Senior Israeli, world Jewish leaders address Feast

Feast pilgrims greeted by Rivlin, Netanyahu and Lauder

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14 או' 2014
Senior Israeli, world Jewish leaders address Feast

The ICEJ's 35th annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem was addressed on Monday evening by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and President of the World Jewish Congress, Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a greeting by video. The trio of senior Israeli and Jewish Diaspora leaders all warmly embraced the thousands of Christians from over 80 nations attending this year's Feast gathering, marking a milestone in Jewish-Christian relations.

"To have President Rivlin, who represents the people of Israel, and President Lauder, representing the Jewish people worldwide, appear at our Feast tonight and deliver such warm words is an historic moment for our movement," ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Juergen Buehler told the lively audience. "And Prime Minister Netanyahu once again welcomed our presence, just weeks after he conveyed his appreciation in a letter to the Christian Embbasy for all our assistance to the nation during this summer's conflict."

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s greeting:

President Rivlin started his remarks by telling the pilgrims “I am very pleased to see you, friends of the people of Israel and supporters of the State of Israel, and welcome you on your journey to the Holy Land.”

“The people of Israel’s spirit was forged for many centuries in over a hundred Diasporas, far from their natural place. In all of those places, we lived and longed for our homeland, yearning to return to the land of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Solomon."

Today, in these challenging and unstable times, this vision is relevant more than ever," Rivlin continued. "The connection of Zionism to the Christian community bares deep historical roots. Many years before the establishment of the state of Israel, the Zionist movement was assisted by friends and supporters from different religions. Since then, and until nowadays, this friendship has grown stronger, to serve as a solid bond for other countries and societies around the world."

"Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for your consistent trust and support," he added.

"In light of the Sukkot festival, we appreciate you, Lovers of Israel and Jerusalem, for taking part in the joy of this holiday, and fulfilling in your lifetime the vision of the prophet Isiah, that we all follow. 'Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…'" said Rivlin.

President Reuven Rivlin's Speech:

“Thank you, my Christian brothers and sisters, for standing with Israel through this very difficult year," said Lauder in his address. "And thank you for standing here, in Jerusalem, the undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel. Israel has no better friends in the world than you. We know that you have watched out for us, and we will always watch out for you. The fact is, there is no safer place in the Middle East for Christians than here in Israel," he added.

"In Israel, Christians can pray in the open. In Israel, Christian holy sites are protected. In Israel, Christians do not fear for your lives. And here in the Jewish State of Israel, the Christian population is growing, not shrinking," noted Lauder.

"At the same time, 120,000 Christians have been killed throughout the Middle East and Africa every year of the past ten years. (Others) have fled as refugees. This is not by accident, the rampage against Christians is by design,” Lauder told the gathering.

He added that he had spoken up for Christians under attack, because “when hundreds of thousands of Christians are killed, this isn’t war, its genocide. And Jews know what happens when the world is silent to genocide. We learned that lesson the hard way, and we never want to see that repeated again, not to us, not to you, not to anybody."

"I am now convinced more than ever that we must join forces," Lauder insisted. "A Jewish-Christian coalition makes complete sense. Together, Christians and Jews must speak as one and tell the world, no more discrimination, no more terror, no more death and no more silence!”

Lauder also described the growing problem of anti-Semitism in the world, adding “the same people who go after us are also going after you. That is why Christians and Jews must join forces and act together. We must always remember our shared values and our shared past."

"The Festival of Sukkot reminds us that there is a strong are to help us when our own arm fails us…throughout time, Jews have always faced great challenges. But with God’s help, Jews have always prevailed. Today, there is one big difference. Today, we do not stand alone. Anything that comes our way, we face together with you," stated Lauder.

Lauder drew his warmest response from the Christian audeince when he quoted from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy: “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.”

"That is exactly what we say in the Torah, that we must not be afraid, we must find strength," assured Lauder. "This doesn’t come from the President of the World Jewish Congress, this comes from a higher source. Do not fear, have courage, have strength. We will be strengthened together, and we will not fail!"

Ambassador Ron Lauder's Address:


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