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The Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898

Phyllis Abrahams

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898* PHYLLIS ABRAHAMS, M.A.(Oxon), Doc.Univ.Paris The opportunity for me to contribute some small items to the fund of Anglo-Jewish history came my way in an unexpected manner. In November 1959 there died my mother, herself a piece of Anglo-Jewish history. After her death, I was occupied for many months in clearing up the mass of paper which she had accumulated, for she had never, I believe, thrown away a single piece of paper since her marriage in 1894. The day came when I turned my attention to my mother's writing case, of mahogany, about two feet high, with the initials F.A. in brass on the front. I fiddled about with the partitions, and released the spring of a secret drawer. On top lay my mother's cheque-book for the year 1898; and underneath this lay a roll of letters, written by my father to my mother during his visit to Egypt and Palestine in the same year. These letters form the subject of the paper I have the honour to read to you tonight. Landmark in his Life In 1898, Israel Abrahams was 40 years old. He had been a member of the staff of Jews' College since 1881; in 1896 he had published Jewish Life in the Middle Ages; he was married to the only daughter of the Rev. Simeon Singer, and was the father of a little girl just 3 years old. He had many friends (among whom were Joseph Jacobs, Lucien Wolf, and Claude Montefiore, to mention only a few), and lived a full and happy life on his small income. Now, in March 1898, he was about to set out on a journey to the East that was to form a landmark in his life. His purpose in visiting Palestine was twofold. In September 1895 he had signed an agreement with the firm of Putnam to write a book with the title Judas Maccabeus and the conflict between Hellenism and Hebraism, and he had not even begun to write it. In fact, he never did write it, and afterwards he used often to declare that the mere signing of a contract made it impossible for him to produce the book. In 1898, however, he still believed that he would write it, and he considered that a visit to the battlefields of the Maccabean campaigns was essential for a proper understanding of the course of events. (Many years later he made good use of the material he had collected, when he wrote his Schweich Lectures on 'Campaigns in Palestine'.) It should be noted that journeys to the Holy Land were very much in the air at that date in the circle of I.A.'s friends. In the previous year, Herbert Bentwich had led a number of members of the Maccabeans on a 'Pilgrimage' to Palestine. But I.A. had his own programme to arrange, for in addition to his tour of the battlefields he wished to visit the educational establishments sponsored by the Anglo-Jewish Association in Palestine, and especially the Evelina School in Jerusalem. After some deliberation, there? fore, he decided to travel alone. The visit to Egypt seems to have been thrown in as part of the usual route to Palestine; there was also the attraction of the already famous Cairo Geniza. An Amusing Letter Israel Abrahams left London early in March 1898, and sailed from Marseilles on Thursday, 10 March, landing in Alexandria on Tuesday, 15 March. In spite of a very bad passage, he wrote a long and very amusing letter on board ship which he posted in Alexandria. * Paper delivered to the Society on 20 March 1961, but the text was not available until a few months before the regretted death of Dr. Abrahams in 1973. When she read it, she included copious extracts in appropriate places, but for the purpose of publication it has been decided to give the letters in full.?Ed. 1</page><page sequence="2">2 Phyllis Abrahams 'On board the Sindh. Friday 9 a.m. [March 11] 'My darling wife, I will keep a brief diary for you and post it in Alexandria or Cairo. I am hoping to find a letter?but I know it is impossible. I must wait patiently for a word from my love. After I posted my letter to you, I found that I had six hours to wait in Marseilles. I amused myself with the streets, as there is nothing of interest in the buildings. I had my hair and beard cut in proper French style and then lunched in French style. That is to say I sat outside a cafe and ate some fish?so far good, but then the beggars! They pestered one in a shameless way, and offered, even more shame? lessly, disgusting pictures for sale. Not even the desire to satisfy a certain person's curiosity could induce me to buy the loathsome things. What I would have bought, namely some fancy post-cards for the baby, I could not get. I have smoked only one cigar since I left you and as they charged me 1.50 francs for what costs 6d. in England, this and one other reason has kept me from smoking on board. We started yesterday at 4.30?and have full 5 days of it. I cannot find words to describe my awful sufferings. Inside the harbour, and for the first three hours, all was well. But when we got fairly into the Gulf of Lyons, then we got it. The wind has been howling all night, and I have been howling to keep it company. This is my first experience, of all night aboard, but bad as I felt, will you believe me that I have had some tea and toast, and am still very very unsettled, I am not so disposed to swear "Never again!" as I anticipated. I had one comfort; an excellent cabin for 2 all to myself. It was worth going first class. I can have all my baggage in my cabin and keep my eye on the camera. This morning I am wearing the Knickers. I cannot tell you how I have enjoyed all your kindness. Everything that you put in was useful, and mother's thoughtful ness has been fruitful of much convenience. The towel in particular was of much service, and I lent it and my soap to the ladies in the train [see Appendix]. I am getting very friendly with the people on board. Many of them were as sick as I was, and that adds to our fellow sympathies. I will tell more of the people in my next sheet. Though I cannot send these separately, yet I cannot lose the chance of separately sending you my best love. Saturday, March 12. 9 a.m. After the first dreadful night, I have not been sick again, but have had qualms. The screw's constant vibration takes a long while getting used to, but I think I am secure now. I eat nothing but breakfast so far?with the merest apology for lunch and dinner. But I think I may buck up today. The food looks excellent. Yesterday was a lovely day?a real genuine piece of sunny south weather. I have never seen such a sky before as between Corsica and Sardinia. These are very rocky coasts, but full of beauty. We passed quite close to both islands, between the straits, and kept Sardinia on our right for several hours. The people on board are all very nice, and we are a very friendly party. There are several Scotchmen, some missionaries, some mere sightseers. Several of them knew me?directly they heard my name, which they soon dis? covered by watching my serviette ring. When I found that they knew my name, I told them what it was. They all knew the J.Q.R.,1 all I mean of this clique. The sightseers are mostly Americans, who are rather amusing. There are two widows, on the look out for their seconds, but they are being fairly laughed at all round. One of them is mashing the captain, but he is still unmoved. One couple we never see except at meals. The general opinion is that they are honeymooners. Where they hide all day, no one knows, and I must add, no one cares. They are quite uninteresting. Then there is at least one Meshummad Missionary on board: he is fortunately 2nd Class, and thus I only see him on deck. He has tried to make my acquaintance but I have not allowed him. This is not because he is a Meshummad, but because I overheard him sneering about Judaism and telling [the] usual lies about it. 1 The Jewish Quarterly Review, which Abrahams and Claude Montefiore founded and edited, 1888-1908.</page><page sequence="3">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 3 Curiously enough, directly the Scotchmen found a real true Jew aboard, they forsook the Meshummad and clave unto Israel. My books are being read by all on board, especially my Smith. Everyone is very grateful for it?it is indeed a fine work. My Baedeker is also in demand. Yesterday I took a few snapshots, but we were not near enough to get anything good, and?my hand shook, owing to aforesaid qualms. I have already been talking to some of Cook's party on board about joining part of their Palestine tour. But I will write more of this from Jerusalem. Ever yours affectionately, Israel. Sunday 3 p.m. [March 13] Note the hour! I am just out on deck, after 23 hrs. in my cabin. This fraud of a Mediter? ranean, which everyone says is so calm and friendly! A terrific storm has been raging ever since we passed the straits of Messina yesterday morning. We had a good view of Stromboli, and the passage through the Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily, with a view of Reggio and Messina quite close and of Mount Etna in the distance, was delightful. But it only made what was to come worse. I ate a tiny bit of lunch yesterday, and then on came the storm. The lightning was a magnificent thing, but the wind was so loud and explosive that we did not hear a single clap of thunder. Then the rolling of the ship! I have never had such a miserable 24 hours?I was crying for you? metaphorically?all night. If you had only been there to share the misery we would both have been happy. Nothing is dreadful when I have you near. It was not so much the rolling as the vibration that sent thrills of agony through one. Every time the stern rises high in the air, the screw gives a weird twirl which shakes the ship from end to end and makes sleep absolutely impossible. One man paced the deck all night?I don't know how he could stand. From 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon till 3 o'clock this afternoon I have lain in the cabin, never sleeping and never sick?worse luck! If I had been sick I might have got over it sooner. I got up just now in desperation and put on my serge suit to look Sunday-like. When I went on deck (of course I have had no breakfast or lunch?the thought of food maddens me?) everyone said, how well I was looking. And after 23 hours' torture to be told how well you were looking! I expected to present a haggard appearance such as would win everyone's sympathy. Instead of which here I was congratulated on my looks. The sailors say that the bad weather (and they all admit that we have had the worst passage for years) is due to the number of parsons on board. When I get to Cairo 1 will try to change to [sic] return route if I can do it without excessive cost. By returning via Brindisi, I have a shorter sea journey, but alas I have my return ticket for the steamer and fear I cannot get out of my horrible bargain. The sailors call the sea calm now. It is rough enough for me, I can tell you. Angry dark skies above?well there's always your love bright for me at home. Monday 8.30 a.m. [March 14] I am up betimes today having had a really good night's rest. To think that I could ever get accustomed to the incessant din and vibration and sleep through it! The morning is fresh and invigorating. I forget whether I have told you how very cold it has been ever since we left Marseilles. Father must have had bad weather I fear, if it has been anything like the state of things on the Mediterranean. The sea is still angry this morning, but it is much warmer. We have just passed Crete, its hills covered with deep snow. It looks very peaceful from the sea. Among the people on board are a party of Syrians who are returning to Beyrout from Brazil. They have to spend all their time on deck, and must have suffered much during