Haaretz and the National Library of Israel have signed an agreement to digitize and open digital access to issues of the newspaper since its founding in 1919. Haaretz will now be part of the JPress – Historic Jewish Press (jpress.org.il) website, home to millions of pages from over 300 Israeli and Jewish newspaper titles published in dozens of countries and in 16 languages since the end of the 18th century. JPress is a collaborative initiative of the National Library of Israel and Tel Aviv University.
At the signing, National Library of Israel Chairman David Blumberg noted that Shlomo Zalman Schocken, who bought Haaretz in 1935, donated a number of significant books and collections to the National Library following his family’s arrival in Mandatory Palestine from Germany.
Current Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken stated that in the digital age it is important that Haaretz be available to researchers and scholars, as well as anyone in the general public interested in Israeli press.
National Library of Israel Director Oren Weinberg said that the Library has already begun to digitize the first two decades of the newspaper – from its founding in 1919 through the beginning of the 1940s. He added, “Within a few weeks, visitors to the National Library website will be able to read issues of Israel’s oldest newspaper, enabling them to become familiar with this important reflection of Israeli history and significant piece of the history of the press in Israel.”
Prof. Yaron Tsur of Tel Aviv University, the National Library’s partner for the JPress collection, said, “Haaretz is exceptional in a number ways, giving it pride of place in the landscape and history of the Israeli press. The newspaper’s unique spirit didn’t only attract brilliant journalists, but also writers and poets, artists and intellectuals.”
The JPress initiative was founded by the National Library of Israel and Tel Aviv University in order to present a peerless resource for understanding Jewish history and culture across the world throughout the modern period, as well as for Israeli society in all of its diversity. All of the items in the digital collection are fully searchable. Over the past number of years the National Library of Israel has also been striving to open digital access to the majority of Hebrew newspapers and periodicals alongside Israeli press in Arabic, as well as newspapers serving Israel’s different religious, political and geographic communities.
The JPress collection reflects a dynamic picture of Israeli and Jewish life including, society and state, literature and art, architecture and design, economic, medicine and technology, and more.
We will soon begin uploading Haaretz issues from the period mentioned above. In the meantime, you are welcome to take a look at these sample issues:
Zvi Ben Yaakov, Rafael Reiss, Haviva Reik and friends during their military service in Egypt in 1944.
When we began to look in earnest through the Bitmuna photographic collections on the National Library website, we noticed that the name Rudy Goldstein was linked to hundreds of the photos. His name was occasionally accompanied by the title “Dr.” At first glance, if we had to guess the occupation of this man, we might have supposed he had a doctorate in photography, or perhaps other credentials in the field of visual arts. At any rate, it was clear that he was a man who spent quite a bit of his free time traversing and documenting the developing Land of Israel: Here a picture of a beautiful flower in a meadow, there a photo of pioneer farmers toiling in the fields.
Since at first we only focused on the scenes he captured through his lens, we missed an important clue concerning the identity of Dr. Goldstein: On the back of each photograph he scrawled a short description of the scene he had captured – the man had the handwriting of a medical doctor.
Dr. Goldstein first met his most loyal and consistently photographed model in 1934. It was in Mandatory Palestine, a land to which he immigrated after completing his medical studies in Berlin. A year after the Nazi party rose to power in Germany, Goldstein decided that his true place was in the Land of Israel. He started practicing medicine near the northern community of Rosh Pina. There he fought to eradicate a rampant fever that killed many pioneers of the Jewish community, also known as the Yishuv. Later he moved on to practice medicine in the Jordan Valley, before eventually accepting a doctor’s position at the Haemek hospital in Afula, which had been established in 1930.
Goldstein, who left his German homeland after it linked its fate to that of the Nazi party, chose to enlist in the British army as Germany began to realize the monstrous vision of its leader. It was the onset of World War II, and the profession of medicine was in high demand. Dr. Goldstein was recruited and sent to North Africa, where he would spend most of his war years, much of that period in Egypt.
