Jerusalem’s First Tourist Map

Where did one go to watch a movie in British-Mandate era Jerusalem? Where could you catch a bus? And what were the popular hot spots? Presenting the map that resurrects pre-state Jerusalem...

Not many maps are capable of visually resurrecting a city. The task is even more challenging when that city is Jerusalem, and not only that but Jerusalem as it appeared eighty-eight years ago. Rare are the maps that show us not only a schematic of a street grid, but also depict buildings, cultural and recreational institutions, as well as government structures, in a detailed and aesthetic fashion. Maps that place a picture of life in Jerusalem as it once was before our eyes. Such are the hand drawn Jerusalem maps of Spyro Spiridon.

But who was Spiridon?

Prof. Kobi Cohen-Hatav has traced the course of Spiridon’s life: He was born in Jerusalem in 1894 and, in his later years, served a President of the Greek Orthodox Society in the city. In his twenties, Spiridion studied electrical engineering and civil engineering in Switzerland. During his time there, he was exposed to a new style of modern tourist map that was becoming popular in the country. When he returned to Jerusalem, Spiridon struggled to make a living in his field and decided to focus on something entirely different – he set out to create a map that would express the urban space of Jerusalem in three dimensions.

His map was published in the 1930s. The very first tourist map of Jerusalem, it was originally printed by the Greek Orthodox Church and, later, by the Goldberg Press.

Below are some stellar examples from Spiridon’s map. Please feel free to click on any of the images to enlarge.

Spiridon’s tourist map from the 1930s. Click the map to enlarge.


The “Horva” and “Tiferet Yisrael” synagogues:


Spiridon designed a detailed key which marked the religious affiliations of various buildings in the city:


Neighborhoods that once existed are reconstructed before our very eyes – here are the houses of the Yemenite neighborhood Ezrat Nidahim in Silwan, accompanied of course, by a Star of David symbol:


Here is Djort al-Enab, once a neighborhood of Mizrahi Jews just outside the walls of the Old City, near the present-day location of the artists’ quarter of Hutzot Hayotzer:


The Amireh neighborhood on the outskirts of Rehavia:


Some of the buildings are depicted in impressive detail – Hansen House, once a Leper hospital, is today a cultural center and museum:


The clock tower, which stood until 1934 near the present-day Jerusalem City Hall compound and St. Louis French Hospital:


The luxurious Palace Hotel (today the Waldorf Astoria Hotel stands in its place) opposite the Mamilla Pool, next to the US Consulate:


The Lemel School opposite the Edison Cinema, referred to here as the Opera House:


In the 1945 edition of the map, we see that drawings of buildings continue to occupy a central role. It is interesting to note that the map is east-oriented, an unusual orientation for maps of Jerusalem:

Spiridon’s tourist map from 1945. Click the map to enlarge.


Most of the inscriptions on the 1945 map are in English, except for a few instances where a community-adapted caption was utilized – a small inscription in Russian in the area of the Russian Compound, a few Arabic inscriptions in the Old City and in the eastern parts of the city, Greek inscriptions in the Greek Colony and three Hebrew inscriptions – the Meah Shearim neighborhood, Ben Mimon Street and the Zichron Moshe neighborhood which houses the Edison Cinema Building:


Here we can see the Alliance school, where the Clal Building stands today:


In the center of the city you can see the Egged central bus station, where the “Jaffa Center” light rail station is located today. You can also see the Zion, Eden and Orion Cinemas. Also depicted are the famous cafés of the time – Café Vienna and Café Europe:


Not only do the cinemas in the center of the city center receive special attention, the Regent Cinema in the German Colony also has its place on the map (known today as Smadar Cinema):


In the Talbieh neighborhood there is a drawing of a leper house known as Moravian Home, and we can also spot the consulates of Turkey, Iran, Spain and Greece:


The consulates of Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia were located west of the Greek colony in the Katamon neighborhood:


In south Jerusalem, the map extends as far as the Dead Sea and includes the potash factory on its northern shore, King Herod’s desert palace of Herodium, and Government House, the seat of the British High Commissioner which serves today as UN headquarters:


The Hebrew University compound on Mount Scopus features a drawing of Beit Wolfson, home of the National and University Library at the time:


The Citadel and police headquarters in the Old City:


The map shows the names of streets as they were known during the British Mandate:

Julian Road = Kind David Street

Queen Mary = Queen Shlomziyon Street

Mamilla Street = Agron Street, Yitshak Kariv Street

Saint Paulos Street = Shabtai Yisrael Street

Saint Louis Street = Shlomo HaMelekh Street

Geoffrey Mavoyon Street = HaAyin Het Street

Sultan Suleiman = HaTsanhanim Street

Chancellor Street = Strauss Street


Perhaps due to the Greek origin of the author of the map, the area of the Greek Colony is very detailed:

The Greek Club = next to Avner Street

Beit Safafa Road= Emek Rafaim Street

Greek Colony Road = Rachel Imenu Street

Efthimios Road = Yehoshua Bin Nun Street


Information about Spiridon’s life and work is attributed to the work of Prof. Kobi Cohen-Hatav.

