- The Washington Times - Friday, December 31, 1999

Two thousand years after Jesus Christ was born in Israel, Israel’s capital city will observe the turn of the millennium in silent meditation. No fireworks or catered dinners for partyers in Jerusalem in this century. New Year’s Eve falls on the start of the Jewish Sabbath, and that means no cooking, no lifting food (even on elevators), and no music. Hotel operators are on notice that their kosher food certificates will be revoked if they allow New Year’s Eve parties. Without the prized certificates, the Jerusalem hotels lose their Jewish clientele and a major source of their income. So where to go if one can get out of the hotel?

Sorry, music lovers, Handel’s Messiah was cancelled because the Finance Ministry wouldn’t pay for security. And swingers will have to put away their dancing shoes: The big parking lot dance planned at the Teddy Kollek soccer stadium was scratched as well. There aren’t enough emergency exits in the closed-in space, a police spokesman told the Associated Press.

At the King David, revelers can enjoy dinner and a singer, but the woman will be performing sans microphone and dancing is out for the Sabbath. Belly dancers will be on hand at the American Colony Hotel and the Hyatt allowed a Christmas tree to sneak in behind a closed door just until Christmas was over, but the party stopped at paper chains and silver balls in the main lounge.

The biggest entertainment will be the 12,000 troops turning out to protect the country’s holy sites partially out of fear that extremists who are trying to hurry Christ’s Second Coming might become violent. There have been no specific terrorist warnings so far, but you can be sure that the 12,000 will keep any menacing-looking Christian enthusiast under control.

As bored as Gentile partyers might be in Jerusalem this New Year, they must admit to having a unique experience: They will bring in the millennium in probably the only place on earth that is celebrating the Sabbath in much the same way it did a millennium ago, indeed 2,000 years ago and probably will in another 2,000 years.

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