Mount Zion

Window to Mount Zion – Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood?

We believe that our offices sit in one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Jerusalem – Mount Zion. Mount Zion includes David’s Tomb (the only place in the world that is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims), the Diaspora Yeshiva, the Dormition Abbey, historic Muslim, Christian and Jewish cemeteries, and much more.

When Window to Mount Zion began two years ago we started a new tradition, an annual social gathering for all residents. This year, we – representatives of all institutions and organizations that live and work on Mount Zion – did something even more unusual – we took a tour of a number of different hidden gems that the ‘neighborhood’ has to offer. This enabled residents to get to know their neighbors – and neighborhood – just a little better.

The tour started in the Chamber of the Holocaust, which is operated by the Diaspora Yeshiva. This was one of the first places established to commemorate the Holocaust, yet, for many, it was the first time they had been. It was a somber yet fascinating experience.

In the Chamber of the Holocaust

In the Chamber of the Holocaust

From there we moved on to the complex of David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper (Cenacle). There, we heard the site director talk about efforts to improve maintenance at the site. We saw the new setting to place candles and noticed the improved cleanliness of the site. From the police station at David’s Tomb the community police officer spoke about the cultural competency training that we provided for the entire David Precinct (that is responsible for the Old City and Mount Zion), and how the work on Mount Zion served as a model for action.

On the roof of David's Tomb

On the roof of David’s Tomb

We enjoyed the view from the roof of the David’s Tomb complex, and were able to see its environs, and enjoy Jerusalem’s fresh, mountain air. The head of the Ad Cenaculum monastery spoke briefly about the monastery and its long history.

From the roof we then descended via a hidden, back exit, which led to two green gates and two fabulous gardens. One belongs to the Dormition Abbey and the other to the Beit Yosef complex. Both are actually associated with the Dormition Abbey. Their representative explained that in the past it had been one garden. During the years 1948 – 1967, when Jerusalem was divided but Mount Zion was an Israeli enclave surrounded by no-man’s land, the Dormition Abbey allowed the State of Israel to use the access path to the garden in order to access Mount Zion. This is the path that  splits the garden today.

On Mount Zion, even the garden paths are historic

On Mount Zion, even the garden paths are historic

We visited the well-kept gardens and heard more about the Franciscan community in Jerusalem.

The visit ended with dinner and discussions in our own beautiful garden, underneath one of the oldest mulberry trees in Jerusalem. What a wonderful way to end an evening, discussing ideas and thoughts about the diverse and varied communities who live on Mount Zion.

Here’s the link to the Facebook post (in Hebrew):

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Gearing Up for Jerusalemite Day

What is your Jerusalem? Who is your Jerusalemite?

This year May 23 and 24 are the days to think about Jerusalem and connect to it. This year, there are dozens and dozens of ways to do it.

Building on last year’s success of A Different Day in Jerusalem, this year we call it: Jerusalemite Day: A Day of the Other.

Jerusalemite Day: Day of the Other

Jerusalemite Day: Day of the Other

How do you want to connect to Jerusalem and its diversity? With tours of the Jewish-Arab seam line, the secular – Haredi seam line? Or Mount Zion, the only site that is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians? Or Jerusalem according to asylum seekers? Commemorating those who perished in the treacherous journey from Ethiopia to Israel? Along the Jerusalem Railway Park or on the Light Rail? At a Kurdish hafla in the Katamonim or a parade on Azza St.?

Right now we have a list of some 70 events. And the list keeps getting longer and longer and longer. See here for the event on Facebook and here for the web site, which is constantly being updated.

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of this program!

And here’s the entire list, updated as of 21.5.17. You can download an English list of events in PDF here:

Tuesday, May 23

15:30 – Hapoel Katamon Neighborhood League  – Year-End Girls Soccer tournament that will include 12 girls soccer teams in grades 4 – 6 from throughout Jerusalem including all sectors – religious, secular, Arab. At the Keshet Sports Field.

15:30 – From Zion Square to Sallah a-DinA Walking Tour of Jerusalem’s Urban Centers.’ A tour that examines connecting and conflict points between the Israeli and Palestinian centers of life in Jerusalem, guided by Eran Tzidkiyahu. Organized by the Ir Amim organization.

16:00  – Weaving – Macrame Workshop with Yaffi Ronen. At the Reading Station, Masryk St.

16:00 Jerusalem: An Ethnic Mosaic: Secular, Religious, Ultra-Orthodox, Arab. Presented by 4 female citizens of the city. Moderated by Daniel Goldman, Chairman of Gesher. Jerusalem Ramada Hotel.

17:00 – Tour of the Interfaith Music Conservatory with Father Alberto. We’ll meet at Damascus Gate and walk together to the conservatory that is within the St. Saviour monastery, which is adjacent to the New Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.

17:45 Weaving – Macrame Workshop with Yaffi Ronen. At the Reading Station in Mekor Haim.

18:00 – 20:00  – Wandering around the House – A short play in which a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman choose to take an open place and claim it as their house. Come discover what happens afterwards, in a show that expresses the power dynamics of nationality and gender. This event is in English.

18:00 – Curator’s tour of a special exhibit at the Museum on the Seam. The exhibit seeks to examine secular Jewish artists and the influence of Jewish values on them and their art, at the same time looking outward at a new phenomenon of religious artists who draw inspiration from their beliefs and who engage it in a complex dialogue. The exhibit examines the connection between art and faith, both of which deal with the human acknowledgement of the revelation and the need to express it. Cost of the tour: 20 NIS. Pre-registration required.

19:00 – Bat Hur – voices and shadows echo the story of a daughter and mother who were trapped between the walls of Beit Hanson, Jerusalem’s leper colony. Two languages, two actresses, a choir and hidden Jerusalem history. Performance will take place at the Alliance Building.

19:00 – Screening of , “Turn Left at the End of the World,” organized by the Jerusalem Branch of Enosh, the Israeli Mental Health Association. The screening will be followed by a discussion about Jerusalem and welcoming the other. Discussion in Hebrew and English. Shalom Yehuda 29. This event will be held in English and in Hebrew.

19:30 – Martial Arts Advancing Peace – at the El Halev Center.

19:30 – Founder of “Stories on the Way” (Sipur al Haderech), Adv. David (Darsali) Avetta in an intimate discussion about his immigration to Israel, on ‘Yerusalem’ and about the story that an entire community is beginning to tell today. In cooperation with the Israel Association of Community Centers. We’ll meet in Diana Lipton’s house.

