• Issue: April 2003
  • Designer: Daniel Goldberg
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 510 (no phosphor bars)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: offset

For hundreds of years the Jews of Yemen maintained contact with the Land of Israel, and individuals with their families settled there at various times. In 1881 a movement of immigration commenced, which was temporarily halted during 1914-1920 because of World War I. Up until the war, close to 5,000 people immigrated to Palestine, around 8% of the total Jewish population of Yemen, a figure unmatched by any other community. In 1914 Yemeni Jews constituted 6% of the entire Jewish population in Palestine. The immigration process culminated in 1950 when most came to Israel through the "On Eagles Wings" Operation.

Contrary to the first wave of immigration from Eastern Europe in 1882, which was associated with the persecution of and rioting against Jews in Russia, the Yemeni Jewish immigration was not the result of persecution by the local government or population. In 1881 the motives for the immigration of Yemeni Jews were imbedded in messianic expectation and deep religious belief. They regarded, as did Jews in other traditional communities, existence in the Diaspora as being temporary, and that they would return to the Land of Israel in the messianic age. These expectations were expressed in their spiritual lives as well as in their literary works, such as the poems of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi of the 17th century, which tied them to the Land of Israel. Realization of this process depended on political changes and their implications. In 1872 the Ottoman Turks conquered Yemen and annexed it to the Ottoman Empire. The Land of Israel was also under Ottoman sovereignty and this made travel from Yemen easier than in the past. Tradesmen and travelers, mail and books arrived in Yemen and provided information on the developments in the Holy Land and in the Jewish world such as the reinforcement of the Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, the establishment of agricultural settlements and the ideas of enlightenment.

Political instability in central Yemen at the end of the 19th century and during the first decade of the 20th century, caused by rebellion against the Ottomans, as well as natural disaster, drove the Jews from central Yemen to other settlements in the country. Some of this internal migration wasconverted into immigration to Palestine.

The Yemeni Jewish immigrants interpreted the verse "I thought I would climb a palm tree" (Song of Solomon, Chap. 7 vs. 8) as meaning them. The words "palm tree" they interpreted through a play of letters in Hebrew as the year 1882. The first Yemeni Jewish immigrants arrived in Jerusalem from San'a', the capital of Yemen on New Year's eve of the year 1882. Toward the end of 1885 the first residential neighborhood of Yemeni Jewish immigrants was established in Kfar Hashiloah, Jerusalem. In 1886 the Mishkenot Israel neighborhood was established and followed by others. The Yemeni Jewish immigrants made a living from manual labor and crafts, and with the establishment of the Bezalel Academy of Art in 1906, joined as silversmiths.

1906 saw a wave of immigration from North Yemen, and then from other areas in Yemen. These immigrants joined settlements such as Rehovot, Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Hadera and Zikhron Yaakov. Despite their desire to join the pioneering agricultural settlements, they were driven toward the role of agricultural laborers and made a living as guards, in service jobs, crafts and petty trade. The agricultural settlement of Eliashiv was established in 1933 and, after the establishment of the State of Israel, other agricultural settlements were established for Yemeni Jews. These included Ora and Eshtaol in the Jerusalem hills, Givat Yearim in the Judean Mountains, Yachini in the Negev, Sha'ar Ephraim in the Shfela and others. The town of Rosh Ha'ayin is a prominent Yemeni Jewish community, and Tel-Aviv­Jaffa has well known neighborhoods that were established at the beginning of the 20th century - Mahane Yehuda (near Neve Zedek), Mahane Yosef, the Kerem Hatemanim and the Hatikva neighborhood.

The Jewish settlement in Palestine regarded Yemeni Jews as the extension of an ancient Jewish tradition that has maintained its vitality. This perception assisted in the embracing of foundations of their culture, such as the silver filigree artwork, embroidery, song, music and dance, into Israeli culture

Dr. Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman

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From Yemen to Zion, 1881