I just returned to my home in Israel from a four State trip to NY, Florida, Missouri and Atlanta. I have to admit that before the trip I was not completely sure what the reception would be. You know how sometimes an idea sounds great in your head but when you try to explain it to others it just doesn't seem to sound as good. Well, I had the exact opposite experience on this trip! Let me explain:
When we started Teach for Israel we were sure that the mission and goal was extremely important—we just weren’t sure if the Jewish and Christian communities were ready for it. We have not had a great history together over the last 2000 years and perhaps the strained relationship would continue. Our idea of getting rabbis and Christian leadership together, getting groups of Christians and Jews together based on our common belief that the State of Israel needs to be strongly supported and that it is the eternal Jewish homeland is not a simple one. For too long, way too long our communities focused on areas where we differ, where we have theological differences—profound differences. This in turn did not lead to anything positive. In fact it often had deadly results. The time has arrived to focus on where we agree, namely Israel. When the Bible says that G-d gave the land to the Jewish people, He meant it! The G-d of Israel does not lie so how can this promise ever be rescinded? It can’t!
So when I stood before Christian audiences on this trip unsure as to how I would be received I was deeply encouraged. I stood as a Jew, as a rabbi extending my hand in friendship, wanting to stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians in deep solidarity with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The positive response that I received was truly overwhelming.
When I met with Jewish people on this trip I was equally encouraged by their positive reaction to this idea of forging bonds between the two communities. We are really on to something—there is so much positive energy that needs to be harnessed for this great cause. We need to reach out to all the fence sitters out there and get them behind Israel. We need to have more teaching events. We need to reach more people AND we need your help! Of course we need partners to keep us going but we also need your help in finding new places that will have us and new ways to get the message out. Please let us know how you can help. “At a time like this” we need to take advantage of the window of opportunity and open it as wide as possible!
With Blessings from the Holy Land
Rabbi Moshe Rothchild