According to recent figures released by Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are roughly 161,000 Christians living in Israel, equaling about 2 percent of the population and an up from 158,000 in 2012.
Nearly 80 percent of these Christians are Arab, while the majority of the remaining 20 percent are largely from the former Soviet Union.
The cities with the largest Christian populations were Nazareth with 22,400 Christians, Haifa with 14,600 and Jerusalem with 11,900.
However, Israeli Christian women also had fewer children than Jews or Muslims, with only 2.2 children per Christian woman compared to 3.5 for Muslim women and 3.0 for Jewish women.
Israel has one of the few Christian communities left in the Middle East that is still growing. According to the Pew Research Center, just 0.6 percent of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians now live in the Middle East and North Africa. Christians make up only 4 percent of the region’s total inhabitants, drastically down from 20 percent a century ago, making Middle East Christians the smallest regional Christian minority in the world.
Joseph’s coat of many colors. Sara Netanyahu’s controversial black dress. All the way back to Adam and Eve’s arboreal apparel, clothing has revealed family and social structure, religion, commercial and cultural ties.
The ancient texts, including the Bible, the Talmud and New Testament abound in fashion tidbits, often confirmed by archaeological findings.
Many scriptural references to clothing are symbolic. Clothing came to symbolize the human being in a literal way, in the custom of tearing a garment to indicate grief – Jacob tore his garment when he saw Joseph’s coat of many colors drenched in blood; David rent his clothes when he heard of the death of King Saul. Scholars say this act was meant to replace cutting one’s flesh in mourning, as other cultures apparently did (Deut. 14:1–2).
The texts are approximately 1,000 years old and were written in either ancient Persian or Arabic. They are predominantly legal or commercial documents, except for an Arabic commentary on the book of Isaiah, attributed to post-Talmudic Jewish leader Rabbi Saadiah Gaon.
Archeologists verified the documents’ date by carbon-dating microscopic portions. Despite being written on paper, rather than parchment, the documents remain well preserved, most likely due to the climate in the cave, reported Israel National News.
Israeli-Arab Issa Kassissieh holds a Christmas tree distributed by the Jerusalem municipality. Photo: Reuters
There will also be a limited amount of Christmas trees reserved for journalists with GPO cards who are non-Jerusalem residents. The Jerusalem Development Authority, in coordination with local residents and shop keepers, will also decorate the streets and hang festive lighting in the Christian Quarter of the Old City.
“As the home of the three Abrahamic traditions, Jerusalem is dear to over 3.5 billion people of varying faiths around the world,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement. “Our city is proud to be an open city, with freedom of religion for all residents.”