Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Caption Read "Jewish Colonies and Settlements"
-- And That's How the "Israel Daily Picture" Got Started

The Congressional Research Service is a top-notch research organization providing policy analyses to Members of Congress and congressional committees.  It is housed in the Library of Congress, and many of their reports are available to the public.
"Jewish colonies. Balfouria orange groves" and a synagogue
in the middle (1934). Named in honor of the British author of the
Balfour Declaration

Eighteen months ago, Lenny Ben-David, a policy and public affairs consultant and former Israeli diplomat in Washington, searched online for a report on U.S. policy on Israeli settlements.  Up popped on his screen a title, "Jewish Colonies and Settlements," a very curious title. Colonies?

Colony of Rishon LeZion (c 1920)

Threshing with a board at "Jewish
Colonies and Settlements" (c 1920)

As Ben-David delved into the Library's files he came across the recently digitalized American Colony-Matson collection of some 22,000 photographs, dating from the 1890s until 1946. Some were captioned, "Jewish Colonies and Settlements."  After the American Colony Photographic Department closed in the 1940s, the pictures and negatives were shipped back to the United States.  In the 1970s an old age home in California donated them to the Library of Congress.  The Library of Congress collection also included other pictures by pioneer photographers dating back to the 1850s.

Upon viewing the vast collection and understanding its historical significance, Ben-David launched the site.
"Jewish colonies. Commencing a
Jewish settlement. Men and
women working" (1920)

 Israel Daily Picture has featured essays on the founders of the American Colony who arrived in Palestine in 1881 and saw the return of Jews to the Land of Israel as fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy.  Hundreds of pictures depict Jewish life in the Holy Land in the 19th and early 20th centuries, decades before Israel's founding in 1948.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on caption to view the original picture.

"Commencing a settlement. Jewish
settlers arriving" (1920)
 Already in 1898, a photographer from the American Colony, reportedly hired by Zionist leader Theodor Herzl,  traveled throughout Palestine photographing Jewish settlements for an album presented at the 1899 Zionist Congress in Basel.

We present here a collection of photos taken at the new Yishuv's communities.
"Colonies:" Tel-Hai Farm

Mishmar HaYarden

Yesod HaMa'aleh (many of
its farmers were "Subbotnik"
Russians who converted to
Judaism.) See here

Children picking almonds
at Rishon LeTzion

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