The First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel was Historic

Lori M. Sousa

“I believe that what we are doing during this 1st Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel is significant. I believe we are drawing a line in the sand in this hour that will effect the generations to come. We are remembering and renouncing the tragedy of the past, so that we can move forward with hope in a new way. We are choosing to take a stand, unifying our voices and sending a strong message to our community and our leaders. That message is that Israel is not alone- we are standing with Israel in our day and we will not be silent in word or in deed”

These are the words that Pastor Ron Domina, senior pastor of Bethel Christian Fellowship and NYS Director for Christians United for Israel (CUFI), spoke on Sunday, March 25th to a standing room only, cheering crowd of over 1,600 who came out in full force for the First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel. Domina concluded his open address by declaring, “Let it be known today that Rochester, NY is not neutral or silent when it comes to Israel. Rochester, NY is a city of Righteousness and will we will stand with Israel in her hour of need”.

In a first for the Rochester region, the Christian and Jewish communities of Rochester came together to pay tribute to the State of Israel and the Jewish people around the world. Under the leadership of Robert Stearns, Region 10 Director of CUFI, Pastor Ron Domina joined forces with 34 senior pastors form the Rochester Region, to host the First Annual Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel at Bethel Christian Fellowship. Close to 50 churches and ministries came together with members of the Jewish Community (including Larry Fine and Isobel Goldman from the Jewish Community Federation) filling the large sanctuary and a majority of a large overflow room of Bethel Christian Fellowship to capacity. The purpose in coming together was to give the Christian community an opportunity to demonstrate their love and support for Israel and the Jewish people around the world.

The evening began with the Presentation of the colors by the Jewish War Veterans comprised of World War II veterans followed by the signing of the “Hatikva” by Hazzan Martin Leubitz. Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Sholom opened the ceremony by giving the invocation.

Sharon Regev, Consul of Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York brought greetings on behalf of the State of Israel and spoke of the serious issues and threats that now face Israel. The event also drew support of local government officials. Present at the event were: Senator Joseph Robach, Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, Mayor Duffy’s Chief of Staff, Jean Howard, and County legislator, Willie Lightfoot. Maggie Brooks and Jean Howard read a joint proclamation issued by the Office of the County Executive and the Office of the Mayor stating, “We, Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive, and Robert J. Duffy, Mayor of the City of Rochester, do hereby proclaim Sunday, March 25, 2007 to be a Night to Honor Israel and encourage all citizens to recognize and celebrate Israel’s achievements.” NYS Governor Eliot Spitzer sent a letter of support and best wishes for the event to continue on an annual basis.

Those who were present enjoyed a spectacular musical presentation by Steve Harrow (founder of “Sing the Word®”) That had the crowd cheering, clapping, celebrating and singing words such as “Rejoice O Israel for the L-rd has made you His delight”

David Brog (Executive Director for CUFI) was the first keynote speaker at the event. Brog a Jewish man and former chief advisor to Senator Arlen Specter, recently authored a book entitled “Standing with Israel” in this book, Brog explores the motives and goals behind the increasingly powerful political movement of Christian Zionism. In the process of Brog’s exploration he became convinced that he was tapping into something far deeper than politics, Brog, came to believe that he was witnessing the birth pangs of a Christian/ Jewish reconciliation that has been over two millennia in the making. Brog compared the gathering of Christians and Jews to the reconciliation of Joseph to his elder brothers.

Robert Stearns (Executive Director for CUFI region 10 and Executive Director of Eagles Wings Ministry) sang an incredible rendition of “Jerusalem of Gold” and spoke of the reasons why Christians need to support Israel. Stearns also candidly and brilliantly addressed and discounted the common misconceptions about why Christians support Israel.

During the ceremony an offering was taken up to be given directly into a humanitarian need in Israel. The offering was a tangible demonstrate of support for Israel. The offering that was collected totaled $25,000.

