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Violence in the Old City as our trip comes to an end

By Steph Beckett

JERUSALEM — Today was our last day in the Holy Land, or Godland, if you will. Our schedule deemed it a “reporting day” and, for the first time in a week, we didn’t have a set schedule. There were no places to see or people to meet; everything was up to us.

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A sacred stone and fault lines of conflict

By Dan Rabb

JERUSALEM — Our journey through the Holy Land has finally brought us to the city holy to three faiths, Jerusalem. After two days immersed in the tension, trauma, and faith of the West bank, we drove through the Bethlehem checkpoint and into Jerusalem’s Old City, where the fault lines of conflict are tangled in the sacred geography of the world’s major religions.


The Heart of Godland: The Al-Aqsa Mosque on al-Haram al-Sharif

By Colin Marston

JERUSALEM — When Ali Abu Al-Awar speaks of what Jews call the Temple Mount and what Muslims call al-Haram al-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”), reams of history spool out.

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Life on the margins in the West Bank

By Patrick Mulholland

BETHLEHEM — On Thursday, the fifth day of our journey, we heard from three separate communities in the occupied West Bank about their engagement with the land. In the morning, we visited Deheisha, a Palestinian refugee camp to the south of Bethlehem.


Where churches abound and even the water is sacred

By Matthew Taub and Isobel van Hagen

TABQHA – On this very shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, Christians believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with nothing but five loaves of bread and two fish. The miracle is marked by a church that draws a steady flow of pilgrims who silently crowd the small space, some of them kneeling by the walls and whispering private confessions into a monk’s shoulder.


The Holy Land is like a chessboard – it needs two players

By Vildana Hajric and Hannah Harnest

NAZARETH – At 11:45 this morning, the muezzin called out the Muslim call to prayer in this city holy to Christians but populated overwhelmingly by Muslims. Just a few minutes later, as Muslim men lined up for prayer at the White Mosque, the bells in the tower of the Church of the Annunciation pealed loudly.


The type of news no one ever reports

By Courtenay Brown

HAIFA – If we started our journey through the Holy Land with a look at ethnic minority refugees in South Tel Aviv, we continued it today with a visit to two of its smallest minority religions, the Baha’i and the Ahmadi Muslims.


Entering Israel through the back door

By Fergus Tuohy

TEL AVIV — The African migrants of this Israeli city have recently been in the news, but they are not that visible to most tourists. The migrants live in the poorer, out-of-the-way precincts of Tel Aviv, near the Central Bus Station, far from the luxury hotels that line the Mediterranean beaches…


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The hardship of living in Jesus’s birthplace

By Steph Beckett

BEIT SAHOUR — “We starve sometimes for a drop of water.” This quote has been replaying in my head over and over ever since Wednesday night when we divided up into small groups to spend the night with different families in Palestine.


Family man, not elves, behind Christmas treasures in Bethlehem

By Courtenay Brown and Liz Donovan

Pilgrims and tourists buy souvenirs to remember their visit to the Holy Land, but for Ghassan Qumsieh, the trinkets are his form of survival. Qumsieh, born in Palestine, got up from the dinner table eager to show his family’s guests—us, two Americans, and our teacher, Professor Haroon Moghul—his creation.

New Breakfast

Faith, food and checkpoints

By Kat Moon

The dining table featured a display of golden-spiced rice with toasted almonds, tomatoes and cucumbers marinated in vinegar, fresh olives grown by our host Nataly, and glasses of freshly-squeezed lemonade — from her home-grown lemons.

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Stories and a stroll with the Khair family

By Fergus Tuohy

On Wednesday evening, Raja Khair ran up the steps in Bethlehem’s old city to greet the men of our group. Raja is a sturdy man with strong hands, thickened by decades of working as a builder.


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Voices from Godland—Episode 2: the Beatitudes

By Sarah Wyman

TIBERIUS — Christian pilgrims at the Church of Beatitudes reflect on the meaning of Christ’s teachings and the roots of their faith.

The Bahá'í World Center in Haifa, Israel, is both the spiritual and administrative center for the world's newest religion (Godland News/ Liz Donovan)

Voices from Godland—Episode 1: the Báb

By Augusta Anthony

HAIFA — Godland brings you to the city of Haifa and the resting place of the Báb—the most revered figure of the most popular religion you’ve never heard of. Augusta Anthony visits the spiritual center of the Baha’i faith.



To kiss a cloud of witnesses:
icons on the Lower East Side

By John Marston

The first thing Maggie Downham does when she enters the inner sanctuary of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection is kiss the icons…

Havdallah service at a Moishe House

Light and dark: An Orthodox Jewish congregation celebrates a sabbath ritual

By Galie Darwich

The lights were turned off, except for two round ones on each side of the bimah, a reading table near the center of the synagogue. The mechitzah was taken down, and about 20 worshippers at the Congregation Ramath Orah on 550 W. 110th St…


Sacred Hymns: Mormons look to music to feel God’s presence at Inwood First Ward

By Sarah Wyman

Daniel Dubei reaches for the hymnal tucked into the pew in front of him as the first notes of the church organ ring out through the chapel. He thumbs quickly through the pages, arriving at hymn 195…


Halaal and a holy book: The Islamic Center at NYU serves up weekly spiritual discussions

By Augusta Anthony

Just after 7 p.m., Sheikh Faiyaz Jaffer enters the fourth-floor conference room at the New York University Islamic Center on Thompson Street in Lower Manhattan. He has a MacBook in one hand and a copy of the Quran in the other. This is Jaffer’s weekly halaqa, a religious gathering for the study of Islam and the Quran…

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Heart and hand in coptic Queens

By Matthew Taub

Outside, it was a quiet and nearly frigid Saturday morning in Queens—distinguished only, and only maybe, by being the day before the Super Bowl. But inside Ridgewood’s 606 Woodward Avenue, where the St. Mary & St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church sits stalwart but muted in monochrome brick, it was the holy 26th day of the month of Tubah…

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