Lee-El Lewinsohn

Neighborly love

In Israel, we live in a country surrounded by many unpleasant neighbors. Most not only do not love us, but would rather destroy us. So, unfortunately, we’re naturally skeptical when others not only offer to help us but openly express love for us.

In 2009, I was drawn to work in Israel advocacy, to tell Israel’s story and inspire people to care about Israel. Today, I’m fulfilling that dream by working in San Diego, California, as an Israeli educational ambassador for StandWithUs, a global Israel education organization. I’ve spoken in hundreds of places and occasions, but none moved me more than when presenting to the Christian community. On Memorial Day I was asked to speak at Father’s House Church in Longview, Washington. The pastor, Greg Stevens, also serves as Western Director for Christians United for Israel.

The topic of my speech was the Israeli Defense Forces’ ethics. Drawing on personal experience as an officer with Ruakh Tzahal — the “spirit of the IDF,” the document that every Israeli soldier must commit to memory and apply to all actions — my speech practically wrote itself. American and Israeli flags rippled proudly on the stage. Pastor Stevens’s entire sermon was about supporting Israel, as the Bible unequivocally states that God gave this land to His chosen people, the Jews.

Tears welling in my eyes, I walked onto the stage and addressed the audience, which graciously gave me three standing ovations. Their applause was not for what I said, nor what I had accomplished. They applauded in solidarity with me as an Israeli woman, a Jew, and an IDF veteran. Overwhelmed and humbled, I left the church awestruck by such unconditional love. But I still found myself wondering why.

Why did they love Israel? What were their motives? The StandWithUs San Diego chapter is less than a year old and has been actively reaching out to churches since its inception. We learned that many Christian Zionists had been shunned by Jewish leaders because of their support for Israel. I understand the differences in our faiths and missions, but is there reason for the Jewish community to doubt Christian support of Israel?

I say no. My own doubts were erased this week after attending the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) annual summit in Washington, DC. CUFI is the largest pro-Israel organization in the US, its membership exceeding one million. I knew I was blessed to be in their company when I saw everywhere the verse from Isaiah 62:1, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent”.

Over 5,000 Christians gathered to discuss Israel at the CUFI summit. They were sincere, enthusiastic, and steadfast in their belief that everything must be done to protect the Jewish nation. As a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I was thrilled that they emphatically recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State. They affirm that Israel is a sovereign country with all accompanying rights to determine its own destiny. They were not conflicted; they were clear in their love for Israel and the Jewish people. Even more encouraging was the fact that they had 400 students representing more than 250 universities from their CUFI on campus initiative.

At the summit, I also heard CUFI leaders refute some Jewish community concerns about Christian support of Israel. No, they do not want to convert us. Yes, they know the Christians have been horrible to the Jews in the past, and they’re sorry. And no, they do not believe there is anything they can do to bring the second coming of Christ.

A wise man once told me, “When your house is on fire, and your neighbor comes to help you, you hand him a bucket. You do not start telling him off about what his grandfather did to your grandfather.”

I’m inspired. I’m not only inspired by their love and support, but I’ve been moved to teach others we must stand with the State of Israel alongside our Christian friends.

“If I am not for myself, who am I? If not now, then when?” (Pirkei Avot 1.14). Surely now is the time for Jews to join hands and stand up for the truth about Israel. We must seize the moment. CUFI and the Jewish community must embrace each other and synchronize prayers, hearts, and actions for our Holy Land — together.

About the Author
Lee El Lewinsohn is a Regional Executive for StandWithUs, an Israeli Education Organization. She recently returned from being an emissary in the organization's chapter in San Diego and is currently pursuing her Bachelor Degree in International Relations and Sociology/Anthropology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.