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February 23, 2012February 23, 2012  0 comments  Events


The Israel Ministry of Tourism has just launched an exciting online video competition in advance of Holy Week. To experience Holy Week in Jerusalem is unique - from the Palm Sunday procession (1 April) from the Mount of Olives to the Old City; Holy Thursday and the Washing of the Feet Ceremony; the Good Friday processions along the Via Dolorosa; the Ceremony of the Holy Fire  in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (unique and particular to Jerusalem); processions on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday at Emmaus when many monks and pilgrims walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus-Latrun.


holy fire ceremony
Orthodox Holy Fire Ceremony; Photo courtesy: Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE

The idea is simple: Tell the world what's special about celebrating Easter in the Holy Land - and win a week-long trip for two to actually celebrate the holiday in Israel.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Make a 1 minute clip that ends with the phrase "and that's why spending Easter in the Holy Land is so special".
    Upload your video to YouTube.com with the title a special Easter in the Holy Land.

  • Place a link of your YouTube video on Holy Land Pilgrimage's Facebook page. (And don't forget to mention it on Travelujah's facebook page as well so our community will make sure to see it and 'like' it as well!)

And that's it....

The clip that will gain the most views by March 18th 2012 will win a 1 week tour of the Holy places in the Holy Land, courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.

For further information please visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/HolylandPilgrimage/featured
Or visit: Holy Land Pilgrimage


April 9, 2012April 9, 2012  0 comments  Events

Easter in the Holy Land is unique in many ways, but probably the most significant tradition that occurs only in the Holy Land is the widely awaited tradition, the Holy Fire ceremony. The special ceremony takes place on the Saturday before Orthodox Easter, and captures center stage once again during this holiday's season in Jerusalem for local Christians plus the thousands of believers who make a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land for Easter.

The Holy Fire Ceremony is the culmination of Lenten and Easter event, as it represents the moment when the spirit of Jesus fills the tomb site in the Holy Sepulchre. According to beliefs of many, a flame appears in the tomb and is caught by the Greek patriarch and an Armenian Orthodox priest and is then shared with congregants holding candles in the church who then pass this flame from one person to another.

Because this event is specific to Jerusalem geographically, it is not celebrated anywhere else in the world. Many Orthodox pilgrims from Greece, Russia, Armenia, Eastern Europe and the United States, line up beginning day before. Even tourists beyond Christians as well as locals will often join those in an effort to get inside the Holy Sepulchre for the very special cereimony

All of the churches have a procession through the narrow Old City streets to the Holy Sepulchre on the morning of the Holy Fire Ceremony.

Holy Fire is celebrated on the Saturday before Easter Sunday (Orthodox Easter) and is referred to as Saturday of Light, or Sapt il-Noor..

The ceremony is observed only by the Eastern Orthodox churches, Syrian, Armenian, Russian and Greek Orthodox as well as Copts. Catholics and Protestants do not participate.

History of the Holy Fire

Eastern Orthodoxy religion considers Holy Fire a regularly occurring event as it has occurred at the same time in the same place annually for centuries. The first written account of the Holy Fire dates from the 4th century while accounts from 1106 and 1107 by the Russian Abbot Daniel describe a similar ceremony.

Matthew 28:3, makes note of the Holy Fire and says that at Jesus' tomb, an angel of the Lord appeared whose appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

Travelujah Tips

To enter the Holy Sepulchre or get anywhere close to it, be sure to secure passes from one of the Orthodox churches. Be prepared to wait at crowded checkpoints in the Old City and be faced with the possibility of not getting in at all despite having a pass.

The Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem's Old City is claimed by about 14 denominations, making for crowded services at times. Most of the Orthodox and Coptic churches celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony on the Saturday of Light, April 14, 2012, at 13:00 and the entire Old City will be flooded with local and Christian pilgrims trying to get into the church for the service.

For more information on Chrisitan tourism to the Holy Land, please contact Travelujah or email info@travelujah.com

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


March 12, 2014March 12, 2014  0 comments  Historical Sites

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over Calvary – place where Christ was crucified, entombed and where he resurrected from, stands in a very central place within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. However, as we can easily imagine, at the time of Jesus, the topography of the Holy City varied a lot from the present one.


The Gospels describe Golgotha (place of the Skull) as a garden just outside the walls of Jerusalem. That clearly means that the procession leading Jesus to death must have left the city through one of the city gates - the Judgment Gate.


It was only around 41 AD, when the Holy City was enlarged towards northwest by Herod Agrippa and the Christ’s sepulchre was included into the proper area of Jerusalem.


Interior of St. Alexander Nevsky Church


Can the Judgment Gate be seen today?


Not all the visitors to Jerusalem are actually aware that the threshold of the Judgment Gate remains excellently preserved and is one of the most sacred shrines of Christianity. But where can it be seen today?


Our fully understandable admiration and focus on the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre might overshadow many things located around it. But we need to remember that the Holy City of Jerusalem hides plenty of precious and important sites.


Threshold of the Judgment Gate


One of such places is St. Alexander Nevsky Church that was named after an admired warrior and Russian prince from the 13th century. The edifice was completed and consecrated on 5th of September 1891, and today, it serves as the focal area of the Russian Orthodox mission in the city of Jerusalem.


It is located just next to the present form of the Holy Sepulchre, on the grounds purchased by Russia in 1859. The shrine houses important archaeological findings.