the storm. There are some pretty children among them, one or two babies in arms. The men were (and are) horsebreakers?a profession in which the Syrians excel. They were attracted to Brazil by some dishonest offers, and are returning home poorer and wiser. I keep away</page><page sequence="4">4 Phyllis Abrahams from their end of the boat, as they look too awfully dirty for anything but to be thrown into the sea. Perhaps the storm was a blessing in disguise. Another person on board (he is in the 2nd Cabin) is a Mr. Rafelowitch, or some such name. His brother is a photographer in Jerusalem, and will lend me his dark room for changing the plates. This is a comfort. The man himself has been in England selling MSS to Schechter, Elkan Adler and Gaster. The latter told him that he would find me on board, and so he got himself introduced. I am glad to know someone in Jerusalem besides Old Zangwill and Cohn?the latter I barely remember. I have had my first loss. I lost my spectacles. (Don't worry they have been found). All the stewards and all the passengers searched my cabin in vain. At last, Mrs. Nicholls (a clergy? man's wife) asked whether she might look. She walked in to my cabin, and straight off found the glasses in about 3 seconds. What fools men are! I assure you we all looked every? where. I wonder whether she had hidden them in her pocket. Perhaps that's the way you women find things. I looked at your photo often?it is a comfort. The baby's I can't bear to see?it makes her look so stupid. I will take a better one on my return. Tuesday 8 p.m. [March 15] What a night! The confounded boat has been behaving like a demon?plunging every? way at once. I was thrown out of bed several times and am a mass of aches all over. But with the bright fresh air and brisk breeze I don't feel so bad. You can't imagine though what an awful passage we have had. If I have to return this way, I fear I shall not return in a very amiable temper. But what must be, must?and the funny thing about it all is that I am now never sick, and never wish to be. We were supposed to reach Alexandria before this, but we shall be some hours late. They now say that we shall arrive between 3 and 4; if that be so, I doubt whether I shall be able to post this till I get to Cairo. As far as I understand, I shall be in Cairo six or seven days, leaving there for Jaffa next Tuesday. This is only a day's sail?I think nothing of a day's sail now. You will never find me shirk a channel crossing again, that is soon over, whereas here, on board for a week nearly! When you read all this do sympathise and don't jeer at me. Of course my address in Jerusalem will be Hotel Kaminitz. As last night was our final one on board, the passengers gave a concert. It was a dismal thing. You should have heard the parsons sing old-fashioned love ditties, and deliver goody goody recitations. At last two of us couldn't stand it. So I offered to contribute an item and gave them a burlesque sermon, which I will say to their credit they took in excellent humour. Then, the other malcontent said he would sing. And he did sing. He started with one of Chevalier's coster songs, and followed this up with a very remarkable Margate ditty, telling how when you go to bathe and some one sneaks your clothes and you have to walk home without and meet a lot of girls you know?"that's when you feel all right"?and so forth. The verse I have quoted is the mildest of the lot. How the parsons and missionaries shivered! One by one they left the saloon until the songster and I were left alone to laugh heartily at our victory. The field had been left to us. We are going to have a meeting now to decide about tips to stewards etc. We all feel that everyone should give alike and not some too much and some too little. I think it an excellent idea. Much love to you my dear?and to mother and all. I am very lost without you?and I do not think that anything shall ever induce me again to leave you for so long a time. I will telegraph to you from Cairo. Ever yours affectionately, Israel.' He spent only a few hours in Alexandria, and in the evening of the same day he wrote a short letter home from Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo.</page><page sequence="5">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 5 'Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo. March 15 1898. 'Dearest, A day on dry land has revived me a good deal, but on the other hand it only adds to my loneliness. I missed you for other reasons today. The first view of an Oriental city is so astonish? ing, so full of colour and incident, that I felt intensely selfish to be seeing it all without you. But already I miss you so immeasurably that I am counting the days for my return. And then there are several sea journeys yet before me. First I shall have to go to Jaffa from Port Said?and that is said to be dreadful. Then, 1 have to get back from Jaffa to Marseilles, an awful 7 days of it, to say nothing of the final crossing to Dover?would that were near at hand! For the present, I must content myself with telling you of my doings in the past, leaving the future to take care of itself. When I arrived at Alexandria, I heard that a mail was going off and so, as I had no time to look for the Post Office, I entrusted the posting of my long letter to a Cook's man, who said he would run to the Post Office with it. I hope that he did so. We did not land for full an hour after that, and then Cooks took care of my luggage while I saw something of Alexandria. I got a dragoman (fee 2 francs) and a coachman (fee 2 francs an hour). I saw a good deal in an hour and a half (I did not stay overnight because I shall probably have a day in Alexandria on my return route). I saw Pom pey's Pillar and the showplaces?I refused the Museum, because I wanted to see the streets. Of course the carts go the wrong side of the way, keeping to the right instead of the left. Hiring a coachman is good fun. There is a little group of idlers round each of the carriages, and each of them passes on the order to the other, in a most consequential sort of way. My dragoman was great on harems. "Ze house of Hassan Pasha?weree reech, he haf 15 harems." Later we passed another fine place. Is he rich also ? I asked. "Ye-es . . . but he haf only 7 harems. Not so rich as Hassan." The carts you meet are the funniest. A bullock, a donkey, a horse?anything does to draw a cart. And the camels are very effective. But I cannot attempt to describe the bustle, the life, the glare of it all. The sky is something to dream of, but it certainly did get cold at night. My bedroom seems stuffy enough. Mosquitoes ? I can't say yet?shall know more about it in an hour or two. There are muslin curtains round the bed: that looks like something creepy. This hotel is a gorgeous affair. I am only here a few days, and this is my chief extravagance. It is rather fun seeing the luxury of it all. There are many Jews here?but I have not yet seen anyone I know. That was hardly likely, as I have only been in Cairo an hour at present. With much, much love, I am, Ever yours affectionately, Israel' The next day, Wednesday, 16 March, he was again writing to his 'darling Fritz', describing the street scenes of an Eastern town, his first visit to the old Jewish Quarter, and his chance meeting with Schorstein. 'Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo. Thursday March 17, 1898, [error for Wednesday March 16] 'My darling Fritz, As a mail leaves tonight, I write again though you will I think get both letters at once. (I did not wire 'Affable"2 because I thought that perhaps my Marseilles letter missed you. From Jerusalem I will use the word "Affable" = Arrived Fine Form Accept i?est Love Fver.) I will not wire again until I reach Marseilles on my return journey. I have so much to tell you today! I had an excellent night, and so far have escaped the attentions of mosquitos (I am not certain if that is the right spelling). I used the oil of cloves which made me smart so much for a time that I am not sure that I shouldn't have preferred the mosquitoes to the remedy. I got up at 8, breakfasted, then went for a walk in the streets. The donkey-boys are real good fun. "Ze only donkey what speaks Inglis"?that is what the 2 See Appendix.</page><page sequence="6">6 Phyllis Abrahams boys tell you. I shall try a ride before I leave. Then I went to the Rabbi. I was taken straight to him tho' he was engaged over a divorce or marriage, I couldn't understand which. The lady (a fat party of about 30) wept profusely and wiped her eyes (and nose) often with her skirt. Then I had a minute with him and when he found out who I was, he threw off all his business, took me to his private room and gave me coffee and cigarettes. We got on capitally in Hebrew, with a little French thrown in. He knows no English. My own opinion is that Schechter by no means exhausted the Geniza? but keep this quiet till I worm out more from them. I am going back to the Jewish quarter tomorrow and will take some photos of places and streets. The Jewish quarter is the most quaint part of Cairo. You enter by a gate and then are involved in a labyrinth of streets or courts. I will be better able to describe these after a second visit. I found it by no means so dirty as I expected. On my way out a donkey boy pestered me to employ him. He showed me a testimonial in English. Who do you think wrote it ? The very doctor I had at St. Thomas's! The doctor wrote: "This man is a not very over-grasping conductor of a not very un amiable donkey." I think I must try it after that. After lunch?the attendants at the hotel look very picturesque in Egyptian dress? they are all Egyptian waiters?I came across Schorstein. I was overjoyed and so seemed he. In fact he had come in to Cairo to see me; he did not know my hotel but as luck would have it he found me at the first attempt. I am driving with him this afternoon to the Pyramid Hotel to dine with him. I shall drive back tonight or tomorrow morning. The weather is perfectly glorious. Much love to you and the dear baby, from Your affectionate husband, Israel.' (The Schorstein mentioned in these letters from Egypt was Dr. Gustave Isidore Schorstein, a distinguished physician of his day, who died in 1901. His sister, Therese Schorstein, married I.A.'s friend Claude Montefiore, and was the mother of Robin Montefiore.) Dr. Schorstein was staying at the Mena House Hotel, near the Pyramids of Gizeh. 