Zionism Victoria was delighted to be asked to host an international and national delegation of members of Christians for Israel (C4I) for an inaugural meeting with the leaders of the Victorian Zionist and Jewish community.
Held at Beth Weizmann Community Centre over a Friday morning breakfast, new friendships, bonds, understanding and the beginnings of partnerships were fostered. C4I, an international organisation with its headquarters in the Netherlands, aims to educate the Christian world about the Jewish people and Israel and build a bridge between Christian and Jewish communities.
Andrew Tucker, Executive Director for C4I, “We are here to fight the political battles against anti-Semitism and anti-Israel adversity and to enlighten the Christian community about the significance of Israel.” Andrew, an Australian now living in the Netherlands, is a trained lawyer specialising in International law and since 2004 has utilised the C4I platform to influence the European Union towards a positive attitude to Israel.
Each member of the delegation shared their personal reasons as to why Israel and the Jewish people are so central to their life. Rev Willem Glashouwer, President of C4I International, shared the story of his childhood and how his parents hid Jews in their home in the Netherlands in the 1940s.
Rev Glashouwer inspired the gathered with the story of C4I work in Uganda, where a flag of Israel proudly flies outside their office, and how they have facilitated the organisation of study programs in Israel for Ugandans.
Willem explained that C4I do not have an office in Israel as they operate by supporting existing Israeli agencies such as JAFI and Keren Hayesod.
For example, C4I supports the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI) project, “First Home in the Homeland”, which provides support for those going on Aliyah and also as they arrive in Israel to ensure a smooth transition to their new life. JAFI representative, Orly Volstein an immigrant herself, who joined the inaugural meeting, described how C4I representatives were instrumental in assisting her passage from the Ukraine and then supporting the program in Israel as she spent her initial six months of life on a Kibbutz, learning Hebrew and getting acclimatised.
During the visit, the members of the delegation discussed the opportunities for collaboration among Jewish and Christian organisations aiming to build the bridges of mutual understanding between the Church and Israel based on shared Judeo-Christian values. It was especially significant to see the young adults in meaningful dialogue and planning opportunities to build on the newly established friendships.
Jane Rapke, Executive Director Zionism Victoria said, “One of the primary goals of Zionism Victoria is to engage with the wider community and bring the extraordinary story of Israel to as many people as possible. We are looking forward to creating synergies between the Zionist organisations and Christian groups united to support Israel in Australia and overseas.”