JERUSALEM—As it kicked off on Wednesday, the sixth annual Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast welcomed another guest in addition to the 300 delegates from 38 nations – the Lion of Judah.
Cast in bronze, the life-size statue of a lion – whose regal face exudes both strength and gentleness – is now standing watch over the walls of the Old City, beyond which stood the former Temple and the presence of God. And while the lion symbolizes the city of Jerusalem and the Lord himself, its very installation represents cooperation between Christians and Jews in bringing it to fruition.
Renowned artist, Max Greiner – a Christian who lives in Texas and cast the statue in 2017 – could not be present for its dedication, but in a prepared statement, he said he and his wife Sherry “thank the God of Israel for giving us the privilege to demonstrate the love and support of American Christians for Israel.”
“This artwork is a lasting symbol of Jerusalem, the tribe of Judah, King David, the God of Israel and his Messiah. Sherry and I pray now that everyone who gazes on this number one monumental lion sculpture, which is a symbol of love between our two nations, will be blessed by the God of Israel,” Greiner said.
After the dedication, Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, told ALL ISRAEL NEWS that the growing positive relationship between Christians and Jews is one of the most miraculous developments of recent history.
“When in history was there ever a time when so many multitudes of non-Jews were praising God for being good to the Jewish people?” Wolicki said, referring to dark times in history when Jews were persecuted by Gentiles who now celebrate the establishment of Israel.
“The lion represents that relationship,” he told ALL ISRAEL NEWS.
In his opening remarks, Wolicki said, “Visitors to Jerusalem will come to this place, read the inscription, and be reminded that as the State of Israel flourished in our time, American Christians stood with us shoulder to shoulder in love and friendship.
“Testimony to the historic contribution made by Christian supporters to the nation of Israel is now part of the permanent landscape of God's holy city,” he said.
Getting the lion from Texas to Israel and planted in the Bloomfield Garden was a feat in itself – and it took several years and cooperation between Jews and Christians saying yes every step of the bureaucratic way until its dedication on Wednesday.
The lion was in storage in Israel since 2017, then eventually installed in May 2020. But border closures due to COVID prevented the dedication until now.
Former Knesset Member Robert Ilatov said it was not easy, but he worked with Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast Director Albert Veksler, who sought his help in getting this gift from Greiner to the attention of the Jerusalem Municipality.
“And we see the results. This small lion is here smiling,” Ilatov said.
Former U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, an Evangelical Christian and co-chair of the JPB, was also angling to get the lion installed. She told Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum she needed a favor, and as fate would have it, Hassan-Nahoum is the chairwoman of the arts department for the municipality. She presented the idea of bringing the lion to Jerusalem to Amos Cohen who is responsible for displaying artwork throughout the country.
At the dedication, Cohen stated that the sculpture is one of the most beautiful pieces of art he has ever worked with.
Bachmann reminded attendees that thousands of years ago the temple was dedicated nearby.
“The purpose of the temple was that the people would understand who God is and that He is worthy of praise, worthy to be thanked,” Bachmann said. “And so I think, too, with this dedication here, what is the purpose?”
Referring to a group of children that passed by during the dedication, Bachmann said, “This is the purpose, that the next generation might know who the lion of the Tribe of Judah is and to know that there are people from all over the world who love this land, who love this people, because we love the heart of the God who made this people, who brought them to this land for the purpose of being a blessing to all of the nations of the world.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon talked about having to fight the United States on a Security Council resolution against Israel in 2016 which he wrote about in his book, "Lion’s Den." He described how alone he felt standing against Israel’s greatest ally.
“I knew that I was not by myself. I knew that I had the support of millions of Jews and Christians, and God was with me in the Security Council. And look where we are today here in Jerusalem.”
Wolicki noted that biblical prophecies talk about multitudes of people from the nations coming to pray in Jerusalem and to support the people of Israel.
“The Christian support for the people of Israel, including the political support, also faith in the Bible, are parts of that,” Wolicki told ALL ISRAEL NEWS, emphasizing that the Psalm of Praise says, “All the nations will be praising God.”
Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS