Little by little over the past few decades but growing more and more over the past few years, a community of activists in the Christian-Jewish engagement space has developed, with people reaching out to each other to promote fraternity and humanitarian projects in and between the Christian and Jewish communities.
In 2020, the organization I run, Root Source, together with friends at Israel365, initiated Bridgebuilders: Top Activists in Christian-Jewish Engagement, honoring seventy of these trailblazers.
In this monthly column, we will focus on one of these leaders, and share an interview with her or him, hearing how they got to where they are today, learning about some of their projects, and thinking about what God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations.
We encourage you to reply! Leave a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s Bridgebuilders is Pastor Becky Keenan from One With Israel, Houston, Texas USA.
What is the main focus of your activities today?
We are focused on sharing the struggle, triumphs and challenges of Israel and the Jewish people with different groups throughout the United States through educational resources and opportunities.
How long have you been doing that?
For many decades but officially since 2011.
What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?
One With Israel has recently partnered with the American Friends of Sheba & the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest in the US, Yad Vashem – World Holocaust Remembrance Center, IsraAid, and several other organizations to host online seminars. Through our One With Israel Educational Department we have had the privilege of hosting Holocaust survivors Mr. Charles Kurt, Mr. Walter Kase, Mr. Irving Roth, Mr. Zoly Zamir. Our aim is to provide well rounded relevant information to our community. As a result we host many learning opportunities, conferences, and seminars with expert speakers each year which have included Brigadier General Gal Hirsch, Professor Mordechai Kedar, journalist and speaker Khaled Abu Toameh, Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda – Managing Director of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem, Dr. Tricia Miller, senior analyst at CAMERA, Assaf Boker, former IDF Commander to name a few. We continue committed to our One With Israel Educational Journeys which are more than just a trip to Israel, they are a holistic approach to traveling to Israel, where each participant is exposed to Israel through its history, Biblical teaching, geo political issues, and interactions with the people of the land.
How did you get to where you are today?
I hosted the first bilingual Night to Honor Israel (NTHI) in Houston, TX in 2011. This historic evening celebrated the State of Israel and the Jewish community. In addition, we successfully organized an interfaith NTHI event in English at Congregation Beth Yeshurun, the largest conservative synagogue in the United States. These events marked the beginning of a promising relationship between both Christian and Jewish clergy; as well as Hispanic and Jewish community leadership. As a result I founded One With Israel and I have continually worked in mentoring both up and coming and seasoned leaders on the complexities of Israel. I am determined to build bridges of communication and friendship between our communities.
What is your “testimony”?
I was born in Stuttgart, Germany, the daughter of Puerto Rican parents Enrique and Loyda Arroyo. My father was a career military man, who served in the U.S. Army for 27 years and was engaged in the Korean conflict and WWII. It was his service in the North African theater, Italy and Germany where he observed, firsthand, the treatment of the Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime. My profound conviction and focus on educating leaders concerning their moral obligation to support Israel stems from my father who planted in my heart the seeds of love for the Jewish people after serving in the U.S. Army.
What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
He is bringing us back to common roots so we can together, in strong unity, grow in relationship to combat modern antisemitism in all its forms.
Gidon Ariel is the founder and CEO of Root Source, an organization dedicated to promoting respectful relationships between pro-Israel Christians and Jews.