19:30 – The Mount Will Answer the Judgment: on Holiness and Sovereignty – The Forum for Regional Thinking invites you to the Researchers’ Community Lounge at the Alliance Building with 2 Jerusalem researchers-Tomer Persiko and Eran Tzidkiyahu, commemorating the 50th Jerusalem Day. We will discuss different perspectives, complimentary and opposing, from which we can look out on the Temple Mount / Al Aqsa.

20:00 – Ask for the Heart of Jerusalem, organized by Out for Change. In honor of Jerusalem Day, Out for Change will bring together two sectors that are intertwined with each other: Haredim and those who were formerly Haredi. We will try to bridge the gaps via a mind that seeks to know and a heart that seeks to listen. The interviewer: Pini Via, who grew up and was raised Haredi, and Mr. Benahu Tevila, a graduate of rabbinic and halakhic law studies, M.A. in Philosophy, Ministry of Education Supervisor for Haredi secondary schools, and an activist in Haredi society.

20:00 – Souls (Nefashot) – Coping through Art.  A special evening in which we’ll try to bridge the gap between the headlines and the stigmas about people with emotional disabilities and their abilities. A variety of performances will tell us about their experiences in special ways: original music, spoken word, stand-up comedy, open galleries, and more. At the Abraham Hostel.

20:00 – Heroes: Dance performance -Israel, Jerusalem and the ‘Others’ within It: Because Israeli-ness isn’t a melting pot – it is the Land of Israel in all its glory, which stretches out to all those who inhabit it, to the edges that don’t connect. The performance is by the Ka’et Ensemble and will take place in the C.A.T.A.M.O.N. studio in the Alliance Building. Cost: 30 NIS

20:30 – My Heart is in the East – Jerusalem in the Eyes of North African Liturgy. Jerusalem liturgy in Hebrew, Moroccan-Arabic and Matruz, by the Paytan Maimon Meny Cohen and a musical ensemble. Organized by Kehillot Sharot.

21:00 – Visions of the Gazan youth – An unofficial meeting with Sami, a freelance journalist and peace activist from Gaza. Join a discussion about the possibility for a better future and the missing dialogue between Israelis and Gazans. This event is in English.

21:00  – Holiness and Politics: Jerusalem of Three Religions – A panel by the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue (Formerly JCRC) invites us to a workshop in which we’ll examine the character of none other than King David, who appears in holy writings of the three monotheistic religions. Through him, and through the Jerusalem sites that are associated with him (David’s Tomb, for example), we’ll learn about the holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and we’ll attempt to understand the political connections behind that holiness.

21:00 – Bat Hur – voices and shadows echo the story of a daughter and mother who were trapped between the walls of Beit Hanson, Jerusalem’s leper colony. Two languages, two actresses, a choir and hidden Jerusalem history. Performance will take place at the Alliance Building.

21:00 – 02:00 – Ma’aleh Movie Marathon. Ma’ale School of Television, Film & the Arts invites the general public to enjoy a nighttime marathon of the best new graduate movies that are participating in film festival around Israel and the world. The marathon will include films that deal with and take place in Jerusalem, covering the entire spectrum of lifestyles. The movies will be screened throughout the school. Come to a virtual-cinematic tour of the Haredi neighborhood and synagogue communities, through the crowded streets of Nahlaot, the city center, and Talpiot, to the mysterious, hidden monasteries. 20 Shivtei Yisrael St.

Wednesday, May 24

8:00 – Tour of the Rahel Checkpoint – That’s How We Do Zionism, Tolerance and Human Rights – a special tour of the Rahel Checkpoint that connects between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, by the Blue&White Human Rights group. This is a rare opportunity to hear and see up close the reality at the checkpoints, to meet the people from the field and to discover how to combine Zionism and human rights. The tour is free but pre-registration is required.

9:00 – Status Quo in Jerusalem – Tour of Mount Zion – between holy sites, forgotten stories and a delicate status quo, monks, yeshiva students, artists and business owners live side by side. Let’s get to know the viewpoints of the residents and the visitors of Mount Zion, about the shared living there and about the delicate and fascinating cooperation that takes place today. During the tour we will meet with the deputy director of the Diaspora Yeshiva Ely Dan, and Father Daniel, a monk from the Dormition community. The tour is free but pre-registration is required.

9:00 – Jerusalem is Tiptoeing In – The Djanogly Visual Arts Centre is hosting the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education and invites the general public to take part in a unique event that is completely Jerusalemite art – a rich collection of works that weaves the new-old narrative of Jerusalem from its artists’ point of view. Moving through the space we will discover new corners and faces of Jerusalem. We will examine how tensions, feelings and people build yet another story of Jerusalem.

10:00 – Heterotopia in MusraraTour of the Art Trail (for men), of the Studio of Her Own project. Art in the public space in northern Musrara, the third wall. Two tours, one for men (at 10:00) and one for women (11:00), guided by Rabbi Aharon Kedem from the Breslev Hassidim, and Tzipi Mizrachi from the Studio of Her Own.

10:00 – Stories on the Way at the Sieff & Marks Community Center in Beit HaKerem. The group of volunteers of the Shalem Movement will meet with Eitan Penethon for an open discussion about the story of Israelis of Ethiopian descent, on ‘Yerusalem’, and on the possibility to create change in Israeli society.

10:00 – Stories on the Way Discussion Circles – The story of the Ethiopian-Israeli Aliyah, by the Olim themselves. The discussion circles will take place at Mount Herzl, right before the official ceremony that will take place at 11:00.

10:30 – I Saw a City: Jerusalem between Dream and Reality – Tour about Jerusalem in the National Library: We will meet original objects from the Six Day War, we will view the largest stained glass window in Israel, we will become acquainted with the ancient map collection of Jerusalem and we will visit the exhibit, “City of Dreams: Jerusalem from the Imagination’s View,” Jerusalem as seen in the imaginations of Jewish, Muslim and Christian artists.

11:00 – Heterotopia in MusraraTour of the Art Trail (for women), of the Studio of Her Own project. Art in the public space in northern Musrara, the third wall. Two tours, one for men (at 10:00) and one for women (11:00), guided by Rabbi Aharon Kedem from the Breslev Hassidim, and Tzipi Mizrachi from the Studio of Her Own.

11:00 – Official ceremony for Ethiopian Jews who perished in Sudan. The public is invited to become acquainted with a different story that is commemorated on Jerusalem Day. The ceremony will take place at Mount Herzl. There will be discussion circles, operated by Stories on the Way, on the immigration stories of Ethiopian Jews.

