JOSTLED BY CROWDS of international pilgrims and local Palestinian Christians, I was struck by the rich breadth of cultural expression — and the occasional elbow. Navigating the layers of religious and political tensions wasn’t easy. Jerusalem’s Old City was annexed by the state of Israel but is still considered “occupied Palestinian territory” under international law.
At times the only way through an Israeli checkpoint was to let the surging crowds of the faithful force me forward and hope for the best. By week’s end, dodging forests of Catholic crucifixes or getting splashed with Orthodox candle wax didn’t bring me closer to Jesus, but the devotion in the face of a Palestinian child, Brazilian teen, or Russian mother was truly inspiring.