'Shepheard's Hotel. Thursday 17th 1898. (March). My darling wife, I have, I find, got a little confused about the dates, and I called yesterday the 17th in my letter. After I had written I received your letter, very welcome indeed and a sweet reminder of yourself and of home. I suppose that I shall hardly hear from you again till I get to Jerusalem. I am numbering the letters I write from here, so that you may know their order if you receive several by one post. This is the third. The weather continues glorious, such magni? ficent sunshine, without excessive heat, and such delightful mornings and evenings, cool but not cold, clear skies and soft breezes. I had a 10 miles drive along the Nile at ten o'clock last night so I can judge. But I must tell you how it happened. Schorstein insisted on my dining with him. He is staying at the Mena House Hotel, which is 10 miles from Cairo and is just at the foot of the Great Pyramid. So at 5 o'clock in the afternoon he came here for me and drove me to the Pyramids. The road runs by the Nile, through one continuous avenue of orange and lemon trees and Egyptian acacias. There is no break in this shady grove the whole ten miles. The horses here are exceedingly fast, so we were not an hour on the journey. While Schorstein went inside, I sat out on a balcony opposite the Pyramids. I am not good at gushing descriptions, but I cannot but try to explain the effect of the sight. I saw the Pyramids under very different conditions from those in which Cook's tourists see them. It was sunset, and the rich yellow of the sandstone rock out of which the Pyramids are built was topped by a golden-brown crest cast by the lingering sunshine. It was the very edge of desert; at the foot of the Pyramids vegetation ceases entirely, and while on the one side all is green, on the other all has that marvellous colour which, once seen, will haunt one for ever. Colour, that is what it is. The sky, the ground, the air, trees, the rocks, the river, everything has a</page><page sequence="7">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 7 colour which rouses one to an ecstasy of wonder and happiness. Then there is the moral effect of the Pyramids. These tombs of the Kings are now the centre of a sanatorium for the living?for such the Mena House Hotel is. Here are these Pyramids again, to remind one how true it is that 1000 years are in God's sight as an instant that passes away. The whole of this extraordinary civilization is gone for ever. I returned home by the grove at 10 o'clock. The moon was shining and it was a rare delight. If you had only been with me! I must work hard to enable me to bring you to Egypt one winter?you must come here at some time, and so must father and mother. If you do, stay at the Mena House, not at Shepheards. At Shepheards' the guests are a mixed crew of gouty old colonels and middle-aged spinsters, young bounders of both sexes, and scores of bad ones equally of both sexes. For me, it was impossible to stay elsewhere, because it would be ridiculous to be 10 miles from Cairo during a stay of a few days. So I resisted Schorstein's pitiful request that I should stay with him. He told me that the sight of me had done him a lot of good. I think it really did. We had a lovely chat about everything from 5 till 10 at night and then had not finished. Talk about women being chatterboxes! I am to see him again tonight, he dines here but not with me, as he had already arranged it with some travel acquaintances. Still we shall get another glimpse of one another. He goes to Sicily on Tuesday, thence to Italy, thence home by the end of May. Schorstein spilt a whole bottle of ink at Cook's yesterday and got a stain on his trousers. So he bought some spirits of salt and applied it with my help at his hotel. Nett results of operation: it was a little stain, it is a big one. We simply expanded the area of mischief. I am soon off to the Jewish Quarter again, a little nervous about the photos. It is very hard to walk in Cairo?the natives look upon it as a personal insult if they see a European not riding. The donkey-boys and donkeys are so hospitable! But off I will trot without a donkey boy. I promised one that I would engage him this morning, I must try to dodge him, but I reckon that he will waylay me. Give my best love to mother, to whom I will write tomorrow. Also to father when he gets back home. I have just met some Germans who crossed from Naples at the same time that we came from Marseilles. On their boat they were ill consecutively for 56 hours. So I shall not change my route home after all. You see, dear, that delightful as Cairo is my thought is ever of the route home and the return to my sweet love. Israel.' The remaining letters from Cairo are mainly concerned with the writer's visits to the old Jewish Quarter in Fostat, the photographs he took of the Chief Rabbi, who was, I believe, R. Raphael ben Simon Cohen, and the Geniza. 'Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo. 18th March, 1898. 'My darling wife, It seems immoral to come here and omit all the sights, so I went to one or two yesterday and shall do some more this afternoon. First of all I visited the Arab Museum, which is brimful of beautiful remains of Saracenic art. Why do not Jewish artworkers come to this Museum? It is perfectly ridiculous, the way in which our Synagogues flounder about trying to get geometrical designs for stained windows, mosaics, and panellings. Well here are some beautiful things in all these branches ?no figures of animals or even trees, but just forms and curves. But what variety, what grace! So, too with the lamps. But it is useless grumbling. We shall go on till the end of time with the same tawdry, ugly, glaring synagogue vestments and decorations. I then went to the Tombs of the Caliphs. Of course there are two distinct branches of antiquity here: the Ancient Egyptian and the Mohammedan. Yesterday I made a Mohammedan day. The drive to the Tombs lay through the narrow lanes of the native quarter. The coachman drive at a furious pace,</page><page sequence="8">8 Phyllis Abrahams shouting out "Yemini K'abar" ("Get to the right that I may pass") or "Dau el Cham?r" ("Get that donkey out of the way"), "Amaye abar" ("I want to pass"). The barefooted children slip in and out under the very horses' hoofs, and never get hurt, though the drivers turn round the corners at breakneck rates. Camels, donkeys, oxen, people all clear out of the way with extraordinary dexterity. The only person who is in real danger is the pas? senger. Every second you think that you are sure to be pitched out. The road yesterday was particularly trying to one's nerves. It was simply a huge dust heap with ruts at least 2 feet deep in all directions. I am now talking of the place when we got clear of the native quarter. A huge open plain, covered with deep sand and stones dotted with the small tombs of the poor and the huge Mosques of the great, with goats prowling about and little girls spinning silk here and there turning the wheels with their naked feet, and dust, dust, dust in stormy waves. For the first time I used my dark glasses. The sun here is not at all trying, brilliant though it be. The bad eyes of the natives are entirely their own fault. They let the flies settle all over their faces and will not take the trouble to brush them off. Well, my dragoman told me some fine lies about the tombs. One, said he, is 2,500 years old (that is to say twice as old as Mohammed himself!) Are you quite sure? said I. Well, he replied, not quite 2,500 years yet; but in July the 2,500 years will be complete! The effrontery of these chaps is most mirth-provoking. Then he showed me some stones, in little holes by the Tombs. You take these stones, put them in water, and then use the latter as a lotion in case of illness. "If people believe it a good stone it make him better" said the dragoman, truly enough. Then he showed me some marks in a stone preserved with great care. The marks were the feet of Mohammed. When he fled from his foes across the sand his feet left no trace, so that though he made tracks he made no track I suppose. His foes therefore could not follow him in the desert for they didn't know which way the wily one had gone. When he got off, he rested his hot feet on a stone and hence the footprint which they show you. In the afternoon I went again to the Jews' Quarter. I took several photos?I don't know with what result, I think without success. I am going to old Cairo now?the Shamash is coming to fetch me. He is a very decent young man?quite well educated. He only wants one reward for his trouble (and he has had lots of trouble with me)?namely that I will take his photo. The Rabbi also wishes the same thing. Of course I will do it. I have not had the heart to confess that I have never taken portraits before. I will try my best for them. The children all crowd round me and the little devils peep under my focussing cloth with their dirty little heads. The pretty children are shy and refuse to be taken, the ugly little beasts get in front and obscure the view. I shall go there today and try a few snapshots. But I have no hope of good work yet. By the time I get to Jerusalem I shall be far more expert. One thing I can't help noticing. In the Jewish quarter one is not plagued for "backsheesh" like one is elsewhere. This may be because I had the Rabbi's servant with me, but at all events it is the truth. One word of business. I hope you paid Halford and that you will pay income tax on April 1st. (It is over ?6 O.Od. Joslyn will give you the amount). Best love to you, Ever yours affectionately, Israel.' 'Shepheard's Hotel, March 18th 1898. 'My dear Fritz, There is nothing like a sea journey for making acquaintances. Here are the people I was on board with turning up at every step, and some are going in my boat to Jaffa and the rest will be a little later on in Jerusalem so that I shall not be with entirely fresh faces. They were hardly a lively lot, but still there were some very decent fellows among them, and I particularly like a Mrs. Nichol of Edinburgh, who is staying here overnight only. She was on board from Marseilles. I had a busy morning in Old Cairo. I saw the Geniza?there is a great deal left. I should</page><page sequence="9">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 9 not wonder that there is as much again as Schechter took. Possibly I may get permission to look through some of the residue on Sunday. Don't let this leak out yet?I may write an article for Myers3 on my visit to Old Cairo where the Geniza is. Perhaps I will write also another for him called "Friday in the Cairo Ghetto". I was there all the afternoon. I will not fill my letter up with what I saw in case I write the article, and you need not read it twice. I have at all events had a very full day. I have now taken 12 photos in Cairo, and shall know the result tomorrow. Developing is as cheap here as in London, and the result of these will give me a guide for Palestine. I think that I have over-exposed them, but it takes me a long time to learn that a mere flash does the trick. By the time I get home I shall be quite expert?I feel certain of it. Again I noticed that I do not get asked for baksheesh in the Jewish Quarter. Elsewhere the dear little babies who can't yet talk, hold out their pretty chubby hands. What a training in self-respect! The weather has been very strange today? exceedingly hot, with sand showers. They say these showers last 3 days usually. Hence it is a bad look out for tomorrow, when I am going with Dr. Nicholl (husband of the afore? mentioned lady) to the Gizeh Museum. It would be criminal not to go, as it is the greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world. But this will be my last expedition. On Sunday I go early to the Rabbi and perhaps to the Geniza again on that day, or more probably on Monday. On Tuesday morning I leave for Port Said. My experiences at the Geniza, as regards my photography, would make a cat laugh. One thing was serious. They all will get their heads under the focussing cloth. When I got back home, I smothered it in camphor. Some of them would see their own faces and were astonished that they could not. It was useless trying to explain that they could only see what was in front of the camera and not what was behind. They thought I was tricking them. The dragomans are an accursed race. I have as little to do with them as I can. One man in this hotel hired one as a regular job for a fortnight. He never turns up but sends a substitute, whom he sweats. Then they get commissions from all the shopkeepers in the Bazaar?enormous commissions of 50 per cent. You think that they are shouting and quarrel? ling to cut down the prices for you. They are really cutting up the commission for themselves. Last night about 150 people from this hotel, and I am told hundreds from other hotels, went to an Egyptian wedding. No one invited them, but the dragomans. The latter forced themselves on the hotel-stayers and thus were responsible for the latter's disappointment. As you know, weddings in the East are open to everyone?the banquet is spread for all? comers. But then it hardly means several hundreds of European strangers! Hence, the natives are finding it impossible to admit all the invaders, and last night many returned (having paid their dragomans) with hopes frustrated. I found out that what I witnessed the other day at the Rabbi's was a marriage. She was 28, he was 45. I have further ascertained that the usual marriage age for girls is 18-21?quite a respectable age. There are hardly any girls who do not marry. This is remarkable, but true?at least so I heard today. "Suppose no one will have them" I objected. "But someone does have them." There are some Jews with two wives, but not many. The reason for the second marriage is: no children after 10 years of wedded life. "Why not divorce wife A before marrying wife B?" I asked this question as a feeler. The reply was excellent: "Because he loves his wife A." I have put almost these very words in my book,4 and it is curious to have it confirmed. But if I write Myers the articles I will put these things into it. I will not write them till after I have seen the Rabbi again and perhaps revisited the Geniza. The latter is a hard job. The ride is long and the place very dusty indeed. Still duty must be done, and I did not come away on a pleasure jaunt. So if I must, I must. I sent you today a few photographs {not taken by me) and a card 3 Asher Myers, then Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, London. 