11:30 A special workshop on the secrets of mediation and self-defense. Participants will learn how to correctly handle any conflict through a proper balance of wisdom and listening and action. Operated by the Mosaica Center for Conflict Resolution and The Jerusalem School of Traditional JuJitsu and Self Defense.

12:00 – 16:00 – Tolerance Stop on the light rail line, operated by the Ruach Nachon pre-army preparatory program, in cooperation with the Citypass company that operates the light rail and the Jerusalem Municipality. The stop seeks to create a Jerusalem mosaic and increase tolerance at the Municipality light rail stop.

12:30 I Saw a City: Jerusalem between Dream and Reality – Tour about Jerusalem in the National Library: We will meet original objects from the Six Day War, we will view the largest stained glass window in Israel, we will become acquainted with the ancient map collection of Jerusalem and we will visit the exhibit, “City of Dreams: Jerusalem from the Imagination’s View,” Jerusalem as seen in the imaginations of Jewish, Muslim and Christian artists.

15:00 – Wall art for girls in the Art Shelter studio in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood, together with Solomon, the fantastic graffiti artist! Children (and adults) welcome.

15:30 – 18:30 – The Jerusalem March along the Jerusalem Railway Park, by the Yerushalmim Movement. Jerusalem communities march together and celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity. There will be 3 starting points:

            15:30 – Beneath the Baram Bridge, the long route

            16:00 – Gonenim Park, the general route

            17:15 – Oranim Junction, the Family March

            18:15 – Festive event at the First Station.

The march will be accompanied by Marsh Dondurma, Tahrir Eastern Bar and Kehillat Zion. Activities for children, music, balloons and a range of surprises will be distributed along the route!

16:00 – 21:00 Building Our Own Jerusalem with Lego – A building site for Jerusalemites from all ethnicities, religions and opinions. Building together a tolerant and inclusive Jerusalem from tens of thousands of Lego pieces. At the Davidka Light Rail Station. No Hebrew required.

16:00 – Street Beit Midrash on the Ben Yehudah Midrachov. A special session about tolerance and Jerusalem.

16:00 – Ascension Ceremony at the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. At 16:00 all the Christian churches will begin their ceremonies. At 16:45 the Catholic Franciscan evening service will begin. It is a Christian ceremony, please come dressed appropriately.

16:00 – Traditional Flower Parade organized by Tag Meir: Light instead of Terror. Let’s distribute flowers to the residents of the Old City.

16:00 – 23:00 – Katatmon’s Wisdom: Katamon Culture in Houses and in the Streets. An entire festival of Katamon-led activity, including neighborhood tolerance activities:

16:30 – 18:00 – “Here There Was…” a tour of the Katamonim neighborhood from the outlook of 3 women from different ethnic backgrounds. Starting from the gat of the Gonenim Park.

17:00 – Writing Workshop: Poetry from Recipes. Recipes from different ethnic groups are written as new Israeli poetry. The workshop will take place at the reading station on the Jerusalem Railway Park.

17:00 – The Parliament. Neighborhood residents from all cultures and ages are invited to the Butka Café to hold a neighborhood parliament, in which we talk about everything.

17:00 – 19:00 – Katamon Portrait. Neighborhood residents take pictures of themselves next to the Well-Baby Clinic.

17:30 – 19:30 – A Knit – A Space for Knitting. A simple space for knitting and learning how to knit, regardless of religion, creed or gender.

18:00 – Ethnic cooking workshops in residents’ homes. Learning about the dish as well as how to prepare Ingra with Abbebe and Kubbeh with Hannah.

18:00 – Kurdish Hafla – A Kurdish dance party with food.

18:00 – Meeting at the Beit Midrash – Asking for Peace of Jerusalem. The Matan women’s Beit Midrash opens its doors for joint learning for women from all backgrounds.

18:15 – Women’s Song: Vocal Creations as an Agent of Change. Vocal artist Faye Shapiro will tell about the “Rivers of Katamonim” project that she led with older women, together with young artists. It will meet at the Gonenim Community Center, and include vocal work and singing.

19:00 – Ethiopian Celebration – songs, dances, food, in the plaza in front of the minimarket on San Martin St.

19:30 – Choosing to Feel Well. Loneliness is a cross-cultural experience. We will hear about Alan’s project, which creates an inviting space for everyone to deal with loneliness together.

19:30 – Singing together songs from Israel and different ethnic groups. Organized by the Singing in the Garden initiative, in San Simon Park.

19:30 – 21:00 – Katamon Portrait 2 – Taking pictures of ourselves in San Simon.

17:00 – Wall art for boys in the Art Shelter studio in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood, together with Solomon, the fantastic graffiti artist! Children (and adults) welcome.

17:00 – 50 Years, 50 Faces – An opening festive event marking the documentary project of the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem, commemorating 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, presenting 50 personal stories of Jerusalem residents from all its corners, from the time directly after the 1967 war. It will include video clips, interviews, text and original pictures.

17:00 – Everything Private: Prayers, Stories and Staged Reading of ‘Everything Private’. A play based on meeting minutes of the Barashi synagogue’s board in Nahlaot. The minutes combine the holy with the everyday, and touch on practical details from the everyday life of the synagogue and community. It is spiced with light irony, and sometimes self-humor, yet it preserves the accuracy, honor and the reality of the time. The play has a contemporary and universal message about the unique drama and meaning of worlds that are disappearing, worlds that are being built, and colorful characters that are building them; and on longing and love. At the Museum of Italian Jewry.

17:30 – Black and White Jerusalem – A tour on the seam line between Haredi and non-Haredi neighborhoods to understand the Haredi sector, organized by the Tarbuth organization. We’ll meet in Davidka Square.

18:00 – Jerusalem for All Festival – with performances by Echo, Tito and Jaluk. There will be a stage for Jerusalemite performers. Kelly Halperin and Moshe Waldman will hold a panel on Jerusalem entrepreneurship. There will be stands selling art, art installations and a poetry slam and of course food and drink. The even strives to bring together different groups in the city, emphasizing the human and cultural diversity in Jerusalem. At the Alliance Building.

18:00 – Tour of Jerusalem as a City of Asylum: Jerusalem in the Eyes of the Asylum Seekers who Live There. A tour by the Jerusalem African Community Center.

18:45 – Believers – An evening of inter-religious prayer and listening circles, on listening and the Holy City, with Kehillat Zion, Marsh Dondurma, Tahrir Eastern Bar and the Yerushalmim Movement, and Arab and secular and Haredi Jewish leaders.

19:00 – New Haredim, the Formerly Religious, and All that Cholent. Journalist Mendy Grosman hosts Moshe Sheinfeld and Avi Tapilinsky at the Tmol Shilshom Café.

