June 19, 1983 — Politician Simha Erlich Dies
Simha Erlich, the deputy prime minister in Israel’s first two Likud-led governments, dies. Born in Poland in 1915, he moved to Palestine in 1939. He started as a farmer, then studied optics and opened a lens factory. He served on the Tel Aviv City Council from 1955 to 1969, then in the Knesset from 1969 until his death. As finance minister from 1977 to 1979, he tried to ease government economic controls, but inflation soared.
June 20, 1950 — First Festival of Jewish Music Opens
Israel’s first Festival of Jewish Music begins at the historic YMCA building in Jerusalem and runs until July 1 at sites around the country. The government-organized festival features contemporary Israeli music and highlights works by Jewish composers abroad. Although most performances present classical music, including arrangements by American Leonard Bernstein, two events showcase Israeli folk music.
June 21, 1882 — Filmmaker Ya’acov Ben-Dov Born
Israeli filmmaker and photographer Ya’acov Ben-Dov is born in Yekatermoslav, Ukraine. He makes aliyah in 1907 and is studying photography at the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts when he is introduced to moviemaking in 1911. He obtains a camera in 1917 and shoots footage of the British army’s Jerusalem arrival in December 1917. He shoots documentaries in Palestine through 1932 but can’t adjust to sound in movies.
June 22, 1989 — NBA Player Omri Casspi Born
Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the National Basketball Association, is born in Holon. He makes his pro debut for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 2005-06 season. The Sacramento Kings make him the first Israeli selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, picking him 23rd overall in 2009. Over 10 seasons with seven teams in the NBA, the forward averages 7.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He returns to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2019.
June 23, 1944 — Photographer Alex Levac Born
Photojournalist Alex Levac, a 2005 Israel Prize winner, is born in Tel Aviv. He studies photography at the London College of Printing and works as a freelancer in Brazil, London and Los Angeles before making his home in Jerusalem in 1981. As a staff photographer for the daily newspaper Hadashot, he captures images of a bus hijacker in custody in 1984, disproving the official story that all four terrorists are killed in the liberation of Bus 300.
June 24, 1987 — Arabs Stage National Equality Strike
Arabs hold an Equality Day strike, organized by the National Committee of Local Arab Council Heads, to seek an end to discrimination against Israeli Arabs. The leading demand of the strikers is for Jewish and Arab local authorities to receive the same per capita funding. Moshe Arens, the government minister for Arab affairs, dismisses the strike as “Communist incitement,” but the government increases funding for Arab communities.
June 25, 2009 — Bridge of Strings Opens
Jerusalem holds a $500,000 extravaganza to inaugurate the Chords Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Strings, to serve pedestrians and the new light-rail system at the entrance to the city. Its designer, Santiago Calatrava, has built more than 40 bridges around the world, including a pedestrian bridge in Petah Tikva, but says this is his favorite. The 1,180-foot-long bridge features 66 white steel cables hanging from a 384-foot spire.
Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education