How important are Christian-Jewish relations? I’d definitely say it beats have my coreligionists blame my ancestors’ coreligionists for killing their Messiah and stealing their money. Christian-Jewish coalitions are often spoken of in stories about support for Israel, sometimes involving massive rallies or being connected to iconoclastic ministers like the Rev. John Hagee. Today, one such organization is joining with the Israeli government to help save World ORT schools in the former Soviet Union.
The 16 ORT schools face being absorbed into the public education system, and losing their Jewish character, following the Jewish Agency for Israel’s decision to stop funding the program which provides for Jewish studies, teachers wages and security. The program also funded hot meals and school buses.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and the Israeli Ministry of Education made the $600,000 pledge in response to a frantic search for funding, led by the ORT representative in Russia, Avi Ganon. He tried to find ways to keep the schools Jewish, despite cuts in funding by the Ministry of Education and, more recently, the Jewish Agency.
However the long term future of ORT’s network of schools in the former Soviet Union is not yet secured.
“The Fellowship feels privileged to be able to help; but this is only a band-aid and there’s no solution yet to the fundamental issue,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ. “The fundamental issue is that there is no Jewish organization that is willing or capable of assuming responsibility for the welfare of Jewish children and their future in the Former Soviet Union.”