Minutes of Meeting

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Date: January 10, 1993

Location: Room 101, Alumni Hall, University of Dayton

Meeting Topic: Christian-Jewish Relations in Israel in the Last Decade

Facilitators: Judith Classen

Hosts: Dieter & Suzie Walk

PRESENT: Jerry Kotler, Cochair; Arthur Auster, Judith Auster, Charlotte Braverman, Bert Buby, Hal Classen, Judi Classen, Deb Hollister, Jack Kelley, Donna Key, Eleanor Koenigsburg, Harry Koenigsburg, Richard Loehrlein, Eileen Moorman, Bill Rain, Kenneth Rosenzweig, Louis Ryterband, Ruth Sommer, Dieter Walk, Suzie Walk.

Dieter opened the meeting at 7:50 PM with a moving prayer for the State of Israel. He then introduced the speaker, Judy Classen by describing her ministry, For Zion's Sake. He explained that Judy's group in Cincinnati has a very cooperative relationship with the Walk's group, Assembly of Zionist Christians and Jews, in Dayton. Dieter also overviewed Judy's very interesting experiences providing assistance to Jews in Russia and Israel.

Judy began her presentation by stating that the perspective of her presentation is that of an Evangelical Christian. With respect to Jewish-Christian relations in Israel, Judy pointed out that, prior to 1980, Christian influence in Israel was associated with an old structure that was not in favor of the existence of the State of Israel. However, since 1980, a new framework for interaction of Christians and Jews in Israel has developed.

Judy stated she goes on a mission to Israel every year at Succott. Her ministry does not have a hidden agenda. It is solely to affirm Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Judy described the relationship she developed with a couple on her last trip. The couple were both Holocaust survivors living in the United States. Judy and Hal asked them about their Holocaust experiences which they recited in tearful detail. The couple asked Judy and Hal if their church had not taught them to hate Jews to which Judy replied that such hate was not taught in her church. Furthermore, her church taught its members to esteem Jews and to recognize the covenental relationship between Jews and the land of Israel. The couple stated that few people were interested in hearing about their Holocaust experiences and were moved by the Classen's concern.

Over 6,000 Christian Zionists come to Israel for the Succott celebration. This event is not designed to replace the Jewish holiday but rather to contribute to it. Unfortunately, press reports of the Christian Zionist celebration tend to be cynical, suggesting that the participants are only involved because they believe the Jewish return to Zion will usher in the End Times (i.e., coming of the Messiah). Judy said that this is a very distorted perception.

Judy stated that the Pope plans to go to Israel in 1993. She hopes that, during his trip, he will make a public apology to the Jewish People for the historical crimes committed against them by Roman Catholicism and all Christianity.

Judy said that Israelis generally value the Christian Zionist mission in Israel. They understand that, although diverse in personalities, Christian Zionists are united in their love and support for the Jewish State. Judy has worked to expand the Jewish-Christian links forged in Israel out to the Diaspora (i.e., the United States).

Judy described a group in Israel named Christian Friends of Israel. This group is heavily involved in distributing clothing to the Olim (recent immigrants to Israel). She stated that the Olim often arrive with no possessions. There is great deprivation. The Israeli government does a great job but people sometimes fall through the cracks. Judy organizes tours to Israel which pays her own way. She requires that of the two suitcases allowed to each tour participant, one must carry clothes for the Olim.

Judy told of a close friend, Barbara, who worked in Israel for Christian Friends of Israel. When Barbara was murdered by Arabs on the Mount of Olives, Judy felt she was called back to Israel to replace her. She returned to Israel for 6 weeks of work, carrying $6,000 of donated money for the Christian Zionist effort. Judy told a moving story about a Russian immigrant couple that had no toys for its child. The only toy that could be found in the Christian Friends' storage room was an orange stuffed rabbit. This turned out to be similar to a favorite toy left behind in Russia by the child's family.

To begin the question and answer session, Judy was asked whether she believes in supersessionism (the belief that the Christian covenant has replaced the Jewish covenant with God). Judy stated that she does not accept that the Jewish covenant has been abrogated. She feels that a Christian who comes to understand Jesus as the Jewish Messiah cannot be supersessionist. When Arthur raised a point about the "foreverness" of the Jewish covenant, Judy affirmed this characteristic of it. Jerry introduced the idea of two parallel covenants--one Jewish and one Christian. Judy stated that the personality of the minister in Evangelical churches often determines whether replacement theology will be accepted by the congregation.

Arthur asked about Christians who claim that the Holocaust was a punishment by God for the Jews' rejection of Christianity. Judy stated that this viewpoint was a heinous lie. She said that the Jews did not kill Jesus, Jesus gave up his own life. Ken asked a question about whether Jews should look to fundamentalists (or evangelicals) for friends and allies. Judy replied that there are both friends and enemies in this group.

Jerry asked what Judy's reaction would be to the rebuilding of the Temple and the reinstitution of blood sacrifice. Judy said she would welcome this if it were important to Jewish religious identify.

Arthur asked about the reaction of the mainline Christian churches to Judy's mission. Judy replied that members of mainline Christian churches are often ignorant of Jews and Israel. Furthermore, a prevalent anti-Semitism results in anti-Israeli bias. Richard stated that in the Catholic Charismatic tradition with which he is associated, there is a strong thrust toward support for Israel and the Jewish people.

At the conclusion of the question and answer period, there was a recess. The meeting reconvened at 9:50 PM to discuss administrative matters. There was a discussion about who should be retained on the membership roster. Bert announced that he is the new University of Dayton representative on the Sanders Committee which is arranging for the annual Sanders Symposium which will be held this year at the University of Dayton in October.

Jack Kelley reported that his review of the biography of Malcolm Hay by his wife, Alice Ivy Hay, was published in the journal, Sidic. He pointed out that this book is not available in the University of Dayton library and asked for the support of the Dialogue for its acquisition. A motion was passed unanimously to support the acquiring of the book by the library.

The meeting adjourned at 10:12 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Kenneth Rosenzweig


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