Reflections on the First Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel

Daphne Zilber- StandWithUs WNY and Ontario Coordinator

April 6, 2007 — There are rare moments in life, when our hearts is truly fulfilled with happiness and we are proud of our heritage, culture and values. A moment just like that happened to me and many other Jews that attended the ‘Night to Honor Israel’ in Rochester, NY on March 25th 2007.

Organized by Christian Congregations, CUFI (Christians United for Israel), Eagles’ Wings and many more, this night was a magical experience and a wonderful success. With nearly 1,800 people in the audience and great speakers and performers, we could all sense the honest support these people have for Israel.

Pastor Ron Domina from Rochester did a fantastic job hosting the event and read a meaningful speech, emphasizing the connection between Christians and Jews today, reminding everyone that the basis of Christianity relies on Judaism. He called out for every Christian to go back to their roots and to support Israel.

Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick from Congregation Beth-Shalom of Rochester also spoke about the importance of supporting Israel at times like this, when there is a true threat to its existence.

David Brog, the executive director for Christians United for Israel was another keynote speaker at the event. He mentioned how important it is to build bridges between the Jewish and Christian communities and let go of the past. After hundreds of years of persecution he says, there is a new Christian generation that values the Jewish roots of Christianity and believes with all its heart that it is crucial to be there for Israel.

Representing the Israeli Consulate of New York was Sharon Regev, the Consul for Public Affairs. She made a great speech as well, thanking the Rochester community for their wonderful support. Regev is new to her position and was very excited to be working with the Jewish and Christian communities of Upstate New York.

The highlight of the night was when Robert Stearns, the leader of Eagles’ Wings, sang ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ in perfect Hebrew. ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ was written after the establishment of Israel, when Jews were not permitted to visit the Western Wall. The song talks about the yearning of the Jews to go back to that ancient Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and pray at the Kotel. After the Six Day War in 1967, when the old city was under Jewish control again, another verse was added to the song, telling how the Jews were finally going back to the old wells and squares.

As an eighth generation Israeli, witnessing this tremendous show of support for my home country, I was left speechless. It is not everyday that you see almost two thousand people, most of them Christians, singing, cheering, clapping and praying for Israel and peace.

Having gone through quite a few Anti-Semitic incidents at the University at Buffalo and seeing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel speakers flooding the campus with hate speech, it was shocking to see such level of love and true hope for peace. This evening proved that there is another voice out there that does support human rights, mutual understanding and coexistence. It truly exists and it is loud and clear. It is important that we, as the Jewish Community embrace that voice and work together for a better future.

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