Tel Aviv, Jerusalem slate plans for turn of millennium events

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NEW YORK -- After struggling with the problem of what to do for New Year's Eve, Israel -- the country that claims to be "the land where time began" and "the official destination of the millennium" -- announced plans for two of its major locations.

The struggle had to do with the fact that Dec. 31 falls on a Friday (as does Christmas Eve the previous week), which coincides with the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

In the Jewish state, there is a limit to what hotels and restaurants can offer on a Friday night without endangering their designation as kosher establishments.

On the other hand, clients may well see Israel as the most appropriate place to mark the turn of the millennium. The Holy Land is, after all, the location of much of humanity's earliest recorded history and is where the events occurred on which the calendar is based.

The two announcements are about events in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv.

  • In the capital, the International Convention Center Jerusalem will provide space for Christian pilgrims gathering to observe Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and New Year's/Millennium Eve (Dec. 31).
  • The ICC Jerusalem is usually closed on the Jewish Sabbath, but it has been authorized by the city's rabbinate to accommodate the large numbers of Christians expected to visit Israel to mark the 2,000th birthday of Jesus of Nazareth.

    To provide dignity, decorum and comfort, the country's main international convention center will make use of its 27 halls and meeting rooms. It is located at the western entrance to Jerusalem and has ample parking facilities.

    ICC Jerusalem
    Phone: (011) 972-2 655-8537
    Fax: (011) 972-2 533-8964
    Web: www.iccjer.co.il
    E-mail: [email protected].

  • In Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial and entertainment capital, a Millennium Eve celebration will be held on Dec. 31 that will be telecast worldwide.
  • The event will be held in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, formerly known as Kings of Israel Square and renamed for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after his assassination there in 1995.

    The square can accommodate up to 250,000 people, and it has served as a major venue for mass rallies and celebrations.

    For New Year's Eve, the plan is to provide futuristic fireworks, performances by major Israeli entertainers, a large dance party and spectacular displays, according to Etty Gargir, general director of the Association for Tourism Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

    The event also will mark Tel Aviv's 90th birthday. The city was established as a Jewish suburb of the 4,000-year-old port city of Jaffa, whose modern residents were Arabs.

    The two communities sprawl along an alluring Mediterranean swimming beach and now are linked. Restored Jaffa has a quaint artistic quality and is encompassed by the hustle-and-bustle tempo of Tel Aviv.

    Israel Ministry of Tourism InfoCenter
    Phone: (888) 77-ISRAEL or (212) 499-5640
    Web: www.goisrael.com
    E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

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