Interview: The House on Mt Zion

A NEW LIGHT WILL SHINE ON MOUNT ZION!

INTERVIEW with Adelheid Perlick at the Roses’ house on Mt Zion!

Pauline and Albert Rose, despite the fears and warnings of others and the physical challenges, succeeded in building a home and a beautiful garden in war-torn Jerusalem of the late 50’s and early 60’s, leading up to the Six Day War.

The Meier/Perlick family from Germany had become close personal friends and determined to come alongside the Roses and assist in whatever manner they could.
Today we enjoyed the fruits of their faith and labors as we sat in the garden and deeply sensed the peace and chessed – loving-kindness – of His Presence; that which the Roses had envisioned and for which they trusted HaShem to establish in their home – HaOhel, the Tent.
“For when the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.” (Psalm 102:16)

He still is building!
~ Keren Hannah

You can follow the remarkable story of ‘The Window on Mount Zion’ on Books/Audio on the His-israel website.

The newly published book is available on the www.FFOZ.org website

WAS PAUL A CHRISTIAN?

 

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In answer to my question, Pamela Eisenbaum, of the Hebrew University and now a professor of biblical studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, boldly states on the cover of her book (excerpted above): Paul was not a Christian. 

While my husband of blessed memory, Dwight A. Pryor – to whom, on this his 7th yartzeit, I dedicate this article – had a strong affinity with Paul, I wrestled with the apparent contradictions I found in the apostle’s letters. In particular, those that carried a strong Anti-Jewish and Anti-law, or Torah, slant. I simply decided to disregard any such problematic verses and appreciate the positive life and Torah affirming statements made by Paul. Then came the challenge!  I recently attended a four-part lecture series by Ryan Lambert,** entitled Paul Within Judaism – Rethinking the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles. Ryan made a passionate appeal for the need to clarify our understanding of Paul in his Jewish identity and context and to gain greater clarity on the verses I was happy to dismiss. He also emphasized that we need to grasp WHY this was necessary, indeed vital in the continuing restoration and the unfolding of God’s redemptive purposes.

From Ryan’s introduction:

“WHY take the time to examine Paul in the context of Judaism? Because it is a critical component of the restoration of the Hebraic heritage. It’s the important paradigm shift for the multidirectional hermeneutic needed to gain a clearer perspective of the basis of Paul’s important mission and message. Christianity needs to be restored to its Jewish Roots and the Torah. This is not to say that the Church is ‘bad.’ It has done, and is doing, great good in the world, and it preserved the teachings of Yeshua. [However, at this point in history] the Church needs to be lovingly and respectfully challenged in regard to the Jewish identity of Paul.”

I believe, by now, that a good portion of the Church has woken up to the Jewish identity of Jesus and the Hebraic roots of the faith. Christians can embrace the Jewish Rabbi Jesus. However, the anti-Judaism roots run deep.  

In the 2nd Century, Church father Ignatius said, among other Anti-Semitic diatribe: 
“If we go on observing Judaism we admit we never received grace. It is monstrous to think of Jesus living as a Jew!”  Christian scholar and author, John Gager, comments: “In the rhetoric of Christian triumphalism there was no space for Judaism. Jews no longer had anything to offer.”
Martin Luther accused the Jewish people of being enemies of God – and he therefore made them his own enemies. In fact, Anti-Judaism can be traced throughout Church history…from Marcion, to Luther, to modern Christian scholars such as F.C. Bauer and Bultmann. Even the renowned and respected Bible teacher John MacArthur proclaims: “Judaism, in God’s eyes, is a dead issue, but the burial took a long time. It was a very difficult thing for the Jews (Paul, Peter, etc.) to sever their relations with Judaism.”
Pamela Eisenbaum comments: “The misreading of Paul was inexorably linked to the degraded conception of Judaism that so often led to the worst manifestations of Anti-Semitism.”

In the 1960’s a new interpretation arose, coined the ‘New Perspective’ on Jesus, Paul, and Judaism, through scholars such as J.D.G. Dunn, E.P. Saunders, Krister Stendahl, etc.. Their big contribution was to offer a different perspective on Judaism in Jesus’ time.

E.P.Saunders described a pattern of Jewish thinking he termed “covenantal nomism,” and pointed out that Jews did not keep the Torah and do mitzvoth in order to earn salvation and to see themselves as ‘righteous’, but rather because it was the way [given by God] to live in affirmation of their covenantal relationship with God. 

SO, how do we relocate Paul within Judaism? Here are salient points made by Ryan Lambert, with my comments at times interjected [in square brackets]:

  1. Re-examine the Damascus Road event, seen as Paul’s “Conversion” experience.

Stendahl points out that rather than being converted to a new religion, Paul was called to apostleship to the Gentiles. 
Galatians 1:15-16  “But when He [God] who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,…”.

It was a Calling not a Conversion! Paul remained faithful to the God of Israel and to Judaism, and assumed other Jews would too. Objectors can point to Galatians 1:13, which references Paul’s “former manner of life” as a Jew,and see it as indicating he no longer lived that life. Scholar Dr. Mark Nanos responds: “Paul here refers to a certain way of living in Judaism that no longer characterises the way he lives Judaism now.” Previously, he persecuted Jews who followed Yeshua as being traitors to the faith. Now, with the revealing of Messiah, and the inclusion of gentiles into the Kingdom, he realized a great change had occurred – one that ushered in the ‘end of Days.’

2.   Paul’s so-called negative comments on Torah issues should not be universalized. They are highly situational in nature. E.g., Why did he seem to oppose circumcision?

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

[He expresses his concern regarding a situation that had arisen. Strict Jews had approached the new gentile believers and were forcing them to undergo circumcision as a sign of inclusion into the Jewish community. Paul, understandably, was angry and said: “…you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4b). And added: “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12).

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul says: “For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19). He points out how strict, self-righteous Jews (the ‘circumcision party’) can make a show of keeping the commandments but their hearts are far from God. On the other hand the new gentile believers (the ‘uncircumcised party’) who have come into knowledge of their loving Father God through Yeshua, and now are learning and keeping the commandments in love, are those in true “new creation” covenant relationship with God. See also Romans 2:26-29). ]

Paula Fredrikson: “[Paul’s audience] were ex-pagan pagans – ex-pagan Gentiles. Like God-Fearers they would worship the God of Israel but preserve their own ethnicities and would not assume the bulk of the Jewish ancestral customs such as circumcision.”

Circumcision was not the end goal!  [New believers could not be coerced into the multi-faceted stream of Jewish life. Learning and understanding would come slowly.] Paul’s universal view of circumcision is expressed in Romans 3:1-2: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?Much in every way.”

3.   We can ask the question: Was Paul a Liar for the Gospel?

We need to examine Paul’s “missionary strategy” on the basis of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, which impacts how one understands Paul.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”

The standard Christian understanding is that “chameleon-like” activity is justifiable in missionizing. [Ryan related a story of how a Christian disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew and infiltrated a local Jewish community. He eventually ‘witnessed’ to some; then was hosted by a large Christian Church where he boasted about his hypocritical accomplishments and bad-mouthed the Jewish community. As awful as the behavior of the individual was, Ryan felt the justification, even applauding of his actions by the Christian congregation was worse.]

A Christian view is that Paul defines himself as Christ’s slave and is set free from the bonds of Judaism and can be a Jew to the Jews and a gentile to the gentiles. His inconsistent behaviour is justifiable. According to the traditional Jewish viewpoint, there is no way a Torah-observant, Judaism following person could do such things. He would be considered a “shmuck”!

From the Christian viewpoint one can understand that Paul is identified as not Jewish, not Gentile, but part of a third Christian race that is neither Jew nor Gentile. This seems delineated in: “Give no offense to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:32). Author Christian Soulen: “The Church sees itself as a special fellowship outside of the carnal categories of Jew or Gentile.” D.A. Carson, considered one of the leading Christian scholars at present, proclaims: “Paul occupied a third group and so, as far as law is concerned, he is prepared to move from that ground to be either a Jew or a Gentile, because his relationship to Torah is neither one nor the other.” 

The prevailing viewpoint, therefore, is that a Jewish believer’s relationship to God is not based on the Torah covenant or Mosaic Law. We may ask, then, what about the texts, for example, in Acts 21 and 28 and in his letters, that point to Paul as Torah-observant? 

[We may also recall the fact that Yeshua  himself remained Torah observant and lived according to the will of the Father.]

Paul’s adaptability was only in relation to his rhetoric, not his lifestyle. He emphasises in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 – “Nor are we trying to trick you!” Porphery, in the 3rd Century, said that if Paul was justified to ‘trick’ people then it was useless for him to proclaim: “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie!” (Romans 9:1).

Dr. David Rudolph, of King’s University, points out that to back the Christian claim that Paul did not remain Jewish, 1 Corinthians 19 is used as a hermeneutical starting point; “problem” texts are expected to come into line with it. If Paul only kept ‘the law’ as a means to an end, then it was fine to be a “cunning deceiver” for the sake of the gospel. Rudolph suggests that, rather, Paul’s flexibility in addressing his audience reflects Yeshua’s accommodation of different strata of people. He would dine with regular Jews, strict Jews, and tax collectors and sinners. So Paul exercised flexibility in relation to the strictness of Pharasaical halacha.

4. ‘Time’ played an important part in the urgency of Paul’s mission.

Another important consideration is what scholar and author Mark Nanos describes as a “chronometric” view of Paul. Paul believed that the End of the Age had broken in and that time was short! Paul believed that the entry of gentiles into God’s Kingdom proved that the God of Israel was the God of all people, not only those ethnically Jewish. It was therefore better for them to stay, culturally, where they were because Messiah would soon return and establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth. [This eschatological view was an essential element in Paul’s thinking.]

 

5. The problematic Romans 14 passage. Who is “weak” and who is “strong”?

Romans 14:1-2  “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.”

[In reference to this passage a friend and Christian pastor once remarked to Ryan, who also pastors a Messianic Jewish congregation, “This proves that Jewish and Torah ways were a less mature expression of spirituality and I hope all you Jewish believers will move to a New Testament Church.”] According to this Christian view, Jewish life, which is motivated by covenant responsibility and divine commandment, is portrayed as a sign of spiritual immaturity.

Dr. Mark Kinzer, in his book Post Mission Messianic Judaism holds that the Jewish believers were “weak” because they believed certain foods were ontologically (intrinsically) impure and therefore were impure for all. If non-kosher food is impure ontologically, then it’s impure for non-Jews too. Mark Nanos counters, however, that purity is not intrinsic, it’s imputed. God has spoken and it is so. Counter to the common assumption that both groups [the weak and the strong] are Christians, in his book The Mystery of Romans, Nanos understands the “weak” to be the non-Messianic Jews. The weak are ‘weak in faith’ because they do not yet realize that the promises of God have been fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah. 

Romans, chapters  9 – 11, talks much about the dynamics between the non-Messianic Jews and the ‘new in faith’ Messianic Gentiles. Paul’s use of the word “brothers” does not require the Jews to be believers in Yeshua; they are “kinsmen in the flesh.” Nanos underscores the fact that Jews remained the historical community of the One God, whether they recognized Jesus Christ as the Messiah or not. The relationship between them, therefore, should be strong – as “brothers” [in worship of the One God]. Paul is pursuing the establishing of the Kingdom of God spoken of by the prophets. The inclusion of Gentiles was an indication of this coming to pass. Paul, therefore urges the Gentiles to have humility and selflessness in relation to the Jewish people in general.

