Thousands of Christian pilgrims flocked to the Ein Gedi Oasis in Israel on October 6, 2017 for the opening of the Feast of Tabernacles, The Times of Israel reports.
The week-long celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, had a series of events for locals and tourists. The activities included a festive march, a mass baptism ceremony at the Jordan River and a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Colorful booths and a variety of activities and events attracted tourists during the faith-based event.
The Israeli Ministry of Tourism revealed that the Sukkot holiday gave a boost in the tourism industry of the country. The ministry saw a 24 percent increase in tourist arrivals, or 739,000 tourists, from the same period in 2016, Breaking Israel reports.
According to the pro-Israel International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), the organizer of the event, more than 5,000 Christians from different countries visited Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. The ICEJ noted that most of the Christian pilgrims were Evangelicals.
“I warmly welcome our thousands of Christian friends who have arrived to Israel from 100 countries at the initiative of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Your steadfast support warms our hearts,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The event has attracted tourists for the past 38 years. According to David Parsons, vice president and senior spokesman for ICEJ, the Feast is the largest annual Christian gathering in Israel.
After the opening at Ein Gedi, the pilgrims enjoyed a tour throughout the Middle Eastern country for the next two days. On October 10, a concert was held at the Pais Arena, which was attended by hundreds of participants. The holiday ended with a prayer service at the Tower of David.