Haim Berger was born in 1900 in Galicia (today the Ukraine). He joined the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement and immigrated to Palestine in 1921 in the third Aliyah. At first he worked in construction and later in reclaiming the Kabara swamps until he contracted malaria. After he recovered he worked at the Mikveh Yisrael agricultural school and conducted various cultural activities and trips in the area for workers and students.
In 1928 he began his studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, majoring in general history and Eretz Israel studies. Over time he worked as a tour guide and served as the only guide of a Tel Aviv hikers association. In this capacity he guided trips in different regions in the Land of Israel, including the south (Gaza, Ashkelon, and the Adulam Region), the center (Nablus during the Samaritan sacrificial ceremony at Passover, Gezer, the Beit Jubrin Caves and the Twin Caves), the north (the Galilee, the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon), and even went beyond the borders of Israel to Jordan (Moab and Mount Nevo, Amman and Jerash), Syria (Damascus, the Horan, Jebel al-Duruz), and Tadmor (Palmyra) on the Iraqi border.
Concurrently he was involved in research and writing about the history of the Land of Israel; he published articles in Davar and travel reports on his meetings with local inhabitants and hikers. He used to stay in different villages and glean information about the way of life and folklore of the inhabitants -Arabs and Jews alike - rich material which served him when he wrote his book "Man and Land in the Horan and the Hermon" (published in 1980) which was devoted to the northern regions. Over the years he maintained strong ties with his close friends and contemporary scholars of the Land of Israel, Yosef Barslavi, Zeev Vilnai, David Benbenisti, and Azriel Broshi.
In 1934 he married Devora Ben-Arieh, who was born in Lithuania. They settled in Tel Aviv where his two sons, Uzi and Gilad, were born. Berger was involved in photography over many years and with his camera immortalized the localities and landscapes of the Land of Israel and its environs. His photographs manifest creative freedom and constitute a combination of documentary photography and artistic sensitivity. Next to the photographs he used to write down the names of places in Hebrew with diacritics, and Arabic. Haim Berger died in 1983 before completing his second book which dealt with the imprint of Czarist Russia on the Middle East in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Opens: November 4, 2008
Closes: 31 January 2009