Israeli photo of the week: Independence Day

JPost feature: A Library of Congress collection of photographs documenting Israel before creation of state.

Yemenite Jew near old city walls (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)
Yemenite Jew near old city walls
(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 State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the fifth day of the Jewish month Iyar.  But Eretz Yisrael has been the homeland for the Jewish people since the days of Abraham.  Even after the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, Jews continued living in the land, as evidenced by the writing of the Jerusalem Talmud over the next 400 years.Zionism, the modern Jewish nationalist movement is some 130 years old, but the longing for the Land of Israel is ancient, impacting the 13th century Spanish rabbi, Nachmanides, who moved to Jerusalem, the students of the Vilna Gaon who left Europe in the early 19th century, and the Yemenite Jews who walked to the Holy Land in the 1880s. These "Zionists" comprised the "Old Yishuv," the pious Jews and their descendants who lived in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias.  In the late 19th century, Jewish nationalists began their aliya to the Land of Israel.  The Zionists established national governing institutions and built cities, farming communities, universities, ports and industries.   By 1925, 34,000 Jews were living in Tel Aviv. Twenty-three years later, in May 1948 and with Jerusalem under siege, Tel Aviv served as the capital of the newly proclaimed State of Israel.More photos can be viewed at