Besiman Tov: WEDDINGS IN THE OLD YISHUV IN JERUSALEM
In traditional societies, a wedding is the most important event in a person's life.
Descriptions of marriages, from when a boy and a girl reached marriageable age to the end of the seven days of nuptial feasting, are to be found in the memoirs of Jerusalemites who lived through the momentous hundred years that stretches from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
A period during which innumerable changes took place in how Jerusalem looked,
its rulers, languages, dress and customs.
All these changes inevitably impacted on the people of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem and on this crucial event in their lives.
Originally a pasquil or pasquinade (wall poster) was a wall newspaper that enabled individuals and groups to hold up to ridicule authoritative public figures, to publicly criticize the powers that be and to impart to the public information withheld from them.
According to Prof. Menachem Friedman, at the end of the nineteenth century conditions in the Ashkenazi Old Yishuv in Jerusalem were close to perfect for the growth of the phenomenon of "pashkavilim". During the Mandate, pashkavilim served as important weapons in the fight waged by the fanatical extremists who came out against the Zionist institutions and their allies.
Pashkavilim literature reached its height between 1918 and 1935. The Balfour Declaration (November 2, 1917) and the British conquest (December 1917) of
the country impacted on the Zionist Movement's status as the sole legitimate
representative of the Jewish people. The attempt made by the Zionist leadership
in Palestine to unify the Jewish community in Jerusalem under a single elected leadership posed a threat to the financial status of the kollels, the heads of
charitable and benevolent organizations, and a number of rabbis and Torah sages.
The fanatical extremists, for whom Jerusalem was a sanctuary from the ravages
of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), were petrified that by the attempts of the "secular intellectuals" to dominate the Holy City.
Fourth Aliya (1924) immigrants, including Gur Hasidim from Poland, came to
Palestine out of a desire to become part of the country's growing Zionist community,
not to assimilate in the Old Yishuv. At the same time the Old Yishuv's young
generation was moving away from religion and tradition.
The extremists looked on despondently as their ranks dwindled, and Jewish Palestine and the Holy City of Jerusalem underwent major changes. Desecration of the Sabbath and eating unkosher food became commonplace.
Most of the people who came to the country in the Fifth Immigration (1933-1939) were secular.
The "Jewish street", to the chagrin of the fanatical extremists, became more modern. With the development of transport, ways of enjoying Shabbat changed. "Extremists'
fury was particularly sparked by football matches played on Shabbat and the Jewish festivals.
Pashkavilim enabled them to vent their frustration on the walls.
Because they are an immediate reaction to some event which is common knowledge, these wall posters are anonymous and undated.
Most pashkavilim in the exhibition are about matters very dear to a fanatic's hearts - the importance of Shabbat and the festivals. The age-old custom of a call to prayer
is a traditional way of reacting to catastrophe (drought, edicts, etc.), education and modesty.
The exhibits come from the collections of the museum and of Binyamin Kluger.
INTERACTIVE SELF-GUIDED ACTIVITY FOR FAMILIES IN ENGLISH AT
OLD YISHUV COURT MUSEUM, JERUSALEM
English-speaking families can now enjoy an interactive self-guided tour at the Yitzhak Kaplan Old Yishuv Court Museum that takes them back in time to discover life in the Old City of Jerusalem over a hundred years ago.
The museum is situated in a 500-year-old house in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and provides a rare peek into the life of the people of the Old Yishuv (Jewish settlement) of Jerusalem.