March 4, 2010 / 18 Adar 5770
Pastor John Hagee and his wife, Diana, started their Israel visit on March 2, 2010, at the Jewish Agency's Ben Yakir Youth Village near Hadera.
Pastor Hagee is the founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, as well as the founder of the John Hagee Ministries. An active supporter of Israel for nearly three decades, he recently established Christians United for Israel, a national association through which pro—Israel churches, organizations, ministries and individuals in America can support Israel. One recipient is Ben Yakir, a religious youth village currently housing 135 students aged 12-18 (boys only), many of whom are immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, among other countries.
Joining the Hagees on the Ben Yakir visit were Lee Wunsch, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Suzanne Jacobson, senior VP of development, and Tal Brody, a retired Maccabi player and Chairman of "Spirit of Israel," which supports youth at risk - as well as the director of the youth village, staff and children. Also present were Leah Golan, Director General of the Israel Department of the Jewish Agency, Yitzchak Shavit, senior vice president of the Jewish Federations of North America, spiritual leaders of the Israeli Jewish community, and Jewish Agency staff.
At a warm opening reception at the youth village's synagogue, the visitors were treated to songs by the village choir and prayers for peace. An unveiling ceremony took place in the Yitzhak Rabin "Square," honoring the congregations of Pastor Hagee who support the youth village. The plaque was made by artist Lev Schneiderman, a new immigrant from the former Soviet Union.
After the ceremony, guests dined in the dining room of Ben Yakir. There Pastor Hagee was presented with a surprise birthday cake, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. His wife, Diana, was presented with a "hamsa" made by the village children.
The evening ended with the planting of trees in the courtyard outside the dining hall.
The visit was very moving for all participants. Pastor Hagee ended by reiterating his commitment to Israel for many years to come.
Photo credit: Leon Levitas