The Minnesota 2023 Africa Night to Honor Israel

Sunday, October 29, 2023.
Dinner @ 5 p.m. Central Time followed by the program @ 6 p.m. (dinner and program are free)

At Ebenezer Community Church

9200 West Broadway,
Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

Jewish leadership correspondence about previous Africa Night to Honor Israel events (all of which agreed that we would share their correspondence): Jim Cohen, CEO, Minneapolis Jewish Federation; Rabbi Alexander Davis, Beth El Synagogue; Rabbi Avram Ettedgui; Dan Mogelson, St. Paul Jewish Federation; Steve Hunegs, Executive Director, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas ("JCRC"); U.S. Senator and U.S. Ambassador Rudy Boschwitz; Etta Barry, member of the steering committee for Partnership2Gether; Sally Abrams, co-Director of the JCRC Speakers Bureau/It's Your Legacy Program; Mort Naiman, Jewish Agency for Israel; Jason Rose, JNF; Erica Strohl; Mike Hofkin

From: “James Cohen”
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 2:32:06 PM
Subject: Thank you
Dear Rev. and Mrs. Tabla:

To say that I was overwhelmed by the Africa Night to Honor Israel would not do justice to my feelings. What an evening! The music! The warm feelings of love and respect! Not to mention the incredibly generous offering. For my first week in Minneapolis, I could not think of a better way to experience such positive feelings. My thanks to you, to all of the leaders of CUFI, all of the clergy and to all of parishoners present.

Shabbat Shalom,
Chief Executive Officer | Minneapolis Jewish Federation

From: “Rabbi Alexander Davis”
To: “Dr. Francis Tabla”
Cc: Ilan Sharon
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 3:47:41 PM

Subject: thank you

Dear Reverends Francis & Christine Tabla

I wanted to take a moment before my Sabbath begins to thank you for hosing the recent Africa Night to Honor Israel. It was an honor to once again participate. I delighted in seeing your new, beautiful church and was moved by the words and melodies of the program. But more than that, I was deeply touched by your genuine love for Israel, the Jewish people and your desire to generously support the State of Israel.

I have shared my thoughts with my congregation in St Louis Park and ask you to share my tremendous gratitude to your congregation.

I look forward to future when our shared love for Israel brings our paths together.

Bivrakha (with blessings)

Rabbi Alexander Davis
Alexander Davis | Rabbi
Beth El Synagogue

From: Avram Ettedgui
To: “Dr. Francis Tabla”
Cc: Ilan Sharon
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017

Subject: thank you, thank you

Dear Dr. Tabla,

I want you to know how much we enjoyed being with you at the honor Israel evening.

I brought 14 members of my family and they all were excited and inspired by your words and by the members of your Church and all the other guests.

You are truly a reliable and trusted friend of Israel and the Jewish people.

You made us all feel welcome and the music, the dancing, and speeches were all electrifying and most inspiring.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and wish you much success and blessing in your important and worthy work.

May God bless you and your family, your community and all the pilgrims and members of the African Christian community.


Rabbi Avram Ettedgui, Sharei Chesed Congregation.


From: “Dan Mogelson”
To: “Dr. Francis Tabla”
Cc: “Ilan Sharon”

Subject: Thank you for Africa Night to Honor Israel!

Dear Reverends Francis & Christine Tabla,

My name is Dan Mogelson, and I work with Israel Programs with the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul.

I was very fortunate that I was able to attend Africa Night to Honor Israel on May 21st at your beautiful Ebenezer Community Church. Thank you for allowing me this wonderful opportunity. This is the second year in a row that I have attended this amazing event.

I am deeply grateful for the love and support directed at Israel and the Jewish people from the Ebenezer Community Church, African Christians United for Israel, and Christians United for Israel.

The Africa Night to Honor Israel was such a powerful event. It is one of only a few events that I will schedule my life around so I am able to attend. The organizers and attendees were so full of life, joy, and love. The speakers were excellent, and the music and dancing were beautiful and moving.

I feel blessed that I was able to attend. Personally, I cannot thank you enough for what you do, and the unwavering love you share with Israel and the Jewish people.

In addition, in my capacity with the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul, thank you so much for your ongoing support and very generous contributions towards the important work that our Jewish Federations are doing in Israel.

