Friends of Zion Museum (FOZ) ran an event Monday evening intended to bring Jews and Christians together in a powerful Jerusalem experience during a special period of prayer.
In the period leading up to Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), the prayers emanating from Jerusalem become even more intense than usual. Jews engage in a period of repentance marked by special prayers said in the middle of the night.
Selichot is a prayer service focused on repentance that is observed differently in the Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. In the Sephardic communities, selichot prayers are recited throughout the month of Elul, usually after midnight.
In Ashkenazi communities, the first Selichot are recited on Saturday night after midnight. There must be a minimum of four days in which the Selichot prayers are recited. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday or Saturday, Selichot begin on the Saturday night immediately preceding. If Rosh Hashanah falls on Monday or Tuesday, Selichot begin on the Saturday night approximately a week and a half before Rosh Hashanah. Starting on the Monday morning following the first midnight service, Selichot are recited daily, before sunrise until Rosh Hashanah.
According to most traditions, Selichot prayers are also recited on the ten-days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Neither tradition allows for Selichot on the Sabbath.
The FOZ Selichot evening began with a tour of the museum. The Friends of Zion Museum is a remarkable must-see in the center of Jerusalem. The brainchild of Dr. Mike Evans, an American author, educator and journalist, the museum opened its doors to the public three years ago and has already attracted more than 200,000 visitors.FOZ is also an Internet phenomenon with more than 47 million followers on social media in at least 176 countries.
Using breakthrough technology, visitors are exposed to a fascinating journey through time, beginning with the biblical world, with an emphasis on Israel and Zionism and the growing relationship that strengthens over time, between Christians and Jews around the world. The museum aims to instill and promote humanitarian values and love for Israel and the Jewish people.
Considered one of the most technologically-advanced museums in the world, the presentations emphasize the connection of Christians to Zionism in the last 200 years. Among the Christian figures presented are leading political, religious, military and academic figures, from the return to the land in the 1880s, to the British Mandate and then the Holocaust, to the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
The tour moved on to the Tower of David Museum where the director of the Museum Eilat Lieber, explained the significance of the structure. Located inside the Old City Walls next to the Jaffa Gate, David’s Citadel tower actually has no connection to Biblical King David. Constructed in the First Century BCE period of King Herod, the stone tower has panoramic views of the area surrounding Jerusalem, giving it enormous strategic importance.
Participants were then led on a virtual reality walking tour of Israel by Dr. Simon Young, the founder of Lithodomos who partnered with the Tower of David Innovation Lab to create the most historically accurate presentation possible. Starting at the Tower of David museum and ending in the Jewish Quarter, the tour takes the viewer through modern Jerusalem while showing reconstructions of ancient Jerusalem through a virtual reality headset. The final shot reveals an overall view of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple period, zooming in and placing the viewer inside the Temple itself.
The FOZ Selichot experience was intended to emphasize Christian support of Israel at a time when the Jews are petitioning God with heartfelt prayers of repentance.
“Selichot is a very spiritual time in Israel and especially in Jerusalem,” Elan Skolnik, Deputy Director of Marketing told Breaking Israel News. “It seems to bring people together, which is one of our main goals here at the FOZ.”
“The event was very successful in that respect,” Skolnik said. “We are committed to the vision of the FOZ museum, and always grateful for the opportunity to share this dream with new friends.”