Columns Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

Israel, 1; evangelicals, 0

The Western Wall, bottom, and Dome of the Rock, top, in Jerusalem’s Old City on March, 13, 2019. The former temple area is considered sacred by the Abrahamic faiths. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

I am almost always proud of Israel and those who serve and represent that country.

Today was no exception — and it happened locally.

I am referring to the fact that an evangelical church in Miami cancelled an event honoring Israel after the local Israeli consul general participated in a parade in support of the LGBT community

Consul General Lior Hayat and other staff from the diplomatic mission carried Israeli flags and rainbow flags bearing a Star of David at the pride parade in early April.

Pastor Alberto Delgado postponed the Israel event at his Alpha and Omega Church in Miami.

He was worried that the Israeli participation in the pride parade would hurt the support for Israel within his community (especially in light of how close the two events were to each other).

I have only two words for Consul General Hayat and his staff.

Kol ha-kavod— loosely translated — “Way to go!”

Because, here is what they did — quietly and elegantly.

Whether they know it or not, this is what they said to that church, and to the world.

”We appreciate your church’s support of the State of Israel. That support is invaluable.

”But, we will not trade support for Israel for our support of our own Jewish values — which include inclusion, compassion, and treating all people with dignity.”

This was an important statement. Frankly, I hope that young Jews were paying attention. They were seeing representatives of the state of Israel saying: Yes, the land is important. Yes, the State is crucial.

But, so are our other commitments.

And, they were saying, we will not take lightly nor squander our responsibility for being the only country in the Middle East — perhaps in that entire corner of the world — where LGBTQ people live in freedom, and without fear of violence against their persons.

As a lover of Israel, and as a citizen of south Florida, I am proud to have Consul General Hayat in our community.

As for the pastor and the members of the church, I would only hope that they understand that our Zionism, and our support for LGBTQ rights, are two sides of the same Jewish coin.

It is about freedom.

For millennia, we yearned to be a free people in our land.

That is what LGBTQ people long for as well — to be free people, in any and all lands.

In that sense, Zionism is more than a movement for national liberation.

It is a metaphor — and a lesson and an aspiration that we share with all people.

 

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.

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