Israeli President Helps Reopen Church Burned by Jewish Extremists

Church built on site where Jesus is said to have multiplied the loaves and fishes was badly damaged in fire

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The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee was fully reopened with the help of Israel President Reuven Rivlin this week, some 22 months after Jewish extremists set fire to the compound.

Two rooms in the historic church, where tradition says Jesus performed one of his most noted miracles, were badly damaged in the blaze.

Renovations on the church took eight months. The State of Israel covered one-third of the cost.

Rivlin and his wife were joined by a number of Christian leaders and foreign dignitaries at the celebratory event.

The Israeli president told to those gathered and to Christians around the world:

"We stand up for religious freedom because, as a people, we know very well what it means to suffer religious persecution. And we stand up for religious freedom because we are a democratic state – who believe in the rights for everyone to worship God according to their belief.

“The last time I was here, we stood together and looked at the burnt walls and the terrible graffiti. Today, I visit here again, and see the renewal of this historic, special, and holy place. I want to thank all the people who worked hard to restore this place, and to say clearly; that hate cannot win.”

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