The Life of the Jews in Palestine

The Life of the Jews in Palestine (French: La vie des Juifs en Palestine, Hebrew: חיי היהודים בארץ ישראל, Russian: Жизнь Евреев в Палестине) is a 1913 silent documentary film directed by Noah Sokolovsky [ru] depicting Jews and Jewish communities in Ottoman Palestine. Its production was funded by the Mizrakh Company or the HaMizrah Society of Odessa, Ukraine in the Russian Empire[1] and occurred during a two-month visit of the Russian and Ukrainian filmmakers to Palestine.[2] Meíron Ossip Grossman was the cinematographer. It debuted in 1913 at the 11th Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.[3]

The Life of the Jews in Palestine
Directed byNoah Sokolovsky
CinematographyMiron Osip Grossman
Mizrakh Company
Release date
  • 1913 (1913)
CountryRussian Empire
LanguagesSilent film
English, French, and Hebrew intertitles
Full hour-long documentary


Many of the individuals covered in the documentary are Ashkenazi immigrants of the Second Aliyah[4] including Meir Dizengoff, founder and first mayor of Tel Aviv,[5] Russo-Japanese War veteran and subsequent founder of the British Jewish Legion of World War I Joseph Trumpeldor,[5] and Boris Schatz, founder of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, shown teaching an art class.[6]


Sokolovsky was an adherent of Theodor Herzl's Zionist movement and his film promoted the notion "A land without a people for a people without a land" and was a useful means of mobilizing support for the Zionist cause.[7] The film was criticised by the Zionist left for omitting local Arabs from its portrayal.[8]


According to Yaacov Davidon, later an Israeli film exhibitor, the film was received with "indescribable enthusiasm" and "Tears of happiness gleamed in the eyes of Jewish audiences, thirsty for redemption."[5] In Ukraine, the size of thronging crowds viewing the film prompted secret police reports.[5]

Preservation statusEdit

The film was lost shortly after its creation until in 1997 the original negative was found in France[2] in the vault of the Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) by archivist Éric Le Roy.[5] Israeli film historian Yaakov Gross [he] assisted in the identification.[9][4][10]

When screened at the London International Film Festival in 1998 Clyde Jeavons of the British Film Institute said the film was " of the most important and enthralling re-discoveries of recent times... Its historical importance, both as an anthropological time capule and as a record of the first modern Jewish immigrations to the Middle East, is self-evident in every rivetingly quotidian scene."[11] In the evaluation of Dennis Harvey of Variety, writing in 2000, by the era's standards the "photography is exceptional, with well-composed landscape, architectural and medium-to-long-shot crowd views and good occasional use of panoramic pans from elevated points, as well as traveling perspectives from train and boat."[3]


  1. ^ March, Enric H. "La vida dels jueus a Palestina". (in Catalan). Archived from the original on September 9, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Lenny, Ben-David (May 3, 2012). "Life of the Jews of Palestine: Israeli history photo of the week: A Library of Congress collection of photographs documenting pre-state Israel". The Jerusalem Post. ISSN 0021-597X.
  3. ^ a b Harvey, Dennis (August 14, 2000). "The Life of the Jews in Palestine". Variety. ISSN 0042-2738.
  4. ^ a b Loeterman, Ben (2014). Clark, Rachel (ed.). 1913: Seeds of Conflict. Arlington, Virginia: PBS.
  5. ^ a b c d e Hoberman, James Lewis (February 27, 2000). "For Czarist Russia's Jews, a Look at a Promised Land". Film. The New York Times. p. 41.
  6. ^ Press, Viva Sarah (August 2020). "Preserving the Reel Israel". Hadassah Magazine. ISSN 0017-6516. Archived from the original on September 10, 2020.
  7. ^ Loeterman, Ben (2014). Clark, Rachel (ed.). 1913: Seeds of Conflict. Arlington, Virginia: PBS. 33:45 minutes in. Narrator: The Life of the Jews in Palestine premiers at the 1913 Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. The film provides Ruppin a perfect tool to mobilize worldwide support for the Zionist cause... Etan Bloom: Ruppin understands there's a great need to explain the urgency of the situation because the Jews are in a very dangerous situation in Europe and they must take their political future in their own hands. And the Zionist solution is the only solution for the problems of the Jews in the modern times.
  8. ^ "The Life of the Jews in Palestine". Jewish Film Institute web site. Archived from the original on September 9, 2020.
  9. ^ Gross, Heally (Fall 2017). Chazan, Meir; Kouts, Gideon (eds.). "A Sentinal [sic] In The Fields Of Time" (PDF). Kesher: Journal of Media and Communications History in Israel and the Jewish World (English ed.). The Shalom Rosenfeld Institute for Research of Jewish Media and Communication (50): 17–21. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2020.
  10. ^ Kardish, Laurence (February 2000). "CNC Archives at MoMA". MoMA. Museum of Modern Art. 3 (2): 10–11. ISSN 0893-0279.
  11. ^ "A Tribute to the CNC French Film Archives". MoMA. Museum of Modern Art. 3 (3): 18. April 2000. ISSN 0893-0279.

External linksEdit