As churches across Jerusalem proclaimed the Easter story and city streets were filled with the declarations in Arabic and Latin of Jesus’ death and resurrection, cyberspace was also abuzz as a platform for the message of Jesus to be shared in Hebrew — and from an unlikely source.
The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC), KAN (which means ‘here’ in Hebrew), uploaded a video to their YouTube channel in which one of its reporters explains in Hebrew her understanding of the connection between Passover, the Last Supper, the Jewish Jesus and Easter.
IPBC is the governmental body that replaced the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in 2015. The reporter, an Israeli Arab Christian, uses the opportunity in this video to teach Jewish people about her Christian beliefs with no holds barred. Lucy Ayoub is clear and concise, enthusiastic, engaging and evangelistic even if this was not her intention.
On KAN’s Facebook page, the video has had almost 200,000 views, over 1,000 shares and over 3,000 reactions. The majority of the reactions are “likes” with almost 200 “loves” and a few dozen “angry.” The demographics show that the angry reactions are from mostly Orthodox Jews. There are around 400 comments with mixed reactions from around Israel ranging from malicious to extremely positive.
In previous years under the IBA which was responsible for television and radio broadcasting, this presentation would not have been given air time. The IPBC, which also has the added benefit of digital and cyberspace audiences, seems to be giving other voices within Israeli society an opportunity to speak. It is encouraging that the mainstream media appears to be more open to presenting Yeshua in an objective and even positive manner.
This year, the Jewish and Gregorian calendars saw Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Easter coinciding. As a result, the last fortnight for Israel’s Jewish citizens and visitors as well as Christian Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian and Protestant citizens, residents and tourists; was action-packed.
Some of the Christian population of Israel still follows the Julian calendar to determine their holy days. Generally, the entire Christian population participates in the ceremonies together and only those within the organizations know the distinctions between the denominations.
The annual Good Friday procession took place in Jerusalem in which thousands of pilgrims marched along the Via Dolorosa in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. Following that was the Ceremony of the Holy Fire, when they gathered in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher en masse to witness what they call the ‘miraculous lighting of the Patriarch’s candle’ from deep within the recesses of the ancient grotto.
Palm Sunday had pilgrims descending the Mount of Olives singing hymns and bearing palm fronds, re-enacting Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. On Easter Sunday, Protestant Christians in their hundreds attended the Sunrise Service at the Garden Tomb — a highlight for the minority within a minority.
As Monday was the last day of Passover, the week culminated with Easter parades on Tuesday organized by the Arabic Orthodox Scout Groups throughout the country complete with brass bands, singing and marching in Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko and Jaffa. The roads were cordoned off by the municipalities in respect for the religious freedom Israel offers its citizens. The youth were all in uniform and the adults were dressed to the nines as they celebrated in their thousands.