Showing posts with label Israel's History - A Picture A day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel's History - A Picture A day. Show all posts

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Israel's History - a Picture a Day - The U.S. Navy Saved the Jews of the Holy Land 100 Years Ago

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

U.S. Navy receipt for emergency aid supplies destined for the Jews of Palestine from the Joint Distribution Committee 100 years ago, February 21, 1916. According to the JDC file, the supplies included matzot for Passover. (JDC Archives)

Posted: 10 Feb 2016 

We have written previously how the United States Government rallied to save the Jews of the Holy Land from famine and expulsion by the Turkish army during World War I.  But we are now adding an important historic document from that episode showing the vital involvement of American Jewry and the United States Navy exactly 100 years ago.

At the start of the war, Jewish men were forcibly conscripted into the Turkish Army, a devastating locust plague ravaged the land in 1915, Turkish troops were looting supplies in preparation for their attack on the Suez Canal, charitable funds from European Jewish communities for the Jews of Palestine were cut off, and plans were being drawn up by the Turks to expel the Jews from the land.  The United States Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, warned American Jewish leaders of the danger to the Jews of the Holy Land and appealed to them for funds. 

The forced conscription and looting of  Jerusalem homes. (1914, Ottoman Imperial Archives)

The American government had not yet entered the war and U.S. aid could still get through. But to ensure that the money and supplies would not be stolen by rapacious Turkish officials, the U.S. secretary of state approved the use of American warships for the deliveries. Thirteen U.S. ships were used for the deliveries and for providing passage to Jews expelled from the land by the Turks.

More information and photographs on this historic episode will appear in the forthcoming book, 
American Interests in the Holy Land, Revealed in Early Photographs by Lenny Ben-David.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta) - Book "American Interests in the Holy Land"

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 22 Jan 2016 01:46 AM PST
1,968,848 visitors as of today --
and counting.

And the book is almost ready.

Photo: U.S. Senators and spouses visiting Jerusalem in 1936 to protest 
British restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine and to investigate 
attacks on Jews by Arabs.

Hardcover, Urim Publications, ISBN 978-9655242355

Monday, January 4, 2016

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta) Why the Jerusalem Merchant Closed His Shop when the Emperor Came in 1898

Posted: 03 Jan 2016 
The shuttered shop at Jaffa Gate when the German
Emperor arrived in 1918. (Ottoman Imperial Archives)

The full picture of the Emperor's arrival

The German Emperor's arrival in Jerusalem on October 28, 1898 was a major news item around the world. The Ottoman rulers of Jerusalem and Palestine changed the face of Jerusalem to receive him. Victory arches were built along his route, and the Old City wall was breached to allow passage of his carriage. 

And as the picture above shows, one shopkeeper closed his shutters. Why?

Enlarged photo of the millinery shop

The day was Saturday, and as we discovered in a photograph in the Library of Congress archives, the shop was a Jewish-owned hat store.  We enlarged that picture and discovered the shop and its clientele.  A sign with Hebrew writing hung above the store. (Readers are invited to decipher it.) The owner closed his store for the Sabbath, and the Jews of Jerusalem received the Emperor elsewhere in the city.

The Emperor and his wife passing under the Jewish community's arch on Jaffa Road.
The photos of the Emperor's visit established the photographers of the American
 Colony in the world market.

Below is the full Library of Congress picture of Jaffa Gate with the following caption: "Photograph taken before October 1898 visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Jerusalem when a breach was made in the wall near the Jaffa Gate. (Source: L. Ben-David, Israel's History - A picture a day.)"

Jaffa Gate and the Jewish shop (Library of Congress)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Israel's History - a Picture a Day - Ottoman Rabbis and the Jerusalem Store that Boycotted the German Emperor

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 01 Jan 2016 
The Ottoman Imperial Archives continues to share its digitized photographic treasures online.

These important historical pictures were recently released.  We will be providing the background to these pictures in the near future.

Ottoman Rabbis of the 19th century.


The German Emperor arrived in Jerusalem in 1898.  All of the city turned out to receive him with great fanfare, but we noticed that one shop, the closest to the Jaffa Gate, closed its shutters. Why?

The German Emperor arrives at Jaffa Gate in 1898, but why did one shop stay closed?

This shop shuttered its front.

Readers of this site know that it was a millinery store.

Answers next week.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta) Jerusalem Was Captured by the British 98 Years Ago. New Photos from the Ottoman Archives

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 14 Dec 2015 
"The End of Ottoman Rule in Jerusalem, December 9, 1917." Two cavalrymen from
 the British forces hoisting a Turkish flag on their bayonets. 
 (Ottoman Imperial Archives)
The latest batch of photographs released this week by the Ottoman Imperial Archives includes several treasures showing historical sites and events in Palestine. The picture above shows two cavalrymen from the British forces hoisting a Turkish flag on their bayonets. 

