Archive for April 2008

Photos of Jerusalem in 1865

April 29, 2008

In 1865, Charles Wilson published the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, with photographs of key sites in the city.  Looking through these pictures, you are taken back in time to the beauty and desolateness of nineteenth century Jerusalem.  This is the cover page of the book:

A picture of the Al-Aksa Mosque from the book:

And a picture of Robinson’s Arch, which held the walkway leading to the Temple:

For more of these pictures, see Photographs of the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, Charles W. Wilson, 1865.

Interesting Blogs about Israel

April 29, 2008

If you’re interested in blogs about contemporary Israel, check these out: is publishing the pictures of 60 Israelis for 60 years.  Each picture comes with a short bio.  Included so far are: Derrick Sharpe – a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player,  Mirit Greenberg – former Miss Israel,  Cabra Kasai, an Ethiopian musician, and more.

2. I got to the 60Israelis blog from a link on  The “About” line on IsraGood proclaims that the blog’s purpose is  “celebrating Israeli innovation in the new millennium.”  The blog is run by Darnell Clayton, a non-Jewish American, and features news, technology updates, and a long list of relevant links.

3. And if it’s humor you want, you must read What War Zone??? Benji Lovitt describes his blog like this: On this page, we’ll be tackling only the most important issues in the Middle East, for example, why Israelis say “ehhhhhh” so much. Oh, yes, and to discuss why Israel is hilarious. “So, ehhhh, buckle your belt seats, nu?!”


Chaim Weizmann’s Attitude towards Britain

April 28, 2008

On May 26, 1948, Chaim Weizmann, president of the new country of Israel, set sail from New York to Israel. He stopped in Paris for three weeks. Weizmann and his wife Vera refused to stop in Great Britain in protest over its refusal to recognize the State of Israel. Vera Weizmann was quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, saying:

“It is a sense of chagrin for us that the country we owe so much to and to which we have given the best we had has failed to recognize Israel. We don’t wish to come to England on sufferance.”

In contrast, her husband praised the people and government of the  United States, “who have been in sympathy with our aims.”

Great Britain finally recognized the State of Israel in 1949.

Congratulations to the City of David Website

April 27, 2008

Congratulations to the City of David website on winning the UN World Summit Awards.  The citation stated:

“Its fabulous visuals and rich description of the site – in English, Spanish, Hebrew, French and Russian – bring to life the only place on earth where the only guidebook needed is the Bible itself.”

The City of David website is unique because of its beautiful photography, interactive map, videos and beautifully designed timeline.  The site is updated periodically with news of new discoveries.

More information about the prize is available at Israel21C.

Hebrew Journalism in the 19th Century

April 27, 2008

A Hebrew book by Oren Soffer is reviewed in Haaretz.  The book is called There Is No Place for Pilpul! Hazefirah Journal and the Modernization of Sociopolitical Discourse, and focuses on Hebrew journalism in the nineteenth century, particularly a journal called Hazefirah.  The journal was published in Warsaw and eventually became a daily.  Nahum Sokolow was first its chief assistant and then its editor.  In 1897, Sokolow went to the First Zionist Congress in Basle where he met with Theodor Herzl.  Thereafter, he supported Zionism and turned Hazefirah into the official bulletin of the Zionist movement.

Hebrew University has collected Early Hebrew newspapers in a digital collection which can be read online.  The site is entirely in Hebrew, except for a page in English which explains the parameters of the project.

Teaching with Maps

April 24, 2008

The Tyndale Tech blog has compiled a list of online resources for maps which can be used for teaching Biblical Studies.  He points out that maps are great for pulling out towards the end of a lecture to wake up a class.  Maps are extremely useful for visualizing the events of a biblical passage or connecting the Bible with modern-day geography.

The list includes ready-made maps as well as free downloadable software for creating your own.

Arab Collaboration with the Zionists

April 23, 2008

Hillel Cohen’s book, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948, has already been mentioned on this blog.  Benny Morris, at The New Republic, has written a lengthy review of the book.  He compares Arab collaboration during the British Mandate and the Independence Day War to Arab construction in Israeli settlements today.  He lists some of the reasons Arabs collaborated with the Jews during the Mandate period:

1. They believed the Zionists would win and thought it practical to be on their side
2. They were rebelling against the leadership of Haj Amin Al-Husseini and other nationalist leaders
3. Financial benefit
4. In order to benefit their clan, village or tribe
5. They had friends who were Jews

Presumably these same reasons still apply to Arab collaboration with Israel.

Beth Shearim

April 21, 2008

Rabbi Judah the Prince (HaNasi) headed the Sanhedrin from about 160-200 CE.  He was based in Beth Shearim until ill health forced him to move to Zippori.  Despite the move, he was buried in Beth Shearim according to his request.  Thereafter, Beth Shearim became a popular burial place.  In Greco-Roman Israel, people were buried initially in a sarcophagus in a cave.  After a year, when the body had decomposed, the bones were re-buried.  At Beth Shearim there is an enormous cave with many corridors and rooms, each with a beautifully decorated sarcophagus.  The ornamentation includes symbols from the pagan world, such as a mask of Zeus, as well as generic decorations like flowers.

Beth Shearim was discovered by accident by Alexander Zaid in 1936 while laying the foundations for his family home.

For pictures of Beth Shearim, see The Tannaim and their Institutions (circa 70-3rd Century CE).

Krister Stendahl

April 17, 2008

Krister Stendahl died at the age of 86 on Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2008.   Dr. Stendahl was a Swedish bishop, former dean of the Harvard Divinity School and professor of Christian Studies.  In addition, he worked tirelessly to improve Jewish-Christian relations, serving as co-director of the Osher Center for Tolerance and Pluralism at the Shalom-Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and chair of the World Council of Churches’ Consultation on the Church and the Jewish People.

Obituaries of Krister Stendahl can be read at:
Harvard Divinity School
The New York Times

Celebrate Israel’s 60th Birthday

April 16, 2008

One way to celebrate Israel’s sixtieth birthday is to read this new blog, 60Bloggers.  Begun on April 8th and continuing for 60 days, bloggers from around the world are sharing their thoughts about Israel.  From a list of 60 reasons to love Israel to an essay on Hungarian Jewry and Zionism, this blog is worth keeping an eye on.