At least 100,000 Jews -- mostly women -- are expected to visit Rachel's Tomb later this week. The burial site, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, has been venerated by Jews for centuries.
"And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day." Genesis 35:19-20
|"30 men ('3 minyans') from a Jerusalem old age home praying for|
the well-being of friends and donors and other brethren from the
House of Israel in the Diaspora next to the gravestone of Mother
Rachel of blessed memory." (Stephanie Comfort -- Jewish
In 1622 the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem permitted Jews to build walls and a dome over the grave. [For historical background on Rachel's grave see Nadav Shragai.]
|Rachel's Tomb (circa 1890-1900) (Credit: Library of Congress,|
Detroit Publishing Co. photochrom color)
Click on the captions to see the originals.
All photos are from the American Colony collection in the Library of Congress unless otherwise credited.
|Visitors to Rachel's Tomb (circa 1910). Note the carriages in|
the background and Jewish pilgrims under the tree (see
enlargement below). (Oregon State University collection)
For several hundred years a local Bedouin tribe, the Ta'amra, and local Arabs demanded protection money from Jews going to Rachel's grave. In the 18th and 19th century the Arabs built a cemetery around three sides of the shrine in the belief that the proximity of the deceased to the grave of a holy person -- even a Jew -- would bestow blessings on the deceased in the world to come. Muslims even prepared bodies for burial at Rachel's grave.
In the 1830s, Jews received a firman [decree] from Ottoman authorities recognizing the Jewish character of the site and ordering a stop to the abuse of Jews there. In 1841, Sir Moses Montefiore secured permission from the Ottoman authority to build an anteroom for Jewish worshippers. During the 1929 Muslim attacks on the Jews of Palestine, the Muslim religious council, the Waqf, demanded the site.
in picture above
|Rachel's Tomb 1895|
|Rachel's Tomb 1898|
|Rachel's tomb (circa late 19th century) by Adrien Bonfils, |
son of pioneer photographer Félix Bonfils (Credit:
George Eastman House collection) See also here
|Rachel's Tomb (1891) (credit: New|
Boston Fine and Rare Books)
|Students from Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem praying inside |
Rachel's Tomb (Circa early 20th Century)
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
|Rachel's Tomb (1908) (Credit: Omaha|
|Students from the Gymnasia visiting Rachel's Tomb. Presumably, the school is|
the Gymnasia HaIvrit Herzliya, the first Hebrew high school in Palestine, founded
in 1905. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons, circa early 20th Century)
|Aerial photograph of Rachel's Tomb (1931)|
| British (Scot) soldiers stopping Arab in |
weapons search, Rachel's Tomb 1936