ZOA Florida Director Whisler in Sun Sentinel: ZOA Opposes Jerusalem Consulate for Palestinians
November 23, 2021

Interfaith Luncheon Takes Place in Sunny Isles Beach

By Sergio Carmona


South Florida Jewish and Christian leaders came together at an interfaith luncheon in Sunny Isles Beach.

The Consulate General of Israel in Miami and the Latino Coalition for Israel presented the luncheon, which drew attendance from more than 40 evangelical pastors and representatives for Jewish and pro-Israel organizations. The event was a meet and greet luncheon for Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, the new local consul general of Israel overseeing Florida, Kansas, Missouri and Puerto Rico.

Elbaz-Starinsky described the luncheon as a wonderful event.

“This event with over 40 pastors and community leaders was a wonderful way to connect, to hear and to learn about their love for the state of Israel, and to make sure that they know that as they stand here for us, we also stand here with them working and cooperating for the sake of their communities. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear about their needs and their views.”

Mario Bramnick, president of the Latino Coalition for Israel and pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Cooper City, said, “We really appreciated the consul general in wanting to co-host this event with our organization, Latino Coalition for Israel, and wanting to get to know the leaders.”

“He pretty much just opened his heart on how much the consulate here wants to help in any way they can, foster continual relations and open communication lines,” Bramnick continued.

Bramnick said there were presidents of pastors associations at the event.

“It was a Christian-Jewish event of key Christian and Jewish leaders in South Florida,” he said.

Bramnick noted the luncheon focused on the importance of the Christian-Jewish alliance in Florida and throughout, continual strong support for Israel and combatting the rise of antisemitism.

“We felt now, more than ever, that the alliance between Christians and Jews in America is an absolute necessity,” he said.

Bramnick explained the importance of Christians and Jews getting together.

“The more we get together, the more we get to know one another, and that would lead to better understanding, stronger friendships and bonds, which then translate into action as we work together against a lot obstacles many people are facing nowadays.”

Elbaz-Starinsky said, “Despite religious differences, we are united in trying to achieve our primary goal, which is support for the state of Israel.”

“That will be done in many ways and through different approaches, but the ultimate goal of all of us is to make sure the state of Israel and the Jewish people are prosperous, successful and safe, and that the United States of America continues its overwhelming support for the state of Israel.”

Other attendees included representatives for Jewish and other pro-Israel organizations including Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus in North Miami Beach, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, StandWithUs and Zionist Organization of America.

Rabbi Mario Rojzman of Beth Torah explained how he felt attending the event as a Jewish spiritual leader.

“I felt that I was representing all those rabbis in Miami, who strongly believe that building bridges is not only a beautiful statement, but rather an invitation to get to know and learn from each other,” Rojzman said. “As I pointed out at the luncheon, for me to be right, you do not have to be wrong. God spoke to Jews in Hebrew and to Christians in Latin.”

Rojzman explained what he thinks both the Jewish and Christian communities can learn from each other at events like this.

“We both face the same challenges, among them, hatred,” he noted. “Antisemitism is flourishing all over the world and Christians are being persecuted and massacred in countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The answer to this hatred is building strong alliances with people that feel the pain of others as their own.”

Rojzman continued, “As people that believe in God, we should fight for respect and dignity for all humans.”

Sharona Whisler, ZOA Florida Region’s executive director, said, “It was an honor to participate in the interfaith luncheon with our new Israeli consul general, the deputy consul general, the Latino Coalition for Israel and several Christian Zionist pastors.”

“Our Christian Zionist friends are among the most reliable supporters of Israel,” Whisler continued. “The Latino Coalition for Israel is at the forefront unifying Jewish and Christian support of the Jewish state.”

Whisler noted, “I knew that an issue of great concern for everyone present was the Biden Administration’s effort to open a Palestinian Consulate in Jerusalem, so I asked Consul General Elbaz-Starinsky about it.”

“We share the consul general’s view that allowing this would compromise Jerusalem’s status as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel,” she continued. “It is unprecedented for the United States to open a separate consulate where it has an embassy in the country’s capital city.”

The luncheon took place at Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach.

The original article is available to Sun Sentinel subscribers here.

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