An enigmatic photograph

A Jewish children’s parade long ago reveals more than what the eye first sees.

By
August 18, 2011 22:08
3 minute read.
Lag Ba'omer 1918

Lag Ba'omer 1918 521. (photo credit: Library of Congress)

 
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Going through hundreds of very old and recently digitalized pictures from a Library of Congress collection of photos from Palestine, I was captivated by this picture. All the library caption tells us is that the picture was taken between 1910 and 1930 and that it is a “Group of children and adults in procession in street, some holding a banner with a Star of David.”

Who are the hundreds of children? Why are the boys and girls separated? Where are they marching to? Where was this picture taken? And why is there a tent compound on the left horizon? Photo analysis and comparison to an aerial photograph from 1931 and contemporary pictures indicate that the children are walking south on Nablus Road in the direction of the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. Behind them is the road that veers to the right toward Mount Scopus. The road leads to a neighborhood built around the grave of the High Priest Shimon Hatzadik, who lived in the days of the Second Temple. The boys and girls come from ultra-Orthodox schools, evidenced by the boys’ hats and frocks. The girls are wearing shapeless, modest smocks. But wait, the second batch of girls, those behind the Star of David banner (might they be from a “Zionist” school?) are wearing more stylish dresses and hats.

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