The copious amount of photographs he was able to capture at the time show that the doctor managed to find quite a few opportunities to photograph his surroundings, even during the busiest of times. He also documented the many sights he saw in writing. He was able to keep up this active pace thanks to what he dubbed on the back of one of the photos: “My vehicle”.
Rudy Goldstein was not the only Hebrew soldier in Egypt at the time, nor was he the only photography enthusiast among the thousands of other soldiers serving there. Another fresh recruit, who had been detained at Atlit immediately following his illegal immigration to Israel, was Rafael Reiss. He captured dozens of pictures that can also be found in the Bitmuna collections.
If the name Raphael Reiss sounds familiar, it is because he is best remembered as one of the paratroopers from the Yishuv who jumped into Nazi-occupied Europe in an attempt to save Jews from the genocide taking place there. Reiss came to Mandatory Palestine from Slovakia in 1939 after studying medicine at the University of Bratislava for several years, having never earned his degree due to the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia prior to his immigration. In the Land of Israel, Reiss met his future wife, Naomi, and married her. She later gave birth to their only daughter, Edna.
Reiss began his military training in Mandatory Palestine in December 1943. As part of their training, Reiss and his comrades were sent to Egypt. Reiss, like Goldstein, was able to take in much of Egypt’s landscape. Most of his photographs from this period were collected under the archival name, “Sightseeing Tours in Egypt, 1944.”
Many other photos by Reiss were marked “Cairo Zoo”, where they were taken.
From the notes found on some of the pictures we learn that Rafael Reiss and his friends were given a short leave back home in the Land of Israel.
In the summer of 1944, Reiss and Haim Hermesh parachuted into Yugoslavia. Since the paratroopers sent previously by the British Army and the Haganah – Hannah Szenes, Yoel Palgi and Peretz Goldstein – were captured by the Nazis in Hungary, the British ordered Reiss and Hermesh to enter Hungary through Slovakia, and there to join up with Haviva Reik and Zvi Ben Yaakov, who feature in many of Reiss’ Egyptian photos.
One of the most amazing photographs of the two collections was taken at the synagogue in Alexandria on the day of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945. The photograph was taken by Dr. Rudy Goldstein. Rafael Reiss, Zvi Ben Yaakov and Haviva Reik did not get to see that long-awaited day. They were captured and executed in Slovakia in November 1944. The three were then buried in an unmarked mass grave.
A picture of a young man wearing short trousers, with a brief caption scribbled on the back: “Moshe Weizmann. He came with the Youth Aliyah organization and lived with the Teuber family. He was killed in the War of Independence in the Battles of Jenin.” This one image discovered by Adva Magal-Cohen while leafing through a family photo album, is what set her on a journey to trace the life story of a man she had never heard of before, who was killed decades earlier when he was only 26 years old.
“A young man in three-quarter-length trousers. In the background is a tent. Cypress trees on a hilltop. An unknown relative. I turn the picture over and the backside reveals a short explanation in my grandmother’s handwriting.”
This is how Magal-Cohen describes the moment she discovered the picture, completely coincidentally, while going through the family’s notebooks and albums to research and document the story of her grandmother, Rachel Teuber.
Rachel, who fled the pogroms in Podolia, built her home in Balfouria, a Jewish farming community in Mandatory Palestine. There, she opened her home to the young Moshe Weizmann, who arrived in Israel without family through the Youth Aliyah organization. Adva’s older family members knew that Moshe was a photographer and that he had photographed Adva’s father when he was a little boy. It was a picture Adva knew well, but it had never occurred to her to search for the photographer’s identity. Now, the thought would not leave her. Adva continued to investigate, but apart from the limited details provided by her family, she did not know anything else about Moshe’s life.
Adva’s continued search took her to the memorial archives for fallen soldiers of Israel. There, she was able to locate the memorial page dedicated to Moshe Weizmann.