Conclusion: What are the Practical Implications of this Rethinking of Paul?

The implications touch the heart of God’s Redemptive agenda. Rethinking Paul is the ‘tip of the spear’ to its advancement. Some apply to Jews and some to non-Jews.

1. Traditional Judaism.

  1. The real Paul belongs to Judaism. Jews, in general, if they think about Paul at all, usually consider him as the “real bad guy” who started Christianity and took Jews away from Judaism. Today, Jesus, at least, is considered a devout Jew who upheld Torah but Paul is seen as Anti-Torah. The real Paul , however, was on a mission to spread the heart and principles of Judaism to the nations. 
  2. Paul, within Judaism, is a Paul a Jew could have a family discussion with. He was monotheistic and looked to the Shemah as the basis of the One God for both Jews and Gentiles believers. They were now equals and could practice Judaism under the Messianic King.

2.  Christianity

  1. Christians should not try to convert Jews to Christianity. 
  2. The Church should encourage Jews, and Messianic Jews, to more deeply be Jews and follow Torah as our God-given constitution.
  3. The Church needs to acknowledge that Judaism has not been replaced by Christianity. The Torah-based structure of life is essential for the ongoing movement of the Redemption process.

3. Messianic Judaism

1. Messianic Judaism should not see itself as a ‘missionary’ enterprise. Historically, until now, Jews were “saved” and “Christianized” rather than remaining Jewish and Messianic – [“Father focussed, Yeshua centered, and Spirit inspired,” as Dwight used to say!]
2. Torah and Judaism still represent God’s “marching orders” for the Jewish people.

Note of interest: Pamela Eisenbaum points out that,”…it is virtually a historical certainty that people produced and promulgated texts using Paul’s name pseudonymously. …some of the letters attributed to Paul are ‘disputed’ and of dubious origin.”
The seven undisputed letters are: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. (Paul was not a Christian, p. 22)

  • Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul was not a Christian – The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, Harper Collins, 2009
  • Ryan Lambert is a Messianic Jew based in Atlanta who is associated with the ministry of FFOZ. He is busy working on a book to be published on this topic.

Courage, Loving-kindness and Truth – America?

When I see the drama unfolding around the election results in the USA my reaction is a mixture of disbelief, disgust and concern. Who would have thought that in a cultured, educated society, in a country that has become one of the greatest in history given its relatively short existence, one would witness the kind of behavior that is being exhibited by some of whose party lost the election?

Concern is understandable. ThIngs around us are changing at an unprecedented and rapid pace and there are many real issues that threaten to affect the norm and balance that we are accustomed to. Upheaval, terror, financial uncertainty, and more, are realities that suddenly are looming like dark clouds in our once clear, blue sky. People generally deeply dislike change; anything that rocks one’s comfortable boat. Rethinking, reevaluating, doing what in Hebrew is called cheshbon nefesh – an accounting of the soul, doesn’t come naturally, nor is it easy.

A story is told about William James, who was a Professor of Psychology at Harvard almost a century ago. At the end of one of James’s public lectures, a man from the audience approached him.

“Professor James,” the man began. “I was a student of yours ten years ago, and I heard you lecture on the exact same subject. But what you said tonight totally contradicted what you said then.”

“My good man,” James replied. “Do you think I’ve been standing still?”

Growing requires the courage to re-examine our assumptions and values, to admit that who we are today is not the best that we can be, and sometimes to expose ourselves to the challenge of reassessing and maybe even contradicting our own positions and tenets. As George Bernard Shaw said, “False consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Perhaps a large portion of the American population has woken up to the fact that some radical change is needed in what has become the status quo and are ready to face the nitty-gritty of what is real, honest, and true, no matter the challenge that entails.

We always must continue to grow, change, and push ourselves to become a better person and to reflect a better image of God. In these difficult times, we can afford to be only one kind of person – the kind who is moving forward in courage, hope, and trust in the Creator of all whose character is chesed ve’emet – Lovingkindness and Truth. 

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THE QUEST FOR REDEMPTION

THE QUEST FOR REDEMPTION

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Passover – Shavuot

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God spread out the heavens and sprinkled the night with sparkling stars. He placed in it the large, glowing orb of sun to set the rhythm of the day. He placed the small, gentle luminary of moon to set the rhythm of the month, and He placed Earth in perfect position to set the rhythm of the year with its color-filled adventures of the seasons.

When all was done, He formed a being in His likeness called Adam, man, from a lump of clay, adamah, and breathed life into it. From the side of this being, He created a living, perfect counterpart called Chava, Eve, woman. The two halves were designed to live in harmony and balance and to reflect His own Being – the Source of Life and Love. They were placed in the center of His beautiful Garden of Creation and given the joyful task of overseeing it together with Him. With the abilities and talents God had given them, the two were free to choose, to make decisions. All was very good. Then came a deception, a temptation, a fall and an expulsion from the Garden; a separation from the Presence of God. And all changed.

Ever since, man has been searching for the way back to the Garden; back to the wonder and fullness of the Presence of God. Just as we do, He longs for the reunion and the restitution of the glory and beauty of Creation as it was intended to be. The good news is that we humans are not alone on our search; we are not abandoned in this Continuing Quest. God has been guiding us along the path of this Redemption, century after century. Generation after generation, He calls and encourages and places signposts along the way to guide us in our search for what was lost; for that for which our spirits yearn. When we search for Him, we slowly realize that we already are found. He has faithfully been waiting while He gently wooed us out of the darkness of our understanding.

All of History is the story of His wooing. The cycles of His Word are the rhythm of His unfolding redemptive courtship of us, the blueprint of His plan of reconciliation. All we need do is to take hold of it with all our hearts and minds and strength, in love for Him, and to walk in its pleasant paths (Proverbs 3: 17,18).

