Election of a Purim Beauty Queen, 1929
A poster printed in Jerusalem in 1929 advertising a beauty contest that took place in Jerusalem on Purim. In 1926, the Tel Aviv Municipality first created the “Israeli Queen Esther” competition as part of Purim celebrations. The idea originated from the Purim story in which King Ahasuerus holds a beauty contest to find a new queen (Megillat Esther 2:2-4). The winner would be someone who represented “Israeli beauty and would lead the Tel Aviv Adloyada (Purim parade). The contest advertised in this poster seems to be the Jerusalem equivalent of the Tel Aviv festivities. According to the poster, the Palestine Police Jazz Band performed at the event.
The event took place in Jerusalem’s Russian Compound and was organized by the Halutzei HaMizrah (Eastern Pioneers), an organisation which represented the Sephardi and Oriental community in Palestine at the time. The poster is written in both Hebrew and English, because the event took place at the time of the British Mandate in Palestine.
The Russian Compound was built between 1860 and 1890. It contains a number of buildings including a cathedral, a hospital, and a hostel. It was originally built for the Russian pilgrims who came to visit the Holy Land. After World War I, the British took over the Compound, and it became the central headquarters for the government administration. One of the buildings, a hospice for women, was turned into a prison which housed many prisoners from the Jewish Underground.
This item could be used in lessons about Israeli History, when learning about the Yishuv, the Sephardi community in Jerusalem, and the British Mandate period. The poster also offers a glimpse into how traditional festivals were celebrated in Mandatory Palestine. Jewish Studies and Hebrew teachers could use this poster when introducing the Purim story and the different ways in which the festival is celebrated.
What does the poster advertise?
Why is it written in Hebrew and English?
Why would this event be appropriate for Purim celebrations? Read Megillat Esther 2:2-4.
What was the Halutzei HaMizrah (Eastern Pioneers) organisation? Read this for more information.
Where is the Russian Compound located? Who did it belong to at the time? Why is it strange that the event was held in this location? Read this for more information.
The poster announces that the prizes are displayed in a shop window. What do you think they were?
At the bottom of the poster appears the phone number of the ticket office. The number has only three digits. What does this imply about the telephone service in Palestine at the time?
Design a modern version of this poster. In what ways is it different? Why?