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Rare color shots from the 1930's shed new light on the holy city



Rare footage from the 1930's shows Jerusalem as never before seen from the lens of the Margulis family, who vacationed in the city and brought along a 16mm camera and a newly acquired color film.

The rare documentation includes footage of ancient city streets, the Hebrew University of Mount Scopus and above all – the Western Wall, long before the modern plaza existed, as only a narrow path separates it from the Moroccan neighborhood, which was destroyed following the conquest of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.

 The Western Wall, long before today's plaza even existed (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

The Western Wall, long before today's plaza even existed (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

The rare documentation includes footage of ancient city streets, Mount Scopus Hebrew University and above all – the Western Wall, long before the modern plaza existed, when only a narrow path separated it from the Moroccan quarter, which was destroyed following the 1967 seizure of East Jerusalem. .

Credit: Family Collection Alexander Margolis and the Jerusalem Cinematheque – Israeli Film Archive

The high-priced material was transferred to the Jerusalem Cinematheque archive, which digitized it and made it available to the public.

 Diskin Orphanage, Givat Shaul (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Diskin Orphanage, Givat Shaul (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Photos show haredi Jews from ancient Yishuv, Muslims wearing traditional robes, women in detailed hats, camels, donkeys and beggars on street corners.

 The Russian composition (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque archive)

The Russian composition (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

The few cars in the streets belong to people who served in administrative positions.

"The Western Wall always had beggars," says Rabbi Israel Gelis, a 10th-generation Jerusalemite and a well-known storyteller.

 Jaffa Gate (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Jaffa Gate (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

 Outside the Jaffa Gate (Photo: Jerusalem Cinema Archive)

Outside of Jaffa Gate (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

"In the Proverbs, it says that & # 39; justice delivers from death & # 39 ;, and in fact charity was an important part of prayer. People used to pray for Jews who lived in the diaspora and were sick or poor they would receive letters and immediately went to pray. When they had finished praying, they gave charity beggars of the Western Wall, "says Gelis.

 Inside the Jaffa Gate (Photo: Jerusalem Cinema Archive)

Inside the Jaffa Gate (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

According to Geilis, the Jews were the majority of the residents of the capital from the early 20th century.

"In the 1922 British Census, there were 31,100 Jews, 14,700 Christians and only 13,400 Muslims in Jerusalem. In 1931, there were 53,800 Jews, 19,300 Christians and 19,900 Muslims, and that did not even include the new Jewish neighborhoods outside the Old City walls. ," he says.

 Mamilla Cemetery (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Mamilla Cemetery (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

 Riding down Jaffa Street (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Driving down Jaffa Street (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

"In the footage, you can see Ashkenazi Jews wearing a Jerusalem-style hat with round rims and a kaftan," Gelis says.

"To understand why Ashkenazi Jews wore Sephardic garb, we must return to the year 1700, the year when Rabba Judah ben Samuel of Regensburg arrived in the city. He died shortly after, 41, but still managed to buy lands in the old city ​​to build an Ashkenazi synagogue, ”says Geilis.

"When he died, he left a huge debt to the Arab builders, and after that, Ashkenazi Jews were not allowed to live in Jerusalem for over 100 years.

 Barclays Bank, today's City Hall (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Barclays Bank, today's City Hall (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

“In the early 19th century, several Ashkenazi students were in Vilna Gaon
came to live in Jerusalem, and not to be recognized, they wore a cloth like the Sephardic Jews.

 Jaffa Street (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

Jaffa Street (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

"It was not until 1836 that Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Zoref was able to settle the debt, and then Ashkenazi Jews were again allowed to live in Jerusalem," Geilis says.

 Walk up to the Western Wall (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque archive)

Walk up to the western wall (Photo: Jerusalem Cinematheque Archive)

The digitization of archive footage at the Jerusalem Cinematheque started three years ago and is scheduled to end in another year, with the public finally being able to delve into thousands of forgotten footage from the city's history.

Tamar Hayardeni helped prepare this article


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