At the set time, He sent His uniquely begotten Son to show us how to do this, and, in suffering the pain himself, to break the lies and bonds of sin and death. Then, the knowledge of God, the Father of all, spread to the four corners of the earth and the way was opened for all to return to the Source of His Life and Love.

This is the central story of the season we now are entering: Pesach/Passover – the 49 days of the Omer – Shavuot/ Pentecost.

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The eight day holiday of Passover / Pesach, celebrates the deliverance of the people of God, the Israelites, who were enslaved under the dominion of the rich and powerful Empire of Egypt. In a mighty display of God’s power, Pharaoh and his kingdom were crushed and God drew back to Himself the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and those who had joined them. He founded a treasured people for Himself, an Am Segullah, who were to be a “light to the nations.”

We relive this Exodus and deliverance, and the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb slain on our behalf, at the Seder meal on the first night of Passover. We then walk through the following 49 days, or seven weeks, shavuot, with intentionality in preparation for the Jubilee feast that crowns the redemption of the Exodus – the revelation at the time of Shavuot / Pentecost.

At Shavuot, God poured out the gifts of the revelation of His Presence, the sound of His voice, the speaking of His commandments – the Ten Words; words to live by in the illumination of His Torah. Into the world of suffering, idolatry and the treading down of the weak and helpless, came the teaching of love and morality, of kindness to the poor, the orphan, the widow and the stranger. God again offered us, in the establishing of His Kingdom and by the power and grace of His Spirit of Holiness, the means to become who He created us to be and to partner with Him in His world and to participate in His plan of Restoration. The gift of His Word, of new life and the opportunity to once again “walk and talk” in His  Presence are celebrated at Shavuot.

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Each year we walk through this biblical Festival cycle and, if we have had eyes to see and hearts of awareness, we have made another spiral upwards and have gained deeper knowledge of and , as a result, are closer in relationship with, our awesome Father and wondrous Creator, the One God of the Universe. Through HIs Word of truth and commandments of love; through His forming of “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” and in the light of His Messiah and King – our High Priest, “— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom.8:34), He has laid out a clear path upon which to walk in order to enter and draw closer to His loving Presence once again.

~Keren Hannah Pryor

Chag Pesach Sameach!

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A REMINDER to log in to the website, or His-Israel on Facebook, to join us in COUNTING the OMER – from 24 April through Shavuot on 11 June, 2016.

A NEW SEASON and the New Jerusalem

Shalom dear friends,

This is indeed a new season! The world, together with us here in Israel, has been stunned at the rise of terrorism and vicious disregard of life by militant and radical Islam. Along with sorrow, one can be forgiven for allowing feelings of outrage and even despair.  However, we are reminded of the enduring faithfulness of our Almighty God as the Hebrew month of Shevat ushers in a new season in Israel. It is the joyous herald of Spring. The majority of the winter rain has fallen and the sap has risen in the trees. The New Year for trees is celebrated on the 15th of the month, Tu B’Shevat.  The almond trees are the first to burst forth in a profusion of beautiful blossoms, sometimes even surrounded by sparkling snow. Then the remaining trees, which stood bare through the cold winter months, begin to sprout green leaves and buds as they bear the promise of the fruit harvest. We happily anticipate the proclamation of the Beloved, as described in the Song of Songs (2:10-13):

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.”

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Note: For an in-depth look at the month of Shevat and the celebration of a Tu B’Shevat Seder where the fruits of the Land of Israel are enjoyed, see ‘Appointments with God‘.

The freshness and “newness” encompassing everything after the rain is a reminder of our hope in the Giver of rain and of Life. As it is written, when the King of Righteousness reigns, “each man will be like… streams of water in the desert, and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land” (Isaiah 32:2). The warfare and attacks we see engulfing the world are I believe a reflection of a raging spiritual battle – all centered upon the God of Israel, His Land, and the city where He has chosen to place His Name, Jerusalem. Our part in this battle is to earnestly pray, to comfort, to speak encouragement to the people of Israel, and indeed to all peoples:

 Say to those with anxious heart,  “Take courage, fear not.  Behold, your God will come with vengeance.  The recompense of God will come,  But He will save you.”  Then the eyes of the blind will be opened  And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.  Then the lame will leap like a deer,  And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.  For waters will break forth in the wilderness  And streams in the Aravah, desert. (Isa. 35:4-6 NASB)

Indeed, when He comes again as King of all the earth, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Streams of living water will pour forth bringing life to all dry and barren places.  HalleluYah!

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Anticipating the New Jerusalem

In our generations, God has performed the miraculous return of His people to His Land and we are taking root deep in her precious soil; branches are reaching to Heaven and there is promise of harvests of great fruit. One day, known only to the Father, although it seems to be drawing very near, Israel will be redeemed from her “shame” in the eyes of the nations and from the sin of her unbelief. Our Almighty God has promised, for Zion’s sake, for Jerusalem’s sake to not  rest, nor hold His peace, until her righteousness “goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a blazing torch” (Isaiah 62:1).

The ‘brightness’ will be the revelation to the ends of the earth of Messiah’s return to Zion in glory, and the ‘blazing torch’ will be the righteousness he establishes as he rules and reigns in God’s redeemed city. Jerusalem, in her renewed identity as City of the Great King, will become “a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord (Isaiah 1:3). She will be the shining symbol of His everlasting sovereignty and the shining heart of His Kingdom in the earth.

So, dear friends, let us rest in that hope and “strengthen weak hands” as we allow His life to flow through us as a refreshing spring of living waters, and as we stand with Jerusalem and the Land and people of Israel, until the Lord comes to establish her as “the joy of the whole earth.”

Psalm 84:5-7 encourages us:

 “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage [up to Jerusalem]. As they pass through the Valley of Baca [weeping] they make it a place of springs [living water]; the rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion.”

