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AAJC Happenings

AAJC Update – December 2019

December 6th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings 8 comments

Dear Friend,

The good news is that we see daily evidence that the work of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC) is blessed. We are seeing results that we didn’t get back when we started. There is so much more openness, friendship, participation and gratitude for the AAJC than we used to see. After seeing the words, “The good news is…”, you are now waiting for the other shoe to drop. “What’s the bad news?” you’re asking.

Let us acknowledge that most of the beauty, affluence, freedom, and compassion of civilization is because its foundation rests solidly upon Judeo-Christian values and upon the Bible. I’m not saying that our civilization is perfect. Of course not; nothing is. But I am saying that few of us would prefer to live under any other cultural system in the world. The idea of living in a post-Biblical society is frightening.

Today, the values of civilization are being assaulted both from outside and from inside. In ways not seen before in the United States of America, citizens are responding to the seductive calls of far-left politicians, some of whom are not even embarrassed to identify as socialists. Many western academics, politicians, students, intellectuals, and secularists consider Christianity a greater threat to their views than Islam, with which they often make common cause. They certainly consider Christianity a greater threat than secular fundamentalism. Their attacks on Christianity and upon Christian churches and leaders are vicious and dishonest.

There is an article I wrote a number of years ago that has recently been recirculated widely. I’d like to share excerpts from it:

I am certainly not a Churchill. I am not even a Revel. I am finding it hard enough just trying to be a Lapin. But like Churchill and Revel, I am issuing a deadly serious warning about dark and irreversible consequences. I am warning about the early stages of what could become a cataract of disasters if not resisted now.

During the 1930s, Winston Churchill desperately tried to persuade the English people and their government to see that Hitler meant to end their way of life. The British ignored Churchill, which gave Hitler nearly 10 years to build up his military forces. It wasn’t until Hitler actually drew blood by invading Poland in September 1939, that the British realized they had a war on their hands. It turned out to be a far longer, costlier and more destructive war than it needed to be had Churchill’s early warning been heeded.

In 1983, a brave French writer, Jean-Francois Revel, wrote a book called How Democracies Perish. In this remarkable volume, he described how communism’s aim is world conquest. For decades he had been trying to warn of communism’s very real threat. A good portion of the planet fell to communism, which brought misery and death to millions because we failed to recognize in time that others meant to harm us. Yet in January 1982, a high State Department official said: “We Americans are not solving problems, we are the problem.” (Some things never change.)

Heaven knows there was enough warning during the 1980s and 1990s of the intention of part of the Islamic world to take yet another serious crack at the west. During those two decades about 1,000 Americans were murdered in some five to ten separate attacks around the world. Yet instead of seeing each deadly assault on our interests as a test of our resolve, we ignored them all. We failed the test and then lost 3,000 Americans in two unforgettable hours. The subsequent Middle East wars have cost us blood and money beyond measure.

I went on to warn of books and movies that disparaged Christianity in a way that would be completely out of bounds were Moslems or Jews depicted in the same way. I explained how societies are changed through books and entertainment. What starts out as unthinkable quickly becomes commonplace. That cultural battle to isolate and vilify Christians was successful. We are now at the next stage where traditional values dear to both Jews and Christians are under actual assault.

Democrats running for president openly talk of punishing Christian organizations that follow Biblical views on men and women. Parents who push back on the confusing messages given to their children about gender are regarded as enemies of progress whose children need society’s protection. Books in the children’s section of the library and in schools give overt anti-Godly messages. Socialism is openly proclaimed as the hope of the future by politicians in charge of running our government.

Like us, you probably know employees who keep their religious and cultural beliefs undercover, knowing they will be targeted if their views are openly known. Workers are threatened with fines and loss of their jobs if they push back on demands that they act in opposition to their consciences. College students with conservative leanings feel—and often are—unsafe on their campuses.

Clearly the future of civilized freedom rests upon our ability to defeat the forces of secular socialist tyranny and this can surely be greatly assisted by combining the resources, energies, fervor, and conviction of both Jews and Christians. There is much work to be done, much of it within the world’s Jewish communities, to help bring about a full and effective alliance.

