[UPDATE, 2011/08/23: Jewish Israel has received confirmation from the Office of the Chief Rabbinate that Rabbi Metzger will not be attending the 8/24 event. In addition, we received an inquiry from the office of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, which implied that the Rabbi Rabinovitch is unaware that his name is listed on Glenn Beck's website as one of the anticipated distinguished attendees. Jewish Israel will keep our readership posted of any additional updates.]
Jewish Israel has been closely monitoring Glenn Beck's activities in Israel. We expressed our concerns and hopes by letter to both Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovtich. Both of these rabbinic figures plan on attending Glenn Beck's "Restoring Courage" rally on August 24. The letter, which can be read in both Hebrew and English, was also copied to a number of other rabbinic leaders prior to yesterday's Christian event in Caesarea.
We believe Jewish Israel's efforts over the years have borne fruit. The event in Caesarea was far more dignified and reserved than many of the other mega-Christian events that have been held in Israel in recent years.
It remains problematic that missionary figures like Mike Evans (of Jews for Jesus fame) was given the stage and that TBN, an overt missionary network which actively targets Jews in Israel, was given the rights to broadcast Beck's event.
We asked a former active evangelical missionary, who has since converted to Judaism, to view yesterday's event in Caesarea with us and to give us her impressions:
"Overall I felt the event was harmless, and greatly subdued considering all the Christian hype it was given over the past weeks on the Glenn Beck show.
The speakers seemed to be very careful, and put a great deal of effort into their wording and the subjects. Kudos for that effort! There was no reference to Ruth or Esther, as was made many times over the past months. "
"Every place you would expect a Christian to say "jesus", they seemed to have learned to replace that terminology with a less offensive "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob", although it did slip a couple of times with a "King of Kings" title."
[Jewish Israel comments: "King of Kings" is a name for jesus in Christian scripture. Jews should also be aware that when Christians refer to the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" they do mean jesus (see John 8:58 for an example).]
"There were a lot of mentions of the Apostle Paul because of the place in history of the New Testament. Paul is someone Christians place a great deal of faith and respect in... the founder of Christianity. They are likely unaware of how much the Jews detest him."
"The main statements of concern echoed throughout the evening. David Brog stated it best in his pre-show interview, when he described evil, and that evil can only be overcome IF we stand together, and described events like tonight as WHY Israel will survive. This view that we NEED the Christians is what is most disturbing about the interfaith relationships that are being built today. Our leaders are putting their trust in the Christians to save us, crossing halachic lines to make and keep them, and I fear this will lead to only more hardships for the Jews. Jews are commanded to trust in God alone, and when we don't, he has a harsh way of waking us up to whose really holding the strings.
I would be much more open to this "unification", if I didn't know the 'salvation' agenda behind the Christian love, the end times scenario they hope to play out, and if Christians and Jews could both agree that Israel will survive with or without the gentiles coming to their rescue.
Glenn Beck said it best when he introduced Rabbi Riskin, that loving Israel means loving the Jewish people "AS THEY ARE".
[Jewish Israel comments : Rabbi Riskin gave a fiery presentation for his Christian audience, but he too avoided his customary references to a covenantal relationship between Jews and Christians, to messianism , to the concept of grafting, or to the new testament]
While Jewish Israel welcomes the positive change and more sensitive direction of Mr. Beck's presentation, this was, nevertheless, a Christian event and attending such events poses certain halachic problems. We leave those matters to the rabbis.
JI posts on Glenn Beck: