Israel must prioritize outreach to Christians

After October 7, the strong and unwavering support of Evangelical Christians for Israel and the Jewish people is more crucial than ever – and both Christian and Jewish leaders need to work closely together so that this support continues to exist and grow, an Evangelical leader and a rabbi argued.

Joel C. Rosenberg, founder and editor-in-chief of All Israel News and Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder of Israel365, made the case for these considerations while speaking at the Jerusalem Post event “The Second Front – The battle for Israel and the Jewish people.”

All Israel News Founder and Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg with Maayan Hoffman (Credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

“When I was the rabbi of a synagogue in Columbus, there was not a single individual in the system of the Federation of Jewish Communities who had a meaningful relationship with the over 1,000 pro-Israel Churches of Central Ohio,” Weisz said.

Since then, Weisz moved to Israel and started Israel365, an organization devoted to offering Christians in America and worldwide the opportunity to connect with Israel through different channels.

“The war really demonstrates that we are in a crisis and emphasizes how important it is that we reach out to Christians,” he said. “If we do not do it, we are in big trouble – and America is in big trouble.”

In order to understand the dangers for America and the world, Weisz warned that Christians should pay attention to the message antisemites are sending and understand that Israel is fighting for the sake of civilization.

“For the very first time, the antisemites are not only attacking the Jews, they’re also attacking the Christians,” he said. “They are calling for a jihad against Jews and Christians. They are saying, ‘First the Shabbat people, then the Sunday people.’”

While tens of millions of Christians in the United States and around the world are indeed supporting Israel, recent polls have shown that this sentiment is declining, especially among young Evangelicals. According to Rosenberg, whose news outlet covers Israel news from a Christian perspective and caters to Evangelical readers, this phenomenon also needs to be addressed.

“We need to educate Christian young people about biblical history, as well as Jewish history even outside of the Bible,” he said.

Pastors who only teach the New Testament and fail to teach the Hebrew Scriptures — what Christians call the Old Testament — are failing to teach older and younger Christians the history of God’s deep love and important plan for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the nation of Israel, and the entire Jewish people, Rosenberg noted.

But this Biblical history is critical for every Christian in the 21st century to know and embrace, he explained.

What’s more, Christians need to be proactive in showing their love for — and solidarity with — Israel and the Jewish community, Rosenberg urged.

“Evangelical pastors in the United States, Canada and around the world need to reach out to rabbis and Jewish leaders and invite them to sit together,” he said. “Yes, there is going to be a fundamental disagreement about whether Jesus is the Messiah and that’s not unimportant, but we can understand that we don’t agree about it and we can still stand together.”

Many early 20th-century persecutors of Jews were “Christians in name only.”

Rosenberg said that many of those who persecuted Jews during the first half of the 20th century were “Christians in name only.”

“Hitler hated Christians,” he said. “At the same time, it would be hard to make the case to the Jewish people that Christians were not involved in their persecution. However, people who actually read and believe in the New Testament cannot be antisemitic. Jesus was Jewish, his disciples were Jewish; they were devout Israelis following the Torah. This is why it is crucial for people to read the Bible themselves and not just rely on a priest.”

As Israel continues to grapple with the war, Rosenberg emphasized the importance of praying for the country, also expressing some surprise at the fact that Jewish leaders have not made a similar appeal.

“The fact that the chief rabbis have not called for a national day of prayer and fasting for most Evangelicals is curious, but we don’t mean it as a criticism: just as a concern,” he said.

“We are passionate about prayer,” Rosenberg said. “We need to plead for God’s help. Not because we don’t trust the IDF but because the IDF alone, according to the Bible, isn’t enough.”

“I don’t agree with the undertones that Israel is not turning towards God,” Weisz replied. “We are seeing an unprecedented religious revival in Israel right now.”

“On the other hand, I do agree that it would be nice if the government took a more active role in the religious revival,” he said. “But we have to remember that we have a secular government, and the people are more religious and more spiritual. And I think that when the dust settles, there will be a government that does look more religious, embraces the God of Israel, and is more faithful to the words in the Bible.”

To watch the full program, click here >>

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