We intend to keep on doing this and much more of this during the coming year, and with your help, our efforts will be blessed. The American Alliance of Jews and Christians continues to change the hearts that will change the culture by consistently publishing three weekly resources, Thought Tools, Susan’s Musings, and Ask the Rabbi. We put out a weekly audio podcast carried on The Blaze, iTunes, YouTube and other platforms, and we put out a daily television show, Ancient Jewish Wisdom with Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin produced by the TCT Television Network. In the fall, we started a new discussion group on Facebook called the Friends of Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin. This allows those who share our values a place to “meet up” and strengthen one another’s resolve. It is a forum for discussion and fellowship.

The AAJC has sponsored my appearances before more than a thousand pastors and Christian leaders during 2019 as I strengthened their hearts and encouraged their passions. My regular synagogue speeches carry the same goal and we increasingly meet Jews who are familiar with and supportive of our work.

Our organization’s reach continues to grow.  In an increasingly connected globe, bad ideas spread quickly; but good ideas and true beliefs can be spread just as effectively.  Within the past few months our book Business Secrets from the Bible has been translated into Hungarian and we are under contract for translations into Croatian and Korean. Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language is in the process of being translated into Chinese.  This past year I visited Ghana to teach as a guest of the government. We continue to receive positive feedback about our mission from folks in the United Kingdom, Australia, the Republic of China, many European countries, Israel and parts of Africa. It is imperative for us to make common cause with friends all over the world. We are planning more events and appearances, more outreach, more persuasion, more friendships, more alliances, and more effectiveness in focus on our commonality—the Bible.

Working together, you and I are making a difference in protecting that vital set of foundational values, and I appreciate your partnering with the American Alliance of Jews and Christians to do so.

This work and more, will continue in 2020 as we see enthusiasm for our efforts grow. With your help this can be done. I am not going to suggest how much you should or can give. This is an intensely personal decision; however, I will tell you that for our programmed activities in 2020, we have planned a program requiring a budget of $700,000.

I greatly appreciate the support you have offered in the past and I humbly enlist your support for what lies ahead. Any amount that your heart and prayers lead you to devote to this work will be a sacred element of our efforts and I thank you. If right now is not the best time for you to partner with me in the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, your prayers and good wishes are enormously welcome.

Whatever support you can give to our work will be very much appreciated. American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization (EIN 26-07642520). We have several different ways that you can make your tax-deductible donation:

May God bless you and protect you and may we all be privileged to do our part in protecting the legacy He entrusted to humanity on Mount Sinai over three thousand years ago.

Thank you for helping make my life work possible.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

No Memory; No Future

September 11th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 2 comments

Not even 20 years have passed since our country was viciously attacked on September 11.  I think it safe to say that 18 years after Pearl Harbor, the date of December 7 meant something on college campuses, in Hollywood and in all corners of the United States.  Wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that September 11th evokes unanimous sentiments of patriotism, support for our troops and feelings of gratitude for being an American throughout this great land?

Follow up: Someone shared the following NY Times tweet: “18 years have passed since airplanes took aim and brought down the World Trade Center. Today, families will once again gather and grieve at the site where more than 2,000 people died.”

Disgusting. Who is the bad guy? Airplanes. People died, they weren’t murdered. Families will grieve, so the rest of America should tune out.

Nothing New Under the Sun

September 9th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

Thank you to our son, Ari, for reminding us of this quote by Alexander do Tocqueville (1805 -1859) in his magnificent book, Democracy in America.

“There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that spurs all men to wish to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the lesser to the rank of the greater. But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”

 

The great author and playwright, Herman Wouk, today returned to the Lord, aged 104

May 17th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 4 comments

Herman Wouk spent time with Susan and me in our home in Los Angeles while his classic books, Winds of War and War and Remembrance were in television production.

His book that I tend to recommend more than any other is his depiction of Judaism entitled This Is My God.  It is named for the Bible verse   This is my God and I will beautify Him (Exodus 15:2) and I don’t think it has ever been improved on.  In that book Herman Wouk described what Shabbat meant to him.  This is part of what he wrote:

 

The Shabbat has cut most sharply athwart my own life when one of my plays has been in rehearsal or in tryout.

The crisis atmosphere of an attempt at Broadway is a legend of our time, and a true one; I have felt under less pressure going into battle at sea. Friday afternoon, during these rehearsals, inevitably seems to come when the project is tottering on the edge of ruin. I have sometimes felt guilty of treason, holding to the Shabbat in such a desperate situation. But then, experience has taught me that a theater enterprise almost always is in such a case. Sometimes it does totter to ruin, and sometimes it totters to great prosperity, but tottering is its normal gait, and cries of anguish are its normal tone of voice.

