The Enigmatic Photograph from the Library of Congress:
Lag B'Omer & Jewish Children’s Parade exactly 100 years Ago
Among the thousands of very old and recently digitalized pictures from a Library of Congress collection of photos from Palestine, there is this captivating picture.All the original Library of Congress caption explained was that the picture was taken between 1910 and 1930 and that it is a “Group of children and adults in procession in street, some holding a banner with a Star of David.”
Today, the caption reads: Procession may have taken place on April 30, 1918, on Lag Ba'Omer, when visits were traditionally made to the tomb. British army tents in background, indicate year of 1918. (Source: L. Ben-David, Israel's History - A Picture a Day website, August 19, 2011)
Who are the hundreds of children? Why are the boys and girls separated? Where are they marching to? Where is this picture taken? And why is there a tent compound on the left horizon?
Photo analysis and comparison to an aerial photograph from 1931 and contemporary pictures indicate
The boys and girls come from ultra-Orthodox schools, evidenced by the boys’ hats and frocks. The girls are wearing ultra-Orthodox fashion: shapeless, modest smocks. But wait, the second batch of girls, those behind the Star of David banner (might they be from a “Zionist” school?) are wearing more stylish dresses and hats.
|Enlargement of the army camp. Note the permanent |
structure surrounded by tents.
|Shimon Hatzadik's tomb today (Israel|
The picture was taken just four months after the British forces captured the city of Jerusalem. The city's Jewish residents received the soldiers as their saviors -- saving them from severe hunger and deadly diseases. The children had much to celebrate.
|The parade route today (picture taken from the 8th floor|
of the Olive Hotel) (IDP)
Veteran Jerusalemite Shmulik Huminer wrote in his memoirs:
“Anyone who could travel to Meiron on Lag Ba’Omer would go, and there take place miracles and wonders. But the residents of Jerusalem who couldn’t afford to travel to Meiron have as compensation the cave of Shimo Hatzadik located at the edge of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood north of the Old City.”
Today, Lag Ba’Omer is a day when Jewish children still go out to parks and forests to celebrate. In Jerusalem, many traditional Jews still visit Shimon’s grave.
|Comparison of buildings from 1918 and today. Second stories|
were added to the buildings over the years. (IDP)
The houses around the tomb where Jews lived 100 years ago were abandoned under threat of Arab pogroms in the 1920s and 1930s. The Hadassah convoy massacre in 1948, in which almost 80 Jews were killed, took place on the road beneath the building with the very prominent arches.
In recent years, however, Jewish families have returned to the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood.