Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rishon LeZion Celebrates Its 130th Anniversary This Week

Rishon LeZion kindergarten (1898)
credit: Rishon LeZion Museum
Rishon LeZion, "the first to Zion" (a phrase from the book of Isaiah) was actually the second -- the second Jewish agricultural community formed by the Jewish Zionist movement in the late 19th century.  Rishon was founded on July 31, 1882 by Russian settlers who had purchased 835 acres from the Arab village of Ayun Kara.
Rishon's synagogue, built in
1889.  It looks very similar to
Zichron Ya'akov's synagogue
built in 1886. (circa 1898)

Carmel Steet in Rishon, the
winery is the large building
on the left, built around 1890
The Jewish settlement struggled at first until aided by Baron Edmund de Rothschild, a munificent philanthropist.  Rothschild, who also helped establish the communities of Zichron Ya'akov and Rosh Pina, dispatched town planners and agricultural experts to help the new community.  He planted vineyards and established the Carmel winery in Rishon in 1886. 

Rishon's architect and his home
View Rishon's Administration
building here (circa 1898)
The winery's cellar (circa 1898)
Rishon LeZion claims many "firsts."  According to the Rishon municipality, the school in Rishon was the first to use the Hebrew language in its curriculum in 1886.  The Jewish national anthem Hatikva was written in Rishon by Naftali Hertz Amber in 1883.

Rishon (circa 1920)
Visit of British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel 1920
View visit of Lord Balfour in 1925 here
The American Colony photograph collection in the Library of Congress contains scores of photographs of the wineries in Rishon and Zichron as well as the work in the vineyards. 

According to the Library of Congress captions, the American Colony photos on this page were taken between 1898 and 1934.  We suggest that many were taken closer to to 1898 because of the photographic methods (glass, stereograph) and the style of dress.

"Children of Zion 1917" photo taken by a New Zealand
soldier, Charles Bloomfield.  "Jewish children and their
teachers assemble for a photograph in front of the
schoolhouse." Donated by Bloomfield's family in
2008 to the "New Zealand Mounted Rifles"
In 1917, World War I swirled around the residents of Rishon LeZion as dug-in Turkish troops in Ayun Kara fought New Zealand forces moving up the coast with the British army.  Kiwi veterans of the battle of Ayun Kara left behind moving descriptions of the battle and photographs of Rishon residents.
The following morning the village of Ayun Kara was reported clear of the enemy, and, with a company of “Camels” on the left and the 1st Light Horse on the right, the brigade moved forward towards Jaffa, meeting with no resistance.

On the way they passed through the village of Richon le Zion, where for the first time they met Jews. One member of the community was a brother of Rabbi Goldstein, of Auckland. The joy of these people at being freed from the tyranny of the Turks was unbounded. They treated the New Zealanders most hospitably—an exceedingly pleasant experience after the tremendous effort they had just made, and the harsh hungry times spent in the south with its hostile Bedouins.
Click on photos to enlarge. Click on the captions to view the original pictures.

1 comment:

  1. any more recent photos like from the 1967 and on?
    my husband basically grew up there , love to see what it looked like around that time!