Diana Hagee (left) and Pastor John Hagee (center) at Congregation Rodfei Shalom). (Credit: Jonathan Feldstein)
In an unprecedented event, hundreds from San Antonio’s Jewish community, joined by Jewish leaders from throughout the US and Israel, celebrated and expressed appreciation for the past four decades of Pastor John and Diana Hagee’s ardent support for the state of Israel.
Arguably, this is the first time any Jewish community came together to express true respect and appreciation for a Christian leader. This was not just a once-in-a-generation event, it’s the first in any generation.
Congregation Rodfei Sholom was transformed into the most magnificent ballroom, equal to those of top hotels in New York or Los Angeles, which host magnificent events regularly. Catering a kosher meal of this caliber for some 500 people in a community far from the major hubs of Jewish life in America is also no simple feat, but was spectacular. The gourmet food was served in Texas sized portions and complemented by fine Israeli wines, setting a special atmosphere.
The event was historic for another reason. Pastor John and Diana Hagee have dedicated most of their lives to make support for Israel central for themselves, their ministry, and establishing that as a pillar of what it means to be a Christian. There are many ministries that are pro-Israel and lend their support and raise money for Israel. Some have been in existence for decades longer than that of Hagee Ministries’. However, Hagee Ministries is unique in its raising and disbursing over $100 million to various Israeli causes.
In addition, the Hagees made recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a centerpiece of its mission and were recognized for doing so, perhaps more than any other Christian leaders in the world. Pastor Hagee was recognized for this contribution by being asked to give a benediction at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018.
Introducing one another at the outset of the formal program, Pastor Matthew Hagee and Rabbi Avraham Scheinberg brought the importance of the relationship established between their respective fathers to a new generation, in the presence of their children, a third generation. Through a video presentation and in their respective remarks, Pastor John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg related the genesis of their relationship, how a friendship evolved to which they feel like brothers. This was echoed in Pastor Matt’s comment about having an Orthodox Jewish rabbi as an uncle.
As Rabbi Avraham introduced Pastor Matt, the symbolism of continuing of a relationship that grew into a close friendship of their fathers was vivid. The verse from Psalm 133 that’s sung in Hebrew epitomized the event, and this special relationship. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Among the dignitaries, Israel’s Consul General Gilad Katz recited a blessing that he noted he’s never had the occasion to say before. This is typically said upon seeing a king, president, or prime minister and acknowledges God for “giving wisdom to flesh and blood.”
Many others expressed their appreciation long distance. Governor Greg Abbot and Senator Lindsey Graham sent their greetings by video, as did representatives from several the organizations in Israel that Hagee ministries has supported over the past decades. This was the tip of the iceberg; the recognition could go on for days.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton noted that one of the things that the Hagees deserve credit for, when pursuing a plan that’s divine, it also requires hard work and the Hagees did just that. Celebrating them, he blessed them that they could now sit back and watch God’s work because while the actions were those of the Hagees, “ultimately it is His plan, His work.”
Echoing this, Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations noted that “When we follow our hearts like the Hagees taught us, we know God will do his part.”
Hoenlein used a biblical example to underscore how important the Hagees’ work has been. He spoke of the spies that Moses sent to scout out the Land and noted, “Today, few can name the ten spies who came back with a negative report, but everybody can remember the name of the two spies who came back with a positive report. This teaches us that those who stand with Israel will be remembered forever and those who stand against Israel will be written off and forgotten.”
Rabbis Aryeh Scheinberg and Pesach Lerner served as the Chair and co-Chair of the event. In their warm introduction of Pastor Hagee, Rabbi Scheinberg recalled the time nearly four decades ago when Pastor Hagee approached the Jewish community to put together the first Night to Honor Israel. Some in the Jewish community looked at Pastor Hagee with suspicion. In his advocacy to work together, Rabbi Scheinberg recalls imploring, “We know how to deal with our enemies but what if this guy is our friend.”
The rabbi noted, “No attempts were made to proselytize or to denigrate the Jewish community.” And he concluded, “God doesn’t perform miracles because we deserve them but because we need them. And we sure needed Pastor Hagee.”
Rabbi Lerner noted that through his ardent support of Israel, Pastor Hagee “risked his life, his future, and his family.”
Scheinberg added that in his lifetime, he’s been blessed to see many miracles including
Israel’s rebirth, the reunification of Jerusalem, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and no less significantly the rise of Christian support for Israel embodied by the Hagees, CUFI, and its 5.6 million members. He included in the miracles the emergence of the “friendship of a rabbi from Brooklyn who didn’t find a friend but a brother.”
In addition to presenting the Hagees with gifts including a 410-year-old bible, and antiquities from the time of King David, they also presented a check for $75,000 to CUFI.
In response, Pastor Hagee spoke personally and emotionally. He shared how he paid a price for his support of Israel including being called a heretic which he noted “is the accusation of teaching people things that will damn them to hell. It’s like being told to go to hell in a special way.” Yet he expressed no regrets and only affirmed his calling. He shared how “the return of the Jewish people to Israel was the greatest miracle in the 20th century,” and reminisced as an eight-year-old boy hearing his father saying that Israel’s rebirth under Jewish sovereignty “proves that the Bible is true.”
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
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Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
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Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
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Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
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One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
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Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.