Israeli history photo of the week: 1920s Bnei Brak

JPost special feature: Library of Congress collection of photographs that document pre-state Israel.

August 9, 2012 15:20
1 minute read.
Bnei Brak (circa 1930)

Bnei Brak (circa 1930) 370. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)

The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

Mentioned in the Book of Joshua, the town of Bnei Brak was well known in Talmudic times as home to the famous Rabbi Akiva (second century CE). The town is also mentioned in the Passover Seder service as a meeting place for the leading rabbis of the Talmud.

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In 1922, in an area not far from the ruins of the ancient city of Bnei Brak, a group of Orthodox Jews from Warsaw, Poland purchased land from an Arab village in order to establish a farming community.  The town's cornerstone was laid in 1924.

Situated between Tel Aviv, Petach Tikva, and Ramat Gan, the town attracted a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Today, Bnei Brak is one of Israel's most densely populated cities, with a population of 170,000.

More photos can be viewed at:

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