“I feel I am blessed to live in the holy city of Jerusalem”

Hana Bendcowsky – “As the program director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish ­Christian Relations, most of my work is to teach Israeli Jews about Christians and Christianity and about their relationship with Judaism.

I usually talk about the trinity of the holy land: the holy places, the Christian world of the pilgrims and the local communities that include migrant workers, asylum seekers from Eretria, Arabs and even some of the Israeli Russian community.

For example if you come as a tourist or a pilgrim, or as both, and you ignore the fact that there are local communities here, then you just came to see Disneyland of holy places. On the other hand, if you come here and you ignore the fact that there are holy places, why did you come here? Go to Goa, or Paris, or other nice cities.

The understanding that we, Israeli Jews, have the responsibility for the security and the maintenance of the holiest place in the world for most of the Christians ­ is mind blowing. It’s a great responsibility and great honor. I wake up every morning feeling ‘wow, I’m blessed; I live in the holy city of Jerusalem’. I see it as a true privilege.”