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The U.S. Navy Evacuated 6,000 Jews from Jaffa in 1914/1915
The book is moving forward, so we cannot publish new pictures and essays at this time.


But, here are two never-before-seen pictures from the book showing Jews boarding and disembarking from the USS Tennessee after their expulsion by the Turks in 1915. 


Stay tuned for information on the book's publication.
Jewish refugees boarding and registering in Jaffa.

Jewish refugees disembarking in Alexandria Egypt.

Jewish Festivals - Shavuot The Book of Ruth Recreated 100 Years Ago This feature is one of our most popular posting

The Long History of Jewish/Israeli Ties with Jordan
History books provide glimpses of nearly a century of ties between Hashemite rulers and Jewish leaders, starting with the pre-state of IsraelDr. Chaim Weizman of the Zionist Organization met with Emir Faisal in January 1919 and signed an agreement of understanding. T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) was the interpreter for the meeting, but it is not certain to this day just how much of an "agreement" it was. Nevertheless the acts of meeting and dialogue were monumental.

Weizmann - Faisal meeting, 1919 (Syrian Times)
Days before Israel's declaration of independence in May 1948, Golda Meir travelled to Jordan disguised as an Arab peasant to meet with King Abdullah to urge him to stay out of the pending Arab attack on the soon-to-be state. (He didn't.)

On September 25, 1973, Abdullah's grandson, King Hussein of Jordan, secretly visited Israel to warn Prime Minister Golda Meir of imminent attacks on Israel by Egypt and Syria. (Tragically, his warnings were not given their due seriousness.)

These two photographs, however, fill in some of the years. The first shows Emir Abdullah's personal bodyguards in 1922 -- armed Jewish Yemenite warriors from the Habani tribe. The three men were brothers -- Sayeed, Salaah, and Saadia Sofer. Notice their traditional side curls (peyot). The men of the Habani tribe were known as tall, muscular and fierce warriors.
Hashemites also used Circassian bodyguards.
Emir Abdullah with his Jewish bodyguards (1922, Bible Discovered)
In 1932, King Abdullah was again in close relations with the Jewish Yishuv when he inaugurated the major hydro-electric power plant in Naharayim located on the Transjordan side of the Jordan-Yarmuk Rivers confluence. The Jewish project was headed by Pinhas Ruttenberg, the founder of the Palestine Electric Company. The joint project required security cooperation between the two sides to protect the plant and power lines. 

More information on the power plant can be found here, The Great and Electrifying Pinchas Ruttenberg. 
Ruttenberg watches Emir Abdullah start the turbines at the Naharayim power plant. (1932, Library of Congress) Is that one of Abdullah's bodyguards watching on the right?
  
 

Passover: Whoever Is Hungry, Come and Partake of this Yemenite Seder

Passover is one of the three pilgrimage festivals mentioned in the Bible along with Sukkot and Shavuot.  Historians and rabbinic literature refer to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who filled the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem, bringing sacrifices to the Temple.

The Temple Institute's depiction of a Passover seder at
the time of the Temple. Note the pascal lamb on the table.
Today as well, Jews from all over the world and from all over Israel make their pilgrimages to the holy city.

The Library of Congress photographic collection includes a series of photographs of Yemenite residents of Jerusalem celebrating their Passover seder in 1939.  Note their low table and compare it to the painting of a Seder during the time of the Temple, taken from the Passover Seder Haggadah of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem.

In 1882, the Christians of the American Colony adopted a wave of Yemenite Jews who arrived in Jerusalem penniless, hungry and sick. The Colony believed the Jews were from the lost tribe of Gad. For decades the American Colony photographers continued to take pictures of the Yemenite community.





Yemenite Passover Seder: Drinking wine in the Kiddush ceremony. Note the table is covered at that point,
and all men are leaning to their left as prescribed. (Library of Congress)


Yemenite Passover Seder, eating the bitter herbs  (1939)
Washing hands during the Seder. Note the children's involvement and wonderment. A major theme of
the Seder is to teach the children about the Exodus from Egypt.




