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Why Were 19th Century Photographers so Interested in Peasants' Plowing?
"Native ploughing with his wife and donkey, Palestine" (original caption)
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of
Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)

"Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together."
לא תַחֲרֹשׁ בְּשׁוֹר וּבַחֲמֹר יַחְדָּו
Deuteronomy 20 (Library of Congress, circa 1890)
For Jews in synagogue tomorrow, the answer is found in the Torah portion.

Virtually every vintage collection that we'veanalyzed contains a picture of an Arab farmer in Palestine plowing with a rudimentary plow pulled by an ox and an ass.

Why? 

"Thou shallnot muzzle an ox in its threshing"
לֹא תַחְסֹם שׁוֹר בְּדִישׁוֹ
Deuteronomy 25 (circa 1900)


Wesuggest that the photographers, many ofwhom werewell-versed in the Old Testament, focused on agricultural prohibitions found in the Bible. The photographs, slides, and postcards were usually sold to a Bible-reading public.




"Plowing with an ox and an ass" (April, 1929, Torrance
Collection, University of Dundee)





The photographers illustrated the prohibition "Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together" (Deuteronomy 20)and provided pictures of the prohibition "Thou shallnot muzzle an ox in its threshing"(Deuteronomy 25).

The photograph above in the UCR collection went one step further, showing an Arab farmer using his ass and wife to pull the plow.


Plowing with a cow and and an ass(circa
1900) See also here(Library of Congress)


Peasant plowing(circa 1900)
(New York Public Library)


















"Plowing with an ox and ass" -- the original caption. (Credit: RCB Library, 1897)

Jordan River Water Was Shipped to the U.S. in 1906 and May Have Flushed an Anti-Semitic U.S. Diplomat Out of His Job


The International River Jordan Water Company was launched by Col. Clifford E. Naudaud of Covington, Kentucky, in 1906. He secured "the sole right of shipping the water of the Jordan River from the banks of the stream in Palestine to all parts of the world for baptismal and other purposes," according to a Kentucky newspaper,The Bee, published in Earlington, KY.

The water was "shipped in casks bearing the seals of the Turkish Government and the American Consul," according to The Bee. "The water will be bottled in the United States in bonded warehouses."

The American Consul granting his seal for the commercial venture may have cost the veteran diplomat his job. His departure was a blessing for the Jews of Palestine. The Consul-General was undoubtedly thenastiest anti-Semite to ever hold that post.

Details on the U.S. diplomat and his legacy in the American foreign serviceare discussedin the forthcoming book, American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs. Order itherenow.

19th Century Paintings of Jerusalem Found in the Ottoman Imperial Archives

We pay tribute again to archivists and librarians who digitize their historical treasures. Pictures of these two paintings were found in the Ottoman Archives.


The first painting is by German artist Johann Martin Bernatz (1802-1878) who traveled in the Holy Land in 1836.


Jews Praying at the Wailing Wall by Johann Martin Bernatz. The Ottoman Archives provided a date of 1868.
(Author's digital photograph collection)





The second painting is by another German artist, Gustav Bauernfeind (1848-1904).

Jews Praying at the Wailing Wall by Gustav Bauernfeind. The Ottoman Archives provides a
date of 1888. (Author's digital photograph collection)

Bauernfeind moved to Jerusalem in 1898. He is buried in the German Templar Cemetery in Jerusalem. In 2007, his oil painting of the Wailing Wall sold for 4.5 million Euros at Sotheby.

When President Calvin Coolidge Hosted the Chief Rabbi of Palestine in the White House, 1924

The caption reads "Rabbi Dr. Abraham I. Kook, 4/15/24"
Where was this picture taken?
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), one of the most influential rabbis of the 20th Century,was a renowned Talmud scholar, Kabbalist and philosopher.He isconsidered today as the spiritual father of religious Zionism, breaking away from his ultra-Orthodox colleagues who were often opposed to the largely secular Zionist movement.


September 6, 2016 corresponds with his yahrzeit (anniversary of his death) on the Hebrew date of thethird of Elul.



Born in what is today Latvia, Rabbi Kook moved to Palestine in 1904 to take the post of the Chief Rabbi of Jaffa.




Thepicture above hasappeared in various Israeli publications in recent years, but few know it was taken in Washington D.C.on the dayRabbi Kook met with President Calvin Coolidge in the White House. The picture was found in the Library of Congress archives.



What was Kook's mission, what messages were exchanged?




The details onRabbi Kook's visit to Washington D.C. and the White Housewill beavailable in the forthcoming book, American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs. Order it now here.


Who Was the 19th Century American Preacher Mendenhall John Dennis? Actually, He Was a Jerusalem Watchmaker Named Mendel Deniss, Jerusalem's First Photographer

Mendenhall John Dennis in the center surrounded by his family in 1885. After 1860
he lived in Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington. Before 1860 he was Mendel
Diness of Jerusalem (With permission of Special Collections, Fine
Arts Library, Harvard University)
In 1988, John Barnier visited a garage sale in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he found and purchased eight boxes of old photographic glass plates. Fortunately, Barnier is anexpert in the history of photographic printing.

He had little idea that he had uncovered a historic treasure. Later, he viewed the plates and saw that they included old pictures of Jerusalem.He contacted the Harvard Semitic Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, known for its large collection of old photographs from the Middle East.

On some of the plates they found the initials MJD. Until then the name Mendel Diness was barely known by scholars. It was assumed that with the exception of one or two photos his collection ....

Thank you for your interest in Mendel Diness. The full article is available in the forthcoming book. Order it now here.





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