly, Hashiloah. In 1921, Bialik was allowed to leave the Ukraine and went to Berlin where he founded the Dvir Publishing House and later relocated to Tel Aviv where he settled in 1924 and devoted himself to cultural activities and public affairs. Since that time, he has been recognized as the greatest Hebrew poet of modern times and is still known as "the national poet of Israel." Books of Bialik`s poetry and stories have been published in 14 languages.
Rahel Bluwstein - Poet (Also spelled Rachel)
The first major woman poet in Hebrew, simply known as "Rahel,” was born in Russia in 1890 and established the normative foundation of women's Hebrew poetry as well as the public's expectations of this poetry. She arrived in Eretz, Israel in 1909 and lived in an agricultural school for girls on the shores of the Sea of Galilee until 1913. Later she went to France to study agronomy and drawing, and with the outbreak of World War I returned to Russia, where she worked in educational institutions for refugee children. In 1919, she returned to live on Kibbutz Degania. When she was unable to work with children because she contracted tuberculosis, she was forced to leave the kibbutz and settled in a lonely one-room apartment in Tel Aviv where she lived the final five years of her life and published most of her poetry. She died at the age of forty and was buried near the Sea of Galilee. Her poetry is lyrical; excelling in its musical tone, simple language and depth of feeling. Her love poems stress a feeling of loneliness, distance and longing for the beloved. Other poems deal with human fate and with the poet’s relation to her own difficult life and death. Some of her best-known verse expresses love for Eretz, Israel and a longing for the Sea of Galilee. A volume of her collected verse remains one of the country’s greatest bestsellers.
Mordecai Ardon - Painter
Considered one of Israel's greatest painters, Mordecai Ardon was born in Tuchow, Galicia (then Austria-Hungary, now Poland), and immigrated to Palestine in 1933. He studied at the Bauhaus (1921-1925) and is now known for one of his most famous creations, the Ardon Windows, a set of large stained-glass windows incorporating visual elements from the Kabbalah, which are prominently displayed in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem. Studying under Klee, Kandinsky, Feininger and Itten - with inspiration from the Old Masters including Rembrandt and El Greco - Ardon's unique position in Modern Art stems from the union of these two opposites in his paintings: a modern, expressionist, and mainly abstract style; with the classical painting technique of the Old Masters. The depth and richness of his colors owe their quality to this technique. He liberated them from the figurative context of the Old Masters and turned them into tools for the creation of his original contribution to Modern Art of the 20th Century. After graduating from the Bauhaus, he studied the painting techniques of the Old Masters under Max Doerner at the Munich Academy (1926). These dual seemingly contradicting elements forged the character of his painting throughout the 70 years of his artistic career. Ardon believed in pure art, devoid of any political or social message. He believed that a painting should be appreciated and judged solely by its inherent artistic elements, color, composition and their interplay. He rejected literary, symbolic, or indeed, any other additional meaning attributed to a work of art.
Itzhak Perlman - Musician
Born in Israel in 1945, Itzhak Perlman completed his initial training at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and came to New York and soon was propelled into the international arena after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1958. Following his studies at the Juilliard School, Perlman won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in 1964 spearheading his career worldwide. Perlman has appeared with every major orchestra and in recitals and festivals throughout the world. In November 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for history-making concerts in Warsaw and Budapest, representing the first performances by this orchestra and soloist in Eastern bloc countries. He again made history as he joined the Israel Philharmonic for its first visit to the Soviet Union in April/May of 1990. In December of 1994, he joined the Israel Philharmonic for their first visits to China and India. Since then, Perlman has been honored with four Emmy awards and 15 Grammy awards. One of his proudest achievements was his collaboration with film score composer John Williams in Steven Spielberg's Academy Award winning film Schindler's List in which he performed the violin solos.
Naomi Shemer - Singer/Songwriter
Known as the "First Lady of Israeli Song," Naomi Shemer was a prolific song writer and composer. She wrote numerous songs, many of which have become popular hits, she composed many well-known children's songs, and she also set poems to music, including works by Rahel and Natan Alterman. Shemer was born on Kvuzat Kinneret and grew up overlooking the shores of the Jordan River. Many of her songs recreate the landscape that was such a part of her youth and reflect her love of the topography and scenery of Eretz Yisrael. In 1967, Shemer was asked to compose a song for the Israel Song Festival. Though not itself part of the competition, the three stanzas of "Yerushalayim shel Zahav" ("Jerusalem of Gold") became instantly popular. Particularly because the Festival occurred just before the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, the song acquired a national significance that spoke to the Jewish people’s eternal love for Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. Following the war, Shemer composed a fourth stanza to the song, celebrating the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem and the road to Jericho. "Yerushalayim shel Zahav" was translated into many languages and became an international statement on the reunification of Jerusalem. Of the songs Shemer wrote about the Yom Kippur War, the most popular became "Lu Yehi" ("Let it Be") which began as a translation of the Beatles' song by that name and evolved into an independent hit. This and other songs, many of which have been published in books of her music, have made Shemer's songs arguably the most-sung in the 1960's to the 1980's. For her immense contribution to Israeli music, Shemer was awarded the Israel prize in 1983.
David Broza - Singer/Songwriter
His charismatic and energetic performances have brought to worldwide audiences fusions of three different countries in which he was raised: Israel, Spain and England, filling concert halls with his famous guitar playing, ranging from flamenco flavored rhythmic and percussion techniques, to whirlwind finger picking, to a signature rock and roll sound. Broza unites the three worlds by utilizing his ability to take on the troubadour style tradition, featuring lyrics of the worlds' greatest poets. More than a singer/songwriter, Broza is well known for his commitment and dedication to several humanitarian causes, predominantly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Beginning in 1977, Broza has been working to bring the message of peace to the masses by joining peace movements and singing what is now the anthem of the 'Peace Now' movement, his hit song, “Yihye Tov.” Recently he has been writing and recording with the Palestinian music group, Sabreen, the song “Belibi,” which featured Broza, Sabreen's Wissam Murad and two children's choirs - one from each side of the conflict. Although the project met with controversial reactions from around the world, Israeli's and Palestinians strongly favored the project, as did the United Nations D.C. organization, In Search for Common Ground - which presented awards to both artists in November of 2006.
Watch David on the PBS music special "David Broza At Masada: The Sunrise Concert"