From Bill Sutter’s Desk Jan/Feb 2008
This year—2008—marks the 60th anniversary of the rebirth of the nation of Israel. On May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council assembled at the Tel Aviv Museum to approve the historic proclamation known as The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Throughout 2008 Jewish people around the world will celebrate what, for millennia, they never ceased to pray and hope for: their return to Israel and, as the Declaration states, “the restoration in it of their political freedom.”1
As Christians, we can express our support of the Jewish state by attending “Israel at 60” events being held by Jewish organizations worldwide to celebrate Israel’s history and culture. Many of the larger Jewish communities are scheduling activities each month throughout the year. Others are holding their events closer to the May 14 anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel.
Information can be found online by searching “Israel at 60,” as well as in Jewish-community newspapers and national publications. These events are usually open to the public, and there is sure to be a warm welcome for Christians who support Israel.
In recent years, more churches have expressed their friendship with the Jewish people by posting encouraging messages of support on their church signs, such as, “Happy Hanukkah to Our Jewish Friends” or “We Wish Our Jewish Friends a Happy Rosh Hashanah.”
Israel’s May 14 anniversary is a wonderful opportunity for the signs in front of our churches to proclaim, “We Salute Israel at 60.” Your suggestion to your pastor and/or church board may be all that’s needed.
Of course, there is no more tangible way to show support for the Jewish state than by visiting it. The Friends of Israel sponsors and cosponsors up to five trips annually to the land of the Bible. This land given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and his descendants through God’s “everlasting covenant” is steeped in historical and prophetic significance (Gen. 28:13; Ps. 105:10). Our tours include soul-stirring visits to ancient biblical sites, as well as lots of interaction with the people and places of modern Israel. Go to Israel, and you will never be the same.
Visiting a synagogue is another practical way we can demonstrate our friendship. Thomas C. Simcox, our Northeastern States director, does so with the students of our Institute of Jewish Studies. The Bible is a Jewish book, and Jesus worshiped in a synagogue. We suggest attending a Friday evening service. You may want to phone ahead for the time of the service and to explain that you are interested in visiting as a Christian friend of Israel.
Conservative dress is always in order. Men may pick up a kippah, a small skullcap, at the sanctuary entrance to show respect in the synagogue. Many Christians find it reasonably easy to follow the order of service because prayer books frequently have Hebrew on one page and the English translation on the adjoining page. Simply be respectful, and you will find the Jewish people warmly accepting of your presence.
One of our friends tells of his first visit to a synagogue. He introduced himself to the rabbi by saying he was a Christian interested in visiting the synagogue because Jesus worshiped in a synagogue, and he wanted to experience what Jesus experienced. The rabbi’s response was an enthusiastic, “Welcome!”
If you have further questions, I encourage you to contact Tom Simcox by email at TSimcox@foi.org, or by calling him here at The Friends of Israel and leaving a message with our North American Ministries secretary. Tom will be sure to get back to you.
I hope you understand the wonderful range of opportunities “Israel at 60” gives us as Christians to show our Jewish friends and neighbors our support and friendship. Don’t let Israel’s 60th anniversary pass without taking advantage of these open doors.
- “The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 14, 1948 <mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Declaration%20of%20Establishment%20of%20State%20of%20Israel>.