Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Orange Season Now in Israel
-- As It Was 100 Years Ago

Arabs wrapping oranges (circa 1900)
Despite the wintery weather, grocery shoppers in Europe and North America today will find fresh fruit and vegetables from Israel on their shelves.  And not just the delicious tomatoes and cucumbers.  Exotic Israeli agricultural products are also on sale, such as pitayas, a cactus fruit; lychees and kiwis; yellow cherry tomatoes; miniature water melons; purple potatoes; star-shaped zucchinis; blue bananas, and many more.

Jewish farmer irrigating grove in Rishon
Lezion (1930s)
But the king of the exports is still the Jaffa orange, also known as the Shamouti orange.  The Jaffa orange today also has competition from oranges grown in places like Spain and Morocco.

Arab farmers in Palestine developed this sweet orange in the 1800s.

With the arrival of steam ships, the oranges were exported from Jaffa's port, thus the origin of the fruit's name.
Tel Aviv port (1930s). View import of lumber for orange crates
Click on the photos to enlarge.
Click on the captions to see the originals.
Jaffa Port (circa 1900)

Citrus plantations were established by wealthy Arab landholders, and early Zionist farmers also planted citrus groves on the tracts of land they purchased.

Jewish farmer from Rishon Lezion
pruning an orange tree grafted onto a
lemon trunk
Jewish supernumeraries on guard in
an orange grove. (1930s)
The American Colony photographers preserved pictures of the Arab and Jewish groves, the packing, export, and production of orange products.  They also photographed the cooperation of Arab and Jewish workers in the 1930s.
Orange grove in Borochov, named for the
Zionist leader, Ber Brochov. The village,
founded in 1922, became part of the
town of Givatayim
During the Arab revolt (1936-1939), Arab workers closed the Jaffa port with a lengthy strike.  The new Tel Aviv port handled the import of lumber for orange crates and then the export of the oranges themselves.
Packing plant with Arab and Jewish workers (1930s)

Arab and Jewish workers nailing orange crates in Rehovot

Jewish and Arab workers wrapping
oranges in Rehovot


  1. Yummy! The best oranges anywhere! I picked them and grapefruits in the 1970's; the grapefruits were so heavy they sat on the ground and so huge they were the size of footballs!

  2. The two arabs on the left in picture 9 of 10 are at the back ot the room in picture 10 of 10.

    1. Good eye! You're right. Both pictures were taken in the Rechovot packing plant.