Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reposting: Jews Celebrate Lag B'Omer This Week.
How was it commemorated 90 years ago?

Meron and tomb of Shimon BarYochai
 (circa 1930) 
Today Jews around the world are celebrating Lag B'Omer, the end of a month-long mourning period when traditional Jews refrain from weddings or joyous gatherings.  The mourning remembers the thousands of students of Rabbi Akiva, a reknowned spiritual leader at the time of the Talmud.  They died in a great plague that ended on Lag B'Omer. 

Dancing at the Meron tomb (Central Zionist Archives,
Harvard Library,  1925) 

The tomb on the hill (enlarged)

In Israel, Lag B'Omer is celebrated with bonfires, hikes along nature trails, and gatherings at the tombs of of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the Galilee town of Meron and of Shimon the Just (Hatzaddik) in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. 

Bar Yochai, a student of Rabbi Akiva's, was known for his opposition to the Roman rule in the Land of Israel.  He and his son were forced to flee to the Galilee where they hid in a cave for 12 years.  Lag B'Omer is the day of his death, but it is actually celebrated in recognition of the Torah teachings he gave over to his students.

Hundreds of thousands of celebrants are expected to visit Shimon Bar Yochai's tomb in Meron by Wednesday night.

Shimon Hatzaddik was a High Priest of the second Temple in Jerusalem for 40 years. 
Jewish women praying at the Shimon
Hatzaddik tomb (Central Zionist
Archives, Harvard Library, c. 1930)

Jews gathered at Shimon Hatzaddik's tomb in Sheikh Jarrah,
Jerusalem (Central Zionist Archives, Harvard Library,
c. 1930)

According to Jewish tradition, Shimon clothed himself in his High Priest's vestments to receive Alexander the Great as he marched toward Jerusalem.  Alexander stepped from his chariot and bowed to Shimon, who, he said, had appeared to him in a dream predicting his victories. 

Children's Lag B'Omer procession
near Shimon Hatzaddik's tomb (1918)

Shimon Hatzaddik's tomb today
Many traditional Jews who cannot travel to Meron in the Galilee celebrate Lag B'Omer at Shimon Hatzaddik's tomb located in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. 
Jewish homes around the tomb had to be evacuated in the 1948 fighting.  In recent years Jewish families have returned to the neighborhood.

Today's feature is dedicated to M & Y on the occasion of their 45th anniversary

This 1,000-Year-Old Minaret Was Destroyed in Aleppo Syria Last Week

The minaret of the Great Mosque in Aleppo,
circa 1910. (Library of Congress, American Colony
The horrific bloodshed in Syria continues without any restraint.  More than 80,000 civilians have been killed, and unknown numbers are missing and wounded.  More than one million civilians are refugees.

With few signs of international action to stop the terrible harm to flesh and blood, we add another reminder here of the catastrophe: the great destruction to the mortar and stone of Syria's magnificent historical heritage.  The minaret was built almost 1,000 years ago as part of Aleppo's Great Mosque. 

In fighting between President Assad's army and Syrian rebels last week the ancient minaret was destroyed.
The destroyed minaret, photo taken last week by
Associated Press

View other historical features on the ancient cities of Syria
  • Homs and Hama in Syria
  • Tribute to the People of Syria
  • Damascus Revolt 1895
  • Damascus Revolt 1925
  • Ancient Aleppo
  • Friday, April 26, 2013

    The "Cigarbox Collection" Part 3 -- the Arabs of Palestine,
    and a Clarification

    A Bedouin family near the Hula Lake. Homes were made from reeds. The
    lake was partially drained in the late 1800s. Later Jewish efforts drained the
    malarial swamps. (circa 1920)
    An Arab street in Haifa, ironically called "al Yahud" (the
    Jews) street, according to a note on the picture's back (c 1920)

    The village of Kalkilya. Enlarging the photo shows a woman
    with a jug on her head, suggesting the structure is a well
    Among the photographs we received in the "Cigarbox Collection" are several pictures of Arab life in Palestine approximately 100 years ago.
    Days before our formal "opening" of the collection, we continue to provide previews. 
    Today's pictures come from the Arab communities in Kalkilya, Haifa and the Hula Valley.

    Mishmar Ha'emek from the 1920s
    (Keren Hayesod)



    We previously posted this picture from the Cigarbox Collection.  Some of the pictures, such as this one, bear a stamp on the back saying "Photo Keren Hayesod."  The Central Zionist Archives contains some 50,000 pictures from the organization which was established in 1920.

    We discovered this picture in the Harvard Library files, but it was dated "1948-1946."  We suggest that the photograph, part of other pictures in the Cigarbox Collection, was taken in 1926, soon after Mishmar Ha'emek's establishment.

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    More Treasures from the "Cigarbox Collection" -- Part 2

    The cigarbox collection
    We continue to scan and research the treasure trove of photographs donated to Israel Daily Picture, pictures taken by the donor's father in the Land of Israel in the first decades of the 20th century. We hope to unveil the collection and the donor's account in his own words in the near future.

    Meanwhile, we present two more special pictures and a response to yesterday's picture from Yizraela, an octogenarian from Nahalal, who is an expert on the early days of the community and its photographs.

    Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek in the Jezreel Valley (circa 1926) with Mt Tabor in the background.
     The community was evacuated briefly during the 1929 Arab riots. In the 1948 war it was attacked by
    Arab artillery and aircraft.
    Young women doing laundry.  A notation on the back of the photo says that they are Yemenites.  Are they Jewish? The talit prayer shawl in the tub suggests that they are. (circa 1920)
    The talit

    Yizraela Bloch (named for the "Jezreel" Valley where she was born) is the photo archivist of Nahalal.  The spry octogenarian was shown yesterday's photo of the children of Nahalal and asked if one of the boys could be Moshe Dayan. 

    The children of Nahalal and their teacher

    She responded: "Moshe Dayan couldn't be one of the children in the picture because you can see the water tower that was built in 1924 in the background. The building in the foreground was the kindergarten and behind it the first grade class room. In 1924 Moshe Dayan would have been older than the kids in the picture." [Dayan was born in 1915.]

    Confirming the unique nature of the "Cigarbox collection," Yizraela was very interested in the photograph which she doesn't have in the archive collection. She was also surprised that she didn't know the kindergarten teacher in the photo.

    Our special thanks to NSP for interviewing Yizraela.

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    Coming Soon: The "Cigarbox Collection"
    -- a Family Heirloom of Incredible Pictures

    A book? No, a cigarbox
    An avid reader of this site has allowed Israel Daily Picture to become "home" to his incredible collection of pictures of the Land of Israel assembled almost 100 years ago by his father. We received the collection in an old cigarbox this week and are in the process of digitalizing the high resolution pictures, translating German captions, and identifying those pictures without captions. 
    The contents of the cigarbox

    More on the collection and the generous owner of the collection will be provided soon.

    Meanwhile, here are several preview samples:

    The children of Nahalal (circa 1920s).  It is possible that one of these boys was Moshe Dayan who was born in 1915?

    .A matzah factory in Haifa.  The signs on the left read "For the purpose of the commandment of matzah" --
    a reminder to the workers to keep their intentions on the commandment.  The signs on the right, in Hebrew and
    French, read "No smoking" and "No Spitting"

    Smoking and spitting are prohibited
    "For the matzah mitzva"

    World War II Comes to Palestine,
    Italian POWs in the Land of Israel

    Italian prisoners of war under British guard arrive by train in Palestine 1940
    (Library of Congress)
    World War II's Jewish history focuses on the terrible Holocaust in Europe with relatively small footnotes about the Nazi persecution of Jews in North Africa, Haj Amin el-Husseini's conspiracies in Berlin, and the Italian air force bombing of Tel Aviv in September 1940.

    POWs lining up for food
    The Holocaust's genocide could also have included the 500,000 Jews of Palestine if the British army had not stopped German General Rommel's Afrika Korps blitzkrieg across northern Africa in November 1942 in the battle of Alamein.  According to the British Independent, German historians discovered that the "Nazis stationed a unit of SS troops in Athens, tasked with following invading frontline troops in Palestine and then rounding up and murdering about 500,000 European Jews who had taken refuge there."  The SS would have been aided by Arab collaborators promised by el-Husseini.

