Every so often, the news features a story of Israeli archaeologists unearthing an ancient mosaic and there are many fantastic examples to see around the country. However, there are also some stunning examples of modern mosaics that is worth taking the time to go and see while you are on your gap year in Israel.
Perhaps the most famous modern mosaics in Israel are in the Knesset. The artist Marc Chagall created twelve mosaics in the 1960s on the fourth floor of the parliament building. They are based upon themes found in the country’s ancient mosaics, such as fruit and animals. The stones in the mosaics were sourced from across Israel with the light-coloured stones from Jerusalem, the black and brown stones from northern Israel, and the green and blue stones from the Timna quarry near Eilat. There is more to see while you are there, such as three tapestries created by Chagall.
If you are interested in the history of the country, then you will want to see the work of Nahum Gutman. Gutman was a prominent artist in pre-state and early Israel and he created numerous mosaics. One of them shows the history of Tel Aviv and Jaffa beginning at the days of Jonah the Prophet and going right through until the declaration of independence. The mosaic was originally in front of the old city hall, but today it can be found at the start of Rothschild Boulevard.
As you become more familiar with Israel, you will soon discover that nearly all cities have a building called Yad Labanim, a memorial centre for its fallen soldiers. If you are in Petah Tikva then be sure to visit the building, which is decorated with a number of mosaics created by the artist Mordechai Gumpel. They show various scenes from the bible including a verse from King David’s lament after the death of Saul and Jonathan.
Some of Israel’s modern mosaics are in truly surprising locations. For example, there is a wonderful mosaic called The Bird of Dawn located at Ashdod’s oil refineries. The mosaic was placed there to help and lift the spirits of workers and factory employees. It was created by Lev Syrkin, a well-known Israeli-Russian artist who has created hundreds of art works that can be round around the world.
In Jaffa’s Ajami neighbourhood there is a mosaic known as the Peace Wall. It was created as part of the international CITYarts project as a collaboration between Arab and Jewish artists, children, and volunteers. It covers numerous themes ranging from olive branches to local landmarks and even dolphins.
Another mosaic by the aforementioned artist Nahum Gutman that is certainly worth seeing is the Priestly Blessing in the Tel Aviv Rabbinate building. The mosaic shows the raised hands of the priests together with other religious symbols including a shofar, the priest’s breastplate from the temple, an oil jug, and so on. The mosaic was actually created in Italy according to Gutman’s plans and then moved to Tel Aviv in 1961.
These are just a few examples; there are many more fantastic mosaics to be discovered right across the country. As you visit various sites on your gap year tours, be sure to keep your eyes peeled so that you don’t miss them.