Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yom Kippur at the Western Wall 100 Years Ago
- reposting a feature from last year

Jews at the Kotel on Yom Kippur (circa 1904) See analysis of  the graffiti
on the wall for dating this picture. The graffiti on the Wall are memorial
notices (not as one reader suggested applied to the photo later). (Library of Congress)

On Saturday, Jews around the world will commemorate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  For many centuries, Jews in the Land of Israel prayed at the Western Wall, the remnant of King Herod's retaining wall of the Temple complex destroyed in 70 AD.

Several readers noticed and commented on the intermingling of men and women in these historic pictures.

It was not by choice. 

The Turkish and British rulers of Jerusalem imposed severe restrictions on the Jewish worshipers,  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.  Note that the talit prayer shawls, normally worn by men throughout Yom Kippur, are not visible in the pictures.

The men are wearing their festival/Sabbath finery, including their
fur shtreimel hats. Note the prayer shawls.  (Credit: RCB Library1897)

We found one rare picture in an Irish church's archives, dated 1897, showing men wearing prayer shawls at the Kotel.

View this video, Echoes of a Shofar, to see the story of young men who defied British authorities between 1930 and 1947 and blew the shofar at the Kotel.

Another view of the Western Wall on Yom Kippur. Note the various groups
of worshipers: The Ashkenazic Hassidim wearing the fur shtreimel hats in
 the foreground, the Sephardic Jews wearing  the fezzes in the
center, and the women in the back wearing white shawls. (Circa 1904, Library of Congress)

For the 19 years that Jordan administered the Old City, 1948-1967, no Jews were permitted to pray at the Kotel.

Many of the photo collections we have surveyed contain numerous pictures of Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall over the last 150 years.

After the 1967 war, the Western Wall plaza was enlarged and large areas of King Herod's wall have been exposed.  Archaeologists have also uncovered major subterranean tunnels -- hundreds of meters long -- that are now open to visitors to Jerusalem.
Click on the photos to enlarge.  Click on the captions to see the originals. 

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the first picture. You wrote that "The graffiti on the Wall are memorial
    notices " I dont know what they are but if you look at the wall today its still all the way up there. Secondly, I do not understand why they are not wearing kittels or the jerusalem white kaftans as is the minhag of yomkipper... also halacha requires orthodox men to wear a tallis all day and night on Yomkipper .why is not even one person is dressed for yomkipper? My guess is its erev Yomkipper.
    גמר טוב