Long before the State of Israel, the two men worked together at a Jewish bank and Jewish self-defense organization in Brest-Litovsk
A 1906 photograph released by the National Library of Israel presents rare visual evidence of the connection between Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon that existed even before the two future Israeli prime ministers were born. It is known that the Begin and Sharon (formerly Sheinerman) families both hailed from Brest-Litovsk, in modern-day Belarus. Sharon’s grandmother was even the midwife at Menachem Begin’s birth.
Yet this photo, which belonged to Sharon’s father, Shmuel Sheinerman, provides perhaps the only extant visual evidence of the historic connection.
Affixed to a piece of cardboard, the photo shows directors and staff of the Loan and Savings Bank in Brest-Litovsk. The bank was founded in 1905 to serve Jews, who suffered discrimination and persecution at that time.
The same year the bank was established, as pogroms against Jews took place across Eastern Europe, the two also worked together as part of the local Jewish defense organization. The Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 had led to a national awakening among many Jews in the Russian Empire, including efforts to better organize self-defense organizations like the one in which Sheinerman and Begin took active roles.
Seventy-six years later, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon served together as Israeli prime minister and minister of defense, respectively.
More than one million photos documenting Jewish and Israeli life since the mid-19th century are available online through the National Library of Israel.