Feast of Tabernacles 2017 draws thousands of Christians worldwide to Jerusalem

Thousands of Christians from various countries flocked to Israel to join the annual Feast of Tabernacles, which coincided with the Jewish feast of Sukkot and focused this year on the Christian community's support for a united Jerusalem.

(REUTERS / Baz Ratner)A Jewish worshipper holds the four species, used in rituals for the holiday of Sukkot which began last week, during the recitation of the priestly blessing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, October 12, 2014.

The 38th Feast of Tabernacles celebration this year was sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The organization's president, Dr. Jürgen Bühler, said Christians were attracted to the event not only by the worship experience but also by the 50th Jubilee celebration of a reunited Jerusalem, the Christian Broadcasting Network relayed.

Bühler said before the event that they expected "one of our biggest crowds" to join the celebation this year. He added: "Thousands of Christians are once again being drawn here from all over the world by the dynamic worship experience that surrounds this unique biblical festival."

Israel expects to enjoy an economic impact of $18 million to $20 million because of the ICEJ event, as around 6,000 Christians from almost 100 countries were presumed to join the celebration.

"Given that the issue of Jerusalem has once again come to the fore, this year's Feast is also dedicated to reaffirming Christian support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty," said ICEJ in a statement.

Meanwhile, Breaking News Israel reported that Israeli president Reuven Rivlin and First Lady Nechama Rivlin opened their sukkah to the public on Oct. 9, even as rain poured down in the middle of the week-long Sukkot festival. The sudden rain impeded plans for theatrical and musical shows, exhibitions, and arts and crafts.

However, many saw the rain as a sign of the fulfillment of prayers, given that it was the first downpour of the season. Because of this, people inside President Rivlin's tent were in a joyous mood despite the rain.

President Rivlin's sukkah also welcomed both Jewish and non-Jewish visitors from abroad, including South African Christians Maria Lencoe and Elizabeth Van Deventer. The two born-again Christians joined the Sukkot festival in Israel to draw inspiration from the Jewish community and to learn more about the Bible.