(MSNBC) — Thousands of miles from their home in Seymour, Tenn., Scott and Theresa Johnson host Shabbat dinners in their Jerusalem apartment every Friday night for “lone soldiers” — as the young men and women who travel from foreign countries to serve in the Israeli army are known.
Typically, 20 or 30 of the soldiers join the Johnsons for a traditional meal and wine and to join in a rousing rendition of “Shalom Aleichem,” an old Hebrew song sung to greet the Sabbath day of rest. Scott Johnson leads the song wearing a “kippah” — a traditional Jewish head cover — and standing beneath a painting of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held prisoner in Gaza for five years before being released in October.
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The Johnsons, however, are not Jewish. They are evangelical Christians who live in Israel full-time, operating a U.S.-based 501 c(3) nonprofit, the Servants to Christ Corp.