19:30 – Shfuyah B’Haloma (Sane in Her Dream) – A multi-aged, multicultural Jerusalemite panel on the occasion of the launch of Dr. Elan Ezrachi’s new book, Shfuyah B’Haloma. The panel will include: Ora Ahimeir, Keren Brunwasser, Eran Tzidkiyahu, Yossi Klein-Halevi.

19:30 – Screening of the movie, “The Seventh Day,” and discussion with Suleiman Hattib, founder of Combatants for Peace. Afterward we’ll dive into the sounds of Fuad Abi A-Nam and Friends.

19:30 – Meeting of Stories on the Way with Daressa Atchnepa – his emotional story of immigrating to Israel from Ethiopian. In the home of the Dahan family.

20:00 – Storytellers Evening on Jerusalem and Tolerance at the BeShutaf Cooperative. During the evening Jerusalemites will tell their stories: some sad, some happy, some emotional, some will leave you stunned. But all are real. Facilitated by Itamar Farhi.

20:30 – Beyond the Dark Mountains – a journey near home. We will commemorate 50 years since the Six Day War, which are also 50 years of shared living between Jerusalem residents from eastern and western parts of the city. Eliezer Ya’ari will take us on a journey to the people who live in East Jerusalem, part of the capital of Israel, and will enlighten us about their thoughts and dreams, on shared living in the city, on the daily reality, and on the future. We will meet at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

21:00 – Jibberishalem – Improvising the language, by JLMprov. An interactive improvisational performance on Jerusalem and its characters. We will meet in Alliance Building. No Hebrew required.

21:00 – Bat Hur. Voices and shadows echo the story of a daughter and mother who were trapped between the walls of Beit Hanson, Jerusalem’s leper colony. Two languages, two actresses, a choir and hidden Jerusalem history. Performance will take place in the Alliance Building.

21:00 – Yachas Ham at Birman. A special performance of the Yachas Ham band, paying tribute to Bob Dylan’s birthday (and Shakespeare’s). Let’s hear about tolerance as expressed in Bob Dylan’s songs.

All Day – Teachers Lounge project of “This is Jerusalem.” An exhibition of a year-long program that brought together Jewish and Arab educators. The exhibition will be shown at the First Station.

All Day – Jerusalem Tolerance Cookie Decorating! International competition of cookie artists who decorated cookies to emphasize tolerance in Jerusalem. Organized by Jerusalem Cake Design.

Events Not Open to the General Public

Special activities to advance tolerance at the Dror High School (religious).

Students from the Tag Meir student organization light up Jerusalem – Students will visit high schools throughout Jerusalem and will operate workshops on tolerance in Jerusalem.

The Scouts – all participants in the scouts will have special activities for Jerusalem Day, focusing on Jerusalem, its complexity, its uniqueness and its place in Israeli society.

Workshop by the Center for Middle Eastern Music for students for the Keshet School.

An Accessible City: Photography exhibit. The school at the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital will hold a party celebrating Jerusalem’s many cultures. The program: An Accessible City – a photography exhibit. Songs about Jerusalem in Hebrew and Arabic and a competition identifying places in Jerusalem. The workshop is closed to the public but the exhibit will be open.

Meeting for all group coordinators from the Interfaith Encounter Association to meet each other.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Passover and Easter Together on Mount Zion

Mount Zion’s religious ceremonies are the subject of much excitement and attract pilgrims from all over the world. One of the most special times in in the spring, around the Passover and Easter holidays.

The week before Easter is especially busy. On April 13, the Thursday before Easter, the Custos, Guard of the Holy Places for the Catholic Church performs a ceremony in which he washes the feet of 12 excellent students of religion, exactly at the place where Jesus washed the feet of his 12 disciples.

This year, the date was extra special, since it took place both during the Passover holiday, when a large number of Jewish tourists came to Mount Zion, and during the Christian Orthodox Holy Week. Hundreds of tourists from different faiths visited Mount Zion on that day, many of them for the washing of the disciples ceremony.

Window to Mount Zion volunteers were there, as always, helping the Police to help keep order, explain what is happening to all passersby (of all faiths), to contribute to a more tolerant atmosphere during the ceremonies and to make everyone’s visit more pleasant during , and to join in the celebrations. All in all, this year’s ceremony went smoothly and quietly, a stark contrast to last year, when the ceremony coincided with the Jewish festival of Purim, which was quite a noisy affair. Click here to read about last year’s ceremony.

Here’s a short video from the ceremony:

 

Before Window to Mount Zion was established this and other Christian ceremonies had been the source of a great deal of tension, so we’re grateful for the progress that Window to Mount Zion volunteers have made. They have become such an integral part of ceremonies on Mount Zion, it seemed almost natural (and we were greatly honored) that one of the Window to Mount Zion volunteers was almost part of this important ceremony. A German speaker was needed, and Yael was the only one in the crowd. Similarly, an Arabic reader was also needed, and we called upon Ibrahim, a Muslim worker for our neighbor, the Diaspora Yeshiva. However, in the end neither participated because it was necessary to read part of Christian liturgy and they weren’t Christian. Still, it was an honor to be considered an integral part of the ceremony.

Here’s Yael’s Facebook post (in Hebrew) about the ceremony, and about Window to Mount Zion in general:

 

Many thanks to the volunteers of the Window to Mount Zion project for their continued dedication. May we have many more peaceful religious ceremonies thanks to your help!

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Window to Mount Zion – Cleaning the Dejani Cemetery

Adjacent to the David’s Tomb complex is the Dajani cemetery. It is an historic Muslim cemetery where the Dajani family, a well-known, well-established Jerusalem family, buried its family members. This includes a former Mayor of Jerusalem and other VIPs.

Before the Clean-up March 2017

Before the Clean-up March 2017

For a long time this cemetery stood locked and neglected, and was an eyesore to anyone (some 2 million tourists (!) per year) who visited the area of David’s Tomb.

Organizing the volunteer workers

Organizing the volunteer workers

Until Window to Mount Zion decided to to something. Window to Mount Zion organized a unique clean-up mission, together with our volunteers, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Police, and the Dajani family. Thanks to our volunteers, all the different bodies came together for the project.

Hard at work

Hard at work

The clean-up took place on Monday, March 20. They weeded, cleaned up, and cleared away tree trunks and other unnecessary vegetation and garbage that had sprouted and multiplied over the years.

Eran, one of the volunteers, had a special experience. Together with a descendant of the Dajani family, he cleaned up the area around the grave of Abd el-Kadr Tahbub, who was the supreme judge of Jerusalem. Together, they also read the special poem that was written on his gravestone.

