The Democrat and Chronicle — Jews and Christians from across the Rochester area stood together at Bethel Christian Fellowship Sunday evening in support of the Israeli State and in defiance of anti-Semitism around the world.
This was the fifth year for the Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel, an event similar to those in more than 150 cities across the United States sponsored by Christians United for Israel.
But to the estimated 1,500 people in attendance in Rochester Sunday, the message of support for the Israeli State in light of growing unrest in the Middle East never seemed so loud.
“Today when anti-Semitism is on the rise and we see the growing instability in the Middle East there is a threat that faces Israel that intensifies on a daily basis,” Pastor Ronald Domina, senior pastor of Bethel Christian Fellowship, told the audience. “They are surrounded by unfriendly and often dangerous neighbors and as Americans who value freedom, life and liberty our support must remain firm.”
The night was opened with the singing of the National Anthem and the National Anthem of Israel, Hatikva. It was attended by leaders of the local Jewish community and local leaders such as Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, Rochester’s Acting Mayor Carlos Carballada, Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel and State Sen. Joseph Robach.
The event was also supported by 45 local churches and ministries across the Rochester area. Since 2007, the effort has raised nearly $85,000 for humanitarian needs in Israel.
Lori Sousa, a member of Bethel Christian Fellowship and the event organizer, said Christians and Jews have many values in common. But they also have an intertwined history that has shown everything but a harmonious past.
“The root of some of the worst atrocities done to Jews was at the hands of Christians; most Christians do not realize that,” she said. “People that understand history do, and so the idea is that in the face of anti-Semitism…our message is that in this day Christians are going to stand with Jews.”
Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick, of Congregation Beth Shalom of Rochester, told the audience that he has become close friends with Rev. Domina and helped guild a pilgrimage to Israel by members of Bethel. He said Israel needs the united support of Christians and Jews around the world now more than ever.
“We are together united, Christians and Jews, for the support of Israel and State of Israel,” he said.
“This is our time to honor Israel and by doing so we acknowledge the truth of survival and by doing so, Christian and Jew together, our creator looks down from his holy throne and smiles.”
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