4 Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (1896), ch. VII, pp. 117-118.</page><page sequence="10">10 Phyllis Abrahams to baby. I wrote to Sophy and cards to several people of the usual gang. Very best love to you my dear, Ever yours affectionately, Israel.' 'Shepheard's Hotel. Saturday, 19 March, 1898. 'My dear Wife, I have had the blues all day?and have been very lonely, especially as it is Saturday and I have not cared to go on any expedition. I walked 3 miles to the Great Museum, and in reward for my piety found it closed today because the Khedive attended a state function in an altogether different place. "Bokra" (Tomorrow) was all one could get out of the Arab in charge of the gate. So I trudged back another 3 miles through oceans of mud. There was rain in the night?and though this morning has been as fine as ever, there being no drainage, the rain remains. They bring round pumps and draw the liquid mud into the very same carts as they otherwise employ for conveying fresh water. This, as you may imagine, takes time and so the streets have been filthy all day. My photos have been mostly failures?but I have got one good one of a Synagogue interior. As to the others, they were all well focussed, but they were over-exposed. I shall do better next time. They do their best here at this hotel to keep their visitors in a good humour. There is excellent music during dinner, and all this afternoon we had a military band in front of the Hotel. Afternoon tea on the Veranda is a great function, for besides the hotel people, swarms of friends come from other hotels. The scene is bright and lively, but extremely noisy. A depressing thing is the absence of children. There are no children in Cairo (except native children of course). I have not seen 3 white children since I was here, always excepting the Jews' Quarter. How I miss our little dear's prattle. I have had no heart for anything today. Tomorrow may bring me relief in hard work if I can contrive to return to the Geniza. But I cannot tell whether I shall get the necessary authorisation. I shall not cry if I do not, but, between ourselves, it is a real sell Schechter pretending that he had brought away everything. I daresay they deceived him into believing that he had. The people near me at table are all interesting and affable, and there is no special reason why I should feel so utterly disconsolate as I do today. No special reason? A very special one indeed. I missed you when you left me to go to Harro? gate, but I miss you a hundred times more now that I am away from you. I do not think that I shall be able to endure it. Ever yours affectionately, Israel.' 'Shepheard's Hotel, Sunday, March 20, 1898 'My darling wife, I received your letter and card together this morning and they cheered me up very much. I feel much better since they arrived. When you write to Jerusalem, write full details of everything, you cannot imagine how it interests me and seems to bring you nearer. I am having a very lazy time today, but tomorrow my work will be cut out. I went to the Jewish Quarter and that is all I did. In this afternoon tomorrow I may return to the Geniza, but I am not certain. I shall certainly go to the Museum tomorrow morning. I have had my photos developed?they were mostly failures. But I think that I told you that already. I took two more today, which I think will also be bad, but I am pretty confident that my next lot will be successful. I take things here just as practice. You have to think of so many things that it is absolutely necessary to get into "form". There is first the speed of the plate, then the aperture of the lens, then the light, then the nature of the subject? all factors needing consideration, and I find that while I carefully attend to say 3 factors, I forget the 4th and spoil everything. But, as I say, I am getting into it. I feel that. Everything being so dear here, it is a com? fort to report something cheap. That is the cigarettes. I wish that I could smuggle a lot home: but it is too risky. For three shillings you get 100 large and excellent cigarettes; they would cost 8/- at least in London. I never smoked so many cigarettes in my life. Even if I smoke 25 a day (and I hardly think that</page><page sequence="11">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 11 I smoke anything like that) it costs just one half as much as a single decent cigar here. The cigars are as dear as the cigarettes are cheap. My donkey-driver did not turn up this morn? ing. I had hired him after a lot of efforts to escape. He sent his "brother". I promptly refused to accept the substitute. I bought a walking-stick, as I find I must have one for Jerusalem. The man asked me 3/- and ended by taking lOd. It was fully worth that, so I yielded then. They offer you matches at a Piaster (2Jd.) a box. Of course you say "Imshi" i.e., "get off with you". The boy follows you up for miles and ends by offering you 6 boxes for half a piaster! Just now I bought the "Daily News" of March 14th. The man wanted 3 piasters! He took 1, which is the price you have to pay everywhere for a Id. London paper. I need hardly tell you that I am buying absolutely nothing?its too absurd to see the way everyone is being cheated, and I have not seen a single object on sale that you cannot get at Libertys. So it would be a sin to waste one's money. But I rather fancy the notion of wearing a fez, and will buy one perhaps. I asked a man the price of some he had today and he wanted 6/-; I laughed at him and he got so angry that he actually refused my offer of 6d. with speechless indignation. It takes something to make one of these chaps speechless. Their volubility is amazing; they shout all day. They are extremely cruel to their horses. You hear nothing but whips cracking all day?literally without a moment's cessation. They drive so furiously that they often get the horses on the pavement: then over goes the horse, whack goes the whip till the poor thing finds its feet again. The driver makes absolutely no attempt to help the horse up. Crowds of people go and come to this hotel every day, but the season is obviously ending. There will be very few Europeans in Cairo by the end of the month. As a matter of fact my visit has synchronised with the most fashion? able part of the season. Hence, I suppose, every? thing is so dear. I am so glad that you enjoyed yourself at the dance. Go out whenever you get a chance. When we next go to a dance together I will not hang round you so much, and then people will ask you to dance. They don't like to when your husband sticks to you so closely as I do to you. So I must be more distant?to make up for it later on. I wish I could just have a kiss now; I pine for you. I don't say that I am getting thin?but I am pining mentally and morally. My appetite is so so: it will pass. People on board used to say that I had no appetite. Fortunately they have not seen much of me on shore or they would have seen their mistake. The Rabbi is to be photographed tomorrow in his Beth Din. He would not dream of letting me do it today because he said that he was not grandly dressed. Tomorrow he will be ready. He has paid me the sweetest compliment I have yet had. He told me that I seemed so skilful that I must be a professional! Ever your affectionate Israel' 'Shepheard's Hotel, Monday, 21st March, 1898. 'My dear Fritz, This will be my last letter from Cairo, as early tomorrow morning I take train for Port Said and then brave the ocean once more for the stormy crossing to Jaffa. It is the worst part of the trip, but only lasts 14 hours. After my former experience, 14 hours on the sea seems nothing. This morning I went to the Rabbi who had insisted on my returning to photograph him. He is a quick worker, but he objects to finishing one thing at a time. He likes to do a score of things together, and though he really gets through a mass of work in a forenoon, you have to wait an hour or two before he will come to the point. I noticed, however, that he had on his best clothes, so it looked pro? mising. I waited while he arranged half a dozen marriages and divorces, settled a quarrel about a basket of lemons between two noisy claimants, decided whether a certain infant boy 8 days' old could be safely operated on, answered an intricate shaala (question) on a point of Rabbinic law, and then was summoned forth to decide a question of Shechita. In an airy way he told me that he would be back in an hour. But, said I, I shall be gone in less than an hour. I cannot wait. Well then, said he, the</page><page sequence="12">12 Phyllis Abrahams butcher can, so he followed me into his salon or room where the Beth Din holds its more formal receptions. I should have said that during all his work, the Rabbi turns round to the crowd in the room (there is always a crowd there) and tells a witty story at intervals. No matter how long-faced people are when they enter, they always leave smiling. He really has a most charming manner. Incidentally he gave me a long discourse on Zionism, which from the political side he thinks ridiculous. He does not object to purchasing land for colonies but says he, "let us leave something for the Messiah to do." Well, we got into the salon, and then he insisted on being taken lifesize. I showed him the size of my plates and asked him whether he thought I could get a man of his proportions on to a piece of glass like that! He was somewhat flabbergasted, but saw that I spoke the truth and so I proceeded. I can't say whether the result was good, I imagine that I again over-exposed. I have since been making a lot of experiments in my room, and hope that I have now mastered the instrument. After lunch, I went out and saw a native Mohammedan wedding. The procession was the queerest thing conceivable. First came a number of masked men bearing funny bogies on long staffs, they capered about to the music of flutes and the banging of drums. Then came a long array of men on foot, all dressed up comically and with blazing colours. The sun was pouring down at the time and made the whole look wonderfully brilliant. Next was a long line of camels, some of them loaded with huge growing palms, others smothered in flowers, others buried under gay cloths and mirrors shining in the sunlight, others with jingling bells. Between each two camels was a sedan chair in which were seated the women and children?none of whom walked on foot. The foot people were all