The background to this story is the St Mary of the Resurrection Abbey, where there stands a church built between 1141-1170, when the Crusaders ruled the area. Unlikely as it may sound, the church was never destroyed, and although it probably served as a warehouse or barn for many centuries, it was cleaned out in the late 19th century, and in the 20th the original paintings on its walls were uncovered and restored, as much as possible after 800 years. There aren't many cities in the world with fully standing 12th century churches in them, but the Muslim village of Abu Ghosh, West of Jerusalem, has one.
When entering a church in Israel there's always the question of uncovering ones head. You're supposed to do that in churches, but religious Jews aren't supposed to do so at all. I always take off my hat, but sometime I don't take off my Kippa. This time there was a novelty, since our group included a young Muslim woman with her head covered, which she didn't remove, so the church accepted not only the sovereignty of the Jews, so to speak, but also the traditions of the neighbors.
Father Olivier heads the Abbey. He's French, but speaks fine Hebrew. Astonishingly fine, actually, since many of his sentences contain up-to-date IDF slang. So eventually we asked him about it, and he grinned. Back in the early 1980s he was discovered by some women serving in the IDF education corps, and ever since then they've been using him as their in-house expert for Church matters (Ani mashak hinuch be-inyanei Notzrim). Whenever there's an IDF unit spending a week learning about Jerusalem, they call in Father Olivier to explain all the different kinds of Christians there are in town.
Jerusalem never ceases to surprise.