Read Tomorrow -- Why Did the US Army Ship a Ton of Matza to France in 1919?
|In the Quartermaster's warehouse in France, 1919. Where were these matzot heading? |
Rabbi Kook and Mr. Cook -- in Jerusalem on Passover, 1928
The Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives collection provides a series of pictures from 1928, all captioned "Jewish Pilgrims Celebrate Passover in Jerusalem."
|Original caption: "Jewish Pilgrims Celebrate Passover in Jerusalem, 1928." (Harvard Library/|
Central Zionist Archives)
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.
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.
|Three women riding on a camel at Passover celebration in Rehovot|
(Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives, 1912)
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.
Who Ever Heard of a Jewish "Mukhtar*," and in Tiberias, no less. The story of the Varhaftig-Amitai family over the generations
Morris Amitay of the Washington DC area sent this picture of his Tiberias ancestors in 1917. He wrote:
|The "Mukhtar" and the Varhaftig-Amitai family of Tiberias, 1917 |
*Mukhtar means "chosen" in Arabic and refers to the head of a
village in many Arab countries and Turkey.
The picture was taken in 1917 before the Turks fled Palestine and Allenby marched in. The old man in the middle was my fatherâs grandfather â and the âmukhtarâ of the Ashkenazi community in Tiberias appointed by the Turks. His wife is alongside, and my dadâs sister is in front.
The âAlter Mukhtarâ was Alter Pinchas Elazar, and the family name was gradually being changed at the time from Varhaftig to Amitai [later to Amitay]. His wife was Freidl and his granddaughter (my fatherâs sister) was Sara. In the back row from left to right is Yehoshua, Yona, Asher, Yitzhak and Leibl. Note the diversity of my father's uncles! A Turkish soldier, Chasid, two Turkish businessmen (fez and all), and one perhaps "Modern Orthodox."
|Gravestone of Ya'akov Moshe Varhaftig in Tiberias (source: |
Morris Amitay). Nava Safrai's family history explains that
he was a pharmacist who died in a cholera epidemic. He
saved many during the epidemic, Safrai writes.
ï»¿ï»¿One son, Amitay's grandfather, Ya'akov Moshe, passed away in 1902. A tombstone on his grave reads:
Here is buried the young Talmud scholar (avrech), our dear grandfather Ya'akov Moshe Varhaftig-Amitai, son of Alter Pinchas Eliezer, mukhtar, grandson of Avraham Peretz Moshe, died 2 Heshvan 5663 (November 2, 1902).
|The "Alter Mukhtar" of Tiberias, Pinchas|
Elazar Varhaftig-Amitai, 1916. (Source:
Morris Amitay wrote that his father was proud of his "family's origins in 'Palestine' in 1777." Research done by one of Amitay's cousins reports, "The Varhaftigs originated from Slonim, (near Minsk and Vilnius) in Lithuania. They departed February, 1777 for Palestine via Turkey, arriving six months later in Acco. They settled in Safed until 1781, and then moved to Tiberias." According to another family account published in Israel by Nava Safrai, a granddaughter of Sara from the 1917 picture, the Varhaftigs arrived in 1808 from Pinsk.
A wave of Hassidic "aliya" to Eretz Yisrael took place in the latter part of the 18th century and early 19th century, including the son of the "Karliner Rebbe." The Varhaftig family belonged to the Karliner Hassidic group, and one member of the family, Mordechai Wolf, traveled to Tzfat to visit a leading Karliner rabbi in 1837. A catastrophic earthquake hit, destroying much of Tzfat and killing Mordechai Wolf.
Alter Pinchas Amitai (born 1851) was appointed the "Mukhtar" (village elder) of Tiberias in 1891 by the Turks. According to Safrai, the "Alter Mukhtar" was forced from the position in 1915 by the Turks because of his forging documents to help Jews avoid the Turkish draft.
Note that one son in the 1917 family portrait was a Turkish soldier or policemen, perhaps precisely because of his father's experience with the Turkish authorities.
We also present an 1886 picture of Tiberias, part of our photo essay on Jewish life in the Galilee town. We uncovered this picture in the photo archives of the University of Dundee Medical School.
Postscript: Morris Amitay, a descendant of Tiberias Jews, was a senior aide to U.S. Senator Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut. The only other Jewish senator at the time was Jacob Javits of New York. Javits' mother, Ida Littman, was originally from Tzfat, not far from Tiberias. Amitay went on to head the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.
|Patients waiting outside of the Scottish Mission hospital in Tiberias, 1886. (Torrance Collection)|
Celebrating Passover in Jerusalem 95 Years Ago with the Jewish Legion -- Part 1 -- Updating a previous posting