(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sir, – I was saddened to read “Chief rabbis call to ban Christian prayer service close to Temple Mount” (October 1). Instead of publicly embarrassing the ICEJ, our rabbinic leadership should publicly thank Israel’s greatest friends for their long record of non-proselytizing support for the Jewish people through their annual Feast of Tabernacles.
The ICEJ is the kind of organization that the Jewish people throughout history could have never imagined, whose sole mission is to “stand with Israel in support and friendship.” It is especially disheartening that our rabbinic leadership would chose to insult it on the cusp of its large-scale annual event rather than join arms in celebrating the Prophet Zecharia’s vision (14:16), which is at the heart of the prayer service in question: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
How can we complain against the Wakf Islamic religious trust’s ban on Jewish prayer services on the Temple Mount while at the same time calling for a ban of respectful Christian prayer? Certainly the chief rabbis each morning in their Slihot prayers ask God to restore our “House of prayer for all nations.”
They should use their unique leadership positions by partnering with the ICEJ and welcoming thousands of pro-Israel Christian Zionists to Jerusalem.
The writer is a rabbi and founder of Israel365, a project promoting the “beauty and religious significance of Israel”
Sir, – I am afraid our chief rabbis are right. Classical Judaism simply cannot approve of the proposed ecumenical gathering. Since the age of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned from exile and were aghast at the number of intermarriages, mixing religions has never been a good thing for our people.
For sure, those at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem are ardent backers of Israel and they express this in the welcome and praiseworthy evangelical, pro-Israel style we have become grateful for. But the ICEJ does remain a religious, Christian organization whose staffers would like nothing better than to see Jews apostatize and convert to Christianity.
I know this because some years ago I was presented with Christian material by one of the ICEJ’s top people after a pleasant interview of me on the group’s radio broadcast. There was an essay in religious philosophy that began with quotes from the Hebrew Bible but then brought in quotes from the Greek-language books that Christians add to it, which sort of shocked me. The general tone implied that the two “testaments” were of equal authority and worth, and deserving of equal respect for their religious truths.
Proselytizing Jews in this country is illegal. I was neither harassed nor brow-beaten, but it was an attempt nonetheless in the direction of making me more respectful of Christianity’s seminal Greek writing.
It cannot be denied that the ICEJ would like nothing better than to see more Jews abandon their Jewishness and become Christians.
I was also told that much of its funding comes from Norway, a stand-out country for its hostility to the world’s only Jewish state.
For sure, the ICEJ is not like that on the surface; it means us well every day, unlike so many Norwegians.
But who knows? I have no problem with the ICEJ’s Christians praying to their hearts’ content outside the walls of the Temple Mount, but as for that friendly event of mixing the two religious groups, the chief rabbis are right.