Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jews Pray on their Holiest Day of the Year at their Holiest Site in their Holiest City of the World

Jews at the Kotel on Yom Kippur (circa 1904)
See analysis of the grafitti on the wall for
dating this picture.
This week Jews around the world will turn their attention to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  For many Jews in the Land of Israel over the centuries the day meant praying at the Western Wall, the remnant of King Herod's retaining wall of the Temple complex destroyed in 70 AD.

Women at the Kotel

The Turkish and British rulers of Jerusalem imposed restrictions on the Jewish worshippers, such as prohibiting chairs, forbidding screens to divide the men and women, and even banning the blowing of the shofar at the end of the Yom Kippur service.

For the 19 years that Jordan administered the Old City, 1948-1967, no Jews were permitted to pray at the Kotel.
Jews at the Kotel (circa 1900). Note the
Yemenite Jew at the right, probably an
immigrant from the 1880s

"Jews wailing place" (1860)
 The Library of Congress collection contains many pictures of Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall over the last 150 years.

Some of the old pictures indicate that the worshippers on the left side of the Wall were women wearing shawls  Today, women pray on the right side.

Jews at the Kotel (circa 1917). Men
are praying on the right side, past the
women
After the 1967 war, the Western Wall plaza was enlarged and large areas of King Herod's wall have been exposed.  Archeologists have also uncovered major subterranean tunnels -- hundreds of meters long -- that will be opened for visitors to Jerusalem in the next few weeks.
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Click on the photos to enlarge. Click on the captions to see the originals.

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