Last month, CLR Student Fellow Jessica Wright ’14 traveled to Israel, where she considered the religious, legal, and political issues that continue to divide the country and region. The following is her photo essay from Jerusalem. To see the slide show, please click on the first image.
Each day in Jerusalem began with a walk to the Jaffa Gate, one of the seven entrances to the Old City. Divided into four uneven quarters (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Armenian) and surrounded by the walls built by Suleiman in the early 16th century, the Old City is sacred to the three great monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus preached and healed, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead. Pilgrims walk the Via Dolorosa or “Way of the Cross” to Golgatha, which is now located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter.
As noted historian Raymond Cohen observes, the Holy Sepulcher is the only church in the world where “first-century Herodian, second-century Hadrianic, fourth-century Constantinian, eleventh-century Byzantine, twelfth-century crusader, nineteenth-century neo-Byzantine, and twentieth-century modern masonry are visible in one place. The church is not only a monument to the culminating events of the Gospels but also a record in stone of the Christian saga.”
The Holy Sepulcher is also one of the only churches where six ancient Christian communions worship together. The Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox churches are considered the major communities in the church; the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox churches are minor communities with rights of usage but not possession.
The Chapel of St. Helena, also known as the Chapel of St. Gregory, is a 12th century Armenian church located at the lower level of the Holy Sepulcher. According to tradition, this is the place where the Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, found relics of the True Cross.
The Holy Sepulcher itself is located in the Aedicule, a 19th Century structure, and contains the tomb of Christ and the Angel’s Stone (a fragment of the large stone that sealed the tomb).
Domes of the Holy Sepulcher
For Jews, Jerusalem is the site of the Temple, now in ruins except for the Western Wall. The Wall is considered the holiest site in Judaism outside of the Temple Mount.
Men praying at the Wall
Prayers at the Wall
Celebrating at the Wall
View of the Western Wall and Temple Mount
The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are two of the most important Muslim holy sites. Muslim tradition says Muhammad ascended to Heaven from the Mount in 621.
Har haBáyit or Haram al-Sharif
Haram al-Sharif before afternoon prayer
Lounging and Learning, Haram al-Sharif
Jerusalem has long been an object of desire, both spiritually and temporally, and it continues to be a city possessed by a diversity of communities.
Sending texts from the Wall
Bread for sale outside Haram al-Sharif, Har haBáyit
If you want to leave the Old City, walk up.
Afternoon in Jerusalem, New City
Jaffa Road at night
Looking out over the Old City from the Mount of Olives, one can understand why the Talmud teaches that “Ten measures of beauty descended on the world – nine were taken by Jerusalem, one by the rest of the world.”
All photos by Jessica Wright, Canon EOS 700D and Leica M3 (please do not use photos without permission).