men. Of Bands there were at least 5, and mummers carrying inflated skins danced as the procession went along, and sometimes the whole array stopped for a few minutes to allow of a more elaborate perform? ance. All the time everyone was singing a different tune, clapping their hands and shout? ing, while hurdy gurdies or bagpipes were squealing their shrillest. It was a gay sight, and I think that, (although the wedding was by no means a "fashionable'' one) there were at least 300 participants in the show, to say nothing of the dense crowd of Europeans and natives who were mere spectators. The people in the balconies of the houses which the procession passed added to the general hilarity by inviting the procession to stay and perform; of course a small consideration of backsheesh followed. By the way, there are always women in the funeral processions of which I have seen several. But in this wedding array the only women were those in the sedan chairs. My next adventure was a donkey ride. It would not do to spend a week in Cairo and not use a donkey, so I hired one to take me to the citadel. I have just got back after 2\ hours on the beast. It wasn't bad, except that the driver kept prodding him behind and the donkey sometimes kicked and sometimes bolted, but the variety was not unpleasing. Then the saddle was loose and kept slipping, but I maintained my seat and my body erect like a gallant cavalier. I feel very stiff but exhilerated after the moke's prowess. The donkeys here are very fine animals, I should say, that is, as a general rule. My steed was an ex? ception. When the ride was over and I had paid, the man said "This not good donkey". But, I protested, that he had said that he had a very good donkey. "Yes, I have very good donkey, but I lent him to another gentleman". Well, well; I am leaving this den of cheats tomorrow. I hope the briny ocean will be as good to me as the donkey was. My next letter will be from Jerusalem. I am, Ever yours affectionately, Israel.' The Palestine Letters I must turn now to the letters from Palestine, which are both longer and more interesting from the historical point of view. I.A. landed in Jaffa on Wednesday, 23 March, and went straight to Jerusalem by the railway. 'Hotel Kaimnitz, Jerusalem. Friday 25th March, 1898. 'My dear Fritz, My telegram was only despatched this</page><page sequence="13">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 13 (Friday) morning, though I arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday night. The reason was that the telegraph office was closed on my arrival, and on Thursday morning I was suddenly told that the Alliance Girls' School was closing that day for a month. As I had promised to examine and report on this school, I had to hurry off there at 8 o'clock, and I remained till 5 (i.e. nine hours) examining the school. Overnight I sent a man with my telegram, but when I got back from the School, found that they had refused to send it as they did not understand what Affable meant. Then, in person, I went to the Post Office and found that in this delectable place they will not accept telegrams after 4 o'clock in any language but Arabic. I thought that you would hardly like a message in Arabic even if I could send it, so I had to wait till 8 o'clock this morning when I despatched it the first instant that I could. I had a lovely passage from Port Said to Jaffa. We were 16 hours, but the ship was as steady as a rock and everyone was happy. On board the ship, I met a son of Mr. Kaminitz who has an enormous family, ranging in ages from 30 to 3. I suppose he has had several wives! The landing at Jaffa was the most extraordinary experience through which I have yet passed. No wonder they cannot land people in rough weather. You have to get off into small boats which have to creep in through narrow channels between rocks. The delay with the luggage was most tedious. The sun was beating down with great vigour and yet we were from II to 3 getting off the ship and through the custom house to the station. They ran a special train to Jerusalem, and this took 3? hours to accomplish the 54 miles. But though the distance in a straight line is only 54 miles, the line goes at least thrice the distance as it winds round and round the hills, and passes through a valley all the way. The scenery is very lovely, and agreeably surprised me. So did the first view of Jerusalem. Though I have now been here 2 days, I have not yet been in the city. A great deal lies outside the walls, and I am seeing that now. I walked right round the walls yesterday afternoon after I had examined the Alliance School. It takes just 50 minutes, and there is a promenade right round all the way. In parts this road is filthy to the extreme, especially by the "Dung Gate" ?well called. But on the whole it is a charming walk and the ramparts of Jerusalem form a delightful view. Jerusalem is situated splend? idly, and I am sure only needs cleaning to become one of the finest cities in the world. But I have not yet been in it. I have only seen the Mt. of Olives, Gehinnom, and so forth, all interesting sites. Now as to this Jewish Hotel. It is too soon to speak yet, but my first impression is that the place is very clean and comfortable. It is in a far better situation than any other hotel, lies well out of the city, in the cleanest part, and has excellent gardens, and fine rooms. Every morning they send me some flowers for a button-hole. The sanitary arrangements are not perfect, but they are not so bad as I anticipated. I have made no terms with Kaminitz yet, but his son-in-law Cohn, says: "Don't you trouble. My father-in-law knows that it will pay him to treat you well. He will make it cheap for you". I don't see why I should object. But if things go on as they have done, I shall certainly do my best to puff the hotel. It is indeed comfortable and clean, and they all feel here that the Maccabeans greatly injured it and look to me to restore it in the good opinion of the English public. If it de? serves the restoration, I will do my best to give it. I am sending this off with no further news because this (Monday) morning I leave for Hebron, staying there overnight. On the route, I am to visit Beth Zacharias and Bethzur where two of Judas' battles were fought. I have much to tell and will write a longer letter next time. I have so far seen very much?and my 5 days in Jerusalem have been well spent in hard work. Of course I shall have at least another week here, (Passover). This week I shall be mostly away from Jerusalem. With best love to you and to all, I am, Ever yours affectionately, Israel. Of course I have been several times within the city now.'</page><page sequence="14">14 Phyllis Abrahams The Evelina School The school referred to was of course the one commonly called the Evelina School, founded by Baron Lionel de Rothschild in 1868 and transferred to the charge of the A.J.A. in 1894, and I.A. writes about it again later. In the printed Annual Report of the A.J.A. for 1898/9 we read that Mr. Israel Abrahams 'favoured the Association with a most useful report' on the Evelina School. We are told that 'the cleanliness and general aspect of the children impressed him most favourably, and the defects he saw were chiefly due to a want of sufficiently trained teachers. He also pointed out the advantage that would accrue to the school if a properly appointed Local Inspector were chosen to pay occasional visits and to report to the Association on the general progress of the school.' It will be remembered that Miss Annie Landau was sent out from this country early in 1899, and Herr Adelmann was appointed to serve as Local Inspector. In the A.J.A. printed Annual Reports for the years 1897-1900 there are several references to Israel Abrahams' report on the Evelina School; unfortunately I have not been able to find any trace of the actual document itself. Let us now return to the end of March, 1898, and to I.A.'s description of the tour of the Maccabean battlefields, which was, after all, the main object of his visit to Palestine. 'Kaimnitz Hotel, Jerusalem. Sunday April 2nd 1898. 'My darling, I have had all your letters and they were a real comfort to me. Mother's and father's letters were also a taste of the home to which I now look forward with eagerness. I shall leave Jaffa on April 19th, and arrive in London about 7 or 8 days later. This is a few days less than my leave of absence from the J.C. Do not tell everyone, as I shall need the few days for quietness and rest. From the moment of my arrival here I have been hard at work. In the broiling heat, exploring Jerusalem has not been easy. But I will reserve my remarks about Jerusalem itself till my next letter. I cannot help repeating that the Kaminitz Hotel is extremely clean and comfortable and that the complaints about it are in the main untrue. I have seen hosts of Synagogues, and Institutions but I am sure that you would prefer to hear of my doings regarding my especial purpose in coming here, namely the Maccabean matters. Well, last Monday I left Jerusalem for Hebron, for on that road lie two places where Maccabean battles were fought. I hired a carriage for 2 days for 35 francs?this was very cheap as the horses were very good and the coachman a gem. He was a Jew?in fact the only good drivers in Jerusalem are Jews. They drive quite as fast as the Cairo rascals, but with much greater skill and care. My compan? ions were a Mr. Meyuhas, a Mr. Yellin and a Mr. Adelmann, all agreeable, clever, sociable people. Yellin is the best-natured man I know, Adelmann is a somewhat inferior Schechter. He was a school fellow of Schechter and resembles him in many ways. We took with us a good luncheon and started at 6 o' clock. We saw the Grave of Rachel and the Pools of King Solomon on the way, and had a distant view of Bethlehem and then turned off the main road, leaving the carriage while we went for 1 \ hours trudge on foot through stony fields to the right. We soon struck a path and a little further on could see the ruins of a castle?Beth Zacharias. An Arab who showed us the way declared that it was so called because the prophet Zechariah was buried there? but they always invent these legends. It was the scene of one of Judas Maccabeus' battles; and the view from the ruin was superb. It was a broiling hot day, but on the height the cool wind tempered the heat. At the foot of the hill was the Wad Sur, a deep valley, running round the hill on all sides?the hill has two brows, thus o + "O" is Beth Zacharias and " + " is Kozeba, where Bar Cochba was born. We could see the great Gaza road, the Philistine land and opposite the hills which in the distance looked</page><page sequence="15">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 15 like the white waves of the sea. The Syrians came up through the valley with a mighty array of elephants, in the valley between the hills, through which elephants could easily have passed. The battle must have been fought on the slope just below the present ruin. The hill was bright with flowers when we saw it. The field is full of fallen pillars, many more than previous accounts state, some 8 or 9 feet long. There was evidently at one time an important monument or structure here. I will not trouble you with further details of the battle at present. But you will be glad to hear that my photograph of the hill is very good. It was all very peaceful when we saw it, the flowers and the ploughmen singing Arabic love songs, and a group of peasants on the ruins. By the way, if the Zionists want something to do why not erect memorials on the Macca? bean sites ? As we returned to the main road a camel took fright and ran on in front of our carriage for miles till an Arab stopped it. We had our lunch near a miserable shanty at 1 o'clock. The heat was intense