Copertina Santo Seplcro-Bashar

Bashar Jararah and the restoration of the Holy Sepulchre

Veronica Brocca4 November 2022

The actor Giovanni Scifoni concluded his trip to the Holy Land in Jerusalem, the Holy City.

Millions of pilgrims over the years have visited this place, the heart of Christianity that for centuries has guarded the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest places for Christians around the world.

Work began in March on the raising of the pavement inside the majestic Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. These restorations have great significance not only because of the grandeur of the work, but because they were desired by the leaders of the Churches of Jerusalem. We interviewed Bashar Jararah, 37, a Muslim, mosaic expert and drawing enthusiast, who is taking care of the work of the Basilica.

Bashar Jaratah
Bashar Jararah in the heart of Jerusalem

Bashar, how did you come to do your job?

I am from Nablus, and I am an expert in Arabic calligraphy, which has been an international art since ancient times. Since 2010 I joined the Mosaic Center in Jericho and from here I learned the art of mosaic which soon became my job. In the Mosaic Center I learned how to restore mosaics, participated in numerous training courses and worked in various places in the Holy Land.

Most of the projects focused on the restoration of archaeological sites belonging to the Custody of the Holy Land, the Pro Terra Sancta Association and the Mosaic Center.

Many of these projects concern churches and basilicas. I love this job. It is both a hobby and a source of livelihood.

In my spare time I am also a paramedic: I assist people in the ambulance and help in intensive care units.

But my professional area, and the one to which I am most attached, is that of mosaics in which I have been active for more than ten years. At the moment I am working on the restoration of the flooring of the common parts of the Holy Sepulchre.

What does it mean to you to work inside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre?

Working on the project of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity for me. The Basilica is a truly wonderful place. It was Osama Hamdan, director of the Mosaic Center, who gave me the opportunity to work on this unique and important project.

Sepulchre works
Work in the Holy Sepulchre

I have been working inside the Basilica since May but the passion for mosaics and archeology has led me to work over the years in many places where there are archaeological excavations. For example, before arriving here I carried out restoration projects at the church of Lazarus, in Bethany, and at the Rotunda of the Dormition, in Jerusalem.

Alongside Catholic and Christian churches in general, over the years I have also worked in synagogues and mosques. It is wonderful to see that my work is required everywhere, in every place to cherish and discover. They are all wonderful places that I carry in my heart.

Does your Muslim faith influence your work in the Holy Sepulchre, “mother” of Christian basilicas? If so, how?

Yes, it is true, I am Muslim and I work in a place that is considered the main center of Christianity in the whole world.

Out of a dozen workers, there are four of us who share the Muslim faith. Not a few! And we have never perceived any distance with the leaders or workers belonging to another religion.

External tomb
The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre

I love my job, wherever it is, and I respect all the monotheistic religions in the world. Believe me, it’s just a great honor for me. Even before I am a Muslim, I am a human being.

I have everything in the churches, because I don’t distinguish between one religion and another.

I respect all religions, I am tolerant of every human being and I love all people: we are all united in our faiths.

You know, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has become my private world.

I love working on it especially with the participation of Italian colleagues in this project. I am a Muslim and I am very proud of myself because I work in the Holy Sepulchre, an exceptional place. Each in here is available for the other. This place is the confirmation that when you work for something beautiful, we are all in tune.

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Bashar Jararah inside the Holy Sepulchre