Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There are various pictures pre-dating the 1967 Six Day War, available on the Internet and in various scholarly sources, clearly showing free mixing among the genders at the Kotel (Western Wall) in the midst of prayers without any mechitza. (It's possible that they never had any formal minyanim there, but that seems unlikely). Are there any halachic authorities which relate to these practices at the Kotel?

A large collection of pictures can be found at The National Library of Israel - 150 Years of Photographs of the Kotel

Here's are some examples:

2 men and 2 women standing together with prayerbooks

groups of men and women praying at the Wall

more groups

even more groups

share|improve this question
It might be related to lack of control. The street in the pictures is a public street IIRC (not many cars though). I doubt the members of the yishuv had enough power in the Ottoman government to get a mechitza set up. – Double AA Jan 31 '12 at 16:56
@DoubleAA true, but one possible response to that would be a ban on men praying there if women are present. But that didn't happen, apparently. – Monica Cellio Jan 31 '12 at 17:10
While there is no mechitzah, if you look closely you will see that they did separate by gender. – avi Jan 31 '12 at 20:40
Actually, the mechitza was built in the 1920s. – Shimon bM May 8 '13 at 21:07
Very interesting photos. Is there a place online to see olden day photos that will shed light on how they used to congregate, dress etc? – Yehuda Feb 12 '15 at 11:57

According to ד"ר יוסף נדבה there was a Mechitza up until 5689 (1928) when it was removed by the British authorities.

share|improve this answer
It says it was on Yom Kippur of 5689 which is 1928 by my count. – Double AA Jan 31 '12 at 17:41
Also, based on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Palestine_riots , it seems the mechitza was a temporary structure for special occasions, there being a longstanding Ottoman ban on construction at the Kotel. – Double AA Jan 31 '12 at 17:43
Thanks for the information. As per my question, I'm particularly interested in what they did during the period when there wasn't a mechitza. Any ideas? – ChaimKut Sep 15 '12 at 23:37

I don't remember where I saw the exact quote, but the Radzyminer Rebbe hy"d (see https://kupathrabbimeir.org/kramban/kp/kpymb_files/radzimin.htm ) is said to have worked toward the establishment of the Kosel women's section. He died in 1934. So that implies that access for women was restricted prior to that.

share|improve this answer
Or that it was mixed seating. – Double AA May 7 '15 at 17:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.