Who Are These Unknown Soldiers?

Nathan Fendrich, a Jewish-American photojournalist, happened to be in Israel when the Yom Kippur War broke out. He grabbed his camera and headed for the front. But who are the soldiers who appear in his photographs? Can you help identify them?

Shortly before Yom Kippur this year the National Library of Israel received a personal collection of photographs belonging to Nathan Fendrich, an 84 year old Jewish resident of Eugene, Oregon. This rich and important collection includes hundreds of touching photos taken by Fendrich 45 years ago, when he coincidentally found himself in the midst of a war

At the age of 39, Nathan Fendrich arrived in Israel in 1973 to photograph an archaeological dig at Tel Qasile, but after only a week in the country the Yom Kippur War suddenly broke out. Armed with his camera and press card, Fendrich began documenting the fighting within 24 hours, on both the northern and southern fronts – in the Golan Heights and in the Sinai desert.

His photos captured the difficult battles, the crossing of the Suez Canal, the air strikes and the ground skirmishes, and the collection even includes some pictures of prisoners of war and casualties. But the most striking elements in the photographs are the soldiers themselves – young and old, active duty and reservists – all allowed themselves to be photographed, during fierce battles as well as in periods of rest, in meetings with the high command and in moments of casual comradery.

These photographs join hundreds of important archives and collections preserved at the National Library, including millions of pictures which document the history and society of the State of Israel and the land of Israel going back over one hundred years.

Nathan Fendrich, like many other artists – writers, academics, poets, composers and photographers – donated his collection on his own initiative, without requesting payment, knowing the photographs would reach millions of viewers in Israel and around the world on the National Library’s website.

“The intense experience of the Yom Kippur War, which I had the privilege of documenting with my camera, influenced the course of my entire life to this very day” says Fendrich from his home in Oregon. “All these years I’ve spoken about the war to various audiences in the United States, but I always hoped that the pictures in which I captured IDF soldiers during battle, and that were sitting in my house here on the west coast, would be preserved in an Israeli institution that could ensure they received public exposure in Israel and around the world using 21st century technologies. The National Library is the most professional and suitable institution for this purpose, and I was therefore very happy to be given the chance to transfer my collection to the library and thus return it to its natural home in Israel, where it will be preserved for generations.”

Nathan Fendrich (right) receives medical treatment during the war

The National Library has begun to upload and allow access to this moving collection on its website, and we now turn to you – the soldiers and relatives of soldiers who appear in these photographs – to help us identify those who are pictured and to tell us about the battles, fronts, events and situations that are captured in these fragments of history.

We have put up an initial handful of these photographs here. Can you spot yourselves in the pictures? Can you identify one of your friends in these photos and offer us some information? Any clue you may have can help! Please write the information in the comment section below this article, or you can also contact our Archives department at [email protected]. Please remember to mention which number photograph you are referring to. You can enlarge any photograph and examine it in greater detail by clicking on it.

If you think you know someone who can help us with relevant information feel free to share this article with them.


The photographs:



Photograph number 1
Photograph number 2
Photograph number 3
Photograph number 4
Photograph number 5
Photograph number 6
Photograph number 7
Photograph number 8
Photograph number 9
Photograph number 10
Photograph number 11
Photograph number 12
Photograph number 13
Photograph number 14
Photograph number 15
Photograph number 16
Photograph number 17
Photograph number 18
Photograph number 19


The Peacenik Who Flew His Plane into Enemy Territory

The story of the rogue Israeli pilot, failed politician and hamburger-joint owner Abie Nathan, who decided to "hop over" to Egypt in the interests of promoting peace.

Abie Nathan and Peace 1, October 1965, the Dan Hadani Collection

Even before he embarked on the journey that would come to define his life, Abie Nathan could boast a remarkable life story: The former Israeli Air Force pilot had been born in Iran in 1927. He cheated his way into serving in the Indian military when he was only sixteen. He fought in Israel’s war of Independence and later worked as a commercial pilot for the national airline company, EL Al. By the late 1950s he had changed course completely: The aviator had become a restauranteur. His popular “California” diner had helped to introduce that most American of delicacies, the hamburger, to young, hip Tel Avivians.


