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Hello Everyone!

We have entered into a very exciting week here in Jerusalem!  It’s Holy week!  It’s particularly big this year because it coincides with Passover.  Yesterday was Palm Sunday, next Tuesday is Passover, then Maunday Thursday followed by Good Friday, and finally Easter Sunday.  Starting on Palm Sunday, we have a week of ritual processions, reenactments, and all sorts of other interesting, fascinating, and unusual things.  We have begun to be deluged by tens of thousands of tourists who will continue to totally clog all the arteries of this city for the next week.  But, that’s one of the interesting parts of being here.  Just yesterday I talked with people from Russia, Finland, Greece, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, and Italy.

The beginning of the Palm Sunday Processional from Bethphage to St. Anne's Church

The beginning of the Palm Sunday Processional from Bethphage to St. Anne’s Church

The Old City is beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic as traffic within it slows to a crawl.  The normally pungent smell of incense is extra overwhelming right now.  When you need to cover up the smell of thousands and thousands of sweaty humans packed into the Old City’s narrow streets, there is no option other than incense.  A Glade Plugin does not cut it around here.  Amid the “big” days there are numerous other events.  Probably the most famous is the ceremony of the Holy Fire.  Check out this post for more information on it.   For we Western Protestants whose roots are far from Eastern Orthodoxy it seems a bit fantastic.  But then, that’s the way miracles are.

Samaritan Passover

On the eve of Passover, the Samaritan community living on Mt. Gerizim will conduct their yearly sacrifices.  Check it out here: http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3394699,00.html.  They still do this in a very once a year in the same fashion, they claim, as it has always been done since God gave them the Torah.  They once had their own temple upon Mt. Gerizim.  They believe that practically every story credited to the hill upon which Solomon built his temple, actually occurred upon Gerizim.  There are also only 700 of them left because they intermarry, and recently have only been having boys and no girls.  They are currently paying the families of young women who will convert to Samaritanism and marry their sons.  It’s a very interesting life that they lead.

Two Tales for Passover

One day a boy is praying to God when he is passed by a man that he does not know. The man stops and asks the boy why he is praying. The boy tells the man that he prays because God has performed many miracles, such as leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and helping them to cross the Red Sea. The man says that the Red Sea was only about 10 inches deep when the Hebrews left Egypt, so there was no miracle at all. The man then goes to leave but stops when he sees that the boy is continuing to pray. When the man asks the boy why, he replies that God still performed miracles, since “it’s miraculous that he was able to drown an army of Egyptians in only 10 inches of water!”

A little boy once returned from Hebrew school and his father asked, “What did you learn today?” He answered, “The Rabbi told us how Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt.” “How?”  The boy said “Moses was a big strong man and he beat Pharaoh up.  Then while he was down, he got all the people together and ran towards the sea.  When he got there, he had the Corps of Engineers build a huge pontoon bridge.  Once they got on the other side, they blew up the bridge while the Egyptians were trying to cross.” The father was shocked.  “Is that what the Rabbi taught you?” The boy replied, “No.  But you’d never believe the story he DID tell us!”

Have a blessed Holy Week!