God bless those who bless Israel. God bless you and the Ebenezer Community Church, African Christians United for Israel, and Christians United for Israel.

Feel free to share my thank you note with the public.

All the best,


Dan Mogelson
Young Leadership & Israel Programs Director
Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul


Subject: Steve Hunegs communication about the ANTHI to local Jewish leaders

From: Ilan Sharon
To: Rev. Dr. Francis Tabla
Cc: Steven Hunegs
Sent: Sunday, May 28, 2017 8:50:10 AM

Shalom Dr. Tabla,

Each Friday Steve Hunegs sends a communication to Jewish leadership in the Twin Cities. This last Friday, he also included a report from your ANTHI. This is NOT an official Thank You note from him (which will arrive via snail mail) but he did tell me that I can share with you what he communicated to the local Jewish leadership.


From Steve’s communication on Friday, May 26:

The Africa for Africa Night to Honor Israel which I attended on May 21, 2017 at Ebenezer Community Church in Brooklyn Park, MN. There was remarkable ruach with 300-400 people present including the P2K delegation from Rehovot which will receive the JCRC’s Minnesota legislative delegation in December; Dan Mogelson representing the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul and the new CEO of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation–Jim Cohen–completing his first week on the job–Welcome, Jim!

One of the most moving parts of the evening were the many pastors from west African nations (e.g. Ghana, Liberia, Ivory Coast) leading Twin Cities’ congregations who have traveled to Israel–or “pilgrims” in the words of the Rev. Dr. Francis Tabla of Ebenezer.

I spoke and presented a mezuzah to Rev. Tabla honoring his congregation’s first year in their own church building and his dedication to building a great friendship with the Jewish community. I noted the name Ebenezer–which comes from the Book of Samuel and is the prophetic quote of choice by the congregation–means “stone” in Hebrew–the root eben is a stone. I pointed out the reference to G-D in Israel’s Declaration of Independence is Tzur Yisroel–“Rock of Israel.” Stones and rocks are apt metaphors for an unbreakable friendship which the Pastors and all gathered (with spirited singing and dancing) carry with them with all their heart, soul and might–to invoke the Shema apropos to the gift of the mezuzah.

I also had the pleasure of congratulating Pastor Tim Burt (and wife Renee) on his retirement from Living Word Christian Center and Minnesota state director of CUFI for his years of outstanding leadership. We welcome Pastor Charlie Houle who will succeed Pastor Tim at CUFI.

Thank you, as ever, for Ilan Sharon’s leadership as Jewish Liaison and for Sen. Rudy Boschwitz discussing his role in Operation Solomon and the rescue of Ethiopian Jews.

Thank you to the African Gospel Fellowship Choir for providing beautiful music and to Rabbi Alexander Davis for providing the benediction. As ever, it is always great to hear from JoAnn Magnuson and Deb Campbell.

— Steve Hunegs, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC)


From: Rudy Boschwitz
To: Dr. Francis Tabla
Cc: Ilan Sharon
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 12:15:25 PM
Subject: A Night to Honor Israel

Dear Reverends Francis & Christina Tabla,

I am writing to thank you, not only for holding your wonderful Night to Honor Israel, but for allowing me to speak and then adjusting the schedule so that I could speak at the very outset of the program.

As you know I had a second function that evening where I was the honoree at the Annual Dinner of the Lubavitch Cheder (an Orthodox Jewish Day School), and you made it possible for me to attend both events.

As you know I was born in Germany. On the very day Hitler became Reichschancellor (in English we would call him Prime Minister) – on that very day – January 30, 1933 – my Dad came home and told my Mom “we are leaving Germany forever.” I was 2 and, of course, have no memory of Germany at all, but we left Germany in July 1933 and arrived in the U.S. in December 1935.

The fact that you and your fellow ministers visited Israel and especially Yad Vashem is very meaningful to me. Of my family that stayed on the continent of Europe and did not escape, only one survived.

America is such a great country that I, a Jewish refugee, could succeed and become a U.S. Senator. I fully expect a person in your congregation to follow me in that path.

Please extend my thanks to your congregation, your planning committee, and the events co-sponsors.

Your new Church is a thing of beauty. The decor was wonderful, the atmosphere very welcoming and the music and singing were inspiring.

