Susanna Kokkonen
Speaker on Jewish-Christian relations; anti-Semitism; the Holocaust and persecution

From Sukkot to Sukkot – as a Loving Guest of Israel

The first night of the Feast, Ein Gedi Desert
The first night of the Feast, Ein Gedi Desert

This is my first blog in this forum and I would like to celebrate the season we are in.

My first Sukkot in Jerusalem was in 1998. I had just arrived to start my research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Friends invited me to the Feast of Tabernacles celebration hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). That night Prime Minister  Binyamin Netanyahu spoke. It seems so unbelievable that right now -twenty years later- I am here and so is he, in the same capacity. And as for me, since 1998, I have never missed a Feast Celebration. To see people from all over the world coming to Israel and get to spend time with them is a privilege. To be sharing our faith but also to be witnessing their devotion to Israel is a wonder.

Sukkot has always reminded me of how fragile our lives are and how, ultimately, even our best plans will only succeed if G-d agrees with them. For me living in Israel has been temporary and I have always felt that Sukkot was a reminder of my status as a loving guest. Throughout these twenty years my status changed several times. It has been a special privilege to serve at Yad Vashem where even just these past weeks, we hosted many Christians to whom it is important to be in Jerusalem, and visit Yad Vashem, at this time of the Biblical calendar. Thousands of people came up to Jerusalem – perhaps in a picture of what Prophet Zechariah meant.

From the Middle Ages and the Holocaust we have come to a time in history where G-d can bless both Jews and those Christians, who stand with them. It is such a miracle and cannot be explained without faith in some supernatural Heavenly element. What a privilege to be living at this time. Prophets would have loved to walk where we walk today. To witness the rebirth of the Jewish State and know that the Bible is accurate and true means that there are eternal arms that support our lives even as they seems like a flimsy temporary building.

What a privilege to wish a Good New Year – in the Biblical calendar – to everyone who reads my thoughts.


About the Author
Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, originally from Finland, has lived in Israel for the past twenty years. She has a doctorate in Holocaust Studies and has pioneered Jewish-Christian relations including at Yad Vashem, as the Director of the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. She travels around the world speaking about Israel; the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and current issues.
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