Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jerusalem: On the Eve of Ramadan

In order for our students to fully experience the complexity of religion, politics and society in Jerusalem this week, we've divided them into three groups: Jews, Muslims and Christians.  Each group has been asked to research, map and act as tour guides for their set of sites within the Old City, explaining religious doctrine and political history as we proceed.  Today, as the crowded Muslim Quarter prepares for Ramadan and the city is plagued by traffic, our little group of Dragons' explored Jerusalem's Christian Quarter.  We attended morning mass at the Armenian Patriarchate, proceeded along the stations of the Via Dolorosa, where we were guided through the passion of Christ and ended our journey by lighting candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Candles by G. Flax

Lamb of God by G. Flax

A visit to Jerusalem offers nearly immediate prompting toward spiritual reflection.  Fur hatted Orthodox Jews share the streets with solemn Greek Orthodox priests.  As I rested at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I shared a bench with a local Muslim tour guide, an elderly Hindu tourist and a former Russian atheist.  As I reflected upon spirituality and religious practice, the conflicts between the religions so present in today's media seemingly melted away with the realization that each of the Abrahamic faiths simply offers a different take on the human community: man, woman and their relationships with themselves, their God and the universe.

With love from Jerusalem,

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