November 18, 2013. Reverend Luis Cortés Jr., president of Esperanza, traveled to Jerusalem to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discuss issues of common concern between Israel and Hispanic Evangelicals in the United States and around the world. The meeting pointed to future cooperation and collaboration between Israel and the Hispanic faith community.
As a result of the meeting, Reverend Cortés announced the development of a new Esperanza program, Esperanza Para Israel (Hope for Israel). The initiative aims to implement projects to encourage mutual understanding and support between Israel and the Hispanic Evangelical community.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu was not only gracious and generous with his time, but also visionary in his support of an initiative that will bring together a key demographic for the future of the United States and Israel,” said Reverend Cortes. “These programs will help us build on groundwork already laid to promote even greater relationships between our communities.”
“There are many points of commonality between our two communities,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu. “Exploring this common ground has initiated ideas for greater cooperation now and for future generations.”
The Esperanza Para Israel initiative will encompass a variety of programs including: tourism as expressed through coordination of tour groups for visits to the Holy Land; cultural exchange; and environmental stewardship programming. “The multi-faceted aspects of this program allow us to reach out to many partners and supporters, bringing together people from all backgrounds and walks of life,” said Reverend Cortes.
As part of the Jerusalem visit, Reverend Cortes also met with Jewish National Fund (JNF) Worldwide Chairman Efi Stenzler. “The Esperanza For Israel program provides the Jewish National Fund a unique opportunity to work together with Hispanic Communities around the globe on a variety of important issues,” said Chairman Stenzler.
According to Cortes, the new initiative is deeply rooted in the past and future. “This initiative is meant to build on a conversation I had years ago with former Prime Minister Sharon where he expressed the hope that our grandchildren will know each other by first name,” said Cortes. “After many years of continuing to strengthen our relationships with one another, we are poised to move to the next phase of our expression of that relationship. Esperanza Para Israel is the foundation upon which our children will build.”
Esperanza, the premiere Hispanic Evangelical faith-based network in the country, was founded in 1987 by the Reverend Luis Cortés Jr. and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity. With a national network of over 13,000 Hispanic congregations, faith and community based agencies, Esperanza is a leading voice for Hispanics in America.