It was my 3rd or 4th time I have attended this event. I will come again. As you know I have a special bond to Africa. I was President Bush’s Emissary to Ethiopia in 1991 to free the Black Ethiopian Jews and negotiate an airlift that took them to Israel. In Ethiopia the Black Jews were called “falashas,” a word that means “strangers.” But in Israel they are strangers no more. In Israel they became citizens on the day of their arrival and they are already important in Israeli society.

Again, it was a privilege to attend and be part of the program. God bless you, your fellow Pastors, your wonderful congregation and all Christians that love and support the State of Israel.

Rudy Boschwitz
U.S. Senator (R-MN, 1978-1991)
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission (Geneva, Switzerland – 2005)
President G.H.W. Bush’s Emissary to Ethiopia (1991)


From: “Etta Barry”
To: Dr. Francis Tabla
Cc: Ilan Sharon

Subject: Thank you!!

Dear Reverends Francis and Christine Tabla:

I was in attendance at last Sunday’s Africa Night to Honor Israel and I have to say that it was a most amazing and memorable night.

I was with the group that was here from Rehovot, Israel and watching the Israeli’s reacting in awe and the support of Jews and Israel was memorable. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing and seeing and we all left the event feeling so honored to have been there and having this overall sense of warmth and support from your community. We loved having the opportunity to sing and dance with you and share in our love of Israel It was a night we will never forget.

Your new building is beautiful and I am thrilled that you now have the space to support important events like this.

Thank you so much for all you do and your entire community as well. Please be sure to share my appreciation with your community.

Thank you again!!


Etta Barry
Member of the Steering Committee for Partnership2Gether


From: “Sally Abrams”
To: “Dr. Francis Tabla”
Cc: “Ilan Sharon”, “Steve Hunegs”
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 1:53:19 PM

Subject: With gratitude for Africa Night to Honor Israel

Dear Rev. Tabla and Mrs. Tabla-

Heartfelt thanks for planning and hosting a splendid Africa Night to Honor Israel. It is hard to find words to express what it felt like for this Jewish attendee to be immersed in such a moving display of love, generosity, and solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.

Please know that every speech, every song, every magnificent dance, penetrated my heart and will stay there. That alone would have been more than enough (or ‘dayenu’. as we say in Hebrew). But the donation of funds to Israel on top of all the rest is simply colossal generosity. And the lovingly prepared food was just delicious!

Our Israeli friends from Rehovot, in Minneapolis as part of our partnership work, were blown away by the experience. Nothing I could have told them about our Christian friends equaled seeing this for themselves. The sense of solidarity and love they felt will be shared with their community back in Rehovot.

Please feel free to share my email as you see fit.

I look forward to continuing friendship between our communities.

With warmest regards-

Sally Abrams

Sally Abrams, Co-Director
JCRC Speakers Bureau/ It’s Your Legacy Program
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota and the Dakotas


From: Mort Naiman

Pastor Tabla,

Attached is a small & brief thank you which cannot express what your leadership has meant to the State of Israel and the work of the Jewish Agency as you help make it possible to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

Please, know your leadership and commitment are appreciated.

Thank you for leading the African Christians United for Israel evening each year at your Church. The new Church is wonderful and what you & your congregation have achieved is remarkable.

May you be blessed with health to continue your amazing work with your wife.


Mort Naiman

From: Mort Naiman
To: Dr Francis Tabla
Ebenezer Community Church

Brooklyn Park, MN

Dear Dr. Tabla,

It is most fitting at this time that we express our deep appreciation to you, as well as to the members of the Ebenezer Community Church, and to the African Christians United for Israel, for your most generous support to The Jewish Agency for Israel.

The program which you have chosen to support for the Aliyah and Absorption of the Ethiopian immigrants is strongly appreciated. Together, we are truly making a difference in the lives of Israelis, as we help them come to Israel to start a new life in the Holy Land.

Recently, on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, we remembered and honored the sacrifices of those who either gave their lives in the defense of Israel or were murdered in acts of terror. We immediately went from sorrow to gladness as we celebrated Israel’s independence on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and this week, we have rejoiced in the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital, on Yom Yerushalayim. The Night to Honor Israel was inspiring and spiritually uplifting and Micki and I always find joy in sharing the experience.

