Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Glenn Plummer in Shul and Zev Chafets on "The Colbert Report"

Pastor Glenn Plummer and Rabbi Jason MillerThis past Friday evening my synagogue hosted Pastor Glenn Plummer (in photo at left) as the keynote speaker for part of our Synaplex Shabbat. Glenn Plummer, a Black Evangelical minister from Detroit, founded the Fellowship of Israel and Black America (FIBA) in February 2006. FIBA is a partnership with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

It is unfortunate that only 75 people were in attendance because Pastor Plummer was such a charismatic, energetic, and passionate speaker. I found him to be genuine in his love for Israel both in his public lecture as well as in our private conversations. Everyone was truly moved by his message and they haven't stopped talking about how impressed they were with his presentation. He seriously loves Israel and he loves the Jewish people. Pastor Plummer explains that his commitment to Israel stems from the Torah's message in Genesis 12:3, specifically that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.

In what was the most intensely emotional moment of Pastor Plummer's speech, he thanked all of the Jewish people on behalf of the Black community for the strong support provided by Jews during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. He explained that Black leaders should in turn bless Jewish people today, and supporting Israel is one way to do this.

The evangelical support for Israel is strong and yet we in the Jewish community remain skeptical of it. After listening to Pastor Plummer's words and conversing with him privately, I have come to the conclusion that we shouldn't be skeptical of this support any longer. Jews certainly do not have to agree with everything Evangelical Christians believe – and we shouldn't agree with everything they believe – but their support of Israel is genuine.

Zev Chafetz (in photo at right), a family friend whom I've known since I was a little baby, recently published a book about the Christian Evangelical support of Israel called A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance. Zev is originally from Pontiac, Michigan and was at one time married to my mother's best friend. He made aliyah to Israel in the late 1960's and headed the Israeli Government Press Office under Menachem Begin, but he currently lives and writes in New York.

Last year, I invited Zev to speak at Adat Shalom Synagogue following Shabbat dinner for a Synaplex ("SYNergy") Shabbat. Close to finishing his book at the time, Zev spoke about his adventures while researching the Evangelical Christian community. I was excited to see Zev on "The Colbert Report" Monday night (video below). It was one of the best interviews I've seen Stephen Colbert do, and Zev was both funny and cynical -- true to form.

We're going to be hearing a lot more about the Christian Evangelical support of Israel in the near future. I plan to attend Pastor Plummer's session on the subject at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington in a couple weeks.

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