 

Joyfully in His praise,

Keren Hannah

 

Rain! Thanksgiving amid the Tension – November 2014

SHALOM dear friends, from a cool, Autumnal Jerusalem –  although the season is short and we quickly encounter the start of a full-blown Winter!

I came across a quote recently by Shira Tamir…..

“Anyone who thinks Autumn leaves are dead, has never seen them dance on a windy day.”

To me this also captures the joyful realisation that death is a simple transition into new life. A beautiful thought when you know the One in whose hands your life is lovingly held for Eternity.

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NOVEMBER  has been a full month here in the capital of Israel, containing both joy and sorrow.  We experienced the joy of Thanksgiving and the first rains that washed away the dust of the long, hot Summer. We also experienced the deep pain, and still shocking and not quite comprehensible, terror attacks on Rabbi Yehuda Glick and, on an even larger scale, the massacre at the Har Nof synagogue. Four Rabbis, who were described in accounts after their brutal murder, as gentle, loving and caring human beings, were shot and hacked to death while praying the silent, personal Shacharit Amidah – the morning prayer that is prayed while standing enveloped in one’s tallit (prayer shawl). The beautiful prayers while donning the tallit include the words:

“How precious is Your loving-kindness, O G-d, and the children of men
find refuge under the shadow of Your wings.
They are filled with the rich plenty of Your House.
You give them drink from Your river of delights [the Living Water of His Word].
For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
Continue Your loving-kindness to those who know You,
and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.”

~The Koren Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book)

I came across more meaningful words that were quoted after the attack of Taliban terrorists  on the compound of Christian Aid workers in Kabul, Afghanistan, during which they murdered the South African worker and father and his two teenage children. They apply to the lives lost here too and in the case of all who serve the One and living God of Israel.

“They buried us, not knowing we were seeds.”

 

RAIN…AND MORE RAIN…

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We had half the annual amount of rainfall in one week! Real gully-washers! Many accounts of leaks and water damage in dwellings not used to such extreme downpours but, in general, exhilarating and refreshing – carrying the promise of new life!

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Anyone remember the happy song?

It’s beginning to rain, rain, rain – hear the voice of the Father, saying:
“Whosoever will come drink of the water.
I’m beginning to pour My Spirit out on my sons and my daughters.
If you’re thirsty and dry look up to the sky.

It’s beginning to rain!”

 

BLESSING…

I enjoyed a birthday filled with many beautiful friends and blessings. Here is one I share and pray for each of you…

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So thankful for each of you and rejoicing,

In Him Who loves us,

Keren

WAR – SHMOR! The Gaza War and death of Robin Williams

19 August 2014

Daily life here in Israel proceeds in a state of animated suspension after the drama of the weeks of Operation Protective Edge and the engagement in Gaza – now followed by the seemingly nebulous and likely hopeless ‘diplomatic’ talks in Cairo.

Amid all the horrors being perpetrated by the Islamic State & Co in Iraq, Syria, Africa and who knows where, and the demonstrations of Anti-Israel/Jewish hatred in major cities worldwide,  the sudden death of star comedian and actor Robin Williams (obm) focussed the mourning of thousands worldwide on this one tragic death.

Robin Williams was born an Episcopalian in Chicago, but his humor often had a definite Jewish flair and was sprinkled with Yiddish terms. He occasionally referred to himself as “an honorary Jew.”

 

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Comment by Rabbi Stewart Weiss – Aish.com

“What strikes me today is the lesson to be learned from Williams’ life – and death – here in Israel. In a sense, we, too, live a “bi-polar” existence. We as a nation, as a People, are constantly pulled between the extreme poles of ecstasy and tragedy. We are either celebrating wonders and miracles, or grieving over the loss of our loved ones. We create a great country, from the ashes of the Holocaust, and then we are immediately filled with anxiety and worry over the existential threats emanating from our hostile neighbors.

We win wars, thank God, against all the odds, but then we must agonize over the aftermath of every conflict. Each cause for celebration is tempered by a warning against over-confidence, while every dark cloud contains its own silver lining. Even our calendar echoes this duality, as our many joyous holidays are interspersed with no less than six fast days, reminding us that we are never too far from some ominous note – or some reason to rejoice.

Our latest, ongoing war has injected some measure of depression into our populace, as we worry where all this is going, and wonder aloud what the solution is to a seemingly insoluble predicament. Suicide is not an option. We have weathered every storm throughout our history and, with God’s help, we will successfully navigate this latest crisis as well and emerge to even greater glory.

Robin, fly upon your way, find shelter in some Heavenly nest. As the Talmud says, one who makes others smile and laugh is secured a place in the World to Come. And we, too, will seek our own shelter, nestled in the wings of the Almighty and in the strength and security of His people and His Land of Israel, whose greatest moments are yet to come.

Ethics of the Fathers (2:4) quotes Hillel who said:

“Do not judge another until  you have stood in his place.”

Since it is impossible to stand in another person’s place, to be them, to have their baggage or to live their struggles, we can never judge another. Instead, we should be kind, sensitive, supportive and understanding of everyone around us.

Ian Maclaren, a 19th century Scottish author and Theologian said it well: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

 

Memorable quote by Past Prime Minister Golda Meir (obm)

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WAR – SHMOR!   A little humor helps!

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Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer: [in control room] Good Morning, Vietnam!
In Saigon today, according to official sources, nothing actually happened. One thing that didn’t officially happen was a bomb didn’t officially explode at 1430 hours, unofficially destroying Jimmy Wah’s cafe. Three men were unofficially wounded, the fire department responded, which we believe to be unofficial at this present moment…

 

* A young Israeli was drafted into the IDF – Israel Defense Force. His father gave him advice: “Don’t rely on miracles my son. Recite a few verses of Tehillim (Psalms) before going into battle and you will be safe.”

