||Photographic essay on the homecoming of the Jews of Yemen to Erez Israel after thousands of years. The volume, which has the header, ingathering of exiles, opens with a map of the Middle East highlighting Yemen and Erez Israel. The fist part of the book is moving photographs with captions of the history and the arrival of the Yemenite Jews in the Holy Land. Next are photographs of individuals with accompanying text describing the Yemenite Jewish experience, concluding with more photographs of Yemenite Jews in Israel working the ground and becoming Israeli citizens.
Throughout their history, the Jews of Yemen had ties with the Jewish settlement in Erez Israel. The first immigrants came to Jerusalem in August 1881 to establish a separate community there; in contrast to previous immigrants from Yemen they blended with the Sephardi community. Many others from Yemen joined this community, most of them from San'a and settled first in the Old City of Jerusalem and from 1885 in new neighborhoods built specially for them outside the walls, like Kefar ha-Shiloah, Mishkenot, and Naḥalat Ẓevi. In 1908, Yemenite Jews in Jerusalem numbered more than 2,500, constituting an independent community after attaining a firman from the Ottoman government. Some of the immigrants settled in Jaffa and there established a smaller community (350 in 1903). In 1908 village Jews of north Yemen started to immigrate and settle in young Hebrew moshavot like Reḥovot. Like them, thousands of immigrants who came from the south of Yemen (Shar'ab), following the mission of Shemu'el Yavne'eli, settled in most of the moshavot in Judea and the Galilee, numbering about half the total population and making their living from agriculture, either as hired laborers or independent farmers. At the end of World War I there were 4,500 Yemenite Jews in the country. The flow of emigrants from all over Yemen was renewed after World War I, this time more to the urban center of Jaffa-Tel Aviv and the new Hebrew towns, as small businessmen, laborers, and retailers. Between the two world wars more then 15,000 left Yemen illegally for Ereẓ Israel through Aden, where they obtained immigration certificates from the British Mandatory government. By the outbreak of World War II there were about 28,000 Yemenite Jews in Ereẓ Israel.
In early 1920 the Zionist movement in Ereẓ Israel started to act in Aden and later in Yemen, in order to encourage and help Jews to emigrate. But owing to the hostile attitude of Imām Yaḥyā to Zionism nothing could be done. It was only in the mid-1940s, that the imām eased his policy, responding to the grave economic situation of his Jewish subjects. Emissaries of the Zionist institutions in Ereẓ Israel acted in Yemen on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel. Thousands wandered on the routes from all over Yemen to Aden, the only seaport in south Arabia from which Jews could emigrate. With the help of the British authorities in Aden, there was built, next to the city of Aden, Camp Ge'ullah in which the refugees from Yemen were received and well treated by Zionist emissaries and even got a modern Zionist education to facilitate their absorption in the Promised Land. This activity was the basis of the overall emigration of Yemenite Jewry following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the murder of Imām Yaḥyā, who was considered the ultimate protector of the Jews, in the same year. Aḥmad, the new imām, decided to let the Jews leave his country to Israel, on two conditions: they had to sell all their property to Muslims and to teach the Muslims their crafts. Both conditions were not properly fulfilled, but in any event more than 50,000 Jews left the country in 1949–51, through Aden, except for some several thousands who preferred to stay, clinging to their property or hoping to collect on loans owed by Muslims. A thin trickle of emigration continued until 1954 and even later in 1962, on the eve of the republican revolution. Since then, up to the early 1990s, an iron curtain had fallen on the Jews of Yemen. Some left, however, nominally to the U.S., but most to Israel. No more than 200 Jews still live in Yemen.
Since their first emigration to Jerusalem in 1881, Yemenite Jews dreamed of settling in their old-new homeland as farmers. That was the hope when they settled in Kefar ha-Shiloaḥ and that was what stimulated their leader R. Avraham Naddāf (1891–1920) to purchase land for agricultural settlement and to establish the Shivat Zion society designed for the same goal. Actually Yemenite Jews lived as farmers in Naḥalat Israel Rama not far from Jerusalem for about a year (1895/6). In addition to their agricultural settlements next to the Hebrew moshavot, they established prior to the founding of the State of Israel two independent moshavim – Elyashiv (1933) and Ge'ulim (1945). But the archives of the Hitaḥadut ha-Teimanim, the main Yemenite organization in Ereẓ Israel, inform us that the Zionist organizations did not respond positively to their initiatives to establish agricultural settlements. However, after the mass immigration of Yemenite Jews in 1949–51, the policy was to take them out of the transit camps (ma'barot) and settle them in abandoned Arab villages and later in new localities as farmers, in more than 50 places. Soon it became clear, however, that not all Yemenite Jews were fit or wanted to be farmers, and many of them left for the urban settlements, leaving only about 35 Yemenite moshavim. Since then, Yemenite immigrants and their descendants practice all kinds of professions marking their increased social and political acculturation in the State of Israel.