Addressing the growing need of Christians visiting Israel searching for educational content about modern day Israel and its political landscape, the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) and Voice of Israel, global radio broadcasting at VoiceofIsrael.com, has launched the Israel Encounter program. The CEO of Voice of Israel, Glen Ladau, said that “both CJCUC and Voice of Israel share the belief that by learning and becoming informed about the complexities Israel faces geopolitically in the Middle East, its politics, defense, religion and culture, Christians will be empowered to find innovative ways to help Israel when they return home.”
According to Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, there are approximately 300,000 Christians who visit Israel from the United States each year with half from the Catholic denomination and the others split between different Protestant movements. Many Christian tours to Israel concentrate on the pilgrimage aspect of the visit with only a small percentage that have programming with local Israelis and understanding intricacies of life in Israel. “The only time Christians interact with an Israeli is when they are ordering falafel or shawarma and that is a sad state of affairs,” remarked David Nekrutman, CJCUC’s Executive Director. While a trip to Israel should enhance one’s faith, Nekrutman added that there is a “huge opportunity for people to relate to modern day Israel as the miracle in our lifetime.”
Rabbis Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel, co-hosts of Israel Inspired radio program on Voice of Israel, are working with CJCUC in hosting Christian delegations at the studio’s headquarters in Jerusalem. Abramowitz and Gimpel see the combined years of experience between the staff of Voice of Israel and CJCUC in working with different streams of Christianity as “a natural partnership that can communicate how Judaism expresses itself where Synagogue and State are part of the political and cultural fabric of society.” They added, “In Israel, religion, spirituality, and politics converge as biblical prophecy unfolds before our eyes. The emerging bonds of friendship between Jews and Christians today transcend mutual interests and shared enemies – it is a sign of our times foretold by the prophets thousands of years ago. The inspiration and excitement that both Jews and Christians feel when they encounter our team at Voice of Israel is a testimony to the fact that the message we are broadcasting from Jerusalem is what the Jews of Israel need to be sharing today.”
The Israel Encounter program is not a history lesson of dates and figures about what has happened in the past, but how Israelis are building their future in a region that is always changing and in tension with democracy and religion. Besides offering educational content on modern day Israel to tour groups, the program also offers pastors to appear on Voice of Israel radio programs and discuss some of these issues to their wider English audience that comprises of both Jews and Christians.
For more information in booking your tour group with Israel Encounter, please email David Nekrutman at [email protected]