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Jerusalem's Beloved Holy Sites Close Their Doors to Combat COVID-19

03-30-2020
Repairs on Church of the Holy Sepulcher, CBN News image, Jonathan Goff

JERUSALEM, Israel – The streets of Jerusalem's iconic Old City are eerily quiet as authorities work hard to contain the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

While Easter, Passover, and Ramadan usually draw big crowds this time of year, all holy sites are closed until further notice.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed by many Christians to be the place where Jesus died, was buried and resurrected, shuttered its doors last week.

A few faithful have resorted to praying in the church's courtyard outside its heavy doors.

"Even if the doors are closed, prayers and prostration will continue before the door of the church of resurrection, may the Almighty God lift this epidemic and scourge from the whole nation," said Adeeb Jawad Joudeh Alhusseini, the Muslim Palestinian custodian responsible for opening the church's doors to Christian pilgrims every day.

 

This year, Holy Week will look much different. A spokesperson for the Assembly of Catholic Ordinances of the Holy Land said on Monday the "vast majority of liturgical celebrations would either (be) reduced in size, postponed or canceled. Many of the celebrations would be broadcasted live through various tools of communications, especially TVs and social media networks."

Other holy sites like the Temple Mount are also closed. Muslim authorities indefinitely closed the site, along with the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Only a handful of Muslim worshippers prayed near the entrance leading to Al-Aqsa on Friday.

The Western Wall remains open but is only accessible to residents of the Old City, per the Health Ministry's directives.

The ministry has restricted citizens to only traveling 100 meters away from their homes.

The city's main synagogue, the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, has also closed to prevent worshippers from gathering in large groups.

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