Jerusalem (2013) Movie Script

Beyond the barren shores of the Dead Sea
lived an ancient people called the Jebusites.
Thousands of years ago, on a large
outcrop of bedrock,
it is said they worshipped Shalem,
the god of the setting sun.
The city alone was known
as the place of Shalem.
Over time, this city became the gateway
to God for three major religions.
And the most fought over piece
of land in history.
Many believed it was the center of the world.
Today, the walled old city at the heart
of Jerusalem
is a mosaic of cultures and beliefs.
Where Jews, Christians and Muslims
live side by side,
yet in separate quarters.
Each in their own Jerusalem.
Everyone in Jerusalem has a favorite gate.
Mine is Damascus Gate.
When you enter Damascus Gate
you are in the Muslim quarter, my quarter.
This is my Jerusalem.
In Arabic, we call Jerusalem, al-Quds,
which means the holy city.
But it is also a place where people go
to work, where we buy our groceries,
and kids play and go to school.
Jerusalem to me is more than just a city.
It's beauty, it's spirit
and it's also my religion.
But most importantly, it's my family.
Most people don't think I'm Muslim.
It's only when I go to the mosque and I put
a head-scarf on, that surprises them.
But Jerusalem is full of surprises.
Twice a week, in the Jewish quarter,
there is a big celebration.
For boys, it's called the bar mitzvah.
For girls, it's called a bat mitzvah.
It's the moment when you become an adult.
Jews in Jerusalem have come from over
a hundred different countries.
Take for example, my family.
My mother is from Paris.
Her parents are from Tunisia.
My father's family is from Poland.
No matter where we come from,
we all trace our roots back here.
Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on
the same stones as my ancestors.
Since Biblical times, we have a special word
when Jews return to the promised land.
We say we're making aliyah, which means
going up to a higher place.
And for us, the Jews, there is no higher
place than Jerusalem.
For me, the best time to come to Jerusalem
is Easter.
Every Easter starts with
the Palm Sunday procession.
It's where we walk down the Mount of Olives
celebrating the day
where Jesus entered the city.
Every year, me and my brother George join
in this Palm Sunday procession
and we end up meeting people
from all over the world.
Easter, for most people, is about the eggs,
the bunnies and decorations.
But here, we still have the same Easter
like 2,000 years ago,
we still re-live what happened with Jesus
the passion of Christ, the same step-by-step
every Easter.
In the Christian quarter, we have
the Ethiopians, the Greek Orthodox,
the Catholics, the Coptics, the Syrians
and each community,
celebrates Easter in their own way.
Next to the Christian quarter,
we have the Armenian quarter
and they celebrate Easter
in their own church.
The old city is very small and the
four quarters do not communicate a lot.
Although we live in the same area,
we don't know a lot about each other.
Smaller than a square mile,
Jerusalem's old city contains some of
the holiest sites in the world
for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
So, how did half the people on Earth come
to cherish the same tiny space?
Jerusalem lies at the crossroads of
Africa, Asia and Europe.
A region known as the cradle of civilization.
The first empires began here
5,000 years ago.
As other great powers emerged,
the land surrounding Jerusalem
became a constant battleground.
Each civilization left its mark here.
The Romans built vast port cities
on the Mediterranean Sea.
On the tombs of Biblical prophets,
Muslims built shrines.
On a high plateau, above the Dead Sea,
King Herod the Great built Masada,
a mountain fortress where Jewish rebels
made their last stand against
the Roman army.
In the Judean Desert, early Christians
built remote monasteries.
Some still inhabit it to this day.
Conquered over 40 times,
Jerusalem is many cities.
Each one built on the ruins of another.
And most can still be found
beneath our feet.
Imagine you are a detective
and you try to solve a mystery based on
pieces of evidence that you put together.
That's exactly what archeologists do
except that we do it for the past.
One of the things that makes Jerusalem
such an exciting place to work
is the continuous occupation layers,
one on top of the other.
Going all the way back, 5,000 years ago
to the first inhabitants,
the Biblical Jebusites, and then
through the Israelites
and the Roman period, and the Crusaders
and all the way up until today.
