Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where the Buffalo Roamed -- Israel's Hula Valley --
The Malarial Swamps that Were Drained -- and Now Being Reflooded

Herd of buffalo near the Hula swamps. The Golan Heights are in the background
(Library of Congress, circa 1900)  See also here.
Buffalo wallowing in the Hula swamps.  The Naftali ridge is
the background. See also here
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 
Old maps of the Holy Land showed three bodies of water along the banks of the Jordan River  -- the Dead Sea in the south, Lake Hula in the north and the Sea of Galilee in the middle.

The Hula Valley region appears in writings dating back to Josephus, but the area was not the most hospitable to human habitation.  The valley is 15.5 miles long from north to south and 4-5 miles wide. One third of the valley was lake, one third was land, and one third swamps/marshes. Malaria in the region was rampant.

According to State Lands and Rural Development in Mandatory Palestine, 1920-1948 by Warwick P. N. Tyler, a concession to the Hula Valley "was granted by the Ottoman Authorities in June 1914 to two Beiruti merchants 'for the drainage and reclamation of the Hula marshes.' The concession area ...consisted of state land..."
Original caption: "Land provided to the Arabs by government,
 in place of area being drained. Hebrew settlement of Yesud HaMa'ala on
Hula Lake" (Library of Congress, 1940)

"When the concession was granted in 1914," historian Tyler continued, "the Arab population in the Hula Valley lived in 19 villages and numbered between three and four thousand.  Most belonged to the Ghawarina people -- outcasts of society, the descendants of deserters from Ibrahim Pasha's Egyptian army which had captured the region in the 1830s, escaped slaves, fugitives from the law and refugees from family feuds."

Weaving mats in a Bedouin village in the Hula
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

In 1882, a Jewish community, Yesud HaMa'ala, was established on the shores of the Hula Lake on land purchased in 1872 by Yaakov Chai Abu from a Bedouin tribe. Some of Yesud HaMa'ala's first settlers were members of the Sobbotnik group of converts from Russia led by the fabled Yoav Dubrovin.

Tyler wrote in a Middle East Studies article, "The Huleh [Hula] Concession and Jewish Settlement of the Huleh Valley, 1934-48, "In 1934 Jewish interests acquired the Hula concession to drain and reclaim Lake Huleh and its swamps in northern Galilee.  During the previous 20 years, when the concession was in Arab hands, no significant drainage work had been undertaken. The Palestine Land Development Company agreed to pay the  former concessionaires, the Salam family, £191,974 to acquire their rights."

Hula Arabs in their reed huts (The "Cigarbox" Collection)
The Arab tribe in the Hula Valley was known for their mat-weaving, pictured here.  According to Tyler, they "were decimated and enfeebled by malaria and lived a wretched existence in reed houses and mud hovels." 

In the 1930s, the British Mandatory government attempted to restrict Jewish land purchase "by draconian restrictions," Tyler wrote.  "Any hope that a policy of [Arab] agricultural development would be implemented was dashed when Palestine was engulfed by racial strife in 1936-9."

During the 1948-1949 war and the invasion of Arab armies into the Jewish state, the Arab villagers fled. 

In the 1950s, Israel undertook a national project to drain the Hula Valley to create new farmland.  The damage to the region's ecological systems, however, led to a new plan to reflood part of the valley and to create wildlife preserves.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Children of the Western Wall 100+ Years Ago
-- Our 400th Photo Feature

Boys at the Western Wall, almost certainly posed by the photographer, Felix Bonfils, in the 1870s. Enlargement is
from the picture below. (Getty Research Institute). View a similar photo from the Library of Congress collection

Felix Bonfil's photograph (Getty)

Scores of century-old pictures of the Western Wall  have appeared in Israel Daily Picture. Known as the Wailing Wall, the Kotel HaMaaravi, or the Jews' Wailing Place, the prayer site was the focus of every photographer in Jerusalem.

The girls at the Kotel. The graffiti on the wall suggests the picture was
taken after 1903. (Library of Congress) See a similar picture here
Two years ago we posted a feature on "The Women of the Western Wall," and noted that there were no physical partitions between the men and the women visible in the pictures because of restrictions  imposed by the Ottoman authorities
The original picture with the girls.
and demands by the Muslim Mufti of
Jerusalem. Any attempt to set up screens or bring chairs were met with protests and attacks.  The Jewish worshippers honored a separation of sexes, for the most part.

"The Jews' Wailing Place" (circa 1900). Take a closer look below.
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

The picture below, from the University of California - Riverside collection, appears to be a typical picture of the Kotel at the turn of the 20th century, but it's not.

Enlargement of the photo shows a group of children begging with their hands outstretched to men on the left, men whose hats suggest that they are visitors from overseas.

