Easter crowds return to Jerusalem amid Israel’s vaccine rollout


Jerusalem got an early Easter Miracle this week — the rebirth of religious gatherings, thanks to an aggressive vaccination rollout that’s led to a steep decline in COVID cases.

Thousands packed the streets Good Friday in the Old City’s Christian quarter for the Way of the Cross procession, where worshippers retrace the last steps of Jesus before his crucifixion.

Masked crowds were seen shoulder-to-shoulder as men lugged a replica cross through the narrow corridors.

“We feel more hopeful that things will become better,” Apostolic Administrator Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa said. “The message of Easter is life and love, despite all the signs of death, corona, pandemic, whatever, we believe in the power of love and life.”

Easter church services were canceled last year in Jerusalem and across many parts of the world at the start of the pandemic.

Some sense of normalcy has resumed in Israel, where more than half of the population has been vaccinated.

Still, there are capacity restrictions for indoor Easter services, masks are required and foreigners still need special permission to get in the country, hamstringing tourism.

“It still feels like it’s not normal,” said Hagop Karakashian, the owner of a famous ceramics shop in the Old City. “The locals can celebrate, yes. But something is still missing.”

With Post Wires

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