The sergeants accepting the surrender of Jerusalem
December 9, 1917 (Library of Congress)
In the past, we featured several pictures found in the Library of Congress (LOC) and Monash University (Australia) archives showing the surrender of Jerusalem to the British forces in December 1917. 

The LOC picture of two British sergeants accepting the surrender flag from Jerusalem officials (not Turkish officers) is one of the most iconic photographs of World War I in Palestine. The picture was taken by a photographer from the American Colony Photo Department; the flag was a sheet taken from an American Colony bed.

The Monash archives provided a picture of Turkish soldiers hurrying into  the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City on December 9, 1917, "driven from the outlying hills by our men," the caption reads.  From the Old City they continued their retreat toward the Dead Sea. 

But the photo was not very clear.  The Ottoman Archives photo below is so clear that viewers can see the writing on the building on the left, "Bezalel" in Hebrew and English. The Bezalel pavilion was built outside of the Jaffa Gate in 1912 to sell souvenirs and crafts made at the Bezalel Academy of Arts.  The structure was demolished in 1918 by the British.

Turkish retreat from the Jerusalem hillsides on December 9, 1917. The Bezalel Pavilion is on the left.
 (Ottoman Imperial Archives)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta) 130-Year-Old Testimony of Jewish Life in Shiloah (Silwan), Jerusalem

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 03 Dec 2015

An annotated picture found in the British Library's Endangered Archives collection

Annotated picture of Shiloah (Silwan) from the Bonfil albums digitized by the British Library (circa 1890s)
The Shiloah (Silwan) village south of Jerusalem's Old City dates back to Biblical times. Water from its spring was used in the Jewish Temples. Jewish royalty was buried in its caves with Hebrew inscriptions naming the deceased. Over the centuries the hill was inhabited by Christian monks and Arab families.

Below is one of the first photographs taken in Palestine in 1844 showing Silwan's small size.  It was taken by Girault de Prangey, a student of  the inventor of photography, Louis Daguerre.  View more of de Prangey's photographs here. Many of his photographs are now online at the French National Library.

The village of Shiloah (Silwan) in 1844 and the Kidron Valley (Smithsonian Magazine)
The 3,000 Maison Bonfils photographs from the Fouad Debbas Collection in Beirut digitized by the British Library have the barest of captions -- with the exception of one album with lengthy English annotations. The first photograph above provides an example. It describes the Yemenite Jewish community that moved into the Shiloah village in the 1880s.  Below is the handwritten caption.

The caption on the photograph reads, "The village of Siloam on the east bank of the Kidron Valley.  The Pool of Siloam is opposite to the village on the west bank.  The inhabitants are Mohammedans except at the extreme south (right hand of picture) where the Yemenite Jews live in a small colony of tiny stone buildings as shown in a long low patch of white."

On the right side of the picture, adjacent to the Jewish housing, the album owner wrote, "The Yemenite Colony."

Photographers of the 19th century focused their lenses on the Yemenite residents, especially the photographers from the American Colony where the Yemenites' arrival in 1882 was viewed as the "Gaddites" returning home and as a messianic harbinger.

We had the privilege of providing an essential detail to the Library of Congress' picture in its archives of the "village of Siloah" (circa 1901). The man, we explained after consultation with Yemenite historians, is a Yemenite Jew, originally from Habani in Yemen.

He was probably among the residents of Shiloah.

The American Colony photographers took scores of pictures of Yemenite Jews and helped provide food and shelter to the poor immigrants.
Poor Yemenite Jewish family (circa 1890s). An American
Colony caption read "Group of Yemenite Jews" 

"A scene in a Jewish Yemenite Quarter," according to the Library of 
Congress caption. The picture, possibly shot in Shiloah, was taken in 
the 1930s when the Jews of Silwan (Shiloah) were suffering 
from attacks from their Arab  neighbors. They eventually fled
 their homes. Today, Jewish families have returned to Shiloah.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta) Bringing the Holy Land to America, Along with Mark Twain's Guide

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 22 Nov 2015
(Future publication)
As American interest in the Holy Land grew in the second half of the 19th Century, entrepreneurs and Bible scholars attempted to "re-create" the wondrously exotic land of the Bible in the United States. A huge scale model of the Holy Land from Mount Hebron to Be'er Sheba was constructed as "Palestine Park" in Lake Chautauqua, NY in 1874. A Middle East Pavilion was built in the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago. And the Old City of Jerusalem was recreated at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase World's Fair in St. Louis.

