Saturday, Feb. 27
Written by Eileen Lewis
Israel seems to be about the struggle between plurality and singularity. And perhaps has always beens so through millennium. The rights and obligations of the ultra orthodox, the secular, the conservative, the reform. The history of “place”- sites not only holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews, but sites sequentially belonging to each.
The Tomb of King David,was a site first declared holy by Christians who built a church there and believe Jesus’s last supper was “there”; in later centuries the church became a mosque. And after 1948, it was the closest access Jews had to the Old City, and it became a synagogue. Now, while the State nominally has control, the Christian’s formal prayers are limited to barely a few days a year, and the ultra orthodox women inside, sit in a manner to block access to the benches to other women.
Israelis grow up in a one religion society, says Hannah Bendcowsky, Program Director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish Christian Relations, with no knowledge of other religions or their history. Without context or knowledge of other religions. What an irony – U.S. diaspora Jews are not surrounded by the rhythm of the Jewish calendar that Israelis share, but we bring to our visits an inherent knowledge of other religions gained through the osmosis of living in a majority Christian country.