Cleaning up a special grave

Cleaning up a special grave

Work in the cemetery isn’t finished. In the future, we also seek to map the cemetery and fix some of the gravestones that have been damaged over the years.

Here’s the Facebook post (in Hebrew) about the work:

Many thanks to all the partners who helped take part in this special cleanup – the Jerusalem Municipality, Israel Police, the Dajani family, of course the volunteers. Here’s to additional fruitful, intercultural and inter-religious partnerships in the future.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continuing support of our efforts to promote tolerance in Jerusalem.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Window to Mount Zion – Praying for Church Unity

Jerusalem has certainly seen its share of conflict – between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Secular Jews, and even conflicts between different Christian denominations. And sometimes, Jerusalem also leads efforts to resolve those conflicts, on many levels. Thus is the rationale behind the Prayer for Church Unity that took place on January 26, 2017 on Mount Zion.

Leading the prayer for church unity

Leading the prayer for church unity

In 1964, Pope Paul VI made his first papal visit to the Middle East since the Middle Ages. In January 1964 he conducted an historic meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, the first such meeting in 900 years! Since then, Christians around the world hold joint prayer services during the last week of January. In Jerusalem, this includes a special prayer, recited in the Cenacle (Room of the Last Supper), which is formally a neutral place, historically and religiously significant, and a sacred site to almost all the Christian communities in the city.

Some 200 worshipers were present

Some 200 worshipers were present

We first reported about this prayer last year. (You can read here about our experience.) This year, for the second year running the prayer for church unity again ran smoothly, thanks to the volunteers of Window to Mount Zion and their close cooperation with the David Precinct of the Israel Police. Together, clad in their bright yellow vests, Window to Mount Zion volunteers were there to advance tolerance and ensure that all 200 worshipers, members of all different denominations, were able to peacefully take part in the prayer.

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Worshipers prayed in one of the holiest places in Jerusalem, and we were proud to be part of this effort to build bridges between different groups. Congratulations to Window to Mount Zion volunteers on another job well done!

Here’s the Facebook post (in Hebrew) from the Window to Mount Zion Facebook page:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2016 – What a Year!

As we jump head-first into 2017, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2016, and what a year it’s been! Overall, a year of unprecedented growth and development, and we can’t wait to get started in 2017. Here are some highlights:

Cultural Competence

  • The Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference in May 2016, organized jointly by the JICC and the Jerusalem Foundation as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, was a turning point for the JICC. Attended by hundreds of professionals, from Jerusalem and throughout Israel, the conference presented strides that have been made over the past 10 years, and set the stage for the next step of meeting diverse residents’ diverse needs, in all areas of life.
  • Continued work in the health care system, in Jerusalem and as a model throughout Israel, training in-house coordinators and facilitators to increase sustainability and adaptability within individual institutions. For the first time, work included a national network of hospitals and clinics.
  • Expansive work in the Israel Police Force, reaching most police stations and present and future commanding officials, and continuing to expand training in 2017.
  • Groundbreaking work with the National Insurance Institute (NII), East Jerusalem branch, the first NII branch in the country to undergo a process of cultural competence.
  • In the Jerusalem Municipality, the entire Community Services Administration, which includes welfare, public health, immigrant absorption, and more, is undergoing training, as well as the Auditor’s Office which will be able to look at the entire Municipality’s operations through the prism of cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • Santé Israël, the first web site to make Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers, celebrated its first birthday. 
Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker, Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference

Paramedical Professionals

Making healthcare practitioner exams accessible to Arab residents of east Jerusalem

2016 was an important year for us to take stock of the past four years of this program. Our conclusions show that:

  • The number of certified Arab paramedical professionals in East Jerusalem has grown significantly.
  • The program has enabled the JICC to more clearly map the situation of different paramedical professions in east Jerusalem, contributing to the knowledge of training in the Jerusalem area.
  • The awareness both among Palestinian institutes of higher education and health care institutions in east Jerusalem as well as Israeli Ministry of Health has been raised significantly.
  • A large window of opportunity for Arab women paramedical professionals to improve economic opportunities has been opened.

Nurses studying to pass their Israeli certification examinations

Talking Coexistence – Arabic Language Instruction

Both 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 broke enrollment records. In 2015-16 there were 180 students in 12 classes, over 5 levels. In 2016-2017, there are 240 students in 16 classes, also over 5 levels. We also held several cultural evenings to enrich students’ understanding of Arabic culture. Here’s a short video about the program:

Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents

The Atta’a Center has been in existence since 2004, and in 2015 it came under the aegis of the JICC. In 2016 we have seen:

  • 70% growth in number of requests
  • Ballooning of its Facebook page to over 7,100 ‘likes,’ and launching of its web site.
  • Publication of a widely-referenced booklet on the Ministry of Interior
  • Expansion of network of partners in action, both from NGO’s and advocacy groups as well as municipal and government agencies.

Atta’a Presenting workshops

MiniActive for Arab Residents of East Jerusalem

  • For the first time ever, MiniActive activities led to a change in policy. After months of campaigning, MiniActive led the way toward the addition of 3 million NIS to the annual municipal sanitation budget for east Jerusalem, and 16 million NIS for the purchase of additional equipment for sanitation. As a result of this work, the entire Municipality is focusing their attention on garbage collection throughout
  • In January 2016, MiniActive organized the first ever Arabic language Horticulture Therapy course in Jerusalem for special education teachers, in cooperation with the David Yellin Academic College of Education.
  • Bus stops in entire neighborhoods were repaired and replaced, thanks to MiniActive.
  • 210 women – including 50 youth – are studying Hebrew through a volunteer NGO to improve the effectivity of their activism. This is a record-breaking number, which broke last year’s record of 150 women.
  • In MiniActive Youth for the Environment, teenage girls learn leadership skills while participating in major environment-improving public art and other projects in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem.
  • MiniActive became a model for international work, hosting a delegation that works with the Roma population in the Czech Republic in November 2016.

Take a look at MiniActive’s own year in review. It’s pretty easy to understand, even if you don’t know Arabic:

Emergency Readiness Networks

In 2016 we expanded the network to include 14 communities throughout Jerusalem. In addition to training new volunteers, the program included training of existing networks to maintain ability to respond and increase sustainability.

Planning on map

Planning strategy on map

Multicultural Participatory Democracy

In 2016 we mentored community center staffs in Gilo, Kiryat Menachem, Givat Messuah, Baka’a and south Talpiot. For the first time, residents – especially the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Menachem and the highly diverse community of south Talpiot –felt that they were able to influence issues that affected their everyday lives. Training included using Facebook as a community-building tool key to increasing residents’ engagement in community processes.

