If you visit Israel during the weeklong Jewish festival of Sukkot you will see make-shift “Sukkot” constructed on balconies, in front yards and at all kosher restaurants. A Sukkah is a square, one room, temporary structure, booth or hut with palm throngs as a roof covering and one side open as a door. The sides of a sukkah can be made of any temporary material like linen sheets, wood panels or plastic sheeting. The construction of the Sukkah, and the eating of meals within it for a week represents the 40 years the Jewish people wandered in the desert, living in temporary abodes, following their exodus from Egypt. Sukkot is one of three Jewish festivals (together with Passover and Shavuot) that the Bible commands the people of Israel to celebrate in Jerusalem.
Although Sukkot is primarily a Jewish celebration, many Christians also celebrate the Festival of the Tabernacle (Sukkot) by coming to Israel to show their support for the country. Christian pilgrims come to the Holy Land each year to take part in a week long program of events. The main event is hosted by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and other performances and events are provided by the International Christian Zionist Center and Vision for Israel. The Christian celebration is characterized by deep worship, joyful activities and entertainment as well as a spiritual unity created between participants from across the globe.
Each year a new program is devised for the group of approximately 6,000 Christians who arrive from around the world. Representatives come from over 40 countries to celebrate with prayer, musical performances, tours, lectures and seminars. The week’s celebration kicks off with prayer, proclamation and speeches in the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem. The events held during the 2013 festival will include a chance to be baptized at Qasr al Yahud thought to be the authentic baptismal site of Jesus; a visit to the Dead Sea; a concert at the foot of Temple Mount; a visit to Hebron and a meeting with settlers in this area; a meet and greet with Israeli political leaders near the Knesset and a prayer service at the Garden Tomb. One of the most moving events during the week is communion night, when the Christians from diverse cultures join together to partake of bread and wine, and recommit themselves to God. The main event and finale of the Christian Feast of the Tabernacle is a grand procession through the streets of Jerusalem, where not only Christians but also people from other religious groups join in. The participants wear their national costumes and hold banners proclaiming their support for Israel and their wish for peace.
This is an opportunity for visitors to Israel to be a part of a unique celebration, with lots of fun events, music, dance and sightseeing. Individuals traveling independently or groups can join in the celebration, whether it is for one event or the whole week’s program. One and all are welcome to the Christian celebration of the Festival of the Tabernacle in Jerusalem, Israel in September 2013.