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The "Eele BeTamar" Alya

Aliya Eele BeTamar was an aliya of Jews from Yemen to the Land of Israel in 1881-1882.


The Jewish year of their Aliya, תרמ"ב, gave to the alya its name (תרמ"ב --> בתמר). The name is also a direct quote from the verse "I said, I will climb up to the Tamar" from the book of Songs of Songs.


Only a few months before the First Alya of 1882 and the Biluim arrived, a group of Jews from Yemen (mostly from Sanaa) arrived in Israel. It is estimated that around 200 Jews from Yemen arrived in the Land of Israel in 1881/1882. As a comparison, the Biluim group was made up of a few dozen members.


Yemeni Jews had to travel through India, Iraq, and Egypt, before arriving at their ultimate destination, Jerusalem.


After their arrival, they had to face challenges with housing and making a living. A group of them settled north of Jaffa and created the Yemenit neighborhood known as Kerem Hataymanim. They often earned a living through farming in the Judea and Sharon colonies, as well as working in construction.

When a group arrived in Jerusalem dressed in their special clothes, they encountered hostility. The Yemenite Jews looked different from the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews who already lived in the city. They held to different traditions, which made it difficult to quickly integrate into the local Jewish population.


The old settlement in Jerusalem was organized into "Kollelim", which organized support for the Jewish residents of the city. The non-adherence of the Yemenite Jews to the recognized sectarian patterns caused the Yishuv's people to refuse to accept them into the existing kollels, and to share with them the funds they had.


They were even forbidden to settle within the old city walls. To provide context, you can locate on the map the first quarters of Jerusalem that were built outside the Old City Walls.


They immediately turned to work and worked in different jobs, from carriers to jewelers, and got organized as an independent community.


Help came from an unexpected source. The editor of the "Habazelet" newspaper, Israel Dov Fromkin, strove for the Yemeni immigrants and wrote about their sad situation in his newspaper, and contacted a benefactor named Boaz ben Yonatan Mizrahi (or Boaz Hababeli).


The same Boaz donated half of the land he owned in Kfar Silwan, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, to Yemenite Jews. He built apartments for the Jews of the village, in elongated buildings, similar to those in Mishkanim Shananim (the quarter founded by Moshe Montefiore).


Kfar Hashiloah in 1891. Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain.

In Hebrew, the newly installed tenants called the place Kfar ha-Shiloah.


At the height of its prosperity, Kfar Shiloh numbered between 150 and 200 families, who lived in 65 temple houses and 45-65 private houses. In Kfar Shiloh, the community's institutions included synagogues, mikvahs, clinics, grocery stores, schools, kindergartens, and more. The village's livelihood was based on farming and cattle breeding, as well as stone carving and tombstones on the Mount of Olives.


They lived next to an Arab village that still exists today. Testimonies reveal that the neighborly relations were very good at the beginning.


In the events of 1929, local Arabs attacked Jews who were willing to pray at the Kotel, resulting in 133 Jewish victims. The residents of the village of Shiloah experienced harassment, and the roads became dangerous due to the escalating tensions. The leader of the Silwan village even proposed protecting the Yemenite Jews, who had fled to the Old City in the meantime.


However, the intensifying Jewish-Arab conflict in the Land of Israel hindered the village's development, and the Great Arab Revolt of 1936/1939 ultimately led to the end of Jewish settlement in Kfar Shiloah


As time passed, more and more families left the village until its last Jewish residents were definitely evacuated in August 1938.



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