Looking back over 2018, one of my favorite experiences was a mind-blowing, eye-opening, heartwarming trip to America. And part of what made this trip so special is that I met with leaders from both the Christian and Jewish communities.
While I often meet American Christians who support Israel, I never take it for granted. I spoke with members of the Christian community in Los Angeles and was totally overwhelmed by their support and love for the Jewish people. When I met with leaders of the Jewish community in L.A., I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, at long last, the Jewish community has accepted the notion that Christians genuinely love Jews and support Israel. My father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, has been sharing this message – your message – with the Jewish community for decades. Finally, the message has been received and the partnership between Christians and Jews is blossoming.
It is a new era, in which Jews recognize that Christian Zionists are our greatest friends. Members of the Jewish community thanked me repeatedly for the work that The Fellowship has done, and the bridges that my father has built for more than 35 years. The concept of Jews and Christians working together for the sake of our shared values has taken hold in a profound way.
In Kentucky, I experienced staunch Christian support for Israel once again. I was invited to speak at a church of about 1,500 members. When I asked the organizers if I needed to be concerned about security, they answered that, yes, safety has become an issue since the recent upsurge in hate crimes against Jews. The church was forced to take extra security precautions to ensure my safety and the safety of all those attending the event. The pastor of the church told me how the church regularly receives threats. Why? Because they proudly fly both the American flag and the Israeli flag side by side. The faithful people of this church refuse to be intimidated and continue to stand proudly with Israel.
Thank God, the event went smoothly and safely. I had the privilege of addressing a packed house of Christians who are true friends of Israel. As I spoke about the shared values and beliefs of the Jewish and Christian communities, it occurred to me that we face shared threats and challenges as well.
Jews everywhere are still reeling from the horrendous massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue that claimed the lives of 11 people. And I know that churches in America have also come under attack in recent years. Christian minorities in the Middle East are at greatest risk for persecution. Earlier this year, seven Coptic Christians were murdered in Egypt for their faith. Churches in America, like the one I spoke at, are targeted regularly for supporting Israel.
Jews and Christians are under attack.
To the Christian community that has stood by our side, I can tell you that the Jewish people and Israelis stand with you. You have our unwavering support, just as you have given us yours.
As our shared values are taking hold, shared threats and challenges are also taking hold. But as Ruth once told Naomi, “your people will be my people” (Ruth 1:16). We are in this together, and together and we will emerge greater than ever before.