A Cry for Help from Jerusalem

TJerusalem by night

I have just received a desperatee call for help from a very good Christian Palestinian friend. It is related to the implications of the recent decision of the American president to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

My friend is telling me that more and more of the evangelical churches in Palestine (representing something like 1% of the Palestinian Christians, who are, themselves, about 1% of the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank) are adopting a Zionist theology, in an attempt to schmooze American churches to support them financially (you may rightly call it ecclesial prostitution). This is, of course, a luxury that historical churches in Palestine (not only Greek Orthodox, Melkite, and Latin churches, but also Anglicans and Lutherans) do not have. Continue reading “A Cry for Help from Jerusalem”

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Jerusalem: The 50th Anniversary of Reunification

A love tribute to Jerusalem, by the Chief Rabbi of UK, Dr Jonathan Sachs.

As we approach Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) on the 23rd / 24th May, and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of our beloved city, here are a few thoughts about what Jerusalem means to me. (This video includes captions in Hebrew. If you wish to receive an MP4 version of this video for use in your community, school or organisation on Yom Yerushalayim, please email info@rabbisacks.org and put ‘Jerusalem 50 video’ in the subject line.)

The Most Reverend Suheil S. Dawani Named Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem

Suheil S. Dawani
Anglican Archbishop Suheil S. Dawani of Jerusalem

Dear saints,

As announced by the Episcopal Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Provincial Synod has resolved to confer on the Bishop of Jerusalem the title of Archbishop of Jerusalem.

Mabrouk to Archbishop Suheil S. Dawani, who becomes the first Arab Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem since 1974, an elevated status which will strengthen both the Anglican and Christian presence in Jerusalem. Continue reading “The Most Reverend Suheil S. Dawani Named Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem”

Common Declaration signed by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Pope Francis & Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Pope Francis stands with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I as they meet outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (CNS)

Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, on Sunday held private talks in Jerusalem and signed a Common Declaration in which they pledged to continue on the path towards unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Their encounter marked the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964.   In their joint declaration, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew  said it is their duty to work together to protect human dignity and the family and build a just and humane society in which nobody feels excluded.   They also stressed the need to safeguard God’s creation and the right of religious freedom.  The two leaders expressed concern over the situation facing Christians amidst the conflicts of the Middle East and spoke of the urgency of the hour that compels them to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family whilst fully respecting legitimate differences.

Please find below the full text in English of the Common Declaration of Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. Continue reading “Common Declaration signed by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew”

Robert Hunt – A Second Letter from Jerusalem

Dear friends,

1. From Tel Aviv

Let me start with a map. The distance from the Jordan river (border of Jordan) to the Mediterranean Sea in the center of Israel is just over 40 miles. Everything is compressed. There isn’t a lot of physical space. And that space holds a lot of history.

Almost anywhere you dig, literally anywhere, you will find layer upon layer of different cultures and civilizations. And that space holds a lot of different peoples. The distinction between Arabs and Jews doesn’t begin to express it. There are many kinds of each, including not only theological divisions but essentially ethnic divisions as well.

But it isn’t just different peoples. It is different worldviews and viewpoints. And these struggle with space and for space; social, psychological, and spiritual. We have heard about the difficulty for politicians to “remain within the consensus,” meaning the current multi-party government, when a large part of the constituency wants to break out over sometimes minute ideological issues. But issues critical to their sense of community identity. We have heard of how women struggle to stay within orthodoxy because they do not want to suffer the dual punishment of facing both misogyny and exile from their community and tradition. Continue reading “Robert Hunt – A Second Letter from Jerusalem”

James Mercer – Bending the Tram Lines – Vulnerable Seeds of Hope in Israel/Palestine

Jerusalem tram line (source, here)

Tram L1 is busy. It glides smoothly from its mid-route stop at Damascus Gate, in the shadow of the Old City, west towards Mount Herzl – passing through the European suburbs of West Jerusalem. An armed soldier stands carelessly at the front of the bus, sub-machine gun suspended on his back, disconcertingly casually assertive. Plain clothes security officers, conspicuous in the concealed anti-stab vests, stroll seemingly indifferently between the carriages.

Mount Herzl is the end of the line. Alighting here, the path descends towards a concrete prism-like structure that penetrates the mountain from one side to the other. Entering the  structure, with its changing sequence of spaces and shaded and sloping floors, gives the illusion of a descent deep into the mountain. A dramatic sun-filled exit opens to thrilling views of the ever expanding white city of Jerusalem. This is Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum and memorial. Continue reading “James Mercer – Bending the Tram Lines – Vulnerable Seeds of Hope in Israel/Palestine”

Jerusalem – A Celebration of the Heavenly City


Rabbi John L. Rosov – An Honorable Tradition: Rabbis Dissent on E1 Settlement Plans for the Sake of Israel

E1 Settlement Plans

Recently, I was among more than 400 American rabbis, cantors and rabbinical and cantorial students who signed an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing our deepest concern about his government’s latest settlement decisions.

