Thursday, September 27, 2007


Excerpts from an article in The Christian Post: "More than 6,000 Christians from over 90 countries are expected to make their way to Jerusalem this week to celebrate the 28th annual Christian observance of the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, according to the event’s organizer, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. However, the chief rabbinate urged Jews last week to not attend the event, warning them that some groups will attempt to convert them to Christianity. 'According to information that has reached the chief rabbinate, there are participants in this conference who convert Jews to Christianity and perform missionary activity throughout the year,' said Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, the chief rabbi of Rehovot, according to The Associated Press. Kook emphasized that Israel bans missionary work and proselytizing, so 'the chief rabbinate is calling upon Jews not to take part in the conference.' The event’s organizers said they are upset over the rabbis’ call to boycott the massive celebration. 'It is disappointing to learn that some rabbinic authorities are trying to discourage the Jewish public from participating in this traditional march,' said the Rev. Malcolm Hedding, ICEJ’s executive director. “'he ICEJ has never conducted any missionary programs in Israel and we clearly instruct our Feast pilgrims against such activity during their stay here.' Benny Elon, a lawmaker who heads parliament’s Christian Allies Caucus, questioned why the rabbi was making such a call after the event took place for 27 years with understanding on both sides that missionary activity was prohibited....Sukkot is one of the three major holidays in Judaism where the Jewish population travels to the Temple of Jerusalem. The pilgrimage festival lasts for seven days with some people sleeping in temporary structures called Sukkah, where they reflect on their sins and God’s goodness in providing for all their needs. Sukkah are structures reminiscent of the ones the ancient Israelites dwelt in during their 40 years in the desert. The Book of Zechariah states that all nations will make pilgrimages to Jerusalem in the messianic era to celebrate Sukkot. Christians understand this scripture to mean that Jews will welcome non-Jews to join in celebrating Sukkot in Jerusalem.....The ICEJ Christian Sukkot gathering is not only the largest annual Christian event, but may also be the largest annual tourism event this year for Israel. The gathering this year is expected to bring some $15-18 million into the local economy and over 16,000 hotel room nights, according to the Israeli Globes newspaper.' On a regular basis, evangelical Christians make up one-third of American tourists that visit Israel, according to the country’s Minister of Tourism."