Local politicians pledged support for Israel and Jewish people during an interfaith event March 25 at Bethel Christian Fellowship Church.
“How beautiful it is for our brothers to come together in front of the eyes of God in the name of unity,” said Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of the Congregation Beth Sholom of Rochester.
The celebration, called the Greater Rochester Night to Honor Israel, was attended by more than 500 people. It featured music from a live band, which had several participants dancing in the aisles, and the participation of a color guard of Jewish war veterans. It was the first such event to be held in the Northeast, organizers said.
Although the event was not officially hosted by any Catholic churches or organizations, organizers said several participants were Catholic. Speakers included County Executive Maggie Brooks and state Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, who said he learned on a trip to Israel that during World War II, the U.S. and other countries turned away a ship of Jewish refugees attempting to flee the Holocaust. Ultimately, they were sent back to Europe and killed by the Nazis.
“Our only safety is in the fact that we don’t ignore history, but that we learn from history,” said the Rev. Ronald A. Domina, Bethel Christian Fellowship’s pastor.
The event featured Sharon Regev, consul of Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, and David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel.
Regev pointed out that in a year, Israel will be celebrate 60 years as a nation. She said the country is built on a strong democracy based on freedom, justice and civil liberties. She said extremists threaten that free society.
“We are in the midst of struggle for the future of the free world,” Regev said. “We are faced with a radical extreme jihadist terrorism. We must defeat this danger.”