JERUSALEM (Jan. 1)
President Zalman Shazar conveyed last night Israel’s New Year greetings to Israel’s Christian communities. He offered the greetings in the presence of prelates meeting at his residence. They included two patriarchs, 11 archbishops and bishops, and 10 other religious leaders. Of the main Christian religious leaders, only the Latin Patriarch was absent. Ten other Catholic dignitaries who did attend were unable to explain why the patriarch was absent. Greek Orthodox and Armenian patriarchs, who live in Old Jerusalem, did attend.
Reiterating Israel’s pledge to ensure freedom of access to all shrines to members of all faiths, the President also said Israel would repair damages suffered by churches during the June war. Greek Patriarch Benedictus, replying for the clergymen, expressed the hope that love and understanding would prevail in the Holy Land. He said the status quo of the holy places must be preserved.
Later, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek gave a reception at City Hall on the triple occasion of Chanukah, Christmas and Id Elfiter, the last day of Ramadan. Members of the three religions mingled in a friendly atmosphere. Lay members of both Christian and Moslem communities attended, but Moslem religious heads were absent. Moslem lay leaders said their religious leaders shunned social affairs during the holy month of Ramadan.