Friday, October 25, 2013

Press Release
1 Millionth Visitor Arrives Next Week on Israel Daily Picture

The Western Wall, 1859
For Immediate Release

Jerusalem -- Israel Daily Picture (IDP), an online album of antique photographs of the Holy Land, will reach a historic milestone this week when its millionth visitor arrives on the site,

Austrian troops, Turkey's allies, marching into Jerusalem, World War I
IDP was first launched in 2011 and has now published more than 350 historic essays containing more than 1,000 antique pictures taken between the 1850s and 1946.  We present samples of the photos on this page.

The pictures were digitalized and posted to websites in recent years by the U.S. Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Emory University, Harvard, the University of Dundee Medical Archives, and others.  In recent months, private individuals have also shared with IDP their private albums and family collections.

Jews fleeing Arab pogrom in Jerusalem's Old City, 1929
"There's an important, almost secret, message in many of these antique photographs," reveals IDP's founder and publisher, Lenny Ben-David.  "The pictures show Jewish life in the Holy Land throughout the last 160 years -- since the invention of photography -- well before the founding of Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel. Jews were always in Eretz Yisrael even after the fall of the Jewish Temple in 70 CE, and here is visual proof."

Jewish children in Ben-Shemen (circa 1920)
"Most of the photos were taken by the American Colony photographers who began their work in the late 19th century. Among their goals was to seek out and  photograph Jews in Jerusalem and in the countryside," Ben-David explained. "The return of Jews to Palestine was seen by the Christian photographers in messianic terms. A recent exhibition and book by today's American Colony Hotel proprietors, however, virtually ignored the Jewish presence in historic Palestine."

British commander Allenby meeting Chief Rabbi in the
Old City after the Turkish surrender of Jerusalem 1917
The IDP exhibits photos of key events in the Middle East -- World War I and its clashes in Gaza, Be'er Sheva, Rishon LeZion, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea; the establishment of Jewish communities in the Galilee; the arrival of the German Emperor in 1898; the role of the Jewish Legion in 1917; the development of industries and infrastructures by the Jewish population; Jewish holidays; Jewish children of the Old and New Yishuv; Jewish life in Jerusalem's Old City, and many more.  The photographers also chronicled the lives and shrines of Arab and Christians.

[For further information see The Zionist Message Hidden within Antique Pictures of the Holy Land, by Lenny Ben-David, Published in the Jewish Political Studies Review]

IDP pictures are all published with permission of the collection owners.

To subscribe, enter your email (free) on the website Voluntary contributions are welcome via PayPal.

For journalists only: Publisher Lenny Ben-David is available for interviews at (US) 202.241.5241  (Israel) 972.542.168155  (Not Sabbath)

Twitter: @lennybendavid      Facebook

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Walls & Gates of Jerusalem, Jaffa Gate --
More Pictures from the Emory University Collection, Part 4

When was this picture of the Jaffa Gate taken? Here are clues.
The Jaffa Gate, from the Emory collection. Several features in the photograph tell us when the picture
was taken. Note the tower, in particular.

Jaffa Gate photographed by Peter Bergheim, perhaps as
early as 1860 (Library of Congress collection)
For centuries, the entrances to Jerusalem were small and often built with sharp angles to make access difficult to attackers.  Jerusalem consisted only of the Old City with little habitation beyond the walls, rebuilt in 1540 during the reign of the Ottoman ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent.  Until the end of the 19th century, most wagons and carriages stopped outside of the gates and people and products went in through the gates. 

William Seward (Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state) wrote in 1871 that the population of the Old City was 16,000, comprised of 8,000 Jews, 4,000 Mohammedans, and 4,000 Christians.
Original caption: "Interior of Jaffa Gate from near Hotel Mediterranean"
by Felix Bonfils (circa 1870). Note the moat on the left and the narrow
path. Mark Twain and his "Innocents Abroad" colleagues stayed in
the Hotel Mediterranean in 1867.

Two major architectural changes in the Jaffa Gate in 1898 and 1908 help historians date the early photographs of the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem.  The first was the breaching of the wall in 1898 to permit German Emperor Wilhelm II to ride into the Old City without dismounting and with his escort of carriages.  To built the roadway, a moat -- visible in pre-1898 photos -- had to be filled in.

