In all of my years of building bridges with the Jewish people, this is one of the most exciting developments: The Jerusalem Channel is happy to announce that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Center for Jewish and Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) has launched a bold initiative calling for a day of praise around the world to acknowledge the great and mighty hand of the God of Israel in re-establishing the State of Israel after nearly 2,000 years of exile.
The bold new initiative coincides with Israel’s Independence Day on April 23. Specifically, the “Day to Praise” calls on Jews and Christians around the world to recite Psalms 113-118 in celebration of God’s covenantal love for the Jewish nation.
To this I say a hearty, Amen! The initiative comes at a time of great danger for both Jews and Christians in the Mideast as Islamic terrorists rage against “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.”
It is a terrible and deplorable irony that many Christian denominations are losing the plot and shockingly even becoming overtly anti-Semitic in boycotting the Jewish State, when, in fact, awareness should be at an apex of God’s miraculous restoration of Israel–especially after the horror of the Holocaust!
Now, amazingly, the CJCUC initiative will actually include Christians in the traditional Jewish praises to God for answering nearly two millennia of prayers!
The CJCUC launched the worldwide praise initiative as part of its larger mission to bridge the relationship between Jews and Christians.
“Day to Praise” was specifically chosen when Israel would be celebrating its 67th Independence Day, a day that represents a truly modern miracle.
The prayers selected for the “Day to Praise” initiative comprise what Orthodox Jews designate as the “Hallel” prayer. Included in the Hallel is Psalm 117, which directs the nations to praise God for his graciousness to all of humankind through his chosen nation.
This is profound: Psalm 117 calls upon the nations to praise the God of Israel for his covenantal love for Israel. This Psalm, shortest of all the Psalms, includes the command to praise the King for the past, present and future concerning Israel.
This indeed a mission that Israel must share with all nations and ethnics who revere the God of Israel.
“This is an opportunity that we have where the Jewish-Christian dynamic changed,” said Executive Director of the CJCUC, David Nekrutman. “Jews are inviting Christians to come and participate in a Jewish celebration, and not the other way around.”
The six Psalms of praise are “ideal passages to jump start a relationship between these two faiths,” Nekrutman added. “Jewish history has proven that these Psalms are used to describe extra ordinary acts by God for His people. From the times of the Exodus, the Psalms have been invoked. The Christians who have these Psalms in their Canon can also recognize them as Psalms of praise for God’s extraordinary acts.”
The CJCUC has consistently attempted to bridge the gap between Jews and Christians faiths. One of the characteristics of the organization, headed by Rabbi Riskin, who is Chief Rabbi of Efrat, is its appreciation for the “overwhelming and heavenly directed love and unity shown to Israel by Bible-believing Christians.”
“We Jews yearn to share and reciprocate on this great day made by the Lord as we rejoice and are glad, in God, together,” Nekrutman stated.
The CJCUC believes that Christians from around the world have demonstrated a true love and heart for Israel and the Jewish people. Even in the most desperate of times, especially during the last conflict filled year, Christians continued to visit the Holy Land and comfort Zion and her people with prayer, offerings and sincere fellowship.
Yes, indeed, during the Arab uprisings, our Exploits Ministry continued to bring groups and to hold conferences. We never stopped coming to Israel, even when many Jewish people were afraid to come. Before the security wall was built, we held our Fifth Passover Conference at the King David Hotel, despite the fact that suicide bombers were operating at that time in the Israeli capital.
Our ministry was also privileged a few years ago to visit Rabbi Riskin’s centre in Efrat. We were greeted with a warm reception and the most cordial welcome possible. We witnessed that it is indeed a new day for Jews and Christians to stand together.
Now the CJCUC wants to strengthen that relationship even further by officially bringing members of the two faiths together in praise and worship.
By initiating a worldwide prayer vigil, the CJCUC hopes to proclaim the theological and faith areas in which Jews and Christians agree and thereby cement a shared Scripture, faith, and callings.
The CJCUC invites people from all over the world to join together on the 23rd of April to praise and thank God for the gift of the State of Israel in our lifetime.
“O Praise the Lord all you nations; Praise Him, all you peoples. For his lovingkindness is great towards us; and the truth of the Lord endures forever, Hallelujah!” (Psalm 117:1-2)
The following commentary from the “Day to Praise” website:
Psalm 117 mandates the nations of the world to praise God for His covenantal love for Israel. It makes sense that the recipient of God’s loving-kindness should be the one to thank God. However, why does psalmist require the nations to praise God for what He has done for Jewry? The shortest of all the psalms is theologically one of the most profound for it includes the notion that the fullness of praising God for what He did and continues to do for Israel incorporates humanity to be involved in the practice of it. It also gives insight into the notion of blessing God for a miracle.
According to one Jewish commentator, there are two types of miracle blessings: thanksgiving and praise. The former is said by the beneficiary of the miracle itself. The latter is invoked when a person sees something awe-inspiring. Psalm 117 is dated by some in reference to the defeat of the Assyria Emperor in 2 Kings 19; a mighty and vicious dictator who murdered and exiled the populations of the countries that he conquered. Psalm 117 also has a prophetic voice that applies to our lives today – the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.
The Jewish people have been divorced from their land for nearly 2,000 years. During that time, the nation suffered immeasurable atrocities by the hand of other empires. It seemed that Jewish history was coming to an end when a third of its population was exterminated in the Holocaust. Then in one day a nation was reborn. No other explanation in the world can explain the phenomenon of Israel’s existence today except that God continues to be faithful to His covenantal promise made thousands of years ago to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God never repents of His gifts.
The miracle of Israel today should serve as an inspiration to other nations to bless the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob since they can fully comprehend His kindness to the Jewish nation. The nations of the world have the revealed and hidden historical record of what occurred in the past to eradicate God’s elect. They also know of what is presently transpiring to undermine its status today. Yet, through it all, the State of Israel continues to be a beacon of light to help the world in all areas of our daily living. God has always been with Israel and will continue to protect “the apple of His eye.” The existence of the State of Israel should serve as an inspiration for other nations to praise Him. It is our hope that one day the fullness of Psalm 117 will be witnessed in our lifetime. In the meantime, let us praise God together on Israel’s Independence Day through Psalms 113-118 and tell others about the importance of this day.