Passover meal.  Note the square matza












The Yemenite community has a tradition of a soft matza, similar to Middle East pita or laffa bread, which they bake daily during Passover.  

Discussing the local Yemenite matza, an ancient traveler to Tza'ana in Yemen quoted his Yemenite host, "There is no requirement that the matzos be dry and stale because they were baked many days before Pesach.  Every day we eat warm, fresh matza. "

The traveler reported, "I enjoyed their special kind of matza -- it was warm, soft and didn't have the usual burnt sections which was present in every matza I had ever eaten until then."

Unfortunately for the 1939 Yemenite family, it appears that the only matza available to them was the square and stale machine-made matza.

Time to Get Ready for Passover. The Matza Factories Are Hard at Work

A reprint of a special Passover feature
With Passover just weeks away, Jewish households around the world are purchasing or making their matzot (unleavened bread) for the festival.

One of Judaism's oldest customs, the baking of matza goes back to the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  Ever since, Jews often went to great trouble to bake their cracker-like bread. Jewish communities in Europe and the Arab world faced "blood libels" for making their matza. Ancient synagogues in France built matza bakeries under their synagogues. Jews in Nazi concentration camps risked being shot to bake their Passover "bread." In the former Soviet Union, Jews baked their matza in secret, lest they be discovered and sent to the Gulag.  During major wars, armies made sure to provide matza to their Jewish soldiers.

A matza factory in Haifa.  The signs on the left read "For the purpose of the commandment of matza" -- a reminder to the workers to keep their intentions on the commandment.  The signs on the right, in Hebrew and French,
 read "No smoking" and "No Spitting"  (from the "Cigarbox Collection" provided by Othniel Seiden, circa 1925)
 

"No smoking or spitting"
'Keep in mind the matza commandment"


 
Children baking matza in kindergarten in the Holy Land. The teacher is in the center, and it appears there 
 is a tiny oven in front of her.   (Harvard/Central Zionist Archives, circa 1920)

Special feature: 
Matza baking in the "New World" 150 years ago


Caption: "General view of preparations and baking matzot, the unleavened bread for the Passover" (Frank Leslie's
Illustrated Newspaper, New York, April 18, 1858, Library of Congress)  Note the rabbi watching.


  
The Library of Congress Archives has preserved several 150-year old engravings of Jewish customs in New York from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.  [See Purim celebration] 

The story we bring today is unusual because of the writer's attempt to describe the New York Jewish community and the Passover holiday.  The first element, rich in Faginesque imageries,  would be considered anti-Semitic by today's standards.  The second element, a description of the holiday customs, is woefully full of mistakes.  Excerpts below:

Any one taking a morning walk through Chatham street will meet enough men whose low stature, shining black eyes, crisp laky hair, stooping shoulders, and eager movements proclaim them of the Hebrew race, to convince him that Jews are prevalent in our city in large numbers.  Exactly how many thousands of the Hebraic people have their present sojourning in New York we have no means of ascertaining, but the number is very considerable, and is on the rapid increase.
Weighing and kneading of the flour with the rabbi
 The Israelitish race preserve to this day their peculiar characteristics as strongly marked, and their national prejudices is as full force as in the days of Darius, King of Persia.  They exist among us, a distinct race, preserving an identity of their own... but whilst constantly intermingling in trade and business with the Gentiles, keeping themselves as separate from the uncircumcised dogs in all social and religious intercourse....They could not keep themselves more apart if they were walled out from the Christian world....
The eating of the unleavened bread for the seven days of the Passover is obligatory on all of the Jewish faith, and it is observed with the most punctilious exactitude by all, old and young, and no matter how poor or rich.  During the seven days this unleavened bread is the only sort permitted to be used, no meat is allowed, and no drop of wine or spirits or fermented liquors.  Fish and some kinds of vegetables are eaten sparingly....

 Click on pictures to enlarge.

Click on captions to view the original pictures.

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