Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Fruit of the Vine Restored to Eretz Yisrael in the 1800s

Grape picking in Rishon Lezion beneath the
eye of armed guard, 1939
Wine always played an important role in Judaism and ancient Israel.  Temple libations, religious ceremonies, and meals such as the Passover Seder and Sabbath Kiddush all required wine.  But the production of wine in the Holy Land virtually ceased for 1,000 years after the Islamic conquest in the 7th century. 
In the 19th century, French Baron Edmond de Rothschild re-established a wine industry in the Holy Land, importing vines and expertise from France.  In 1882, Rothschild founded the Carmel Winery with vineyards, wine presses and wine cellars in Rishon Lezion and Zichron Yaakov.  
Zichron Yaakov workers, 1939

The American Colony photographers visited the Carmel wineries and vineyards on several occasions and took hundreds of photographs.  The grape-picking of July and August 1939 had to be carried out under the watchful eyes of the "supernumerary police," thousands of Jewish Auxiliary police recruited to guard Jewish communities during the turmoil of the Arab revolt in Palestine (1936-1939).  They were to become the nucleus of the Haganah defense forces.
Rabbi supervising kashrut
in Rishon winery 1939


Wine press in Zichron 1939
 
Grape-picking in the fields
Click on a picture to enlarge. Click on caption to view original.

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