Head of COGAT Attends Orthodox Epiphany Celebrations at Qaser al Yahud


On Thursday (18.1.18), thousands of Orthodox Christians celebrated the ‘Epiphany’ holiday. The Epiphany, which marks the feast of Epiphany, symbolizes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. The main ceremony, held by Qaser al Yahud, was led by the Greek Orthodox Church. The ceremony was attended by the Head of COGAT and the Head of the Civil Administration.


Last week, more than five thousand Christians of different denominations celebrated the festival of Epiphany with special ceremonies and colorful processions at the Qaser al Yahud baptismal site on the Jordan River. According to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Epiphany symbolizes the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The various events on the banks of the Jordan River were held thanks to a joint effort by the Civil Administration and Israeli security forcesץ The main ceremony at the baptismal site was attended by Head of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav (Poli) Mordechai and the Head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General Achvat Ben Hur.

Accompanied by monks and pilgrims, Patriarch Theophilus III arrived at the Greek Orthodox Church near the Jordan River to hold prayers. After which, Major General Mordechai accompanied the patriarch on their ceremonious procession toward the the baptismal site. The procession was accompanied by monks and worshipers singing hymns along the route.


At the end of the procession, a religious ceremony was held under the leadership of the Patriarch as worshippers continued directly in to the waters of the Jordan, all the while the sound of church bells could be heard coming from churches on the Jordanian side of the river. White doves hovered above as pilgrims entered the Jordan river, reenacting the baptism of Jesus, and thus ended the exciting ceremony.  

The event was attended by pilgrims from all over the world. Hymns could be heard sung in Greek, Russian, Amharic and even Romanian. Later, on the same day, the Ethiopian Church also held a ceremony at the baptismal site. The ceremony was a unique experience, combining the ancient traditions with the endless sounds of pilgrims and choirs singing along the Jordan River.


The ceremonies were coordinated and planned in cooperation with the Civil Administration and officers from the Jericho DCL. Cooperation was also carried out between Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, the Nature Reserves Officer and National Parks Directorate in the Civil Administration.