Israeli President Isaac Herzog illuminated the Christmas tree at the Orthodox Church of St. George in Jaffa in a ceremony hosted by leaders of the Christian community in Israel on Wednesday night.
Along with being given the honor of lighting the Christmas tree, Herzog also met with prominent members of the Christian community of Jaffa ahead of the Christmas holiday. President Herzog was accompanied by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and retired Supreme Court judge George Kara.
"I would like to wish all of you, all the members of the Christian denominations in the Holy Land and the State of Israel, and to all the members of Christianity in the entire world, to our Christian brothers and sisters wherever they are, that we will be blessed with a year of peace and good news,” Herzog declared in his remarks.
Celebrating Israel's religious diversity
Herzog also celebrated the shared history and culture between Jews and Christians – especially within Israel and Tel Aviv.
“It is a great privilege that in this beautiful city, Tel Aviv-Yafo, we have thousands of years of common life and different and diverse beliefs. We gather here, this evening, and convey a message that is full of light to the whole world, a message that says - we can live here together!'”
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai echoed Herzog’s statements in his own remarks. “We are in the midst of Hanukkah (while) the Christian religion celebrates Christmas.
"Tel Aviv-Yafo will continue to respect all religions and celebrate all the traditions of the communities living there. I wish we were blessed with this diversity and the ability to accommodate it in the rest of the State of Israel as well.”