Alumni of the Birthright Israel program, which brings young American Jews on free trips to the Jewish State, are in for an unusual keynote speaker at Birthright NEXT event set to be held in two weeks: Gordon Robertson, son of the Rev. Pat Robertson and CEO of his father’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Robertson is a prominent evangelical leader, and the event is titled, “Are Evangelical Christians More Fervent Zionists than American Jews?” But on a July 2008 CBN program, Robertson praised the growth of the Messianic Jewish community in Israel. “You can still be Jewish and believe in Jesus as the messiah,” he said on the show. Last year, Birthright said it wouldn’t permit Messianic Jews to take advantage of its free trips. “There is unanimity in Jewish life that individualswho choose the Messianic path have chosen a path that separates them from the accepted parameters of Jewishness in contemporary Jewish society,” Birthright’s CEO, Gidi Mark, said at the time. The alumni network says it’s not troubled by that disconnect. “We’re not asking him to come and talk about Christianity or Jews trying to get Jews to believe in Christianity. It’s not the topic,” a Birthright NEXT official told the Jewish Week.
Jordan Chandler Hirsch is staff editor at Foreign Affairs.