Christian tourists are flooding Jerusalem during the holiday of Sukkot, bringing a blessing to the economy in a manner reminiscent of Jerusalem in the days of the Temple, when pilgrims filled the city’s markets. This faith-based tourism has its own special flavor, connecting Jews and Christians in unexpected ways.
In what is shaping up to be a record year for tourism, the Sukkot holiday was an especially blessed period. According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, 739,000 tourists visited Israel in the first quarter of the year, a 24 percent increase from the same period last year, giving an estimated $1.14 billion boost to the economy.
Thousands of Christians march annually in the Jerusalem March of Nations. (Courtesy ICEJ)
In addition to the holy sites and other tourist attractions that have always attracted people of all religions to Israel, the Sukkot holiday offers a special atmosphere created by the festive booths and many activities and events, both religious and secular. The Ministry of Tourism estimated that the week-long holiday attracted an astounding 47,000 Christians.
Undoubtedly the largest draw for Christians during Sukkot is the week-long Feast of Tabernacles hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). The event brings over 5,000 Christians from 85 nations to Jerusalem, and though their intention is to bless the nation of Abraham and to be blessed in return, hosting these well-minded pilgrims brings an economic blessing as well.
Tourists browse at the Pais Arena. (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)
Most of the activities are centered around the Jerusalem Pais Arena, where spiritual leaders and teachers address the crowds. Like secular conferences, the Feast attracts vendors that offer a special brand of merchandise for their special customers.
“These are wonderful people, honest and straightforward,” D’ganit told Breaking Israel News. “They come here because they love Israel and they want to help support the country. They aren’t rich, but their love for Israel comes through loud and clear. We try to give them the best prices so that they go away with an even greater love for Israel. For our store, this has worked, because we see the same people year after year.”
A vendor booth at the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles. (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)
D’ganit has a large and eye-catching array of items in her booth, but the Christian tourists who come to Jerusalem for Sukkot have a specific type of souvenir in mind.
“They love everything connected to Judaism,” she explained. Her booth is easy to find because of the shofar blasts. Baskets containing a dazzling array of horns fill the front of her shop.
Arik Agassi, whose family’s booth reflects this, offers a similar array of merchandise. Via their online family business called Holyland Webstore, the Agassi family, led by father Amnon, enjoys connecting face-to-face with their international Christian clientele at the Feast, where they have had a booth for the past three years.
Arik Agassi (Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)
“The people always tell us how much they love Israel and how much they want to help support us,” Arik told Breaking Israel News.
Many items needed for Jewish life are on display: Passover seder plates, shofars, and Sabbath candlesticks.
Arik was quick to model the beautiful prayer shawls, and even had a beautiful sample draped over his shoulders as he hawked his wares. One surprising item for sale, unique to the Christian clientele, are seven-branched menorahs. Menorahs with nine branches are used in the holiday of Hanukkah, but the seven branched version is modeled after the menorah that stood in Solomon’s Temple.
“For them it really represents something that was very holy,” Amnon said. “This just shows how they feel their connection to the Jewish people very deeply, going back to the roots of their religion.”
Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/96086/christians-tourists-bless-israel-bounty-sukkot-pilgrims-stream-jerusalem/#amwXszQ01z1oAv3X.99
Israel’s National Labor Court this week ruled that a Bedouin woman, divorced and living in a polygamous family (with her husband and his second wife), is entitled to National Insurance Institute income support benefits in addition to her ex-husband’s income – even though she continues to live near his home with her mother-in-law and their children, Globes reported.
Salami al-Zayadneh, a Bedouin woman, sought to receive income support benefit as she would be entitled to if she lived apart from her husband whom she had divorced. Except that she never left the family compound – which was noted by both the National Insurance Institute and the Regional Labor Court in rejecting her claim, ruling that there was no change in her way of life, and that she continued to maintain a common household with her “ex” husband.
A billboard in Toulouse commemorating the victims of Mohammed Merah’s gun attack on the Ozar Hatorah school in March 2012. Photo: File.
Chaotic scenes broke out on Wednesday at the trial in France of the brother of an Islamist extremist who carried out a spree of terrorist attacks around the southern city of Toulouse in March 2012, including a gun assault on a Jewish school that resulted in the brutal murders of a rabbi along with three young children.