 Click on photos to enlarge.

Click on captions to view the original pictures.

In 1908 the Turkish authorities built a clock tower near the gate in honor of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. 
A photochrom picture of the Jaffa Gate (circa 1890). Note the wall of
the moat under the yellow arrow, indicating the photo was prior to 1898.

The British captured Jerusalem in 1917, and the tower was knocked down in 1922.

We can now determine that the Emory University collection photo was taken after 1908 when the tower was erected.

Once the Jaffa Gate walls were breached, the entrance became a major thoroughfare, especially as an entrance to the Turkish army base and prison in the Old City, known as the "Kishle."

The shops outside the gate were torn down prior to the German Emperor's visit.
Traffic jam inside Jaffa Gate, 1898. The Turkish military escort, was possibly part of the German Emperor's entourage. 
Close inspection on the left of the photo shows an American flag hanging outside of the Grand or Central Hotel,
formerly the Mediterranean Hotel.

A Jewish shop immediately outside of Jaffa Gate
Another view of Jaffa Gate before 1898. See
adjacent photo enlargement of the shops

An photo enlargement of the Jaffa Gate and the shops (from the picture taken before 1898) shows a Jewish millinery shop with a Hebrew sign selling various headgear for religious Jews, some of whom are standing outside of the shop.

The Library of Congress caption notes:
Photograph taken before October 1898 visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Jerusalem when a breach was made in the wall near the Jaffa Gate. (Source: L. Ben-David, Israel's History - A picture a day, Oct. 30, 2012.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's the final countdown...

to 1,000,000 visitors to Israel Daily Picture
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The Walls & Gates of Jerusalem --
More Pictures from the Emory University Collection, Part 3

Damascus Gate 1. (Emory Collection, circa 1905) Note shops on
the right. Was this the first "strip mall?"
We present part 3 of the digitalized photos of the Underwood & Underwood stereoscope collection, Palestine through the Stereoscope, from Emory University's Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology. 

In this feature we present the pictures of Jerusalem's walls and gates. By comparing the photos to the photo essays presented here over the last two years we are able to date the pictures.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original pictures.

Damascus Gate 1:  The shops on the right of the square belonged to a Jewish banker name Chaim Aharon Valero  (circa 1905).  The domes of the Hurva and Tiferet Yisrael synagogues are on the horizon on the left of the picture. Both were destroyed by the Jordanian Legion in 1948.  Read more about Valero here.

Damascus Gate 2. photographed by Mendel Diness.
Note how barren the area outside of the wall was. (Fine
Arts Library, Harvard University, circa 1856)

Damascus Gate 2: Mendel Diness, a Jewish watchmaker, became Jerusalem's first Jewish photographer and is credited with photographing the Damascus Gate in the 1850s. Later he left Palestine and became a Christian preacher in the United States named Mendenhall John Dennis. Read more about Diness/Dennis and his photo collection found in a Minnesota garage sale.

Damascus Gate 3 Construction of the row of
Valero's shops outside the gate.
 (Library of Congress, circa 1900)

Damascus Gate 3: The picture shows the construction of Valero's shops. In the 1930s, the British authorities ruled that the area should be zoned for use as "open spaces" and they demolished the shops in 1937. The Valeros were not compensated. View pictures of the demolition here.

Next: The Jaffa Gate

Friday, October 11, 2013

Holy Sites in the Holy Land --
More Pictures from the Emory University Collection, Part 2

Rachel's Tomb between Bethlehem and Jerusalem (circa 1900). The
anniversary of the Matriarch's death (yahrzeit) is commemorated
next week (11 Cheshvan). Published with permission.
Earlier this week we published our first digital photos of the Underwood & Underwood stereoscope collection, Palestine through the Stereoscope, from Emory University's Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology. 

Today, we present more pictures we found in the 100+ year old  photographic collection.

The original photos are "stereographic," but we present just "one" of the nearly identical images to save space.

