Photograph of the Wailing Wall, 1918
A photograph shows the Wailing Wall (Western Wall), people praying by the wall, and British soldiers in the background. The photograph was taken in 1918 and is from an album in the photograph collection of the National Library of Israel.
The album contains 49 black and white, silver print photographs that show views of the Land of Israel, famous personalities and events from the beginning of the British Mandate of Israel. On the back of this and other photographs appears the stamp – "Associated Illustration Agencies, Ltd."
The wall in the picture is known by various names: the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall or in Hebrew HaKotel HaMaaravi. It is actually a remnant of the western wall that surrounded the Temple Mount of the Second Temple. Since the destruction of the Temple, this surviving Western Wall has been considered the holiest site for the Jewish people, a site for prayer and pilgrimage from the fourth century till today.
With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early twentieth century, the Wall became a source of friction between the Jewish and Muslim communities. During the time of British rule in the early twentieth century, British soldiers guarded the Wall, as can be seen in the photograph. Despite the soldiers and policemen, there were frequent outbreaks of violence at the Wall, and in 1930 an international commission determined the rights and claims of both communities to the Wall.
After the War of Independence in 1948, the Western Wall was under Jordanian rule, and Jews were not permitted to visit the site. Nineteen years later, in the Six Day War, Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem, and Jews were once again permitted to visit the sacred place. Houses that had once surrounded the Western Wall were demolished in order to create a large plaza. Today the Western Wall attracts millions of visitors every year who come from all over the world to experience this holy site.
What do you see in the photograph?
Where was the photograph taken?
Who are the people standing next to the Wall? What are they doing?
Who are the people standing in the background? Are they praying? Why do you think they are there?
Have you been to the Western Wall? What were your feelings and impressions?
The wall in the photograph has various names. What are the names? What are the meanings of the different names?
Look on the internet or at your own photographs — what does the Western Wall look like today?
Compare the Wall today with this photograph from the beginning of the twentieth century.