A New Group Gathers To Boost Israel’s Museums

Adam Tihany, who has designed dining interiors at such high-end properties as the Beverly Hills Hotel, King David Hotel and Le Cirque 2000, said when he grew up in Jerusalem he didn’t know Holon existed.

Today, he said, it is “the most beautiful, sexy upcoming place with the most spectacular museum on the planet.”

The museum he hailed is the Design Museum Holon, a truly spectacular edifice by the visionary architect Ron Arad. It opened its doors in 2010 with Alon Sapan as director general.

But who has heard of it outside Israel?

That’s the mission of a new organization called the American Friends of Museums of Israel, comprised of nine little known but wonderful museums under one umbrella to burnish their reputation and help raise funds to advance their artistic and cultural programs.

Enid Shapiro, the executive director, launched the new group’s inaugural benefit dinner on April 27 at The Plaza. The Grand Ballroom, decorated with an artistic touch, was overflowing with deep-pocket lovers of art as well as the creative types.

The nine museums working together to raise their stature on the American charity circuit include the Hermann Struck Museum, Mane-Katz Museum, National Maritime Museum, Museum on the Seam-A Socio Political Contemporary Art Museum, Haifa City Museum, Haifa Museum of Art, Tikotin Museum, Tower of David Museum, and Design Museum Holon.

Raphie Etgar, artistic director and curator at Jerusalem’s Museum on the Seam, explained his vision: “What we are trying to do is to deal with the art of living together.”

Ed Blank, of the AFMI executive committee, noted that Israel has more museums per capita than any other country in the world. “Even before the establishment of the Jewish state, Zionist leaders made certain to foster the growth of museums and other cultural institutions. They understood that art is necessary for people to enrich their lives.”

Nissim Tal, director general of the Haifa Museums, said that last year the city’s Hermann Struck Museum, located in a religious area of the city, featured a Francisco de Goya exhibition. Two Hasidim passed by, and one said, “What is this goy doing in our neighborhood?”

Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades. At the same time he has been a columnist for The New York Jewish Week for 35 years, and editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com for 16 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.

About the Author
Tim Boxer is a former New York Post columnist, and is longtime columnist for the New York Jewish Week. He is also editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com, is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.