What especially prompted the letter was a decision he and his government took to build a new settlement in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1, which every prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin has promised the United States that Israel would not undertake in advance of a final-status negotiations. If built, this settlement would cut off the north and south of the West Bank and effectively block the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state. We see the building of E1 as a dagger aimed at the heart of a two-state solution.

Nobody who signed the document did so lightly. It is always difficult for spiritual leaders to take controversial decisions, and it has been especially difficult for American Jewish leaders to openly dissent from the government of Israel.

But I and my fellow signers believe we have a Jewish and moral obligation to speak out now because decisions such as this are endangering the basic principles on which Israel was established — democracy, respect for human rights, tolerance of minorities and political and religious pluralism. We also believe that without a two-state solution, Israel’s very security and safety will be threatened. Continue reading “Rabbi John L. Rosov – An Honorable Tradition: Rabbis Dissent on E1 Settlement Plans for the Sake of Israel”

Prof. Robert Hunt – Impressions from Jerusalem – 4


Dear friends,

I’m writing on a bus that is touring the edges of Jerusalem and thus the contested boundaries with the West Bank. But you don’t want to hear about that, believe me.

So let’s get to something even less pleasant. Last night as I was walking back from a pleasant dinner at the Anna Tico House I dropped by our local grocer to buy a bottle of arak. As I approached the counter I heard the Israeli Jewish clerk raise his voice, and proceed to be rather ugly to an elderly American Jewish couple because they asked for directions. He extended his, ‘you ignorant Americans’ to a diatribe about how America enslaves people and he hopes it is utterly destroyed. I was surprised, since the US is at least Israel’s best friend and possibly its only friend. So I asked, as one should, a local interpreter. And got an earful. Continue reading “Prof. Robert Hunt – Impressions from Jerusalem – 4”

Prof. Robert Hunt – Impressions from Jerusalem – 3

Bonfires in Jerusalem


Well I’m in the hotel bar, having a Macabee beer (really not that great), and wrapping up a read of the Jerusalem Post. Just had a full day of study. First Job in the morning, then Talmudic texts centered on the Lamentations of Jeremiah and moves toward understanding God’s presence in the world as feminine (see Shekinah) It wasn’t tedious but it had absolutely no relationship to typical Christian Bible study procedures and would be difficult to explain.

So to the Post. Front page was the (most probably) Iranian bomb that has now killed nine Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. A list of Iranian bomb plots in other countries against Israelis, not covered in the US press, makes it appear that with or without nuclear weapons Iran plans to kill as many Israelis as it can. Israelis say that this hasn’t entered into the sanctions talks. But we probably shouldn’t get started (on the basis of lists of people killed extrajudicially and possibly innocently) by Israel’s enemies, its friends and its own security services. What is clear in the Post editorial section is that even throwing rocks at Israelis is terrorism, while bombing Gaza is war. All about frames of reference. Continue reading “Prof. Robert Hunt – Impressions from Jerusalem – 3”

Prof. Robert Hunt – Impressions from Jerusalem – 1

Jerusalem, Damascus Gate

17 July 2012

Dear friends,

I write, as I hope to more than once, from the very pleasant terrace of the café at the Prima Hotel in Jerusalem. For those who know the city it is about a block south of the YMCA and King David, in a quiet neighborhood that I explored at some length this morning. Found an ATM, a 24 hour convenience store and toothpaste. The little square where 6 years ago my students participated (while I observed) a protest against Israeli settlements by the Jewish organization “Women in Black.” Did not find an open coffee shop – although I didn’t go in the Y. (I didn’t bother with the King David. My one experience there, at the expense of a well known and well to do rabbi, suggested that its a bit rich for my blood. . . Continue reading “Prof. Robert Hunt – Impressions from Jerusalem – 1”

Jerusalem: The Movie

After a year of research and preparation, the giant screen film JERUSALEM advanced into production with an unprecedented aerial shoot throughout Israel and the West Bank. Scheduled for worldwide release in 2013, the film will take audiences on a spectacular tour of the Holy Land and the city once believed to lie at the centre of the world.

Jerusalem | An Arcane/Cosmic Picture Film

The Easter Message of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem

We, the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land, bring you our Easter greetings from Jerusalem, the City of the Resurrection, hope, and peace.

Every year The Feast of the Resurrection revisits the church, the holy people of God everywhere. The faithful, through their Lenten journey and pilgrimage, walk in faith toward the empty tomb so that they may be filled with grace through the Risen and Triumphant Lord. The message of Easter speaks through the living church in the here and now; through their hopes and fears, joys and sorrows. Continue reading “The Easter Message of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem”

Rev. Mae Cannon – Jerusalem: Holy Fire Spread to the World

This Easter season I have had the great privilege of worshiping alongside of my Arab Christian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. One of my favorite traditions practiced by the Orthodox churches happens on Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday is a sacred day because it is the only day of the year when the Holy Fire – the fire that lights the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – comes out into the world. Priests from different traditions receive the light and pass it along to gathered pilgrims and worshipers throughout the church and the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem. The beautiful and powerful image of candles burning throughout the sacred city is a symbol of the way Christ’s light is spread into the world. Continue reading “Rev. Mae Cannon – Jerusalem: Holy Fire Spread to the World”

Price tag attack on J’lem church provokes religious condemnation

Price tag attack on J’lem church provokes religious condemnation.

