We are writing on the afternoon of December 25th …Christmas Day in Jerusalem. In the Jewish sectors of Jerusalem, and indeed all of Israel, December 25th is a workday, passing like any other day of the week (Israeli Arab Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth on this day, in many cases leaving the lights strung for weeks after it has passed!).
And yet, many secular Jews here are fascinated by the season. In the Old City, several denominational churches regularly find their candle light Christmas Eve services packed with curious Israelis. The writer, was once asked, while being seated in a dentist’s chair, what music I should like to hear? Upon responding that it really didn’t matter to me, my dentist, a religious kippa-wearing gentleman, with a chuckle said, “This will really shock you, but I really like Christmas music—after all, many Christmas carols were written by Jews!” –so over the drill, I found myself treated for the next 30 minutes to the strains of “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”—but also “Silent Night” and “What Child is This?”
A christmas tree seen on top of the Jerusalem Old City walls, on December 26, 2015. Photo by Nati Shohat/FLASH90
All day yesterday and today, the classical station out of Jerusalem was been programming Christmas music. Last night, in the program notes preceding a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, the announcer remarkably made use of Jesus’ true Hebrew name Yeshua rather than the “Yeshu” which most Israelis have been taught since childhood was his name. (Yeshua, a name found often in the Book of Nehemiah, means “Yehovah is Salvation”—while “Yeshu” is an akronym constructed by anti-Messiah rabbis, meaning, “May His Name be Blotted Out.” Most Israelis are unaware of this meaning, but assume, nevertheless, Yeshu to be the correct name.
During this season when so many of our readers around the world are celebrating the birth of the Saviour…but so much of Israel has still to recognize and come to know Him,
–That Israel would recognize Who loves her with an everlasting love, and is drawing her with loving kindness (Jer. 31:3). Who was “in the beginning with God—who is the true Light which came into this world in the “House of Bread” –Bet-Lehem (“Bethlehem”)—who lived and died and was raised to bring life to the house of Israel—and the whole world!
We pray for all of our readers in the nations a blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!
–Martin and Norma Sarvis