Abie Nathan and “Peace 1”. October 2nd, 1965. Dan Hadani Collection

Nathan soon became a fixture of the Tel Aviv nightlife scene thanks to his restaurant and its central location at the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman, but he never forgot his first love: flying. From time to time he would spontaneously jet off to some random location in the world in his private plane without making prior arrangements. Abie Nathan was that kind of guy.

In 1965, with the Israeli elections approaching, the customers at Abie’s restaurant would often be disturbed by raucous arguments over the political climate and the lack of any diplomatic progress between Israel and its neighboring Arab countries. “If they refuse to come to us”, Abie asked a friend of his one day, “why should we not go to them?”

“Would you be ready to go yourself?” one of his customers asked provocatively. Nathan replied that he would, but his challenger was persistent: “So why don’t you run for a place in the Knesset in the elections?”

Abie was not deterred. Instead of taking a step back, he was now intrigued by the idea. Not only would he run for the Knesset, he told his listeners, but if he were elected he would fly “personally to Egypt to see (Egyptian President Gamal Abdel) Nasser, not as a citizen but as a member of the Knesset.”

Approaching the fifth decade of his life as a man of wealth and stature, Nathan decided to dedicate his entire being to a new initiative: peace between the two great enemy nations – Israel and Egypt.

This was an unconventional cause to take up, considering the venomous, hate-filled rhetoric that Nasser would direct time and again towards Israel and many of Nathan’s friends felt he was making a terrible mistake that could seriously damage his reputation by putting himself up for election. Nathan though, was more than a little stubborn.

Abie Nathan and “Peace 1”. October 2nd, 1965. Dan Hadani Collection

Conventional politics were not his forte, however. In the November election, his party, “Nes” (Miracle), received only 2,500 votes, a fraction of the amount needed to get a seat in the Knesset. Despite this failure, Nathan still felt he needed some measure of broad public support to carry out his bold mission. He prepared a petition and declared that if he could get a hundred thousand signatures he would fly to Egypt on his own and demand a meeting with President Nasser. He hung up posters, handed out hundreds of flyers, and took out ads in the paper. A buzz was generated and it even managed to reach the halls of power in Cairo. The Egyptian regime, however, was not impressed. The authorities there let it be known through the government controlled press that Abie’s plane would be shot down the minute it crossed the border.

The petition Abie Nathan asked Israelis to sign to show support for his flight. February 12th, 1966, Dan Hadani Collection

The plan was not popular in Israel at this stage either. Nathan was labelled a “fool” and a “weirdo.” More than a few people came to his diner to shout insults at him, but also to sneak a peek at his Stearman aircraft parked not far away, which Abie had recently painted white with the name “Peace 1” written in English, Hebrew and Arabic on the side.


Abie Nathan during a press conference several days before his historic flight to Egypt. February 12th, 1966, Dan Hadani Collection
“Peace 1”, ready for takeoff. February 12th, 1966, Dan Hadani Collection

Few believed that the Tel Aviv playboy would be true to his word. Only one photographer showed up on the chosen date of February 28th, 1966 at the tiny airfield in Herzliya. It was only after Nathan had taken off for Egypt that the ground crew realized the event was not just a staged photo opportunity.

The day after the flight, the Associated Press reported that “Peace 1” had crashed en route to its destination. This mistake was apparently caused by Abie’s radar-evading flight pattern. “I must admit that as a pilot, I’m usually quite cautious and don’t take unnecessary risks,” he wrote in his memoirs, “but the urge to avoid detection was what pushed me to fly the way I did.” At first he turned sharply towards the sea, “nearly grazing the rooftops” of Tel Aviv.

Air Force planes were scrambled to convince him to turn back, but as he had no radio on board, Nathan had no way of communicating to them that he was determined to push on towards his destination. Within a few hours he reached the Egyptian city of Port Said in the Sinai Peninsula. Noticing his rapidly decreasing fuel levels, he decided to land at the local airfield. Once on the ground, it took Nathan some time before he was able to convince the stunned air traffic controllers that the man facing them had indeed just taken off from Tel Aviv. And no, they had not heard about the Israeli pilot who had promised to meet with Nasser.