The Dome of the Rock and Ferris Wheel at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 (Library of Congress)

America Clamored for "Far-Away Moses," Mark Twain's Guide in the Holy Land

Portrait of Far-Away Moses from the Chicago fair
Mark Twain's account of his 1867 visit to the Middle East in "Innocents Abroad" launched his career as America's foremost storyteller.  In his book he dubbed his quirky Turkish dragoman (guide) "Far-Away Moses" and elevated him to a legendary figure.

In 1870, Twain reported to his publisher, "I learn from Constantinople that the celebrated guide, 'Far-Away Moses' goes to the American Consulate & borrows my book to read the chapter about himself to English & Americans, & he sends me a beseeching request that I will forward a copy of that chapter to him -- he don't want (sic) the whole book, but only just that to use as an advertisement...."

The advertising campaign for the 1893 Chicago pavilion was not very successful:  "Life in the Holy Lands! Scenes from Biblical Days!!! The Historic East as It Is and Was!!! A Moral Show!!!"

Crowds were not attracted, wrote researcher Barabara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett in Jews and the Holy Land at World's Fairs, until the Turkish proprietor changed the campaign to "Life in the Harem!! Dreamy Scenes in the Orient!!! Eastern Dances!!! The Sultan's Diversions."

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett added, "The proprietor in the doorway and belly dancer on the placard [outside] were in all likelihood Jewish. According to other sources, one of the proprietors was none other than Far-Away Moses, apparently also known as Harry R. Mandil, an American citizen.

Another partner was R.J. Levi (pictured), identified as a "Jewish chef and caterer from Constantinople [who] was manager and chief proprietor of the Turkish Village and Theatre."

R. J. Levy (Ottoman Imperial Library)

Far-Away Moses on the "set" of the Turkish pavilion 1893

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original.

Future presentations: The 1904 St. Louis Fair and "Palestine Park" in Chautauqua.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Photogenic Sukkot Festival -- 100+ Years Ago. Another Mystery Photo

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 24 Sep 2015 

The Jewish festival of Sukkot is called by several names: the Harvest festival, the Joyous festival, and the festival of Booths.  Jewish families construct temporary huts -- Sukkot -- where they eat and some even sleep for the week-long holiday.  Jews traditionally pray during the holiday while holding a citron fruit and branches of myrtle, palm and willow branches -- called the lulav and etrog.

Jews sitting in their Samarkand Sukka (circa 1870, Library of Congress). More on Samarkand Jewry here.

Bukharan family in their Jerusalem sukka (circa 1900). Note the man on the right holding the citron and palm branch (Library of Congress collection).  Compare this sukka to one photographed in Samarkand 30 years earlier

And Now the Mystery Picture -- The Occasion for this Photo

We recently found this photograph of Australian soldiers at the Western Wall in an Australian library archives and posted it on this site. The men fought in World War I in Palestine in 1917-1918.

Australian soldiers at the Western Wall, picture taken by "R. F. Ingham, 1st L."
 (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Australia)
What was going on at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City?

The reason for the kittel
We went back and inspected the photo closely.    
The shadows suggest it was photographed around noon. Several men appear to be wearing white caftans, called a kittel, normally worn on Yom Kippur. But if the day were Yom Kippur, where were the throngs of worshippers?

Another section of the picture may provide the answer.  It suggests the day was actually the seventh day of Sukkot, a day called Hoshana Rabba, when some men have a custom to wear akittel. The hour was well beyond the traditional morning prayer period so the crowd was sparse.

The lulav and etrog
The woman conversing with the Australian soldier may be holding a lulav (between her left shoulder and knee); the soldier may be holding the etrog.

Sukkot 1918 would have been a holiday for everyone in the picture: The Jews were liberated from the oppressive Turks, and the Australians Light Horsemen were on their way home after hard-fought battles in the Sinai, Beer Sheba, and east of the Jordan River. 

 The date: September 27, 1918.
lulav, etrog, 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Israel's History - a Picture a Day - Yom Kippur at the Western Wall 00 Years Ago

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Yom Kippur at the Western Wall 00 Years Ago

Posted: 20 Sep 2015

Reposting a feature from last year

Jews at the Kotel on Yom Kippur (circa 1904) See analysis of the graffiti
on the wall for dating this picture. The graffiti on the Wall are memorial notices. (Library of Congress)

On Tuesday night, September 22, Jews around the world will commemorate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. For many centuries, Jews in the Land of Israel prayed at the Western Wall, the remnant of King Herod's retaining wall of the Temple complex destroyed in 70 AD.

Several readers noticed and commented on the intermingling of men and women in these historic pictures. It was not by choice.

The Turkish and British rulers of Jerusalem imposed severe restrictions on the Jewish worshipers, prohibiting chairs, forbidding screens to divide the men and women, and even banning the blowing of the shofar at the end of the Yom Kippur service. Note that the talit prayer shawls, normally worn by men throughout Yom Kippur, are not visible in the pictures.