 

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Looking back… The Six-Day War in 1967

  • In New York, a Jewish paper the Forverts, disgusted with the UN’s dallying at the height of the crisis, did a little transposing… Reading from right to left, as in Hebrew, the UN was changed to “NU?”

Have also heard…UNnecessary, UNreliable, UNdesirable…

  • Needless to point out, the lightning speed with which the Israeli army and air force clobbered the several opposing armies surprised the Egyptians. But they are a practical people. After the first day of the war the Cairo-Hilton reportedly began taking reservations for Bar-Mitzvahs.

 

* Even Frank Sinatra got into the act, a few days into the war he quipped at a banquet in Hollywood , “Soon I’ll be going to Israel to see the pyramids.”

 

  • Even the Soviet Union was taken aback by the swift advance. Russia airlifted 200 tanks to Syria, each equipped with back-up lights and white surrender flags.

 

  • True story… an Israeli soldier came upon a battered, burned-out Egyptian tank somewhere in the Gaza Strip. He left a sign on it… “OIL AND CHICKEN SOUP DON’T MIX!”

 

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HIstorically, Jews have reserved their adulation and respect for the intellectual, the scholar, the teacher, the scientist, the humanitarian, but in the 1967 war the bravery and military genius of Ariel Sharon won him the acclaim of “Lion”  Ariyeh.

Moshe Dayan, the brilliant and charismatic Israeli Minister of Defense, was much in the news and an object of admiring humor. “Mighty Moe” once quipped, “The only revenge I will take on the captured Egyptian soldiers will be to make them eat the same food our boys have to eat.”

 

The Joke of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in retaliation against Hamas in Gaza:

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No comment!

Gaza / Hamas and Israel at War – Operation Protective Edge – July/August 2014

DAY 23   – Tuesday, 5th August

A BREATHER  – hopefully! Ceasefire declared – beginning 8:00 a.m. today (Tuesday, 5 August) Hamas fired heavy barrages of rockets at Jerusalem and the coastal region minutes before the start of the 72 hour truce. Iron Dome intercepted several incoming projectiles. IDF has withdrawn from Gaza but is keeping troops at the border on stand by. Previous ceasefires have been abused by Hamas and the IDF will be prepared to act in response to further attack on Israel.

Regarding the objective of destroying the vast tunnel network in Gaza, journalist, Ya’akov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post, reports: The IDF has destroyed Hamas’s flagship terrorism project: its network of tunnels that snuck into Israel.

Hamas spent five years preparing this strategic threat; the IDF wrecked 31 tunnels in two weeks.

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Many of the underground passages were designed to send heavily armed murder squads into Israeli communities and to attack army positions from the rear. They were filled with weapons, explosives and other equipment, enabling terrorists to enter a shaft in Gaza dressed in civilian clothing and emerge in Israel, disguised as IDF soldiers and equipped to inflict mass casualties.

In some of the larger tunnels, the army discovered motorcycles that Hamas had earmarked for speedy raids into Israel and subsequent retreats back into Gaza.

Despite very difficult fighting on the ground, which included Hamas cells using heavy rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missile and automatic rifle fire, and despite the painful price Israel has paid in lives lost, the army is very close to achieving this key goal of its offensive.

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We mourn together with the families of the 64 soldiers who have been killed during the ground incursion and, in extreme gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice they made in defence of the country they loved as we all do, take comfort that their memories are a blessing.

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We pray too for refuah shlemah – swift and total healing – for the hundreds of wounded soldiers as well as for the innocents wounded in the fighting in Gaza.

We continue to pray for Divine guidance, wisdom and strength for Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, Commander of the IDF, and Defence Minister Ayalon. And for G-d’s continued protection over all Israel. For His ultimate glory in all the earth. Amen.

 

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DAY 13  –  Sunday, 20th July

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HEARTBREAKING NEWS: The IDF announced this evening that 13 Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade, (brown berets) an elite unit that always fights in the front lines of the battle, were killed overnight in Gaza between Saturday and Sunday (20th July).

The Golani, whose motto is Golani Sheli – My Golani – has the insignia of the olive tree, indicating that the ultimate goal of any defensive battle is the desire for peace.

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FURTHER O.P.E (Operation Protective Edge) NEWS: This afternoon it was reported that the IDF struck 566 terrorist targets throughout Gaza since the start of the ground offensive on Thursday night. Over 50 targets have been hit on Sunday. They included 23 homes used as command and control centers, seven underground rocket launchers, six rocket launchers that contained medium range projectiles, and a Hamas tunnel. The IDF detained 22 terrorists prisoners, and they are being questioned.

Wounded IDF soldiers were brought from the fighting in Gaza to a number of hospitals across Israel on Sunday morning. The IDF is setting up a field hospital which will begin functioning at 8 p.m. tonight and is intended to serve injured Palestinians. The IDF said that will serve mainly women and children and will include a delivery room.

Please note that Hamas uses hospitals as shields for their terror bases – and no provision is made for attending to their own wounded.

And still the barrage of rockets continues over towns and homes in Israel.

See ‘The Jerusalem Post’ link on the right for ongoing up to the minute reporting.

You can also download the Red Alert App, which gives regular information of the rockets fired into Israel and the cities, towns and areas targeted. You can leave an encouraging message for Israel and the soldiers there if you would like to.

This passage quoted from an address given by Rabbi Porush in 1968 still rings true!

“In our immediate context we could in our imagination envisage a Middle East in which good will, mutual respect and harmony would prevail between the Jews and the Arab nations, initiating an era of peace and prosperity that would be a blessing to all.
We know that this is the constant aspiration and the constant yearning of Eretz Yisrael, and that Israel’s search for peace comes not only from practical considerations, but also from deep-seated convictions — the emblem of the Israeli army is characteristically a sword wreathed in an olive branch — and from the unshaken trust in the teachings of our prophets and the ideals of our tradition.”

