Unique collaboration between Jews and Christians at Pro-Israel event

by | May 3, 2013 | Featured

Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg

Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg

Members of the Jewish and Christian communities shared a special night honoring Israel, and one another, at Virginia Beach’s Rock Church on April 23.

Organizations representing the two communities, including Christians United for Israel, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Rock Church International and the Christian Broadcasting Network, sponsored and presented A Night to Honor Israel.

More than 1,200 people attended the event, designed to demonstrate shared support of Israel and to strengthen the bonds of friendship, understanding and respect between Jews and Christians. The Community Relations Council of the UJFT took the lead in coordinating the Jewish community’s involvement in the celebration. A kosher VIP reception, catered by the Sandler Family Campus culinary staff, was held before the program began.

“We hold 40 or 50 of these Nights to Honor Israel every month, across the nation,” says David Brog, the Jewish executive director of Christians United for Israel. “Typically, we reach out to the Federations in the communities where the events are and they will advertise for us and community members will attend, but it is very unique to have a Federation agree to partner with us and be a co-sponsor.

“This unique gathering shows a real and high level of partnership and coordination in this community, and lets us stand together and honor the faith of each other as we pray for the peace of Israel,” Brog says.

The program opened with Hebrew Academy of Tidewater student Elizabeth Hughes singing Jerusalem of Gold, accompanied by Ohef Sholom Cantor Wally Schachet-Briskin. Other community members who spoke, led songs and prayers—and played the shofar—during the evening were: Rabbis Rosalin Mandelberg and Israel Zoberman, Schachet-Briskin, Heath Losick of Kempsville Conservative Synagogue, Marty Einhorn of Ohef Sholom Temple and UJFT president Alvin Wall.

“This is one of the highlights of my term and it is with great pleasure and tremendous pride that I thank you for inviting us to join in this celebration,” Wall says. “We must serve as an advocate of Israel—the people, the land, and the nation.”

Christian leaders participating in the event included Michael Little, president and CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pastor John Blanchard and Bishop Anne Gimenez of Rock Church International, Pastor Victor Styrsky, Maxanne Taverniti, Jessica Marzucco and Brog of CUFI, and a special appearance by Pat Robertson, founder and chair of CBN.

Adult and children’s choirs from Rock Church, and specially choreographed dances from the passionate dancers of the Academie de Ballet and Dance Centre complemented the program. To see more photos from this event, “Like” JewishNewsVa on Facebook.

article and photos by Laine Mednick Rutherford