French Israel

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Please identify me!

The time has come to track down the identity of this Israeli man, or at least the source of the photo. I'll tell you what I know.

The photo was printed in a textbook, copyright ~1953 (i.e. just after the official establishment of the State of Israel), titled Modern Hebrew. If I'm not mistaken, the authors were Harry Blumberg and Mordecai H. Lewittes, and it went through a few editions. Some had photos, some not.

The photos were intended to depict life in modern Israel. There was a kibbouts scene; some people dancing the hora; a Jew and an Arab farmer on a tractor beside the Dead Sea; some important modern building; maybe a couple more.

This one was titled "Oriental Settler". In Hebrew the corresponding caption was "Yehoudi Mizra'hi". That's it.

(The translation in itself is cause enough for comment, but I'll just tell an incident that it reminds me of. It was a dreary, rainy night in Paris and a few family members had come to visit me. I thought I would find a Morrocan restaurant for them, where we could have comfort food. Outside it was simply labled "Restaurant Oriental". At the first sight of this my mother halted and protested, "I didn't come to Paris to eat Chinese food!")

This photo captivated me. I photocopied it and gave it to various friends both in America and in Israel. The reaction is usually consistent. People stare at it silently for a while, and then express some kind of awe. If you were to see it clearly, perhaps you would, too. I'm sorry I can't share a clearer photo.

I have friends waiting for me to dig this photo up and give them a copy. People get inspiration from it. They need to see it.

This much we know. He is Yemenite, and he is plowing a field in Israel. The picture was taken before ~1953. That's about it.

Would you look at those peyoth, geez. Just look at those arms; at that plow; at his face. Someone, please tell me you know more about this than I do. Who is responsible for this? Is it for real, or is it propaganda? Can we just capture this Zionism and bottle it and sell it in the Bucharian shouk?

Major gratitude is in store for whoever can tell me something.

From naomi blumberg
jeudi 8 avril 2004 21:47:09

I don't have any information for you, but my grandfather wrote that book.
I'm sorry. That really gets you nowhere.

From Robin & Ron Zalben
vendredi 9 avril 2004 08:19:08

I have the Modern Hebrew textbook you were referring to, although I don't have your oriental settler in the 1946 edition. The acknowledgements page says "The authors likewise wish to thank the American Friends of Hebrew University, the Gewerkshaften Palestine Campaing and the United Palestine Appeal for permission to use the copyrighted photographs." My guess is that if you seriously want to hunt it down, try the Central Zionist Archives or the UJA.

Michael says: Thank you for the lead!
PinḼas Ivri 23:37


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