Writing and submitting objections

Writing and submitting objections in Gilo

Promoting Tolerance in the Public Sphere

Since the summer of 2014 the JICC have been at the forefront of promoting tolerance in Jerusalem. 2016 accomplishments include:

  • A Different Day in Jerusalem celebrated Jerusalem’s diversity through 50 coordinated events, affecting tens of thousands of people on Jerusalem Day. It was the first time such a broad effort has been made to celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity.
  • JICC-mentored Speaking in the Square and other tolerance initiatives that came in their wake led to the redesigning of Zion Square, to be called Tolerance Square. The initiative’s Effective Dialogue methodology spread, and is now being presented in national frameworks.
  • 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem are now liked by nearly 80,000 people and reach some 150,000 people weekly on Facebook and the Internet. The network now includes pages that translate from Arabic to Hebrew, from Arabic to English and one which brings news from the Ultra-Orthodox world to the awareness of the general population.
  • The JICC was asked to be one of the leading organizations in the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations to Promote Tolerance, formed by the Center for Young Adults and the Municipality’s Young Authority.
  • The JICC is continuing to develop Tolerance Network Teams (TNT’s), a series of neighborhood-based and theme-based grassroots initiatives that seek to advance tolerance in Jerusalem.
Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

Haaretz article about A Different Day in Jerusalem

Window to Mount Zion

Since October 2015, Window to Mount Zion has bridged inter-religious and inter-community gaps that have festered between Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups for centuries. As a result of its activity over the past year:

  • In unheard-of cooperation, religious Jewish and Christian groups have issued joint statements condemning hate crimes on Mount Zion.
  • Christian ceremonies, which in the past have caused inter-religious tension, proceeded without incident.
  • The celebration of Christian and Jewish holidays that coincided simultaneously, which in the past had been the source of conflict and tension, also proceeded smoothly.
Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Asylum Seekers

The JICC, together with the Jerusalem Municipality, sponsor the only paid public servant in Israel to help asylum seekers, outside of Tel Aviv. We are also part of a consortium of organizations and agencies that seek to meet the needs of asylum seekers living in the city.

Tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Families of asylum seekers on tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Thank You!

Many many thanks go out to our partners in action and our donors. You can read about our activities in more detail either by clicking on the hyperlinks above, or by clicking here.

Looking forward to making 2017 even better!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Window to Mount Zion – Christmas and Chanukah on Mount Zion

What do you do on Mount Zion when the weekly Saturday-night celebration, known as a Melave Malka, the first night of Chanukah, and Christmas Eve all fall on the same day? You celebrate, of course! With a little (actually a lot) of help from Window to Mount Zion.

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

It hasn’t always been this way. In the past the presence of different groups of Jews and Christians celebrating at the same time in the same space have caused tension and even violence. Thanks to the Window to Mount Zion project, over the past year and a half tensions have markedly decreased. Project volunteers work hand in hand with the major religious institutions on Mount Zion, (such as the Dormition Abbey, the Yeshiva of the Diaspora, those associated with David’s Tomb), as well as with the police and police volunteers. All of this cooperation has helped to enable a wide variety of holiday celebrations and events to take place in a unique way that respects everyone’s traditions.

Christmas Eve at the Dormition Abbey

Christmas Eve at the Dormition Abbey

Here’s a short clip of the midnight mass at the Dormition Abbey:

This was the second year that Window to Mount Zion volunteers came to the Christmas Eve service at the Dormition Abbey. After the success of last year, the Dormition Abbey actually called Window to Mount Zion to make sure they were going to be helping out again this year. Volunteers received the many guests who came for the midnight mass at the church and explained to them what was going on. Most of the guests were Israeli Jews who wanted a ‘far-away experience’ close to home, and who are interested in the different and diverse cultures in Jerusalem.

Celebrating at the Melave Malka as well

Celebrating at the Melave Malka as well

Window to Mount Zion volunteers were also part of the weekly Melave Malka festivities, which take place every Saturday night. They were there to explain and give background to the guests, and give a general helping hand.

We’re forever thankful to the Window to Mount Zion volunteers for their work. As a way of saying thanks, we brought them a lecture before the celebrations began. This time it was Yiscah Hareni, who spoke about the significance of Christmas.

Happy Holidays from Mount Zion in Jerusalem! May the Mount Zion model serve as an example for the rest of Jerusalem, and even the entire region.

And here’s the Facebook post in Hebrew about the event:

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comparing and Contrasting Mount Zion to the Temple Mount – JICC and Window to Mount Zion, in Jerusalem Post Article

The Temple Mount and Mount Zion are two areas considered holy to a number of different groups, in relatively close proximity. Yet, we mostly hear about tensions only about the Temple Mount.

Why?

Journalist Peggy Cidor explored this question in the article that recently appeared in the Jerusalem Post, both in print and online. You can find the full text, in which she cites both our director Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir and coordinator of the Window to Mount Zion project Merav Horovitz-Stein, below.

Despite the existence of significant religious sites for Judaism, Islam and Christianity on both Mount Zion and the Temple Mount, only one seems to periodically explode with tensions. Why?

Last Friday evening was Laylat al-Qadar, the last Friday of Ramadan – a night dedicated to special prayers and meditation. As in the last few years, it drew tens of thousands of worshipers to the Temple Mount – to Haram al-Sharif and al-Aksa Mosque.
According to Hisham, the taxi driver who drove me to the Old City the following Sunday morning, there were some 300,000 worshipers there. More official figures estimate 150,000.

“In any case,” says Ami Metav, formerly with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Jerusalem region, “we’re talking about an impressive number of people. Despite the tension that arose over the prior few days on the Mount [with Palestinians entrenching themselves in al-Aksa with a supply of stones and fireworks, and one person lightly wounded on June 28], it went on without even the tiniest disturbance, without any need for the police to interfere.”

Tension and friction in Jerusalem are almost a matter of routine, sometimes ending in bloodshed, other times controlled before reaching that stage. But in two particular locations, very different initiatives and activities have produced different results. While the eyes of the world are locked on Jerusalem in general and more precisely on the Temple Mount, nearby Mount Zion – which has just as many points of friction and tension among various religious factions – has managed to remain less chaotic most of the time.

One explanation is the fact that while Mount Zion has long been part of Israel proper, the Temple Mount was recaptured in 1967 during the Six Day War.