Understanding ancient Jerusalem is like
trying to put together a giant puzzle
where we are missing most of the pieces
and we don't know what the original
picture looked like.
Everything that we dig up out of the ground
is a new piece of that puzzle.
Jerusalem lies in the heart of a region
that has yielded some of archeology's
most incredible finds.
One of the most spectacular finds
is the Dead Sea Scrolls,
which were written over 2,000 years ago
and are by far the oldest copies we have
of the Hebrew Bible.
The deepest levels under the ground,
we find the earliest remains
of the people who lived in this land.
What is it that drew people to Jerusalem
in the first place?
It's an isolated, poor, rocky mountain town.
The answer is simple. Water.
In the heart of the ancient city of Jerusalem
is a spring which has fresh water
in it all year round.
So, the inhabitants cut a tunnel through
solid bedrock to get to that water.
Along with water, there is another reason
Jerusalem became important.
And that was at the top of the hill
that overlooked the city.
The large outcrop of bedrock where
it is believed the Jebusites
worshipped the god of the setting sun.
In Jewish tradition, this is the foundation
stone where the world was created,
and some of the most important stories
in the Bible took place.
Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son,
in a test of faith.
King David brought the Ark of the Covenant.
And King Solomon built the first temple,
the house of God.
After the temple was destroyed by
the Babylonians,
the belief survived, passed down
through the Bible
that Jerusalem was the closest
place on Earth to God.
My grandfather came to Jerusalem when
he was 12 years old, in 1936
because his father felt that something bad
is going to happen in Europe.
But all the rest of his family
stayed in Poland,
and they all perished during the Holocaust.
He made research about every
place in the old city,
and he even wrote seven books
about Jerusalem.
And now in his 90s,
he is still learning every day
something new about Jerusalem.
It's his biggest love, I think.
After his wife, but...
I think, I'm sure that part of his love
to Jerusalem has passed
to his family, to me.
There's a tomb on the Mount of Olives,
named after the prophet Zechariah.
That's where my family's name comes from.
Zechariah saw the destruction of Jerusalem
over 2,000 years ago,
but he prophesized that one day the Jewish
people would return to their homeland.
At the end of our holiest days,
like Yom Kippur and Passover,
we sing, "Next year in Jerusalem."
For hundreds of years,
this was the Jewish dream,
to be back in Jerusalem,
and I have the chance to live that dream.
I can really feel the power of this place.
How much energy is in this place.
I have this tradition, to go every birthday
and to put a prayer note in the wall.
We believe all prayers pass through the wall
on their way to God.
The site of Jewish longing for generations,
the Western Wall is one of four walls
that support the enormous stone platform
where 2,000 years ago, King Herod the Great
rebuilt the temple
on a scale comparable to
the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
When Herod rebuilt the temple,
he surrounded the platform on which
it stood with a massive wall.
We're now rounding
the southwest corner of this wall
and as we come around, I want you to look
at the giant stones built into the wall.
In fact, think about this: how did they get
these huge stones into position
without the kind of modern machinery
that we have today?
Using written records and the latest
archeological findings,
we can imagine what the second temple
might have looked like
at the height of its splendor.
Today, long after the second temple
was destroyed by the Roman army,
Jews mourn its loss at the wall
that once stood closest to it,
the Western Wall.
Hundreds of years ago,
my family came from Greece and Italy
to see the Holy Land,
and they stayed.
My mother's family settled here
in Bethlehem.
It's the city where Jesus was born.
On Easter, we all get together in front
of the Church of the Nativity.
And sometimes
I even get to sing there with my choir.
For centuries, Christian pilgrims
have traced the footsteps of Jesus
from his birth in Bethlehem
to his death in Jerusalem.
They followed the River Jordan,
where many believe he was baptized,
until it meets the Sea of Galilee.
According to the Gospels,
he began his ministry
in the village of Capernaum
and taught in its synagogue.
On these shores,
Christians believe he gave
some of his most famous sermons
and found disciples
among the local fishermen.
And it is here,
in Jerusalem's garden of Gethsemane,
that the New Testament says
he was arrested
before being sentenced to death.
On Good Friday,
thousands of pilgrims walk the Via Dolorosa
or Way of Sorrows,
said to be the path Jesus took
on his way to crucifixion.
