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(619)

Rank #59 in History category

History

Witness History

Updated 2 months ago

Rank #59 in History category

History
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History as told by the people who were there.

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History as told by the people who were there.

iTunes Ratings

619 Ratings
Average Ratings
476
70
30
18
25

Continuing education

By igneous2x - Sep 14 2018
Read more
Every episode is so informative and enlightening—what a service this is. Thank you, BBC!

So interesting!

By hannahmacxx - May 13 2018
Read more
I learn about things, people, events that I didn’t even know existed. Very captivating and fun

iTunes Ratings

619 Ratings
Average Ratings
476
70
30
18
25

Continuing education

By igneous2x - Sep 14 2018
Read more
Every episode is so informative and enlightening—what a service this is. Thank you, BBC!

So interesting!

By hannahmacxx - May 13 2018
Read more
I learn about things, people, events that I didn’t even know existed. Very captivating and fun
Cover image of Witness History

Witness History

Latest release on Aug 10, 2020

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History as told by the people who were there.

Rank #1: Britain's World War Two crime wave

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During times of crisis in the UK, World War Two is often remembered as a period when the country rallied together to fight a common enemy. British politicians still refer to the so-called "Blitz Spirit" when calling for national unity. But as Simon Watts has been finding out from the BBC archives, there was a crime wave during the war years, with a massive increase in looting and black marketeering.

PHOTO: A government poster from World War Two (Getty Images)

May 22 2020

9mins

Play

Rank #2: The 'Spanish' flu

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In 1918, more than fifty million people died in an outbreak of flu, which spread all over the world in the wake of the first World War. We hear eye-witness accounts of the worst pandemic of the twentieth century.

(Photo: An American policeman wearing a mask to protect himself from the outbreak of Spanish flu. Credit:Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Mar 09 2020

9mins

Play

Rank #3: Explaining autism

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Ground-breaking work by developmental psychologist Professor Uta Frith has revolutionised our understanding of autism. Beginning in the 1960s, Professor Frith's research has overturned the long-held belief that autism was a social or emotional disorder, showing instead that it's the result of physical differences in the brain. Uta Frith has been talking to Louise Hidalgo.

Picture: Uta Frith at her desk at the Medical Research Council Developmental Psychology Unit in London in the late 60s/early 70s (exact date unknown). From the personal collection of Uta Frith.

May 21 2020

9mins

Play

Rank #4: The warnings before 9/11

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Throughout 2001 the US authorities were being given warnings that a terror attack was imminent. A Congressional Commission, FBI officers and the CIA were all worried. There were even specific warnings about planes being flown into buildings. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to former Senator Gary Hart who co-chaired the Congressional Commission that tried to convince the government to take action.

Photo: Smoke pours from the World Trade Centre after it was hit by two passenger planes on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Credit: Robert Giroux/Getty Images)

Aug 14 2019

10mins

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Rank #5: How meditation changes your brain

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In 2002, scientists in the US began performing a landmark series of experiments on Buddhist monks from around the world. The studies showed that the brains of experienced meditators alter, allowing them to focus better and manage their emotions. Alejandra Martins talks to Professor Richard Davidson of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

PHOTO: A monk taking part in the experiment (Center for Healthy Minds).

Feb 18 2020

12mins

Play

Rank #6: Sequencing the 1918 influenza virus

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Over 50 million people died from influenza during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Scientists trying to understand why that particular strain of flu was so virulent, dug into Alaska's permafrost to find traces of it to study. Kate Lamble has been speaking to Dr Jeffery Taubenberger who sequenced the genome of the so-called "Spanish" flu virus.

Photo: an influenza ward in 1918. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Mar 24 2020

8mins

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Rank #7: The fall of the Berlin Wall

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The border between communist East Germany and the West opened on November 9th 1989. It marked the beginning of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Michaela Graichen spoke to two East Germans who believe they were the first people to cross from East to West on the night of November 9th.

(Photo: East Germans climbing onto the top of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin. November 9, 1989. Credit: REUTERS/Staff/Files)

Oct 25 2019

8mins

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Rank #8: The battle for Fallujah

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A US Marine's account of the massive US-led assault on the Iraqi city in November 2004. Amid post-invasion chaos in Iraq, the city was seen as a stronghold of insurgents. It was hoped the battle would be a turning point in the fight against the Iraqi insurgency. Alex Last spoke to Colonel Andrew Milburn, author of When The Tempest Gathers, who served as a US military advisor to a frontline Iraqi army unit during the battle.

Photo: US Marines of the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, clear a houses held by insurgents during the battle for Fallujah November 23, 2004,(Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

Jan 10 2020

14mins

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Rank #9: CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia

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The first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series by the Northern Irish-born writer CS Lewis was published in autumn 1950. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would go on to become one of the great classics of children's literature. CS Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, talks to Louise Hidalgo about the academic and theologian who created Narnia's magical world.

Picture: CS Lewis, the children's and theological author, seated in his Cambridge study in the early 1950s (Credit: Camera Press/Arthur Strong)

Sep 19 2019

9mins

Play

Rank #10: Battling Soviet psychiatric punishment

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The story of Dr. Semen Gluzman, a Ukrainian psychiatrist, who took a stand against the psychiatric abuse of political dissidents in the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Soviet authorities had many dissidents declared mentally ill and confined them to special psychiatric hospitals for 'treatment'. In the 1970s, a young Ukrainian psychiatrist, decided to write a counter-diagnosis of one of the most famous of these incarcerated dissidents. For this, he would pay a high price. Alex Last speaks to Dr Semen Gluzman about his struggle to oppose Soviet punitive psychiatry.

Photo: Semen Gluzman in 1989.(Gluzman)

Mar 05 2020

12mins

Play

Rank #11: The secret history of Monopoly

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In 1904, a left-wing American feminist called Lizzy Magie patented a board game that evolved into what we now know as Monopoly. But 30 years later, when Monopoly was first marketed in the United States during the Great Depression, it was an out-of-work salesman from Pennsylvania who was credited with inventing it. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to American journalist Mary Pilon about the hidden history of one of the world's most popular board games, and to the economics professor Ralph Anspach who unearthed the story.

Picture: A family playing a game of Monopoly in the 1930s (Credit: SSPL/Getty Images)

Dec 25 2019

9mins

Play

Rank #12: The first confirmed case of HIV in America

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Robert R was a teenager who died of a mysterious illness in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1969. It was only in the 1980s that doctors studying the Aids epidemic realised Robert had died of Aids. Ned Carter Miles has been speaking to Dr Memory Elvin Lewis was one of the doctors who treated Robert R. She was so intrigued by his case that she kept tissue samples after his death, which later proved that he had contracted HIV/Aids.

Photo: HIV particles, computer artwork. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Credit: Science Photo Library

Nov 29 2019

8mins

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Rank #13: The secret diaries of 'Gentleman Jack'

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The discovery of the diaries of 19th-century Englishwoman Anne Lister, who wrote in secret code about her love affairs with women and has been called the first modern lesbian. A landowner and a businesswoman, she defied the conventions of the time and was nicknamed by local people in the Yorkshire town of Halifax where she lived 'Gentleman Jack' because of the way she dressed and acted. Louise Hidalgo has been talking to Helena Whitbread, who discovered Anne Lister's diaries in 1983 and spent five years decoding them.

Picture: portrait of Anne Lister, of Shibden Hall, Halifax (credit: Alamy)

Jul 08 2019

10mins

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Rank #14: An Antarctic mystery

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In 1985, human remains were found by chance on a remote island in Antarctica by Chilean biologist Dr Daniel Torres. But whose were they? It would take years to determine their remarkable origin. We speak to Dr Torres about his discovery and how it revealed an unknown chapter of indigenous South American history.

Photo: Skull discovered on LIvingstone Island, Antarctica in 1985 (D.Torres/INACH)

Feb 24 2020

9mins

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Radar and World War Two

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During World War Two, British women were employed as operators of a top-secret radar system for detecting aircraft. The new technology had helped shift the balance of power in the air war with Nazi Germany. Laura Fitzpatrick talks to Margaret Faulds, who was stationed at a Royal Navy Air Station during the war.

PHOTO: Margaret Faulds in naval uniform during World War Two (Personal Collection).

Aug 10 2020

8mins

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The atomic bombs dropped on Japan

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The USA dropped its first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. Three days later a second atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki. The explosion was bigger than the blast at Hiroshima and killed 70,000 people. Louise Hidalgo introduces recordings from the BBC archive.

(Photo: Mushroom cloud in the sky. Credit: US Air Force/Press Association)

Aug 06 2020

8mins

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The battle of Midway

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On 4th June 1942, aircraft carriers of the Japanese and American fleets fought a huge naval battle near Midway Atoll in the Pacific. The outcome marked a turning point in the war. Using archive recordings we hear from American and Japanese airmen who flew in combat that day.

Photo: (Original Caption) This official United States Navy photo shows the American aircraft carrier Yorktown, already listing badly to port, as she received a direct hit from a Japanese bomber in the Battle of Midway Island, June 4th 1942. The black puffs in the photo are exploding U.S. antiaircraft shells. (Getty Images)

Aug 05 2020

9mins

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The internment of Japanese Americans

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Thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to prison camps after the USA entered World War Two following the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Whole families found themselves housed in barracks behind barbed wire fences. Former Star Trek actor, George Takei, was just a child when he was locked up in one of the camps. In 2010 he spoke to Lucy Williamson about his experiences there.

This programme is a rebroadcast.

Photo: Japanese American children on their way to internment camps. Credit: Dorothea Lange/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Aug 04 2020

8mins

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The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

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On 7 December 1941, Japan launched a surprise strike on the American naval base, Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. Thousands of American servicemen were killed or injured in the attack, which severely damaged the US Pacific Fleet. The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and America entered World War II. Adolph Kuhn was a US Navy mechanic stationed at Pearl Harbor when the bombs began to fall.

Photo: The USS Arizona sinking at Pearl Harbor. (Credit: Getty Images)

Aug 03 2020

8mins

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The death of Heinrich Himmler

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One of Hitler's most important henchmen was caught by British troops in the chaos of post-war Germany just after WW2 had ended in Europe. A British soldier described to the BBC how the leading Nazi bit down on a cyanide capsule and died. Gordon Corera has been listening to the archive account of Himmler's death, and finding out more about the situation in Germany immediately after its surrender to the Allies.

Photo: Heinrich Himmler in 1939. Credit: Central Press/Getty Images

Jul 31 2020

10mins

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Benidorm and the birth of package tourism

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The Spanish town of Benidorm is now one of the world's most popular holiday resorts - receiving more than 10 million visitors a year. The hotels and skyscrapers are the vision of Benidorm's mayor in the 1950s and 60s, Pedro Zaragoza. Zaragoza personally convinced Spain's dictator, General Franco, to allow more tourism - and to allow sunbathers to wear the bikini. Simon Watts introduces the memories of Pedro Zaragoza, as recorded by Radio Elche Cadena Ser shortly before his death.

PHOTO: A busy day in Benidorm (Reuters)

Jul 30 2020

8mins

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Adrift for 76 days

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A remarkable story of survival. In 1982, Steven Callahan was sailing alone across the Atlantic when one night his yacht hit something in the water and began to sink. He managed to get into a life raft but no one knew he was in trouble. For the next two months he drifted 2000 miles across the ocean. How did he survive? He told his story to Alex Last.
Photo: Steve Callahan shows how he hunted fish from his life raft. © Steve Callahan

Jul 29 2020

14mins

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Australia's 'Black Saturday' bushfires

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The forest fires of 2019-2020 in Australia were the worst the country had ever experienced - but ten years earlier Australia had a foretaste of that disaster when 400 separate bushfires burnt their way across the state of Victoria. At the time they were the worst fires Australia had ever seen. Rachael Gillman has been speaking to one of the firefighters who battled to bring the fires under control.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Jul 28 2020

9mins

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The writer who put Latinos centre stage

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The Cuban-American Dolores Prida wrote with a distinctive voice in her plays, newspaper columns and as an agony aunt in the Latina magazine. She challenged perceptions of how Latin Americans should be viewed in the US. When she died in 2013, President Obama paid tribute to her "conviction, compassion and humour." Mike Lanchin speaks to Prida's close friend, the former editor at New York's Daily News, Maite Junco.

Photo: Dolores Prida (left) with Maite Junco, Jan 2013 (courtesy of Maite Junco)

Jul 27 2020

9mins

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The fastest vaccine ever developed

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In the 1960s five-year-old Jeryl Lynn Hilleman got ill with mumps. Her father Dr Maurice Hilleman took a swab from the back of her throat and used it to help create a vaccine for the disease - more quickly than any previous vaccine had ever been completed. During his decades long career Dr Hilleman worked on vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis and meningitis.

Photo: Jeryl Lynn Hilleman with her sister, Kirsten, in 1966 as a doctor gave her the mumps vaccine developed by their father Maurice Hilleman. Courtesy of Merck.

Jul 24 2020

8mins

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The first safe house for Afghan women

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In 2003 the first refuge for women fleeing violence and abuse was opened in Kabul, Afghanistan, a country that has been labelled one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. The UN estimates that over 50% of women in Afghanistan face domestic abuse from their partner in their lifetime. Farhana Haider has been speaking to Mary Akrami who risked her life to help set up and run Afghanistan's first women's safe house.
Photo Mary Akrami Credit Getty

Jul 23 2020

13mins

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The struggle to save Borneo's rainforests

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The rainforests of Sarawak in Malaysia on the island of Borneo are some of the richest and most biodiverse ecosystems on earth - but for decades they've been under threat from commercial logging, permitted by the Malaysian government. In the 1980s, local people from the Penan and Kelabit ethnic groups began to fight back against the logging, setting up blockades and appealing to international environmental groups for support. Their campaign would make headlines around the world.

Lucy Burns speaks to activist Mutang Urud, who helped organise the blockades and later went on a world tour to attract attention to their cause.

PICTURE: Tribespeople with spears block the road as plantation company vehicles approach a blockade in Long Nen in Malaysia's Sarawak State in August 2009. (AFP photo/Saeed Khan via Getty Images)

Jul 22 2020

10mins

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The Million Man March

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On 16th October 1995 hundreds of thousands of African American men marched on Washington D.C. in an attempt to put black issues back on the government agenda and to present a positive image of black men.
Aquila Powell – 23 at the time – was one of the few women who attended the march. She was working for the National Coalition on Black Voter Participation and trying to encourage attendees to register to vote.
She talks to Ben Carter about her recollections of that day.

(Photo:The Million Man March, Credit:TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Jul 21 2020

8mins

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The man who tried to kill Hitler

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On 20th July 1944 Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg put a bomb under Adolf Hitler's desk. Although the bomb exploded, it failed to kill the German Nazi leader. Alex Last spoke to Berthold von Stauffenberg, son of the WW2 army officer, in 2014.

Photo:Claus von Stauffenberg. Credit: Gedenkstaette Deutscher Widersta/AFP/Getty Images

Jul 20 2020

9mins

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South Korea's 1980s prison camps

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A so-called Social Purification project led to thousands of ordinary citizens being imprisoned under the military government in South Korea in the 1980s. Under the pretence of clearing the streets of vagrants and undesirables, people were sent to camps disguised as 'social welfare centres' where many of them suffered torture, forced labour, and physical and sexual abuse. Bugyeong Jung has been speaking to Seung-woo Choi who was taken to a centre in the port city of Busan when he was just 13 years old.

Photo: Seung-woo Choi talking to reporters outside South Korea's National Assembly. Credit BBC.

Jul 17 2020

8mins

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The scandal of Liverpool's missing Chinese sailors

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During World War Two, thousands of Chinese sailors and engineers served in the British Merchant Navy, keeping supplies flowing into the port of Liverpool and risking their lives in crossings of the Atlantic. Many settled in the port city and started families with local women but, after fighting ended in 1945, the British authorities began forcing them to leave. Simon Watts talks to Yvonne Foley, whose Chinese father was pressured to return to Shanghai, never to be seen again.

PHOTO: Chinese sailors in Liverpool in 1942 (Getty Images).

Jul 16 2020

9mins

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Returning Ethiopia's looted history

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The Stele of Axum, a 4th century Ethiopian treasure, was finally returned by Italy in 2005. It had been taken from the ancient town of Axum in northern Ethiopia by invading Italian fascist forces in 1937. The huge 24 metre tall stele was originally erected to mark the site of a royal tomb during the Kingdom of Axum. The Axumites were a powerful and sophisticated civilisation which emerged in northern Ethiopia more than 2000 years ago. Alex Last spoke to Ethiopian archaeologist Tekle Hagos of Addis Ababa University about the return of the great monument.

Photo: The Stele of Axum , now re-erected back in Axum, northern Ethiopia.(Getty Images)

Jul 15 2020

12mins

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How Club Med changed holidays

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Holidaymakers arrived at the first Club Med resort on the Spanish island of Majorca in summer 1950. The French company - full name Club Méditerranée - was founded to offer a new kind of post-war holiday by Belgian water polo player Gérard Blitz, who believed that "the time to be happy is now". The facilities were initially rudimentary, with guests sleeping in huts and sharing tables at meals - but the all-inclusive holiday model they pioneered soon spread all over the world.

Lucy Burns speaks to Pierre-Xavier Bécret, whose parents worked on that first Majorca holiday and went on to be involved with Club Med for many years.

Picture: postcard image of the Club Med resort in Corfu, 1970s (Editions Intercolor, with thanks to www.collierbar.fr)

Jul 14 2020

10mins

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The fight for women's prayer rights in Israel

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In 1988, a group of Jewish feminists demanded the right to pray as freely as Jewish men at one of Judaism’s holiest sites. They called themselves the ‘Women of the Wall’. The organisation is made up of every Jewish denomination including reform, conservative and orthodox Jews. Its focus is one of the holiest sites in Judaism - the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Rachael Gillman has been speaking to Anat Hoffman, one of the founding members of 'Women of the Wall'.

(Photo: Members of 'Women of the Wall' praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, holding their prayer shawls. Getty Images.)

Jul 13 2020

8mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

619 Ratings
Average Ratings
476
70
30
18
25

Continuing education

By igneous2x - Sep 14 2018
Read more
Every episode is so informative and enlightening—what a service this is. Thank you, BBC!

So interesting!

By hannahmacxx - May 13 2018
Read more
I learn about things, people, events that I didn’t even know existed. Very captivating and fun