There are days in life that a person never forgets. Today will be one of those days in my life. Why? I have been to Israel innumerable times. I have come to Israel at different times in my life ready to explore and discover not only what this amazing country has to offer but also to discover part of myself. Every time I am here I leave fully aware that I am not the same person as I was when I arrived. Today was very unusual and nothing could have prepared me for it.
After a very long airplane ride from Los Angeles the first ever CUFI (Christians United for Israel) mission to include Jewish Clergy arrived in Israel. There are 23 Pastors, 2 Rabbis, 1 Cantor and our Federation Director. We are all from Las Vegas which actually makes this even more remarkable because the experiences we share here during our week long trip will more than probably cause friendships to blossom that will benefit the entire faith community in our city.
As we got on the bus and our Christian friends began looking outside the window at the sites that many of us are so familiar with I witnessed a complete range of emotions from many of them. Emotions that went from tears to lack of belief of how modern and beautiful Israel is. Emotions that made it clear to me that every time one of them says "God bless the Jewish People and God bless The State of Israel", I know that the blessing and the words are more than heartfelt, they are genuine and absolutely spontaneous.
Our first stop after the airport was Cesarea or like we call it in Hebrew קיסריה. I have been there numerous times and I know exactly what to look for, what to see and the significance of the archeological findings from the time of Herod. Today, I heard a completely different explanation of its significance and what it means for Christians around the world. The sunset could not have been more beautiful but more beautiful than the scenery was knowing that standing there next to
me were people of a different fate that love Israel. Knowing that we are not alone is a very powerful feeling!
As I was walking back to the bus the words of a couple of my friends in Las Vegas came to my mind... Maybe joking, maybe not so much, people said goodbye to me last Shabbat by cautioning me about the always present Christian effort to convert us! I have to tell you, the Pastors sharing this amazing
And one more thing... That idea that Christians want all The Jews in the world to return to Israel so that we can witness what in their eyes would be something akin to the end of days... That is simply crazy! That is known as Restoration Theology and believe it or not it is not part of either the vocabulary or the belief system of the Pastors that are here with us. Christian Zionists... Who would have thought? It is time for us to let them hold our hand as we continue to fight for the legitimacy, permanence and vitality of our beloved State of Israel.