but we could not go inside the hut; it was a sort of refreshment booth, but it swarmed with insects of various sizes and species. Nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and ate and drank heartily. Then we resumed the journey to Hebron till we reached Bethzur?another Maccabean battle. This ruin was fortunately nearer the road, or, in the heat, we should have been half killed. I must say that the heat is very hard to bear, but I am getting acclimatised. Still I have suffered very much from it? but only the temporary inconvenience of faintness and thirst. I felt very ill one day, but I have since worn a bedouin get-up wrapped round my head and shoulders and now brave the sun with impunity. Of Bethzur a ruin remains which I photographed very success? fully. The hill was simply carpeted with pop? pies. At the fort there is a delightful spring, gushing with the clearest, coolest water imagin? able. The hill of Bethzur is separated by the present Hebron road from the spring, but the original fortification must have included the spring. Then we continued our journey to Hebron, arriving there at 6, after a 12 hours trip in the hot sun. You talk of snow-storms: well, we would not have objected to one at Bethzur. Hebron is beautifully situated. After hours and hours through a barren, rocky country, you come upon hills covered with vineyards and olive trees. All round the dark hills tower, and in [the] hollow lies Hebron. The old town probably stood on one of the hills. Everywhere are stone-fences, for wood is very rare. In the plain by the sea which I have since visited all the hedges are of cactus?stone being rare in the Shephelah or lowlands between the hills and the sea. You meet donkeys everywhere laden with big stones, one slung on each side. The Jewish population of Hebron according to Baedeker is 500. But it is really 1500. Hebron is in a beautiful, healthy situation and suffers from very little of the intermittent fever which fills the Palestine hospitals in summer. (I have seen several hospitals). The Jews in Hebron are poor because they have lent money to the Arabs, and the Government will not help the usurers to recover their debts. I just mentioned the rocks. Everywhere in Judaea (except in the Shephela[h] (of which I will write in my next letter)) there is nothing but rocky hills. Stones, stones everywhere. They look as if they had been showered down from heaven, they cover the slopes so, and sometimes seem like one giant sepulchre. Not a tree to be seen for miles upon miles. Yet it has all happen? ed through neglect?or if not all, much. The rain washes all the soil off the hills into the valleys and leaves the hills bare. But where they have built terraces as it were round the hills, with stoney [sic] borders, the soil is retained and vines and olives flourish. Well, we arrived at Hebron at 6. Where were we to stay? There is no hotel. Mr. Adelmann knows the Jewish doctor there, a Dr. Jermans and we went to him. He at once welcomed us, made up four beds, gave us supper and cigarettes and treated us most hospitably. He has two little girls and one boy, the eldest about 6. They have all run wild, as there are absolutely no educated people in Hebron. The Doctor's children ran about the house and streets bare-footed with very dirty faces and</page><page sequence="16">16 Phyllis Abrahams frocks. Yet the house was clean, the floors as usual stone, and the roofs vaulted. I did not sleep a wink all night. No sooner had I lain down than a most fearful howling began. All the dogs came out scouring the streets and a more horrible scaring noise can hardly be imagined. I have often read of this, but one's first experience of an Oriental dog concert shatters one's nerves. In Jerusalem I never hear such noises, but in Hebron it was madden? ing. Another curiosity was that when, before going to bed, I proposed a little walk, the Dr. assented and brought out a lot of lanterns. No one may go out after dark without a lantern. In Jerusalem this rule applies only to women; no English or other lady goes out in Jerusalem at night without an Arab man? servant carrying a lantern. In Hebron the same rule applies to men. Dr. Jermans is not a Zionist. In fact, very many of the Jews have repudiated Herzl and all his ways. I rather expected to find the fox-tail fable repeated here. "'We are here so you must all come too." But the foxes who have lost their tails do not seem anxious that their brethren should similarly mutilate themselves. But I can assure you that I could easily reconcile myself to living in Palestine. But not in Hebron. For I have an awful tale to tell. After I had seen the cave of Macpelah, Abraham's Oak, Sarah's Well, and the usual hoaxes, I went to the Jewish quarter. Nothing could be more disgusting. Dirty, dark, narrow, covered lanes; a camel lying down in its filth in one, the child? ren in their filth in another. Jerusalem is clean by comparison and that is saying some? thing! At every step you nearly break your neck over the slippery, slimy stones with which the lanes are paved roughly. You need the flat, heelless, native shoes to walk here with any safety. The native children by the way, throw stones at all strangers, and we had an escort of 5 people: 2 soldiers, and 3 others. When the tour was over I gave the soldiers 3d. each and they were profusely grateful. Our Jewish guides refused all payment. The 9 of us made some sensation, I can tell you. I cannot tell you all that I saw, but must restrict myself to the Jewish quarter. It is entered by a small wooden door, to enter which one has to stoop, after knocking to have it unlocked. Through a street so dark that we could not see a foot before us, we passed into an open court into which the light crept down and made the dirt more visible. Dirt, indescribable, reeking, foul, noisome. (The door of [the] ghetto need not be kept locked now, but it still is). I saw the Synagogues?all dirty; the school, a small, dark room, children on [a] platform of wood which went round three sides of the room and left a hole in the middle for entrance, no window in the school room at all. I saw a dark, dirty Mikvah, the sight of which made you feel dirty for life. I went into one of the dwellings. One room, opening on the dark street, with a little barred window, at the side opposite door. Furniture, a broad bed on left, a huge pitcher on right, a few cooking utensils, a cupboard, and in the middle of the room a deep pool of liquid mud, occupying all the space not filled by the other dirt. Streets within streets, dwelling over dwelling, dirt within dirt; once we could not pass because a man was coming the other way and we had to wait. Two people cannot pass in some of the streets. Through another street a perfect stream of mud flowed and we could not cross it; a guide carried me over. Smell nauseating, children waddling in it, an ass rolling through! Then we emerged into the sunlight and saw the beautiful olives crowning the noble hills round Hebron. What a disgrace that the town should so discredit its natural beauties. I naturally asked whether Hebron is always so dirty. I find that there are seasons in the dirt of Oriental cities. They are always dirty, but after heat they are dirtier and after rain dirtiest. Here I must break off for the present. Since then I have been to Modin and other Macca? bean places. I was 14 hrs. on horseback one day. I have been bitten by a million mosquitoes in a million places on my hands, arms and face. I have seen several Jewish colonies, have been at a ball in one of them which lasted all night, and tomorrow I am off to Jericho and the Dead Sea at 6 o'clock. I can assure you that I have had no night's rest for a week, yet I am well, and not tired. But it is real hard work.</page><page sequence="17">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 17 Your letters are so welcome. Write everyday. Mails come here twice a week. If you write up to and including April 11 th I shall certainly get your letters. If you write on the 12 th address me at Kaminitz Hotel Jaffa. After the 12th no letter, I fear, will reach me, as I leave on the 19th for Europe, home and you. Give my love to all. I am given no time for letter-writing, but will try to make time. You see, I do not get back from Jericho till Tuesday night, and I must spent Wednesday (Ereb Pesach) in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. It will try my nerves, and sense of smell but I must do it. What a pity some one does not invent a camera to take smells! My photographs are all more or less useless, but luckily enough I have so far succeeded exactly with those which are of the greatest importance. I have bought about 100 beautiful photographs made here by people whose work is quite unknown, and is far better than that on sale in England. They are not dear. Though very large, they are only 5 francs (= 4/-) a dozen. Give my love to mother and father and the boys. I have had letters from Myers, Haes and Sophy. What a bore Ada's returning! And how strange about Abraham and Jules. They might have told us! Kiss the dear baby. I miss you both and all at home more and more, but I feel happier now that I know that my return is practically fixed. Ever yours affectionately, Israel. P.S. With all the dirt, Palestine is a beautiful country. I am more enchanted with it every hour.' A Doctor's Wonderful Work A fuller account of the archaeological side of the tour can be read in a paper called 'A Visit to Hebron' which my father published in his book The Book of Delight and Other Papers (Jewish Publication Society of America: Philadelphia, 1912). Here too he wrote much about Dr. Jermans: 'The Jewish doctor was doing a wonderful work. He had exiled himself from civilized life, as we understand it; his children had no school to go to, he felt himself stagnating . . . yet [he was] active, kindly, uncomplaining . . . one of those everyday martyrs one meets so often among the Jews of Judea ... I said that his house had seemed an oasis in the desert to me, that I could never forget the time spent with him. "And what of me?" he answered. "Your visit has been an oasis in the desert to me, but you go and the desert remains!"' The story of Dr. Jermans' life and work merit a lecture in themselves. Through the kindness of Mr. Jose Bentwich, I was able to get in touch with Mrs. Reuveni, one of the little girls who were 'running wild' in Hebron more than 60 years ago. Mrs. Reuveni, who is herself a grandmother, remembered my father's visit very distinctly, and told me that her parents often talked about it after his departure. She sent me a great deal about the life of her father and his family, from which I can only give you the barest summary of the most essential facts. Medical Work in Hebron Aaron Joseph Jermans was born in Wilna in 1859. He lost his father at an early age, and was brought up by his grandparents in an orthodox atmosphere. He remained a practising orthodox Jew all his life, but was always interested in the Haskalah and the early Zionist movements. He married the daughter of a rich businessman who was not at all opposed to the trend towards assimilation, which was a real danger to Russian Jewry. Dr. Jermans reacted against this suicidal tendency with all the force of his generous and pure soul. After a period of preparation in Turkey, he betook himself to the Holy Land, together with his young wife, and devoted himself to the medical care of the poorest of our brethren in Hebron, remaining there for fifteen years (from 1890 to about 1905). Accord? ing to his daughter, Dr. Jermans was subsidised, or employed, while in Hebron, by the A.J.A., but I have not been able to find any confirma? tion of this in the records of the A.J.A. His life in Hebron was finally brought to an end by the action of his wife, who, finding