“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”.John 13:34
We started April with the Easter celebration according to the Gregorian calendar and are in the middle of Holy Week according to the Julian calendar as we approach the end of the month.
Preparations for Orthodox Easter are in full swing in the Holy Land. We are happy to inform you churches are open, albeit with some restrictions, and local people are invited again to participate in century old traditions such as the Holy Fire ceremony.
Earlier this month we heard the good news about the cancellation of the seizure of the “Imperial Hotel” at the entrance of the Jaffa Gate against the claims of the radicals. Although this is not the end of the road for this decade old battle, but it’s a positive step forward. The cancellation of the seizure imposed by the Israeli District Court, contributes greatly to strengthening the position of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in its battle to preserve Christian Heritage properties on the pilgrim route at Jaffa Gate.
Unfortunately, during the past days, events and confrontations in the city of Jerusalem are very concerning.
Church leaders and King Abdullah of Jordan denounced the fierce attacks launched by radicals, since the beginning of the holy month for Ramadan and the Holy Week for the Christians, against worshipers at the Damascus Gate and its surroundings.
The Patriarch of the Latin Church in Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, also expressed his appreciation for King Abdullah’s commitment to free access to the Holy Places and the respect of the Status Quo in Jerusalem, and his promotion for inter-religious harmony.
The Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III is also keen to guarantee freedom of worship for all and calls on everyone to respect the sanctity of the holy month, maintain peace and safety. He stressed that Jerusalem will remain the gate to heaven and the key to peace.
Besides the tensions in the streets of most major cities in the Holy Land, schools are experiencing increased stresses, due to the lack of finance/school tuitions. While, medical health care institutions are dealing with lots of confusion around the vaccination programs for Covid19.
Education in the Holy Land
Most education institutions have re-opened their doors for students, but have difficulties paying salaries and maintaining school buildings. ICoHS will commission a rapid-assessment next month, looking at the education system supported by the Syriac, Coptic, Orthodox and Evangelical Lutheran churches. The results of this rapid-assessment will function as building blocks for innovative projects to improve the overall education for children in the Holy Land.
Health care in the Holy Land
ICoHS will continue to collect funding for medical needs. Due to the pandemic health care in the Holy Land has become urgent and many people cannot afford basic medicines. We invite you to follow our social media fundraising campaign in the coming weeks.
As tensions build up in the Holy Land, ICoHS will work with international media drawing attention to the importance and necessity of all the people of the Holy Land to freely participate in all the religious celebrations.
Wishing all, who celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar a blessed time as they remember the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We value your prayers for the peace of Jerusalem.
Anita Delhaas- van Dijk