Jews at the Western Wall (Ottoman Empire Archives)

Editor' note: In September 2015, the Ottoman Empire Archives tweeted this picture of Jews at the Western Wall, circa 1900 when the Turks ruled Palestine. Note the small tables permitted at the time, a very unusual concession.

The men are wearing their festival/Sabbath finery, including their fur shtreimel hats. Note the prayer shawls. (Credit: RCB Library, 1897)

We found one rare picture in an Irish church's archives, dated 1897, showing men wearing prayer shawls at the Kotel.

View this video, Echoes of a Shofar, to see the story of young men who defied British authorities between 1930 and 1947 and blew the shofar at the Kotel.

Another view of the Western Wall on Yom Kippur. Note the various groups of worshipers: The Ashkenazic Hassidim wearing the fur shtreimel hats in the foreground, the Sephardic Jews wearing the fezzes in the center, and the women in the back wearing white shawls. (Circa 1904, Library of Congress)

For the 19 years that Jordan administered the Old City, 1948-1967, no Jews were permitted to pray at the Kotel.

Many of the photo collections we have surveyed contain pictures of Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall over the last 150 years.

After the 1967 war, the Western Wall plaza was enlarged and large areas of King Herod's wall were exposed. Archaeologists have also uncovered major subterranean tunnels -- hundreds of meters long -- that are now open to visitors to Jerusalem.

Click on the photos to enlarge. Click on the captions to see the originals.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rosh Hashanna in New York 100+ Years Ago.

Israel's History - a Picture a Day - 

Rosh Hashanna in New York 100+ Years Ago

Posted: 12 Sep 2015

The George Bain Collection in the Library of Congress contains several dozen pictures of New York's Jewish community. Our previous posting showed the community commemorating the Jewish New Year. 

"Celebrating the Jewish New Year on the East Side" (circa 1910, Bain Collection, Library of Congress)
But during a period of about 10 years at the beginning of the 20th century, the Bain photographers focused on a group of very busy men on the eve of Rosh Hashanna -- not the rabbis or the cantors -- but the "boot blacks," the shoe shiners on the street corners.  Note the women customers, perhaps the reason for the Bain photographers' interest.

"Bootblack stand, busy on Jewish New Year, Sept. 1905" (Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

"Jewish New Year - boot blacks" (circa 1910-1915, Bain Collection, Library of Congress)
"Jewish New Year - boot blacks" (circa 1910-1915, Bain Collection, Library of Congress)  "
"Jew[ish] New Year - boot black"  (September 1912, Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Israel's History - a Picture a Day - Why Was a Nazi Flag Flying from a Jerusalem Hotel in the 1930s?

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 30 Aug 2015 

We recently published pictures from the British Library's Endangered Archives Programincluding this incredible picture of Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City which we have dated to the mid-1890s. Only in 1898 was the wall near Jaffa Gate breached so that carriages could drive into the city.

Jaffa Gate and A(braham) Fast's restaurant.  (Debbas Collection, British Library)

We wanted to know more about the store on the left with the sign "A Fast. Restauranteur."  Was this a tourist establishment of Abraham Fast, who in 1907 took over a large hotel several hundred meters to the west of the building pictured above and renamed it "Hotel Fast?"

German troops marching in Jerusalem on Good Friday, 
April 6, 1917. The building on the left is 
the Fast Hotel. (Imperial War Museum, UK)

It was a leading hotel with 100 rooms, built around a court yard with Ionic, Corinthian and Doric columns.

Hotel Fast and its kosher restaurant was a well-known establishment in Jerusalem for decades, and was probably considered by many to be a Jewish-owned establishment because of its Jewish clientele.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Fasts were German Templers.

The German consulate in the Fast Hotel, 1933. 
(Wikimedia, Tamar Hayardeni)

They lived in Jerusalem's German Colony and were exiled by the British after World War I and during World War II because of their support for Germany.

We recently uncovered pictures of German troops marching in Jerusalem streets on Good Friday 1917. Readers were able to identify the building on the left as the Fast Hotel.

Our biggest surprise was finding this picture of the German consulate in the Hotel Fast with the German Swastika flag flying from the building.

During World War II, the hotel was taken over by the British army command and turned into the Australian army club.

The Hotel Fast housed Australian soldiers in World War II.  Here they are greeting the Australian 
Prime Minister Robert Menzies and the commander of the Australian troops in Australia, 
Lt. Gen. Thomas Blamey in February 1941. The Matson Photo Service, shown on the ground 
floor, was run by Eric Matson, originally from the American Colony Photographic Department. 
 Matson left Palestine in 1946 for the United States.  His collection of photos were 
bequeathed to the Library of Congress where many of the pictures in this 
website were found.  (Library of Congress

The Hotel Fast building was abandoned in 1967 and torn down in 1976 to make way for the Dan Pearl Hotel.