Holiday Weekend? Must be time for Holy Land Tourism
It’s the Easter/Passover weekend. Apart from a wonderful excuse for ecumenical sharing of Peeps and Kosher-for-Passover Cadbury Creme Eggs, the New York Times understands that it is the only appropriate time for them to run a guide to Jerusalem. Stations of the Cross? Church of the Holy Sepulcher? Temple Mount? Wailing Wall? Check. Extended dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Check. Archaeological digs? Check. Multi-syllabic Old Testament names? Check. The author, Steven Erlanger, is the Jerusalem bureau chief of the Times, which may explain why this particular guide goes so heavily on geo-political related sites in the city. But he also sheds light on some of the city’s weirder aspects (and there are many):
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is both a holy and a crazy place, with its mishmash of architectural styles and furious intra-Christian battles over turf, procession times and even maintenance. To alter the position of the ratty wooden ladder under the window above the entrance would cause a furor because it would change the 1852 “status quo” agreement, made by the churches at a time when the area was under Ottoman rule. Every Orthodox Easter, the Armenians and the Greeks battle over the Holy Fire ceremony on the spot where Jesus’s tomb is believed to have been, and Israeli police sometimes intervene to separate the tussling clerics.