Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Picture a Day -- The Western Wall in the early 20th century

Western Wall in red (circa 1925)
Jews have flocked to the Kotel (Western Wall) for many centuries in order to pray close to the site of the ancient Jewish temples.  The Wall, a retaining wall for King Herod's massive rebuilding of the second Temple complex in the year 19 BCE, stretches almost 500 meters (1600 feet) along the eastern side of the Temple platform.  Several times over the last two millennia, rulers of the land forbad Jews from praying at the site, most recently between 1948 and 1967 when Jordan controlled east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Until 1967 almost all of the Western Wall was hidden by buildings and residences.  At the relatively small area where Jews were permitted to pray, the prayer area was only four meters wide. 

Based on the memorial grafitti, the
picture was apparently taken after April 1917
This Library of Congress collection does not provide an exact date for this picture (left) of Jews at prayer, but it can be deduced that it was taken before 1917.  Some of the men's head gear, the fez, suggests that it was during Turkish rule. 

The prohibition against Jews sitting on chairs or benches at the site or setting up a screen to separate the sexes was maintained by the British after they took over Palestine.

Both pictures suffered from deterioration before they were digitalized at the Library of Congress.

1 comment:

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