~ Rabbi Israel Porush, in a talk delivered at the Great Synagogue in Sydney, one year after the Six-Day War in June 1967.

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Please continue to pray, in accord with the Word of God,
for the peace of Jerusalem and all Israel.

 

 

 

 

SHAVUOT SAMEACH! ~ The Joy and Blessing of Shavuot

Shavuot is a time when we celebrate our freedom as redeemed children of God and lift the first fruits of our labors before Him in love. We also can trust to receive the gifts of His clear guidance, inspiration, anointing and enabling for the work of His Kingdom that we will be moving into during the intense growth of Summer before the final harvest in the Fall.
CHAG SHAVUOT SAMEACH!  JOYOUS SHAVUOT!
 
In Israel, Kibbutz children are adorned with flowers, and offer dances of thanksgiving before the G-d of Israel who provides all good things for our needs and enjoyment!
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The book of Ruth and the Psalms are the main focus of study at this season. Shavuot is considered the day of the Psalmist King David’s birth and death, and the link in lineage between Ruth, David and Messiah is celebrated. Psalm 68 is considered a special psalm to be read at Shavuot.
During synagogue services, the Hallel Psalms are read (Psalms 113 – 118). In addition, there is a special reading of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20), during which the congregation stands in order to re-enact the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.
At the Temple on Mount Zion, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples of Yeshua, thus it is worthwhile to include a study of the gifts and fruit of the Spirit in our lives at Shavuot.

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After a light celebratory dinner, Leil Shavuot, the night of Shavuot, is devoted to the study of Torah – an all night event for the stalwart!  It is customary to eat dairy foods rather than meat at Shavuot, based on the verse,

The knowledge of Torah is like milk and honey under the tongue.
~ Song of Songs 4:11
Cheesecake, of course, is the perennial favorite.  Some Sephardic communities bake specially decorated seven-layer cakes to indicate the completion of counting the Omer – the seven weeks of anticipation after Passover that connect it to Shavuot.
There also is a mystical belief that there are seven spheres, or heavens, that separate man and God. Thus, “…the seven layers of the cake represent the mystical celestial spheres that God had to traverse to deliver the Torah to the Jewish people.”  And which, conversely, our spirits need to spiral upward through as we grow spiritually and draw closer in intimate relationship with Him.
This Shavuot, may you ENJOY, dear friends, all the wonder of His Word, the provision of all good things, and the joy of His Presence.
 
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Almost 7-layer delicious cheesecake!
Pic: Emma Redlinghuis
~ Keren Hannah Pryor

JERUSALEM – YERUSHALAYIM – Throne of the King

 

O Jerusalem, Yerushalayim… 

Thou art the house of royalty, thou art the throne of the Lord.”

~ Yehudah HaLevi

In honor of Jerusalem Day 2014 and to encourage us to remember to pray constantly, expectantly and hopefully for the Peace and protection of the royal City of G-d, two articles are posted below. May they encourage and inspire you to hold Jerusalem of Gold securely in your heart.

1) FROM JERUSALEM TO SYDNEY AND BACK…  

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ISRAELI JOURNALIST, ISI LIEBLER , in an article in “Israel HaYom” / Israel Today on the occasion of Jerusalem Day, 28 May, 2014, shares a very stirring sermon that was delivered by his late father-in-law, Rabbi Israel Porush, at the Great Synagogue in Sydney, one year after the Six-Day War in June 1967. The main message is as relevant today as it was then. It is fairly lengthy but worth the read!

Rabbi Israel Porush (1907-1991) was a fifth-generation Jerusalemite. His father was the first administrator of Shaarei Zedek hospital. He received his rabbinical ordination at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin, and also obtained a doctorate in mathematics. He was minister at Finchley Synagogue in London before taking up his post as rabbi of Sydney’s Great Synagogue (1948-1975).

Excerpted from his sermon:

At the outbreak of the Six Day War, “Israel stood alone in that hour of crisis, surrounded by a ring of modern armor of terrible deadliness, and beleaguered by the armies of seven nations who were united in the hate of Israel and in their sinister plot to destroy it. The rest of the world cynically played a waiting game. Is it surprising that we view with a measure of cynicism the advice given us by our friends now?” he said.

“And what of churches? Not a word of comfort in the hour of danger, not a sound of condemnation of the threats to our existence. The so-called ecumenical spirit, or the so-called dialogue between church and synagogue, which was promoted in some quarters, especially in the United States, has suffered a setback from which it will not so easily recover.

“Did I say Israel stood alone? Israel never stands alone. ‘The Guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps.’ And the people of Israel in all their dispersion were roused as never before in prayer and in action and stood united by the side of Medinat [the State of] Israel. …

“The Jewish citizen-soldier knew what the stakes were, and he was ready for every sacrifice. And many hundreds of the cream of Israeli youth paid the supreme sacrifice upon the altar of Jewish survival. …

“[We] offer thanksgiving to the Almighty for the wonderful delivery of Israel from danger and fear, for the retreat of the enemy beyond wider and safer frontiers, and for the transformation that has taken place in the whole security situation of Medinat Israel. …

“But who can be unaware that our deepest emotions and our profoundest sensitivity revolve around the liberation of Jerusalem, which has been restored to its rightful owners after nineteen centuries of dispossession? …

“Yerushalayim is a magic word for the Jew. It is pronounced in awe. It conjures up associations and feelings in our ears that no other word does, and that no other nation or religion can remotely experience. To us, Yerushalayim personifies the presence of God in our midst, the Shekhinah. It is the soul of our people. It is the national and religious center of all Israel, whether in its glory or in its ruin. Jerusalem is eternal; it can never die or be destroyed. Wherever the Jew settles in the four corners of the earth, Jerusalem is alive in his heart and near to his life.

