Friday, December 18, 2009

Abdin Husheimi



The first owner of the house at 28 Rachel Imenu, who was responsible for its construction, was a Christian Arab named Abdin Husheimi. The information we have about him comes from three sources: old newspaper articles, his niece, and the Palestine Police Old Comrades Association. We are indebted to the latter two for their assistance.

Abdin was an officer in the Palestine Police Force that operated in Mandate Palestine. He was born in 1892, possibly in Lebanon, and served in the Turkish Army from 1914-17, followed by service in the British Army from 1917-18. After his army service he was a member of the Palestine Police, working in various locations and rising through the ranks. In an email from the Old Comrades Association, we learned that
On 1st November 1920 he was appointed Assistant District Commandant in Nazareth.
On 8th March 1921 he transferred to Jaffa.
On 8th July 1923 transferred to Nablus.
On 1st April 1926 with the official formation of the Palestine Police he assumed the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police.
On 20th May 1926 he was transferred to Haifa.
On 1st April 1927 he was transferred to Jerusalem.
On 15th November 1930 he transferred to Ramleh.
On 28th October 1931 he was transferred to Jerusalem again.
On 1st April 1937 he became a Deputy District Superintendent.

We also know that in 1938 the Jerusalem District Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department was reorganized and moved to St. Louis Way. As part of this reorganization Abdin was put in charge of the branch. (Palestine Post, Aug. 3, 1938) Interestingly, a branch of the CID was apparently built right next door to his house in Katamon.

While in Jerusalem the second time around, Abdin was hospitalized. At the hospital he met a Jewish nurse, Ida Ostinsky, who had moved to Palestine with her siblings from Odessa. The two fell in love and were married in 1932. The following year they decided to build a house and bought a plot of land in the Katamon neighborhood. The parcel they purchased was located on a circular plaza, the only such plaza that is visible on early maps of Jerusalem. By 1935 the house was completed and the couple moved in.

In 1945, Abdin received another promotion, but this one required that he move to Syria. From The Palestine Post, Feb 7, 1945:
"Selim eff. Hanna, Assistant Superintendent of Police in Jerusalem, gave a farewell party on Saturday to Major Abdin Bey Husheimi who is shortly leaving for Syria to take up his new appointment of Deputy Supervisor-General of the Syrian Police. Several heads of Departments, including the Inspector-General and Senior Police Officers were among the guests present."


However, the Husheimis' stay in Syria was short-lived. In a ledger from the Palestine Police for 1947-48 in the Ginzach HaMedina, we found a record (apparently of pensions) that stated that for Deputy Superintendents, the number of pensions being paid out was reduced by one "on the return of Abdin Bey Husheimi to the force." However, it is unclear whether the Husheimis moved back into their house. We know that on January 5, 1948 the Polish Consulate was already located at 28 Rachel Imenu. It therefore seems that they did not. Nonetheless, according to David Kroyanker, a third floor was added to the building in 1947, perhaps to prepare the building for rental by the Polish Consulate.

In 1948, the Husheimis again left Palestine and moved to Egypt. In 1957, Abdin died in Egypt. A few years later, in 1960, his wife Ida returned to Israel and reclaimed ownership of the land and the house. She remained the owner until her death in 1991, renting the building out to various institutions.

There are two pictures above, courtesy of the Old Comrades Association. One was taken in Ramleh in 1934 and shows, from left to right, British Inspector Higgins, Assistant Superintendent Robert Worsley and Abdin Bey Husseimi. The other shows Husheimi and an unknown person.

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