A document of principles regarding the acceptance of monetary and manpower assistance from Christian organizations or individuals has been formulated by the Committee of Binyamin Region Rabbis. Members of the committee include Rabbis Yechezkiel Kupfeld, Jonathan Blass, Elchanan Bin Nun, Ben Zion Amar, and Yair Frank.
The halachic document which can be read in full in Hebrew is addressed to the residents, rabbis, and community activists and leaders of Judea and Samaria. In addition, it has been disseminated to rabbis throughout Israel.
JewishIsrael is not going to attempt to translate such a scrupulous document, but it should be reviewed by any Jew in Israel who is involved in any way with Christian sources. It is very thorough, clear, and addresses many of the concerns which JewishIsrael has brought to the attention of the public over the years.
Shiloh’s Rav Elchanan Bin Nun, an initiator of the rabbinic committee, passed the document to JewishIsrael and thanked us for providing a significant amount of information, documentation and facts which helped the committee formulate their policy. Apart from our web presence, JewishIsrael regularly meets with rabbinic and community leaders to assess them of the facts on the ground in Israel.
The policy paper was drafted after a number of leading rabbis studied the issues at hand and were consulted by the Binyamin rabbinic committee. The following is a list of some of the rabbis who were involved in this endeavor and who have endorsed the document:
Rav Shlomo Aviner, Rav Yaacov Ariel, Rav Chaim Druckman, Rav Tzfanya Drori, Rav Dov Lior, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rav Zalman Melamed, Rav Gidon Perl.
The comprehensive and carefully worded document cites a wealth of traditional and more recent rabbinic sources, including the opinions of the late rabbinical leaders Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu.
The tremendous influx of monetary and voluntary support emanating from gentile sources convinced the rabbis to present a much needed and clear halachic response with which to guide the Jewish community in Israel. The scope of the rabbinic treatise goes beyond the questions of accepting monetary and hands-on assistance from gentile sources. Very sensitive prohibitions with regards to avodah zarah, empowering Christianity, participation in Jewish-Christian gatherings, expressing admiration for Christian belief, and expressing gratitude are addressed in an unequivocal manner by the committee. The rabbis involved express great concern about the blurring of the line between Christianity and the Jewish faith, the dangers of strengthening Christianity in Eretz Yisrael, and problems inherent in becoming dependent on Christian sources.
Not everything is couched in the form of a prohibition, and the document places a great emphasis on the concept of respect. For example, a clear distinction is drawn between the problem of accepting a donation as "Tzedakah (charity) for the poor" in Israel, as opposed to accepting a gift given out of respect for the Jewish people and their Jewish goals and objectives in Eretz Yisrael.
The document urges leaders and community activists to act in accordance with halacha but to proceed with dignity, respect and tact, and to take care as to not offend gentiles who are true friends of Israel.
Activists and community leaders are especially urged to ask themselves the following before considering whether or not to accept assistance from gentile sources:
1) Is accepting a given donation or voluntary help going to blur lines between Judaism and Christianity?
2) Is accepting a given donation or voluntary help going to cause admiration for the Christian faith or will it empower Christianity in Israel?
3) Is accepting a given donation or voluntary help going to assist - even indirectly - missionary activity in Israel?
There is an internal committee of English-speaking rabbis which has been organized for the purpose of approving or disapproving donations from a given Christian source, based on information the committee receives from experts in the field. Rabbi Jonathan Blass of Neve Aliza, Rabbi Eliyakim Krumbein of Alon Shvut and Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes of Mercaz HaRav head this committee.
JewishIsrael is proud and pleased to have contributed to this much needed endeavor. We are relieved that informed and competent rabbinic leaders in both Israel and the Diaspora have become aware of the magnitude of the problem and have begun to initiate thoughtful solutions.