The page tells that Moshe Weizmann was born on July 9, 1922, in Vienna. There, he learned the art of photography from his father who was a reputable professional. Moshe immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1939 and underwent agricultural training in Balfouria for two years. Later, he was assigned a post as a guard at the British base in Ramat David. Moshe’s father Zvi managed to reach Mandatory Palestine and open a photography shop in the northern city of Afula. After his father died, Moshe continued to run the store until he was drafted into the Golani brigade and mobilized to the Jenin front. On July 10, 1948, the day after his 26th birthday, he was hit by an enemy bullet and died. His body and the bodies of his comrades remained on the battlefield for ten days or more, until they were finally recovered. He was buried in the military cemetery in Afula.
Yet this was just the beginning of the story.
Try as she might, Adva could not stop thinking about Moshe and she continued to dig deeper into the story of the young man she had never known. Little by little, she discovered details in the archives and managed to document Weizmann’s life and the lives of some of his family members.
In Vienna in 1938, the Weizmann family suffered at the hands of Nazi abuse. In one markedly difficult event, Zvi was forced to lift a heavy motorcycle, an incident which seriously damaged his health.
In the Zionist archives, Avda was able to discover Moshe’s Youth Aliyah file. It revealed that he immigrated on board the ship “Galil” in April 1939, after bearing witness to the riots in Vienna. Four months later, he wrote a desperate letter (in German) to the Youth Aliyah offices at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, asking for permission to travel to the town of Rishon LeZion. In the letter, he explained how his mother had died in Vienna a month earlier and that he was trying to enlist the help of a relative in Rishon LeZion to rescue his father from Austria (which was already under the control of Nazi Germany). And so he wrote: “Now it is in your hands, to grant me permission to save my father, therefore, I urgently request to give me permission to embark on this critical journey …” He signed the letter: “Maximilian Weitzmann, Moshe Weizmann, staying with the Teuber family, Balfouria”. The special leave was granted and Moshe successfully helped his father escape to the Land of Israel.
Zvi Weizmann boarded the illegal immigrant ship “Sakaria” in early February 1940. The ship was subsequently stopped by the British and Zvi was sent to the Atlit detention camp for six months. In August 1940 he was released, allowing him to join his son in the Jezreel Valley. He would spend less than a year in Afula, where he would reside until his death.
Later, Adva was able to locate people who knew the father and his son. They told her about the boy Moshe, who was the only Betar (a right-wing Jewish youth movement) supporter in a group of socialist youth. They told her of Moshe’s move to Afula with his father and that the two had established a photography shop. They worked there successfully for a few months. However, at the age of 55, only a short time after he arrived in Israel to begin a new life, Zvi passed away due to complications from the injury that had compromised his health years prior. Moshe was left alone and continued to run the photography shop without his father.
A friend of Moshe in Afula, related that he received a camera from him for his 18th birthday. Slowly, the story of the photography shop began to unravel. Magal-Cohen next discovered photographs taken by Zvi Weizmann. The photographs were taken in Vienna and were now being sold at auction. She also discovered photographs taken by Moshe Weizmann, on the back of which he stamped the words: “Photo-Weizmann, Afula.” The photographs are of Afula during the British Mandate, a demonstration against the White Paper, a pro-British rally during the war and a few pastoral photographs of palm trees in the city. Magal-Cohen also found photographs of a group of boys from the Youth Aliyah organization, with Moshe Weizmann appearing among them.
In the Afula municipal archives, Magal-Cohen found a handwritten letter by Moshe Weizmann. In July 1943, he requested a waiver for a fee required by the local council to maintain a signpost for his shop. Weizmann had been drafted by this time and was serving as a guard. His father had died two years earlier and it was difficult for him to pay the fee.
Adva also found a list of those who were called upon to be drafted from Afula. The name “Weizmann, Moshe” appears on the list as number 22. A document of those who reported for service was also published. Moshe Weizmann is number 36 on the recruitment list.