Shouts and jeers erupted from the gallery at the court in Paris during the testimony of Zoulika Aziri — the mother of 35-year-old Abdelkader Merah, who could face a life sentence if he is found guilty of having aided his brother, Mohammed, in carrying out three separate terror attacks between March 11-19, 2012. Mohammed Merah was shot and killed by French police on March 22 of that year at the culmination of a 30-hour siege after he was tracked down.
The evidence is mounting that Iran is not only violating the spirit of the no-nukes deal, but that it is also violating its letter. The prologue to the deal explicitly states: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” This reaffirmation has no sunset provision: it is supposed to be forever.
Yet German officials have concluded that Iran has not given up on its goal to produce nuclear weapons that can be mounted on rockets. According to Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin newspaper:
“Despite the nuclear agreement [reached with world powers in July 2015], Iran has not given up its illegal activities in Germany.
An outbreak of bubonic plague in Madagascar is quickly becoming an epidemic, giving a grim look into how this dreaded disease, once known as the Black Death, killed off one-third of the entire world population.
Madagascar, a poor country in the Indian Ocean, suffers annual outbreaks of the plague with an estimated 400 cases every year. This current outbreak threatens to be much worse than the usual annual outbreak. In the past two months, at least 74 people died from the disease and over 800 more have been infected.
St. Catherine’s Monastery is a popular destination for Christian religious tourism, South Sinai, Egypt. Posted July 14, 2017.
CAIRO — Pope Francis has confirmed that Egypt will be included as an official Roman Catholic Church pilgrimage destination next year, sparking hope that the country’s tourism industry can be revived. The first pilgrims should begin arriving in Egypt in May, according to Tourism Minister Yahya Rashed.
The pope endorsed the designation Oct. 4 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism then announced Oct. 5 that the path of the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) in Egypt more than 2,000 years ago will be part of the Vatican pilgrimage program for 2018.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump initiated an important change in US policy toward Iran.
No, in his speech decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord it struck with his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump didn’t announce a new strategy for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, or stemming its hegemonic rise in the Middle East, or limiting its ability to sponsor terrorism.
Trump’s move was not operational. It was directional.
One month after Islamic militants bombed two Egyptian churches during Palm Sunday and killed nearly 50 people in April 2017. On Friday, May 26, several SUVs stopped two buses transporting dozens of Christians to visit and pray at the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, in the desert south of Cairo. According to initial reports, about ten Islamic militants, heavily armed and dressed in military fatigues, “demanded that the passengers recite the Muslim profession of faith”—which is tantamount to converting to Islam—and when they refused, the jihadis opened fire on them, killing 29 Christians, at least ten of which were young children (including two girls aged 2 and 4). Mohsen Morkous—an American citizen described as “a simple man” whom “everyone loved”—his two sons, and his two grandsons were among those killed.
Even now, polls suggest that about 40 percent of Americans regard Donald Trump as a suitable president. In essence, this preference has little to do with job performance and must be explained by the nature of the wider society from which this president was drawn.
For the most part, Americans have forsaken every once-residual aspect of an authentic intellectual life. This near-total abandonment of a national “life of the mind” was not fashioned in a cultural vacuum. Rather, it was fostered by an unrelenting barrage of crude and voyeuristic entertainments, most of which now center on sex, sadism, torture, murder and dreary profanity.
On Sunday, a delegation of young Israeli Arabs joined the battle against the apartheid lie and the BDS libels. Such a delegation—on behalf of Reservists on Duty, an organization which is already active on US campuses—is definitely a refreshing change, which sparks not only curious and sympathetic reactions but also threats and a smear campaign. One of the delegation members was forced to leave his home, and another member nearly quit following the pressure.
After weeks of Egyptian-sponsored pre-talks, and a very short “cabinet meeting” in Gaza, “formal reconciliation talks” are now being held between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (P.A. or Fatah) in Cairo under the direct auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
For some Middle East-watchers, the talks are a form of progress. There are presently three functional governments between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and this is about getting rid of one of them. Progress here is that Israel is not the government they’re talking about getting rid of. Yet. This is about whether Hamas or Fatah will lead the Palestinians – whether to peace with Israel or to war with Israel is less important for them right now than simply who between them is top dog.