Russia/Palestine-EI: Zionist-religious tallion by Israel Rouchomovsky
Item code: 0130914

Sales price $500.00

Russia/Palestine: Zionist-religious tallion, circa. late 19th Century; white metal; maker-marked "Rouchomovsky"; size (whole tallion): 17mm x 74mm; weight: 3.4g.

Round medallion with ornate upper and lower flourishes, and tallions attached above and below; the makers-name "Rouchomovsky" appears on the bar on obverse, separating the image from the exergue. On obverse an image of laborers in the field, doing agricultural work, with four different excerpts of Jewish prayer and study: on the upper edge, the excerpt, "Bear a standard towards Zion, dare and do not stand [idly, for tragedy I bring from the north and great destruction]" (from the Prophet Jeremiah/Yirmiyahu, chapter 4); on the lower edge, the excerpt, "And G-d's redeemed will return and will come to Zion with gladness [and never-ending happiness over them, joy and happiness will they gain and grief and groans will they escape]" (from the Prophet Yeshayahu, chapter 35) - interestingly the word "come" here has been rendered in the future tense on the medal, whereas in the original it is always in the present tense; above the image, near the rising sun, an excerpt from Yeshayahu chapter 60 (an inverted form is also found in the Friday evening psalm 'Lekha Dodi'), "Rise up and fill with light, thus comes forth your light [and the honor of G-d shines upon you]"; below, in exergue the excerpt from Amos, chapter 9, "[Here come the days, addressed the Lord,] and the harvester shall approach the grove and tread upon the grapes which extend from the seed...".

On reverse an image of Jews praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, within a Star of David, with except along the upper edge, "If I forget Thee O Jerusalem may my Right Hand forget its Cunning", and below a quotation from King David, "Because Your servants longed for her [Jerusalem's] stones and her earth to treat kindly".

The tallion's content bears the hallmarks of the first 'Aliya' (immigration wave to Palestine, 1860-1905), which was motivated by a combination of religious and secular desire to settle in the Holyland and subsist from manual labor, developing the land, and may be related to the "Chovevei Tzion" ('Lovers of Zion') movement.

A few details connect the tallion to the movement and to the then-developing communities of Rishon LeZion and Ness Tziona: the obverse physical layout (with dividing bar between the image and exergue) is very similar to then contemporary medallions made in Russia to commemorate the new Jewish settlement in Palestine of Rishon LeZion.

The obverse quotation "Bear a standard towards Zion..." ("Seu Ness Tziona") may also have been deliberately chosen: the town of Ness Tziona (like that of Rishon LeZion), was founded in 1882 by members of Chovevei Zion, though it was initially called Nahalat Reuven and Wadi Khanin before being renamed Ness Ziona in 1891 - the city's motto is this same excerpt of Jeremiah. The city of Rishon LeZion uses as its motto another Biblical quotation (from the Prophet Yeshayahu), and in the division of 'credit' for establishing modern Israel's first communities, Rishon LeZion's establishment is generally credited both to its pioneers, the "Yesod HaMaalah Pioneer's Committee" and to the benevolence of the Baron Edmund Rothschild, while credit is given to Chovevei Zion for establishing Ness Ziona (and the settlement of Gedera to the 'Bilu' movement).

Israel Rouchomovsky (d. 1934), a goldsmith from Odessa, was the unintended "star" of the Tiara of Saitaferne scandal - a gold work he made by commission and then misrepresented to the Louvre by those who commissioned the piece from him.