By Andrew Adler
Each year since 2007, a group of Southern Indiana churches have combined for “A Night to Honor Israel,” raising funds to benefit a nation close to the hearts of many of their congregants. And it’s fair to say that few, if any, are as heartfelt about that country as Rebecca Reel.
Founder and director of Reel Ministries, Reel regards Israel as, quite literally, a sacred trust. Her formidable energies are a major motivator for this year’s tribute evening, slated for Thursday, November 30 at 6 p.m. at the Windell Ag. Building, 341 S Capitol Avenue in Corydon, Ind. The event will offer music and presentations by area Jewish and Christian figures, with a keynote address by Kirby Calhoun of Christians United for Israel.
The event is billed as “an expression of solidarity between Christians and Jews on behalf of Jerusalem, the State of Israel and the United States of America.”
For Reel, who was raised in Texas as an atheist before embracing Christianity at age 16, Israel is intensely personal. Interviewed recently at a Jeffersonville, Ind. coffee shop, wearing a Star of David pendant engraved in Hebrew with the Shema, she recalled the genesis of what has become a powerful, enduring relationship.
“I started reading my Bible and just fell in love with Israel,” she says. “I felt a calling to learn about my Hebrew roots.”
Reel visited Israel for the first time in 1994. One year later she led the first of what would be numerous educational group trips there. How m
any times has she traveled to Israel? “I’ve lost track,” she says. “Maybe 30.”
Why such a tug?
“I don’t have the words to describe it,” she says. “Because it’s the land of the book, the people of the book. If you love the book, you’re going to love the people in the book and the land of the book. I’ve been working on Israel’s behalf ever since I was about 16 years old. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor. It’s a joy.”
“A Night to Honor Israel” – which counts among its key organizers Pastor Tim Williams of God’s Church in Corydon — is part of a weeklong revival meeting at the Corydon Fairgrounds comprising eight participating congregations.
The Nov. 30 program will include representatives from Louisville’s Jewish community. Funds raised at the event will benefit the Emergency Israel Campaign, and Christians United for Israel (each will have its own donation envelopes). After the formal program, there will be time for “food and fellowship.”
Because this year’s event takes place in the shadow of the October 7 attacks by Hamas, “it’s made it much more important to the Jewish people and to us as well in the Christian community,” Reel says. “It will be more sobering and somber rather than the usual big celebration. It’s hard to celebrate when families and children are being held as hostages.”
“I love Israel,” she reiterates. “I love the Jewish people, and I want to do everything I can to stand with Israel, especially at this time.”
Indeed, Rebecca Reel isn’t shy about displaying her allegiances for any and all to see. “For many years I’ve been flying an Israeli flag and an American flag in my yard,” she says. “And I don’t intend to take them down.”
For more information about “A Night to Honor Israel” on Nov. 30, email Leon Wahba at email@example.com