In Oklahoma visit, Rabbi Riskin describes his work in Israel, decries ISIS terror around the world
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Published: 22-Feb-2015

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin spoke to area residents at a Chabad Community Center event in Oklahoma City the evening of Tuesday, February 17.

Riskin may have surprised some listeners when he he described himself as a feminist, occasionally at odds with some of his more conservative rabbinical colleagues in both Israel and America. Women play an important role in his organization's services. Rabbi Riskin praised Sandra Shanker, originally from Oklahoma City, and complimented Shirley Shanker, Sandra's mother, for raising “such a good daughter.”

Oklahoma is known in Israel for its ardent support of the Jewish state.

Recently, Riskin and his staff ensured that the Christians who reside in the Bethlehem area in Israel had images of Jesus for Christmas celebrations after local Muslim authorities had refused to allow them such items.

Riskin has developed long-lasting friendships with most of his Arab neighbors over the past three decades in the Efrat area. His synagogues insure non-Jewish neighbors have health care access at little or no cost.

Reflecting on centuries of history, Riskin described his high regard for Islam, and adherents who adhere practice tolerant and enlightened interpretations of the faith.

However, Riskin decried the rise of ISIS and other extremists groups in both Europe and the Middle East. Concerning recent terrorist attacks, he pointed to dangers facing Jews in Denmark and France. Ukrainian Jews have fled parts of that nation in response to Russian-backed separatist attacks and wish to immigrate to Israel, Riskin disclosed.

Riskin directly criticized the government of Iran and its nuclear program. He said the United States must help prevent a nuclear Iran. He defended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to address Congress concerning the Iranian issue.

Chabad Rabbi Ovadia Goldman introduced Riskin, explaining the well-known Rabbi led a flourishing synagogue in New York City in his younger days. However, 31 years ago he decided to move to Israel. Riskin now runs The Center For Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) from his headquarters in Efrat.

More than 7,000 people have come there to study subjects such as the Hebraic origins of Christianity, with the work there contributing to better relations between Christian and Jews.

As the evening commenced, Goldman asked for a moment of silence to honor the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS several days before.

Attendees included Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reece, who reported agricultural experts from Israel have visited here and provided guidance to Oklahoma farmers interested in “plasticulture” in which plastic covering is placed over plants as a way to preserve irrigation water and prolong the growing season. Reece said that a small business in Edmond, known as Phocus Farms is currently employing that technology.

Sponsoring Riskin's visit was Gary and Connie Bachman, founders of Zion's Gate International, based in Oklahoma City.

NOTE: O'Brien is an independent writer. This report is forthcoming in The City Sentinel newspaper

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