The procession ends
inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
You know, this church is very special to me.
Sometimes I see people who have
dreamed their whole life of coming here.
I realize how lucky I am to live in Jerusalem.
I can come to the church any time I want
to touch the rock of Golgotha.
It's where we believe
Jesus died on the cross.
And visit the tomb where he was buried
and three days later rose from the dead.
To understand why many believe
Jesus was crucified and buried here,
we have to go underground.
Deep below the church,
archeologists found ancient graffiti.
A ship drawn by a pilgrim
with an inscription in Latin that reads,
"O Lord, we have come."
Dated to over 1,700 years ago,
it suggests that Christians worshipped here
even before the church was built.
In another part of the church,
are ancient tombs cut into a rocky hill
known as Golgotha.
Most archeologists believe
this was a Jewish cemetery
in the time of Jesus.
These tombs in the rock of Golgotha
would later become the site of
Christianity's most important church,
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Ultimately, archeology
cannot prove Jesus was buried here.
This remains a matter of faith.
My family has deep roots in Jerusalem.
We've been here for hundreds of years.
We love talking about family history,
especially during the month of Ramadan,
when the whole family gathers
to break the fast.
During Ramadan,
every street competes to see
who can make the best decorations
and who can throw the biggest parade.
To the Muslim world,
Jerusalem is the city of the prophets,
Abraham, David and Jesus.
Muslims believe that the last of the prophets
was Muhammad,
and that one night, he was taken
on a miraculous journey
from Mecca to Jerusalem,
where he ascended to heaven
on a ladder of light.
For over a thousand years,
Muslims have linked
the Prophet Muhammad's night journey
with the stone platform that houses
the golden Dome of the Rock
and the mosque at the southern end.
When you go up to the mosque,
you leave all the noises
and the crowds behind you.
You come out to this wide open space
filled with birds and trees.
It's like you're in another world.
Out of all the buildings in Jerusalem,
the most beautiful to me is
the Dome of the Rock.
The Dome of the Rock
is actually built over a rock,
which we call al-Sakhrah,
where we believe Prophet Muhammad,
peace be upon him,
rose to the heaven
and led all the prophets in prayer.
Built 1,300 years ago,
the Dome of the Rock is among the
oldest Islamic monuments in the world.
But why here, just above the Western Wall?
What is it about this site that made it
the gateway to God for Muslims?
The oldest map of Jerusalem
ever discovered
shows that when the Muslims arrived
as conquerors in the seventh century,
they found a Christian city,
dominated by the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
It is said they were invited to pray
inside the church,
but asked instead to be taken
to the top of the stone platform
to look for their own place of worship.
They found it abandoned,
filled with rubbish.
Only once they cleaned it did they uncover
what they were searching for.
The large outcrop of bedrock,
the object at the center
of Jerusalem's sacred stories.
Today, the Dome of the Rock
guards the ancient stone,
where it is believed the Jebusites
once worshipped, the temple stood,
and the Prophet Muhammad
ascended to heaven.
On the Saturday before Easter,
Orthodox Christians celebrate
the resurrection of Jesus
in the ceremony of the Holy Fire,
one of the oldest rituals in Christianity.
On the Jewish High Holy Days,
Jews gather at the Western Wall
for the priestly blessing,
said to be the same blessing
given by priests in the temple
3,000 years ago.
In the final days of Ramadan,
Muslims believe the sky opens up
and all their prayers are answered.
When I come to the Old City,
I see Christians and Muslims,
and I'm very curious about
how do they see Jerusalem.
And I also wonder if they're
curious about my community,
about my life.
Every religion has an assumption
of one another.
We think we're so different,
but we have more in common
than we realize.
We live in this small area,
and I know we all love it.
We all love Jerusalem.
You know, I hope one day
we can have the courage
to meet the people
who are living right next to us.
Maybe not yet.
Someday, yes.
Jews, Christians and Muslims,
have often found themselves in conflict.
Yet they share a heritage and a love
for the land that nourish their beliefs.
Nowhere is this more apparent
than Jerusalem.
This city on a hill binds together
the hopes of the world.