Monday, August 12, 2013

Away Goes the Kotel Mechitza

As reported in the HaZman journal, Ocotber 18, 1911:

The Turkish governor of Jerusalem prohibited the use of a mechitza, a prayer partition to separate the 60 men and women at the Kotel for the Rosh Hashana prayers in 1911 and it raised a protest.  But what is usually ignored is that during the prayer service, Arabs ran into the small courtyard and beat up Jews with the fists, claiming a disturbance to the peace.  The prayer was halted.

It should be recalled that

In the late 1830s a wealthy Jew named Shemarya Luria attempted to purchase houses near the Wall, but was unsuccessful, as was Jewish sage Abdullah of Bombay who tried to purchase the Western Wall in the 1850s. In 1869 Rabbi Hillel Moshe Gelbstein settled in Jerusalem. He arranged that benches and tables be brought to the Wall on a daily basis for the study groups he organised and the minyan which he led there for years.

The upper front page of Ha'Or, December 12, 1911:

which declares 'Are We a Nation of Rabbits?' and 'By the Kotel We Will Live or Die' and notes that the firman which confirms the Jewish right to hold prayer services at the Kotel and set up a partition was obtained by Baron Rothschild.

On that element:

 ...the Counsel for the Moslems produced a decree issued by Ibrahim Pasha in May, 1840, which forbade the Jews to pave the passage in front of the Wall, it being only permissible for them to visit it "as of old." The Counsel for the Moslems further referred to a decision of the Administrative Council of the Liwa in the year 1911 prohibiting the Jews from certain appurtenances at the Wall. The Counsel for the Jews, on the other hand, referred the Commission in especial to a certain firman issued by Sultan Abdul Hamid in the year 1889, which says that there shall be no interference with the Jews' places of devotional visits and of pilgrimage, that are situated in the localities which are dependent on the Chief Rabbinate, nor with the practice of their ritual. In the same connection the Counsel for the Jews also referred the Commission to a firman of 1841, stated to be of the same bearing and likewise to two others of 1893 and 1909 that confirm the first mentioned one of 1889. Translations of the decrees of 1840 and 1911 as well as of the firman of 1889 are annexed to this Report (Appendices VI-VIII). The firman of 1841 was not actually produced.

This second report from HaZman from January 11, 1912 reports on that firman and further notes that some of Jerusalem's Jews have demanded of the Hacham Bashi to protest to the Governor that his order of also prohibiting chairs and benches contradicts the firman.

The Kotel in 1911:

And from here:

Don't get this mixed up with the 1928 removal of the mechitza.


No comments: