News

Christians Celebrate Easter in Jerusalem

Christians celebrated Easter Sunday in Jerusalem with services in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher and at other sites in the Holy Land. VOA's Jim Teeple reports that for the first time in four years, five different Christian sects celebrated Easter on the same day.

Jerusalem's Armenian Patriarch led a solemn procession of Armenian monks into the basilica of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. The Armenian procession was just one of several that celebrated Easter Services in one of Christianity's holiest sites on Sunday.

This year for the first time in four years, five different Christian sects celebrated Easter at the same time.

Father Jerome Murphy-O'Conner is an Irish Dominican priest who has lived in Jerusalem for more than 50 years, teaching New Testament studies at Jerusalem's Ecole Biblique, a graduate school of theology.

Father Jerry, as he is known, says with the convergence of the Orthodox and the Western calendars this year, space is at a premium in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

"This year, it happens every five or six years, the Orthodox and the Western church all celebrate Easter on the same day," he said. "What it means in practice is that schedules have to be kept very tight. People cannot hang around after a service. They have to leave to make room for the others, and of course if they are in a state of spiritual exaltation and delay then there can be trouble unfortunately."

Unlike previous years, there were no clashes reported between followers of different Christian sects. Tobias Raschke, from Munich, who attended Easter Services at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, said he was impressed by how all the different sects and nationalities mixed together.

"We got up at three in the morning to hold a German Easter liturgy and now we have come to the Church to see what is happening here," said Raschke. "This is a crazy place because somehow now they have an Armenian service and then after one hour they have a Catholic service. It is fascinating to see the key to the church is in the hands of a Moslem and the Israeli police making sure that nothing happens. I think it is great the job Israel is doing here, making it safe so people can come here from different faiths and denominations and pray here and everything is safe."

With an easing of security fears this year, the convergence of the Western and Orthodox Christian calendars and weeklong Jewish Passover observances occurring at the same time, Jerusalem hotels reported full occupancy rates for the first time in years.

Father Jerome Murphy-O'Conner says with thousands of Jewish and Christian visitors in Jerusalem this year some will probably leave the city disappointed.

"The city is really crowded with pilgrims. The basic meaning of pilgrimage is to go pray at a place," he said. "You go because you believe somehow that prayer there is will be somehow easier or real because a holy person has sanctified it. People who have that unconscious expectation then find themselves in a huge crowd being pushed and shoved and they feel they are being robbed of space to recollect themselves."

Israeli security forces sealed off the occupied West Bank at the beginning of Jewish Passover observances last week, preventing most Palestinians, except those granted special visitors passes, from visiting Jerusalem.

Thousands of Palestinian Christians, mostly from the nearby city of Bethlehem are granted the passes but security restrictions exclude many, especially young men from visiting.

Israeli authorities say the restrictions are necessary to prevent suicide bombings against targets in Israel.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs