Israel’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens after protest

Feb. 28 (UPI) — The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Israel reopened Wednesday following three days of protest against tax and property bills targeting religious sites.

The church on the believed site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection in Jerusalem opened its doors again after Israel’s government froze a bill that would allow church property to be claimed by the state and Jerusalem’s municipality agreed to postpone the collection of taxes from church-owned properties.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat established a team headed by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi to come to a solution on collecting taxes from churches.

Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Church leaders closed the church’s doors after Jerusalem’s municipality announced plans to modify a tax exemption in order to collect $186 million in unpaid taxes from church assets including restaurants and hotels, which don’t serve as places of worship.

They also were protesting a “discriminatory and racist bill” which would allow church property to be claimed by the state.

“This is a victory. We’re celebrating. Easter is coming and so there were hundreds of visitors who had to pray outside the church for three days,” the church’s custodian of the keys Adeeb Joudeh told Al Jazeera. “There’s a general feeling of happiness now that prayers inside the church have resumed – it was a beautiful site to see.”

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Broadway marquee unveiled for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Feb. 28 (UPI) — New York’s Lyric Theatre marquee has been transformed for next month’s Broadway premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The building on West 43rd Street in Manhattan now features a 150-foot, 50,000-pound wing spanning from the marquee up the side of the building, with a child sitting in a nest on the top of the theater, a news release noted.

“It is a thrill to have the Lyric as a canvas, both inside and out, for our production,” the stage play’s set designer Christine Jones and international scenic supervisor Brett J. Banakis said in a joint statement Wednesday. “The producers tasked us with taking advantage of this expanse of space with a visual gesture that relates to the show and connects the old (1903) facade with the rest of the newer (1996) facade.

“We drew inspiration from the wing artwork from the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child poster art, and tried to translate that imagery into a large, metal installation on the side of the building, to serve as a beacon, a gathering spot, and a piece of public sculpture, here in the heart of Times Square.”

Based on an original new story by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, the two-part play is to begin performances on Broadway March 16, with an official opening planned for April 22. The Olivier-winning production had its world premiere in July 2016 at the Palace Theatre in London where it continues to play to sold-out houses. The show follows the adventures of the titular wizard, who is now a married father.

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