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Mariupol's Jewish Community 19
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
28 Apr 2015

Mariupol Jewish community member Natasha Ralko, whose windows were blown out while she was sitting in the living room of her apartment with her daughter and 8-month-old infant, and whose kitchen is now heavily damaged, believes the death toll in eastern Ukraine is much higher than reported.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 20
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
28 Apr 2015

Mariupol Jewish community member Natasha Ralko, whose windows were blown out while she was sitting in the living room of her apartment with her daughter and 8-month-old infant, and whose kitchen is now heavily damaged, believes the death toll in eastern Ukraine is much higher than reported.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 21
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
28 Apr 2015

Mariupol’s Jewish community is spread out, and some members, like Natalia Lavushko and her husband, Grigory, live on the city’s outskirts—areas that would be early targets in the event of a new offensive. The Lavushkos have stopped renovating their modest house because Ukraine’s currency devaluation has eaten into their meager income.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 22
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
28 Apr 2015

Mariupol’s Jewish community is spread out, and some members, like Natalia Lavushko and her husband, Grigory, live on the city’s outskirts—areas that would be early targets in the event of a new offensive. The Lavushkos have stopped renovating their modest house because Ukraine’s currency devaluation has eaten into their meager income. Their young daughter is playing in her room which was partly destroyed during an artillery strike.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 04
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
27 Apr 2015

Local Jewish volunteers are preparing food packages for other members of their community still in Mariupol. These packages are filled with various foods necessary for the survival of these families who have decided to remain in the war zone.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 05
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
27 Apr 2015

Volunteers gather each day at the local Chabad center in central Mariupol helping to pack foods in plastic bags for local Jewish families who have decided to remain in the port city, though the fighting is a mere 10 miles away.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 06
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
27 Apr 2015

A young member of the Jewish community is checking his cell phone from inside the only Jewish center left in the city of Mariupol.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 07
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
27 Apr 2015

A local Jewish woman is inspecting the progress made by her peers inside the only Jewish center left, which are provided food packages to families who have remained in the port city.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 08
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
27 Apr 2015

Local members of the Jewish community of Mariupol are gathering food packages from inside the only Jewish center left within the port city.

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Mariupol's Jewish Community 09
Mariupol, Ukraine
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
27 Apr 2015

The Chabad center of Mariupol is the only one left of its kind within the port city. Jewish members can go there at anytime to get help, or seek advise.

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Jerusalem: the Birthplace of Monotheism
Jerusalem
By Noe Falk Nielsen
20 Apr 2015

The old city of Jerusalem contains the holiest places for two major monotheistic religions and the third holiest place for a third. The old city of Jerusalem contains the Wailing Wall, the holiest site for Jews; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is said to stand on the ground where Jesus was crucified, interred, and later resurrected; and the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in Islam and represents the place where the prophet arrived on his nightly journey from Mecca. Al-Aqsa is regarded as the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.


Together, these religious sites hold significance for approximately four billion Christians, Muslims and Jews around the world. 

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"Easter-Jews": A Dying Ritual in Lith...
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
09 Apr 2015

Holy Saturday in Pievėnai (Mažeikiai district municipality, Lithuania).

Every Easter, in the small Lithuanian village of Pievenai, a group of young men in uniform guard the local church to ensure their yearly procession goes undisturbed.  However, they are not guarding against street gangs or violent criminals, they are guardian against what they call the “Easter Jews”; a group of young local men wearing masks and clothes resembling visual stereotypes of orthodox Jews.

 

Both groups of young men are part of a dying Lithuanian Easter ritual in which the people in uniform prevent the so-called “Easter Jews” from breaking into the church, stealing the crucifix, distracting worshipers from god, and disturbing the resurrection of Christ.

 

On the eve of Easter, the guards begin their night watch, as the young men dressed up as “Easter Jews” begin trying to infiltrate the church and disrupt the evening mass. The guard’s night watch continues through the night until the last worshipers have left the church. The guards then go to rest in a nearby house where they play cards and drink beer.

The next morning, at the crack of dawn, a beating drum awakens the villagers and summons them to the morning mass. The guards return to the church, along with the “Easter Jews”. After the service is held, worshipers and guards begin a procession in which they walk around the church three times. As this is happening, the “Easter-Jews” run around the church in the opposite direction a total of nine times, with the intention of disrupting the procession and the resurrection of Christ.

 

There are four teams that dress up as soldiers and they all wear different colored uniforms. The red uniforms represent the blood of Christ, the green ones symbolize regeneration and hope, the blue ones symbolize the ascension of Jesus, and the white ones represent the sheet in which the body of the Christ was wrapped.

 

According to the local priest Saulius Styra the origin of the tradition is not known: "It is said that virtually all the churches had such soldiers before the [Second World] War." However, locals say that the Pievenai is the only village that still practices the tradition.

 

Most Lithuanians today are unaware of this outdated tradition. For many of those who are aware of it, they regard it as a relic of the past and an outdated remnant of old-world fascist mentalities. For them it is out of step with modern times.

