Tag Archives: Christian

Interfaith Missions to Israel

22 Jun

For the past 4 years, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has invested in relationships with the Christian community through community programming and interfaith missions to Israel. This year, we had the opportunity to travel to Israel with another Federation community from the Heart of New Jersey. This unique trip consisted of clergy and leadership from Jewish, Presbyterian, Reform Church, Baptists and Episcopal communities. To read about this trip, click on this article

Below are quotes from two local leaders who traveled to Israel with the Jewish Federation on the mission highlighted in the article:

“Beyond the blessing of biblical locations and narratives coming alive in sight and context, the interfaith trip was a marvelous opportunity to explore deeper conversations and questions (even tough ones) about Judaism and Christianity’s heritage.  The trip also opened my eyes to the greater reality of everyday life in Israel – what it is and isn’t.  How refreshing to see and hear stories of hope and understanding – appreciating the effort to recognize and respect our common human dignity, regardless of background, and the desire we all have to make a better life for future generations.  I learned a lot and am forever grateful for such an educational and inspirational trip.”     – Rev. Michael Todd, Church of the Holy Spirit, Osprey, Florida



“Israel faces many complex challenges. So often in American mainstream media and around the world, Israel is painted in a negative light, despite the fact that they are daily confronted by an enemy that seeks to destroy their existence. Traveling there and getting to see and hear first-hand about these challenges and the strides Israel is trying to make, was such an affirmation of this bias in media. Truth matters – whether that’s here in America or there in Israel. We need to see both sides of the story and understand that what Israel is facing is complicated. One of the purposes of this trip was for us to see for ourselves what is taking place, to dispel the misconceptions we so often see.  I believe the trip accomplished this.” – Dixie Cline, Director of Development, CareNet Manasota, Bradenton, Florida


Interfaith: Mutual Honor & Respect

3 Dec

Heller IAI Interfaith MissionThis year, the Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative (IAI) will be led by our first ever Executive Committee comprised of 7 Jewish and 7 Christian pro-Israel leaders in our community. After celebrating our 18-month long Israel@65 festivities in 2013 which brought together thousands of both faiths we realized that so many people in the Sarasota-Manatee community share a love of the State of Israel – just like we do. Also in 2013, Heller IAI implemented an interfaith mission to Israel that included 18-members of the Christian community
Faith2faithWith friendship and partnership between our faiths we bridge religious gaps and come together on one of our core values; Zionism. This is demonstrated through our events. In 2014, we had a program called “Faith to Faith; Christians and Jews Working Together for Israel”. We had 5 panelists of both faiths in a rousing and energetic panel that enabled the audience to leave the room with solid ways to be pro-Israel in their daily lives. Another instance was our “Interfaith Passover Seder”. It became apparent to us that many Christians celebrate the Passover Seder as a way to commemorate their gospel that Jesus’ last Passover Seder was his “Last Supper”.


Interfaith Cross and Star“As a Christian, I have kept Passover for many years out of love and respect for my Lord and Israel, but this event was like nothing I have experienced. I was so touched by the honor and respect shown by the Jewish Community to us as Christians.” -Shirley Fenton, co-Chair of the Interfaith Passover Seder





100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

100 Days of Impact from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee


100 Days of Impact started on September 22 and will run through the end of 2014. Each week we will demonstrate the the collaborative impact that we and our donors make locally and globally.


You are the Jewish community. This is your Federation. Together, we do extraordinary things!

Egypt – A Country In Turmoil

15 Aug

Egypt Turmoil - Beach

Violence.  Death.  Mayhem.   Such are the words that describe reality in the Mubarak gone, Morsi gone land of Egypt.  After days of warning, Egypt’s military regime has gone on the offensive, attacking Islamist protestors while killing nearly 300 and wounding thousands.  The goal was to clear the tent cities established by the Muslim Brotherhood in response to the ouster of Egypt’s President Morsi.

Coptic Church on fire

Coptic Church on fire

The Muslim Brotherhood wasted no time in giving its response to the violence that had been turned loose upon them.  As the encampments in Nadha and Raba’a al Adiwiya Squares were being removed the Brotherhood went on the attack setting fire to Christian churches.  The Church of Abraham and the Virgin Mary in Mayo were torched.   The Muslim Brotherhood burnt to the ground the main Coptic church in the city of Sonag.  Sixteen Coptic churches have been burned.  Coptic priests and laymen have been killed.  Anti-Christian graffiti has been written on churches throughout Egypt.

Muslim Brotherhood supporter STR/AFP/Getty Images

Muslim Brotherhood supporter
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Chaos reigns supreme and no one can predict the outcome of these most horrifying acts.  Protests have arisen from throughout the world, including the United States.  They have fallen on deaf ears.  The Muslim Brotherhood wants President Morsi returned to office.  The military, responding to mass demonstrations, want a new regime put in place.  Fighting continues, the death toll rises and the Christian community fears for its life and its houses of worship.  There is no peace, there is no accord.  There is only the struggle of the fittest and a world waiting to see who or what will prevail.

We Jews have experienced this type of attack on our people, on our temples and synagogues.  We know the sorrow, the heartache and the fear that such attacks produce in young and old alike.  We worry about tomorrow and we wonder what that tomorrow will be.  Only time will tell.  The world waits, the Middle East waits, the land of Egypt waits — all hoping for a better tomorrow.

Rabbi Howard A. Simon
Co-chair of the Robert and Esther Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

60 Minutes…get the facts right!!!

26 Apr

After the airing of the 60 Minutes program on Sunday evening about the disappearing Arab Christian population in Israel, (see previous blog post) JCPA decided to do some investigating of their own to see if the claims made by 60 Minutes were indeed valid concerns or another cheap blow at Israel based on bias and false rhetoric.

Turns out that much of what was reported by 60 Minutes was indeed devoid of any real factual information.  JCPA noted, “among the myriad errors in the report is the myth of a declining Palestinian Christian population.  A report issued by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in 2011 provided extensive documentation that the Christian population in the West Bank is not decreasing – and according to Palestinian sources the Palestinian Christian population in theWest Bank is actually growing – and has been growing since 1967.  JCPA found data supporting the following claim, “since 1967, the Christian population in Bethlehem increased by 11% and in the Bethlehem region grew by 56%.   The West Bank Christian population grew from 42,484 in 1967 to over 51,000 today.”  Furthermore, they note that, “the only “decline” that has been documented is the percentage Christians represent in the predominantly MuslimWest Bank”. 

Read the full report by JCPA, in PDF format

Your Federation wants to know what you think!  Share your thoughts on the issue!

60 Minutes “hatchet job”?

23 Apr

Just this past Sunday evening, 60 Minutes aired a program on the decreasing population of Arab Christians in the Middle East.  The catch?  60 Minutes did not choose to do a piece on the Coptic Christians in Egypt that are being slaughtered by the masses by Islamic extremists, nor did they choose to focus on Syrian or Iraqi persecution of Arab Christians and their churches.  No, instead the media again chose to vilify the state of Israel, blaming them for the decreasing Christian population; claiming it is a result of Israeli policy, the security fence and Israeli “occupation” of the West  Bank that is driving Christians out of the region.  Some, including Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, are questioning whether or not the segment was a “hatchet job.”

Your Federation wants to know what you think!  Please watch the brief segment and share your thoughts.  Is 60 minutes taking a cheap and bias jab at Israel and presenting a “hatchet job” or is it a legitimate report on a very concerning issue?