Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It ... Rain

"Snowballing on Jaffa Road" in Jerusalem (1942)
Israelis love to see snow.

The ski slopes on Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights are clogged today with Israeli skiers after several heavy snowfalls in recent weeks. 

The children from the American
Colony, 1921 (the picture was

Snow covers Jerusalem's Old City, looking toward
Mt. of Olives (circa 1900)

Elsewhere in Israel rains have fallen steadily over the last month, and the Sea of Galilee is slowly rising.  But the "national resevoir of Israel" has a long way to go after years of drought in the Middle East.

British soldiers at the
Western Wall (1921)

Children pulling sled in Jerusalem
Snow in the hills of Jerusalem occurs once every year or two. Roads from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem are clogged when there are predictions of snow in the capital.  Residents of Israel's warmer coastline have even been seen in Jerusalem loading snow into the trunks of their cars after a snow storm to take back "down the hill."

Children playing in the snow

A snowman in Jerusalem, probably surrounded by
members of the American Colony (1921)

The photographers of the American Colony recorded pictures of some of the snow storms, particularly the heavy accumulation during the winter of 1921. 

Today, It's Called "Forex."
Then It Was Called "Money Changing"

Jewish money changer (1930s)
 For millennia the commerce of the world has had to deal with different currencies. The Bible refers to various coins, often a name referring to a specific weight.  Every country, province, king or governor minted a local coin.  Travelers had to exchange one currency for another to do business.

Jewish pilgrims to the Temples in Jerusalem had to convert their coins to local currency to pay for their sacrifices or lodgings.  Agricultural tithes were converted to coins which were brought to Jerusalem. The Talmud refers to a money changer as  a shulchani (literally a "person at the table").

According to the New Testament, the money changers were driven from the Temple by Jesus.  The allegedly unsavory character of money changers continued into the Middle Ages as seen by Shakespeare's depiction of Shylock.

Over the centuries, the Forex (foreign exchange) professionals also served as bankers and loan officers.

Jewish money changer (1930s)
When Jews were dispersed throughout Europe and Asia, the profession was an easily portable trade.  Jewish ties between communities facilitated letters of credit. The Rothschild banking dynasty, for instance, begun in the 16th century, had family branches in Austria, Germany, France, Italy and England.

As recorded by the American Colony photographers, Jewish money changers set up their shulchan on the street. The signs behind the men are rental notices.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Tensions between Jerusalem's Religious and Secular Jews Go Way Back

"Police intercede in Orthodox attempt to break up the
Maccabee football game" (1930s)
The neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in northern Jerusalem is famous for the dust-up between Israel and the U.S. Administration two years ago when Israel announced plans for expansion of the ultra-Orthodox housing project. 

Originally, Jerusalem's legendary mayor Teddy Kollek planned that the area, known as the Shuafat ridge, would house a 50,000-seat football stadium, sports facilities and tennis courts.
Aerial photo of the sports field, adjacent
to the ultra-Orthodox Meah She'arim
neighborhood (1931).  See a view of
the bleachers here, and the field here.

"Close-up of an Orthodox Jew in the
 crowd."  View another close-up with
the police - here (1930s)
But access to the stadium would have to be through Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, and Sabbath protests and demonstrations were a certainty.

Eventually, the stadium was built in southern Jerusalem near Malcha, and the Shuafat ridge became part of a contiguous stretch of ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

"Crowd of mixed Orthodox Jews who arrived on the scene en
masse to force the discontinuing of the Maccabee footbal game"

The Sabbath tensions over public sports games on Saturdays were documented by the American Colony photographers some 80 years ago. 

Some of the photographs identify the field as "near Bokharbia," perhaps meaning near the Bukhari Jewish neighborhood adjacent to Meah She'arim.

The decades-old issue of Sabbath observance in Jerusalem suggests that this dispute may indeed not be resolvable; rather, like other conflicts in the Middle East, the best one could hope for is that it would be manageable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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

Monday, January 23, 2012

Take a Look at Who's Viewing This Site Right Now

To the right is a snapshop of the "Live Traffic Feed" of Israel Daily Picture earlier today and the locations of the visitors to the site.  The "app" is located low in the right sidebar.

As this site nears the 250,000 readers mark, we are pleased to welcome the readers from Moslem/Arab countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and from the Palestinian territories.

In addition to the readers from the United States and Israel, others visited from Gibraltor, Brazil, India, Uruguay, Germany, Norway, Hungary and the Netherlands in this time period.

Thank you for visiting. Please enter your email in the right sidebar to receive the Israel Daily Picture delivered to your computer. 1800 readers have already subscribed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Dream Comes True, Part 2 --
Haifa Port Constructed in 1933

Excavations at the nearby Atlit quarries (1920s)
In 1902, Theodore Herzl predicted a major seaport would be built in Haifa Bay.  In October 1933 the new port was inaugurated.  

Read Part 1 of the Haifa Port story here.
Diver at work

The Haifa harbor had to be dredged, sandbars had to cleared, foundations and pillars had to be sunk, and raw materials for the new port facilities had to be dug and transported from the nearby Atlit quarries.
Atlit boulder slated for the port

Dredging the Haifa harbor
The American Colony photographers recorded the extensive excavations and construction carried out.

And the photographers were there when the British High Commissioner officially opened the port in October 1933.

