Churches in the U.S. are preparing to read sections of the Torah on Sunday, August 13, in a show of solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.
The move is a response to an initiative by a group of churches that read from the Muslim Koran during their services on Sunday, June 26. According to the Faith Shared project, which initiated the Koran reading, 66 churches from 32 states joined that effort.
In an effort to counter the move, a grassroots movement of churches across America is preparing to read from sections of the Torah during their services.
According to Pastor Mark Biltz, one of the pastors leading the move, while Jewish communities around the world read the Shema prayer, Christian communities will join them in solidarity. “There is a special bond between Jews and Christians, as both hold as the greatest commandment to love the L-rd their G-d with all their heart," Pastor Biltz explained. "So I’ve also posted the Shema in as many languages as I could find on our website so everyone could see it.
“I am asking in a show of solidarity with the G-d of Israel, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that churches/organizations join together in one accord and read from the Torah during their Saturday/Sunday services this coming August 13 and 14,” he wrote.
Biltz went on to say that "The suggested reading from this Torah portion is the greatest commandment, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, that we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength."
The pastor is referring to the verses after the one-line Shema prayer. The reading will obviously not be from a parchment hand-written Torah scroll.
"It is known in Judaism as the Shema and begins with asking Israel to hear and obey the Lord and realize He is the one and only G-d. This date was chosen because the Jewish people all over the world will be reading that portion on that weekend. So Christians will literally be joining a chorus of voices proclaiming on earth and to the heavens that the G-d of Israel is the One and Only G-d and that we are to love Him above all others!! This weekend also is the weekend right after the Ninth of Av and begins the readings of speaking comfort to Jerusalem."
Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, host of Tuesday Night Live, said the initiative makes sense, historically: "The Western world is going to have to make a choice very soon," he explained. "To either side with Israel, history, facts and the Bible – or to try to appease the Arab world in its quest for world domination. The Christian world will have to choose between a G-d of love and life that our scriptures speak of, and a G-d of submission and death that is being promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood. I think that a grassroots demonstration within Christianity that identifies more with Judaism and shows solidarity with Israel is a blessed move and should be encouraged."