Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jewish Shopkeepers in Jerusalem's Old City -- More than 100 Years Ago

The Getty Research Institute labels this picture
as a "Jeblanier jeuf  à  Jérusalem," taken in
1890 (sic). The Jewish merchant's profession is
a "ferbantier" -- a  tinsmith or "blecher" in
Yiddish. The photographer was taken by Felix
Bonfils who died in 1885. Bonfils has pictures of
Jerusalem going back to 1865. (Credit: Ken and
Jenny Jacobson  Orientalist Photography Collection, Getty)
A visitor to Jerusalem in the second half of the 1800s reported that the Jewish community represented half of the population with the rest Muslim, Christian and Armenian.

Several photographers at the time specifically chose Jewish subjects to photograph, particularly at the Western Wall or in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. 

But in many cases, Jerusalem's Jews were simply passersby in the picture, or, as in a picture reproduced and enlarged below, owned shops that were part of the landscape.
Jaffa Gate The Library of Congress dates this
picture between 1898 and 1946. Based on the
 carriages outside the gate, the photo was
probably taken before the breaching of the
Jaffa Gate in 1898 and creation of a road.
 The American Colony's Elijah Meyers was a
photographer prior to the Colony's
photographic department's creation in 1898
and may have taken this picture.
Look at the shop adjacent to the gate in
the accompanying enlargement. 

Enlargement: The shop is a millinery store selling hats. The men
 inside and outside are Jewish merchants or customers. The
signs show hat models and a store name in Hebrew.

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