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April 24, 2008 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-04-24

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[ JN Thoughts


Israelis' Robust Faith n God

I Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg

"We are believers, sons
of believers:' they sang
recently returned from the Jewish
and danced, "and we
Learning Institute's Mission to Israel.
have no one to rely on
The goal was to expose participants
other than our Father in
to our biblical connection to Israel, and its
spirituality and holiness. Seven Detroiters
Their songs reflected
joined 250 participants from 25 Chabad
their belief in the eternity
Houses throughout the world, including
of Israel, and their faith in
Australia, Brazil, Finland and Germany
the God of Israel. A good
as well as Memphis, Albuquerque,
50 percent of these young
Montreal and more. It was a group that
men wore kippot. When
included Jews of all levels of obser-
we asked them if they
Left: Rabbi Silberberg, right, with Aviv Hamburger of West Bloomfield, a board member of Bais Chabad
like to put on tefil-
of West Bloomfield and now a member of the Israeli Defense Forces as an elite paratrooper.
What impressed me most on the trip
80 percent told
Right: Rabbi Silberberg with Ilan Buckman of West Bloomfield, a sharpshooter with the IDF stationed
was the resilience and unshakable faith in Chevron.
us that they had already
in the Almighty evinced by our Israeli
done so that morning!
Contrary to talk about
• In Tzfat (Safed) in northern Israel, I
the inhabitants that ours was a historic
ers.) In Chevron, we met up with Ilan
the demoralization of the IDF, we saw a
met my former student Hershel (Blake)
visit: Almost no American Jewish orga-
Buckman (son of Rabbi Lee Buckman of
spirited and confident group of young
Robinson of Bloomfield Hills. Hershel
nizations that visit Israel cross-the Green
West Bloomfield), a sharpshooter in the
men, proud defenders of the Holy Land.
recently bought a house in Tzfat; he told
Line. The Jews in Chevron recognize that
Israel Defense Forces.
Eight days of non-stop touring, Torah
me that the cost of housing has risen sig-
if we cannot live side-by-side with Arab
• The highlight of our trip was a visit to study, and meetings had a major impact
nificantly in the last few years because of
neighbors, we will never be able to live
an elite paratrooper base in the Negev —
on almost all the participants; for many it
high demand — notwithstanding the fact in peace in Israel. A two-state solution is
where we met Aviv Hamburger, a member was a life-changing experience. The exhil-
that in 2006 Tzfat was shelled relentlessly
not a solution if the sides cannot co-exist
of our Bais Chabad Board of Directors,
aration and inspiration that we gained
by Hezbollah during the Lebanon War.
peacefully in one city. Chevron is rela-
currently in training.
from our visit will surely last well beyond
Although Hezbollah remains a real and
tively quiet due to the Israeli soldiers who
We danced for over an hour with 200
Israel's 60th birthday! ❑
serious threat, these Jews put their abso-
patrol the city and who mingle freely with young men who were training there. We
lute trust in the Almighty and will not be
Jews and Arabs. (This actually enables
inspired them with chasidic music and
Rabbi Silberberg is spiritual leader of the Sara
scared away.
them to receive valuable information
dancing — but we were more inspired by
Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center in West
• In Chevron (Hebron), we were told by
about terror activity from Arab inform-


Reject Yoffie, Embrace Christian Zionists



abbi Eric Yoffie doesn't like
Pastor John Hagee. That is clear
after the president of the Union
for Reform Judaism blasted the founder
of Christians United for Israel specifi-
cally and Christian Zionists generally
April 2.
That much of his speech at the Central
Conference of American Rabbis conven-
tion in Cincinnati was unsurprising.
Yoffie has long tried to drive a wedge
between Christian Zionists and at least
Reform Jews, if not all American Jews. At
the Reform biennial in Houston in 2005,
he spent a portion of his State of the
Movement sermon decrying the politi-
cal ascendancy of the religious right and
reminding the world that the left has its
religiously motivated activists as well,
led by the Reform movement's Religious
Action Center.

Having watched Christian Zionists draw
ever closer to the Jewish community in
the past two years, Yoffie tried a differ-
ent tactic. The problem with befriending
Christian Zionists, he argued in
Cincinnati, isn't their political
positions, as repugnant as they
may be, but their nasty com-
ments about other religions and
their wrongheaded positions on
the peace process.
Yoffie's argument for spurn-
ing the friendship offered by
Christian Zionists and for avoid-
ing Hagee's Nights to Honor
Israel is laughable. -It's hard to
take seriously the Reform leader's
distinction between engagement and
dialogue, which he supports with Muslim
groups that don't like Israel or Jews, and
friendship and alliance, which he opposes
with Christian Zionists.
What is the point of dialogue if not

ultimately to build friendship? As a tiny
minority in this world, what is more valu-
able to us — an alliance with people who
seek atonement for the anti-Semitic sins
of their ancestors, or a dead-
end conversation with people
who will not condemn the
terrorist actions of their co-
Just to be clear, the mem-
bers of Christians United
for Israel, Israel Always
and other Christian Zionist
groups are not motivated by
a desire to convert Jews or
to bring about the messianic
They are fervent supporters of Israel
— the state and the people — because
Genesis tells them to be.
Unlike Yoffie, I have attended three
Nights to Honor Israel in Cobb County.
Hagee spoke via a recorded message in

2007 and in person this year. He did not
say one word disparaging Catholics or
Muslims. He warned the crowd to be
vigilant against radical Islam and the
expansionist exploits of Iran, as well he
(Speaking of Catholics, it's a common
point of theology along the Protestant-
Catholic divide to see the people on the
other side of that schism as doomed
to hellfire. I'm sure Hagee believes that
Catholics have strayed from the true
church, just as I'm sure believing Catholics
see Hagee the same way. That doesn't
mean either side condones applying God's
justice in this world; the Christians had
more than enough of that during the vio-
lence that tore Europe in the 16th, 17th
and 18th centuries.)
Hagee spoke with passion and self-dep-
recating humor, and he left no doubt that
he and the millions of Americans who
back him will never stop doing all they

Embrace Zionists on page A51


April 24 2008


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