Chris­tians flock to Jerusalem for Suc­cot

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY BEN LYN­FIELD JERUSALEM

SOFT ROCK in­fused with hymns from a 30-per­son band and choir, in­vo­ca­tions in a mul­ti­tude of tongues, worshippers up on their feet with arms out­stretched to­ward the heav­ens and per­haps most im­por­tant of all, a break to plug El Al Is­rael air­lines.

Pil­grims from more than 80 coun­tries at­tended the Chris­tian evan­gel­i­cal ser­vice in Jerusalem on Sun­day. It was one of the high­lights of the an­nual Feast of Taber­na­cles fes­tiv­i­ties that co­in­cide with Suc­cot, or­gan­ised by the In­ter­na­tional Chris­tian Em­bassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ).

Beamed around the world by the Lon­don-based GOD TV, the ser­vice was ti­tled “Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem”. Pil­grims be­lieve that the city is soon to be­come the stage for the sec­ond com­ing of Je­sus. But the city must re­main un­der Is­raeli sovereignty.

“We are here to pray and lift our voices for in­ter­ces­sion on be­half of Jerusalem,” de­clared the bois­ter­ous Rev Robert Stearns, head of the New York based Ea­gles’s Wings min­istries. “The na­tions may have their thoughts, but God almighty’s words never fail.”

But then prophecy be­gan to give way to prof­itabil­ity. Rev Stearns launched into what amounted to an ad­ver­tise­ment for El Al, stress­ing that the air­line in­gath­ered Jewish ex­iles and was bring­ing pil­grims to Jerusalem. An El Al rep­re­sen­ta­tive said how happy the com­pany was to help pil­grims see the land where Je­sus had lived.

The 5,000 pil­grims who ar­rived for the feast were ex­pected to in­ject some $15 mil­lion into the Is­raeli econ­omy as the com­pe­ti­tion for tourist dol­lars hots up dur­ing the credit crunch.

“It’s ex­pen­sive but in the world there are only a few things im­por­tant and this is one of them,” said Fin­nish pil­grim Eve­lyn Hyny­nen.

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