Many of the photos, taken between 1895- 1905, are accompanied by a travelogue describing the sites written by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut (1843 - 1930), an American Methodist clergyman. It was published in 1913.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original pictures.

The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Emory University's Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology)
See also "The King's Pool, Ancient Reservoir in Hebron"

Jerusalem's Kidron Valley and Mt. of Olives
Kidron Valley, Jerusalem, Jewish cemetery at the foot of Mt. of Olives, and the Tombs of the Prophets
(circa 1900).  Editor's note: The original caption refers to the "King's Dale," mentioned in the Bible as
עמק המלך.  Today, the area is under development as the "King's Garden."

 Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee (circa 1900). The small inhabited area at the top of the picture is the walled city of
Tiberias. The white buildings at the bottom are Tiberias' hot baths; the domed building is the tomb of Meir
Ba'al Haness (the Miracle Maker)

 "A great many of the people here [in Tiberias] today are Hebrews." 

Women purchasing fish from a fisherman on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Tiberias. The scarves on
the women's heads -- or the lack of them -- suggests that most of the women and girls are Jewish.
Next: The Walls and Gates of Jerusalem

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Seeing Double? A New Trove of Antique Pictures Uncovered at Emory University -- "Stereographic" Photos 100+ Years Old

Prayers at the Western Wall (Stereograph photos courtesy of the Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of
Theology,  Emory University, circa 1900).  Note the lack of chairs, benches or dividers because of the
Muslim/Turkish restrictions. Yet men and women generally maintained separate prayer areas.

19th century stereo camera
Anyone who has used a "View-Master" toy will recognize the 3D illusion created by the "stereo" camera.  Already in the 19th century photographers were taking stereo pictures which were viewed on a special device. In effect, the two camera lenses captured the view, and the slight angle differences of the right eye and the left eye created a 3D illusion.

A stereoscopic collection
The photography company of Underwood & Underwood specialized in publishing stereoscope collections, such as Palestine through the Stereoscope which was sold with a stereoscope, and 200 stereoscopic slides. The photos were taken in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the River Jordan, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea between 1895 and 1904, and the accompanying tour book was published in 1914.

We found the digitalized photos from the Underwood collection in the Emory University's Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology.  We are thankful to M. Patrick Graham, Ph.D., Professor of Theological Bibliography and Director of the  Pitts Theology Library, for permission to reproduce the photos.

"Inside a Jewish synagogue," almost certainly the Instanbouli Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City (courtesy of
 the Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, circa 1900). Compare this
picture to the American Colony photograph with its caption, "One of the oldest in Jerusalem." Almost all of
the Old City's synagogues were razed when the Jordan army captured the Jewish Quarter.
This publication has featured several pictures of Jewish money changers in Jerusalem.  But the stereograph of this Old City money changer is unique.  The sign above the door is in Hebrew/Yiddish and presumably gives the names of the proprietors.  But in clearer print are the words  בהכשר הרב קוק -- "with the [kosher] approval of Rabbi Kook."

The sign helps us date the picture.  Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook arrived in the Holy Land in 1904, so the picture was taken after his arrival and prior to his 1914 departure. During World War I he was in exile in England and Switzerland and returned after the war.
Money changer inside Jerusalem's Old City Jaffa Gate (circa 1905)
Many of the Underwood photos are identical or similar to the pictures from the Library of Congress' American Colony collection that appear on this site.  But some have never been published as part of a history of Jewish life in Palestine in the 19th century. 

Over the next weeks we will be publishing more of the Emory University collection.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Where Were These People Marching 100 Years Ago in Jerusalem? To a Funeral, Apparently

A procession -- but to where?
As we post this feature, the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is taking place in Jerusalem with more than half a million mourners.

To mark the sad event, we are reposting a two year old feature. The pictures here were photographed more than 100 years ago in Jerusalem.  What was the occasion?

"A Jewish procession to Absalom's Pillar" is the caption on the Library of Congress' photo, which as dated sometime between 1898 and 1946.  That's a huge window of time.  The procession is walking down a ramp from the southeast corner of the Old City wall into the Kidron Valley. Presumably the hundreds of Jews came out of the Old City through the Dung Gate or the Zion Gate.

