More than 3,000 Christian and Jewish supporters of Israel joined to sing the hatikvah at the Royal Albert Hall last night at the biggest celebration marking the Balfour centenary.
Around 500 performers, singers and actors took part in the spectacular event, recalling the events leading up to the historic declaration supporting a Jewish home in Palestine, the mandate period and the creation of the state. Partners Together in This Great Enterprise – organised by Balfour 100 Christian committee – emphasised the personal ties between Jews and Christians including Lord Balfour in helping to bring about the government’s 1917 statement.
Israeli singer Tally Koren entertained the crowds with tunes including ‘Jerusalem of Gold’ and ‘Eli Eli’, while the Israeli Dance Institute and Redeemed Christian Church of God choir also drew prolonged applause.
But the biggest ovation of the night was reserved for Ambassador Mark Regev, who described the gathering as “amazing. It’s simply wonderful to be at the great Royal Albert Hall with an audience united in support of Israel. In bringing the Balfour Declaration, the UK stood up for what is right.”
Zionist Federation director Arieh Miller told the crowds: “We cannot only look backwards. We absolutely must look forward. If the Balfour Declaration was the foundation stone to the house, then Israel today is the top floor. We might still have the finishing touches to put to the roof, but we have a house that is standing strong and will not be toppled.”
The event ended with a group of young Christians taking to the speak of their support for Israel and stress the country’s contribution to the world in tech and science. Nick Gray, who produced and narrated the event, said: “It was a delight to see several thousand members of both communities celebrating together in one place. If, through last night’s event, we see our two communities come closer together in friendship and cooperation around common causes, it will have been all the more worthwhile.”