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  • 'Israel only officially recognizes Jewish holy sites'

    The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is one of the most sacred places in the world for Christianity. Yet Israel does not officially recognize it as a holy site, a new report reveals. Last Saturday the Eastern Churches marked Holy Fire, the Saturday after Good Friday, when Easter begins. Thousands of pilgrims visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem to watch what they believe is the annual miracle of fire in Jesus Christ’s tomb in the Sepulchre chapel. The place was packed, and all the churches throughout the entire Old City were…

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  • A voice calling in the wilderness: A journey to the 'Castle of the Jews'

    Five hundred words and three photos from one place. This time: a church in the middle of a minefield, water you can walk on, an international border with no soldiers and a legal limbo that wouldn't make sense anywhere else. What is the strangest place in the world? Depends how you define "strange." In English, one must differentiate between strange, weird, bizarre and my personal favorite: eerie. If there ever was an "eerie" place in this delusional country between the river and the sea, it can be found close to the Jordan River. In the following photo one can see tourists…

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  • ‘Religion and politics’ in Israel: The mythology of Jewish nationalism

    The State of Israel has never attempted to build a national identity that would be ‘liberated ’from Jewish ‘religion.’ Instead, it has focused on the construction of a national identity distinct in one critical respect: it is reserved for Jews only. By Yaacov Yadgar One of the more controversial legislative bills being currently pushed forward by the ruling coalition in Israel, a proposed ‘Basic Law:  Israel—the Nation-State of the Jewish People’, seeks to enshrine and ensure, constitutionally so, the State of Israel’s ‘Jewish identity’ as the nation-state of the Jewish People. Several aspects of the proposed bill draw immediate attention: first,…

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  • WATCH: Muslim, Jewish, Christian teens talk religion in film

    A few weeks ago, I volunteered at Together Through Film, a weekend outdoor activity camp with 18 teenagers from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  The group was made up of a mix of Muslim, Jewish and Christian youth, some religious and others secular. What brought this group together was their passion to learn about each other's religions, traditions and beliefs, in addition to their interest in filmmaking. The camp was organized by Danya Hakeem of National Geographic and her fantastic team of volunteers, who are also filmmakers from National Geographic, where I am  an "Emerging Explorer" - and the Center for…

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