Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jewish Pilgrims and Jewish Peasants? You Decide

Jews or Christians?  "Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem aboard
vessel in Beirut harbor" (1903)
Looking through the 22,000 American Colony pictures in the Library of Congress collection, it's easy to conclude that many of the photos are miscaptioned -- if they're captioned at all.  And those that are captioned often do not provide an accurate date or enough information to identify the subjects, time and place.

That's an important mission of Israel Daily Picture -- to uncover as much information as possible about Jewish life and communities in Eretz Yisrael more than 100 years ago. 

Presented here are two examples.  The first, a 1903 picture of "Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem aboard vessel in Beirut harbor" and a second 1903 photo of "Peasant women near Joppa [Jaffa] Gate, Jerusalem."
Are these women Jewish?  "Peasant women near Joppa
Gate, Jerusalem" (1903) 

The Library of Congress photo collection includes pictures of Russian Christian pilgrims visiting churches and baptism sites, such as the photo below of Russian pilgrims gathered at Jericho. 

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

Note the headgear.  All of the women in Jericho are wearing kerchiefs on their heads. But one of the passengers on the boat is not.  Is she Jewish perhaps? 

Bearded men appear in both pictures, and "cossack"-style hats appear in both.  But none of the men at Jericho are wearing the "hamburg"-style hats worn by some men on the ship, a style popular with Jewish men. 
Russian pilgrims (circa 1900)
(See enlargement.)

A Jewish passenger?
So the Russian Christians were sailing on a religious pilgrimage, but what of the Jews? 

It is likely that they were part of the 35,000 Jews who left Russia after pogroms and anti-Jewish Czarist degrees. They were part of what is called the "First Aliya," a wave of Jewish immigration, dated 1880-1903.
Standing behind the "peasant" women:
Jewish men wearing fur "streimel" hats,
normally worn on the Sabbath

Women praying at the Kotel
What can you make out of the picture of the peasants outside Jaffa Gate?  The Library of Congress website allows for enlarging the photos,  and who is in the background of the picture?  Jewish men.

The women are not wearing the black scarves worn by Muslim women, nor are their faces veiled. Indeed, compare the shawls and fabrics the "peasant" women are wearing with this picture of Jewish women praying at the Western Wall.  In many cases the fabrics are identical.

1 comment:

  1. Great work and very good to post to read. It's always very pleasure to know about history of jewish pilgrims. thanks for sharing this post.