With flags from all over the globe waving high, a colorful march of some 80,000 Israelis and foreign friends of Israel descended on the streets of Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon for the annual Jerusalem March to celebrate Israel and pray for peace.
More than 6,000 pilgrims from over 100 nations joined the 3-kilometer popular parade, held annually during the Sukkot holiday, including large groups waving flags and traditionally dressed from countries including Brazil, China, Switzerland, Malaysia, the United States, South Africa, and Peru and singing. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) is behind the event, now in its 39th year.
The Chinese-speaking delegation – one of the biggest with 500 representatives – arrived in Israel for the march, walked holding six small sukkahs, the temporary hut constructed for use during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, differently decorated.
Pilgrims from Brazil represented the biggest delegation with 900 people. Other large delegations arrived from Ivory Coast with 600, the United States, 500, and 250 people from the Philippines.
This year’s event centered on the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state.
“Every year the participants to the march rise, as tourism in Israel which is on rise 15% up as well,” ICEJ Vice President David Parsons said. “Sixty-percent of the pilgrims who arrived in Israel are from Latin America and Africa, the developing countries, where evangelical churches are growing the fastest.”
According to Parsons the interest of the pilgrims from developing countries doesn’t come only from religious reasons but also because they admire the spirit of the country
“Developing countries watch Israel from the last 70 years, from the time orphans from the Shoah arrived to the high-tech nation and admire it, they want to take the spirit of Israel to their nations,” Parsons said.
Several foreign participants said that they arrived in Israel to attend the march to fulfill a prophetic will and out of a sincere Christian love for the nation of Israel and their belief that “worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles”(Zechariah 14:16).
“When the Messiah will come the entire world will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles because it will mark the return of Jesus. I am here today because I believe the Messiah is arriving,” said Domeniq Quelter, a 55-year-old from Oensingen, Switzerland, who has come to the march every year for the last 11 years.
Emily and Pamela, daughter and mother from Dallas, Texas marched while waving U.S. flags, said they came to connect with the Jewish people and to support Israel. “I want to show my love for Israel, ” said Emily. “And we also like very much the food and the wine here,“ her mother added.
“This march is a declaration of love,“ added Joseph Evangelista, a pilgrim who arrived from Brasil. “The world Christianity love Israel and also Israel is important for all Christians;we all came from Abraham.”