David Rubinger, Israel’s most famous photographer has died at the age of 92.
Rubinger’s black-and-white images were the iconic images that tell the story of the Jewish state from it’s birth, throughout good times and bad.
Think of a popular photograph from Israel, and chances are it was taken by David Rubinger.
The iconic Israeli paratroopers gaping in awe at the just-captured Western Wall — that was his.
A jubilant crowd carrying a leader of the Entebbe raid on its shoulders? He got that.
Rabbi Shlomo Goren blowing the shofar while holding a torah at the liberation of the Western Wall, Rubinger’s.
The conic photo of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan flanked by Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and Uzi Narkiss taken as the Old City was recaptured, aLeo Rubinger.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin, bent over to help his wife into her shoe on the official plane, Rubinger captured that, too.
David Rubinger also took the “Golda ‘Dragon’ Meir” picture.
He seemed to be present at both every major milestones, and every telling moment
Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, recognized just that in his official statement lamenting Rubinger’s passing: “Through his photography, David eternalized history as it will be forever etched in our memories.”
“When I entered the president’s office, I hung the picture of Ben Gurion on the wall. David came to visit with a special signed copy, and helped me place it next to the picture of Jabotinsky that accompanied me through the years. I will continue to carry his unique image with me, armed with his ancient and trusty camera,” Rivlin added.
Born in Vienna in 1924, Rubinger moved to what was still British Mandate Palestine in 1939. His mother was among the relatives murdered in the Holocaust.
He served in the British army’s “Jewish Brigade” during World War II and later fought Arab armies for the contested land on which Israel would be built.
He turned to photography at a time when the newborn country was pretty much a bunch of people trying to figure things out, and moved easily in the orbit of every prime minister since David Ben-Gurion.
In 2004, Rubinger’s life companion, Ziona Spivak was brutally murdered by their gardener, Mohammad Mahmoud Sabarna.
Sabarna stabbed her to death after he asked her for a NIS 25,000 loan. When Spivak refused to loan Sabarna the money, he strangled her and stabbed her with two knives he took from her kitchen. He slit her throat and she died on the spot.
Golda Meir doing the dishes (Photo: David Rubinger)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also eulogized Rubinger: “The photographer David Rubinger was and will remain the great Israeli documentor. He was always there to capture the moments of glory and war, the joy and the pain. He followed the Knesset closely for decades and the Israeli political experience of an entire generation, and I had the privilege to inaugurate an exhibition of his photographs in the Knesset.
“No less than the fact that his memory will be for a blessing, he leaves behind several hundred pictures of the story of Israel and its leadership. David was also a special, pleasant, and outstanding personality. I send condolences to his family and to all those who love him,” said Edelstein.
Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog called Rubinger “the Marc Chagall of Israeli photography. An artist with his camera telling the story of Israel from the dawn of its existence, in the great moments and the painful. A lovely person. May his memory be blessed.”
Enjoy the rest of these iconic images caught in time by Rubinger’s lens.
LIFE, TIME and Arutz 7 contributed to this article.