Photograph of Baron Edmond de Rothschild in a garden in Zikhron Yaakov, 1925
The photograph shows Baron Edmond de Rothschild visiting Zikhron Yaakov in 1925. Rothschild is wearing a dark suit, a bow tie, sun glasses, and a pith helmet, a hat that was commonly worn by Europeans visiting hot climates. Rothschild’s wife, Adelheid, is standing next to him in the photograph. She is wearing a long jacket and skirt, hat, scarf, and gloves and is carrying an umbrella and a handbag. The photograph was taken next to a large bush and flowers in Gan HaMoshava (the town park) in Zikhron Yaakov during the Baron’s last visit to Israel on May 10, 1925. In addition to Rothschild and his wife, several other men and women appear in the photograph.
Baron Rothschild was a leading financial supporter of many communities in the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine). In his 80s and against the advice of his doctors, he made his fifth and final visit to Israel to see the fulfilment of his dream and to learn about the ongoing difficulties so that he could continue to work on solutions. During this trip he visited Zikhron Yaakov, new communities in Emek Yizrael, and the new city of Tel Aviv. Dignitaries and regular citizens came out to greet Baron and Baroness Rothschild to show their appreciation for their contributions over many years.
Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845–1934) lived in France and was a member of the prominent banking family. He was an ardent Zionist and worked tirelessly to assist the early pioneers in Israel. In the early 1880s the first moshavot (farming communities) began having financial difficulties. Baron Edmond de Rothschild paid the expenses for several moshavot, including Rishon LeZion, Zikhron Yaakov, Rosh Pina, and Ekron. He also sent European agronomists to the moshavot to teach and advise them on growing crops. He was also concerned about the financial well-being of people living outside of agricultural communities and brought industries such as wineries, factories for agricultural products, and power stations to the Yishuv.
When Baron Edmond de Rothschild died in 1934, he was buried in France. His wife, Adelheid, died a year later and was buried beside him. In 1954, their remains were brought to Israel and reinterred at Ramat Hanadiv, near Zikhron Yaakov. At the ceremony, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister said:
I doubt that, in the entire history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, a period of 2,000 years, one could ever find a man comparable in stature to the incredible character that was the Baron Edmond de Rothschild – the builder of the Jewish Yishuv in our renewed homeland.
Zikhron Yaakov, located 35 kilometers south of Haifa, was established as Zammarin in December 1882 by members of the Hibbat Zion movement from Moldavia. The following year, in 1883, Baron Edmond de Rothschild became the patron of the community and renamed it Zikhron Yaakov in memory of his father, James (Yaakov) Mayer de Rothschild. In 1885, Baron Rothschild helped establish the Carmel winery in Zikhron Yaakov. Today, Zikhron Yaakov is a town of 22,660 people.
The photograph can be used by Israel Studies teachers when teaching about the early days of the Yishuv and the contributions of Jewish philanthropists around the world such as Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
Geography teachers can use the photograph in lessons about communities in the north of Israel, such as Zikhron Yaakov.
Jewish Studies teachers can use the photograph to tell the story of Baron Edmond de Rothschild when teaching about Maimonides’s eight steps of tzedakah (charity). He operated on the highest level when he helped communities become self-sufficient.
Describe the photograph.
Who is the man in the centre of the picture?
Who else is in the picture?
What are they wearing?
Where are they?
Reading Between the Lines
Who was Baron Edmond de Rothschild?
Where was he born?
What was his profession?
When did he live?
What was Baron de Rothschild’s connection to Zionism?
What was his connection to Zikhron Yaakov?
The photograph was taken during a visit to Zikhron Yaakov. How old was the settlement at that time?
At the time of the photograph, how old was Baron Edmond de Rothschild?
What was his health situation?
Why do you think the Baron and Baroness visited Zikhron Yaakov?
What do you think they are doing in the picture?
How is the Baron Rothschild remembered in Israel today?
Which Israeli cities are most closely associated with him, and why?
Maimonides described eight levels of tzedakah (charity), each one higher than the one next.
Search for his levels of charity on the internet and decide which level Baron Rothschild acted on when he assisted the community of Zikhron Yaakov.
Baron Edmond de Rothschild helped the early pioneers in Israel become financially independent.
What did he do to assist them? What can we do today to help people support themselves financially?
Baron Edmond de Rothschild lived in France but felt a strong connection to the early pioneers in Israel.
In what ways do you feel a connection to Israel and Israelis, and in what ways do you feel distant?
Research modern-day Zikhron Yaakov.
Make a presentation updating Baron Edmond de Rothschild on the status of the town today, pointing out changes between then and now.
Baron Edmond de Rothschild travelled to Israel from France to visit Zikhron Yaakov. Write a letter, as if you were Baron Rothschild, to his family in France, describing his visit and his impressions of the people living in Zikhron Yaakov.