Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yemenite Jews: The American Colony Photographers' Favorite Portrait Subjects

"Arab Jew from Yemen" circa 1900
The 1880s saw the arrival of two immigrant groups in Jerusalem: The members of the American Colony, a group of American Christian utopians who first settled in the Old City, and a group of Yemenite Jews who were forced to settle in the Shiloach (Silwan) village outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City when they were not warmly received by the Jewish residents of the city. 
"Rabbi Shlomo" circa 1936
More pictures of the rabbi
can be viewed here

"The village of Siloan" 1901. The man is
a Jew from Habani according to experts
on the Yemenite Jewish community
As we wrote in an earlier posting, the most famous Jewish Yemenite migration to the Land of Israel took place in 1949 and 1950 when almost 50,000 Jews were airlifted to Israel in "Operation On Eagles Wings -- על כנפי נשרים" also known as "Operation Magic Carpet."
Yemenite family probably from
Sanaa, according to experts
The earlier Yemenite migration took place 70 years earlier in 1881-1882 when a group of Jews of Yemen arrived by foot to Jerusalem.  They belonged to no "Zionist movement." They returned out of an age-old religious fervor to return to Zion.

Yehia, on the Sukkot festival

The new immigrants settled on Jewish-owned property in the Shiloach village outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem.
And the Christian photographers of the American Colony clearly loved to photograph them.  Around 1900 they photographed a Yemenite Jew (without identifying him in the caption) standing above the Shiloach.  In 1899 they photographed another Yemenite (also unidentified) near the Yemin Moshe and Mishkenot Sha'ananim projects. 

Other American Colony photos included Yemenite family portraits and portraits of two Yemenite rabbis, Avram and Shlomo.
Yemenite man announcing
the Sabbath with shofar

Rabbi Avram 1935
Yemenite scribe Shlomo Washadi, 1935

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