Sarajevo - the "Jerusalem" of Europe?

I've heard this comparison many times over the past week and a half.  And our visits with religious leaders reinforce the notion of a city of many faiths: Jews, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Serbian Orthodox, and all forms of secular, a-religious, non-religious, agnostics and others who form the fabric of this beautiful city.  (I haven't met an atheist yet, or if I have, they haven't declared it; I'm reminded that "there are no atheists in fox-holes", and from 1992-95, all Sarajevans were in a virtual fox-hole, living under siege.)

Unfortunately, the "Jerusalem" comparison is not always positive, even as it remains apt, given the divisions that bubble up on the surface all too often -- because this beautiful city, and more so the "country" of Bosnia-Herzegovina far beyond the city, is riven with factions, rivalries, distrust, mistrust, and all the way down the road toward fear and hatred.  Yet, more than anything, there is life, hope, joy, laughter, love, appreciation of life and a determination to move way beyond the horrors of the past.  All of that is countering the hate and fear, so violence has been abated (for now).

In short, Sarajevo has it all.  And it has survived to share it with the world.  And are we loving it! 

Readers of this blog know of our meeting last week with the Jewish community leader (he states clearly that he is a lay leader of the Jewish community, not a religious leader).  On Saturday, we met Cardinal Pulic, the Roman Catholic leader of Bosnia, at his residency (see below).  Today, we met the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, the Muslim leader.  On Thursday, we'll go to the oldest Serbian church in Sarajevo for discussions there. 

And all the while, we are meeting with politicians - local and international - who have the primary responsibility of making decisions and policies, and taking actions, toward reforming this bizarre political system that has been in limbo since the Dayton Peace Treaty of 1995.  More on that in the days ahead. 


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