Reunited Jerusalem Prepares for Combined, Three-faith Holiday Observance

The municipality of united Jerusalem is preparing for the first combined celebration in 20 years of the holidays of the three major faiths–Channukah, Christmas and Alfitr which marks the end of the Moslem holy month of Ramadan. Mayor Teddy Kollek announced that the holiday season will wind up with a reception by the municipality for the heads of the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religious congregations.

(At the United Nations, Secretary General U Thant cited the Middle East conflict in a holiday season message to the United Nations staff today, to illustrate both the limitations and the value of the world organization in securing and maintaining peace. Mr. Thant said that the prospects for peace in the Middle East depend upon the extent of the cooperation which the countries directly concerned are willing to give to the U.N. and to the Secretary General’s special representative to that area, Ambassador Gunnar Jarring.)

The decision of the Israeli authorities to bar non-Christians from Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, a measure intended to avoid the crush of tourists that might overtax the limited facilities of that town, has drawn angry protests, particularly from immigrants from western countries and American Jewish tourists. The protestors are particularly upset by plans to set up checkposts outside of Bethlehem to find out who is or is not a Christian. This, say many letter writers to the press, is a violation of religious freedom and an affront to their conscience.

Communications with Bethlehem have been improved meanwhile by linking its telephone exchange with Israel’s trunk system.

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