So I have reluctantly taken leave of my colleagues on Friday afternoon, and rejoined them on Saturday night. The play has never collapsed in the meantime. When I return I find it tottering as before, and the anguished cries as normally despairing as ever. My plays have encountered in the end both success and failure, but I cannot honestly ascribe either result to my observing the Shabbat.

Leaving the gloomy theater, the littered coffee cups, the jumbled scarred-up scripts, the haggard actors, the knuckle-gnawing producer, the clattering typewriter, and the dense, tobacco smoke has been a startling change, very like a brief return from the wars.

My wife and my boys, whose existence I have almost forgotten in the anxious shoring up of the tottering ruin, are waiting for me, dressed in holiday clothes, and looking to me marvelously attractive. We have sat down to a splendid dinner, at a table graced with flowers and the old Shabbat symbols: the burning candles, the twisted challah loaves, the stuffed fish, and my grandfather’s silver goblet brimming with wine. I have blessed my boys with the ancient blessings; we have sung the pleasantly syncopated Shabbat table hymns.

The talk has little to do with tottering ruins. My wife and I have caught up with our week’s conversation. The boys, knowing that Shabbat is the occasion for asking questions, have asked them. We talk of Judaism. For me it is a retreat into restorative magic.

Shabbat has passed much in the same manner. The boys are at home in the synagogue, and they like it. They like even more the assured presence of their parents. In the weekday press of schooling, household chores, and work — and especially in play producing time — it often happens that they see little of us. On Shabbat we are always there and they know it. They know too that I am not working and that my wife is at her ease. It is their day.

It is my day, too. The telephone is silent. I can think, read, study, walk or do nothing. It is an oasis of quiet. My producer one Saturday night said to me, “I don’t envy you your religion, but I envy you your Shabbat.”

On California’s Radical Policies

March 7th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 3 comments

We loved this line from Professor Charles R. Kesler in the Wall Street Journal and thought you would enjoy it too:

“Karl Marx called his kind of socialism “scientific,” as opposed to his predecessors’ “utopian” fantasies. California appears to be pioneering a third kind, which might be called “infantile.”  Our Democrats strongly suspect their programs won’t work and know they can’t be paid for—but want them anyway.”

When Reality Mimics a Musing

February 27th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 2 comments

In my February 14, 2019 Susan’s Musing, I reflected on the TV show Hogan’s Heroes as a way of thinking about how to view the pictures of VA Governor Northam and the pictures of him that surfaced from his medical school yearbook. My conclusion was that it is dangerous and stokes the fires of hatred to look at everything through the eyes of “ism,”  be it racism, anti-Semitism or any other type. Many of you commented and a lively discussion ensued.

A few days ago, one of the trustees of and major donors to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania resigned because a picture surfaced of him as a college sophomore wearing a swastika armband at a Hogan’s Heroes-themed party.

Chalk up one more victory for intolerance.

 

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein 1952-2019

February 14th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings 1 comment

On February 6, 2019, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews passed away suddenly from a heart attack.  Rabbi Daniel Lapin was asked to write a eulogy for The Jewish Press, which describes itself as, “America’s Largest Independent Jewish Weekly.” Here are some excerpts from that eulogy.

It is neither pleasant nor easy to say goodbye to an old friend. My world became a lot lonelier last Wednesday afternoon when Yechiel Eckstein departed this world for his heavenly reward. Reflecting on the loss is most of what I have been doing since then.

…Do you know how cyclists achieve speed records? They ride behind a high-speed truck fitted with a huge wind deflector. Using the full power of its thundering engine, the truck speeds just ahead of the bicycle. Shielded from the wind and fury, the rider pedals away in a tranquil wind shadow.

Yechiel was my wind shield. We Jews, like other people, often succumb to the seduction of driving with our eyes glued to the rear-view mirror. We diligently dodge the dangers of yesterday while blithely ignoring the threats of tomorrow. It’s true that Christian theology spilled much Jewish blood over many centuries. But today Jewish blood is being spilled by murderous Muslims encouraged by a radical secularism that is hostile to people of faith and the State of Israel. Today, Christians are the victims, not the oppressors. Yechiel saw all this over 30 years ago.

