(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.
The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to purchase and develop land in the Holy Land.
major activity of the JNF, or in Hebrew the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael,
was the planting of trees on Jewish-owned land in Palestine. Many a
Jewish home had the iconic JNF blue charity box, or pushke, in order to
buy trees. In its history, the JNF is responsible for planting almost a
quarter of a billion trees.
The photographers of the American Colony recorded the JNF's efforts.
day chosen for school children and volunteers to go out to the fields
and barren hilltops to plant trees was Tu B'Shvat, the 15th day of the
Hebrew month of Shvat, a date assigned thousands of years ago in the
Mishna for the purposes of determining the age of a tree and its tithing
Indeed, the date usually coincides with the first blossoms on the almond trees in Israel.
Tu B'Shvat is commemorated as a combination of Arbor Day,
environment-protection day, a kibbutz agricultural holiday, and, of
course, a day for school outings and plantings.
1935, the Jews of Britain and the JNF established a "Jubilee Forest"
near Nazareth. According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency's account at
the time, an "oriental cypress tree presented by King George V of
England to the Jubilee Forest in the hills of Nazareth will be formally
planted by High Commissioner Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope on December
"The Jubilee Forest is British Jewry's mark of loyalty and
devotion to the throne, expressed on the occasion of the royal couple's
twenty-fifth jubilee. It will cover a large area of desolate and barren
land on the hills of Nazareth which in ancient times were famed for
their forest beauty. The forest constitutes the most important effort in
reforestation of the Holy Land."
"The tree shipped by King
George was removed from Windsor Great Park in London, where it was the
only one of its kind. It is the first ever to have been shipped from
England to Palestine."
More photos can be viewed at http://www.israeldailypicture.com