that she could not educate the children in Hebron, removed them to Jerusalem, where she sup</page><page sequence="18">18 Phyllis Abrahams ported them for a while by teaching, until her husband joined her there. Dr. Jermans died in the year 1924. You may have noticed that in his letter, my father states that 'Dr. Jermans is not a Zionist'. Commenting on this, Mrs. Reuveni remarks that Judaism preceded Zionism, 'ha-yahaduth qadmah la-tsionuth'; her father was 'a religious and a nationalist Jew', who deliber? ately chose to emigrate to Palestine, when many of his relations were going to America, before the birth of official Zionism. He was one of the signatories of a proclamation of welcome to Dr. Herzl when he visited Jeru? salem. From this little episode, budding histor? ians may, I think, learn that it is sometimes unwise to trust too much to the evidence of the eye-witness, the man on the spot?even the most intelligent eye-witness may make a mistake! We are not told in what language they conversed; it was probably a mixture of German, French, and Hebrew. Perhaps in the circumstances it is surprising that they understood one another so well. The two men evidently made a great impression on one another, for each of them remembered this single meeting for many years. David Yellin's Tribute Before finally leaving this letter, I cannot resist quoting a few sentences from a letter written to my mother by the late David Yellin in 1925, shortly after the death of my father: T have lost a real and true friend whose friend? ship I enjoyed for the last 30 years. During the whole of this long period it was always a great pleasure for me to remind myself of our first meeting here in Palestine when during a whole fortnight we traversed the country together in the footsteps of Judas Maccabeus during his campaign. I then realised how great was his love for this great period in our history, and when we visited the colonies I saw how keen he was on the idea of the regeneration of our people.' In his next letter, dated 6 April, the writer describes his visit to Jericho and the Dead Sea. 'Jerusalem, April 6, 1898. 'My darling Fritz, I had intended to write to you all about my Modin trip, but that must wait till I see you. To write everything would require as much time almost as to see it, and I am giving myself very little time for such luxuries as writing to you. I am almost always up at 5 and off by 6, and then am travelling and seeing things all day. I had thought that I should have a com? paratively quiet time of it on Passover, but I find that I shall have to rush about everywhere, seeing people and things. In this letter I will tell you about my trip to the Jordan and the Dead Sea. I went on Monday with a Mr Weil, a Frankfort Jew staying in this hotel. He spends almost all his year travelling?is rich and unmarried? but though he has been 6 weeks in Egypt, and is prolonging his travel to almost all the world, he quarrels with people over a penny! It is this type of German that makes that people so disliked, and I think that the type is the predominant one. We started at 6 o'clock?as it is quite impos? sible to travel between 12 and 2 the heat is so intense. (To-day, however, in Jerusalem, is quite cold. There has been a fall in the temp? erature of 40? since yesterday! It is quite imperative to have both warm and cool clothes here, and though my luggage was extensive, I have not had a thing too much, except perhaps notebooks). Well, we overtook many pilgrims on asses, and caravans with tents for English parties? all going to Jericho. We also saw a lot of pilgrims on foot?those on the asses were mostly Russian women, extremely ugly and dirty. The heat began to grow excessive at 7 o'clock a.m., and yet the pilgrims had with them many children who were entirely without hats or any protection for the head. This no doubt hardens them, but it is a cruel discipline. Weil, meantime, sat, German-like, with his thick winter overcoat on. You descend lower and lower to Jericho, for the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on the surface of the earth, it is very much below the sea level. The character of the land changes. You</page><page sequence="19">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 19 can see that you are in a well-watered country and that the old praise of Jericho as a paradise must have been deserved. Everywhere you see green hills, and fertile fields, uncultivated of course, for even Jericho is now a desert. Down the deep ravines you hear the rush of water, but cannot see it, so steep are the hills on all sides. You can catch glimpses of the Dead Sea long before you reach it, it seems to get farther and farther off as you proceed. Gradually you come to the Jordan valley, and at Jericho for the first time in S. Palestine you come across some goodly trees. It is a real delight once more to see clear, running water, lined by green bushes and trees. We put up at the "Jordan Hotel" and then took an early lunch (at 11) and decided to wait till 2 o'clock before going fur? ther. But I remembered that I had heard of some Jewish gardeners in Jericho and went to find them during our interval of rest. I easily discovered them?five families growing fruit and vegetables?potatoes, melons etc. (I have a full list in my note book). We found them all at work in the fields, their wives helping?in good, earnest agricultural fashion. (Very different this to the Rishon Lezion and some others of the colonies. At Rishon I saw the fields full of men at work, but they were all Fellaheen?no Jews. The only Jew on the field was holding an umbrella and looking on). These Jericho gardeners work hard, but I am sorry to say that they are as great at grumbling and begging as at working, and somehow the visit to them was less pleasant than it might have been. But they, their wives and their houses were spotlessly clean, and in this land of dirt cleanliness covers a multitude of sins. Then I returned to the Hotel and we drove over an expanse of waste land (crying out for cultivation) to the Jordan. It was like a furnace?a dry, merciless heat, 113?Fahrenheit at 3 o'clock. The sand glistens white with saltpetre from the Dead Sea. We saw many pilgrims at the Jordan ford, the water here being miry and far from clear. A priest offered to baptise us at a low rate, beggars pestered us with bottles for carrying away samples of Jordan water, they wanted us to buy stones from the shore, and Lord knows what rubbish besides. Some of the pilgrims put on white garments and went bodily into the water? a baptism that they seemed to need much. For once a religious enthusiasm has a cleanly end: but the whole scene is dirty and loathsome. Then we drove to the Dead Sea. It seems deep blue from afar, and deep green near. It is a beautiful sight?quite unlike what I expected. The water dashes up in waves on the sand, the hills on either side, mist covered at the top, are awfully majestic. The old fables about the Dead Sea are ridiculous. I saw birds flying over it?you know they used to say that any bird that flew across died on the way. There are no fish in it. We had a lovely bathe in the sea?it is extremely easy to swim in it?its so much denser than ordinary water. The only difficulty is to keep your feet down, they always will rise to the surface. The look of the water is delicious, the taste is nauseating. After bathing you feel oily and salty?in fact it does not feel like water at all. The shore was covered with beautiful stones? too big to bring away?but I have taken 2 or 3 chips. We returned to the hotel at 7 and had a meal. Mr Weil had the table d'hote, but I had only an omelette. The children of the village came round the door, danced very prettily, clapping their hands rhythmically and singing Arabic choruses. Of course they wanted bakshish. Jericho is a decrepid old village?no houses, only huts?of stone walls and roofs of undressed canes covered with rude matting and plaster. Only one storey, but that is mostly the case in Palestine. It was quite impossible to walk through the village because all the children came begging. It was pitiable to see the mothers urging them on to beg?the grown-ups did not beg themselves. The Oriental child always asks for "Bakshish" without the least hope of getting it. They are trained not to lose a chance. When you refuse they smile most amiably as much as to say, "I knew you wouldn't, but it cost me nothing to try". The village was full of baby goats waiting for the mothers to come home?wailing and whining. It was pretty to see the little mites of children coming out to carry the baby goats home?the goats resisted frantically. The horses were winnowing [sic], the donkeys</page><page sequence="20">20 Phyllis Abrahams braying, the goats whining, the children beg? ging, the visitors chirruping in every language and dressed in most extraordinary costumes? and the insects were buzzing. O to tell of the dreadful night we passed! Every three minutes another species of insects came to torment us in some different way. A wretched little sandfly here is worse than 1000 mosquitoes?it is a mere mite but stings like a herd of mosquitoes. The bed-room was a furnace?all windows open but no air. The water and other drinks (especi? ally other drinks) were hot to suffocating point. All night long, too, a noise went on outside. Stablemen quarrelling, horses neighing?(the horses were all encamped in the open, under the windows of the hotel), it was perfectly intolerable. We got up at 4, and started back for Jerusalem at 5. We had "high" eggs for breakfast and had to pay a proportionately high bill. On our way home we visited Bethany, but like all the Christian sights here, perfectly uninteresting to a Jew. Best love to you and to all. I leave in 13 days now for home. Ever yours affectionately, Israel.' Gardeners in Jericho I was interested in the mention of the Jewish gardeners of Jericho in 1898, and am glad to record that, again through the kindness of Mr. Jose Bentwich, I was able to get in touch with one of the survivors, Mr. Ezra Mizrachi. He wrote to me from the General Consulate of Panama in Tel-Aviv as follows: 'In 1893 my father, Moses Mizrachi, and his two brothers Haim and Simon, came with their families to Jerusalem from Aleppo, in Syria. Moses Mizrachi opened a small store in Jerusalem, but it did not prosper; he went to Jericho in 1895 and opened a store, bartering piece goods with the Arabs for food? stuff and dried fruits. In 1896 his two brothers took over the store, and Moses Mizrachi turned to Agriculture. He bought 100 dunams of land near Elisha Fountain; part of the land was planted with orange trees, and on the rest they planted potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant; on another part of the land he was successful in cotton plantation which he used to send to Egypt, but the transportation was very costly and then he gave it up. The whole family used to help in the plantations including the children.' It was doubtless this family that was seen by my father in 1898, although the details do not altogether fit; he talks of five families, while there was in reality only one family actually engaged in agriculture; a number of relatives and others were shopkeepers in Jericho, and some members of these families may have been seen helping their friends at work in the fields. Experiences in Jerusalem Two final letters, dated 10 April and 18 April, describe I.A. 's further experiences in Jerusalem. 