Snow in the Jerusalem Alleys, 1940s
This is a photograph of a snowy alley in Jerusalem’s Old City at the end of the British Mandate. From the rooftops that surround the alley, it is apparent that a large quantity of snow has fallen in a short period of time as that snow lies untouched. In the alley, however, most of the snow has been trodden into dirty ice, and this can be seen in the foreground of the picture, even though the image is in black and white. In the background, a figure can be seen walking away from the photographer, dressed in winter clothing and carrying some sort of satchel.
The photograph is one of a group of twenty-seven silver prints of black and white photographs, including portraits and landscapes of various locations in Jerusalem, especially the Jewish Quarter. These photographs were produced by a group of students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, members of the Yavneh Group who lived in the Jewish Quarter between 1939 and 1947 and acted as a kind of “urban kibbutz” with the encouragement of Dr. Judah Leon Magnes (the first president of the Hebrew University).
Each photograph includes a description written by one of the photographers, Joshua Markowitz, who donated them to the National Library in 1964.
Jewish Studies teachers can use this picture when showing different aspects of Israel and Jerusalem. The fact that there is snow on the ground, might surprise some students because Israel is known as a warm country.
A Science class can use this picture to discuss water resources in nature and the various states of precipitation (vapour, precipitation, hail and snow).
A Geography teachers can use this photograph to discuss Jerusalem’s physical location and the variety of climates that can be found in Israel.
Describe the photograph.
Where was the picture taken?
How much snow had fallen?
Are any people visible?
Reading Between the Lines
Why would a photographer capture this image?
What do you think an urban kibbutz is?
Why would people choose to establish an urban kibbutz?
What is the ideology of such a community?
Does this photo show that Jerusalem was prepared for the snowfall?
Explain your answer.
In which areas of Israel is snow a common occurrence?
How does Jerusalem prepare nowadays for snowfall?
Create a collage of your own black-and-white photos which focus on a specific season. How have you captured the weather in limited colour?