Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Children of the Western Wall 100+ Years Ago
-- Our 400th Photo Feature

Boys at the Western Wall, almost certainly posed by the photographer, Felix Bonfils, in the 1870s. Enlargement is
from the picture below. (Getty Research Institute). View a similar photo from the Library of Congress collection

Felix Bonfil's photograph (Getty)

Scores of century-old pictures of the Western Wall  have appeared in Israel Daily Picture. Known as the Wailing Wall, the Kotel HaMaaravi, or the Jews' Wailing Place, the prayer site was the focus of every photographer in Jerusalem.







The girls at the Kotel. The graffiti on the wall suggests the picture was
taken after 1903. (Library of Congress) See a similar picture here
Two years ago we posted a feature on "The Women of the Western Wall," and noted that there were no physical partitions between the men and the women visible in the pictures because of restrictions  imposed by the Ottoman authorities
The original picture with the girls.
and demands by the Muslim Mufti of
Jerusalem. Any attempt to set up screens or bring chairs were met with protests and attacks.  The Jewish worshippers honored a separation of sexes, for the most part.






"The Jews' Wailing Place" (circa 1900). Take a closer look below.
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

The picture below, from the University of California - Riverside collection, appears to be a typical picture of the Kotel at the turn of the 20th century, but it's not.

Enlargement of the photo shows a group of children begging with their hands outstretched to men on the left, men whose hats suggest that they are visitors from overseas.
 





Children with their hands extended. The Jews of Jerusalem were remarkably poor under the Turkish rule, and
relied on charitable donations from Jews in Europe and North America.










































More Children at the Kotel
Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

An earlier feature here showed hundreds of Jewish children in 1918 returning to the Old City from a field trip on the Jewish holiday of Lag B'Omer.


Are some of these the same children?



Jewish children's procession on Lag B'Omer 1918.
(Library of Congress)




Click on pictures to enlarge.

Click on caption to view the original picture.

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