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ICEJ marks Christmas, Hanukkah

Sponsors holiday celebrations and gift distributions

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Posted on: 
9 Jan 2012 (All day)
ICEJ marks Christmas, Hanukkah

Last month the celebration of Christmas fell within the same week as the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem marked both holiday seasons by sponsoring a series of festive events and gift distributions. Following are reports on some of these activities, accompanied by photo galleries.
 

Christmas/Hanukkah Reception

On December 23rd, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem marked the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah by hosting  a “Festival of Lights” reception for both Christians and Jews at our global headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli officials, veteran diplomats, Jewish and Christian clergy, and numerous community leaders were among the guests in attendance. Retired Israeli ambassador Raphael Gvir did the honors of lighting the candles for the evening on the Hanukkiah menorah, which stood alongside a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

The ICEJ’s Executive Director, Dr. Juergen Buehler, welcomed the guests of both faiths and noted the links between the two historic events being celebrated. Pastor Wayne Hilsden also delivered a devotional on the meaning of Christmas. The evening included traditional Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs accompanied by a string quartet. The Patriarch of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem’s Old City, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, also came to enjoy the evening and was accompanied by a local priest who sang a traditional carol in the Armenian language.

View the photo gallery »

Christmas Banquet in Bethlehem

The Christmas season in the Holy Land is particularly busy in Nazareth, Bethlehem and the Old City of Jerusalem. Many Arab Christians living in these towns take special pride in holding celebrations marking the Nativity and the ICEJ joins in every year by funding special gift distributions and festive holiday meals for local Arab Christians. In one instance, the Christian Embassy once again helped to sponsor a Christmas Banquet organised by the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem that was attended by over 800 local Arabs, both Christians and Muslims.

After church choirs from Bethlehem and Jerusalem led a rousing time of worship and carolling, Pastor Naim Khoury delivered a powerful Christmas message that drew many to the Lord. At Pastor Khoury’s invitation, Vesna Buehler, wife of ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Juergen Buehler, along with ICEJ Music Director Ray Ramirez also performed a medley of songs in English and Arabic.

The evening concluded with a festive meal as well as a separate program for some 200 children that included Nativity plays, games and Christmas gifts for everyone.

View the photo gallery »

Hanukkah Parties for Holocaust Survivors

In December the ICEJ sponsored a series of Hanukkah parties for needy Jewish communities, including for Holocaust survivors. Delegations from the ICEJ AID department also attended several Hanukkah parties held for Holocaust survivors assisted by the Christian Embassy, including at the ICEJ’s new home for survivors in Haifa. Another Hanukkah celebration attended by ICEJ representatives was held in Katzrin, on the Golan Heights, where around 40 Holocaust survivors “adopted” by Christian supporters were joined by local high school students and soldiers from a nearby army base.

The ICEJ delegation was able to express holiday greetings on behalf of Christians from around the world. One survivor introduced himself by saying, “Shalom, I am Shlomo from Auschwitz…” Another elderly survivor, Rosa, was deeply touched by the support and care of Christians, saying “you are so loving, like angels!” The students and soldiers were also grateful to be there. One soldier said, “we ask ourselves many times why we are actually serving in the army. But after having met and talked to these Holocaust survivors, it gives us a different perspective. Through them we know we have no other country and we now want to do the best job possible to defend our land.”

View the photo gallery »


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