On behalf of the members of our lay and professional leadership and the many who will benefit from the generous support, thank you for your commitment to the people and the land of Israel. , Todah Rabbah! Thank You!


Mort Naiman
Sr VP Israel and Global Philanthropy
Jewish Agency for Israel


From: “Jason Rose”
To: Dr. Francis Tabla
Cc: Ilan Sharon, Deb Campbell
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 2:55:08 PM

Subject: Note of Thanks – Africa Night to Honor Israel

Dear Reverends Francis & Christine Tabla, and other Pastors and Hosts of the 2017 Africa Night to Honor Israel:

I attended my first Africa Night to Honor Israel this past Sunday. I was moved by the event! I loved hearing the songs, the prayers, and the many words of kindness shared by all participants, which embodied my love and passion for the land and people of Israel! I enjoyed hearing first-hand from the Pilgrims about their experiences in the Holy Land. I also enjoyed learning both about the storied histories of many African nations and Israel and also from Congressman Eric Paulsen about the nature of deep diplomatic, cultural and security relationships between our two countries.

Most of all, I appreciated celebrating a joint love and passion for Israel, with several hundred fellow Minnesotans, of all backgrounds. In honor the fourth anniversary of this event, I have directed that a tree be planted in Israel, as a symbol of the growing love between our Minnesota community and Israel.

If I or the Jewish National Fund can be of service to you and your congregations in the future, please feel free contact me. I would welcome sharing JNF’s educational resources with you in order to foster a deeper connection between our communities and Israel.

Please feel free to share my words of appreciation with your congregations and communities.

Again, thank you for including me in this wonderful event!

Kol Ha Kavod!
Jason Rose, Associate Executive Director, Midwest
Tree Planted In Israel in Honor of African Christians United For Israel


From: “Ilan Sharon”
To: “Rev. Dr. Francis Tabla”
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 5:24:56 PM
Subject: Thank you from Ilan Sharon

Shalom Reverends Dr. Francis and Christina,

Wow! What an uplifting, and meaningful, night was the Minnesota 2017 Africa Night to Honor Israel that you hosted last Sunday.

Words can’t explain the magnitude of the event, and this is not just my impression, many other guests told me that they had the same experience.

Please extend my thanks to all your congregation and all the organizations involved in making it happen, and you may share my note publicly.

Your sincere love and support of Israel and the Jewish people was felt throughout the evening. Everything was amazing:

And most importantly, your wonderful and warm congregation and the members of the African community who attended the event. Many guests from the Jewish community told me it was a moving experience that exceeded their wild expectations.

Israel and the Jewish people are blessed to have you as a friend.

May G-d bless all of you, and may you go from strength to strength.


Ilan Sharon
The event’s Jewish Liaison and the Executive Director of Minnesotans Against Terrorism.


From: “Erica Strohl”
To: “Dr. Francis Tabla”, “Ilan Sharon”
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2017 5:56:44 PM

Subject: Todah rabah

Please share this with your congregation.

Dear Reverands Francis and Christine Tabla:

As I turned off the highway and saw your new church building, my heart soared. Your new building is so beautiful and I know so much good will flow from it. Ebenzer has joined in a truly American tradition of building communities of faith in a new home. And to do so with a love of Israel surely means that blessings will continue to flow for your church.

Every time I attend Africa for Israel, I leave on an absolute spiritual high. The music, the dancing, the words of love for Israel are so heartfelt and beautiful — they carry me for days.

I am so grateful for your love of Israel and for your willingness to spend time creating and growing this wonderful event. I look forward to attending, G-d willing, in future years and to see this event and your church grow.

May you and your congregation go from strength to strength. (מחיל אל חיל, Psalms 84;7)

With deepest gratitude and blessings of peace,

Erica Strohl


From: “Michael Hofkin”
To: “Dr. Francis Tabla”

Subject: Thank you

Dear Reverend and Christine Tabla:

My wife, Ann, and I want to thank you very much for having the Africa Night to Honor Israel at your church. As Jews who care deeply about Israel and are acutely aware of the widespread enmity it faces, we are enormously appreciative of you, your church’s, and the African Christian community’s strong support. The event was wonderful; we had a great time. Thank you for caring and for your church’s warm, welcoming hospitality. (I also enjoyed sitting next to you at the AIPAC annual event.)

All our best wishes,

Mike and Ann Hofkin

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