Initiative Unites Christians and Jews to Praise God for the Miracle of Israel

March 24, 2015

by: Ilse Posselt

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David Nekrutman, Executive Director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation Tuesday, 24 March 2015 | God made the promise through the prophet Isaiah some 2,500 years ago. On 14 May 1948, more than two millennia later, the promise was fulfilled. The State of Israel was reborn–­in one day, as per the prophecy in Isaiah 66:8, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.”

The restoration of Israel to its God-given homeland has long since been regarded as nothing short of miraculous. Each year, the Jewish Nation marks the day with thanksgiving and praises to God. 

This year, Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli city Efrat, has launched an initiative inviting Christians to join the people of Israel in giving thanks. Entitled “Day to Praise”, the initiative aims to unite Jews and Christians to have praises to God resounding across the world for the tremendous miracle He has done in our lifetime.

“Day to Praise” takes place on 23 April 2014, Israel’s Independence Day, and will be celebrated by reciting Psalms 113-118. David Nekrutman, Executive Director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation [CJCUC], explains the significance.

“Psalms 113-118 has a rich history in Jewish liturgy. It is recited during the morning prayers on Biblical feasts such as Passover, Shavout (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)… This series of psalms is entitled Hallel, which means praise.”

A year after Israel’s rebirth, the Chief Rabbinate instituted Independence Day as a minor holiday within the sacred calendar of the Jewish people. That is why reciting the Hallel on this day is regarded as an integral part of the celebrations.

The purpose of Hallel, says Nekrutman, is to thank God for His extraordinary redemptive acts towards His people. The rebirth of the State of Israel according to God’s promise is not only a Jewish miracle, but something that Christians can also rejoice in.

According to Nekrutman, the inspiration for the initiative is found in the Hallel itself. Psalm 117 issues a clear invitation to the nations to praise God for His covenantal love and faithfulness towards Israel. At first glance, Nekrutman argues, this mandate may appear strange. “It makes sense that the recipient of God’s loving-kindness should be the one to thank God. However, why does the psalmist require the nations to praise God for what He has done for Jewry?”

The answer, explains Nekrutman, lays in the two reactions of thanksgiving and praise in response to a miracle. Thanksgiving, he says, comes from “the beneficiary of the miracle itself.” Praise, on the other hand, is the reaction of one who sees something awe-inspiring or miraculous.

The return of the nation of Israel to its homeland after some 2,000 years in exile arguably qualifies as awe-inspiring and miraculous. “No other rational explanation in the world can explain the phenomenon of Israel’s existence today except that God continues to be faithful to His covenantal promise made thousands of years ago to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” says Nekrutman. “The miracle of Israel today should serve as an inspiration to other nations to bless the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is our hope that one day the fullness of Psalm 117 will be witnessed in our lifetime.”

The main “Day to Praise” takes place in Jerusalem, Israel and is open to all. Christians can, however, participate in the event from anywhere in the world via live streaming. Those who are unable to take advantage of the live streaming can commit to reciting Psalm 113-118 in their own time.

For more information or to sign up for “Day to Praise”, visit here

Posted on March 24, 2015

Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 24, 2015)

Photo Credit: Day to Praise