Another reason is that despite the tremendous potential for tourism and global interest, Mount Zion has never made it to the front lines of the violence, apart from sporadic incidents perpetrated by hooligans, mostly arson of Christian institutions. Although there is there a Muslim site – the Dajani Cemetery – the other parties involved are Jewish and Christian, with most of the city’s Christian community represented.

There are some obvious reasons why the situation is less explosive on Mount Zion than it is on the Temple Mount, even though both are highly significant sites for more than one religion. A source in the local security forces says that since the Christian sites on Mount Zion are mostly Catholic, it couldn’t be otherwise.

“The fact that they are Catholic sites means they belong to the Vatican. No official representing the State of Israel would want to reach a situation in which the Vatican’s interests would be harmed under our control. That’s out of the question,” he says.

And indeed, despite tough opposition by some Jewish religious, right-wing parties, the conflict between Jewish and Christian interests at King David’s Tomb – whose second story is recognized by Christians as the room in which the Last Supper was served to Jesus and his disciples (the Coenaculum), in a conflict that has reached some peaks over the last two years – nothing there can compare to the extent of the conflict experienced on the Temple Mount over the years.

As for the Greek Orthodox and Armenian sites there, while the former are rather hostile to Israeli sovereignty and the latter express no preference for either side, both avoid as much as possible calling for police intervention in cases of friction with Jewish factions on Mount Zion.

Despite repeated recommendations to do so, there is no official body responsible for keeping order on Mount Zion. For several years now, the Jerusalem Intercultural Center (JICC) there has acted as a sort of non-official volunteer agent between the parties.

“Since we are not officially on duty here,” explains center director Hagai Agmon-Snir, “our efforts to calm the situation in cases of dissent or to offer solutions to local conflicts between the parties operating here are welcome. After all, we are not identified with the authorities but we are neighbors, and we have learned to know each one of the parties.”

THE TEMPLE Mount is a totally different story. Comprising only 300 square meters of the one square kilometer of the entire Old City, the world remains focused on it. For Metav, a coordinator and facilitator for the municipality, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the East Jerusalem Development Company (PAMI), there is no corner or issue that is not familiar to him.

Metav’s daily routine takes place in the narrow streets of the Old City, wherever there is a need to listen, act, offer solutions to residents and, above all, mediate between the Arab residents and the authorities, which they avoid out of fear and lack of knowledge but also an unwillingness to “cooperate” with Israeli authorities. Infrastructure, heavy construction – nothing moves in the Old City without Metav’s being involved or at least notified.

“With regard to the Temple Mount, the situation is so fragile that at any moment things can just explode,” he concedes.

Metav recently published a book on the Old City in which one of the chapters centers on the Temple Mount.

“There is something basic that we have to understand,” he begins. “While for us, Israeli Jews, there is an understanding that protecting our country might also mean going to war and losing loved ones, for the Palestinians, saving al-Aksa or protecting it from any attempt – real or imagined – to fall into foreign hands is a good reason to die or to send one’s children to death.”

Metav adds that this is not a position of judgment but a conclusion he has reached based on facts and thousands of hours of conversations with Palestinians.

“They are incredibly sensitive to any act or step that might be interpreted as an attempt to harm their status on the Mount,” he says.

He is convinced that Jerusalem’s Palestinian sector is largely ripe for what he calls “a process of Israelization,” which he sees as irreversible. “But at the same time, this the best moment for those opposed to this move to try anything they can do to stop it – hence, the very tough reactions that are all converging on the situation on the Temple Mount.”

Metav says that what we’ve seen during last year’s High Holy Days compared to the situation during Passover this past April illustrate exactly what he is describing.

“I am not talking about our rights, but about the situation on the ground. Last Rosh Hashana and Succot, Jews were allowed to visit the Temple Mount; and since it was a holiday period, there were quite a few visitors. As a result, when Arabs arrived for their prayers, the police decided, in order to avoid any friction, to stop them and allow them to enter only a few hours later.

“For them it was clear: Sheikh Raed Salah Abu Shakra [leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, convicted among other things of funding Hamas and of assaulting a police officer] had been telling the truth. This meant al-Aksa was in danger and that the Israeli plan was to impose here what had been imposed in Hebron at the Cave of the Patriarchs – dividing the Mount area.

“This was the sign for many young adults, already incited by the imams, to launch the attacks [that kicked off a wave of Palestinian violence]. The stabbings and deaths began there.”

Asked to explain, if this is the case why police then allowed so many Jewish visitors on the Mount, Metav admits that while the police and security forces’ evaluations and recommendations are always entirely professional, the final decision is in the hands of those with the ultimate authority – the politicians, “who sometimes see a different picture.” This is a situation that does not exist on Mount Zion, where there is less political interest or impact.

“Look at what happened here this past Passover,” Metav points out. “The police didn’t impose any restriction on Arabs visiting the Mount, and as a result it all went as peacefully as possible.”

Metav clarifies that he is not suggesting that Jews should be prevented from visiting the Temple Mount, but that “these things should be done with the utmost sensitivity and caution. There is no other way to say it: It is a terribly explosive location.”

Inside the Old City, near Jaffa Gate, the newly renovated alleys and infrastructure spearheaded by the JDA and PAMI with Metav’s close involvement show what he has in mind when he talks about the need to listen to residents and provide solutions for them. Cleaning the little byways there has a wider impact than in any other place in the city; it simply means there is a possibility for some cooperation with the authorities, not just in obtaining basic services.

But all these aspects of daily life fall away as soon as al-Aksa Mosque is at stake.

“Take the cameras that King Abdullah of Jordan wanted to install on the Mount [in October 2015 for round-the-clock surveillance, in what was said to be an effort to calm tension],” continues Metav. “All the equipment had arrived here, sophisticated cameras; they were planned to be directly linked to a center in Jordan, and the Israel Police was permitted to get all the material filmed. But I was quite sure it would never happen. The worshipers adamantly refused to let anyone install them. I can understand them; it’s a severe breach of their religious privacy. And indeed, there is no indication that the cameras will be installed,” he says.

“So it’s all a matter of fragile equilibrium: Not to allow any riots or violence and, at the same time, to make it clear that there are no plans to change the situation – the famous status quo on the Mount,” concludes Metav.

BACK at Mount Zion, things are operating more on the basis of self-policed properties, with the Jerusalem Intercultural Center working with all groups – at the’ Diaspora Yeshiva and the Chamber of the Holocaust Museum; at Christian institutions such as Dormition Abbey and the Coenaculum in King David’s Tomb; and at Muslim sites such as the Dajani Cemetery.