Jewish extremists attacked and recently a Baptist church in West Jerusalem. An article by my friend the peace activist Aziz Abu Sarah.

Fundamentalism is ugly in all its forms, Christian, Muslim, or, in this case, Jewish.

As Jesus said, people will kill in God’s name and consider it absolutely justified.

Tony Blair: Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion

Tony Blair: Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

This is a splendid article and, I suggest, an absolutely read. Here is just a few quotes:

There will be no peace in our world without an understanding of the place of religion within it. The past decade has seen many convenient myths, which disguised the importance of religion, stripped away. Many thought as society progressed, religion would decline. It hasn’t happened.

Then there are those that insisted that as the Arab revolution knocked over long-established regimes and created movements for democracy, so those societies’ religiosity would take second place to the new politics. It hasn’t happened. Religion is fundamental to those societies and if anything, in the foreseeable future, will become more so. And do we seriously think the issue of Jerusalem can be resolved without at least some discussion of its religious significance to all three Abrahamic faiths? Continue reading “Tony Blair: Religion-friendly democracy and democracy-friendly religion”

Jerusalem Christian Churches Issue Communique

Looking ahead to the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations this September 2011 and the bid for Palestinian statehood, the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem feel the need to intensify our prayers and diplomatic efforts for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, to consider this as the most appropriate time for such an opportunity, and thus wish to reiterate the following principles upon which we agree:

1. A two-state solution serves the cause of peace and justice.

2. Israelis and Palestinians must live each in their own independent states with peace and justice, respecting human rights according to international law.

3. Negotiations are the best way to resolve all outstanding problems between the two sides. Continue reading “Jerusalem Christian Churches Issue Communique”

David Gushee – Encountering the Palestinians and their Plight

David Gushee, distinguished professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, continues his series of reflections following his visit this summer in the Middle East.

This one is on the plight of Palestinians. Here are a few quotes: Continue reading “David Gushee – Encountering the Palestinians and their Plight”

The Church of St John the Baptist – One of Jerusalem’s Best Kept Secrets

As I am preparing to visit Jerusalem again, this time together with my wife, I offer you this short video from one of the least known churches there.

(Thanks to my colleague Mike Bailey for this.)

Martin Marty – Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Madaba Jerusalem Mosaic

Jerusalem, Jerusalem is not about Jerusalem the city. Guidebooks abound and histories are plentiful. What author James Carroll was moved to write is a reflection that deals with Jerusalem both as real and as metaphor. He does not exactly do justice to or make much of his subtitle: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World, but his reflections will ignite at least sparks in the minds of readers who want to ponder with him the question: what is it about religion, with all the solace-bringing good its various forms can bring, that also prompts and promotes violence of most barbaric sorts? Continue reading “Martin Marty – Jerusalem, Jerusalem”

Jérusalem : Les quatre quartiers de la ville trois fois sainte

Dans le mouchoir de poche qu’est la vieille ville de Jérusalem (Yerushalayim en hébreu, Al-Quds en arabe), les communautés religieuses vivent et prient côte à côte sans se mélanger. Visite des quatre quartiers arménien, juif, musulman et chrétien.

Israel Continues Deporting Jerusalem Palestinian Christians

Yesterday fifteen people were stranded at Alenby/King Hussein bridge on the River Jordan, where at the end, four of them were sent back to Jerusalem, to the Ministry of Interior just to tell them; You are no more eligible to live in Jerusalem… your city, where you were born and lived all these years, where your grand fathers were, because today we have no space for you… Jews are coming from every where and they need your space. The family of 4 , a father , two sons and one daughter were given a travel document for one time use , for one way direction… out of Jerusalem, out of Palestine.

Continue reading “Israel Continues Deporting Jerusalem Palestinian Christians”

Bernard Sabella – On the Occasion of A Nonending Occupation

Dr. Bernard Sabella

Jerusalem, 3 June 2010

Forty three years have passed since the June war of 1967 and sixty two years have elapsed since the 1948 war. The question today remains: where are we at in terms of ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and moving forward towards different relationships not simply between Palestinians and Israelis but throughout the Middle East. The answers are grim indeed. Instead of containing the conflict, Israel’s perpetual obsession with security and the industry created around it, whether in the military, media, diplomatic circles or in presentations aimed at convincing the Israeli population and others across the world of Israel as victim and candidate for eradication seems destined to lead Israel from one war into another. As witnessed in the recent tragic episode of the Gaza Flotilla taken over by Israeli commandoes, the Israeli action and its aftermath made out of the Turkish people a hostile nation.

Continue reading “Bernard Sabella – On the Occasion of A Nonending Occupation”

Green light for Jerusalem settlers

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