The archaeological dig at the site, which begun in 1883, was led by A. Kapoustin. It revealed massive walls with and opening between them, dating back to the Roman era and determined as the “Holy Threshold of the Judgment Gate” - the edge of the city walls and the place where Jesus passed on during his crucifixion journey.


Looking to the left from the threshold, we can also see an “eye of needle” – a hole where stake of the gate’s door shall be placed. When the church was built, the threshold was covered with glass in a wooden frame. Behind it was placed a large stone taken (purchased) from the Calvary, on which a traditional Orthodox Crucifix was fixed.


Remains of the Roman Temple


The excavations also revealed remnants of the columns and arches dating back to the 2nd century AD, which might have been parts of the Hadrian’s temple built over the site of the Holy Sepulchre.


What is more, there were also found ruins of the Constantinian’s Basilica from the 4th century. For example, part of a massive column can be seen behind the Judgment Gate.


Travelujah’s tip:


Take with you some coins (5 NIS), as there is a small entrance fee (totally worth the experience). Please remember about modest clothes, covering your arms and knees. At the entrance to the church, women will receive something to cover their hair and a skirt – the dress code of Russian holy sites.



Beata Andonia blogs regularly for Travelujah, the leading faith-based social network in the Holy Land. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010. 

March 28, 2012March 28, 2012  0 comments  Easter

You're about to embark on the trip of a lifetime-a Holy Land pilgrimage that will coincide with the celebration of Easter, a unique and truly exciting experience for any Christian. This year, record numbers of tourists are expected to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the holy city where the story of Easter takes place. As is customary, a host of very special activities are planned in celebration of the holiday. Father Juan Maria Solana, L.C, Charge of the Holy See, gave Travelujah his top 5 "must do" experiences for Christians celebrating Easter in the Holy Land (plus a couple of our own special favorites)


1. Go to an Easter Celebration in Jerusalem. There are numerous services in churches all over Jerusalem as well as in other major cities throughout the land. Make sure you visit at least one service during Holy Week.


2. Participate in the Palm Sunday and the Good Friday Processions. The Palm Sunday procession is held on Sunday April 1, 2012 at 2:30 in the afternoon and commemorates the entry of  Jesus into Jerusalem.  Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 people are expected to join this event. The procession is led by the Latin Patriarchate and begins at Bethphage and continues into the Old City entering thru the St. Stephen's Gate and ending at the Church of St. Anne.  The Good Friday procession is led by Franciscan Friars and begins at 11:30 am in the Old City. The walk follows the path that Jesus took on the day of his death, known as the Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. "Being a part of this very special procession," says Father Juan, "is a unique experience for any Christian."


Father Juan Solana

Father Juan Solana, photo courtesy Travelujah


3. Celebrate a Passover Seder. "Every Christian should have a Passover Seder with a Jewish family because our Eucharest comes from Passover," says Father Juan. Moreover, a Passover Seder is a true family celebration, something that is not very Catholic. As he explains, "Catholics celebrate Easter by attending Mass, but it is centered around priests, not the family."


4. Visit the Holy Sepulchre on Easter Sunday. This shrine is where the last five Stations of the Cross are located. No Easter in the Holy Land is complete without exploring this historic shrine.


5. Recite the Gospels in the Upper Room. To have a truly authentic experience, visit the Upper Room located at Mount Zion and while you are there make sure you read about the resurrection in the Gospels. Jesus's appearance to the Apostles occurred in the Upper Room.


last supper room mt zion www.allaboutjerusalem.com

Room of the Last Supper, photo courtesy www.allaboutjerusalem.com


Travelujah Add Ons - (We can't help but add a couple of our favorite experiences as well to this list)


1. Easter at the Garden Tomb - Not only is Easter Sunday a special day at the Garden Tomb but on April 14 the Garden Tomb holds its annual Arabic Easter event which brings together 500 - 600 Arab and Israeli believers. Seeing both Israelis and Palestinians together in prayer makes this an even more spiritually significant event.


2. Holy Fire Ceremony-On April 14th Orthodox Christians gather early in the morning at the Church of the Sepulchre for the annual Holy Fire Ceremony. The ceremony begins at 1 pm.



If you go:

Good Friday at the Holy Sepulchre

8.00 a.m. - Celebration of the Passion of the Lord, Calvary. The doors will remain opened.
4.00 p.m. - The Liturgy of the Hours
8.10 p.m. - "Funeral" Procession

Good Friday Procession (Via Crucis)

11:30a.m. - Procession beginning at the First Station of the Cross with the Franciscan Friars

Passover Seder Experience

Hineni Jerusalem- 02-624-9747

Easter Sunday at the Holy Sepulchre

7:30a.m. - Entry into the Basilica by the Latin Patriarch
8:00a.m. - Solemn Mass of Resurrection and Procession around the Rotunda
5:00p.m. - Daily Procession

Mount Zion Upper Room

The Upper Room is open daily from 8:30 to 4:00 pm
On Holy Thursday- at 3:30 pm there is a Pilgrimage to the Cenacle and to the Church of St. James

Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb is open Monday through Saturday 8:30 - 12 and 14:00 - 17:30

April 8 - Resurrection Celebration (Easter Sunday)

April 14 - Easter Worship in Arabic


Holy Fire Ceremony

April 12 -  Church of the Holy Sepulchre


For further information on Easter in the Holy Land or Christian tourism to the Holy Land, email info@travelujah.com


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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan, and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


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