Life of the Jews of Palestine

Israeli history photo of the week: A Library of Congress collection of photographs documenting pre-state Israel.

May 3, 2012 16:47
2 minute read.
The Odessa film-makers took the train to Jerusalem

Jews at the Western Wall on Passover 1913. (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.

This month features a collection of photos featured in a 1913 film on the Life of the Jews of Palestine.  The film shows that Jewish life in Palestine in 1913 was vibrant and productive -- 35 years before the founding of Israel.  Within a few short years, however, the winds of World War I would sweep across Palestine, plunging the Jews of the Yishuv into a period of starvation, pestilence, exile and hardship.

For two months, producer Noah Sokolovsky filmed the cities, holy sites and agricultural communities of Israel, which would eventually be show to the 11th Zionist Congress.  Sokolovsky's ship sailed from Odessa in April 1913 with 92 Jews destined for Israel.  Some went for educational purposes, others went for health reason, for employment, or to visit family during Passover.  Two families consisting of 19 people made aliya and moved to the Holy Land.

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