1,500 Gather for the Fifth Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel

Lori M. Sousa

Jewish Ledger — For the fifth straight year, the Christian Community in Greater Rochester came together to host the Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel (NTHI). This year close to 45 congregations throughout Rochester supported the event. An estimated 1,500 people filled Bethel Christian Fellowship to pay tribute to the State of Israel and Jewish people around the world. The event was attended by leaders of the local Jewish community and local representative such as New York State Senator Joseph Robach, Rochester Action Mayor R. Carlos Carballada, County Executive Maggie Brooks and Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel,

Pastor Ron Domina opened the gathering by emphasizing the importance of this year’s event. Domina said, “There has never been a more critical time to voice our support for Israel.” He underscored the growing instability in the Middle East stating “The existential threat that Israel faces intensifies daily. The State of Israel is surrounded by instable and often unfriendly neighbors, and as Americans who value freedom, life and liberty, our support for Israel must remain firm.” Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Shalom also addressed the audience saying that 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.”

A Night to Honor Israel (NTHI) is an initiative of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). One of the main objectives of CUFI is to hold annual Nights to Honor Israel in every major U.S. city. CUFI is focused on one issue: supporting Israel. Since CUFI’s inception in February 2006, tens of thousands of American Christians have participated in Night to Honor Israel events in over 150 cities across the United States. During these events millions of dollars have been donated to Israeli and Jewish charities.

Event organizer, Lori Sousa says that it is important for our community to come together every year to honor Israel, Sousa states, “We come together on an annual basis to celebrate a people who have rarely been honored for the vast contributions that they have made to human history. Throughout history Jewish generosity has been rewarded with persecution and oppression. Unfortunately, much of has been done at the hands of professing Christians. In our generation we endeavor to announce a new day in human history-a day where Christians stand with Jews declaring to the world that we are united in brotherhood.”

At this year’s event, the Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York, Shlomi Kofman brought greetings on behalf of the State of Israel and Irving Roth
(Holocaust Survivor, International Speaker, and Author) was the main keynote speaker. During the program, those in attendance were encouraged demonstrate their support for Israel by making a financial contribution. $17,161 was received in this year’s offering. Out of the money collected, a $5,000 State of Israel Bond was purchased and donated to the Hillel Community Day School. The remaining moneys will go to strengthen the work of CUFI on Campus in New York State, and a portion of the offering will also be donated to the Fogel Family Fund in Israel.

This year’s event emphasized the need to educate the youth-this generation of leaders who are emerging on our college campuses. David Walker (CUFI on Campus Eastern Coordinator) spoke about the vision of CUFI on Campus- “to develop politically minded student leaders who are equipped to become effective advocates for Israel on their college campus.” The first upstate New York chapter of CUFI on Campus was recently organized on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College. Sixteen students from this chapter were present at the event. Victor Styrsky, (Eastern Coordinator for CUFI) also encouraged everyone in attendance join the thousands of people who will travel Washington, D.C. this July to speak to elected officials about the importance of standing with Israel in this hour.

The event closed with a Pastor Domina standing with Rabbi Kilimnick as the Rabbi led the congregation in a prayer for Israel. Participants were also reminded to mark their calendar for the 2012 NTHI that is scheduled for March 25th. The event is held every year on the last Sunday in March except if it conflicts with a Jewish or Christian holiday. For more information about the Greater Rochester NTHI you may visit the website: http://www.nyscufi.org/nthi

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