Israeli history photo of week: Purim in Palestine

JPost special feature: Library of Congress collection of photos documenting Israel before state's creation.

By
March 8, 2012 15:26
1 minute read.
1940: Jerusalem Drama Society in costume

1940: Jerusalem Drama Society in costume. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)

 
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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.

Purim provides the Jewish comics' classic example of a Jewish Holiday:

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"They tried to kill us. We survived.  Let's eat!"

The Jews of Palestine used to celebrate heartily at the Purim Adloyada ["until they don't know"] festival and parade held in Tel Aviv in the 1920s and 30's.  Some commentators make a crude comparison to Marde Gras partying, but the merriment is based on an ancient rabbinic tradition of Jews imbibing on Purim to the point where they do not know the difference between sobriety and drunkenness, between Mordechai and Haman -- but without losing their wits.

The Purim tale did not take place in Eretz Yisrael, but in Persia.  A villain named Haman arose and tried to destroy the Jewish people.  Through guile and disguise, Mordechai and Esther were able to thwart Haman's genocidal plans and save the Jewish people.  To this day there is a custom to dress up in disguises.

The parallels between Haman's threat and the threats against Israel from Persia/Iran today are stark and worrisome.





But the threats to the Jewish people were also apparent to the photographers of the American Colony who photographed Purim celebrations in Tel Aviv in the early 1930s. They photographed parade floats showing the Nazi threats.

Another movie photographer filmed a float in 1933 showing dangerous Nazi cannons.  A screen capture from the film is presented here.

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

Visit Yaakov Gross' wonderful collection of films here.


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