Jerusalem (2013) Script

Beyond the barren shores of the Dead Sea lived an ancient people called the Jebusites.

Thousands of years ago, on a large outcrop of bedrock, it is said they worshipped Shalem, the god of the setting sun.

The city alone was known as the place of Shalem.


Over time, this city became the gateway to God for three major religions.

And the most fought over piece of /and in history.

Many believed it was the center of the world.

Today, the walled old city at the heart of Jerusalem is a mosaic of cultures and beliefs.

Where Jews, Christians and Muslims live side by side, yet in separate quarters.

Each in their own Jerusalem.

Everyone in Jerusalem has a favorite gate.

Mine is Damascus Gate.

When you enter Damascus Gate you are in the Muslim quarten my quarter

This is my Jerusalem.

In Arabic, we call Jerusalem, al-Quds, which means the holy city.

But it is also a place where people go to work, where we buy our groceries, and kids play and go to school.

Jerusalem to me is more than just a city.

It's beauty, it's spirit and it's also my religion.

But most importantly, it's my family.

Most people don't think I'm Muslim.

It's only when I go to the mosque and I put a head-scarf on, that surprises them.

But Jerusalem is fu/I of surprises.

Twice a week, in the Jewish quarten there is a big celebration.

For boys, it's called the bar mitzvah.

For girls, it's called a bat mitzvah.

It's the moment when you become an adult.

Jews in Jerusalem have come from over a hundred different countries.

Take for example, my family. My mother is from Paris.

Her parents are from Tunisia. My father's family is from Poland.

No matter where we come from, we all trace our roots back here.

Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on the same stones as my ancestors.

Since Biblical times, we have a special word when Jews return to the promised land.

We say we're making aliyah, which means going up to a higher place.

And for us, the Jews, there is no higher place than Jerusalem.

For me, the best time to come to Jerusalem is Easter Every Easter starts with the Palm Sunday procession.

It's where we walk down the Mount of Olives celebrating the day where Jesus entered the city.

Every year; me and my brother George join in this Palm Sunday procession and we end up meeting people from all over the world.

Easter; for most people, is about the eggs, the bunnies and decorations-

But here, we still have the same Easter like 2,000 years ago, we still re-live what happened with Jesus the passion of Christ, the same step-by-step every Easter.

In the Christian quarten we have the Ethiopians, the Greek Orthodox, the Catholics, the Coptics, the Syrians and each community, celebrates Easter in their own way.

Next to the Christian quarter; we have the Armenian quarter and they celebrate Easter in their own church.

The old city is very small and the four quarters do not communicate a lot.

Although we live in the same area, we don't know a lot about each other:

Smaller than a square mile, Jerusalem's old city contains some of the holiest sites in the world for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

So, how did half the people on Earth come to cherish the same tiny space?

Jerusalem lies at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe.

A region known as the cradle of civilization.

The Hrst empires began here 5,000 years ago.

As other great powers emerged, the /and surrounding Jerusalem became a constant battleground.

Each civilization left its mark here.

The Romans built vast port cities on the Mediterranean Sea.

On the tombs of Biblical prophets, Muslims built shrines.

On a high plateau, above the Dead Sea, King Herod the Great built Masada, a mountain fortress where Jewish rebels made their last stand against the Roman army.

In the Judean Desert, early Christians built remote monasteries.

Some still inhabit it to this day.

Conquered over 40 times, Jerusalem is many cities.

Each one built on the ruins of another And most can stil/ be found beneath our feet.

Imagine you are a detective and you try to solve a mystery based on pieces of evidence that you put together:

That's exactly what archeologists do except that we do it for the past.

One of the things that makes Jerusalem such an exciting place to work is the continuous occupation layers, one on top of the other.

Going all the way back, 5,000 years ago to the first inhabitants, the Biblical Jebusites, and then through the Israelites and the Roman period, and the Crusaders and all the way up until today.

Understanding ancient Jerusalem is like trying to put together a giant puzzle where we are missing most of the pieces and we don't know what the original picture looked like.

Everything that we dig up out of the ground is a new piece of that puzzle.

Jerusalem lies in the head of a region that has yielded some of archeology's most incredible finds-

One of the most spectacular finds is the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written over 2,000 years ago and are by far the oldest copies we have of the Hebrew Bible.

The deepest levels under the ground, we #nd the earliest remains of the people who lived in this land.

What is it that drew people to Jerusalem in the first place?

It's an isolated, pooi; rocky mountain town.

The answer is simple. Water In the heart of the ancient city of Jerusalem is a spring which has fresh water in it all year round.

So, the inhabitants cut a tunnel through solid bedrock to get to that water

Along with waten there is another reason Jerusalem became important.

And that was at the top of the hill that overlooked the city.

The large outcrop of bedrock where it is believed the Jebusites worshipped the god of the setting sun.

In Jewish tradition, this is the foundation stone where the world was created, and some of the most important stories in the Bible took place.

Abraham prepared to sacrihce his son, in a test of faith.

King David brought the Ark of the Covenant.

And King Solomon built the first temple, the house of God.

After the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the belief survived, passed down through the Bible that Jerusalem was the closest place on Earth to God.

My grandfather came to Jerusalem when he was 12 years old, in 1936 because his father felt that something bad is going to happen in Europe.

But all the rest of his family stayed in Poland, and they all perished during the Holocaust.

He made research about every place in the old city, and he even wrote seven books about Jerusalem.

And now in his 90s, he is still learning every day something new about Jerusalem.

It's his biggest love, I think.

After his wife, but...

I think, I'm sure that part of his love to Jerusalem has passed to his family, to me.

There's a tomb on the Mount of Olives, named after the prophet Zechariah.

That's where my family's name comes from.

Zechariah saw the destruction of Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, but he prophesized that one day the Jewish people would return to their homeland.

At the end of our holiest days, like Yom Kippur and Passover; we sing, "Next year in Jerusalem- "

For hundreds of years, this was the Jewish dream, to be back in Jerusalem, and I have the chance to live that dream.

I can really feel the power of this place.

How much energy is in this place.

I have this tradition, to go every birthday and to put a prayer note in the wa//_

We believe all prayers pass through the wal/ on their way to God.

The site of Jewish longing for generations, the Western Wall is one of four walls that support the enormous stone platform where 2,000 years ago, King Herod the Great rebuilt the temple on a scale comparable to the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

When Herod rebuilt the temple, he surrounded the platform on which it stood with a massive wall.

We're now rounding the southwest corner of this wall and as we come around, I want you to look at the giant stones built into the wall.

In fact, think about this: how did they get these huge stones into position without the kind of modern machinery that we have today?

Using written records and the latest archeological findings, we can imagine what the second temple might have looked like at the height of its splendor

Today, long after the second temple was destroyed by the Roman army, Jews mourn its loss at the wal/ that once stood closest to it, the Western Wal/.

Hundreds of years ago, my family came from Greece and Italy to see the Holy Land, and they stayed.

My mother's family settled here in Bethlehem.

It's the city where Jesus was born.

On Easter; we all get together in front of the Church of the Nativity.

And sometimes I even get to sing there with my choir

For centuries, Christian pilgrims have traced the footsteps of Jesus from his birth in Bethlehem to his death in Jerusalem.

They followed the River Jordan, where many believe he was baptized, until it meets the Sea of Galilee.

According to the Gospels, he began his ministry in the village of Capernaum and taught in its synagogue.

On these shores, Christians believe he gave some of his most famous sermons and found disciples among the local fishermen.

And it is here, in Jerusalem's garden of Gethsemane, that the New Testament says he was arrested before being sentenced to death.

On Good Friday thousands of pilgrims walk the Via Do/orosa or Way of Sorrows, said to be the path Jesus took on his way to cruciHxion.

The procession ends inside the Church of the Holy Sepu/chre.

You know, this church is very special to me.

Sometimes I see people who have dreamed their whole life of coming here.

I realize how lucky I am to live in Jerusalem.

I can come to the church any time I want to touch the rock of Golgotha it's where we believe Jesus died on the cross.

And visit the tomb where he was buried and three days later rose from the dead.

To understand why many believe Jesus was crucined and buried here, we have to go underground.

Deep below the church, archeologists found ancient grafHti.

A ship drawn by a pilgrim with an inscription in Latin that reads, "O Lord, we have come. "

Dated to over 1, 700 years ago, it suggests that Christians worshipped here even before the church was built.

In another part of the church, are ancient tombs cut into a rocky hill known as Golgotha

Most archeologists believe this was a Jewish cemetery in the time of Jesus.

These tombs in the rock of Golgotha would later become the site of Christianity's most important church, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre_

Ultimately, archeology cannot prove Jesus was buried here.

This remains a matter of faith.

My family has deep roots in Jerusalem.

We've been here for hundreds of years.

We love talking about family history especially during the month of Ramadan, when the whole family gathers to break the fast.

During Ramadan, every street competes to see who can make the best decorations and who can throw the biggest parade.

To the Muslim world, Jerusalem is the city of the prophets, Abraham, David and Jesus.

Muslims believe that the last of the prophets was Muhammad, and that one night, he was taken on a miraculous journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he ascended to heaven on a ladder of light.

For over a thousand years, Muslims have linked the Prophet Muhammad's night journey with the stone platform that houses the golden Dome of the Rock and the mosque at the southern end.

When you go up to the mosque, you leave all the noises and the crowds behind you.

You come out to this wide open space HI/ed with birds and trees.

It's like you're in another world.

Out of all the buildings in Jerusalem, the most beautiful to me is the Dome of the Rock.

The Dome of the Rock is actually built over a rock, which we call al-Sakhrah, where we believe Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, rose to the heaven and led all the prophets in prayer

Built 1,300 years ago, the Dome of the Rock is among the oldest Islamic monuments in the world.

But why here, just above the Western Wa/I?

What is it about this site that made it the gateway to God for Muslims?

The oldest map of Jerusalem ever discovered shows that when the Muslims arrived as conquerors in the seventh century they found a Christian city, dominated by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

It is said they were invited to pray inside the church, but asked instead to be taken to the top of the stone platform to look for their own place of worship.

They found it abandoned, filled with rubbish.

Only once they cleaned it did they uncover what they were searching for

The large outcrop of bedrock, the object at the center of Jerusalem's sacred stories.

Today, the Dome of the Rock guards the ancient stone, where it is believed the Jebusites once worshipped, the temple stood, and the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

On the Saturday before Easter;

Orthodox Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in the ceremony of the Ho/y Fire, one of the oldest rituals in Christianity.

On the Jewish High Holy Days, Jews gather at the Western Wall for the priestly blessing, said to be the same blessing given by priests in the temple

3,000 years ago.

In the Hnal days of Ramadan, Muslims believe the sky opens up and all their prayers are answered.

When I come to the Old City, I see Christians and Muslims, and I'm very curious about how do they see Jerusalem.

And I also wonder if they're curious about my community about my life.

Every religion has an assumption of one another We think we 're so different, but we have more in common than we realize.

We live in this small area, and I know we all love it.

We all love Jerusalem.

You know, I hope one day we can have the courage to meet the people who are living right next to us.

Maybe not yet.

Someday, yes.

Jews, Christians and Muslims, have often found themselves in conflict.

Yet they share a heritage and a love for the land that nourish their beliefs.

Nowhere is this more apparent than Jerusalem.

This city on a hill binds together the hopes of the world.