Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who Is a Jew -- More than 100 Years Ago in Jerusalem?

Sometimes it's hard to tell the Jewish players in Jerusalem today without a scorecard.  It was probably even harder 100 or 140 years ago.
Original caption: "Ashkenazim
 (German Jews)" 1876.  The term "Ashkenazi"
 generally refers to Jews from western or
eastern Europe
Original American Colony caption: "Group of
Ashkenazim Jews" 1900. These Jews are most
definitely not from Europe. They are "Sephardi"
 Jews from Arab lands, and most likely from Yemen

Which Jew is Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Yemenite, Chassidic, anti-Chassidic misnaged, anti-Zionist Satmar, etc.?  Sometimes it's difficult for veteran Jerusalemites to tell today.  Imagine how difficult it was for the Christian photographers of the American Colony photographic department 100 years ago.  Usually, they got it correct, but not always.
"Arab Jew from Yemen" (1898)
note the term "Arab Jew"
"Moorish Jew" (1900) from
The photographers clearly enjoyed taking pictures of the picturesque and exotic Yemenite community that arrived in Jerusalem in the 1880s.  The elderly, bearded pious Jewish rabbis were also a favorite subject.

Note the American Colony's original captions.

From all the photographs one conclusion is certain and elementary: The Jews -- all sorts of Jews --were a part of the Jerusalem landscape 100 years ago and even 150 years ago when photography was in its infancy. 
Elderly Jewish? (sic) man, seated
under tree (1898)

Group of old Jewish men (1900) The sign above the door on
 the right reads Corridor 5, 6, 7.



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

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