The ceremony ended with a presentation from the Senior Pastors to the Jewish Community. The leaders made it clear that they believe this is a new day in history that needs to be commemorated and remembered. The Christian leaders presented the Jewish community with a document that demonstrates their commitment to stand with and support Israel and the Jewish people in her time of need. The document was signed by all the host senior pastors present.

Rabbi Kiliminck closed the service with a moving benediction saying that he wished that his grandmother were alive to see this day. Rabbi Kiliminck received a standing ovation when he said that the spirit of Esther was present in this gathering.

After the ceremony there was a VIP kosher dessert reception where people could process the historic night and get to know each other. During the reception most of the people talked about being totally overwhelmed by the ceremony as each community thank the other for making this night possible.

Under the leadership of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), there have been over 40 Nights to Honor Israel held in cities throughout the US since last year. CUFI was organized by Pastor John Hagee in February of 2006 and since that date, CUFI is emerging as one of the most important Christian grassroots organizations in America. CUFI is focused on one issue: supporting Israel. Although CUFI is only one year old, this organization is gaining the attention of US policy makers changing the nature of support for Israel in America. CUFI endeavors to educate and mobilize the Christian community in a variety of ways, one of the most important ways is by holding annual Nights to Honor Israel in communities throughout the country. As New York State Director for CUFI, Pastor Ron Domina took the initiative to host a Night to Honor Israel in Rochester.

Churches, ministries and organizations who were present for the Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel
The Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester, Bethel Christian Fellowship, Browncroft Community Church, Joy Community Church, Vanguard Christian Church, Henrietta Christian Fellowship, Faith Chapel of Churchville, New Life Fellowship, Caledonia Assembly of God, Shepherd’s Fold Church, New Hope Community Church, Zion Fellowship, Glad Tidings Church, United Christian Church, New Hope Fellowship, New Testament Christian Church, Destiny Christian Church, Harvest Christian Fellowship, City Church, Harvest International Family Church, Webster Christian Fellowship, Jubilee Christian Church, Shepherd’s Heart Christian Church, Lake Shore Community Church, The Equipping Center, Elim Gospel Church, Faith Temple Church, Amazing Grace Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc, The Good News Rochester, International Outreach Missions and Ministry, Gates of Zion Christian Fellowship, Bridge Builders Ministry, Army of God Ministries, Ebenezer Emergency Fund, Living Faith Ministries International, United States Global Apostolic Prayer Network of New York, Wagner Leadership Institute-Northeast, Bridges for Peace Northeast.
A Copy of the document that was signed and by the Host pastors and presented to the Jewish Community. Larry Fine, Isobel Goldman and Rabbi Kilimnick accepted the document on behalf of the Jewish Community,

The First Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel
March 25th, 2007

A Tribute to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people around the world

In Zachariah 8:23, The prophet of Israel declares, ‘This is what the L-rd Almighty says: ‘In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘let us go with you because we have heard that G-d is with you'”

On this twenty-fifth day of March, two thousand and seven, we, the Christian Community of Greater Rochester New York gather here to honor and to thank you and the rest of the Jewish community for your faithfulness and the faithfulness of the your forefathers to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We recognize that although the foundations of our nation, of Western civilization itself and of our own faith rest with your people and find root in the value system that came though Moses and the prophets, you as a people have rarely been thanked or honored for the contributions that you have made to human history. Today, we honor you for your perseverance throughout centuries of persecution and we acknowledge that through your people we have been blessed.

Today, we announce a new day in human history. A day in which we pledge to stand with you, in voice and in action, in unity and mutual respect, announcing to our community and the rest of the world that we are united in brotherhood.

We recognize that the existence of the State of Israel in her ancient homeland is a miracle that your prophets spoke of long ago. We recognize that your cry and prayer for peace and safety in your land, Today, we stand, herewith represented, with our families and children to offer encouragement in the present and hope for the future. We pledge to stand with you, pray with you, and work for this cause. Today we stand with tremendous gratitude and humbly say, “Les go with you, for we have heard and seen that G-D is with you.”

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