Dozens of Santas bring some off-season cheer to Israel
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Sleigh on over

Dozens of Santas bring some off-season cheer to Israel

Jerusalem’s Santa invites over 40 of his Christmas colleagues for a January visit to the Holy Land

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

  • Visiting the Jerusalem Santa house on a January 2020 Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)
    Visiting the Jerusalem Santa house on a January 2020 Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)
  • Some of 47 Santas and Mrs. Clauses visiting Jerusalem in January 2020 on a Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)
    Some of 47 Santas and Mrs. Clauses visiting Jerusalem in January 2020 on a Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)
  • One of many Santas currently visiting Israel on a January 2020 Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)
    One of many Santas currently visiting Israel on a January 2020 Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)
  • Taking a ride around the Old City of Jerusalem on a Ministry of Tourism trip for Santas (Courtesy Ministry of Tourism)
    Taking a ride around the Old City of Jerusalem on a Ministry of Tourism trip for Santas (Courtesy Ministry of Tourism)

When Jerusalem’s Santa Claus Issa Kassissieh was in need of fellow Santas to keep him company, he invited some colleagues from the US, Germany, Denmark and Romania for a post-holiday break in the Holy Land.

Kassissieh, a former basketball player, lives in Santa’s House, his Christmas-bedecked home in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The four-day trip, arranged by the Tourism Ministry as part of its ongoing hosting program, is taking place this week from January 5 through 8.

The 47 Santa Clauses and Mrs. Clauses traveled to Jerusalem, the Galilee and the Dead Sea regions.

Some of 47 Santas and Mrs. Clauses visiting Jerusalem in January 2020 on a Ministry of Tourism trip (Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism)

They have so far participated in parades in Jerusalem’s Old City and in Nazareth, were baptized at Yardenit, a baptism site located on the Jordan River, took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, and had fun entertaining other tourists as well.

For all but one of the Santas, this was their first visit to the Holy Land.

Taking a ride around the Old City of Jerusalem on a Ministry of Tourism trip for Santas (Courtesy Ministry of Tourism)

Kassissieh met his fellow Santa colleagues at the Michigan-based Charles W. Howard Santa School, during a Santa conference last year.

At the school, aspiring Santas learn how to “be” Santa, including how to speak to children, how to smile, how to put on Santa’s makeup, how to “be” the red suit, and how to say ho, ho, ho from “deep within one’s belly,” he told The Times of Israel.

The “Jerusalem Santa,” a Palestinian dressed up as Santa Claus, atop Jerusalem’s Old City walls, on December 19, 2019, as Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Christmas. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
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