Discussion Focuses On Christian Support Of Israel
By Richard Friedman,
BJF-LJCC Executive Director
Monday morning, from 9-10 am, has become one of the most enjoyable hours of the week for me. That’s when we’ve been having our “Brain Pump” discussions in the senior adult lounge of our Levite Jewish Community Center.
These are small group information discussions focusing on contemporary Jewish issues. The participants have been Jewish and Christian which has created an enlightening diversity of viewpoints.
Brain Pump — a play on words from one of our most popular LJCC fitness courses, Body Pump — is a continuing education project co-sponsored by the LJCC and Birmingham Jewish Federation. In my role, as joint Executive Director of the BJF and LJCC, I’ve been facilitating the discussions but everyone jumps in and participates.
Our most recent session focused on Christian support for Israel, relations between Christians and Jews in general, and the positive revolution that has taken place in Christian-Jewish relations these past 30 years. We traced the evolution of what has come to be known as “Christian Zionism” — support for the state of Israel from Christians who see it as their Biblically-commanded duty to support Israel and the well-being of the Jewish people.
As a backdrop for the discussion, I used an article I wrote for the Times Of Israel website several years ago headlined, “‘Who’s afraid of Christian Zionism?’ Not me!” (See below link.)
It was interesting hearing everyone’s perspectives and questions, particularly the thoughts of the younger people in the group. They were not fully aware of the “way things used to be” — i.e. the significant gap between Jews and Christians stemming from centuries of anti-Semitism and a fear among Jews that the ultimate motive of Christians, particularly Evangelical Christians, was to convert Jews to Christianity.
Nonetheless, the older members of the group recounted such days and I traced the evolution that has taken place. Today, we see a Christian community — particularly the Evangelical community — that is highly respectful of Jews and our religion, concerned about anti-Semitism and very supportive of Israel. This evolution, which arguably is more of a revolution, has opened doors for both groups to embark on a two-way street characterized by greater understanding and a desire to get to know each other better and work together around common goals.
Israel’s viability and security can never be taken for granted. While it’s imperative that Jewish destiny remains in Jewish hands, the growing number of Christians who support Israel and who are willing to stand up against anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism (often the same thing) are valuable and much-appreciated allies.
Our next “Brain Pump” discussion will be 9-10 am Mon., July 9th at the LJCC. Space is limited to 15 participants. RSVP to LJCC staffer Priscilla Denard at firstname.lastname@example.org.