Thousands of evangelical Christians descend on Jerusalem for Feast of Tabernacles

BY Ruth Gledhill
Thousands of evangelical Christians from 80 countries worldwide are meeting in Israel this week to worship and praise in an event organised by the International Christian Embassy of Israel, which aims to stand with Israel “in support and friendship”.

The 36th annual Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles opened on Sunday night by the shores of the Dead Sea and then moved to Jeusalem. Pilgrims have also visited the ancient Biblical city of Beer Sheva and the Nurit Absorption Center, one of several where new immigrants are helped through the system.

In spite of the support for Israel, the Christian Zionist event at the Pais Arena is controversial and opposed by some religious leaders, chiefly because of fears of proselytism.

Last week Israel’s two Chief Rabbis, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, warned the event was “a spiritual danger” and told Israel’s Jews they should not go. In a public letter they wrote: “We have been informed that people engaged in missionary activities on behalf of the Christian Embassy in Israel are organizing a major conference during the holiday of Sukkot, as part of the goals of this organisation – to get Jews to leave the religion of Israel and take them under the wings of Christianity.”

Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Inter-religious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee and a former adviser to the chief rabbis, said he was sorry about their reaction.

He told The Jerusalem Post: “It seems to me that someone has set up the chief rabbis, for reasons known to these persons, and this is unfortunate because the ICEJ is extremely responsible in not advocating any missionizing or proselytizing activity at all.”

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