At Least 3,000 Christians from 80 Nations Expected for Jerusalem Sukkot Celebration
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JERUSALEM, Israel – The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) will host at least 3,000 Christians from more than 80 nations for the annual Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles celebration. Nations from near and far are expected to take part, including delegations from Egypt and Turkey, and a large contingent of Christians from Fiji in the South Pacific.
Fijian Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka, a driving force behind Fiji's decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem next year, plans to attend, and the Christians will come on the first direct flight ever made from the island nation to Israel for the Sukkot events, which run from September 29 to October 6.
The U.S. and Canada are always well represented at the fall feast, as are several Latin American countries such as Brazil and Guatemala, and European nations, including the U.K., Finland, and The Netherlands. The African continent, led by Nigeria, will send large contingents as well.
ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Büelher noted, "We are privileged again to welcome the nations to Jerusalem for Succot, according to the ancient vision of the Hebrew prophet Zechariah."
He added, "We trust that as they encounter Israel up close, they will return to their home countries with a deeper love for this nation and a fresh inspiration from God, in keeping with Isaiah's prophecy that the word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem."
The participating Christians believe they are forerunners helping to fulfill the biblical prophecy delivered by the prophet Zechariah more than 2,500 years ago: " And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." (Zechariah 14:16 NKJV)
The ICEJ events include a tour of the land of Israel culminating in Jerusalem, video greetings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, guest speakers such as Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel, a roll call of the nations, and the popular march through Jerusalem, during which the Christians wear national costumes, wave their flags and demonstrate their love for Israel.
The Feast program also features Israeli Guest Night, where local Israelis are invited as guests of the ICEJ. This year will feature a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and Retired Israeli Brig. Gen. Avigdor Kahalani is slated to speak.
Singers, dancers and worship leaders from both Israel and the nations are also a major part of the feast events. This year, the musical contributions come from Brazil, Fiji, Germany, Ivory Coast, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, and Sweden, as well as an Israeli-Ukrainian Klezmer band, an Israeli-Arab singer, and an Iranian-born singer whose lyrics will be in Persian.
The ICEJ tour will conclude with a "solidarity gathering" with often-besieged residents in the Negev region near the Gaza border, and a special dedication of a new Christian Embassy Nature Park in the Be'eri Forest to replant trees in the forest burned by arson attacks coming from Gaza.
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