The History of the Collection

Steven Z. Levinson

Steven Z. Levinson was born in Israel in 1946 and lived in Jerulsalem with his parents and three sisters. His father was a diamond cutter. When he was seven years old, his father took advantage of "City to Farm", a government program that provided farms for families willing to move out of the cities. They moved to Tirat Yehuda, a village near the border, west of Ben Gurion Airport.

The purpose of the program was to provide jobs, encourage farming, house new immigrants and help protect the borders of Israel from Arab attacks. His family was given a small house and approximately two acres of land to farm. Most of the other residents were recent immigrants from Hungary and Romania. Steve's family received one horse which they had to share with another farmer along with attachments for the horse to pull.

As children, Steve and his sisters always had something to do; milking cows, feeding chickens, collecting eggs, cutting the grass with a hand mower, and playing with other children. Almost no one in the village had a car or even a bicycle so if someone got one, it was a big event and everyone was invited to see it. The family did not have their own tractor so when a job was too big for the one horse, they rented a tractor with an operator.

From an early age, Steve was fascinated by the farm tractors and started operating them around 1961 at the age of 15. That is when the seeds were planted that resulted in his love of farm equipment and his motivation to create his collection of beautifully restored tractors.

His attraction to machinery grew and by the time he was 16, he had graduated to operating huge motor graders which help build roads throughout the state of Israel. In 1969 after the 1967 war, Steve took on the dangerous task of repairing and building roads in the Sinai Desert alongside the Suez Canal as a civilian working for the Israeli Army (IDF).

Steve lived in the desert and only returned home once a week. All alone, his only companion as his Kalasnikov gun to ward off attacks. By the time he emigrated the United States, he had owned three motor graders and had three employees.