Friday, May 8, 2015

Ben-Gurion stands on his head


This morning the usual group went down south to the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute at Sde Boker for this season's last Shishi Zioni session.
We saw two presentations on the subject "Movies and Internet social media as instruments of social change."

This little statue by Dina Babay is part of an exhibition there. 

On the Institute's brochure is the iconic photo of David Ben-Gurion standing on his head at Herzlia beach in 1957.
It is juxtaposed with the equally famous photograph of "The Old Man" proclaiming the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
The caption above says something like "The man who turned worlds upside down in order to stand a nation on its feet."

In this 2009 colored ink print by Moshik Lin the tables are turned: here it is the map of Israel that is upside down.
I think B-G would appreciate the humor because he always stressed that our southern desert, the Negev, should have top priority; and indeed he himself retired to Kibbutz Sde Boker and is buried there.

You can read here all about the exhibition “David Ben-Gurion and his Legacy in the Mirror of Israeli Art."

Ben-Gurion's "personal trainer"  who slowly slowly got him ready to do the headstands was none other than Moshe Feldenkrais (the famous founder of the Feldenkrais Method for mind-body improvement). 
What I didn't know was that Feldenkrais was recruited in London in the early 1950s and brought to Israel to work as a rocket scientist!
Read the fascinating story in Haaretz.
Shabbat shalom.


VP said...

A funny monument for one of the greatest!

Rob Siemann said...

Funny indeed!

William Kendall said...

I had no idea! Quite a sculpture!

Cloudia said...

Thank you for the history.
Shabbat Shalom

ALOHA from Honolulu,

Hels said...

I wish I had seen that photo of David Ben-Gurion standing on his head at Herzlia before. How old was he in 1957? Was there some sort of event going on that he was training hard to do the headstands?

Kay said...

That is quite a statue! I love it!

Dina said...

Hels, Ben Gurion was about 71 in that famous photo.
I suggest you read the whole fascinating Haaretz article that I linked to, about the Feldenkrais Method and about the man:

but here are the parts that answer your question:

"Ben-Gurion, Feldenkrais' most famous client, came to him through Prof. Aharon Katzir (who was killed in the terrorist attack on Lod airport 32 years ago). Katzir promoted the establishment of the "Institute for the Coordination of the Body and Spirit," to be run by Feldenkrais. When he sought Ben-Gurion's assistance in raising funds for the project, he also told him about Feldenkrais' amazing method. The meetings took place daily in Ben-Gurion's home and no one knew about them.

"Ben-Gurion found time for these sessions even in the most difficult times," Feldenkrais said in one interview. "One of the most difficult times was when [then finance minister] Levi Eshkol, [Ben-Gurion's military adviser] Nehemiah Argov and government ministers were in his home awaiting President Eisenhower's phone call, in which he was expected to ask Israel to withdraw from the territories it captured in the Sinai Campaign. Ben-Gurion left them all and went upstairs for his exercise session. When the phone rang, he took the message from the president of the U.S., but didn't get up from the bed. He kept going with the treatment as if nothing had happened and only went down to the living room a half-hour later and told the others what the president had said."

Paula Ben-Gurion, however, didn't care much for Feldenkrais and used to say, "Here comes Mister Hocus-Pocus" when he showed up. When Feldenkrais opened a studio on Nahmani Street for private treatment sessions, Ben-Gurion preferred to go there.
The connection between Ben-Gurion and Feldenkrais became public knowledge in 1957. Ben-Gurion had gone down to the Herzliya beach with bodyguards, a bathing suit and newspaper photographers in tow, and then, to the astonishment of all - he stood on his head. That moment was preceded by an entire year of quiet preparation.
"Ben-Gurion had a terrible body image. He was short and he'd told Moshe that even as a boy, he wasn't able to stand on his head," says Eli Wadler, a student of Feldenkrais and a teacher of the method. "Moshe got the hint. He gradually taught him how to bend down, how to tuck his head in, how to go up on his knees, how to hold the buttocks straight - he worked with him one muscle at a time until finally it was the most natural thing for Ben-Gurion to stand on his head. When it happened, he was very proud ... You have to lead the person there the whole way. He didn't tell him, `Go do it on the beach now,' but he gave him the tools."
After that, at every opportunity, Ben-Gurion would stand on his head and tell the world (and his wife) about his mentor Feldenkrais."

cieldequimper said...

That's rather cool! But don't try to make me do that. Ever!

Gerard Michaud said...

He was a great person.