Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Yemenite Surprise in Siloam-Shiloah Village of Jerusalem Re-Posting One of Our First Pages

Yemenite Jew looks at his village in Silwan (circa 1901)
The Shiloah Village outside of the Jerusalem Old City walls dates back to biblical days.  Its famous Shiloah spring was utilized for Temple libations.
The caption on this Library of Congress photograph reads, "The village of Siloam [i.e. Siloan, Shiloah, Silwan] and Valley of Kedron, Palestine." But whoever wrote the caption, perhaps 110 years ago, missed an important fact.  The man standing above his village is a Jew from Yemen.
The most famous Jewish Yemenite migration to the Land of Israel took place in 1949 and 1950 when almost 55,000 Jews were airlifted to Israel in "Operation On Eagles Wings -- על כנפי נשרים" also known as "Operation Magic Carpet."
But another migration took place 70 years earlier in 1881-1882 when a group of Jews of Yemen arrived by foot to Jerusalem.  They belonged to no "Zionist movement." They returned out of an age-old religious fervor to return to Zion.
The new immigrants settled on Jewish-owned property in the Shiloah Village outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem.
Jewish Yemenite family (circa 1914)

The gentleman in the photograph above wears the distinctive Jewish Yemenite clothing of the time, according to a Yemenite expert today.
The photo collection also contains portraits of Yemenite Jews, such as this family portrait from the early 1900s.  Look at the picture, presumably of three generations.  And realize that if that baby were still alive today, 100 years later, he would be the family elder of another three or four generations of Jews in the Holy Land.
The Jews of Shiloah were the targets of anti-Jewish pogroms during the anti-Jewish riots in 1921 and again during the 1936-39 Arab revolt when they were evacuated by the British authorities.
Jewish families returned to Silwan/Shiloah after Israel reunited the city of Jerusalem in 1967.

PS. I have already had an interesting response from a descendent of a resident from the Shiloah village:
לעניות דעתי התמונה של הגבר על רקע הכפר היא של יהודי חבאני ( יהודי חבאן היו גבוהי קומה)  ושל המשפחה נראה שהיא משפחה שעלתה מצנעא
In my humble opinion, the man in the picture with the [Shiloach] village in the background is a Jew fom Habani (the Jews of Hamani were tall) and the family looks like a family that made aliya from Saana.

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  1. So much things have changed in that village. From the time of the picture, the traditional houses are being replaced by modern ones.
    new homes
  2. Jews to Double Presence in Old Yemenite Village of Shiloach, Silwan

    Jews once thrived in the Shiloach section of old Jerusalem, known today as Silwan. Arabs and British drove them out. Nevertheless, they have returned.

    Aerial view of Yemenite Village of HaShiloach, Old City of Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives.
    Aerial view of Yemenite Village of HaShiloach, Old City of Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives.
    Photo Credit: Ateret HaCohanim
    Shiloach – the area of Jerusalem today known by its Arabic name, Silwan – is about to expand its return to its Jewish roots with a new acquisition in the old Yemenite Village neighborhood.
    Two buildings were legally and officially purchased in the area from Arabs who received “full and more than appropriate” payment by an overseas company established by Jewish investors from Israel and abroad, according to Ateret Cohanim.
    Ateret Cohanim and the “Committee for the Renewal of Jewish Life in HaShiloach” helped facilitate the acquisition for the company, Kudram.
    In 2004, Jewish families began to return to Kfar HaShiloach for the first time since 1938 when they were driven out by Arabs and the British. Eight families were the first to move in, together with 12-15 Yeshiva kollel (rabbinical) students in the building called Beit Yehonatan, and one family in Beit HaDvash.
    Investors now hope that eight or nine Jewish families and some yeshiva students will soon move into the two new buildings – effectively doubling the Jewish return to Jerusalem’s old Yemenite Village in HaShiloach.
    “As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently said, Jews and Arabs alike, both have rights to purchase and to live in peace in any Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem,” said Daniel Luria, spokesperson for Ateret Cohanim.
    “As such, it is hoped that just like Arabs acquire properties in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov, Armon HaNetziv, Ramat Eshkol and French Hill and live in peace and coexistence in these areas, so too will the new Jewish residents of Kfar HaShiloach, be able to live side by side in coexistence with their Arab neighbors.”
    One building is to be called Beit Frumkin, in memory of Rabbi Israel Dov Frumkin, z’l, who helped the original Yemenite residents of the area in the late 1800s. The other is to be named Beit Ovadia, in memory of Rav Ovadia Yosef, z’l, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, and also due to the building’s proximity to the grave of the renowned rabbi, Rav Ovadia of Bartenura.
    The area, known as Kfar HaShiloach, is located east of the City of David and close to the King’s Garden. Both buildings overlook the Shiloach Springs, the City of David, the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem.
    Large tracts of land in the area were once owned by Boaz HaBavli, who donated part of his land to “Eztra Nidachim,” a society that helped settle poor and destitute Jews from Yemen who had made aliyah in the 1880s and 1890s.
    First homes and Beit Knesset in Kfat HaShiloach, Ezrat HaNidahim.
    First homes and Beit Knesset in Kfat HaShiloach, Ezrat HaNidahim.
    A thriving Yemenite village existed in the area today known as Silwan from 1882, at a time when there were very few Arab homes.
    "Mori" and Yemenite students in Kfat HaShiloach in 1800s.
    “Mori” and Yemenite students in Kfat HaShiloach in 1800s.
    At its peak, the Yemenite Village – Kfar HaShiloach – numbered some 144 families. But the village was decimated by the Arab riots of the 1920s and 1930s.
    The final 35 to 40 Yemenite families were expelled from their homes in Kfar HaShiloach by the British in August 1938.

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