The Israel Christian Nexus, in partnership with Eagles’ Wings, held the fourth Los Angeles Jerusalem Banquet at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on June 14, 2016. The iconic International Ballroom, site of the Golden Globes and other Hollywood awards shows, hosted a very different gathering as celebrities, business, political, and religious leaders from both the Jewish and Christian communities gathered to celebrate Jerusalem and their shared values.
The high-energy evening included an address from Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, David Siegel. Prominent leaders of the evening included Rabbi Yehuda Feigen, Dr. Judea Pearl, Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, Mr. Simon Etehad, Pastor John-Paul Foster, Mr. David Suissa, Mrs. Angela Evans, Rabbi Pini Dunner, and Dr. Jack Hayford.
The four event co-chairs Dina Leeds, Gila Milstein, Aline Shomof and Miri Shepher opened the evening, welcoming the largest-ever Jerusalem Banquet crowd to this evening of solidarity with Israel.
President of the Israel Christian Nexus Rev. Robert Stearns spoke to the crowd, enthusiastically sharing, “Tonight we have an opportunity to continue the legacy of incredible leaders like General Shimon Erem and Pastor Jack Hayford in standing together as Jews and Christians, united in our love and support for Israel and the Jewish people.”
The event centered around honoring outstanding leaders in the Jewish and Christian communities, and equipping the next generation to be strong voices in support of Israel and the Jewish people. Dr. Judea Pearl, award winning professor of computer science at UCLA and the father of slain Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl, was honored for his life of impact in education, his work for interfaith understanding, and his strong stand for Israel.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization serving as a representative voice for the more than 100 million Hispanic Evangelicals around the world, was honored for his leadership and his strong stand on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
In addition two emerging young leaders were honored at the gala. Mr. Simon P. Etehad, Esq, is a highly-successful trial lawyer and a leader in the Jewish community. Pastor John-Paul Foster is a pastor at Faithful Central Bible Church, led by Bishop Kenneth Ulmer. Pastor Foster recently returned from a pastors’ trip to Israel with Rev. Robert Stearns. Both men received awards for their outstanding example and leadership in the community.
One of the highlights of the evening was hearing from students impacted through the Shimon Erem Israel Experience College Program. The Israel Experience, which has been dubbed the “Christian Birthright,” trains the best and brightest Christian college and university students to be informed ambassadors for Israel in the midst of a rising tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on university campuses.
The group of Israel Experience students currently in the land brought a greeting from Israel via video, while several Israel Experience Alumni were present at the gala, including Ryan Mauro, 2009 Israel Experience Alumnus and leading national security analyst. Mauro, who is featured regularly on FOX News and other media outlets, shared, “The knowledge and understanding I gained through the Israel Experience has been integral to all the work I have done since. The best thing you can do to combat BDS and the rise of Anti-Semitism on the university campus is to support the Israel Experience.”
Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, David Siegel, also addressed the gathering, saying, “The work that Robert Stearns and the Israel Christian Nexus is doing is vital for Los Angeles and for Israel.”
The evening of honor and celebration included special musical selections of joyous traditional songs which brought the room to their feet, singing and clapping.
Concluding an extraordinary and historic evening in Jewish-Christian relations in Los Angeles, Dr. Jack Hayford, who has been one of the leaders of the Israel Christian Nexus from its earliest days, said, “Tonight we have seen there is more that unites us than that which separates us. We join together with one voice in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Support was raised from the evening to strengthen the work of the Israel Christian Nexus, including the Shimon Erem Israel Experience College Program, a study tour which gives tomorrow’s leaders an educated heart for Israel. Each year students are educated first-hand on the realities in Israel. Students have participated from over 113 American Universities. For more information, visit:www.jerusalembanquetla.org.