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For the Joy of Zion

Conclusion of the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles

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27 Sep 2018 (All day)
For the Joy of Zion

For the Joy of Zion - Israeli Guest Night

How are Christians from around the world serving in Israel and how are Israelis serving around the world? This became overwhelmingly clear after the opening shofar blast sounded for the last Feast Evening. But first Israelis were welcomed to this special night with a moving and artistically accomplished rendition of the national anthem “HaTikva” by Elihana Elia, supported by virtuoso violin play from ICEJ’s own Serguei Popov. Other musical features of the evening included two very different but equally moving performances: Israel’s possibly cutest children’s choir, led by Vesna Bühler, and a stunningly dramatic musical composition interpreting the resurrection of the dry bones in Ezekiel by Ruth Fazal.


Personal Addresses by Israel’s PM and the Jewish Agency’s Chairman

Two personal addresses had been specially recorded to address the Fest Pilgrims on this special evening. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his address by stating, “I am delighted that there is a Christian Embassy.” He also stood by Israel’s relations to Christians in the land, telling the audience that “Sometimes a profound truth is a simple truth. Here is a simple truth: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that protects the rights of Christians. Think of that. For thousands of miles around us, there is only one place Christians thrive. Right here in Israel.” He finished his address with deep-felt thanks: “Thank you for recognizing Israel. Thank you for always supporting Israel.”
Another personal address was given by the newly elected chairman for The Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog, “I want to thank you for your support. Your support has been enormous. (…) and we are partners with you, the ICEJ. (…) Together we have brought 140,000 new immigrants to Israel - I think it is an enormous achievement.”


Journey of Dreams – Joint Jewish-Christian Successes

The evening continued with moving highlights of Jewish-Christian cooperation and joint accomplishments. The ICEJ’s special effort in Aliyah moved the audience as they witnessed the trials and frustrations of a Jewish Ethiopian family, long awaiting an opportunity to immigrate to Israel before the family finally flew over Tel Aviv’s beautiful night-time cityscape to be reunited with their extended family in Ben Gurion Airport – all scenes from the ICEJ’s new documentary: “Journey of Dreams.” This was the beginning of a tour-de-force opportunity demonstrating to Israelis the impressive range of projects in which the ICEJ is involved, spanning aid work, public diplomacy and a unique home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, a group of whom were actually present in the audience and received the entire arena’s standing recognition. The Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors also received gifts for 2 million and 1 million NIS from the ICEJ's German and U.S. branches respectively, presented by National Directors Gottfried Bühler and Susan Michael.
Israel in the International Arena.

Likewise, Israel’s efforts in the international arena and the country’s very tangible blessings to the world were also highlighted, as a CBN documentary under the time-honored Jewish endeavor for “Tikkun Olam” (loosely translated as “repairing the world”). The efforts of private Israeli citizens among refugees, for example, and the Israeli government’s responses to natural disasters around the world all underscored that Israel cares and does so with a global impact.

The Paradox of Operation Good Neighbor

The crowning jewel of these joint successes was delivered by retired IDF Colonel Marco Moreno, who headed up “Operation Good Neighbor” on the Israeli-Syrian border, an effort aimed at providing aid and humanitarian relief to war-struck Syrians. Moving scenes of young soldiers, trained to defend their country with force, but in this instance helping refugees reach safety in Israel passed over the screens. In one sequence, you see Marco Moreno in the Golan Heights, close to the border with Syria: “You can hear bombing as we speak. That means that tonight our soldiers, our brave soldiers will go and save lives.” Back in the arena, Moreno concluded, “It sounds like a joke: Christians and Jews helping Muslims, right? But it’s the reality”

Awards and Recognition

A prime function of this gala evening is to celebrate and recognize valuable contributions. This is why the ICEJ each year gives the Nehemiah Award to individuals who have served the Jewish people in exceptional ways. Because of the seminal move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, who originally sponsored the bill and legislation leading to the Embassy Act, was a most natural and worthy recipient of this year’s award.


The Cyrus Award

A new reward, directly related to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: the Cyrus Award, has also been instated by the ICEJ. This reward has been given to heads-of-state from nations taking the bold step to move their embassies to Jerusalem. These were highlighted by Mojmir Kallus, the ICEJ’s VP for International Affairs, who also mentioned smaller but very significant contributions from poor and minor countries around the world. The determination of local Christians in e.g. Tanzania and Albania to bless Israel is truly heartwarming and set an example of a different kind. Such quiet efforts are equally inspiring and worthy as some of the headline-making contributions.

Continue to Dream

These were just some of many highlights of an evening packed with excitement and events. Before the Feast’s final event the following day, the Prayer Service in the Old City’s Tower of David, ICEJ’s president, Dr. Jürgen Bühler, dismissed the Feast Pilgrims with one commission: “Dare to Dream.” We hope you will join us for next year’s Feast of Tabernacle under the theme “Beginnings.”

Chag Sukkot Sameach (Happy Feast of Tabernacles) from the ICEJ in Jerusalem.

 

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