70 Years Later, Palestinians Are Still Denied the Easter of Hope
Today is Jumaa’ al Hazeeneh (Arabic for Good Friday), a phrase pregnant with nuances that commemorate the Passion of Christ. Sorrowful, grief-stricken, distressing, troubling, excruciatingly painful, agonizing, harrowing, laborious are just a few of these connotations.
For Christian Palestinians, traditionally Jumaa’ al Hazeeneh is a day of prayer, fasting, solemnity, and introspection.
No, I am not imagining a one-week late Rip Van Winkle Easter Jumaa’ al Hazeeneh commemoration. Rather, blame Pope Gregory XIII for replacing, in 1582, the Julian calendar (instituted in 46 BC by Julius Caesar) with the Gregorian calendar. While the Eastern Orthodox Christian rites (Antiochian, Syriac, Greek, Russian, Armenian) adhere to celebrating Christmas and Easter using the Julian calendar (usually one to three weeks later than their western counterparts – depending on the lunar calendar), the western rites, including all the hybrid Protestant offspring, adopted the Gregorian Calendar.
While reminiscing about my childhood days under Israeli occupation between 1948 and April 9, 1959, the day my family was forced to leave our ancestral Jerusalem and Palestine, I was prompted to google Mar Semaa’n and feast my eyes on the few images of both the interior and exterior of a church that served as a bastion of peace and serenity, a kind of embryonic cordon in which I relived both the happy and frightful uncertainties of living under a brutally harsh occupation. The first image is of a recent celebration officiated by Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos and attended by Archimandrite Joachim Helenoupolis. The photo is in the nave, directly in front of the Royal Entrance, and the large candelabras are the same candelabras which my three brothers and I would light and extinguish at appointed times. The second image (left) is that of the church’s exterior, and, like most Orthodox churches, the exterior is rather drab looking while the interior is an abundantly rich visual tapestry. The symbolism is overt, spirituality emanates from an interior font. And the last image (right) is of the sanctuary, highlighting the High Altar, the same altar on which my brothers and I would set and remove the larger than the life-sized holy manuscript. In my younger days this was a joint effort undertaken by my late twin brother and me.
Halaby, Raouf J. Professor Emeritus, "70 Years Later, Palestinians Are Still Denied the Easter of Hope" (2018). Articles. 138.