(Thousands of Christian pilgrims get baptized in Israel’s Jordan River every year. Are they risking their lives by immersing in the polluted waters?)
It’s the highlight of any Christian’s trip to Israel – a dunk in the Jordan River, the way Jesus did it thousands of years ago. But with increased pollution in Israel’s waterways, Israeli activists are using the Pope’s visit to Israel tomorrow to urge action on cleaning up the Jordan.
According to Christian belief, the Jordan River is the site of Jesus’s baptism; when pilgrims come to Israel (including my mother), they not only immerse themselves in the water, but take samples of it home for souvenirs.
“Water from the once-proud Jordan River is being diverted for domestic and agricultural use, leaving the lower part of the river a shrivelled stream with little to no fresh water and filled with sewage,” the letter said.
But those doing so now “risk their own health when entering the water.
“Your Holiness, all of the Jordan River’s visitors should have the right to be baptised in water that is natural and true,” activists from Zalul urged.
On Sunday, the pope is to visit the Jordan baptismal site on the east side of the river. Let us pray for a clean river. And sign the petition at SaveTheJordan.org.
Watch a video about the tragedy: