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Breaking News: Thousands of Vintage Newsreel Films Just Went Online. Films Include Historic Scenes of the Holy Land
Scene of the Western Wall from a British Pathé newsreel
The giant newsreel archive, British Pathéreleased its entire collection of 85,000 films to the public this week.

The films, dating from 1896 to 1976, include hundreds of newsreels from Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948.  We found of particular interest the films of combat between British and Turkish forces during World War I and the brave attempts to push desperate Jewish refugees from Europe past British barriers in the 1930s and 40s.

"This unprecedented release of vintage news reports and cinemagazines is part of a drive to make the archive more accessible to viewers all over the world," British Pathé announced.

“Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them,” said Alastair White, General Manager of British Pathé. “This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.”

We present here several of the exciting films now on the British Pathé YouTube collection. Many of the newsreels are silent films.

Video: Dedication of Hebrew University and speech by Earl Arthur Balfour (1925)

Video: 1929 disturbances against Jews, a crude Jewish barricade,  and the arrival of a
British naval ship in an attempt to restore order.

Item title reads - Thousands of American Jews take part in [1929 "monster"] demonstration before offices of the British Consul, demanding protection for their kinsmen in Palestine. New York, U.S.

Responsible archivists and librarians digitize their
historical treasures.

The "Other" Passover Commemoration -- The Samaritans Still Sacrifice the Pascal Lamb (Updated from two years ago)

Samaritan high priest Yitzhak ben Amram
ben Shalma ben Tabia (circa 1900). View
other pictures of priests here and here
The Samaritan population in the Land of Israel numbered more than a million people 1,500 years ago, according to some estimates.  This ancient people lived in northern Israel and claimed to have been descendants of those tribes of Israel which were not sent out into the Babylonian exile.  One line of Samaritans traces their lineage back to Aaron the priest, and they consider their "holy mountain" to be Mt. Gerizim outside of Nablus (Shechem) -- not Jerusalem.  

Samaritan family (1899)

The Samaritans worship the God of Abraham, revere a scroll comparable to the five books of Moses, and maintain Passover customs, including the sacrifice of the Pascal Lamb. 

Samaritan synagogue in Shechem
(1899). Also view here

Jews ceased the Passover sacrifice with the destruction of the second Temple.

Already in Talmudic days, Jewish authorities rejected the Samaritans' claims to be part of the Jewish people. The Cutim, according to rabbinic authorities, arrived in the Land of Israel around 720 BCE with the Assyrians from Cuth, believed to be located in today's Iraq.

Over the millennia, the Samaritans almost disappeared.  Persecuted, massacred and forcibly converted by Byzantine Christians and by Islamic authorities, the Samaritans' community today numbers fewer than 1,000 who are located on Mount Gerizim near Nablus (Shechem) and in Holon, Israel.

Baking matza on Mt. Gerizim (circa 1900)

 This year, the Samaritans celebrated their Passover on Sunday, April, 13, 2014.

Preparing a lamb (1900)

The photographers of the American Colony photographed dozens of pictures of the Samaritans' sacrificial service.  Their photos, and other early photographers can be found in the Library of Congress online archives.

"The prepared carcasses
ready for the oven" (1900)

Praying on Mt. Gerizim (1900)

According to Samaritan officials, the community totals 751 persons.  Here is the breakdown with the first figure showing the number near Nablus (Shechem) and the second number showing the number living in Holon.

On January 1, 2012, the Community numbered 751 persons [353 in Kiryat Luza-Mount Gerizim, Samaria; 398 primarily in Holon in the State of Israel: 396 males [190:206] and 355 females [170: 185].  These included 350 married persons [158:192], 215 unmarried males [104:111], 153 unmarried females [70:83];  7 widowed men [4:3]; 23 widowed women [15:8]; 2 Divorced Men [0:2]; 1 Divorced Woman [0:1].

 Color photographs of a recent Passover sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim can be viewed here.

Why Was a Ton of Matza Delivered to the US Army's 77th Division in France during World War I? Special Passover Feature

Rabbi Kook and Mr. Cook -- in Jerusalem on Passover, 1928

Original caption: "Jewish Pilgrims Celebrate Passover in Jerusalem, 1928." (Harvard Library/
Central Zionist Archives)
The Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives collection provides a series of pictures from 1928, all captioned "Jewish Pilgrims Celebrate Passover in Jerusalem."

No other information is provided, but we can deduce quite a bit.

The picture above shows the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook, delivering a Torah discourse to a large audience.  Where? Quite possibly near his home between Jerusalem's Prophets Street and Jaffa Road. While women are sitting separately from the men, the audience is most certainly not an ultra-Orthodox crowd.  With their heads covered, they are more likely a religious Zionist grouping.  Their holiday dress suggest that it either the Passover holiday or the Sabbath of Passover.

Where are the pilgrims heading?  They appear to be walking in the area of Prophets Street.  There seems
to be a commotion in the back of the march, with men turning to see what happened. We welcome
suggestions from readers. (Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives)

The next picture shows the pilgrims' destination -- the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.  The crowd entered the Old City through Jaffa Gate and is streaming into the shuk at the end of David Street on the way to the Kotel.  The Thomas Cook travel office was a prominent landmark already prior to 1898 and could be seen in the last picture on this page.

The crowd entering the Arab shuk of Jerusalem's Old City. (Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives)
David Street, inside the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. The picture appears to have been taken prior to 1898
when the moat on the right was filled in and the road widened to allow entry of the German emperor. 
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)

Celebrating Passover in the Holy Land 100 Years Ago

"National Passover Party" in Rehovot, 1900.  The march of the students of
the Gymnasium (school) in Jaffa. (Harvard/Central Zionist Archives)

Passover in Israel is marked by two weeks of school holidays, tourist visits, hikes into nature preserves, and special programs at museums, amusement parks, and theaters.

So it was 100 years ago, as well.

Three women riding on a camel at Passover celebration in Rehovot
(Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives, 1912)
Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv and established in 1890, was the site of a national fair during Passover in the early 20th century.  Photographs and even an early film show Jews flocking to the town for amusement and sports competition.  Note the Turkish flag in the video.

The same photo of three women riding on a camel appears elsewhere in the Harvard Library as "Visitors at the camel and donkey show in Rehovot," dated from the 1920s. The 1912 date is probably more accurate and explains the armed guard -- possibly Turkish.  Rehovot was the target of  attacks by Arab marauders in the early 20th century.


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