Yesterday, Israeli Memorial Day for men and women who have given their lives for the protection of their country and its people, gave us another opportunity to share in the life of Israel. Commemoration of lives lost, since before Israel's indenpendance up to today, took place in Karmiel just down the hill from our apartment.
It seems that the Jewish people are always faced with the need to protect their lives; and not only their own, but even the lives of those who would treat them as equal human beings and do common, everyday business with them.
Today I read an April 20th Jerusalem Post article by Caroline Glick, titled "The Elephant of Jew-hatred", in which she tells the story of Mohammed Abh Shahala who was sentenced to death this week by the Palestinian Authority for selling a house in Hebron, near the Cave of the Patriarchs, to Jews. He was arrested when the new Jewish owners moved in, and then sentenced to death.
Jewish residents in Hebron have sent a letter pleading for international intervention to save his life to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, director-general of the Red Cross Yves Daccord, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and others. Hopefuly these international leaders will move to prevent this death.
It is unbeleivable that such a law could actually be on the books of any peoples' charter in modern times, but it is there and acted upon.
We need to pray that the international community will open its eyes to such blatant hatred of Jews that exists, not only in the countries surrounding Israel, but in the larger world community, as seen in the fact that such laws can exist without an international outcry.
The sirens blared at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. Traffic stopped in the streets, drivers got out to stand in silence for 2 minutes, remembering their people who were herded into gassing rooms and pushed into burning ovens.
Annihilation is always on the minds of Israeli's; verbalized threats come to them from all around....from surrounding nations as well as Europe and the western world. Not to mention the church, mainline and others, who simply claim to be "pro-palestinian" which translated means pro-annihilation of Israel since that is the expressly stated purpose of significant palistinian leaders. This may well be out of ignorance, but it is still a position that sounds to Israel like "anti-Jewish/anti-Semitic".
Also, there are groups of churches that preach "replacement theology", the concept that the church has replaced Israel in God's purposes for the nations.
But long before any of this more current history, Pharaoh, Haman, Hitler and now Hizbullah, expressly purposed to annihilate the Jewish people.
No wonder "annihilation" is a concept so close to the forefront of Jewish consciousness.
To the Lord a thousand years is like a day and a day like a thousand years. To us two months has seemed like two weeks!
Our volunteer time is winding down; we trust that the "cold cups of water" we've handed out will continue to soften the soil and reap blessings for a long time.
It is a great joy to see the light in the eyes of the immigrants as they reach out to receive the encouragement as it comes in the form of kitchen ware, or a weeks supply of food, bus fare or dental care, a birthday gift or a new born baby gift. To make aliya is a very difficult task and takes great energy and courage to adapt to a totally new environment, learn a totally new language, adapt to schooling and eventually find a job so they are able to support themselves financially. In spite of the difficulty, many express a confidence that it was God who called them to Israel. Their comments of gratitude have been most encouraging to us..."You are in our hears", "What you do is a mitzvah", "You are going a great thing".
Children with FEED A CHILD program
In 2011 BFP served immigrants from 24 countries. Every one returning to the land of Israel is the result of God's covenant promise to Abraham, establishing over and over, His character of faithfulness, not because of deserving goodness, but for the sake of His name (Ez. 36:22-28).
We are overwhelmed with the opportunity of being a part of God's fulfillment of His everlasting promise made long ago. It is being brought about before our very eyes...our hearts are about bursting with the joy of being here "for such a time as this".
Through BFP's Project Rescue, the team in the former Soviet Union is working with another 20,000 Jewish people to come "home" (Jerem 16:14-15). When they do, BFP volunteer's, donors and pray'ers will be here to receive them, thus hastening His return with the peace of Jerusalem.
The Sovereign LORD, through Ezekiel, continues in v.21, "I had concern for my holy name....Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'this is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but fot the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.... Then the nations will know that Iam the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes."
God's Covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding their descendants and the land He was giving to them are everlasting, eternal Covenants, not contracts or agreements dependent on circumstances. The Sovereign LORD'S holy name was profaned before the nations, not because of what Israel did (although their exile was because of what they did or, also, did not do), but because the nations could know about the Covenant and mock the fact that "the people" were not in "the land" that the Covenant gave them. So the nations mocked, profaned, the holy name by saying that the Sovereign LORD was not all that "Sovereign" because His people were, contrary to the Covenant, scattered among the nations.
