This is a photograph taken in 1950 of two women sitting on a trunk outside a wooden building at Kibbutz HaSolelim. The locked trunk has the name “Gladys Ehrlich” and the city “New York” written on it in English. The young woman on the left is sitting cross-legged and is holding the newspaper The Florida Times Union, a newspaper from Jacksonville, Florida. These women are probably immigrants from the United States who have settled on the kibbutz. Despite the English name and the newspaper, the women are dressed in the typical fashion of kibbutz members in the 1950s – they are barefoot and wearing shorts and embroidered shirts. The woman on the right seems to be mending an article of clothing and looking over the other woman’s shoulder in order to read the newspaper. The surroundings are very bare, with no pavements, little vegetation, and just a single building in the background.
The photograph was taken by the well-known photojournalist Rudi Weissenstein.
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Kibbutz HaSolelim – Kibbutz HaSolelim is located in the north of Israel near Kiryat Tiv’on and Nazareth. Its name (literally, the “pavers”) symbolises the founders’ aspiration to pave the way to new settlements in Israel. The kibbutz was established in 1949, with half of the founders coming from English-speaking countries such as the United States and South Africa. Today the kibbutz, as is the case with most others, is privatised and allows personal property and salaries.
Kibbutz – A kibbutz is a community where people live and work together in a collective, family-like environment. Kibbutzim are located throughout Israel, with many situated near borders or in areas that needed historically to be developed. The first kibbutz was established in 1909, with the original aim of forming a community in which property was owned collectively and everyone worked and contributed according to their ability and received equally according to their needs. Kibbutzim were egalitarian units, where decisions were made democratically and the economy was based on agriculture. In the last 100 years kibbutzim have gone through many changes. They now have a variety of industries in addition (or sometimes instead of) agriculture, including various factories and tourism. Most have been privatized with residents owning their own homes and earning their own salaries in jobs outside of the kibbutz. Likewise, many of the earlier communal responsibilities are now the responsibility of the individual families.
Hatzalmania (PhotoHouse) – Rudi (Rudolph) Weissenstein (1910–1992) was born in Czechoslovakia, where he studied photography from his father before going to school in Vienna. Weissenstein moved to Israel in 1935 after experiencing anti-Semitism. In Israel, he began working as an independent photographer, taking photographs all over Israel and providing pictures of the pre-state development which were spread all over the world. In 1940, Weissenstein opened the Pri-Or Photo House, later known as Hatzalmania or PhotoHouse, where he built an archive of his work along with documentation about the subjects. After his death in 1992, his wife and, later, his grandson continued to run the Photo House.