Children with their hands extended. The Jews of Jerusalem were remarkably poor under the Turkish rule, and
relied on charitable donations from Jews in Europe and North America.

More Children at the Kotel
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

An earlier feature here showed hundreds of Jewish children in 1918 returning to the Old City from a field trip on the Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer.

Are some of these the same children?

Jewish children's procession on Lag B'Omer 1918.
(Library of Congress)

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Click on caption to view the original picture.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Mystery Photograph from "Palestine"
-- Can Anyone Identify this Ship?

The mystery ship. The back of the picture only says "Palestine" and "WX25115"
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 
The picture above appears in the University of California - Riverside's Museum of Photography. 

No details are provided other than the word on the back, "Palestine."  Every man is wearing a western style cap or hat. There appear to be no religious Jews on board, men vastly outnumber the few women in the photo, there are no suitcases or identifying clues other than a German language sign "Tragkraft" on the crane that translates "Lifting capacity 3,000 kilo."  We estimate the picture to have been taken early in the 20th century.

Your suggestions are welcome!

Are You Seeing Double? Welcome to the World of Stereo Photographs

A photograph of the photographer.  Photographer using a stereoscopic camera. No date or location
in "Palestine" is provided. (circa 1900) (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 
The University of California - Riverside Museum of Photography contains 250,000 stereoscopic plates and 100,000 negatives, many of which are online, such as the one above.  See more on the Keystone-Mast Collection.

19th century stereo camera

An enlargement of the photographer-horseman

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.

Many of the photographs presented in www.israeldailypicture.com are half of a stereoscopic pair, cropped for easier presentation.

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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Remarkable Pictures of Extinct Jewish Communities, Part 3
The pictures from the University of California - Riverside Archives

Original caption: "Jew Tailor in his Booth on a Street in Old Cairo"
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR
ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 
We present Part 3 of a series of vintage pictures on the Jews of the Middle East.  Like the communities in previous features -- Baghdad, Mosul, and Constantinople (Istanbul) -- the Jews of Cairo, Alexandria, and Damascus are on the verge of extinction.

Some of the pictures presented here show both the poverty and the wealth of the various Jewish communities.


Cairo:  In 1948, the Cairo Jewish community numbered an estimated 55,000. Pogroms and imprisonment caused almost all of the Jews of Egypt to emigrate.
Zaoud-el Mara (Jewish Quarters) Alexandria,
Egypt.  A Library of Congress photo dates
this picture from 1898.

Alexandria:  According to a Jerusalem Post article from 2008, Alexandria "is said to have boasted a community of tens of thousands of Jews of both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi descent, but some were expelled as French or British citizens during the Suez Canal crisis of 1956. Others were expelled and/or imprisoned for up to three years during the Six Day War. Some, too, left on their own accord, feeling that there was a brighter future for them as Jews in countries like Israel, America and Australia."

There are believed to be around 40 Jews living in Egypt today.

Syria - Damascus
 "Beautiful shaded court of a Jewish Home in Damascus, Syria."
Look at the details of the picture.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR
ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

The Damascus Jewish community numbered an estimated 15,000-17,000 in 1918.  Riots, government discrimination, and imprisonment caused almost all of Syrian Jewry to flee. 

Today, perhaps a few dozen Jews live in Syria, but the savage civil war has also engulfed old Jewish neighborhoods and ancient synagogues.

At the start of the 20th century, several wealthy Jewish families lived in Damascus, and photographs of their homes are presented here.

Enlarging the photos disclosed
several interesting details.

The matron of the home?

Children of the home?

Grand Mosque and Damascus from the Jewish
Quarters, Syria. Three women on a balcony
overlooking city.
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum
 of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University
of California, Riverside) 

 Court of a Wealthy Jew’s Home in Old
Damascus, Syria. See also here.
Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
 at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on the caption to view the original photo.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Ancient Synagogues of Jerusalem, Destroyed in 1948
The pictures from the University of California - Riverside Archives

"The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem with its two synagogues. Palestine."
The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue (left) and  the Hurva Synagogue (1900)
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock,
University of California, Riverside)   See also Two domes (Library of Congress)

This picture of the two domes of the Hurva and Tiferet Yisrael Synagogues in Jerusalem's Old City has been featured in our postings before after we found them in various collections.

But we never came across a photo with such clarity, suggesting that the archives at UC-Riverside contains the original photos taken by the Underwood & Underwood Co. in 1900.  UC-R's files also allow huge and detailed on-screen enlargements of the photos.  We thank the heads of the library for permission to republish their photos, and we abide by their request to limit the photos' sizes on these pages.

