Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson was honored for his longstanding support for Israel during the sixth annual Jerusalem Prayer Banquet held Thursday night in New York City.
Co-hosted by the Christian ministry Eagles Wings, the event recognized Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, along with Jewish businessman Irwin Hochberg, a longtime leader in several pro-Jewish organizations including the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Scholarships were established in both men's names that will send college students to Israel as part of Eagles Wings' Israel Experience Program, a summer study tour designed to give future leaders "an educated heart for Israel."
"Never again will the sin of silence be repeated in the church," Eagles Wings founder Robert Stearns told attendees at the banquet. "We will stand vocally with Israel and Jerusalem and train the coming generation to do the same, with courage and conviction."
Robertson has advocated for Israel through his 700 Club broadcast and other ministry outlets he has founded, including Regent University and the humanitarian organization Operation Blessing International. He told the crowd, "we throughout the world must stand with Israel from these days forward," and expressed a desire for the next generation "to be imbued with the same passion for Israel that I have."
Through its Israel Experience Program, Eagles Wings takes students to Israel to train them to become ambassadors for the Jewish nation. Students meet with members of Knesset, are guests in Jerusalem City Hall and visit victims of terrorism, said Joel James, director of development for Eagles Wings.
"They see firsthand what's happening in Israel, and they're armed with an understanding and information that will help them because across the college and university system, anti-Semitism is rising," James said.
Honoring Robertson and Hochberg, who are both in their 80s, represented the passing of a torch from one generation to the next, James added.
"We see it kind of as a passing from their generation to successive generations so that we all would rise up and support Israel and stand for God's truth with a biblical worldview," he said. "These men are in their 80s, they're not going to be around forever, and it's time others follow their example and the standard that they've set and take up that cause."
Host committee members including Frederick K.C. Price, founding pastor of Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles; Harvey Krueger, past president of American Friends of Hebrew University; veteran entertainer Pat Boone; and Jack Hayford, co-founder with Stearns of the annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, were among roughly 300 Jewish and Christian leaders who participated in the banquet. Asaf Shariv, consul general of Israel in New York, spoke during the event.
On Friday night, Stearns led a prayer rally for the peace of Jerusalem at Crenshaw Christian Center East in New York City. Roughly 30 churches from across New York were expected to participate.
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