The governor of the city had heard of him though: He notified Nathan that the Israeli press had rushed to report his death, and that after consultation with the authorities in Cairo, it had been decided to refuel his plane and send him on his way back to Israel. “If anybody asks, we will deny you were ever here, and you will be able avoid legal troubles in Israel” he promised.

Facing the failure of his elaborate plans, Nathan was not giving up so soon. Now, all he wanted was to spend a night in the land of the enemy. He attempted all manner of tricks to buy some time. At first he said he was hungry. Once he had consumed the meal prepared by his hosts, he made his way slowly back to the airfield, making sure to stall for time whenever possible. Once there, he slowly and clearly explained to the ground crews that it was much too late in the day to fly black to Israel.

In the control tower, Nathan played a few rounds of cards with the bored air traffic controllers as they all waited for further orders from above. After he had won all their money, he welcomed back the city governor who had returned for a visit. The two then drove into the city to purchase some pajamas so that Abie could spend the night. The owner of a local store was called back from home, to reopen specially for Nathan. As the shop’s first ever Israeli customer, he was provided with a handful of souvenirs to show people back home. In the morning, Abie was on his way back to Tel Aviv.

The news of Abie Nathan’s return became the talk of the town in Israel, and thousands gathered to welcome him back. The crowd picked him up and carried him around the airfield, singing songs of praise and spraying their hero with champagne. A police car had also arrived on the scene, but after being detained for a short series of questions, Nathan was released on bail.

Beyond this excited reception, Nathan’s historic flight had little actual impact. Little more than a year later, the Six Day War broke out, and the enemy territory that Nathan had landed in, at great personal risk, came under Israeli control. It was only well after the Yom Kippur War that both Israel and Egypt decided the time had come to find a solution to the conflict between them.

One contribution can be chalked up to the brave pilot who would go on to attempt to meet Nasser two more times: By strength of personality and deed, Abie Nathan was able to define and, to some degree, even invent a new type of figure in the Middle East – that of a celebrity willing to drop everything and invest all of his energy and talents, in the cause of peace.

Banned by the British: Caricatures of the 1929 Palestine Riots

Meet the artist who risked time in prison by drawing the massacre of the Jews in the Land of Israel in 1929.

A human skull, bearing a threatening grimace, crudely drawn, in an almost childish fashion. Next to it rests a bloody knife. Spurts of blood that have fallen from the blade form puddles and stains on a black background, bringing to mind prehistoric cave drawings. It is unclear if this grotesque scene which we have been forced to witness has come to its end or if it is still unfolding before our eyes. “The blood is still fresh…” the viewer likely concludes, like a line from an old cop show.

Click on the image to enlarge

Nachum Gutman’s roaming artist’s hand was not known for its subtlety. Reality was the raw material which this Hebrew painter, known for his depictions of villages, kibbutzim and cities, sought to mold into visual art. With the release of his first book, In the Land of Lobengulu King of Zulu, in 1939, it began to inspire his writing as well.

Sometimes Gutman chose to represent reality directly, with the painting serving as a clear reflection of that which it was intended to portray. Other times, when the events were too chaotic to capture in a single painting, or too brutal to depict directly, Gutman would turn to satire, exaggerating those things which the heart and mind refused to absorb. This was the case with The Palestine Disturbances – News and Telegrams in Illustrations produced and published by Gutman in 1929 along with Nachum Eitan and Saadia Shoshani. The booklet served as a record of the murderous riots which became known in the Jewish Yishuv as the 1929 Massacres.

He was warned not to do it, that the British overlords would not be fond of the idea and that they would like the final product even less. He was told the drawings would speak for themselves if he would only agree to remove their English captions. His friends warned him that the long arm of the censor would reach him as well.

Gutman actually had some previous experience in preserving the dignity of authority figures. When he was only fifteen he painted a large portrait of Djemal Pasha at the urging of Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor Tel Aviv, to honor the visit of the Ottoman ruler of Greater Syria (a region which at the time included the Land of Israel).

When the riots began more than a decade later Gutman was already married and in his early thirties. Four years earlier he had returned from a period in Europe to settle in Tel Aviv with his wife Dora Yafeh.

Dorah and Nachum Gutman. Photograph from the book “The Hunter of Colors”, by Leah Naor, Yad Ben Zvi Publishing

The five years he had spent abroad (mainly in Vienna, Berlin and Paris) left their mark. The once shy youth, who had previously been popular mainly among associates of his father, the writer S. Ben-Zion, had now matured and developed his abilities and talents, becoming a well-known artist in his own right.

