Jerusalem Welcomes the World

Friday the 13th is not a thing in Israel.  Halloween is also not a thing.  Stores aren’t covered in fake cobwebs.  There are no advertisements for scary costumes.  Aisles in the supermarket are not dedicated to snack-sized candy.


What is a thing here is a week full of events throughout the city and today being the very last day before the last Shabbat before we finally get back to our normal routines, the aharei ha’chagim time.

On Sunday, the streets were filled with Jews from all around Israel and the world making their way to the Western Wall for the Priestly Blessing.  That is still a thing in Israel.  Twice a year – on Sukkot and Passover – the entirety of the Jewish population is blessed by the descendents of the priestly class, the Cohenim, or anyone with the last name Cohen or derivatives thereof.

Fun Fact: Remember Spock’s hand gesture when greeting someone?  That was based on Leonard Nimoy’s memories of the Priestly Blessing as a kid.


By Kleuske (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, the streets of Jerusalem were filled with Christians from all over the world showing their support for Israel with a parade.  It was reported that 60,000 people participated from 80 different countries. (Link has good pictures.)  And this year I didn’t even have to leave my house to see it because the parade route was on my street.

Jerusalem Lovefest, I mean, Parade

After last week’s UNESCO vote, the Jerusalem Parade is extremely well-timed.  There will be a new vote on the UNESCO resolution, but it feels like rumblings rather than outright condemnations of an obviously biased document.

During Sukkot, Jerusalem is filled with both Jewish and Christian tourists from all around the world.  The streets are filled with families, restaurants have sukkahs (booths) outside, and there is a festival atmosphere throughout the city during the whole week.

For many years, I thought the parade was primarily a Christian thing, but it turns out that the first parade was in 1955 during Passover.  Then after 1980 when the Christian Embassy was founded in Jerusalem the parade evolved into what we have today.  The parade begins with Israeli groups – banks, insurance companies, army units, corporate groups, and others – and then the Christian groups from around the world join in.

The Christian groups are often singing songs in Hebrew to show their support.  Not being Hebrew-speakers they tend to choose the ones with simple and repetitive lyrics, but strong messages.  “Am Israel, Am Israel, Am Israel, Chai!” (The people of Israel live!) “Havenu Shalom Aleichem” (We wish you peace) “Ya’aseh Shalom, Shalom Aleinu v’Al Kol Israel” (May He bring peace, peace to us and all Israel).

Here are a few pictures from the parade.  I chose them based on the ones that turned out rather than any other criteria.

The Chinese took the phrase “Go Big or Go Home” to heart and had the biggest flags and banners and also brought along the Ark of the Covenant with trumpeting angels.


Hungary had its own group, but the Gipsy nation came on its own.

All the northern countries were represented, but these were two signs I caught.

All around the world is not an exaggeration:  Fiji, New Zealand, Bolivia, Thailand, Taiwan, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, US, Canada, and more and more and more.

My wish for this holiday season is that all these people would call their UN representatives and let UNESCO know that they came to Israel to strengthen their Jewish and Christian connections to the land.

*Note:  Christians are not allowed to proselytize in Israel.  They are not permitted to hand out any religious material at all.  So this event is a surprisingly non-political, non-religious event that is very simply an expression of support and love for Israel the country, not its government or policies.