Why was there a procession to the tomb of King David's rebellious son, Absalom?  It's not a very popular destination for Jerusalemites today.  Some historians relate that there was a custom to take children to the shrine and throw rocks at it to remind the children to behave.  Were there so many mischievous children?  The long dresses on many of the people in the procession suggest many women were also involved. 

An enlarged segment of the procession picture

Luckily, the Library of Congress site provides a TIFF download that permits enlarging the photo and provides incredible detail.  And the enlargement shows that the procession consisted almost entirely of ultra-Orthodox men wearing their long caftans. 

The funeral near Absalom's Pillar
Also fortuitous was discovering another picture elsewhere in the massive Library of Congress collection entitled "Various types, etc. Jewish funeral."  It shows a funeral party at the bottom of the Kidron Valley moving up the Mount of Olives.  It may very well be the "flip side" of the same procession, with two photographers on either side of the valley.  The shadows suggest that the time of day -- morning, with the sun shining in the east -- was nearly the same.  The second picture, however, does include women walking up the ramp from the Valley.  And yes, the women are Jewish. Despite the dark scarves on their heads, they are neither nuns nor Muslims.
Women heading back to the Old City

Lastly, while the Library curators recorded a number, 4340, on the first negative, they missed that the second photo, dated between 1900 and 1920, had the number 4343, suggesting that the two were part of a series. 

This match was pointed out to the curators who will finally pair the two photos after almost 100 years.

Today, this notation appears on the caption: LoC: "May be related to LC-M32-14232 which has "4340" on negative. (Source: L. Ben-David, Israel's History - A Picture a Day
 website, August 19, 2011)

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Reposting:  The Library of Congress' photo collection also includes this 1903 (1908?) photo of the "Funeral services for a Jewish Rabbi, Jerusalem."  
Is it possible to determine where in Jerusalem the photograph was taken?  Most definitely. 

1903 funeral in the Old City of Jerusalem
The building is the Rothschild building in the Batei Machaseh compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, donated by Baron Wilhelm Karl de Rothschild of Frankfurt.  The building still bears the Rothschild family's coat of arms.

The compound was built between 1860 and 1890 to provide housing for Jerusalem's poor.  An old lintel stone nearby reads "Shelter home for the poor on Mt. Zion." 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Viewing the Original Photographs at the Library of Congess Archives Is Temporarily Impossible

Most of this sites' photographs are found online in the U.S. Library of Congress archives.  This notice appears on the Archives' site today:
We will continue to present historic photographs of the Holy Land from private collections that have been shared with us.

Do you have antique pictures of your ancestors in Palestine 100 years ago in your albums and attics that you would like to share?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

1946 British Palestinian Police Recruiting Film: 50 Propaganda Shades of Khaki

Ruling the British Mandate in Palestine was no easy task.  

British troops on patrol at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem (1938, Library of
Congress archives

In the 1930s the "Arab Revolt" was a full scale insurrection which had to be crushed. Arab terrorism, roadside bombs, and assassination immersed Palestine into tohuwabohu. Armored vehicles were deployed, thousands of soldiers were brought in, and military aircraft were used to bomb the Arab terrorists.

Particularly after World War II, when the scale of the Holocaust was revealed and Jews were still languishing in Europe, Jewish militias stepped up their attacks on the British authority keeping Jews out of Palestine.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on the caption to see the original pictures.

Aftermath of Jewish militia bombing of British
Intelligence HQ at the King David Hotel (1946)
Burned out bus in Haifa (1938)

We were very interested when Paul O. recommended we look at a 1946 British recruitment film encouraging young British World War II veterans to join the British police.  How would the recruiters describe the conditions and political turmoil?

For the most part the life in Palestine was presented as idyllic.  British officers came home to spend time with their wives and children, and sports activities were available.  Scattered within the film were hints of the turmoil, but some of the most strenuous training appeared to be learning how to direct traffic with authoritative hand signals.

British police drill at their fort. (1946)
According to the Colonial Film website, "The film is intended to recommend the life of a Palestine policeman as a fulfilling career option during ‘peacetime.'"

Click here to view the film