History Photo of the Week: Old men in the Old City

JPost special feature: A Library of Congress collection of photographs that document Israel before the creation of the state.

July 26, 2012 15:23
1 minute read.
Jewish Man

Jewish man in Old City. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)


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The Library of Congress has recently digitized 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.

We found the first picture to be an incredibly engaging portrait of an old Jewish man with his cane and tallit (prayer shawl) leaving prayers in the Old City of Jerusalem, most likely coming from the Western Wall. The subject, light and lines make it a beautiful composition. The picture was taken between 1934 and 1939, according to the Library of Congress captions.

Researching the pictures in the Library of Congress online archives, we then discovered a series of pictures taken in the Jewish Quarter alleyways. Some of the pictures are of the same man with the cane, a photographic study, apparently, of a Yemenite Jew.

The American Colony maintained a special relationship with Jerusalem's Yemenite community starting in 1882.

Other pictures in the American Colony collection show Hassidic Jews (of European origins) walking on the steps of the Jewish Quarter in the 1930s.

More photos can be viewed at http://www.israeldailypicture.com.

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