By Anav Silverman
Several major African-American churches rallied in Detroit, Michigan this week in support of Israel while evoking the historic black-Jewish alliance of the Civil Rights movement.
Reverend Dr. Edward L. Branch, a member of The Fellowship’s African American Advisory Council, reminded his congregation of the rich history of the black-Jewish relationship during a rally.
Pastor Branch, who leads the mega-church Third New Hope Baptist Church in Detroit, urged his congregation “to stand with Israel just as the Jewish community stood with us during the Civil Rights movement, as we seek peace for all people in the Middle East.”
Leading the rally initiative was Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, also known as The Fellowship. The rabbi spoke to Reverend Branch’s congregation as well as two others on Sunday, August 16, including the Second Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) at the New St. Paul Tabernacle, led by Bishop P.A. Brooks, and Family Victory Fellowship, led by Pastors Larry and Sylvia Jordan.
Rabbi Eckstein’s outreach to the churches comes as he prepares to travel to Israel at the end of this month with top leaders from COGIC for an educational leadership trip hosted by The International Fellowship for Christians and Jews and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.
Bishop Brooks, who is joining the visiting group to Israel, is the assistant bishop and second highest-ranking leader of COGIC, the largest African-American Pentecostal denomination in the U.S. and the fourth largest Protestant group in North America, with 12,000 churches nationwide and 6.5 million congregants in more 60 nations.
During the rally events, each of the Christian pastors were also given a new book covering Rabbi Eckstein’s longtime efforts to unite Christians and Jews in support of Israel and Jewish communities, called the “The Bridge Builder”, by Zev Chafets.
“We know that you take very seriously the biblical imperative to stand with Israel, and every day you show the world that Israel is not alone,” Rabbi Eckstein said during the rally. “The people of Israel and the Jewish people around the world can have confidence that you stand united with them, for peace for the Jewish State and for all peoples in the Middle East.”
“Today, the State of Israel needs your support more than ever,” Rabbi Eckstein added.
“Your community’s love for the Jewish State builds on the historic coalition of the Civil Rights movement, when Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marched with Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner died alongside James Chaney in their fight for peace and justice,” he pointed out.