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Jerusalem Jews Concerned by Christian Symbols in Old City

Residents of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem troubled by the presence of Christian symbols as part of the Festival of Light.
By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 6/7/2012, 5:16 AM

Jerusalem Light Festival
Jerusalem Light Festival
Flash 90

The Jerusalem Festival of Light is taking place this week in the heart of the OId City of Jerusalem. The festival features innovative technology, lighting, art, music and shows.

The festival was initiated by the Jerusalem Development Authority and Ariel Municipal Company and features artists from Israel and abroad who use light in order to create statues, installations, performances and artwork.

Local Jewish residents, however, have expressed concerns over the increased presence of Christian symbols in the Jewish Quarter as part of the festival.

Ephraim Holtzberg, a resident of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that visitors who come for the festival, see at the entrance to Jaffa Gate dozens of lit crosses and the huge dome of a church.

“It’s unbelievable; you’d think you have reached the Vatican,” said Holtzberg. “A huge structure of a Christian church and, to the right of it, dozens of huge crosses in colored lights. Is this Jerusalem?”

He said that rabbis in the city have demanded that Mayor Nir Barkat either remove the crosses or resign.

“I called Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, formerly the rabbi of the Jewish Quarter, and he told me that the mayor must resign,” said Holtzberg. “If he cannot respect the Jewish religion he should resign. I cannot be that anybody who wants to go to the Western Wall will have to pass between the crosses.”

He also said that, in addition to the crosses, naked sculptures have been placed in the area and that these embarrass even the Christians.

“Women who live in Neot David cannot leave their house because of the nude statues,” said Holtzberg. “It does not respect even the churches. Let them put naked statues on the beach in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem.”

The Ariel Municipal Company told Arutz Sheva, in response to Holzeberg’s claims, that “the allegations are untrue and there is no connection between crosses and an exhibit of flowers that has been placed in the Tower of David. The exhibit includes beautiful artistic flowers and it requires great imagination to see a cross among them.”

As for the exhibit at the Jaffa Gate, said Ariel, “It is a large and impressive dome which was exhibited in other places all around the world. There is no connection between the dome and Christianity, and any attempt to associate it with any religion is absurd.”