Contact: CJCUC Media Division, 516-882-3220
EFRAT, Israel, June 28, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Thirty Christian Evangelical non-denominational leaders from four U.S. states were hosted by the senior staff of the Prime Minister's office last week, culminating a week-long intensive visit to Israel for the purpose of learning the fundamentals of Jewish-Christian relations. The group was sponsored by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) in Efrat and Earl Cox of Israel Always as part of the launch of their Goodwill Ambassador Initiative. "Our hope is to take what has been advanced on the theological level in the last five decades of the Jewish-Christian dialogue and provide a model for Christian leaders and pastors to properly engage with the local Jewish community in the United States," Riskin said.
Among the guest lecturers of the Goodwill Ambassador Initiative included Dr. Brad Young of Oral Roberts University, Dr. John Garr of the Hebraic Heritage Christian Center, Becky Brimmer of Bridges for Peace, David Parsons of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, Pastor Steven Khoury of Calvary Church in Jerusalem, CJCUC's Executive Director David Nekrutman, Operation Lifeshield Director Rabbi Shmuel Bowman as well as Dr. Faydra Shapiro of the Selah Workshop and Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee. "Both the Jewish and Evangelical Christian communities are still essentially strangers to each other even though there have been sporadic joint activities bringing the two faith communities together," remarked Cox. He added, "The scholars and educators that were part of this trip provided insights on how to break down the wall that exists between our two communities and suggested ways to develop a common understanding of each other's faith and religious practices. The group also discussed how ancient as well as recent history has colored the way we view one another and created suspicion within the Jewish community as to the reason Christians are now stepping out in great numbers in support of Israel."
Responding to the positive impact of the trip, Pastor Scott Smith of Hickory Flat Fellowship in Georgia said, "What was accomplished this week was truly historical and I am so privileged to be a part of it. The idea of building bridges between our faith communities is an ideal that is greater than us and all we can hope is that we can serve this vision with integrity, respect and in fellowship with one another."
Established in 2008, CJCUC is the first Orthodox Jewish center in Israel to religiously dialogue with the Christian world, hosting over 20,000 Christians in Israel alone and have sent rabbis, educators and scholars around the world to build relations with the Christian community. For nearly 12 years, Israel Always has been working to build bridges between Christian and Jewish communities and has provided financial support for a wide variety of humanitarian aid projects such as the placement of lifesaving bomb shelters throughout areas of need in southern Israel.