    POW's food line
    Palestine played a different role in 1940, early in the war. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, allied with Germany, ordered his troops stationed in Cyrenaica (Libya) to attack British forces in Egypt and capture the Suez Canal. Out-numbered British and Australian forces blocked the attack and pushed back the Italian army. It was a crushing defeat for Italy, and more than 100,000 soldiers were captured.

    Where were the Italian POWs taken?

    The American Colony's photographs from the Library of Congress' collection showed that thousands of Italian POWs were taken to Palestine by train, presumably from Egypt.

    The photographs were taken at the Wadi Sarer train station in December 1940. The station, inside Israel, is an old Ottoman building that has been abandoned.
    Wadi Sarer train station in the background
    POWs on the march

    The old train station was a recent photographic subject for photographer Gunther Hartnagel.  We have been unable to make contact with Mr. Hartnagel to obtain permission to use his photographs, but they can be viewed here.

    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Introducing David Blick of Brooklyn,
    Private in the Jewish Legion, Palestine, April 8, 1918 - March 18, 1920

    Private David Blick, Jewish Legion
    David Blick was born in Odessa in 1893. In 1913 he left Russia, briefly lived in France, and then moved to the United States.  In New York he enlisted in the British army's Jewish Legion and was assigned to the Royal Fusiliers.

    We thank Yakov Marks and his wife, Rena Chaya Brownstein Marks, for providing these pictures of her maternal grandfather, David Blick. Yakov noted, "While camped in the
    David and Rachel Blick standing on
    what appears to be a boat (in
    Haifa harbor?)
    area of Rishon LeZion, David met and later married Rachel Churgin of Yaffo. They were forced to leave Eretz Yisrael by the British."

    Here is David Blicks' autobiographical account that he provided to the Album of the Jewish Legion:
    I was born in Odessa Russia on February 23, 1896.  I attended both a yeshiva and gymnasium in that city.  Early in 1913 I left Russia and settled in Paris, France for a year and a half. In July, [1915?] I migrated to United States.  For the first three years I lived in the city of Boston and I was an active member of the Poale Zion Party. 
    Early in 1918 I joined the Jewish Legion and served in Eretz Yisrael with the 39th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. During my service in Israel I met and married my wife Rachel Churgin.
    In February 1920 I left Israel first for England and then in the United States. I have lived in the United States since 1920....

    Pvt. David Blick's Jewish Legion unit in Eretz Yisrael

    More photographs from the Blick/Marks family album
    The Royal Fusiliers on the way to action
    Blick's unit.

    David Blick's army discharge papers

    Click on pictures to enlarge.

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    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    The Missionary Doctor and the Jews,
    Medicine in Tiberias 100 Years Ago

    Dr. Herbert Torrance visits Tiberias residents
    The University of Dundee medical school in Scotland has posted the photos taken by two missionary doctors who established a hospital in Tiberias.  Below is the university's own description:
    The Torrance collection, which includes thousands of photographs and color slides of Israel, Palestine and medical illnesses, has now been fully updated on our online catalogue. The photographs were taken by David Torrance and his son Herbert  Torrance who established a hospital in Tiberius in 1885 which lasted for over a hundred years helping the local communities.
    Jewish patient in bed (circa 1930)
    In recent months we posted several photo essays on the hospital, including incredible pictures dating back over 100 years.

    But we were intrigued by a Christian Mission -- albeit a hospital -- in the midst of the very traditional Jewish residents of Tiberias.

    We found an answer on a Hebrew Internet site by Avshalom Shachar called "נופים ותרבויות --Vistas and Cultures."
    The Jews initially banned [cherem] the hospital, and rabbis prohibited their disciples from being aided in the place because of its missionary nature. However, the outbreak of cholera in the city in 1902 caused hundreds of casualties (including the doctor's wife) and led many Jews to seek out the services of the hospital and Dr. Torrance who, despite his wife's death, continued to treat patients diligently and earned great respect.
    When Dr. Torrance died in 1923, the rabbi of Tiberias eulogized him: "Tiberias was blessed with three things: the Sea of Galilee, the Tiberias hot springs, and Dr. Torrance."
    Today's posting is dedicated to Dr. A.K. with wishes for a speedy recovery -- Your "Kids"
    Jewish and Arab boy, bladder stone cases (1933)
    Muslim, Jew and Christian with bladder stones (1929)