Thousands of Tourists Arrive in Israel for Jewish, Christian Holidays

The Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem in 2015. (Credit: ICEJ)
The Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem in 2015. (Credit: ICEJ)

The annual confluence of Jewish and Christian tourists arriving in Jerusalem has become as emblematic as the holidays for which they are arriving.

The modern adaptation of Jews “going up to Jerusalem” to celebrate the festival of Sukkot fills flight after flight arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport and the commensurate numbers of hotel rooms and apartments – many of which are owned by non-Israelis who hardly use them except for the holidays.

The Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles organized by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem has grown into a solid tradition of its own. ICEJ’s gathering this year will include some 6,000 participants from 40 nations, including artists and musicians who pay their own way to be part of the professional entertainment that accompanies the feast’s events.

Now in its 38th year, old-timers recall the feast’s trademark march through the streets of Jerusalem when few took notice of the visitors’ walking by. But in recent years, the event has been embraced by Jerusalem’s Jewish residents, thousands of whom line the streets to cheer on the massive outpouring of tourists, exchanging greetings, “thank-yous” for coming to Israel, national flags and a lot of good feelings.

In a land where nothing is done without a nod to political considerations, the Israel Allies Foundation, a right-wing lobby, will have “30 national and state parliamentarians from around the world” according to a statement issued by ICEJ.

SOURCE: Michael Friedson
The Media Line