While Israel was celebrating 67 miraculous years since its first Independence Day in modern history, another historic event was taking place.
A worldwide call for Jews and Christians was organized by Israel’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation (CJCUC). A “Day to Praise”was truly a seminal moment in Jewish-Christian relations.
“This was the first time Christians were invited to an Orthodox synagogue to be part of a praise service,” said one of the organisers, David Nekrutman. Based upon registrants on the CJCUC website, over 25,000 Christians from around the world recited Psalms 113-118, known as the Hallel, on Israel’s Independence Day.
To watch the entire program through the CJCUC’s YouTube Channel, click here.
Many evangelical Christians felt the “Day to Praise” was high on the Almighty’s agenda. However, not everybody in Israel applauded the event.
Rabbi Shlomo, the visionary behind the CJCUC, heartily defended the Jewish-Christian Independence Day Prayer, and rejected an haredi attack over interfaith thanksgiving. In an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Riskin said he struggled to understand why the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, had written a strong attack, saying the event sickened him.
The prayer in question was not the mandatory morning prayer or other Jewish liturgies but simply a “thanksgiving prayer to G-d,” Rabbi Riskin explained, “As it is written in the Psalms, ‘Praise the Lord, all peoples; exalt Him, all the nations. For His kindness has overwhelmed us, and the truth of the Lord is eternal, Halleluy-ah.'”
Indeed, the Bible commands the nations to offer thanksgiving to the Almighty for miracles and for bringing the Jewish people home to the Land of Israel!
Rabbi Riskin is the Chief Rabbi of the town of Efrat, south of Jerusalem, and is one of the most important rabbis in the “Anglo” religious-Zionist community.
For sure Rabbi Riskin is a pioneer in the interfaith movement.
Proselytizing was not the agenda of the Christian participants. Rather, believers who participated in the Independence Day prayers were thanking God for his covenantal faithfulness to the Jewish people in restoring them to their homeland, especially after the horrors of the Holocaust!
The program was purely prophetic and was conducted in such a way that neither Jewish nor Christian participants felt uncomfortable.
After all, both Jews and Christians have been reciting psalms for centuries! What could be more “appropriate,” as Rabbi Riskin noted, than to recite psalms together over the miracle of Independence Day?
In the time of the Temple, King Solomon asked the Almighty to listen to the Gentiles who came with their own requests.
In the words of the prophet Ezekiel, quoting the Almighty, “I will be exalted and I will be sanctified, and I will make Myself known before the eyes of many nations; then they will know that I am the LORD.”
I’m waiting for the day when that great Ezekiel prophecy will be fulfilled. Why not get in on the vanguard and start to recite God’s promise now?
Of course, any cutting edge effort to bring together Jews and Christians in an age when both groups are under attack will be opposed.
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