As the JICC’s Agmon-Snir affirms, citing the example of King David’s Tomb, “Despite all these [potentially] explosive situations, we, all the parties involved, have managed to reach some kind of peaceful cooperation.

“Moreover, last week, for example, Hagihon planned a break in the water supply to the Mount. We, at the center, were the only ones aware of it, so coordinator Merav Horowitz informed all the parties [of all sectors] and forced Hagihon to inform everyone and take them into consideration. That’s how we work here.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Window on Mt. Zion – Keeping the Peace during Orthodox Pentecost Ceremonies

This past year has been full of challenges for Window to Mount Zion, trying to enable all faiths and all groups to engage in their respective prayers and religious rituals, without infringing upon the rights and religious rituals of others, while maintaining mutual respect for all.

Armenian Pentecost ceremony

Armenian Pentecost ceremony

Last Sunday – Monday, June 19-20, was a case in point. It was the Pentecost for the Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches, the day according to Christian tradition that the Holy Spirit descended to the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. For many this is the moment when the church was created, and when the Apostles began spreading the Christian religion, and visiting the Cenacle, the Room of the Last Supper, is a vital part of the holiday’s celebration. (You might remember that we discussed the Pentecost recently. That is because the Pentecost for the Eastern Churches is different than that of the Catholic church, which was a month ago.) The ceremony for the Armenian church took place on Sunday June 19, and for the Greek Orthodox church, on Monday the 20th.

Greek Orthodox leaving David's Tomb

Greek Orthodox leaving David’s Tomb

The procession set out from the Armenian Quarter of the Old City toward Mount Zion and the Cenacle in the late afternoon. They prayed there for about 1/2 an hour, accompanied by a small number of members of the Armenian community. At the same time, Jews prayed in David’s Tomb without disturbance. For a moment Mount Zion was a symbol of inter-religious tolerance that enables everyone to fulfill his or her religious traditions.

The challenge came the next morning, on Monday morning, June 20, when the Greek Orthodox church held its ceremony. According to the ancient status quo agreements, during the Greek Orthodox ceremony a small number of priests go from the Cenacle on the second floor, via a special staircase that is opened only on this day, into David’s Tomb on the ground floor for a very short prayer. King David is a holy and important character for Jews, Christians as well as Muslims, and it is important for the Greek Orthodox to pray next to his grave. However, this event often creates a great deal of tension between the Orthodox Christians and Jews, who see this Christian prayer as defiling the holiness of David’s Tomb.

The police were prepared, with reinforcements in place, to ensure that order was kept. Window on Mt. Zion volunteers were there as well. They not only helped the police in keeping order, they were able to explain what is going on to both those involved and passersby, diffusing some of the tension that is sometimes inherent in interactions with the police.

This is from the Facebook post (in Hebrew).

The morning was not without incident. Over the two days a number of Jews tried to barricade themselves in David’s Tomb, in an effort to stop the Green Orthodox service. These people were arrested. Because of these events, the police closed off David’s Tomb to visitors in the morning, except for a small number of Rabbis. During the service some Jews demonstrated outside. Those who were violent were arrested as well.

We can’t emphasize enough that most of the Jews living, working and praying on Mount Zion throughout the year staunchly oppose violence against Christians in the David’s Tomb and Cenacle complex. Over the last year, thanks to the Window on Mt. Zion program, we have reached important understandings with all those who live and work here that have great improved relations between neighbors. And the more we are there, we see what a difference our presence makes.

On the morning of the 20th, a large, official Greek Orthodox procession, including the Bishop and many members of the Greek Orthodox community in Jerusalem, arrived at the Cenacle. There they held a short prayer service, during which a number of priests and the bishop descended into David’s Tomb as planned.  Shortly afterward, they left the complex. Window on Mt. Zion volunteers were there to explain what was going on to passersby and to those demonstrating against the service. Except for a few incidents of violence, which were handled quickly by the police, the event finished peacefully and respectfully. Here’s the video of the Greek Orthodox praying in the Cenacle:

And here’s a video of their prayer in David’s Tomb:

Eetta Prince-Gibson, also a Window on Mt. Zion volunteer, wrote about the experience in the Ha’aretz daily. Here’s the link to the full article.

Pentecost Haaretz article

Pentecost Haaretz article

And here’s the article from the Window on Mt. Zion blog (in Hebrew).

Many thanks again to the Window on Mount Zion volunteers! Without your help, we are sure events would have ended more like they did last year. Just for comparison, Eran Tzidkiyahu, one of the co-leaders of the Window on Mount Zion project, posted a year ago a short video:

 

Here are some past news reports to show the contrast:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Window to Mt. Zion – Sharing Mt. Zion on Shavuot

The Jewish Shavuot holiday is often one of the most exciting and busiest times on Mount Zion. According to Jewish tradition, Shavuot commemorates both the birth and the death of King David, which would certainly be a special time at David’s Tomb.

It is customary to recite Psalms and study Torah all night on Shavuot. Therefore, beginning in the evening hundreds of people started to gather. Huge signs were hung welcoming people to David’s Tomb, and booths with food and drink were set up to fortify the visitors.

Nearby ןn the Greek Garden, dozens of families set up tents during the Shabbat and throughout the holiday, in order to be close to the festivities on Saturday night. This “Tent Festival” has taken place for more than a decade.

Later that night, hundreds of people crowded into David’s Tomb to study and learn until dawn.

Shavuot Festival

Shavuot Festival

During the holiday itself on Sunday, thousands of Jewish visitors came to David’s Tomb to celebrate. At the same time, a great number of Christian pilgrims came to visit the Cenacle, the Room of the Last Supper. (The stream of Christian visitors to this site has grown over the past few weeks because of different denominations’ Pentacost holidays.)

During the holiday there were several out-of-the ordinary visitors. One was a woman in a religious ecstasy, who was eventually escorted out by the police.

Blowing a shofar outside the Cenacle

Blowing a shofar outside the Cenacle

At the same time there were two Christian groups visiting the site. One was from the Far East, and a second was from North America:

Shortly afterwards, Window on Mt. Zion held its own Shavuot celebration with a fascinating lecture by Prof. Ilana Pardes on the story of David and Michal, and the transferring of the Holy Ark to Jerusalem. Afterward, Yisca Harani led a tour of Mount Zion and the David’s Tomb complex and the viewpoints of Judaism, Islam and Christianity to them. During the tour we met up with an additional group from the Far East, which sang songs and blessed passersby, many of them Haredi Jews on their way to David’s Tomb:

Reactions to the tour and lecture were very positive – thanks to all who came!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email