The Keystone-Mast collection at UC-R also contains other photos of the exterior and interior of the Tiferet Yisrael and the Hurva Synagogues in the Old City in the middle of the 19th century.

The UC-R photo bears no caption or date on this picture of the
Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California 
 Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
William H. Seward, who served as President Abraham Lincoln's secretary of state, visited Jerusalem in 1859 and 1870.  He wrote a travelogue after his second trip, and he described attending Friday night services at the "Wailing Wall" and in one of the two impressive synagogues.  Seward's description appears below.

Avraham Shlomo Zalman Hatzoref arrived in Eretz Yisrael 200 years ago and was responsible for building the Hurva synagogue. Ashkenazic Jews had been banned from the Old City in the early 19th century after defaulting on a loan. Hatzoref, a student of the Gaon of Vilna and a builder in Jerusalem, arranged for the cancellation of the Ashkenazi community's large debt to local Arabs. In anger, local Arabs killed him in 1851. (Hatzoref is recognized by the State of Israel as the first victim of modern Arab terrorism.)

The two prominent synagogue domes shared the panoramic view of Jerusalem with the domes of the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa Mosque for almost 80 years.  In the course of the 1948 war, the Jordanian army blew up both buildings and destroyed the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

We present below interior pictures of the two synagogues from the UC-R and Library of Congress collections. 

The interior of the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue
(circa 1900) (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum
of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
Interior of the Hurva Synagogue (circa
1900) (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum  of
Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)

Note the curtains covering the Ark containing the Torah scrolls. When the German Emperor arrived in Jerusalem in 1898, the Jewish community constructed a welcome arch, photographed by the American Colony photographic department.  The curtains from the synagogues and the Torah crowns were taken down to decorate the arch. 

Interior of the Hurva Synagogue (circa 1898, American Colony Photograph Department, Library of Congress).
Note the curtain, enlarged below
The inscription on the Hurva curtain reads: [In
memory of] "The woman Raiza daughter of sir
Mordechai from Bucharest, [who died in] the
Hebrew  year ת"ר [which corresponds to 1839-40]"
The last line cannot be deciphered, and suggestions
 are welcome.
The Hurva interior in the 1930s. The curtain is
dedicated in memory of Hanna Feiga Greerman, the
daughter of Mordechai.  The bima inscription reads
"Generous gift of Yisrael Aharon son of Nachman
known as Mr. Harry Fischel and his wife Sheina
daughter of Shimon [?] of New York." Fischel
died in January 1948.

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

Secretary of State William Seward's Friday Prayer
Was it in the Hurva or the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue?

Excerpt from Travels around the World

... [After leaving the Wailing Wall] a meek, gentle Jew, in a long, plain brown dress, his light, glossy hair falling in ringlets on either side of his face, came to us, and, respectfully accosting Mr. Seward, expressed a desire that he would visit the new synagogue, where the Sabbath service was about to open at sunset. Mr. Seward assented.

William H. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State
A crowd of "the peculiar people" attended and showed us the way to the new house of prayer, which we are informed was recently built by a rich countryman of our own whose name we did not learn. It is called the American Synagogue. It is a very lofty edifice, surmounted by a circular dome. Just underneath it a circular gallery is devoted exclusively to the women. Aisles run between the rows of columns which support the gallery and dome. On the plain stone pavement, rows of movable, wooden benches with backs are free to all who come.

At the side of the synagogue, opposite the door, is an elevated desk on a platform accessible only by movable steps, and resembling more a pulpit than a chancel. It was adorned with red-damask curtains, and behind them a Hebrew inscription. Directly in the centre of the room, between the door and this platform, is a dais six feet high and ten feet square, surrounded by a brass railing, carpeted; and containing cushioned seats. We assume that this dais, high above the heads of the worshippers, and on the same elevation with the platform appropriated to prayer, is assigned to the rabbis.

We took seats on one of the benches against the wall; presently an elderly person, speaking English imperfectly, invited Mr. Seward to change his seat; he hesitated, but, on being informed by [Deputy U.S. Consul General] Mr. Finkelstein that the person who gave the invitation was the president of the synagogue, Mr. Seward rose, and the whole party, accompanying him, were conducted up the steps and were comfortably seated on the dais, in the "chief seat in the synagogue." On this dais was a tall, branching, silver candlestick with seven arms.

