|Von Finkelstein (Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass)|
She was born in Jerusalem to a Russian family, apparently Jewish, according to historian Ron Bartur. She spoke Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, German, and French. The family converted to Christianity and it appears she later became a Mormon. She was a popular actress, missionary, and news correspondent. She traveled to the United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand presenting Bible-based plays. She filed news reports on the German Emperor's visit to Jerusalem in 1898, and probably appears in the bottom left of this picture with a reporter's pad in hand.
One of her most interesting articles appeared in the Aroha News (New Zealand), October 24, 1888, entitled "PALESTINE FIFTY YEARS AGO AND PALESTINE TODAY." Her observations about life in the Holy Land for Christians and Jews are fascinating, and we present excerpts below in blue:
|Inside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City as it appeared in Lydia |
von Finkelstein's days, circa 1870. (New York Public Library)
|Receiving the German Emperor in 1898. Von Finkelstein, the reporter,|
is presumably at the bottom left. (Library of Congress)
|Von Finkelstein, in|
(Imagining the Holy Land)
The Jews, as well as the native Christians, throughout Syria and Palestine, were daily and hourly subjected to oppression, extortions, exaction, robbery and insults from their Moslem neighbours. It was no unusual occurrence for the Moslem to enter their houses, ransack closets and boxes, and appropriate any article of wearing apparel, furniture, or food that took the marauder's fancy. The local Government authorities would occasionally, when in need of funds, levy blackmail to the amount of hundreds of pounds on the Jews and native Christians, threatening them with massacre and plunder in default of payment. Consequently, Jews and native Christians dared to make any display of wealth only at the risk of losing life or property, and often both....
... With the advent of the American and English missionaries came the dawn of a brighter day tor the Holy City, and indeed for the whole country. On account of Moslem fanaticism and prejudice, these messengers of the Gospel, and consequently pioneers of civilisation, were obliged for a certain period of time to adopt the Oriental dress for safety. The Oriental furniture, utensils, and cuisine, though in
|Hezekiah's Pool in Jerusalem's Old City. All those windows and not|
a pane of glass, 1865 (New York Public Library)
|Portrait of von Finkelstein and three|
unknown people taken by Krikorian,
a well-known Armenian photographer
in Jerusalem (circa 1885, Library
About the year 1845, a European merchant first imported —at great inconvenience, risk, and cost, having to travel to Beirout and Alexandria to make the purchase—Occidental furniture, crockery, and windowglass. There were no facilities for travel, and no steamers touched at the port of Jaffa. Once, and later twice a year, the Jewish, Latin, and other communities sent messengers to Beirout from Jerusalem, a journey of about 150 miles overland, to fetch the mails and other matter that might have been brought by the steamers from Alexandria and Constantinople, which at stated periods touched for a few hours at Beirout. About the year 1845 steamers began to stop occasionally at the port of Jaffa...
|The American Colony on the beach near Jaffa, 1866|
(with permission of the Maine Historical Society)
|Von Finkelstein's performance - not in Jerusalem - but at a replica of Jerusalem at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair|
(from Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass) For more on "Jerusalem" at the 1904 World's Fair click here. Note the
Christian and Jewish banners on the stage