Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Historic Film: British General Allenby Entering Jerusalem
-- From the Wonderful Archives of Ya'akov Gross

This film was posted last month by film collector Ya'akov Gross to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the British Army.  Gross has posted dozens of historic films on YouTube.

This film is, of course, a silent film with a musical score added. The captions are in Hebrew explaining as Allenby meets the commanders of the French and Italian armies, Jerusalem clergymen, and a short young officer named T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia).

Israel Daily Picture has posted on this website several other films from 100 years ago, including the first film made in the Holy Land in 1897.

Hat tip: NSP

Gen. Allenby enters Jerusalem's Old City and
addresses dignitaries and citizens of Jerusalem

What's Inside?
Updated Table of Contents by Subject

The Library of Congress' photo collection of 22,000 pictures from the century-old American Colony photo department in the Holy Land is a credit to the Library, the curators, the restorers, and, of course, the members of the American Colony, themselves. 
Our recent postings included evidence that these Christian utopians were "Zionists" well before Theodore Herzl, rejoicing in the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael.  The choice of photo subjects was remarkably "Jewish-friendly," a fact absent from other studies of the Colony's photos.

We also published newly-found pictures from a Scottish university's medical archives where we unexpectedly found photographs of the citizens of Tiberias.

We present this Table of Contents of more than 290 essays and hundreds of pictures to assist you in viewing this incredible historical treasure.

Click on the topic to see the original posting.

 Biblical Sites

Jewish holidays

World War I

Anti-Jewish activity

Economic activity

Agricultural Activity

Groups (by their origin, religion, ethnicity)

Ancient towns

Jewish Towns -- New
Children in Ben-Shemen (1920)

Extinct or Vanishing Jewish Communities
 Film clips

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Special Feature for Our Christian Readers --
Christmas in the Holy Land 100 Years Ago

Entry of pilgims into Bethlehem at Christmas time (circa 1875) by photographer FĂ©lix Bonfils (Library of Congress)

Christmas procession in Bethlehem (circa 1900)
The town of Bethlehem plays a major role in the Christian faith. There, Christians believe, Jesus was born some 2,000 years ago, and they celebrate his birth on Christmas.

But when is Christmas?

Bethlehem hosts Christmas services for Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations on December 25.  Coptic, Greek and Syrian Catholics will celebrate in the Church of the Nativity on January 6, and the Armenian Orthodox on January 19.

The photographs on this page were taken by the American Colony Photographic Department before and after World War I when the British captured Palestine after 400 years of Ottoman rule.
Church of the Nativity and Manger Square (circa 1898). Note
the unfenced cemetery on the left. View here the square and
cemetery approximately 20 years later, possibly under British rule

The name "Bethlehem" is derived from the Hebrew "Beit Lechem -- House of Bread," and its fields of grain are mentioned in the Book of Ruth as where Ruth gleaned her wheat for her mother-in-law Naomi and where she met her eventual husband, Boaz.  According to the Bible, Ruth's great-grandson David was born in Bethlehem where he was anointed as king.

The Church of the Nativity was built in 339 CE by King Constantine and his mother, Helena, over the grotto believed to have been the site of Jesus' birth.  

Throughout history the Church was destroyed and/or rebuilt by various conquering armies -- the Samaritans, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans and British.
The Grotto of the Nativity beneath the
Church (circa 1900)

In 1948, Bethlehem was conquered again, this time by the Jordanian Legion.  Jordan ruled Bethlehem and the West Bank until 1967 when the territory was captured by Israel. In 1995, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, Israel transferred Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority.

Bethlehem was traditionally a Christian town, built around the basilica, and tourism was the most important industry.  In recent years, however, the proportion of Christians in Bethlehem has dropped from 85 percent in 1948 to 54 percent in 1967, and now to about 40 percent.  Some analysts point to tensions between resurgent and aggressive Islamists and the Christian community, a phenomenon pressuring other Christian communities across the Middle East, with the exception of Israel.

British and French soldiers guarding the Church of the
Nativity (circa 1918)

Turkish soldiers drilling in the square outside of the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem (circa 1900)

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original Library of Congress photo.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The First Zoo in the Holy Land
-- Tel Aviv's Zoo Created by a Refugee from Europe

Tel Aviv zoo's crocodiles and turtles (circa 1939)
Rabbi Mordechai Schornstein served as a rabbi in Copenhagen, Denmark, and moved to Palestine in 1935.  On his way to the Holy Land he stopped in Italy and purchased birds and small mammals to start a pet store in Tel Aviv. 

Griffon vulture

His collection grew, and in 1938 he opened a zoo in a residential area of Tel Aviv.  With the arrivals of lions, tigers and elephants the zoo was forced to moved and re-housed at a location not far from Tel Aviv's City Hall.

Hyena played with zookeeper
Urban growth, however, meant that Tel Avivians did not want a zoo in their midst.  Public awareness of animal care and zoo overcrowding forced another move in 1980, this time to a large Ramat Gan park nearby.  The 250-acre "Ramat Gan Safari" now contains some 1,600 animals.

Lion in the Tel Aviv zoo

The Library of Congress-American Colony Photographic Department captions lists the pictures as taken between 1936 and 1939.  The zoo's timeline, however, suggests that 1939 was a more likely date.

Monkey, held by a keeper
"Ibex, the wild goat of the Bible"

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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