I have just returned from a two-week visit to the US which included participation in the annual CUFI Washington DC Summit. Headed up by Pastor John Hagee, CUFI is an American organization that unites Christians to stand with Israel. The annual conference includes a day and a half of sessions with interesting speakers about Israel and then the participants go to Capitol Hill where they meet with their elected representatives or their aides and encourage them to support Israel.
Over the years, CUFI has been effective in advancing pro-Israel agendas in Congress and the American administration but never as much in the past year. Two actions stand out in particular: the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the passing of the Taylor Force Act. Pastor John Hagee was a keynote speaker at the US Embassy dedication in May, highlighting his involvement in this historic move. The Taylor Force Act requires the US to reduce its funding of the Palestinian Authority in light of PA support of terrorists and their families. Taylor Force was a young American man who was murdered by terrorists while visiting Tel Aviv. His father spoke at the CUFI conference and I was moved to tears by his passion for Israel and his conviction that his son stood for the best of American and Christian values. Taylor Force must have been a very special person indeed.
I have attended the CUFI conference each year, almost from its inception; and yet, I never tire of the enthusiasm I encounter among its participants for Israel and for my people. Shmuel Junger, our new Development Director, joined me at CUFI for the first time and I so enjoyed watching his face at the Night to Honor Israel as he watched and absorbed the incredible love for Israel that was expressed that night. The highlight of the evening for me was Nicky Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations. Her clarity and simplicity, her deeply held convictions driven by a steady moral compass, are a welcome change from the empty rhetoric, not to mention downright hatred and anti-Semitism, so common at the UN. Haley is a valiant leader whom G-d has positioned in a terrible place at just the right time in history.
After leaving Washington DC, I traveled to Ohio where I was able to reconnect with long-time CFOIC Heartland friends and supporters in Chardon, OH. Then on to Boston, where I spoke in two different congregations that were totally new to me. Boston is a beautiful city, known for its top-level universities. And, indeed, most of the people I met in Boston were well-educated. Both pastors that I met with were immigrants to the US and were leading congregations where the majority were not native English speakers. Services are held in Spanish and Creole French respectively. In a city known for its liberalism, which often and unfortunately is associated with anti Israel sentiment, the people I met in Boston were warm and supportive of our work.
From Boston, I moved on to Texas where I had the opportunity to reconnect with long-time donors and supporters in Houston and Austin as well as to address three totally new audiences in Austin and Dallas. One of the meetings in the Austin area was hosted by a group called Kormim, a Christian group associated with Root Source, that is dedicated to introducing Christian audiences to Jewish Torah teachings. While I have often encountered Christians who are eager to hear my Bible teachings, in this case, I had been asked to dedicate my entire talk to an in-depth study of the Torah portion. There is nothing I like better than to teach Torah and it was, indeed, a fabulous experience.
Interestingly, it is this phenomenon of Christians seeking Jewish Bible teachings that is least known among Jews. Before leaving for the US, I spent the week at an annual Bible Seminar in Gush Etzion where thousands gather from all over Israel to hear Bible teachings from the best teachers in Israel. It is an amazing spiritual experience and one that I will not miss each year. While chatting with a friend during one of the breaks, I was introduced to a Jewish woman from Austin, Texas who had come to Israel specially to participate in the seminars. When she heard I was going to be in Austin two weeks later, she asked me what I was going to be doing there. I told her — teaching the Torah portion to Christians. She and the others in that little “coffee klatch” were shocked — it was a conversation stopper for sure.
The prophet Isaiah promised us some 2,500 years ago that “many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3) And he said further: “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)
From the four corners of the earth, the nations are seeking out Israel, eager to learn and understand G-d’s word as it emanates from Jerusalem. We are witness to the fulfillment of this prophecy. We are living in amazing times when the nations are seeking out the word of G-d from Jerusalem, asking the people of Israel to share the wisdom of centuries of intense Bible study. The very same nations who once sought to destroy G-d’s holy mountain are now seeking His word. Who would have thought? Who would have believed?