The first of the hostilities began in mid-August 1929, with an assault by an Arab mob on the Western Wall plaza following incitement by the Supreme Muslim Council. Jewish worshippers were expelled from the site and their Torah scrolls were set on fire. In the days that followed the floodgates of hatred and violence were opened. By the end of the week of riots, 67 Jews lay dead in Hebron and dozens of others had been killed in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Safed, Hulda and Be’er Tuvia.

The prevailing feeling among members of the young and vulnerable Jewish Yishuv was that the British government, which the Jews had been told to respect and protect, had not responded in kind. The Jews felt that that the British, for all their strength and might, had barely raised a finger to stop the riots – even after Jewish blood had begun to flow in the streets.

Without being asked to do so, Nachum Gutman began to formulate a response befitting his strong feelings about the events. In simple black ink he drew the riots – those that he saw and those that he read about, in rage and desperation, in the British Mandate press.

Click on the image to enlarge

He drew the acts of wild incitement that took place without interference.

Click on the image to enlarge

He drew the murders that were committed, with no justice for the perpetrators (the British judges were usually portrayed as turning a blind eye and in a few cases even expressing support for the crimes).

Click on the image to enlarge


Click on the image to enlarge

He drew the Arab police reporting to their British officers: “All quiet, Sir!”

Click on the image to enlarge

He drew the hypocrisy contained in official British statements, among them a leaflet with a proclamation issued in Hebrew, English and Arabic by the High Commissioner John Chancellor that was dropped from Royal Air Force planes.

Click on the image to enlarge
Click on the image to enlarge

When Gutman had finished the eighteen drawings that made up the booklet, he showed them to his wife Dora who looked at them doubtfully.

“You will never find a publisher who will agree to print these drawings. They’ll offend the Brits!” she told him.

Gutman knew this. “No Hebrew newspaper will dare to print a caricature offending the British authorities. They’ll shut down the paper immediately!”

Gutman knew that as well. He explained to his wife that ordinarily, he would prefer to paint beautiful, serene pictures of the Land of Israel, but not now. “Look what they’ve forced me to draw!” he told her.

Gutman gathered up the drawings and took them to Herzl Street in Tel Aviv. He laid them out on the sidewalk and waited. A crowd of emotional, stunned onlookers soon formed around them. The first to offer a response was the writer Avigdor Hameiri. He was hypnotized by a drawing depicting the looting of the city of Safed. All he was able to say was: “And in the paper they wrote: The Jews of Safed are in security in Government house. The city is quiet”.

Gutman quickly wrote the sentence down just below the drawing.

Click on the image to enlarge

Before long, Avraham Shlonsky and Uri Zvi Greenberg, both of them well-known poets in the Jewish Yishuv, also appeared on Herzl Street. Together with Gutman, they wrote provocative captions for each of the drawings, most of them based on real news items taken, almost without editing, from the press.

Only one drawing was added to the collection following the impromptu street exhibition. It received the caption: “The saviors of England’s honor.” This was also the only drawing not to include any hint of irony. Gutman had drawn a group of Oxfordian students who were in the country during the time of the riots and who had come to the defense of the Jewish victims.

Click on the image to enlarge

Emerging from the crowd that had gathered around the caricatures, Nachum Eitan approached Gutman and asked him a question which had not yet received an answer: “Where will you print the drawings?”

Eitan offered himself up as a publisher and his friend Saadia Shoshani as a printer (“I know him well. He’s brave. He’ll agree, surely.”). After two days of hard work the booklet was published – about half of the time it took for the British police to ban it. Before long though, an order was issued prohibiting any selling or viewing of the booklet.

Only the intervention of Mayor Dizengoff and other dignitaries of the Yishuv saved Gutman and his partners from facing prosecution. Shoshani’s printing press, which was shut down after the publishing of the pamphlet, reopened after he explicitly promised not to print it again. Shoshani passed the printing clichés on to Eliezer Levin-Epstein, the owner of a famous Warsaw-based printing press, where they were also translated into Yiddish. Thanks to the translation, the booklet achieved great success throughout the Jewish world. The drawings themselves were also printed separately in the international Jewish press.

Nachum Gutman’s free hand forced us to take a long hard look directly at the riots, which later historians, as well as those who experienced them, labeled as “the opening shot of the Arab-Jewish conflict”, a struggle we are still living with today.

This article is based on Leah Naor’s wonderful biography of Nachum Gutman, “The Hunter of Colors”, published in 2012 by Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi Publishing.

Pictures courtesy of the Nachum Gutman Museum of Art.