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Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.
During the day, the Priestly Blessing is recited by men who are descended from Aharon, the High Priest. In addition, many congregations have the custom of gathering all the children under a tallit (prayer shawl) to receive the blessing of Yaakov (Jacob): “May the angel who redeemed me from all harm bless the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the Land.” (Genesis 48:16) The final portion of the Torah is read, and a new cycle of reading is immediately begun with the first portion in Bereishit, or Genesis, usually from a second Torah scroll. During the reading of the story of the six days of creation, the reader pauses at the conclusion of each day for the congregation to chant, “There was evening, and there was morning, the ___ day!”
Services generally last most of the day, with a break for a holiday meal in between. Often, congregations hold the meal at the synagogue itself, to make it easier for worshipers and to keep everyone together for the lengthy prayers that take place throughout the day.
On Shemini Atzeret, Jews no longer wave the Four Species that included the etrog (citron) and lulav (palm frond, myrtle and willow branches), and Sukkot is no longer mentioned in the day’s prayers. Outside of Israel, Jews still eat in the Sukkah, (without a blessing) until the evening, when Simchat Torah begins. Candles are lit with the blessings “Ner Shel Yom Tov” (the candle of the Holiday) and “Shehechiyanu” (who has granted us life). Outside Israel, candles on the second day, Simchat Torah, are lit from an existing flame. Sabbath candles are lit on Friday 18 minutes before sundown, with the usual blessing, “Ner shel Shabbat” (the Sabbath candles).
Some 5,000 Christians from 80 nations traveled to Jerusalem this week to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
The International Christian Embassy (ICEJ) brought thousands of believers there to unite with Israel.
The Feast of Tabernacles is that one Biblical feast that involves the nations as a principle. People can read about it in Zechariah chapter 14.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat talked to a packed auditorium about his city, even as the international community would like to divide it.
"Ideologically, Jerusalem is the heart of the world. You cannot divide a heart. You cannot divide a heart. It will never work, Barkat said. "Practically, there's not one example in the world of a split city that ever worked."
Many Israeli leaders praised the Christian support.
"It gives us lots of power and energy to see such support from all over the world, to united Jerusalem, and I came here to say thank you to the people that came," Barkat said.
ICEJ Director Malcolm Hedding said this shows the impact that Christians have.
"It gives voice to the fact that over years of faithful engagement from the Christian world, the Jewish world, from it's highest echelons of government, to its grass roots, people recognize the importance of this worldwide global constituency, particularly as Israel moves into an increased time of isolation," Hedding said.
CBN President Michael Little spoke at the feast. This is his 50th trip to Israel, and he feels the feast is like a taste of heaven.
"It's kind of like heaven because you hear all of these languages, and you see all these people from different countries," Little said. "They're all talking about Jesus. They're talking about their relationship with other Christians. They're talking about God."
The pilgrims all come for many different reasons.
"I came to the Feast of Tabernacles because it's the Lord's covenant with the people of Israel," Queen Robinson-Oteh, of Nigeria, said.
Ernst Botha, of South Africa, said, "We come in solidarity with the Jewish people; to come and bless them, to come and support them, the Jewish people."
Yvonne Witmer, of Germany, said, "I come because of my great God. I wanted to see this place where He lived, where He died. It's a blessing to be here, and I want to come to be part of this great big feast because worshipping our God with one voice in unity, my heart is longing for it."
For the Jihadi on the grow? Vendors at this year's Muslim Day parade in New York featured a children's 'Mujahideen' sweatshirt.