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Yaacov Agor

1911-1996

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Yaakov Agor was born in Rovno, Ukraine, in 1911 as Yaakov Goldfarb. His family relocated to Danzig when he was young, and it was here that he was first introduced to photography. From 1923 to 1926, his parents sent him to study at the Haifa Reali School and the Herzliya Gymnasium in Tel Aviv. After high school, he pursued his studies in painting at the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin, Germany. However, the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s prompted him to move back to Poland. During World War II, Agor sought refuge in the Soviet Union, where he designed and painted film sets. He later served as an officer in a communist militia that collaborated with the Red Army against the Nazis. Tragically, his mother, father, and two sisters, Gita and Frida (both doctors), perished in the Holocaust. After the war, he returned to Poland and reconnected with Helena Wolanski (born Sara Lewkowicz) in Lodz, where she had been a dancer before the war. Under coercion from Right Wing Nationalists in Poland, Agor was tasked with conducting espionage in Berlin. In 1945, representing the Polish Film School in Lodz, he journeyed to Berlin to procure photographic equipment. Helena accompanied him. While in Berlin, news reached Agor of his older brother David's death—a member of the Hagana (Jewish resistance) in British Mandate Palestine. This left Yaacov as the sole surviving member of his family. By 1956, Agor had ventured into theater photography. He showcased his work at the "World Photography Exhibition" in Amsterdam. In 1958, he and his family immigrated to Israel, initially residing in the Pardes Rubin immigration camp (Ma'abarah). They later settled in government housing projects in Bat-Yam, near southern Tel Aviv-Yafo. By 1959, following an interaction with a journalist from Al-Hamishmar, Goldfarb (Agor) held his debut exhibition in Israel at the Sokolov House in Tel Aviv. Uri Caesari lauded Goldfarb's talents in a Haaretz newspaper article. Throughout the 1960s, Agor emerged as the principal photographer for the Habima Theater. His photographs were featured in publications such as Olam Ha'zeh (1962-1960) and Haaretz (1963-1980). Notably, the artist Michal Heiman apprenticed under him. However, in 1986, visual impairment led Agor to abandon photography, and he revisited his passion for painting and drawing.

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