Rabbi Tuly Weisz
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
What is the main focus of your activities today?
Connecting Christians to Israel, 365 days a year.
How long have you been doing that?
9 years – without missing a day!
What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?
We produced the world’s first bible, dedicated exclusively to highlighting the role of the Land and People of Israel: The Israel Bible.
How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised with a typical Modern Orthodox upbringing during the ‘80s and ‘90s, attending Jewish day school, youth groups and summer camps in the Midwest. Except for some babysitters, I hardly knew any non-Jews, living completely in a Jewish bubble in Columbus, Ohio. I was surrounded almost exclusively by Jews in my 20 years of Jewish education from nursery school at the Jewish Community Center through rabbinical ordination at Yeshiva University. As such, I never once had a real conversation with a Christian about anything important until I was the rabbi of a congregation in Columbus, Ohio where I began to meet local Christian Zionist leaders. These were pastors and who led missions to Israel, hosted nights to honor Israel in their churches, and organized small and large groups to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I enjoyed my conversations with my new friends and eventually was asked to teach a class about Israel which led me on a new and exciting journey to help Christians appreciate Israel from a Biblical perspective.
What is your “testimony”?
While it took some getting used to speaking to Christian Zionists, I found my own faith strengthened by my interactions and conversations, rather than the opposite. Gradually, I began to realize that my perceptions of Christians were wrong and what I had been told about Christianity was uninformed. A new generation of Christian Zionists had emerged who didn’t want Jews to abandon our faith, they wanted us to strengthen our divine covenant with the Land of Israel. These Christians were not our grandparents Goyim! I started to realize that I had more in common with Christian Zionists than with many of my fellow Jews who were outspoken critics of Israel, criticizing the IDF and leading campaigns to boycott the Jewish State. When my wife and I decided to make Aliyah in 2011, I knew that I had to continue educating Christians about Israel in a way in which they could appreciate and relate. While in ulpan to learn Hebrew, I started Israel365, a daily email newsletter featuring a short biblical message and a beautiful photo of Israel so that those of us, Jews and Christians who wanted to emulate our Creator could also have our “eyes focused on the Land from the beginning of the year till the end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:12). That was almost ten years ago, and we haven’t missed a day since. Thank God, Israel365 has grown and now goes out to more than 300,000 people all over the world, every single day of the year.
What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
We are living in truly historic and miraculous times, when so many non-Jews from all over the world are not only standing united with Israel, but searching to learn the Jewish perspective on the Torah, to read the Bible in Hebrew and to uncover the Jewish roots of their Christian faith. God has given our generation a unique opportunity for the Jewish people to assume our role to be a “light unto the nations” in the truest sense, by spreading the truth and beauty of Torah to potentially tens of millions of people all over the world. The Jewish people have