On any given day, the Western Wall in Jerusalem is filled with a diverse selection of people, from Orthodox Jews praying to IDF soldiers to Christian pilgrims from around the world. Many of the people that flock to the wall have a different reason for being there and a different way of expressing their prayers.
Although there is no shortage of extraordinary sights at the Wall, the visit by a group of 31 Amish people (29 Americans and 2 Canadians) had people staring in wonder as the group filled the air with their heartfelt hymns. The group came to Israel to apologize to the Jewish people for not previously recognizing the Jews as the chosen people and for not doing more to prevent persecution of the Jews in the past.
The video captures the emotion of participants, who were inspired and moved by the experience of being in the Old City.
Amish is the name of a Christian Anabaptist sect (Protestants) with followers in 22 US states and in the Ontario region in Canada. The Amish live in an old-fashioned and modest lifestyle as it was 200 years ago in Germany. They sell hand-made furniture for a living, live on the produce they grow, ride a carriage driven by a horse and make sure to avoid newspaper, TV, radio, driving a car and other modern conveniences.
Traditionally the Amish have not supported Judaism nor the State of Israel due to an entrenched belief that the Jews are guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus and their perception of Israel as a militant and aggressive power (the Amish are pacifists by nature).
The change in approach to Israel was initiated by Amish leader Bishop Ben Girod who enlists community leaders to visit Israel, with the declared intention to ask for forgiveness. Micah Smith, a former priest (not of the Amish community) also took part in this recent group. Smith leads a group to Israel every year and is a consistent supporter of Israel in Washington. The trip was organized by Benny Delehu, director of ADC Holidays, and the tour was run by tour guide Amir Orly.
The committed group arrived in Israel during the Operation Pillar of Defense and their trip to the Old City was not postponed by the bomb siren in Jerusalem the day before.
The group expressed the amazing purpose of their visit: "We would like to meet and bless the people of Israel, to show our support, especially in the area of repentance, and acknowledgment of our errors, such as having rejected them as Gods chosen people."
"We would like to meet with city officials and other leaders who would give us a few minutes of their time. We, the Amish and Anabaptist people turned away from Jewish nation, while they were in their darkest hour of need. We hardened our hearts against them, we left them - never lifting our voices in protest against the atrocities that were committed against them. We want to publicly repent of this and acknowledge our support of Israel."
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