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March 29, 2010March 29, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

As Jews around Israel are preparing for the Passover Seder this evening, they are not alone: Many Christians living in Israel will be joining with Jewish families or holding their own Seder dinners in keeping with the biblical commands.

“We’ve been here 12 years now and almost every year we get invited to a seder with a Jewish family and we rarely turn it down. It’s just a special time,” David Parsons, spokesman for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, told Travelujah, describing participation in an Israeli seder as a privilege.

passover, last supper, sederParsons first experienced Passover in Israel in 1983. He recalled walking around around Tiberias at  11p.m. and noticing that all the children were awake. It was then he realized the significance of a 3,500-year-old tradition still being played out annually on a national level.

“It struck me as probably the most important Jewish family holiday of the year,” he said.

The ICEJ makes sure that all of its volunteers from overseas has a seder to go to, whether at a congregation or someone’s house, Parsons said.

“A lot of the Christians who move here are already interested in their Hebraic roots so (for them) it is a very natural thing,” he said. “They realize there is a rich spiritual legacy in the Seder meal for us to draw from.”

Living in Israel enhances one’s spiritual walk with the Lord according to many Christians who have spent time in the Holy Land. Andre Tischer, from Germany, has lived in Israel for about four years now and said since he’s been his own faith has leaped forward.

Andre told Travelujah that before he came to Israel he only celebrated Passover once. Now, he and his wife Hanna, from Finland, are conducting their own biblical seder, based on Leviticus 23:5-6, on Tuesday, which they believe is the biblical date for the festive meal.

Had he not moved to Israel, “I cannot say I would have such a connection with my biblical roots, also with christianity, the language the origin, especially being rooted in Jerusalem,” he said “To live here you are so close to God’s people, you live prophecy. All around what you see is a living prophecy, a fulfilled prophecy.”

For their seder, Andre and Hanna, plus their weeks old daughter Tziona Eden, will use a Messianic Hagadah and serve a biblical menu of lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread. After the seder they will pray then watch the movie “Prince of Egypt.”

“We don’t consider ourselves as (just) Christians, but as grafted in,” Andre said, explaining that they follow Torah guidelines and identify with the nation in which they live. The family also clears the house of hametz, leaven and observes the Sabbath.

Parsons explains that it is not strange for Christians to have such a strong connection to Passover, especially as it usually falls near the same date as Easter and to Christians, the two events are connected. Many Christians believe that Jesus celebrated the Passover meal the night before he was crucified.

“Because of the Last Supper, it is very important to Christians to capture in our faith the Jewishness of Jesus at the Seder,” he said.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah



Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


September 28, 2011September 28, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

This evening ushers in the first of several consecutive Jewish—or biblical—holidays, celebrated in Israel in the autumn in highly festive fashion, beginning with Rosh HaShanah and ending with the Feast of Tabernacles.


During this time, residents of the Jewish country partake in the observations of these holy days, but what about Christians? Many evangelical Christians who live in the Holy Land, and even some who don't, make it a point to come to Israel, and specifically to Jerusalem, to celebrate these feast days as the Lord commanded in the Bible.

 

“We recognize that the feasts are not really the Jewish feasts—in the Bible they are called the feasts of the Lord,” Jim Schutz, a Christian who lives in Israel, told Travelujah. “They have a special significance for both Jew and Gentile.”


Christians can relate to the Feast of Tabernacles through its prophetic New Testament meaning, including the return of the Lord, Schutz said. The metaphor of living in tabernacles symbolizes believers being strangers in this world, living in temporary tabernacles awaiting another kingdom. Also, the days of repentance and Yom Kippur are symbolic to the Christian of the sacrifice of Yeshua, Schutz outlined.


“The feasts should intensify the whole message, the whole meaning of what our lives are like in Yeshua,” he said.


Schutz, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem liaison to local congregations and international speaker, offered another aspect of celebrating the biblical feasts: to encourage Christians identify with the Jewish people and to better grasp the mystery of Israel as explained in Romans 11.


“The whole point of Romans 11 is for the non-Jewish believer to understand God's heart for the Jewish people,” Schutz explained. “It is so that Gentiles can understand this mystery from the heart of God's perspective.”


