Photo Archive – “Mahaneh Israel” Settlement – “Agudat Israel” Pioneers in the Jezreel Valley, 1925-1926

Opening: $3,000
Sold for: $4,000
Including buyer's premium
Archive of photographs, documenting the first attempts to build an Agudat Israel settlement in the Jezreel Valley, 1925-1926.
An important collection composed of thirty seven hitherto unknown photographs that tell the forgotten story of the first pioneering attempt of its kind of Haredi Jews to establish an agricultural settlement in the Jezreel Valley.
Among the resolutions passed at the first Knessia Gedola of Agudat Israel in Vienna in 1923 was the decision to encourage settlement in Eretz Israel. A year later, Agudat Israel purchased 4000 dunam of land in the Jezreel Valley, north of Afula, close to the Arab village Achsal. The land was divided into small plots and sold to Haredi buyers, mainly from Poland. In July 1925, the first group of pioneers settled the land and named the settlement “Mahaneh Israel". Within a few months, the basic infrastructure was created, a carpentry workshop was established and residential huts were built. Wells were dug, a road was paved and the land was prepared for agriculture. That same year, the Agudat Israel center in Frankfurt published a printed album containing photographs of the new settlement, to encourage additional buyers. (See below.) At the end of the year, the settlement already had about 90 pioneers, mainly Hassidic youngsters from Poland, but various problems caused by lack of preparation and resources led to the official closure of the place in October 1926. After a second unsuccessful attempt, the lands were leased to Arabs and the settlement was finally abandoned in 1932. In later years, Agudat Israel made further attempts to return and settle the place; the last attempt was in 1938 by the Chafetz Chaim group from Gedera and the Kibbutz HaNoar HaAgudati from Kfar Saba. The year was a Shemita year and with internal disagreements and various problems in the background, the place was finally abandoned. The huts, cowshed and stables were dismantled, leaving only one stone building standing. [See attached material: Joseph Kopilevitz – "Agudat Israel Olah BeHomah – Hayishuv Mahaneh Israel B'Emek Yizreel", "Et-Mol", Issue 227, February 2013, pp. 21-24].
These are rare photographs of the first settlement attempt in the years 1925-1926. The collection includes photographs of the settlers' activities, erecting houses, digging wells, and working the field, a general view of the houses, a group photo of the settlers, photographs of children and other resident, photographs of the synagogue and the cheder.
37 photographs 16.5X17 cm. Good condition.
Two printed booklets, with photographs, are enclosed:
• “Album of the Agudat Israel Center for Eretz Israel Matters in Frankfurt am Main” Frankfurt, 1925. In this booklet are photographs of “Mahaneh Israel” (different from those in the photo collection) as well as plans and maps of the settlement.
Booklet 17.5X21 cm. Poor condition, stains and moisture damage.
• “Chassidim Ascended to Eretz Yisrael – For Settlement of Jabłonna and Kozhenitz Chassidim in the Valley of Jezreel”, including an article by R’ Binyamin and many photos of the Chassidic settlement. Published by the JNF, Jerusalem, 1926.
Booklet, 22 cm. Good condition.
Rare and Important Items