Dvora Schocken: a Life in Art
Dvora Schocken (1920 - 2020) was a lioness of a woman, an avid art collector and benefactor. She lived through some of the most momentous events of the Twentieth century: World War II, the British rule in Palestine, and the formation of the state of Israel. Her parents were born and raised in Safed (צפת), one of the five "sacred cities" (קריות קודש) in which Jewish settlement never ceased.
Dvora was married to Gidon Schocken, son of Lilli and Salman Schocken. Gidon was born in Berlin in 1919 and emigrated to Jerusalem in 1934. When he walked into his new high school in Jerusalem (גמנסיה רחביה), he was sat next to Dvora. When World War II erupted Gidon dropped out from his studies at Oxford University and volunteered to the British Army. After eight years of service he was discharged with a rank of Major, and joined the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), where he rose to the rank of a General. A reluctant soldier, Gidon's true passions were art and poetry. He died in 1981.
Dvora and Gidon Schocken were passionate art collectors and patrons of the nascent Israeli art scene. Following Gidon's death, Dvora continued to collect art and mentor artists, with tremendous energies and disarming charm. With time, she became the Israeli version of Peggy Guggenheim. Dvora revered art and had the highest respect for artists – for their courage to endure a life of hardship in perusal of an artistic vision. In return, she was venerated by the many artists that she mentored, like Leonid Balaklav, Jan Rauchwerger, and Avraham Pesso – to name a few – who remember her keenly as a muse of support and inspiration.
During her long and illustrious life, Dvora started up and managed the Dvora Schocken Gallery, and ran the first art auction house in Israel, together with Shaya Yariv of the Gordon Gallery. She was co-founder and the first chairperson of the Herzliya Museum and the Janco-Dada Museum in Ein Hod, and the chief art curator of two public and very different organizations: Israel's national Intelligence Agency (המוסד) and Reichman University (formerly המרכז הבינתחומי) in Herzliya, whose sculpture garden is named after her. The major art collections in both organizations are lasting monuments to Dvora's legacy and contribution to Israel's art scene.
Dvora Schocken's private collection was an eclectic mix of modern art, African tribal art, and antiquities. The African collection included important Punu, Dan, Senufo, Guro, Bambara and Dogon masks, rare ancestor figures from the Baoulé, Yoruba, and Benin people, and a significant collection of Ashanti and Akan gold weights and artifacts. The antiquities included artwork from China, Cambodia, Indonesia, and India, as well as ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, and Calculitic works. The modern collection included works by Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Elie Nadelman, Renée Sintenis, and Pablo Picasso. Some of these works originated from Gidon's father, Salman Schocken.
Dvora Schocken lived a long and fulfilling life. She was always busy doing something, whether it was staging a social event, curating an exhibition, or baking a cake. She was a professional photographer, an avid reader, and a brilliant writer. Above all, she had a fantastic eye for quality, and beauty was her way of life. A story about Dvora was published in Haaretz in July 1999.
This website is a memory to the home of Dvora and Gidon Schocken, in Kfar Shmaryahu.