Lighting Up the Jerusalem Night Sky
For the past eleven years, Jerusalem has hosted the Jerusalem Light Festival, a summer event held between June and July. For seven nights, the historic Old City is transformed into a wonderland through the artistry of illumination.
Popular among families, the young and old, local residents and tourists, the celebrations attract over 250,000 visitors every year and is rated the best and most popular summer festival in Israel.
This year, local and international artists presented spectacular 3-D light exhibits, sculptures, massive light stars and impressive video mapping projections on the Old City’s walls and buildings. Besides, there were different “trails of light” spread throughout the various quarters, colorful on-stage and outdoor performances, light and sound shows, displays in picturesque sites, alleyways and central trails throughout the Old City.
Inside the Old City, strategically located near the Jaffa Gate and across from the Tower of David, is CMJ’s Christ Church. Situated inside a compound which includes a popular guesthouse, the Heritage Centre museum and the locally-famous Coffee Shop, the large, imposing, ornate gates are attention grabbers to thousands of passersby.
Once again, our Christ Church staff remained on-site throughout the festival, often late into the night. Over 6,000 Israelis visited the compound during the week, many of whom local residents who had never been to Christ Church before. There were many meaningful conversations, relationships established and promises to return with family and friends. We praise God for such opportunities to affirm CMJ’s commitment to the Jewish people.
Sukkot, a Time to Rejoice
Sukkot is a seven-day festival during which the Jewish people commemorate their freedom from four hundred years of slavery, in Egypt, and God’s miraculous protection and provision during their time of dwelling in makeshift huts in the Sinai desert.
Five days after the solemn introspection of Yom Kippur, Israel erupts in celebration of what is known as the Festival of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The rigors of introspection and repentance end with “The Season of Our Rejoicing.” As a reminder, Israelis build replicas of those sukkot in which most families will eat at least one meal a day with much singing and storytelling. Outside the home, Sukkot are seen on sidewalks, near cafes, bus and train stops.
One explanation for God’s command to rejoice at the Feast of Tabernacles is connected to the two previous High Holy days: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The central theme of Rosh Hashanah is repentance, while the one of Yom Kippur is redemption. It follows then that, in contrast, rejoicing is the main theme of Sukkot.
God deems this feast so crucial that the Gentiles are commanded to observe it as well. In Zechariah 14:16, the prophet writes, “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths”
The Sukkot holiday coincides with Israel’s autumn harvest giving it the additional name of “Feast of Ingathering.” During ancient times, the makeshift booths were used throughout the land as temporary shelters to protect livestock and provide a place of rest for the workers.
In the synagogues and throughout the land, prayers are offered for the blessing of the winter rains. This year, Sukkot began on the evening of October 13 and ended on October 21. The rains started on time!