Observing the feasts, though not a requirement, helps a Christian gain that perspective, he said. Schutz and his family will celebrate Rosh HaShanah on Wednesday evening with Jewish friends.


This year thousands of Christians from the nations will join Jews from around the world in “coming up to Jerusalem” during these appointed festivals. Michael Onifer, a leader of the Eagles' Wings' Israel tour, is one of them.


“Something that has been lost (among Christians) is the sacredness of space, the holiness of actual geography,” Onifer told Travelujah. “God was very specific about places and certainly about Jerusalem. He had a purpose for choosing the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel. The feasts can be celebrated here in a different way than any other place in the world and were originally intended to be celebrated in Israel.”


Onifer said he makes it a point to be in Israel to observe these holy days. Some 35 Christians joined the Eagles' Wings tour, purposely scheduled to coincide with the fall feasts.


“There is the very prophetic promise of the nations in coming to worship in Jerusalem and we feel it is in our hands to begin doing that now in anticipation of what the scripture promises,” Onifer said.


Onifer maintains that the feasts are more than a religious activity given to the Jewish people, but an “invitation” for believers to understand God's heart, times and the places he has chosen.


“This is an invitation to deepen our knowledge of God and to understand how to cooperate with him and his purposes,” Onifer said.


Rosh HaShanah is known in the Bible as the Feast of Trumpets and was mandated in Leviticus 23:23-25. The following 10 days leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, are known as the days of awe and are a time of repentance. A single Sabbath, known as the Sabbath of Repentance, occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (this year on Oct. 1) and is marked by a special reading from Hosea 14:2-10, urging the nation to: “Return, Israel, unto the Lord your God.” Yom Kippur begins at sunset on Oct. 7. This is considered the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar and is a full fast—no food or water.


And finally, the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, mandated in Leviticus 23:34-35 and 23:39-43, begins at sunset on Oct. 12 and concludes at nightfall on Oct.19. During Sukkot, Jews build tents or tabernacles in which they eat their meals and sometimes even sleep.

 

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



 


October 16, 2011October 16, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

 

 

As Jews in Israel take their meals in sukkahs, temporary structures that have been erected all around the country during the Feast of Tabernacles this week, many Christians continue their own celebration of the biblical holiday with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.


After a rousing message at Ein Gedi, a resort on the Dead Sea, Friday night and a restful Sabbath on Saturday, the Feast meetings returned to Jerusalem on Saturday evening and continue this week with events in additions to meetings.


Werner Oder, the son of a ranking and convicted Nazi official in Austria, who is now an Israel supporter spoke at the Feast recounting the testimony of his conversion from anti-Semitism to faith in God and love for the Jews and support for Israel.

 

The Feast this year includes a tour to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and a trip to Haifa to visit the home for Holocaust survivors that the ICEJ supports.


On Monday, the ICEJ is sponsoring bus tours designed to acquaint Feast pilgrims with various locations and situations around the country. One of the tours, which will be led by ICEJ spokesman David Parsons, is the flash points of Jerusalem including neighborhoods such as Ramat Shlmo, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan to Gilo and Har Homa.


We are trying to make them familiar with the issues surrounding some of these flash points they hear about in the media all the time,” Parsons said. “When (world leaders says that) new homes in Gilo constitute a settlement, that is ridiculous.”

sukkot, feast, christians

 

Another tour will travel along the lines of the 1967 borders, frequently mentioned by Palestinians as their desired lines for a state. The travelers will visit a community from where you can look right into Tel Aviv, thereby showing the strategic location of Jewish communities in the West Bank to Israel's defense should there be rocket attacks from there as there are from Gaza.


A third tour will take pilgrims to the Gaza border area, specifically the city of Sderot, which has takent he brunt of rocket attacks in the last decade. Feast participants will have the opportunity to deliver more bomb shelters donated by the ICEJ.


On Tuesday, a minimum of 2,500 Feast pilgrims will join in the Jerusalem march with colorful flags and outfits representing their countries. The ICEJ always comprises the largest delegation in the march.


