Heritage Florida Jewish News article, Dec. 1, 2017:
On Nov. 19, Central Florida Christians and Jews shared a unique evening together at the Rosen Plaza. The focal point of this year’s event was to bless the nation of Israel, and raise funds for three organizations that help Jews still trapped in areas like Crimea and Ukraine make aliyah to Israel. The event, A Night to Bless Israel, was a successful interfaith event to show support for Israel, and raised $151,000 for Ezra International, Return Ministries, and Cyrus.
“Raising funds to bring 20 persecuted and impoverished Jewish families to israel was our practical purpose,” stated Audrey Sandford, an organizer of the second annual event. “At the end of A Night to Bless Israel last Sunday this goal was met many times over. The event brought in five times our initial goal of $30,000. These funds will aid in the relocation of over 400 people to Israel, opening doors of economic, social, and personal opportunities they would not have had otherwise. Just think of the tears of happiness? Blessing the apple of god’s eye is not small feat.”
In addition to speakers Steve Strang, CEO of Charisma Media, who spoke about Christian Zionists who helped establish the State of Israel, and Holocaust survivor Jacques Wiesel, Pastor Blake Lorenz introduced Albert Veksler, who is involved in the Knesset and Israeli politics, and is currently deputy director of Global Aliyah. Veksler stated that help must go beyond just getting Jews to Israel. Even though no entry visas are needed for the citizens of Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Belarus, these ‘tourist-olim’ face many problems in Israel. They can’t work and they don’t have the health insurance or social benefits, since they have arrived as tourists and are not yet citizens. Many of them have used up the little money they brought to Israel and have become desperate as they face complicated bureaucratic hurdles. In addition to many such cases in Israel, there will be thousands more to come in the coming months as the situation worsens in Ukraine.
“I am honored to have been asked to speak, along with Jacques Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor,” stated Strang, who spoke about the great heritage of Christian Zionism. He will also make the case why every Bible-believing Christian should strongly support Israel and Jews who want to make Aliyah.
Those in the Orlando Jewish community who attended were thrilled with the event.
“As a proud Jew and an Israeli, it was so touching seeing the generous amounts of support and love from Christian Zionists,” exclaimed Idit Lotringer, director of Hebrew and Judaic studies at the Jewish Academy of Orlando and principle of SOJC. “The kindness expressed by the speakers and the audience portrayed a strong connection to Israel which was a spectacular sight. I was impressed with the bountiful amount of donations and was especially emotional by the enormous amount of pride everyone had. It was so touching to hear speeches honoring the state of Israel and about Zionism and Christianity. Yishar Koach and Toda Raba to everyone who attended and donated! I’m looking forwards to participate in your next event.”
Lorenz, who had the vision for the first Bless Israel Summit, which raised $4,000 for the Koby Mandell Foundation, held last November, hopes to continue to involve Christians and Jews in this annual event.