As thousands of Christians took part Thursday in the Jerusalem March which occurs every year during Sukkot, a group of Israelis – who have been touched by this vivacious display of support – came out to express their gratitude.
Cookies for Christians is a grassroots movement that was started a few years ago by some friends who marveled at the encouragement and meaningful gifts that the marchers brought with them from their countries in order to bless Israelis.
“I’m so touched that they got on a plane, spent a ton of money and they made such an effort that they packed all these gifts for us,” Naomi Weiss, who was one of the founders of Cookies for Christians, told KNI.
During a week in which UNESCO passed a resolution that omits Jewish and Christian ties to the city of Jerusalem, Weiss said after the parade, “My faith in humanity has been restored.”
“It’s so nice to feel we actually do have friends. It can feel so dark and we are so unpopular,” she said. “And then they come and it gives us a boost.”
Weiss said the fact that these Christians return each year is “humbling, overwhelming and inspiring.”
Indeed, some 3,000 Christians from dozens of nations took participated in the march as part of their activities during the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration. The Christians are known for their vibrant costumes – sometimes native to their countries and sometimes biblical – for their tireless support of Israel and for handing out gifts to Israelis along the two-mile route through the heart of Jerusalem’s new city.
Weiss said that after the march four years ago, she and her friends were talking about the quality gifts these Christians have distributed over the years: baby clothing, notebooks, jewelry, handmade trinkets, pens, flags and so much more.
“We should give them something,” Weiss blurted out. Hours later it went from mere talk to a plan of action.
The next year, the group banded together. One family went to the shuk and bought baked goods to distribute. They quickly ran out. Now, having fine tuned the equation, Weiss knows what is needed.
“We gave out 936 cookies this year,” Weiss said.
More important than the cookies given by Israelis and the gifts brought by the Christians is the interaction this reciprocal giving generates.
“Sometimes they have time to chat,” Weiss said, and the interactions are charged with love and respect. “Everyone is going to meet the other in his commonality. We try to speak their languages and they love to hear the Hebrew.”
“It’s important to thank them because we are trying to reciprocate their efforts,” she said. “We have enough cookies, we would just like to see more Israelis actively reciprocating.”
The thousands of Christians who paraded through Jerusalem on Thursday were preceded by thousands of Jews who headed to the Western Wall on Wednesday for the priestly blessing – many of whom who said this should clarify for UNESCO the Jewish connection to the city.
“UNESCO can decide what it wants, but the reality is that the nation of Israel comes and votes with its feet and is here,” Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau told Ynet.
“Anyone who doubts our connection with the Kotel or the Temple Mount should see the thousands who have gathered here today,” Western Wall and Holy Sites Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said. “This is the answer to the delusional decision.”