While most of the Feast pilgrims are from Brazil, more worshippers from Asian nations have come to the Feast this year including a delegation of 150 from China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand. The Christian pilgrims hail from more than 80 countries.


The theme of the Feast this year is “Israel – A light to the nations.” Parsons explained that this phrase, mentioned twice in Isaiah, has a specific application to the person of the Messiah and a broader application to Israel's spiritual character not just its leadership in scientific and economic fields.


“Israel may be a high-tech country, but the context of the promise was about its redemptive purposes and not just technological advances,” he said.

sukkot, feast, christians

 

Parsons said that the global constituency of Israel-supporting Christians is starting to show and many are having an influence on their nations' voting patterns. The theme is a timely one as Israel grapples with anti-Semitism and anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.


“This year’s gathering is again underlining our message that Israel is not isolated, but has millions of Christian advocates and admirers worldwide… and we all look forward to celebrating the joyous festival of Sukkot with our Jewish friends,” ICEJ Executive Director Juergen Buehler said at the opening of the ICEJ celebrations on Thursday night.

 

Photos courtesy of the ICEJ


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.


October 18, 2011October 18, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

Christians in Israel for the Feast of Tabernacles joined the nation at the Jerusalem March on Tuesday in welcoming home Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was released after five years in captivity at the hands of his Palestinian kidnappers.


Thousands of Christians representing about 80 nations joined Israelis in rejoicing at his safe return. Shalit was kidnapped on June 5, 2006 by militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip and held him hostage, incommunicado, for years. Several of the marchers on Tuesday waved banners of support for Israel and held welcome home signs for the 25-year-old soldier.

 

“It feels like Christmas, like Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), like a holiday. It is the best day of our lives,” Norwegian Arvid Binttsen described to Travelujah the feeling of being in Israel on the day of Shalit's release. “Thousands of Christian Zionists have been praying for his release for five years.”

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

Photo: Nicole Jansezian


Binttsen, along with another man, carried a large Norwegian flag with the message “Welcome home Gilad Shalit” in English, Norwegian and Hebrew.


The Christians, who take part in the parade every year, infuse color and joy to the march with festive costumes from their native countries and large banners expressing support for the Jewish state. Many hand out flags and candy to people along the parade route while shouting exhortations such as “we love Israel” and “hag sameah” (happy holidays).


The Chinese delegation of the parade carried flags from the communist nation and many of the w
omen wore white gowns they said represented the bride of Christ walking on the streets of Zion.

 

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

 

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

Photos: Nicole Jansezian

Many in the Brazilian contingent wrapped themselves in flags from their country and raced through the streets shouting support for Israel. The Canadian marchers carried large flags and some wore the uniforms of the Canadian Royal Mounties.


“I came to Israel to let the country know we love Israel, we love the people and we want to bless Israel,” Jeff Young, from the Toronto area, told Travelujah. “We want to let Israel know, Canada stands with you.”

 

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

Photo: Nicole Jansezian

 

Mabel Lau made her third trip to Israel from Singapore.


“I come to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, to support and rejoice with the Jewish people, and to give them support – spiritual and moral support,” she told Travelujah.


Most of the parade's Christian contingent, described by the announcer as Christians who love Israel, are attending the annual Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.


“It is good for our Feast pilgrims from around the world to be here to express our solidarity on such a momentous day, as they will also see and experience first-hand what Israel is going through as Gilad Shalit returns home,” said ICEJ Executive Director Juergen Buehler. “We share the relief and joy of the Shalit family and all Israel that Gilad has come back alive. We also share the disgust of so many that the price for his return has meant having to set ruthless murderers free. These are the paradoxes which Israel constantly lives with, and our pilgrims will no doubt return to their own nations with a deeper appreciation of Israel’s unique struggles and an even stronger commitment to standing with the Jewish state and people.”


About 6,000 Christians from more than 80 nations are attending the ICEJ Feast celebration, which will concluded Tuesday night with a farewell address by Israel’s deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

 

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

 

icej, feast of tabernacles, jerusalem march

Photos: Nicole Jansezian

 


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