Menu JTA Search

Commission Told That Jews Paid for Tiles Near Wall Sometime Around 1895

Evidence that in about 1895 the Jews laid new tiles on the pavement in front of the Wailing Wall was given this morning before the Wailing Wall Commission by Elihu Eisenstein, former secretary to the former Chief Rabbi Salant. Mr. Eisenstein recalled that Rabbi Salant had appropriated ten napoleons for the repairs. Chairman Loefgren overruled the objection of Abdul Auni Bey, Arab counsel, that the evidence was only hearsay.

WITNESS CROSS-EXAMINED

Auni Bey cross-examined the witness regarding the use of benches and a screen at the Wailing Wall. Mr. Eisenstein maintained that the details were not engraved on his memory but he testified that he himself had used benches at the Wall. The Arab counsel interrupted him to remind him that he “should know that 300,000,000 Moslems all over the world object to the Jews using the screen and therefore the question is of the utmost importance.”

The witness replied that such questions do not concern him, saying that they were the business of the government. Pressed to state exactly when he saw the benches at the Wall and how many there were, Mr. Eisenstein turned to the Commissioners and asked “Does the learned counsel wish to waste time?”

TESTIFIES REGARDING FILM

Professor Boris Shatz, director of the Bezalel Art School, testified regarding the film presented yesterday which showed incidents at the Wailing Wall nineteen years ago. He declared that he had shown the film himself in New York and that he had also sat on the benches without being disturbed while he painted. Professor Shatz pleaded with the Commission to aid in improving the hygienic conditions in the neighborhood of the Wall.

Replying to Auni Bey, Professor Shatz disputed the sanctity of the Wall to the Moslems but declared that it was most precious to the Jews not only as a relic of the Temple but owing to the continued lamentations at the Wall. He also stated that it was no more important whether the Wall was archaeologically authentic than if the Holy Sepulchre marks a holy spot.

An intimation that Zionists utilize the worship at the Wailing Wall as propaganda to bring Jews to Palestine was made by Abdul Auni Bey, Arab counsel, in the course of a question he addressed to Rabbi Ben Zion Meyer Uziel, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, who took the witness stand at yesterday afternoon’s session of the Wailing Wall Commission.

In his persistent attempt to provoke a political discussion Auni Bey asked Rabbi Uziel, a native of Palestine and a descendant of a long line of Palestinian-born Hebrew scholars, whether “Zionists believe that praying at the Wall helps the propaganda for bringing Jews to Palestine?” Later Rabbi Uziel expressed resentment at Auni Bey’s question whether the Rabbi was a Zionist. While Rabbi Uziel replied “I am a Jew and I attended the last Zionist Congress” the chairman of the Commission, Eliol Loefgren, ruled the question out of order.

SUPPLEMENTS ELIASH’S STATEMENT

When Rabbi Uziel took the stand he supplemented a written statement on the liturgical service prepared by Dr. Mordecai Eliash, chief of the Jewish counsel. Vigorously deprecating the attempt of the Arab lawyer to make him testify in Arabic, Rabbi Uziel emphasized that congregational services anywhere require the Torah scroll and the laluv (palm). He declared that High Commissioner Chancellor’s recent temporary regulations at the Wall excluding these appurtenances as well as the praying shawl and phylacteries do not meet the Jewish requirements.

While Rabbi Uziel reiterated that during the long service at the Wall the opportunity of sitting down is an essential convenience, Commissioners Barde and van Kempen questioned him closely on when the Jews first commenced to pray at the Wall. The witness told the Commissioners that Jews the world over had turned towards the site of the Temple ever since the days of Solomon.

NEXT STORY