The Project for the Advancement of Literature and Art and for the Conservation of the Cultural Heritage of Abraham Chalfi, Miriam Baruch Chalfi and Shimshon Chalfi

This is a call for prompt action to safeguard and conserve a national cultural treasure – in danger of extinction, the literary and artistic creations of Abraham Chalfi, Shimshon Chalfi and Miriam Chalfi Baruch. These three distinguished writers and artists, whose works have won great acclaim, have left many unpublished manuscripts and works of art which, without proper handling are in real immediate danger.

All three arrived from Russia and Poland as teenage pioneers to the land of Israel. During their years of youth, they led lives of poverty and hard toil, but soon enough became prominent figures, and made important contributions to the cultural and artistic scene in Israel. Abraham Chalfi would become a great poet and actor. His young brother, Shimshon Chalfi, would also become a well-known poet. Miriam Sternbaum, who arrived as a young girl and would later marry Shimshon Chalfi would later make a name as a distinguished sculptor and poet.

Abraham Chalfi, in the words of the prominent theatre critic, Dr. Chaim Gamzu, was an actor of "genius". His poetry gained a place of honor in the forefront of modern Hebrew literature. Prof. Dan Miron pointed out that "he opened up a wide and important road for Israeli poetry".

Shimshon Chalfi wrote "a poetry full of wisdom" (Prof. N. Govrin), which won him the Acum Literary Award (1989). Much of his poetry was put to music, and became an organic and important part of Israeli culture. The well-known scholar, Prof. Ziva Shamir, writes of "…the deep abyss of tragedy and terror" on the brink of which his poetry walks, "maintaining a sober irony and skepticism". He also undertook the project of the (then pioneer) oral documentation of the beginnings of Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew city in modern Israel.

Miriam Chalfi Baruch created unique sculptures and paintings, "imbued with a mysterious quality" (in the words of curator Sarah Breitberg). Her environmental works are positioned in various parts of Israel. Her work was included in the important Israel Museum Show "80 Years of Sculpture in Israel". Her poetry is "condensed, pristine and possessing a rare quality" (Yonadav Kaplun, Chaim Pesach).

Abraham Chalfi died in 1980, having no family of his own. With the death of Shimshon Chalfi in 1997 and of Miriam Chalfi in 2002, the burden of this most significant heritage now rests solely on my shoulders as the sole heir of this heritage.

The archive of this unique cultural heritage includes many manuscripts by Abraham Chalfi of yet unpublished poetry, prose, theater. They must be typed, classified, and prepared for publication for their literary as well as historical significance.

Shimshon Chalfi's archive also includes yet unpublished poetry, as well as many poems that have been put to music and performed but the old recordings need to be transferred to disks, and are in danger of being lost. His archive also includes hundreds of interviews held with the first builders of Tel Aviv, unfolding a spectacular panorama of the first Hebrew city. His daughter, Raquel, has so far published only one volume from this trove of memories, which can nourish twenty more volumes.

The sculpture collection of Miriam Chalfi includes hundreds of pieces that have not yet been cast, nor properly exhibited.

As of today, I am trying to safe-guard the collection in two tiny, crowded apartments – in one of which I am actually living with my family. I am obliged to hire a secretary, at my own expense, in order to cope with the minimal, most basic needs of caring for the preservation of the heritage entrusted to me and to subsidize the maintenance of the apartments and expenses.

There is an urgent need to establish a suitable space in which to store and to exhibit the creations of these unique and important writers and artists. Such an institute will also be instrumental in enhancing literature, art, and culture in general – by holding various cultural activities and events.

The names of the contributors who will sponsor this unique cultural project will appear prominently in each and every publication of the institute and in all its activities and events for posterity.

It is vital to act immediately in this matter, since the priceless archives and art collection are, without proper care, in actual danger. Contributions will go to a non-profit organization. Please contact me for details

Raquel Chalfi
Address: 23 Mane st., Tel Aviv, 64363, Israel
Telefax: 972-3-6962384


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