Sukkot celebrations begin

Sunday, October 08, 2006 |  by Nicole Jansezian
EN GEDI – Despite a war just a few months ago in the summer, thousands of Christian tourists came to Israel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem had 4,500 Feast pilgrims register from 80 nations, according to feast organizers. The opening night at En Gedi on Saturday featured Robert Stearns, director of Eagles’ Wings ministry and founder of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.

“Let this be the Feast upon which history is turned,” Stearns said. “Let us not come to the Feast and miss the purpose for which God has gathered us here.”

A Messianic celebration of Sukkot, and another Christian Feast are running simultaneously in Jerusalem.

Despite good attendance however, Christian tourism has dropped overall since the Lebanon war this summer. Christian broadcaster Earl Cox reprimanded Christians for failing to visit the Holy Land since the war.

“Of all people, Christians don’t need to live in fear,” he said. “We can’t allow terrorists to take us hostage and delay our travel plans to Israel. If we are Israel’s true friends, we must come in time of need.”

Normally, Sukkot attracts many Christian groups from all over the world to tour Israel and participate in prayers and ceremonies in solidarity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. This year, however, the flow of Christian tourism into Israel has shrunk to a minimum.

Cox is in trying to change that situation. He is calling for all Christians to come to Israel and show solidarity.

“This is the time we need to be coming to Israel to express our friendship,” he said.

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