In February, the IDF will promote a Christian soldier to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, making him the first soldier of his faith to achieve that rank. This comes as the result of a six-year process intended to help the indigenous Christian community integrate into mainstream Israeli society.
Last week, the Israel Bureau of Statistics published the 2018 figures on Christians living in Israel. According to the report, approximately 175,000 Christians currently live in the Holy Land making up two percent of the total population. Of those, 77.7 percent are Arab Christians. This represents a 2.2 percent growth in Israel’s Christian population in the past year.
The candle-lighting ceremony highlights the challenges faced by the Hebrew-speaking Christian community. The community of about 1000 people was born at the tail end of the 1950s, when interfaith couples arrived in Israel, as did Christians who moved to Israel, integrated into the secular life of Israel and spoke Hebrew, all the while retaining their Catholicism.