Ho, ho, ho your boat

Israel’s Santa sends season’s greetings from the Golan Heights

Jerusalem’s Old City Santa, Issa Anis Kassissieh, takes a kayaking trip on the River Jordan, tree and presents in tow

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Jerusalem’s Old City Santa, Issa Anis Kassissieh, is gearing up for Christmas, and this week filmed his Christmas greetings from the Golan Heights.

Israel’s northern region tends to be the country’s snowiest area in the winter, a natural landscape for the usually snowbound Father Christmas.

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

He’s hosted Santas from around the world in the Old City, takes part in the distribution of Christmas trees organized by the Jerusalem Municipality and, this year, began the season with some activities in the Golan Heights.

Kassissieh is a graduate of the CWH Santa Claus School in the US. He started his Santa career 15 years ago and has served as the official Ambassador of the Holy Land Santa for the last six years.

His day began with a kayaking trip on the Jordan River, Christmas tree and presents in tow, followed by a stroll through citrus and almond orchards.

Israel’s Santa at the Kursi National Park, site of the Miracle of the Swine with children of the Golan Heights, on November 10, 2021 (Courtesy Omri Masika and Roi Peretz)

Israel’s Santa then biked around the Sea of Galilee with British cycling star and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and his fellow team members currently touring Israel.

He ended the day at the Kursi National Park, site of the Miracle of the Swine, where he spent time with local children.

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