Guest author: Oliver Fink, University of Basel

Easter in Jerusalem (like Christmas in Bethlehem) is really special! And evidently creating lots of emotions.

Just in time for Easter weekend, the travel warnings from the German foreign office for the local expatriates arrive – the Palestinian “Land Day” falling together with Jewish Passover and Good Friday result in travel warnings for Gaza (for very good reasons as have seen later in the News), East Jerusalem including Mount of Olives (where we planned to do an Easter Egg Hunt), Temple Mount and surroundings up to Damascus Gate (impacting our Via Dolorosa Procession plans). It looks like the only thing we can do safely as planned is the Seder (Passover) Dinner with a Rabbi friend who lives tucked away in West Jerusalem.

The next days we experience Jerusalem’s main theme and fascination – the completely interwoven status of the three main monotheistic religions. Although Easter in Jerusalem is as Christian as it can get, around every corner the other two religions glance through.

Our procession from Redeemer Church to Gethsemane on Maundy Thursday along Temple Mount is interrupted by the Muezzin call to prayer from Al-Aksa Mosque and later during the devotion in front of the Orthodox Mary of Magdalene Church we have a brilliant view over to the Dome of the Rock. More fellow pilgrims take picture of the stunning sunset behind the Dome than following the devotion of the Lutheran Bishop.

After a rainy early morning procession on Good Friday with the kids, we enjoy deep and simple spirituality alone with a praying nun in a small chapel but also a typical Arab breakfast at “Abu Shukri” Restaurant with Hummus, Falafel, onions and fresh chili, discussing – inspired by the picture of the Kaaba on the wall – the ongoing Pilgrimage of the kid’s sports teacher to Mekka.

The Seder table in the evening of the same day was a true privilege of “sitting at the table of the Rabbi” combining deep Jewish theological wisdom with delicious food and a great time for the kids (the other family having young children as well so everyone was jumping around with frog masks or sticking orange “plague” dots to our faces).

By the way, if not in Gaza, at least in Jerusalem it stayed peaceful over Easter.

In the next couple of blog entries, I will give you more project details around a fascinating study that we’re just finishing how conflict events like the ones in Gaza shape (group) emotions. Stay tuned…