At a New York Board of Rabbis event yesterday I was privileged to learn from Father Gabriel Nadaf, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth. Father Nadaf has been persecuted by Muslim leaders for his urging Arab Christians to enter the Israeli Defense Forces. Nadaf wants Christians to become integrated into Israeli society, where they have lived so well under the State of Israel. For these words he has received numerous death threats as well as threats to his economic security. Abbas has urged Greek Orthodox patriarch to eliminate Nadaf’s position, thereby depriving him of his livelihood, because of Nadaf’s belief that Christian Arabs must ally themselves with their Jewish bretheren and actively support their homeland of Israel.
It was such a blessing to get to meet and learn from Father Nadaf, who met us at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue because of the security of that building. I cannot imagine his life, in which he is constantly surrounded by security, his home surrounded by surveillance and his son was beat up to the point of near-death because of Father Nadaf’s views. Father Nadaf reports that thankfully his son is almost healed from the attack and in 1 month he will enlist in the Israeli Defense Forces.
I wish there were more non-Jews like Father Nadaf in Israel, so that he was not a lone voice living each day in danger. I understand that others are afraid of speaking out, and what I found most impressive about Father Nadaf is that he is not afraid. As he pointed out, he already has a $3 million bounty on his head from Hamas so “enough of doing things in secret.” I pray that Father Nadaf will be a leader within the Greek Orthodox Church for years to come, hopefully one day having the blessing of becoming the Patriarch. We need more Father Nadafs!