Rachel's Tomb 311.
(photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)
The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.
Tens of thousands of Jews - mostly women - are expected to visit Rachel's Tomb tonight and tomorrow. The burial site, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, has been venerated by Jews for centuries.
Tuesday, the 11th of Cheshvan in the Hebrew calendar, is traditionally observed as Rachel's yahrzeit
anniversary of her death. Buried on the side of the road by her
husband, Rachel, according to tradition, later wept as "her children"
were exiled from the land of Israel. Rachel is considered a special
figure for prayers and entreaties.
In 1622 the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem permitted Jews to build walls and a dome over the grave.
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
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 worshipers. During the 1929 Muslim attacks on the
Jews of Palestine, the Muslim religious council, the Waqf
, demanded the site.
19 years of Jordanian rule on the West Bank (1948-1967), Rachel's Tomb
was off limits to Jews. After the 1967 war, Israel reclaimed control of
the site. In 1996 and during the Palestinian intifada in 2000-2001
Rachel's Tomb was the target of numerous attacks. The Israeli army
built walls to protect worshipers and their access to the site.
More photos can be viewed at http://www.israeldailypicture.com.