Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Jews

Visiting the Holy Land

The Holy Land

My husband recently had the chance to visit the Holy Land, arriving to the Church of Holy Sepulcher just in time to begin the procession, with a candle in his hand. The daily procession passes through the places of the passion-death-resurrection of Christ, in a way of recalling to pilgrims the need to constantly meditate on the humanity of Jesus.

I visited this church many years ago. It’s an indescribable experience that leaves you in tears, regardless of whether you are a man or woman. One thing I did not get to do which my husband did is visit the famous Al Aqsa mosque and the Jewish temple that neighbor the church. Israel is a place of great diversity; Christians, Jews, and Muslims all consider it to be one of the holiest places in the world. To the Christians, this is where Jesus and His followers walked and where the great Biblical events were enacted. To Muslims, the Prophet Mohammad entered heaven from where the Dome of the Rock now stands in Jerusalem. For Jews, Jerusalem has always been a sacred city, gateway to the land of their ancestors.

Here’s my question: If these religions live so close together, where for centuries a Muslim family has held the key to the Church of Sepulcher, shouldn’t they act like family rather than rivals?

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

Is Islam a Religion of Peace

I went to cover a story at Eastern University entitled “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?” One of the main speakers was a Muslim who flew to Michigan from Turkey. I guess this is a debate that has been going around for a while, and all over the world.

The speakers each had very valid points to think the way they did. But one of the Christian speakers mentioned that the fear we had of Muslims was not an exaggerated one, that we were not fighting an ideology but Islam itself. He was concerned that if we didn’t put a stop to “it” we could be under real threat. He used Hitler as an example.

“Look what he did to the Jews,” he said. “He wanted to wipe them all out.”

True. But wasn’t Hitler a Christian? As was the American Presidents who bombed, sanctioned, and again bombed Iraq until Christians had to flee their land and live in Diaspora? There are a load of other examples of how violence was second-nature to some Christian men throughout history and even recently. But that definitely does not mean that all Christians are a violent group of people. Quite the contrary!

Regardless of what the speakers said, it was wonderful to see them respectfully engage in a dialogue and afterwards, hug each other. They proved that communication, not violence, is the real way to peace!

The Wailing Wall at Freedom Christian

The Wailing Wall

The Wailing Wall or Western Wall is in Jerusalem and is believed by many people to be the remains of one wall of a great Jewish temple or the wall surrounding the temple’s courtyard. It is a stone wall that extends about 62 feet above the ground and is considered to be a sacred site by Jews. Thousands of people make pilgrimages there each year.

Many Muslims believe that the wall has no relation to ancient Judaism. They refer to the wall as the Al-Buraq Wall, a reference to Al-Buraq, the winged steed that Muhammad is said to have ridden. Muslims believe that Muhammad tied Al-Buraq to the wall while he ascended to heaven to speak with God. Many Muslims also believe that the wall was part of the ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that Jews did not begin praying at the wall until at least the 16th century, if not much later.

Jews from all countries, and as well as tourists of other religious backgrounds, go to pray at the wall, where many people believe that one immediately has the “ear of God.” Prayers that are sent in are placed into the cracks of the walls and are called kvitelach.

For the past few weeks at Freedom Christian, we’ve had our own Wailing Wall, with attendees writing their prayers and sending them off to God.

I love this church.