UNTO THE NATIONS: What one thing is missing from Israel’s hotels?

Sukkot is one of Israel’s peak tourist weeks.

For generations, this has been a prime time to visit the Holy Land, as the Feast of Tabernacles is one of the Jewish people’s three pilgrimage festivals. Jews from around the world would flock to Jerusalem during the close to 1,000 years during which the two Temples stood.

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Ancient pilgrims and modern tourists alike ascended to Jerusalem in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, answering God’s commandment as described in Deuteronomy 16:16: “Three times a year – on the festival of Pesach, on the festival of Shavuot, and on the festival of Sukkot – all your males shall appear before Hashem your God in the place that He will choose,” a presumed reference to the Temple in Jerusalem.

While those of us who grew up in the United States remember finding Bibles neatly stowed in the nightstand drawer of our hotel rooms, this wonderful tradition has not yet arrived in the Jewish state.

In the late 1800s, three traveling businessmen founded Gideons International, hoping to spread Christianity by supplying Bibles to hotel rooms across the country.

Nearly all American hotels began placing Bibles in their rooms throughout the 20th century, touting stories about people nearly committing suicide while on the road but changing their minds after reading these Bibles in their rooms.

Two billion Bibles later, with the help of Gideons International, holy books in hotel rooms became the standard. The Gideon Bibles were highly desired, representing the most commonly stolen book, each one touching 10 lives, on average, before being taken from the hotel room or worn out.

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