The congregation now gathered in, the women filling the gallery, and the men, in varied costumes, and wearing hats of all shapes and colors, sitting or standing as they pleased. The lighting of many silver lamps, judiciously arranged, gave notice that the sixth day's sun had set, and that the holy day had begun. Instantly, the worshippers, all standing, and as many as could turning to the wall, began the utterance of prayer, bending backward and forward, repeating the words in a chanting tone, which each read from a book, in a low voice like the reciting of prayers after the clergyman in the Episcopal service. It seemed to us a service without prescribed form or order. When it had continued some time, thinking that Mr. Seward might be impatient to leave, the chief men requested that he would remain a few moments, until a prayer should be offered for the President of the United States, and another for himself. Now a remarkable rabbi, clad in a long, rich, flowing sacerdotal dress, walked up the aisle; a table was lifted from the floor to the platform, and, by a steep ladder which was held by two assistant priests, the rabbi ascended the platform. A large folio Hebrew manuscript was laid on the table before him....

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Reader Shares Her Knowledge of Hansen's Hospital (for "Lepers") in Jerusalem

Our original caption:"Lepers, presumably in
Jerusalem, (Library of Congress, circa 1900)"
Several weeks ago, we received a note from reader Rivka Regev:

 I saw the feature you did on "Lepers" of Jerusalem. It was excellent. I have only 2 small comments:

Your first photo is labeled "probably" in Jerusalem. It is absolutely; it's to the west of the original Hansen compound ("Jesus Hilfe"). The patients are sitting in what we now call the western Moon Grove, and I would be very happy to show you in person where it is.  That photo is probably from 1908.

Secondly, I am sure you know that the "lepers" were not suffering of what was described in the Bible. Therefore, I find it important to avoid the L word and stick to "Hansen's Disease."
We asked Rivka how she had such expertise on the Hansen hospital.  When she explained her father was the in-house physician at the hospital for decades, we appealed to her for additional photos and an article to accompany them.  We thank her for the following feature and encourage readers to view her Internet site http://ganneimarpeh.brinkster.net/page33.html

A Riddle Solved at the Historic Hansen Hospital in Jerusalem 

By Rivka Regev

Dr. Moshe Goldgraber, the author's father, in front of Hansen
Hospital, 2002 (Photo courtesy of the author and Michel Horton)

Dr. Moshe Beer Goldgraber 1913-2007, was born in Zamosc, Poland, studied medicine in Padova, Italy, took his final exam in August 1939, went straight to a shipyard, and got on a freight ship to Palestine. Two weeks later Germany took over Poland. He lost his whole family to the Nazis.

One day at the end of 1964 he went to hear a lecture at Hansen [“Lepers”] Hospital in Jerusalem. Dr. Goldgraber became involved in research and soon became the attending on-call physician (a specialist in internal medicine, among other specialties) at Hansen Hospital from 1965 until the last patients left in 2000.  

The hospital's Jesus Hilfe nursery (circa 1907, from the
author's collection)
Beyond all that, my father, Dr. Goldgraber was the only one who took care of the Hansen Gardens from 1965-2003. 
I grew up living in the “small house,” built in 1893, on the hospital grounds.

Beginning in 2003, I led a volunteer project to rehabilitate and restore the historic gardens of Hansen Hospital and Gardens in Jerusalem.

Since 2005, I wanted to find remnants of a mule-drawn machine that appeared in this photo dated approximately 1912. The scene shows a plant nursery situated below the great rainwater collecting cistern that was built from 1898. I thought the machine might be a mill to grind something. I hoped that by unearthing it, either old seeds or grains would lead to some answers. After groping in the earth that had already become a therapeutic garden of herbs for five years, our volunteers hit the jackpot in November 2010. Seven sides of the hexagon that we sought were perfectly intact and formed a structure that was half a meter deep.
Mule drawn pump at the Hospital (1912, from the
 author's collection)
But to our surprise the far side of the structure in the old photo turned out to be open. We continued to dig (northward to the farther part of the old photo, towards the cistern) and eventually reached the terrace wall. The old photo actually shows three wooden boards that are clearly visible that covered up the eighth side of the hexagon suggesting how the mule could safely walk over the channel.  
The volunteers and their discovery (courtesy of
the author and Michael Horton )
More digging began from the other side of the terrace wall at an outlet of the cistern itself. There, the hand carved pavement stones created a very large rectangular opening (looking like a great planter) which had filled with soil and deep rooted plants over the years.

When the two tunnels finally connected the riddle was solved. This was not a mill to grind olives or oats (they grew plentifully in the historic gardens). This was a pump that drew out water and forced it into metal pipes that lead first up to the small water tank visible in the old photo just above the right corner of the cistern. Then, using mule power, the water was pushed up about five more meters and about 40 meters away into the hospital's kitchen! 

This was the way to supply rainwater to a vibrant and active hospital in a pre-electric and pre-water faucet era!
 For more information, see the author's website http://ganneimarpeh.brinkster.net/page33.html  

We welcome scanned 100-year-old pictures of Eretz Yisrael from your private collections or your great-grandparents' albums.