'April 10th 1898 'Jerusalem Hotel My dear Fritz, I am afraid that you will find my letters from Jerusalem unsatisfactory, but impression so crowds on impression that it is very difficult to put down anything clear. When I am away and can think over everything I shall be better able to organise my ideas and extract a picture. Here as in Cairo, I am subjected to no begging from Jews. But there is a difference. There is much indirect begging here. Everyone asks me to beg for them. The people who are the most notorious beggars in Europe are here respectable members of Societies themselves, paying up and enjoying a reputation for disinterestedness. They do not eat one another, but prefer a dish of Europeans. As to the Societies here, they fill every street. Just as the man who could not see the forest because of the trees, so you cannot see Jerusalem because of the Societies. I have been asked to join several, but in vain is the net spread. I have my dear wife's sage counsel to guide me, and a little fear of my dear wife's tongue were I to yield to the importunations of the Society-mongers here. I think that I have already told you that one feels here how impossible Zionism is? unless of course Zion is abandoned from the dream. Even while I have been here, new</page><page sequence="21">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 21 Russian, French and German buildings are being begun. All the best sites are bought by Christians, and there is little available for the Jews. Of course there is the Jaffa suburb. But this is far from the city. This suburb extends from the Jaffa gate along the Jaffa Road?the present hotel is about midway between the gate and the remotest building which is the new Jewish Home for the Aged (not yet finished). This part of the road is full of Jewish houses. On a Saturday evening the scene is very lively. The road is the only promenade of the city, and probably half the Jews live here. It gives the lie to those who always associate Judaism with dirt. Here live Jews of all types?Russians, Bokhara Jews, Yemenites, Persians, etc. (By the way I saw 2 Yemenite girls, 9 years old, already married). Looking back from Sh?araim, as the Jaffa Road is called at its junction just above the ruined watch tower, one sees several large groups of clean new dwellings, with sloping roofs of red tile?very unlike the domed plaster so common in the city?: gardens, and open spaces abound. The air is clear and untainted, and in the cool of the evening there is no dust. The people pass and repass in all costumes? (by the way, again, many here also wear European dress all the week, revert to Oriental costume on Sabbaths and Festivals). There is nothing in the world, I should think, quite like the Jerusalem costumes. There is more variety, less brilliancy than in Cairo. It is an idealised East End of London. The people bring all the costumes of the world here, then borrow from each other, and thus in the end I have no doubt that a Jerusalem type of costume will evolve itself. Each man plays several parts. I have just given you one instance. Now I meet the same people on the same day at different houses (I pay lots of visits) and find them differently dressed. Especially does this apply to the head-dress. A man wears different styles to suit his hosts. This is not a common thing, but it occurs often enough to excite one's notice. The effect is rather ludicrous?but they could earn a living as quick-change artistes. The Evelina School has given me much trouble. I have not yet finished my investiga? tions. I can't write fully about it?it would not be very interesting and would need page upon page. I will only say that the attempt to teach the children in 4 languages at once is ridiculous. Yesterday I met a clever little girl who goes to the school. I asked her what she learns first lesson of the morning? She answered "Histoire Cinq" (meaning of course "Histoire Sainte"). This is a specimen of how the children's minds are muddled. Many people here speak Hebrew. / am going to lecture in Hebrew on the last day of the holiday. I have translated my lecture with the help of Yellin who is one of the nicest fellows in the world. People here are now beginning to find out that I am in Jerusalem and I get no respite from callers. But I am not unskilful in shunting the bores. I have to go to Emmaus tomorrow. Start at 5 a.m. This is almost my last Mac cabean visit. Jabuch remains for the last. Today I am to attend two meetings and see some of the poorest houses in the city. I had all the family letters?it was very good of everyone. I enjoyed each and all. But if I do not answer them they will know its because I get no chance. I really am working hard to justify my costly journey. But I may be able to write to some of them. Give my best love to everyone of them, to your dear parents, to Jules, David, Charley and Richie. I miss you all very much. Yours affectionately, Israel.' 'Hotel Palestine. Jaffa. April 18, 1898. 'My dear Fritz, I hardly know whether you will receive this letter before my arrival or not. I know that I have not written much to you from here but I will have all the more to tell you on my return home. My Hebrew lecture5 was a great success, and there was quite a large audience. The Library6 was packed, and they all said that my Hebrew delivery was exceptionally clear and precise and that it was a pleasure to listen! An amusing incident was the attempt of some 5 'Medieval Wayfaring'?English original in Book of Delight. 6 This was the Central Library, founded in 1892 by Dr. Joseph Chasanovitz, of Bialystok.</page><page sequence="22">22 Phyllis Abrahams ladies to attend. They were promptly driven out in good Jerusalem fashion; but seriously their presence would have caused much trouble. Several of the most orthodox Rabbis were present by invitation and they would have regarded the presence of women as a pre? meditated insult. A similar incident has just occurred. An Italian Jewess, a singer, has just been in Jerusalem and Mr. Kaminitz had the idea of arranging a concert. The Rabbis announced a Cherem (excommunication) against everyone who attended. This serves the "enlightened" party right. In their zeal against the Missions, they recently succeeded in getting the Rabbis to threaten with excommunication every Jew or Jewess who went to the Mission Hospital. Now the Rabbis have tasted blood and find that the Cherem has not lost all its power. As to Mr. Kaminitz, his treatment of me has been wonderful. He has only charged me 6/- (six shillings) a day. If he had charged much more, I don't know what I should have done. As it is I shall actually have a few pounds to come home with?a triumph indeed. By the way. Dr. F. must wait for the books till I return. (I have had all your lovely and loving letters? they have been a splendid comforter but I shall soon be with you, and that is better). Since I last wrote I have been most active. I have been to Emmaus, and have visited all the Jewish Colonies in Judea. (I have not been to those in the N. of Palestine, of course). Some of them I have now visited more than once and I think that I know something about them. I have in all of them examined the Schools. Talking of the Schools, the Evelina business has given me much trouble and will give me more. I shall have a great deal to tell you of this when I get home. I have now slept overnight at two Colonies. Sunday night I was at Katra?had not a pleasant time of it. On Sunday I was at Jabuch, and there had an adventure. The people were very fanatic and refused to allow us to see anything, but we persisted and in spite of heavy showers of stones from the boys and vituperation from men who swore that we were desirous of invading their filthy harems?we succeeded in seeing most of what we desired. Jabuch was not only of interest to me from its prominence in the Maccabean war, but also because of its connection with the Synhedrin. It is a beautiful place in the plain and with the hills of Judea in the east and the sea in the west. Tomorrow morning I go on board. I hope the journey will not be too tempestuous, but there is a wind. I think the letter will get home before I do, as the French Steamer is slow, waiting a day at Port Said and nearly 2 days at Alexandria. My letters have been but scraps of what I have to tell you. You can't imagine how hard I have worked. The people in Jerusalem were wonder? fully kind to me?Indeed, I only hope that not many of them will ever come to London as I can never return what they have done. With best love to you and hopes of a very speedy reunion, I am yours affectionately, Israel' Acknowledgments We have come now to the end of the journey. The writer of these letters, still so young in heart and mind, returned in peace to his much-loved wife and child. The letters were safely put away in their hiding-place. Time passed?a second daughter was born (your lecturer of tonight), and soon afterwards the family moved to Cambridge. Israel Abrahams died in 1925; 34 years later, his wife followed him, and it was then that the letters were found again, as I have described. It only remains for me to express my most sincere thanks to all those who have helped me to prepare this paper: Leonard Montefiore, Norman and Jose Bentwich, the President and Secretary of the A.J.A., Mrs. Reuveni, Mr. Ezra Mizrachi, and many others too numerous to name.</page><page sequence="23">Letters of Israel Abrahams from Egypt and Palestine in 1898 23 APPENDIX Israel Abrahams sent two postcards and a letter from France when he set out: The letter explains the reference in his Cairo letter of March 16. [March 9, 1898.] 'Calais. 'Got over all right. Very rough, wet and windy, but I with a dozen others stopped on deck and we were the only ones not ill. Best love. Am off for Paris now. Israel.' 'Nearing Paris. Very hungry, have had no food yet, but hope for some soon. All in this compartment have been similarly famished. Boat was late at Calais. The ground between Amiens and Paris is thickly covered with snow. Carriage, however, is warm enough, but as all are English, we have the windows open. I will write tomorrow, from Marseilles. We travel all night. Best love, Israel.' 'Nr. Marseilles. Thursday 9 a.m. [March 10.] In the Train. 'My darling, It has been a rather wearisome business, continuous train, boat, train from eleven yesterday till 9 today. I do not yet know what I am to do at Marseilles, but hope to find Cook's man and get information from him. So far, we have passed nothing of the slightest interest, except Avignon, where one gets a good view of the old Papal Palace. But you would probably like fuller details of my trials and experiences so far. My card told you that the crossing was very bad, but strange to tell I did not feel a qualm. This was because I braved the wind and rain, but I preferred external to internal sufferings. The sailors said that everyone who went below was ill. At Calais I got a through carriage for Marseilles. In the carriage are a parson, a medieval girl, (not engaged to him but would like to be), she is always getting a Psalm book out and mumbling a hymn to attract him. They are travelling with her father. Then there is another female, separated from the rest of her party who are in another part of the train. This was our company as far as Paris where I had a square meal. At Paris, our carriage filled up by the arrival of a newly married couple. I thought her very pretty. This morning I altered my opinion. She is all paint and powder and looks deplorable. At Lyon we stopped at 4.30 and had some coffee. The thieves charged 1 franc a cup. None of us slept a wink all night. I should tell you that I have got on famously with my French. The weather is very bleak and wet?I fear the worst for my Mediterranean passage. I shall probably stop a day at Alex? andria. I will telegraph only one word, no signature. "Affable" is the word?it means Arrived in Fine Form Accept Best Love Fver. Please do accept my best love. I have missed you very much already. Give my love to mother and the baby and to all, Ever yours affectionately, Israel.'</page></plain_text>

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