At their recent annual Dinner in New York, Ohr Torah Stone paid tribute to Pastor John Hagee and his wife, Diana, for their unwavering commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. “Like the Maccabees of old and Watchman on the Wall mentioned in the Book of Psalms, you are never silent, day or night, for the sake of the nation state of Israel,” Rabbi Riskin said when presenting the couple with the organization’s “Defender of Israel” award.
Four years ago, Ohr Torah Stone opened the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) to begin unprecedented dialogue between the Orthodox Jewish world and Christian communities worldwide. “I thank you, Rabbi Riskin, for your courage for building the foundations for Jewish-Christian understanding – for if there was any time that the State of Israel needed to hear from its [Christian] friends clearly, loudly and with a unified voice, it’s right now,” Pastor John Hagee remarked.
In commenting about the significance of a religious Jewish institution honoring Pastor Hagee, Jewish philanthropist and Ohr Torah Stone honoree Michael Epstein said “this gives us an opportunity to learn more from Pastor Hagee and the Evangelical world about their desire to reach out to the Jewish community in friendship without ulterior motive.” He added “Our skepticism about this friendship is understandable based upon past history of the pogroms, the Inquisition and the Holocaust, but we have seen many in the Christian world stand with us today based upon a biblical commitment of Genesis 12:3 – I will bless those who bless you.”
“More than our concern for the well-being of the State of Israel, what binds both faith communities together is our common belief in our shared scripture,” said Roger Hertog, CJCUC supporter and Master Ceremonies of the event. Rabbi Riskin echoed the same sentiment and said “the twin message of democracy and freedom emanates from our Bible is being muted by the world that is already forgotten about the Holocaust. For the first time in history, Christians are extending a hand of friendship and standing with Israel, there is no more important Jewish task then to nurture our partnership with them to bring back to the world that there is a God of love and peace.”