The Caretaker of Masjid Umar


Like his father before him, Omar Ali is the current caretaker of Masjid Umar, a small mosque built opposite the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In these regions, professions as well as possessions are part of one’s inheritance.

Omar told me a fascinating story about his lineage which was passed down by word of mouth from elder to elder in his family.

It was said that his ancestor, or his “first grandfather” as he called him, came to the city of Jerusalem alongside Salahuddin al Ayubi, the very man who conquered Jerusalem during the second crusade over 800 years ago.

His first grandfather who was only 35, came all the way from Sudan. I had no idea, but a community of Sudanese Palestinians have been settled in Jerusalem for generations.


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