In December 1949, the secretary of the Afula Council wrote to the district officer and listed residents of the Afula area who had recently fallen in the war. Under the number 7 is written: “Weizmann, Moshe”. A note was added stating that the exact date of death was unknown. The location was listed as “near Zir’in.”
The journey that began with one photograph revealed not only the image of Moshe Weizmann, a fallen soldier of the War of Independence, but also a complex family history and the story of a man whose family was shattered to pieces.
Finally, Magal-Cohen learned that Siegfried, Moshe’s brother, immigrated to London from Vienna around the same time Moshe arrived in Palestine. He was also a photographer and established a thriving event-filming business. He even photographed weddings of the British nobility and royal family. Siegfried and Moshe had planned to meet at the London Olympics after the war, but this reunion enver took place. Siegfried visited Israel once and went to see his brother Moshe’s grave. One of Moshe’s friends bestowed upon him two albums of photographs taken by Moshe during his years in Balfouria and Afula.
During her investigation, Magal-Cohen was able to contact Siegfried’s children – Moshe’s nephews. They told her that their father had continued to engage in photography and became the first importer of Japanese cameras to England. The family eventually shut down the photography business; today they run a successful real-estate agency. Siegfried’s children plan to travel to Israel soon and visit their uncle’s grave. They also hope to find more lost photo albums.
Thus, the story of the life and death of the late Moshe Weizmann, one Israel’s fallen heroes, was discovered in all its richness and history. Were it not for the persistent research that eventually became the book: “A Woman Sits and Writes – Rachel Teuber” (which can be found on the shelves of the National Library), Moshe Weizmann would be just another name, another number. A man killed at the age of 26, who today would be well over 90 years old.
Isak Albahari was born on Jun 19th, 1904 in a small town called Smederevo, to loving parents, Danilo and Eliza Nee Levi. Isak graduated from Medical school in Zagreb in 1931 and, after finishing his residency at the General State Hospital in Belgrade, he married Berta Pinto. In 1935, their first son, Danilo, was born and one year later Isak Albahari was moved with his family to Niš, the third largest city in Serbia, to open his medical practice. It was there that their second son, Benjamin, was born 1938.
The Jewish population in Niš at the time included 350 citizens with permanent residence, 51 with temporary residence and 155 immigrants for a total of 556 Jews.
With the start of World War II, life changed drastically for the Albahari family and for the entire Jewish population of Niš. The first Nazi concentration camp in the occupied Kingdom of Yugoslavia was set up in Niš. Most of the Jews in the city were killed in that camp or were transported to the Sajmište concentration camp that was intended specifically for Jewish women, children and old men.
In 1941, Isak was drafted into Yugoslav army as a military doctor and after Yugoslavia surrendered to the Axis forces, he was sent to a military camp in Germany. In early 1945 he returned to Belgrade to find that his wife and two sons had been killed in the Sajmište concentration camp in 1942. He appears in the records as having reported their deaths to the authorities.
During his time in Belgrade after the war, Isak met a woman who shared a similar life story. Mara was from Zagreb, Croatia and had been married to an Ashkenazi Jew who was killed by the Nazis at the start of the war. She managed to survive along with her two sons by hiding in different Serbian villages for four years. With the conclusion of the war, she traveled to Belgrade together with her sons to start a new life. Unfortunately, along the way, both of her sons were killed in a train accident. It was soon after this horrible tragedy that she met Isak Albahari and began her healing process.
In October 1945 they moved together to Peć, a small town in the South of Serbia, where Isak resumed his medical practice and together they started a family. They had two children, a son, and a daughter. Their son, David Albahari, was born in 1948 and grew up to become one of the best and most renowned Serbian writers alive today.
Doctor Isak Albahari died in 1981. He was buried in Sephardic cemetery in Belgrade.