Most everyone has some kind of artwork or meaningful photograph in their home or office. Many have even discovered the history behind the pieces. But Andrea “Andy” Roisman was able to go two steps further.
Her copy of the iconic photo of three Israeli paratroopers, taken at the 1967 liberation of the Western Wall during the country’s Six Day War, was gifted to her — and signed by the photographer, the late David Rubinger.
Then, remarkably, this past June, five decades after the photo was taken, she met the soldiers and had her picture taken with them.
“I met David Rubinger in March of 2002,” Roisman said of the man who passed away earlier this year. “He became a dear friend and I spent time with him every time I went to Israel. He was the photographer of Israel for 50 years and Time-Life magazine’s photographer for [longer]. His house was a museum of the history of Israel. I loved this man. He was a treasure, and I was so fortunate to know him. I miss him terribly.”
The two met through Roisman’s longtime work helping to curate the photo archives of the late Paul Goldman, owned by photojournalism collector and local businessman Spencer M. Partrich. Goldmanhad taken fascinating photos of his own, including one of former Israeli Prime Minister, the late David Ben-Gurion, as a 71-year-old, white-haired, bare-chested gentleman in a black bathing suit doing a headstand on the beach at the Sharon Hotel in Herzilya in 1957.
Rubinger told Roisman about the day in June 1967 when he lay on the ground to take the famous “Paratroopers at the Western Wall” photo.
“He had also taken a picture of Rabbi Shlomo Goren being carried in on the shoulders of the soldiers as they were walking to the Wall reuniting the city of Jerusalem,” said Roisman, who lives in Beverly Hills. “David was asked to pick one picture for Time magazine to commemorate the moment. He picked the rabbi, but his wife said no. It had to be the three soldiers. He listened to her. The rest is history.”
This past April, Dr. Yitzhak Yifat, Zion Karasenti and Haim Oshri recreated their famed poses in front of the Wall. In June, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, they participated in a first-ever tour of the United States, sponsored by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).
Learning that the visit would include a stop in Detroit, Roisman said, “I called my friend Keren Toby at the FIDF office and told her I had the photo signed by David. She said the men would be here on June 6 for an event (at the Orchard Lake home of FIDF Michigan Vice President Shari Ferber Kaufman and FIDF Michigan Chairman Alon Kaufman), and she would make sure I could meet them.
They were having lunch at Soul Cafe [in West Bloomfield], so I went there. They were lovely. Two spoke no English. The little one, Yitzhak, did. He is a doctor, retired from Rishon.”
After the war, Oshri became a chemist and also worked for the minister of religious affairs; Karasenti, a director and choreographer, founded a dance troupe and performed throughout Israel; Yifat became a physician.
The three men signed the picture given to Roisman by Rubinger. She also owns a photo of herself with Rubinger holding the photo of the soldiers, taken in his home last year.
And now she has a photo of herself with the former paratroopers.
“I cried talking to Dr. Yitzhak about David,” Roisman said. “He, too, loved David and was very sad about his death. He had stayed connected to him over the years. He did attend his funeral.
“Meeting the three was overwhelming,” she said. “They are real celebrities. They represent the country, the grit and the reality of what Israel faces every day. I have looked at that picture a million times. To meet the actual men was meeting history.”
By Shelli Liebman Dorfman, Contributing Writer