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Kfar Chassidim in 1935.(Photo by: Lenny Ben-David)
Early ultra-Orthodox Zionists in Kfar Chassidim
Israeli history photo of week: JPost feature: Library Congress collection documenting Israel before the State.
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.

Many of the kibbutz and moshav agricultural communities established in Palestine in the early 1900s were based on socialist ideals. A large number of the new settlers discarded the old religious traditions of their parents and ancestors. But the Zionist enterprise and the promise to return to the "holy land" also inspired ultra-Orthodox Jews in Poland to establish a farming community in Israel's north called Kfar Chassidim, or "village of the devout."

The settlers, many followers of the Kuznetz chassidic dynasty of Poland, first organized in 1922 while still in Poland. They purchased the land in Palestine and established Kfar Chassidim in 1924. But the land was swampland, and the community was hard hit by malaria and a lack of agricultural training.

The Jewish National Fund aided the community in drying the swamps, paid off their debts and sent agricultural experts to train the new farmers. Today, the community has approximately 600 residents.

More photos can be viewed at
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