Two pro-Israel senators in Italy have invited the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast to Rome for a historic prayer gathering on the floor of the nation’s Senate – and the event’s organizer is hoping this will lead to Italy breaking ranks with the European Union and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The event will be attended by 120 Christians, Jews and dignitaries from around Europe, Israel and the United States.
The Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast (JPB) is a gathering that calls together Christians and Jews to pray for Israel. The event has taken place in Jerusalem, but also in several other cities around the world where the host churches or politicians organize a conference that includes worship, prayer and, of course, breakfast.
Albert Veksler, director of the JPB along with former Knesset Member Robert Ilatov, told ALL ISRAEL NEWS that deputy Giorgia Meloni, the chairwoman of the Fratella d’Italia party, former President of the EU Parliament MEP Antonio Tajani, Israeli Ambassador Dror Eydar, Deputy Mayor Paolo Formentini will attend among many others.
Veksler is particularly excited about next week’s event because of the historic overtones between Rome and Jerusalem and because of its potential for changing the future.
“We always have a host that invites us to the parliament or congress of the host country,” he said. “So what makes this very unique is that we have two senators that invited us. I think it is unique in the sense that in Europe you wouldn’t find many politicians who would say they are willing or want to recognize Jerusalem as the capital or move their embassy to Jerusalem.”
It is a complicated history, he added, “yet it is two Catholic senators that want to recognize Jerusalem and start the process to move the embassy.”
Senators Matteo Salvini and Simone Pillon are the Italian hosts of the JPB next week.
Salvini, who has visited Israel and was the interior minister and deputy prime minister under Silvio Berlusconi, has previously expressed support for moving the Italian Embassy to Jerusalem.
During the 11-day conflict between Israel and Gaza in May, Pillon brought the Israeli flag to the Senate to show his support.
“You can imagine the hostility at that time and yet he had the guts to do that,” Veksler noted.
“This event will definitely cause a momentum for that and we will see what will happen. We know the resistance of the EU – they are against it and Italy is very much into supporting the foreign policy of the EU. But at the same time if the movement starts there and you have the people interested, who knows what will be?”
JPB’s vision was endorsed by former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The first event was held in 2017 and welcomed 570 delegates from 58 countries. Other JPB events have taken place in London, Accra, Orlando, Singapore, San Antonio, Kampala, Basel, The Hague, Helsinki, Canberra and Bloemfontein, South Africa.
After speeches and prayer at the Senate of the Republic, the conference will commence at the Parco Dei Principi hotel on Oct. 13-14, where Veksler must rent a hall four times the size of the number of participants just to stay within Italy's coronavirus regulations.
The timing of the event is significant as it takes place during the week that Jews from the Ghetto in Rome were rounded up to be taken to death camps during World War II in 1943.
JPB co-chairs, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former MK Robert Ilatov, the chief rabbi of Italy, Riccardo Di Segni, ambassadors of Israel to Italy and to the Vatican and Oresident of the Italian Senate, Maria Elisabetta Casellati, are among the scheduled speakers.
Veksler feels that the locations of these events are critical to mobilize support of Israel at the governmental level. He said that six months from the day that the founders of the JPB gathered in Jerusalem, on Dec. 6, 2017, then U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States of America would move its embassy to Jerusalem. Since then, three other countries have followed suit including Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo.
While other countries have committed to soon moving their embassies or have opened up diplomatic offices in Jerusalem in preparation to do so, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, is expected to announce the Embassy move to Jerusalem on Oct. 15.
Though COVID forced the 2020 event online, the JPB was able to host a smaller conference in Jerusalem this spring and streamed it online as well. The event, which ALL ISRAEL NEWS covered extensively, included speakers such as Knesset Member Matan Kahana, Israel’s President-Elect Isaac Herzog, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Juan Orlando Hernández, the president of Honduras who announced that his country would open an embassy “in the eternal capital of Israel, the city of Jerusalem.”
ALL ISRAEL NEWS Founder and Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg was another keynote speaker.
“Every time the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast comes to a town, we’ve seen some remarkable miracles and we are expecting a major move forward,” Veksler said, adding that in Italy he hopes to also see breakthroughs in reconciliation between Catholics and Jews and even Catholics and Evangelicals.
But mainly he is praying for movement in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“That is on the top of my list,” he said. “I think this is a moment that can set that in motion.”
Anyone can register to watch the events. There is a free concert which will be led by Birgitta Veksler-Lundvall. Viewers can purchase the full package in order to watch the entire event including the gathering at the Italian Senate. Go to the JPB Rome home page to register for either package.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.