 

However, those participating do not see it that way. For them it is simply a local tradition derived from the bible that is not meant to offend or demonize anyone. “Easter-Jews are tempting believers,” explains Priest Styra, “they are equated to devils. And this scenario is taken out of Jesus’ Crucifixion [from the Bible]. In the region where Jesus was crucified, everyone was Jewish, and I do not see any humiliation of Jewish people in this play”.

 

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Lithuania Easter 2
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
04 Apr 2015

On Easter morning the commissionaire€“ reports to the priest that the cross was kept safe.

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Lithuania Easter 4
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
04 Apr 2015

To show their hostility, the "Easter-Jews" frolick and run around the church in the opposite direction of the procession. The procession walks three times around the church while the "Easter-Jews" run around it reverse nine times.

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Lithuania Easter 5
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
04 Apr 2015

An elderly woman at the Easter Mass gathering in Pievanai.

While the "Easter-Jews" ritual was commonplace in Lithuania before World War Two, it is now only held in the village of Pievanai.

Most of Lithaunia's once thriving Jewish population was exterminated during the Holocaust.

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Lithuania Easter 7
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
04 Apr 2015

Villagers are summoned to morning Requiem Mass by a beating drum at the break of daw.

It is thought that the sound of the drum is the sound of joy. The sound also said to deter evil spirits who try to hinder the resurrection.

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Lithuania Easter 8
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
04 Apr 2015

When there is no one left in the church, all the teams come back to the house: to sleep, to have a snack, or just relax. In the morning €“ before believers start to gather,€“ they are go on watch again.

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Lithuania Easter 15
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

An "Easter-Jew" sews mayhem in the church and tries to steal the cross.

"I think that the festival is a beautiful custom of the village," explains Jonas, the man behind the mask. "My grandfather, my father, and my brother all took part in it and that is why I am participating too. For four years I had acted as a soldier only this year I tried the role of a Jew. It is a pleasure to play the soldier’s role, but I enjoyed being a Jew much more."

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Lithuania Easter 11
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

The commissionaire, soldiers and "Easter-Jews" play cards together as they feast.

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Lithuania Easter 12
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

A soldier reacting quickly after hearing the color name of his team.

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Lithuania Easter 13
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

Soldiers keep watch over the cross, which is the centerpiece of the entire ritual. It is the goal of the soldiers to protect the cross from the "Easter Jews" who are trying to steal it.

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Lithuania Easter 14
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

The commissionaire, the leader of the soldiers, plays cards with team members.

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Lithuania Easter 16
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

All teams gather in the church at the start of the ritual to salute the cross.

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Lithuania Easter 17
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

The last smoke before the start of the ceremony.

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Lithuania Easter 18
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

Before and during the night watch, soldiers are take turns drinking beer from the same glass.

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Lithuania Easter 19
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

Before night watch youth gather in the house.

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Lithuania Easter 21
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

A member of the green team assists his teammate in getting dressed.

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Lithuania Easter 21
Pievėnai
By Domantas Pipas
03 Apr 2015

In the house closest to the church, the coats of the soldiers are hanged before the feast. The white team (the coat hanging above) did not participate this year.

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Land Day R
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
30 Mar 2015

As the Land Day action is brought to an abrupt halt in Wadi Fukin, the majority of the 350 olive tree saplings remain unplanted outside a house in the village after activists were forced to escape from clouds of tear gas that was fired by Israeli soldiers.
Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine. March 30 2015.

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Land Day
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
30 Mar 2015

A Palestinian child watches from a rooftop in Wadi Fukin as Israeli soldiers fire rounds of tear gas at fleeing activists during a tree planting event to mark Land Day. In the background stands the huge Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit which is built partly on the land of Wadi Fukin.
Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine. March 30 2015.

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Land Day 19
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
30 Mar 2015

Two elderly Palestinian women attempt to make their way down the hill in Wadi Fukin to escape from the tear gas that is being fired by Israeli forces.

Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine. March 30 2015.

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Land Day 20
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
30 Mar 2015

An Israeli security helicopter circles above Wadi Fukin during the olive tree planting event to commemorate Palestinian Land Day on March 30th 2015.

Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine. March 30 2015.

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Land Day 21
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
30 Mar 2015

Israeli soldiers line up on a hill top in Wadi Fukin as Palestinian activists watch from a distance during an olive tree planting event to commemorate Land Day in the Palestinian village of Wadi Fukin.

Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine. March 30 2015.

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Land Day 4
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
29 Mar 2015

350 olive trees were brought to Wadi Fukin to be planted on the lands threatened by settlement expansion.

Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine, March 30 2105.

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Land Day 5
Wadi Fukin
By Rich Wiles
29 Mar 2015

Activists make their way up a hill toward land that is threatened by the expansion of the Sur Haddasah settlement. In the background, the huge Beitar Illit settlement is also built on the land of Wadi Fukin.

Wadi Fukin, West Bank, Palestine, March 30 2015.