Photo Credit: YouTube screen grab
Pastor Hagee and Rabbi Scheinberg in August 2015.

Just last week, Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, zt’l, was laid to rest in his beloved homeland in Eretz Yisrael, far from his hometown in San Antonio, Texas. The warm hearted and scholarly marah d’asrah of Congregation Rodfei Shalom served there with distinction for more than half a century. While Rabbi Scheinberg dedicated his rabbanus to the residents of the Lone Star State, his visionary leadership made a monumental impact on the Jewish State.

Exactly 40 years ago, in the summer of 1981, the international community viciously condemned Israel for its “military aggression” following the Israeli Air Force precision strike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor. A young pastor from San Antonio was outraged at the open hostility toward Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s government and felt that, if anything, the world should be thanking Israel for making it a safer place.


John Hagee began reaching out to local rabbis and invited them to attend a “Night to Honor Israel” at his church, but the mainstream Jewish community turned him away; he was an Evangelical after all. Pastor Hagee made one final call before giving up, and Yeshiva University alumni and Chaim Berlin musmach Aryeh Scheinberg agreed to go outside of the box and into the church. That “Night to Honor Israel” launched a movement of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) that has been growing vigorously for the past four decades.

Today, CUFI boasts more members than there are Jews in America. Nonetheless, despite ten million Christians united for Israel, we again find ourselves in a crisis with much of the world united against Israel.

Unlike 40 years ago, in the latest round of fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group, hundreds of pro-Palestinian rallies erupted across America leading to a frightening wave of violence against Jews. At the same time, a digital intifada exploded on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and hateful, antisemitic propaganda spread virally influencing the minds and hearts of the younger generation on social media.

It is abundantly clear that despite Israel’s best attempts at public diplomacy, public opinion is quickly shifting away from Israel, especially among young Jews and Evangelicals. That is why we urgently need the next generation of American rabbis and pastors to pick up the mantle established by Pastor Hagee and Rabbi Scheinberg a generation ago.

I realize many disagree with Rabbi Scheinberg’s vision of collaborating with Christians. As an Orthodox rabbi and grandson of Holocaust Survivors, I fully acknowledge the dangerous physical and spiritual pitfalls of this kind of outreach. I am intimately aware of the sensational examples of missionaries working deceptively in the Jewish State and have taken an active role in using my website, Israel365 News, to expose the Christians using illegal and deceptive tactics to prey on our people.

Yes, it is true that many Evangelicals still want to convert the Jews. No one denies that missionizing is an ancient and important part of their faith. Christians passionately believe that they have the best approach which they want to share with others, and I can even respect their enthusiasm and religious zeal.

However, I always explain to my Christian friends that if we are going to work together, we must understand and respect each other. And therefore, after centuries of forced conversions and Christian antisemitism, the Jewish people won’t tolerate proselytizing, which we consider an act of hatred, not love. Worst of all, I try to explain whenever I can, is when Christian missionaries use lies and deception to infiltrate our community, violate our trust and take advantage of our openness.

Having worked closely with Evangelicals for ten years as the founder of Israel365 and editor of The Israel Bible I know that we are in a crisis and at a crossroads in our relationships with Christians. In addition to the examples mentioned above, research studies came out recently documenting a major drop in young Evangelicals’ support for Israel. It would be understandable but inexcusable if we let these cracks in the foundation grow into irreparable chasms, greatly undermining Israel’s safety and security, not to mention our destiny to be an Ohr Lagoyim – Light to the Nations.

America’s Evangelical community firmly believes in the Bible, whose opening verse establishes that Hashem created the world, and, as Rashi points out, gave the Land of Israel to the people of Israel. If more Jews, especially frum Jews who believe in the Torah, boldly reach out to our Evangelical friends, we can transform Israel from the most hated country in the world into the most beloved. Although it seems like we are hopelessly outnumbered on the public relations battlefield, by embracing a faith-based approach to Israel advocacy, we can reclaim and reframe the narrative. A faith-based, Biblical Zionist movement could bring together all those who believe that what unites us is much stronger than what divides us.

Biblical Zionism will address the serious concerns and profound sensitivities of the Jewish community through heartfelt but tough conversations between rabbis and pastors. We will build alliances with millions of Evangelicals who reject the horrific replacement theology that led to Christian antisemitism throughout history and who sincerely support Israel and the Jewish people – with no strings attached.

Together, we can develop the largest pro-Israel movement around the world by encouraging every shul and church to become a goodwill Israel embassy. Nations establish one embassy in a capital city, but imagine if there was a goodwill Israel embassy in every city across the world? Israel deserves that level of support and can achieve it!

Forty years ago, a game-changing movement started when one pastor and one rabbi began a friendship. In 1981, there were not millions of Christians united for Israel, but in 2021, baruch Hashem, there are. With support for Israel slipping, we can’t afford to take our Evangelical friends for granted. Rather, those who are concerned for Israel’s future and passionate about Israel’s potential to be a Mamlechet kohanim v’goy kadosh must build upon the legacy of Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, with uncompromising fear of heaven and unprecedented courage.


Previous articleIsrael’s Unique Public Diplomacy Dilemma
Next articleFormer Ambassador Michael Oren: ‘JCPOA Will Lead to Regional War’
Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the director of and the editor of “The Israel Bible,” the best-selling Tanakh highlighting the relationship between the Land and People of Israel. Rabbi Weisz is dedicated to building healthy relationships between Jews and Christians in support of Israel. He lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh and can be reached at [email protected].