Perhaps because the days are short and nights long, the motif of light is important to all winter holidays. For Christians, the birth of Jesus on a starlit night was also a light in a world of darkness, and churches the world over have used light to symbolize power, glory and holiness.

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Just as the light beams within the Church of the Nativity symbolize the light of the birth of Jesus, the beams of light piercing the darkness of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. symbolize — for believers — the Resurrection, commemorated at Easter with the coming of spring.

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Freelance photographer Guy Cohen took third place in the Religion and Community category of the Local Testimony photo exhibition for his series on the beam of light at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century. According to Wikipedia, “Today it also serves as the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, while control of the building is shared between several Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries.

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“Today, the church is home to branches of Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy as well as to Roman Catholicism. Anglicans and Protestants have no permanent presence in the Church.”

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A word about the dome that caps the Church Rotunda: The current dome dates from 1870. It was restored between 1994-1997, as part of extensive renovations to the church that have been ongoing since 1959.

Local Testimony is the annual regional exhibition of photojournalism that runs concurrent to the prestigious World Press Photo exhibition of international press photography.

The yearly local exhibition features the best documentary and press photos from Israel and the Palestinian Authority chosen by an independent jury out of thousands of entries submitted for competition by professional photographers working in the region.

The show is organized each year by a guest curator to reflect the sequence of yearly events and to present selected images documenting moments of cultural, social and human significance together with media value.

The Local Testimony exhibition first appeared in 2003 and has since drawn thousands of visitors each year to the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv where it is considered a major cultural event in the field of Israeli photojournalism. For more information,  visit the Local Testimony website.