Official opening ceremony of the
Haifa harbor, Oct. 31, 1933

Pouring great cement blocks

Haifa Port today (Haifa Port)
Zionist leaders realized that the development of a port would have a tremendous impact on the region. As described by Joseph Glass in his book From New Zion to Old Zion, "The surrounding areas would enjoy speedy development as Haifa became the industrial hub of Palestine. The population would increase rapidly in order to service the new port and facilities, the associated industries, and the required service sectors. New neighborhoods and settlements would sprout up quickly to house the sizable population increase.  In turn, this would most likely lead to the development of nearby agricultural settlements to satisfy the urban area's need for dairy and poultry products, fruits, and vegetables."

View a video on the history of the Haifa port and a video on Haifa's new, advanced terminals and port facilities.  Haifa is expected to be one of the top 50 ports in the world.  

The main base of the Israeli Navy is also located in Haifa.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jewish Industries in Palestine 75 Years Ago -- Part 2

Spinning yarn at Ata Textiles (1939)
By the 1930s, Jewish industries and settlements in Palestine were employing tens of thousands of Jews.  In 1939, seventy-five percent of Jewish workers, some 100,000 men and women, were members of the Histadrut, the federation of trade unions.  Many immigrants, fleeing the turmoil in Europe, were integrated into the work force. 

To see Part 1 of this feature click here.

Fish ponds near Akko. "Fish are so
plentiful they are picked up with hand
nets" (1939).  Also view here.

Rolling cigars near Haifa. View the
finished product here

Some of the small businesses photographed by the American Colony photographers are large conglomerates today. 

Bottling olive oil at Shemen plant
The Shemen corporation is a major producer of edible oils and feed with annual sales in the range of $150 million. 

Kadar factory ceramics. Vintage ceramic
pieces can be found for sale on E-Bay
The wadding plant at Ata Textiles
Ata textiles, featured in some of the pictures here, was the major industry in the town of Kiryat Ata outside of Haifa, but faced with higher raw cotton prices and cheaper competitors in the Far East, the factory closed in the 1985.

The Adi battery company

Shemen's soap factory

Margarine plant

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Haifa 110 Years Ago
Only Dreamers Envisioned a Major Port -- Part I

Arrival of the German emperor in 1898 on the quay of Haifa Bay.
His cruiser is at anchor in the background
Jaffa was really the only major port in Palestine in the 19th century.  The docks of Acco and the bay at Haifa were little more than fishermen's villages.
British High Commissioner Herbert
Samuel arriving in Jaffa on rowboat
June 30, 1920

These pictures in the Library of Congress collection show the backwater nature of Haifa Bay, used by the German Emperor Wilhelm II for his arrival in Palestine in 1898.  Perhaps the landing at Haifa reflected the presence of the German Colony established in the town in 1868.
The emperor's cruiser at Haifa

Turkish band receiving the emperor at the Haifa quay.

In the 1920s the British Mandate began planning and construction of a deep water port in Haifa, and Jewish development funds began purchases of large tracts of surrounding land for development. 

In the 1930s, faced with the strikes of Arab workers in the Jaffa port, British authorities and Jewish developers built the Tel Aviv port.  The Jewish state-in-the-making would have two major ports under its control, with ports in Ashdod and Eilat eventually added.

In 1898, the land of Palestine had one other visitor, Theodore Herzl, one of the founders of modern Zionism.  In his 1902 novel, Altneuland, he presented his amazing prophetic vision of Haifa and its port:
New wharfs of Haifa Port 1933

As they approached the harbor they made out the details with the help of their excellent lenses. Great ships, such as were already known at the end of the nineteenth century, lay anchored in the roadstead between Acco and the foot of the Carmel. ...Below the ancient, much-tried city of Haifa on the curve of the shore, splendid things had grown up. Thousands of white villas gleamed out of luxuriant green gardens. All the way from Acco to Mount Carmel stretched what seemed to be one great park. The mountain itself, also, was crowned with beautiful structures.... A magnificent city had been built beside the sapphire blue Mediterranean. The magnificent stone dams showed the harbor for what it was: the safest and most convenient port in the eastern Mediterranean. Craft of every shape and size, flying the flags of all the nations, lay sheltered there. Kingscourt and Friedrich were spellbound. Their twenty-year-old map showed no such port, and here it was as if conjured up by magic.

Next: The construction of Haifa Port

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Visit to Meah She'arim 75 Years Ago

Meah She'arim market. "Bukharan vegetable vendor with
donkey car" (circa 1935)
The Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah She'arim was one of the first neighborhoods built outside of the Old City walls. 

The name "Meah She'arim" can mean "100 gates" or "100 measures" and is taken from the verse in Genesis (26:12) "And Isaac sowed in that land and he reaped in that year one hundred times [what was estimated], [for] God had blessed him."
Meah She'arim market today

Meah She'arim market (1935)
Meah She'arim was established in 1874 during the same week that the verse from Genesis was read in the synagogue Torah reading. 

In 1890, the neighborhood was home to 800 residents in 200 buildings.  The demand for housing was so great that within three years another 100 homes were built and the population almost doubled.  Adjacent neighborhoods, such as Batei Ungarin and the Bukharan Quarter, were built to handle the burgeoning Jewish population. 

Each neighborhood contained its own marketplace full of stalls and stores.  Not too many years ago, shopkeepers in the Bukharan market were still using their abacus to tally purchases.

Today, however, with the exception of shoppers in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market, the shopping habits of Jerusalemites have changed, and supermarket chains now attract more and more consumers.

Meah She'arim. "The chicken killer" (1935)
Meah She'arim. "The fishmonger" (1935)

The transaction in the market (1935)
Meah She'arim bread stalls (1935)
Group of Jews in Meah She'arim (1935)

What's left of the market in the Bukharan Quarter today