View of Zichron Ya’akov, 1941
The Hovevei Zion pioneers purchased land for their settlement near the Arab village Zammarin, but they faced enormous difficulties. They were inexperienced in agriculture and found it extremely hard to cultivate the rocky soil. Many of them lost their lives to malaria and starvation, and many were forced to leave. The remaining families turned to Baron Edmond James de Rothschild for help. He subsequently became the patron of the settlement which was renamed in honour of his father James (Yaakov) Mayer de Rothschild.
In the following years, Baron de Rothschild planned and built houses, streets, a synagogue, a school, and an administrative building. The town was run by his clerks, and each farmer received a small salary. After more agricultural failures, he helped establish the first winery in Israel, the Carmel Winery.
During World War I, the spy ring NILI was established in Zichron Ya’akov by Aaron, Alex, and Sarah Aaronsohn with their friend Avshalom Feinberg. Members of the group collected information about the Turkish forces and passed it on to British agents. Their goal was to drive out the Turkish rulers and help the British take control.
In September 1917, the Turkish police caught a carrier pigeon carrying secret information from NILI to the British. The Turks cracked the code and arrested Sarah Aaronsohn and other members of NILI. After four days of torture, Sarah Aaronsohn shot herself before being sent to a Turkish prison.
Zichron Ya’akov has grown and flourished since the days of NILI. Many of the buildings from the early days of the village still stand, housing restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. The Aaronsohn house also remains and serves as a museum dedicated to Sarah and her friends from NILI. The winery established by the Baron de Rothschild operates to this day.
Teachers could use this photograph when teaching about Sarah Aaronsohn and the situation in Israel towards the end of Turkish rule in Jewish Studies or Jewish History lessons. The photograph could also be presented as an example of one of the oldest, surviving towns when teaching about northern Israel. Teachers of English or Hebrew could ask their students to write a comparison between this photograph and modern-day Zichron Ya’akov. Finally, Geography teachers could use this photograph in lessons about northern Israel.
What is portrayed in this photograph?
Describe the landscape and the houses.
Is this a large or small settlement?
What do the goats in the foreground of the photograph tell us?
Do you think this is a contemporary photograph?
How did you reach this conclusion?
This is a photograph of the village Zichron Ya’akov taken in 1941.
Where is this village situated?
Who established this village and who lived there?
Members of the NILI spy ring, including Sarah Aaronsohn, lived in Zichron Ya’akov.
When did NILI operate?
What do you think Zichron Ya’akov looked like in Sarah Aaronsohn’s days?
Look up Zichron Ya’akov on Google Earth or search for images on the internet.
Has it changed? Give examples.
A photograph taken in 1941 showing the village of Zichron Ya’akov with some bigger and smaller houses and small roads. Beyond the village the landscape is hilly and bare. In the foreground is an orchard and a herd of goats feeding on grass and shrubs.
Zichron Ya’akov is located on the southern part of the Carmel mountain range in the north of Israel and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the first Jewish settlements in Israel, founded in 1882 by 100 Romanian members of the Hovevei Zion movement.
The Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) movement comprised a number of organisations established in 1881 in response to the anti-Jewish pogroms in Eastern Europe. These organisations aimed to promote aliya (Jewish immigration to Israel) and to establish farming settlements. The Hovevei Zion organisations are considered the forerunners of modern Zionism.