The Nixon tapes revealed a shocking quote, but there was much more to his relationship with Judaism.
New York City gave Billy Graham a national stage like no other US city when he arrived in 1957. And the evangelist saw a special opportunity in its ethnic diversity, with "more Italians than Rome, more Irish than Dublin, more Germans than Berlin, more Puerto Ricans than San Juan." He also knew that one out of every ten Jews in the world lived in New York.
Graham capitalized on the city's ethnic character, notably inviting Martin Luther King Jr. to offer an opening prayer, preaching a Saturday afternoon Spanish service through an interpreter, and in his free time meeting with various Jewish groups. He developed a long-lasting friendship with Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, then director of the Synagogue Council of America. Both were men of enormous influence in their own circles, and they did not hesitate to use their influence to advance each other's interests.
Over the years, the Jewish community recognized Graham for his key role in interfaith relations. In 1960, it was Israel Prime Minister Golda Meir, presenting him with a Bible inscribed, "To a great teacher in all the important matters to humanity and a true friend of Israel." In 1969, it was the Torch of Liberty Plaque awarded by the Anti-Defamation League. In 1971, it was the International Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In 1977, it was the American Jewish Committee's first interreligious award, with Tanenbaum declaring, "Most of the progress of Protestant-Jewish relations over the past quarter century was due to Billy Graham."
The community's appreciation for Graham stemmed in part from his repeated refusal to "single out the Jews as Jews" in his evangelism—despite his role as …
Source: Christianity Today Most Read