Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Everyday Life of Jews in Jerusalem's Old City 120 Years Ago



The oldest pictures of Jews at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City date from the 1850s, such as this photo taken by Mendel Diness. (With permission of Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. 1859)

Original caption: "A Bazaar in Jerusalem"
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR
ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 
In his 1871 travelogue, Travels around the World, former U.S. Secretary of State William Seward described the prayers of the Jews at the Western Wall (Kotel) -- "pouring out their lamentations over the fall of their beloved city."  He reported the Jewish population of the city was 8,000, twice the number of the Christian or Muslim residents.

Many of the century-old photos of the Jews of the Holy Land were taken during their prayers at the Kotel. Far fewer were the less formal pictures of their everyday life in Jerusalem.  We present such pictures here.

What did everyday life look like?

Close scrutiny of the "Bazaar in Jerusalem" shows Jewish men (and probably Jewish women in the foreground) shopping and walking past a parked camel in the shuk of the Old City.  See the enlargement below.

The sign. Interpretations are welcomed.
We were intrigued by the sign above the store on the left,  and we enlarged it. We discovered the sign, in Hebrew and Yiddish, was for a bedding store and read:

Smeared cotton (not clear what it was "shmeared" with)
Readymade quilts or covers
Mattresses – Best Sorts

The last line are the names of the store's proprietors, but all that can be easily read is "Chaim Tzvi."


A Jewish money changer just inside the Jaffa Gate under
signs advertising cheese and butter products(with
Rabbi Kook's kashrut supervision) and a printer.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 
The Getty Research Institute labels this picture  as a
"Jeblanier jeuf  à  Jérusalem," taken in  1890.
 The Jewish merchant's profession is  a "ferbantier"
 -- a  tinsmith or "blecher" in  Yiddish.  (Credit: Ken and
Jenny Jacobson  Orientalist Photography Collection, Getty)



























 

A Jewish hat store right outside of the Jaffa Gate.  This
picture is from an enlargement of an original - here.
(Library of Congress, note the Library's citation of
Israel Daily Picture to date the picture as pre-1898)
Orthodox Jews among the throngs inside Jaffa Gate, an
enlargement of an original - here.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 















The setting inside the Jaffa Gate would again appear in later pictures showing the evacuation of Jews from the Old City during Arab rioting in 1929 and 1936.  (Note the tree in the pictures above and below.)  In 1948, the Old City Jews were expelled through the Zion Gate.
Jewish evacuation from the Old City of Jerusalem, Jaffa Gate, during 1936 Arab rioting and attacks. 
The soldiers are British. (Wikipedia Commons)
Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original pictures.

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