"Many of our tour leaders, though excited about the millennium, areworried about the crowds and want to put Israel off for another year,"the executive said. "A few have also expressed concern about the Y2Kproblem."

One Islamic group will also forgo the coming year for 2001, when itplans to ferry 2,001 American Muslims to Mecca for the hajj, thepilgrimage every adult Muslim is required to perform at least once. ImamWarith Deen Muhammed, leader of a Chicago-based national ministry thatclaims about 200 masjids, or mosques, and 750,000 individual followers,said he chose the year 2001 because of its religious significance toChristians. He described Christians as the brothers of Muslims becauseof their mutual belief in Abraham, Moses, and Christ as prophets of God,who Muslims call Allah, and said making the hajj in 2001 would bring hisfollowers closer to other "people of the Book."

"This will be a really hot season for devotion and connection with God,"Imam Mohammed said. "We are seeing it already. We recognize that and wejust can't help but feel a high spiritual connection with Christians andJews. I can't help but feel the heavenly saints are all together with usin the celebration."