Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why the Photographer Loved Yemenite Jews 120 Years Ago

"Arab Jew from Yemen" (circa 1900)
Skim through the pages of Israel Daily Picture and you will see dozens of pictures of Yemenite Jews, some dating back more than 100 years.  The photographers of the American Colony clearly enjoyed taking their portraits.

We recently discovered why.
Yemenite family (circa 1914)

The American Colony was a group of utopian American Christians who moved to the Holy Land in 1881.  The leader of the group, Horatio Spafford, believed that "the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem was a sign of the imminent second coming of Jesus," according to the Library of Congress curator of a recent exhibit.

The "Gadite" (Yemenite) prayer in Spafford's Bible, 130 years ago

Prayer of Jewish Rabbi offered every Sabbath in Gadite
synagogue, June 27?: He who blessed our fathers Abraham,
Isaac & Jacob, bless & guard & keep Horatio Spafford & his
household & all that are joined with him, because he has
shown us mercy to us & our children & little ones.
Therefore may the Lord make his days long...(?) and may the
Lord's mercy shelter them. In his and in our days may Judah
be helped (?) and Israel rest peacefully and may the
Redeemer come to Zion, Amen.
 "In May 1882," the Library of Congress exhibit reported, "the Spaffords met a group of impoverished Yemenite Jews recently arrived in Jerusalem. The Yemenites had come from their homes in southern Arabia because they believed that the time was right after thousands of years to return to the land that had been Israel. Impressed by their sincerity and claim to be descendants of Gad, a founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Spaffords housed and fed them until they could establish themselves in Jerusalem. In appreciation the Gadites bestowed a blessing on the Spaffords, which was recorded in [the family] Bible."
A Yemenite Jew standing above the
village of Silwan. The Yemenites lived
in caves there upon their arrival in 1882.
(circa 1901)

Yemenite Jew at Yemin Moshe project in Jerusalem (1899)

Yemenite Family (1911)

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