More than 25,000 Evangelical Christians came to “The Galilee Boat” exhibit at Kibbutz Ginosar during the intermediary days of the recent Sukkot holiday. They came to learn about the Jewish holiday and walk in the path of Jesus.
The visitors came from tens of countries, among them Brazil, Korea, Canada, the United States, the Philippines, and others. The boat, which was discovered thirty years ago by two kibbutz members, is dated from around Jesus’ time, when many of his believers were fishermen living in the area.
Alongside the boat, which is on exhibit in the Beit Yigal Allon Museum at the kibbutz since the year 2000, held a special Sukkot holiday happening onsite. During the happening, employees of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and the museum wore ancient costumes, similar to those worn during the time of Jesus, and presented a sukkah, the four species, and shofars to the visitors, explaining each one of the holiday traditions.
From the Galilee Boat site, the large crowd of visitors went for a guided boat ride around the Sea of Galilee, and when it was over they were treated to pomegranates, apples and honey, and dates produced in the Jordan valley. The guests heard an explanation of the symbolism of each of these foods, which are eaten on the Jewish New Year.
A certain percentage of the cost of the purchases made by the visitors was donated to needy families. The visitors also prepared a notebook filled with special blessings for IDF soldiers, in which each visitor wrote a blessing in his own language. The languages included Russian, Polish, Spanish, Korean, and others.
The boat from Ginosar, known as “The Jesus Boat”, is a wooden boat discovered when the water of the Sea of Galilee was at a very low point. Carbon 14 dating was instrumental in giving an accurate picture of when the boat was created. After the boat was discovered, it was packed inside polyurethane foam and moved to the shore where it was placed in a special pool of water. Tilapia fish were introduced into the pool with the boat and ate all the worms and bacteria that had multiplied in the boat. It took 14 years to preserve the craft. The wood was strengthened with synthetic wax and through 65 tons of various chemicals. The boat is on exhibit in a special hall in Beit Yigal Alon alongside a simulation about the mystery of the identity of the boat’s owner and its use during ancient times.
Abe Truitt, Tourism Manager at the IFCJ and the person who organized the event, said, “It was a unique experience to give the visitors the opportunity to learn about Jewish and Israeli culture. Moreover, it was an opportunity for us, as Jews, to be proud of our nation and our culture. When we go to Christian countries during the Christmas season, all we see and feel is the Christian culture, in the streets, in the houses, everywhere. In this event, our tradition and culture were what was communicated and that moved us all deeply.”