The cover photograph comes from the archive of Herbert and Leni Sonnenfeld. Herbert (1906-1972) was a Berlin-born photojournalist who, with his wife, Leni (1907-2004) chronicled Jewish life in Germany until they fled the Nazis in 1939. The couple tried to immigrate to Palestine, then under British Mandatory rule, but were denied entry. They settled in the United States and went on to photograph Jewish communities in Iran, Morocco, and Spain. The Sonnenfeld photographs of Jewish settlers in Palestine in the mid-1940s helped to shape the image – and self-image – of the state of Israel.
This picture was not taken in Palestine but in Germany in 1935 at the Ruednitz youth aliyah (Aliyat Hanoar) camp. This pre-immigration training center allowed young people to test their ability to live collectively and do the demanding agricultural work of kibbutz life in the land of Israel.
The image haunts me: Did some of these dancing teenagers make it to Israel? Did any of them?
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