The Collection

Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz's photo collection consists of around 16,000 photographs. Their great majority was taken during the first half of the 1930s on black and white 35mm negatives. A few hundreds of photographs were taken during the 1920s on single black and white 6X6 cm negatives.
 
Aleksandrowicz's photographs from Palestine are one of the major components of the collection. Aleksandrowicz, a devoted Zionist, made three long visits to Palestine (December 1932-January 1933, April-May 1934, and February-April 1935) before deciding to settle there. These visits yielded thousands of photographs. Aleksandrowicz documented the life in urban (Haifa and Kiryat Hayim, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Safed, Tel Aviv, and Tiberias) and rural (Beit Alfa, Beit Zera, Beney Beraq, Dganya Bet, Ein Harod, Gan Shemuel, Hadera, Karkur, Kvutzat Schiller, Ra'anana, and Tel Yosef) settings as well as the different regions of the land (the Galilee, the Jezreel Valley, the Jordan Valley, the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, the Northern Negev, and the Sharon Plain).

Photography in Israel- People and Places

Aleksandrowicz was prolific in producing portraits of people he met during his visits to Palestine. His photographs reflect the diversified human landscape of the country at that time: Jews, Arabs and foreigners, urbanites and agriculture workers, Bedouins and peasants, intellectuals and hard laborers, members of the Old Yishuv and newly-come immigrants. These were the times of great economic development, cultural flourishing, and expanding immigration, and those trends are well reflected in the photographs, especially the ones taken in the streets of the newly-built towns. At the same time, the Aleksandrowicz's photographs also documented the abundance of unspoiled landscapes typical of Palestine of that time. Among the main sites appearing in Aleksandrowicz's photographs are the old cities of Jeruslam, Jaffa and Haifa, the young and developing urban centers of Tel Aviv and Haifa, the ports of Jaffa and Haifa, the Yarqon estuary and the site of Jerisha village, the Naharayim Power Plant and the orchards of the Sharon and the Shfela Plains. Aleksandrowicz also captured Hanuka's Light Parade in Tel Aviv in December 1932, the opening of Tiberias Hot Springs during the same month, the Passover Feast of the Samaritans in April 1934, the trial of Arlosoroff's alleged assassinators in 1934 and a variety of plays performed by Habima Theater during 1934 and 1935.
 

Images of Communities and Zionist Leaders

Jewish and Zionist themes appear in photographs taken by Aleksandrowicz outside of Palestine as well, mainly in his home town Kraków. The Kraków photographs consist of portraits of Jews, orthodox and modern, depictions of the city's older synagogues, and documentation of special events in the life of the Jewish community (the wedding of the daughter of the Rabbi of Bobov in March 1931, the ceremonial commemoration of Rabbi Moses Isserles in May 1931). In 1931 Aleksandrowicz photographed the 17th Zionist Congress held in Basel, including many shots which were taken outside the official congress hall. Here and in other occasions he photographed portraits of contemporary key figures in the Zionist movement, among them Abba Ahimeir, Haim Arlosoroff, Yitzhaq Ben-Zvi, Hayim Nahman Bialik, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Ze’ev Jabotinski, and Nahum Sokolow.

 

Photography Trips around the World

During the second half of 1934, Aleksandrowicz, along with his friend, architect Yitzhaq Rapoport, went for a long journey around the world which yielded thousands of photographs. Aleksandrowicz sailed from Europe to New York and crossed America by car. In America he visited the World Fair in Chicago, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park, the deserts of Arizona and Nevada, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; he then sailed to Japan via Hawaii. Japan left a tremendous impression on Aleksandrowicz which resulted in unusual number of photos, which were taken mainly in Kyoto and in other significant historic cities as Yokohama, Tokyo, Nara, Nikko, and Osaka. These photographs focus on the local human landscape and the everyday life and habits of the local urban and rural inhabitants. After completed his journey in Japan, Aleksandrowicz continued his journey by sea heading to the west. His ship dropped anchor in Hong Kong, Penang (Malaysia), Sri Lanka, Aden, and Port Said, from where he travelled to Palestine by train. The long sea voyage, including the daily life on the ship and in the seaports, was also documented in Aleksandrowicz's photographs. Other cities photographed by Aleksandrowicz on other occasions include Alexandria, Baalbek, Bruges, Cairo, Lublin, Marienbad, Paris, Rhodes, Rome, Venice, Vienna, and Warsaw.

 

The Aleksandrowicz Collection- A First in Digitization and Accessibility

Ze'ev Aleksandrowicz photo collection is the first photographic collection to be digitized by the National Library of Israel and the first one to become available online through the library's internet site. The digitization process included the scanning of all the available original negatives of Aleksandrowicz's photos. Since Aleksandrowicz did not leave behind any notes which could have shed light on the sites and dates of the photographs, the descriptive information on this website is based on complimentary research done by Sinai Aleksandrowicz, the photographer's son, and his grandson, Or Aleksandrowicz. Much assistance in the identification of locations, figures and events was provided by Bracha Bentor, Paul Cotterell, Shay Farkash, Alisa Helberg, Avshi Hittin, Aharon Horowitz, Zvi Har Shefer, Walid Karkabi, Yehuda Levanoni, Yehoshua Luchs, Zvi Mednik, Chen Melling, Miriam Miller, Yirmiyahu Rimon, Yair Safran, Avi Sasson, Amira Stern, Shula Widrich, and Gabriel Zifroni.
 
Special thanks to Sinai and Or Aleksandrowicz, who have also significantly contributed to the creation of this minisite.