Mendel Diness

Mendel Diness

Mendel Diness (born 1827 in Odessa; died December 1, 1900 in Port Townsend, Washington) was a Jewish watchmaker in 19th century Jerusalem who studied photography under the Scottish missionary and photographer James Graham (missionary) and during the 1850s became the first Jewish photographer in Jerusalem. Diness later converted to Christianity, whereafter he was divorced by his wife and lost his business due to boycotts by local Jews. Eventually Diness relocated to the United States, changed his name to Mendenhall John Dennis, and became a minister and lecturer.

The early photographs of Diness and his mentor, James Graham, are the subject of an exhibition at Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History from December 4, 2007 until April 6, 2008.


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