Adeeb Joudeh lives and works in Jerusalem, and is the owner of a special key. It’s an “ancient cast-iron key,” about 500 years old, and is the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many believe to be the place where Jesus Christ was crucified and entombed. And one other thing, the custodian of said key is… Muslim.
Mr. Joudeh’s family has held the key in their protection for generations going back to 1517. “This is the family heritage,” says Mr. Joudeh. “It’s all we own as a family, and this is an honor not only for our family. This is an honor for all Muslims in the world.”
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of Christianity’s holiest sites. Many Christian denominations share this holy space for prayer including Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Franciscans, and more — which is why Mr. Joudeh’s ancestors got involved in the first place. Putting a Muslim in charge was a way of maintaining a neutral guardian of the church. Mr. Joudeh learned the responsibilities of guarding the key from his father, and plans to pass the knowledge down to his son. “What we pass to the next generations is not only the key, but also the way you respect other religions.”