Unaware that Yechiel had preceded me by eight years, I formed an alliance of Jews and Christians in 1991. Contradicting centuries of conventional wisdom that insisted Christians were our implacable foes, my work was not without controversy. However, as painful as the assaults I endured from my fellow Jews were, they were as sprinklings of confetti compared to what was inflicted upon Yechiel…

He absorbed much of the fire and fury aimed by those who were determined to see Christians as the enemy. By the time I came along and insisted that the problem we Jews faced was not Christians but, in fact, a secularism that was seducing our youth and emboldening radical Islam, I was able to operate in a relative wind shadow. Yechiel was my wind shield…

He conducted himself with love and concern toward all he came into contact with. Jew and Christian, employee, associate, donor, or beneficiary – all felt that Yechiel was genuinely interested in them and really cared about them…

Yechiel was a courageous man. The default condition for human beings is cowardice, not courage. That’s why Moses, Joshua and Solomon were adjured to be courageous. It doesn’t come naturally. Friendship towards evangelical Christians was not a popular posture in the Jewish community prior to 9/11. Despite possessing the intellect as well as the cultural adroitness to speak out of both sides of his mouth, he never did. Eckstein never ducked the issues. He was exactly who he was with no apologies and was always willing to engage in discussion or debate.

He was devoted to truth and suffered real pain at the skullduggery practiced by many he considered friends. I don’t think he ever understood how people were able to turn their backs on years of friendship for the sake of political expediency. He was a courageous man so he never could understand cowards.

History has long proved Yechiel Eckstein correct. That Jews and the State of Israel have mortal enemies is without doubt. That for the most part, Christians are philo-Semitic and stand with Israel is equally certain. It is indisputable that the warmth felt towards Jews and Israel by millions of gentle Christians – for the first time in two millennia – owes much to Yechiel Eckstein.

Jews Do Believe in Heaven

February 6th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 8 comments

Twitter is often the platform of ignorant blathering and best ignored. But when the tweet is by someone who is White House Correspondent for The New York Times and it concerns Judaism, we think it worthwhile to publicly refute it.

We understand that not everyone loved President Trump’s State of the Union speech as much as we did. Yet Annie Karni objected to the president’s words when he quoted a Holocaust survivor saying, “They came down from heaven,” about the American troops who liberated him from the Dachau concentration camp.

 

(Anni Karni: Trump just ad-libbed “they came down from heaven” when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau. Jews don’t believe in Heaven.)

Note to Ms. Karni. Judaism does teach of Heaven—rather extensively. Those Jews who are faithful descendants of our ancestors believe in an afterlife, Heaven, and judgement after death. We acknowledge that many Jews, tragically, often know little of the traditional, vibrant and enduring faith that is their heritage. So, we think you made an honest mistake, but as an intelligent woman we encourage you to expand your education. There’s a wonderful world of Judaism waiting for your exploration. Perhaps you will join us for a Shabbat dinner and we can talk further.

God Bless America

January 31st, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

My husband and I have the privilege of speaking for the United States Army Chaplain Corps over these few days. What an incredible honor and humbling experience to meet these soldiers and their spouses. We pray that our words provides insight, strength and support to them and are grateful for the reminder that our peaceful lives are possible because others shoulder the burden of protecting our country.

 

MAGA Hat Day: an anti-bullying initiative

January 24th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 11 comments

Around Chanuka time, one sometimes hears a story of a house that has in its window a menorah celebrating the Jewish holiday, being defaced. Whether this was done by teenage hooligans, motivated by anti-Semitism, or the act of a disturbed Jew, a number of Christian neighbors’ immediate response is to buy a menorah and place it in their windows. It is a sign that they stand against hatred.

In honor of that, I have an idea. Teenage boys from Covington School were bullied for being white, male, Catholic, pro-life and Trump fans. The bullies were, in many cases, powerful people who at other times deride bullying. They include pundits, media personalities, actors and others. Some of them have apologized for their actions; others have doubled down and are still wallowing in their venom.

Let’s declare a date, perhaps February 7th, thus giving everyone time to prepare, as “Wear a MAGA Hat Day.” The ladies on The View, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Times journalists, Al Sharpton and others who despise Donald Trump can make a true statement that disagreeing politically with an adult is one thing, but demeaning, threatening and bashing children is something entirely different. Who knows? Maybe the far Left might even reach the point of declaring that demeaning, threatening and physically attacking adults with whom they disagree is worth denouncing.

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