(Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

(Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz - September 23, 2018

During Sukkot, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) hosts thousands of Christians from more than 100 countries.

The holiday draws some 5,000 Christians to Jerusalem each year. Not only is the event a spiritual boost in which people come to express their love for Israel’s eternal capital, it also gives an economic boost, injecting $15-20 million into Israel’s economy each year.

The ICEJ began hosting the annual Feast of the Tabernacles gathering in 1980 as a visible show of solidarity and support for the city. That summer, the last of 13 embassies left Jerusalem for Tel Aviv in protest of the of the Knesset’s passage of the Jerusalem Law. This year can be seen as a triumphant shout now that the US Embassy has returned to the holy city.

Israelis, great and small, have always welcomed the event with open arms. Jerusalem’s mayor Teddy Kollek addressed the 1,000 pilgrims who attended the first gathering. The next year, prime minister Menachem Begin attended, establishing a tradition for high-ranking Israeli politicians like prime minister Ariel Sharon and President Reuven Rivlin to attend the event.

The week is focused on the biblical feast of Sukkot, when pilgrims from nations around the world came to Jerusalem to participate in the Temple festivities in praise of the God of Abraham. This year, the 39th Feast of the Tabernacles will be held during the intermediate days of the holiday from September 23 to 28.

The festival has significance for Christians. In the New Testament, Jesus is described as attending the Temple service on Sukkot. The universal aspect of the holiday also has prophetic overtones, as Zechariah foretold of a time when all nations would ascend to Jerusalem each year.

Read More: The Jerusalem Post