Hava Nagila

Yoram Gross
  • Rate

Animation by Yoram Gross – Dolls by Yeshayahu Edery – 1955

Yoram Gross, the creator of this film, is one of Israel’s most important and influential animation pioneers, regardless of how little time he ended up living and working there. Gross arrived in Israel after World War II. In the 1950s and ‘60s, whilst working as a cinematographer on a variety of arthouse shorts made using all manners of techniques, he went on to make the very first animated film in the Middle East. His shooting table, quite literally became the bedrock of all future animation studies at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (more about him and his body of work later in this collection.)

Gross’s work stands out as different to all other animated content made in Israel’s earliest years. In his films, Gross revisits the Jewish shtetl and touches upon the memory of the Holocaust – both themes that were all but taboo in the majority of Israeli art at the time. This enchanting, animated film whose characters are all aluminium foil dolls, follows a Jewish wedding in which the music smashes up all the dishes and the Klezmers go flying through the air in a scene reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s paintings. And for a brief, fleeting moment, the Jewish Polish shtetl is alive again.

Gross, who had moved to Israel from Poland after the war, never abandoned the culture he grew up in; a fact evident in this film where memory and commemoration are both dominant themes. Gross would continue to pay homage to his childhood and youth in his later body of work – especially in the character that became most synonymous with him – Blinky Bill, the protagonist of the hit animated programme he created in Australia. In his films, Hebrewism and Israelism are but one of several layers that comprise one’s identity, and at no point are they meant to erase the past. In this manner, Gross’s work emerges as widely different to the dominant artistic trends of the time; especially in the 1950s when artists sought to sever Israelism from any and all ties to the diaspora, and the Holocaust in particular.

Courtesy of Yoram Gross family.

Subscribe to our mailing list and stay up to date
הירשמו לרשימת התפוצה שלנו והישארו מעודכנים

This will close in 0 seconds