When God changes Abram's name to Abraham and his wife's to Sarah(Gen 17:1-27) He says that He will bless the descendants of Ishmael, but make His "covenant with Isaac." This covenant includes the "whole land of Canaan", which in Gen 15:18 extends "from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates...." The purpose of this covenant, He tells Abraham in Gen 22:1-19 is that in Abraham's descendants "all nations will be blssed."
God reiterates this covenant with both Isaac (Gen 26:2-6) and Jacob (Gen 28:13-15) and in both cases the Covenant reiteration includes the promise that "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offsprig." (Gen 28:14)
So, it is to honour His covenant that He is calling on the land to extend branches and bear fruit in preparation for the return of "the whole house of Israel". God being absolutely true and faithful to the Covenants He makes, has "concern for (His) holy name" and is bringing His people back to His land.
Therefore, "The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They willsay, 'This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.' Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36:34-36)
We are here to witness the Eden that this land has become. We bear witness through these images we're sharing with you.
Hagsameach (Pesach/Passover greeting)! The week long celebration of Pesach is almost over. Soon the "leavened" areas in the food shops will be uncovered, making grocery shopping much easier.
It is said that there is no original Israeli cuisine. With more than 100 nationalities represented in Israel, it'll be awhile before we run out of meal ideas. There is never a shortage of vegetables, olives, figs and nuts. Nor of hot dogs! Our favorite foods remain to be falafel, humus, eggplant and the best ever tasting tomatoes. Grocery shopping is becoming less intimidating but I'm still feeling very mistrusting because I am not able to read labels. Assuming that all labeling is in Hebrew, Rick missed seeing English lettering on the coffee jar he had selected. It stated it to be decaffeinated and "Kosher Parve under the supervision of Safed Rabbinate"......not Ethiopian roast, but.......
I am experimenting with a new spice; Za'atar is a combination of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano and salt. It goes well with labaneh (thin, flat bread) with oil, plain yogurt and Za'atar spread on or as a dip. It also goes well with lentils and tabbouleh.
Recently, for brunch, I made Ashkenazi Potato Latkes. I think you'd enjoy them too. 5 potatoes, grated 2 onions 1 carrot 3 eggs 3 tbsp. bread crumbs 4 garlic cloves Salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg & Za'atar
Drain liquids collecting from grated veggies. Oil pan. With tbsp. form into pancakes & fry on both sides. NOT KOSHER ENJOY!
"Even the whole house of Israel" is the extent of His people Israel "that the Sovereign LORD calls upon "the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys" to prepare to welcome and nurture.
What a privilege it is for us to actively participate in this cause of welcoming and offering some measure of provision to God's returning people. We are hearing that in the next five years Israel is expecting to bring in another 500,000 aliya making Jews. Hallelujah!
Our center employs one such young man, born in Azerbaijan, married to a Russian Jewess, who made aliya about 3 years ago with their family of four. Both husband and wife are enterprizing young people in their mid thirties; she a seamstress creating wedding gowns, and he an administrator overseeing the Adoption Program at KAC here in Karmiel. They anticipate the time when they will be ready to establish their own fabric store around the work as a seamstress. His mind contains several other entrepreneurial options; he is taking a course, in business administration, taught of course, in Hebrew, a language he has been working to master for only three year.
Another young man (extreme left), a German, married to a Jewish woman from the UK, has become a work friend. He is a fine artist painter, but also a trained stone mason who took on the job of building a warehouse workshop wall for KAC's new venture into home repair and maintenance. He, together with labour supplied by yours truly and a young 20 something also from Wpg. spent two weeks constructing a brick wall to house the new shop. His wife, also a creative, artistic person, teaches English and dance wherever she finds the opportunity to do so.
We have also made friends with a mid 40's man, born in New York and raised in various parts of the US, who made aliya some 14 years ago. He is a meteorologist, but works here teaching English. He is also a great tour guide; he demonstrated this one Sunday taking us to Mt. Carmel, the mountains on which Elijah brought the people together for God to demonstrate His sovereignty over the Ba'al prophets, and break the drought that had gripped the land for three years. He had worked in the smaller of the two Druze villages along the Carmel ridge that drops into the sea at Haifa, so these Druze villages become alive through his guiding.
The list goes on; the point is that the knowledge that God is bringing His people back to His land is no longer just the romantic notion it was for us back home, but it is being fleshed out by friends and stories of extreme difficulty experienced by those very hard working people who choose to make aliya.