Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Jewish Patient - Jerusalem, 1859.

The London Society for the conversion of the Jews published a children's periodical called the Jewish Advocate for the Young. For a time in the 1850s each issue featured a drawing (from a photograph) of a particular Jewish patient or worker at the Missionary hospital in Jerusalem.

Below is a representative sample from 1859:

See here, for comparison, a cherem issued by the rabbis of Jerusalem in 1897 against a Christian missionary hospital. Note that while in 1859 the Jewish hospital, Bikur Holim was tiny and wholly inadequate, by 1897 it was already quite large.

I wonder about the ethics of displaying pictures of patients. Putting aside our own particular horse in this race and the fact that we can't project our standards onto the past, it just seems exploitative. On the other hand, this seems to be standard fare in this line of work to this very day, as anyone who has seen one of those save-the-children type infomercial knows. I doubt any sort of permission was granted then, and probably none is granted now. Of course even if the ethics of doing this bothered someone involved they could probably rationalize it for the higher purpose of saving bodies and souls.

The same periodical featured a drawing of Kiddush Levana in 1863:


  1. Two points about the Kiddush Levana pic:
    1) The moon is facing the wrong direction - the concave side of the moon always faces the near horizon.
    2) It seems that everyone is reading off the same page. Must have been written in large letters (otiot kiddush levana).

  2. They've split into separate minyanim - why? Something to do with saying kaddish, perhaps?



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