A Visit to the Rubin Museum, 14 Bialik Street

A miracle. Self dragged her 10-year-old nephew to a museum. The Rubin Museum on No. 14 Bialik Street. Self managed to find the place after inquiring from a woman waiting at a bus stop on Ben Yehuda Ave. The woman said, “You are going in the wrong direction! It is that way! Near Allenby!” Then, she made as if to grasp self’s arm and said, “Come on the bus with me! I will take you there!” But a quick check of self’s wallet revealed — nothing, not a single shekel. In fact, self had been on her way to the money-changers on the corner. So she waved the woman on, and as the woman got on the bus, she turned back to self and yelled, “Take the No. 4 bus! It is about eight stops away!”So, with this very heartening beginning, self changed her money, then went back to the bus stop with nephew, and the very next bus was the No. 4 bus, and she and nephew got off at the corner of Allenby and Bialik. And someone seemed to have torn up all the pavement on Bialik Street, but there were a few inches left of sidewalk along which self led her nephew, and when we arrived at No. 14, which was a small, nondescript house, there were about 30 or 40 high school kids gathered at the entrance, waiting for the museum to open. Then, self remembered that she hadn’t yet had breakfast. So, since the museum wouldn’t open for about another 20 minutes, self led nephew back down the broken-down street, and found a café on Allenby. And, as luck would have it, this coffee house completely won over nephew with its mouth-watering displays of pastries and breakfast rolls — nephew had been exceedingly nervous with self’s adventurous ways and had been whining to be taken back to the apartment for the last 15 minutes — and self was able to get a table, and she had her first coffee in Israel, along with a plate of something called borekas filled with kashkaval cheese, and these little dumplings were simply to die for. And nephew had a kind of tart with apricots and peach slices on top, and he was in heaven too. And then, feeling excellent, we wended our way back to the Rubin Museum, and it was open. And the crowd of gaggling schoolchildren had mysteriously vanished, because we (and an American woman) were the only ones in the museum, and this is what we discovered:

    Gorgeous landscapes and portraits by a man who believed that “even the shade is luminous.”
    What he painted: Jaffa; the orange groves; the sand and the sea.

In a short film that self and her nephew watched before beginning our tour of the galleries, the painter uttered the following:

    “I didn’t learn to paint; I learned how to fulfill my dreams.”
    “Elsewhere there is light and there is shade; Here there is no shade. It was all desert, sea and air. Everything around was yellow, brown, gray and black.”

And these were among the paintings and sculptures that self saw and loved:

    “Madonna of the Poor””Olive Grove””View From a Window””The Open Window””Pomegranates on My Windowsill””Jacob Wrestling with the Angel””Self-Portrait with a Flower””Jerusalem, 1923”

The book about Rubin that they sell in the gift shop was more than the entire contents of self’s wallet, so she contented herself with buying four postcards, which she divided with her nephew. The ones she got to keep: “Tel Aviv, 1922” and “Orange Groves Near Jaffa.” Self’s brother said he’d been to Jaffa the day before she arrived and pronounced it “nothing much,” but self decides that she’ll get there. Even if she has to walk, she’ll get there.

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