“Jerusalem is mentioned 630 times in the Bible, as the city of God, the capital of the nation, the seat of the Temple, the center of piety and learning, and also as the emblem of the kingdom of God that will ultimately rule on earth.

“When the captives of Judea sat by the rivers of Babylon weeping over their humiliation, and their captors invited them to sing one of the songs of Zion, they replied: ‘How can we sing the song of the Lord in a profane land?’ and they swore, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning; let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.’

“Throughout the 1,900 years of exile, there was never a time, with the possible exception of two brief periods, when Jews did not live in Jerusalem, at times facing great peril, at times massacred by fanatics.

“Our prayers were always directed toward Jerusalem. The prophet Daniel, we are told, recited his three daily services with his face toward Jerusalem, and so have done all Jews in the synagogue to this day. There is not a service, there is not a simcha [celebration], there is not a meal, when we do not remember Jerusalem and pray for its restoration. And when we sit in mourning over its destruction, we mingle sorrow with hope, and grief with glorification, and lament with pledges of eternal loyalty to Zion, as is reflected in the moving ode of Judah Halevi:

“‘Thou art the house of royalty, thou art the throne of the Lord. … O, who will make me wings, that I may fly afar and lay the ruins of my cleft heart among thy broken cliffs. … Happy is he that waiteth, that cometh nigh and seeth the rising of the light, when on him thy dawn shall break — that he may see the welfare of thy chosen, and rejoice in the rejoicing when thou turnest back unto thine golden youth.’ …

“Jerusalem is the physical capital of the nation and at the same time the spiritual centre of all Israel wherever they live. …

“Jerusalem must return to its old destiny as ‘Ir Shalem,’ which means on the one hand ‘the City of Peace,’ but also on the other ‘the City of Completion, or Unity.’ It is unthinkable that the unity between the people of Israel and its spiritual cradle will ever be allowed to be severed again.

“The attachment of a people for 3,000 years as intense as that of the Jews to Yerushalayim cannot be set aside by international decree. None need be afraid that the Jews would deal ungenerously or restrictively with the Holy places and legitimate interests of other religions and communities. We have proved that already. …

“Our rabbis also speak of Yerushalayim as the ‘metropolis of the world.’ There is undoubtedly also a universal facet in the image of Jerusalem, embracing the whole of humanity, and that goes back 2,500 years, to the days of our prophets who prophesied in the name of God that the Messianic order on earth would begin with the restoration of Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem would become then the fountainhead of a new mode of living which would lead the world out of the morass of strife, hate and division towards brotherhood, righteousness and peace:

“And many people shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the Law from Jerusalem. And he shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’

“Jerusalem is more relevant to the ultimate salvation of humanity than Athens and Rome because it taught the world the supremacy of righteousness, brotherhood, and charity. And even if the complete fulfillment of this ideal state of affairs would have to wait for the fullness of time, the inspiration of this vision could stimulate now the troubled peoples of the earth towards a more just and peaceful order of life.

“In our immediate context we could in our imagination envisage a Middle East in which good will, mutual respect and harmony would prevail between the Jews and the Arab nations, initiating an era of peace and prosperity that would be a blessing to all. We know that this is the constant aspiration and the constant yearning of the Yishuv/Eretz Yisrael, and that Israel’s search for peace comes not only from practical considerations, but also from deep-seated convictions — the emblem of the Israeli army is characteristically a sword wreathed in an olive branch — and from the unshaken trust in the teachings of our prophets and the ideals of our tradition.”

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2)  THE SIX DAY WAR REUNIFICATION OF JERUSALEM

2014 marks the 47th year since the reunification of Jerusalem the 3,000-year-old capital of Israel, which occurred as a result of the Six-Day War, which was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, with Israel defending herself against Egypt, Jordan and Syria who were supported and fortified by the armies of by 10 other Arab countries

JERUSALEM DAY celebrates the day the war ended, when the paratroopers liberated Jerusalem and restored it to Jewish sovereignty for the first time since the Roman general Pompei invaded Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E.

In many ways, the Six Day War – like each of Israel’s wars of defense –  is considered one of miracles. Most of the individual battles which Israel won can be explained as, although the Arabs outnumbered and outgunned Israel on four borders, Israel enjoyed specific tactical advantages – shorter supply-lines, superior communications, a fortuitous wind in the Sinai Desert which raised a dust-storm at just the right moment, the rising sun dazzling the Egyptians in the morning of the first day of the war, the setting sun dazzling the Jordanians that evening, Egyptian soldiers who were unable to read the instructions for their missiles and were therefore unable to fire them…the list goes on.

The statistical likelihood of all these events occurring by pure happenstance is minuscule. In the Six Day War, Israel had zero margin for error. Hostile Jordanian forces, stationed in the centre of Jerusalem (half of which was under illegal Jordanian occupation), were poised to sweep across Israel from east to west, to link up with the Egyptian army preparing to invade from the south-west. Meanwhile the Syrian Army was preparing to attack from the north and then sweep through the country to link up with the other Arab forces in the Tel Aviv region. Had any Arab army won even one single land battle, then Israel would have been destroyed. Israel had no strategic depth, no opportunity to recover from a single lost battle.

Under those circumstances, the perfect functioning of all Israel’s military systems without even a single mishap over the course of the war was statistically impossible.

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Key: Light yellow area demarcates land held by Israel pre 1967 war and light brown the areas regained by Israel thereafter. Note that the 1967 lines of demarcation were never officially recognized borders under international law but simply indicated the disputed territories.

What may, in retrospect, be seen as another miracle… on the 11th of Sivan 5727 (19th June 1967), just nine days after the war finished, Israel declared that she was willing to withdraw from vast areas of the land recovered in return for peace treaties, normalization of relations with the Arab states, and guarantee of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. The Arab response was expressed in the Khartoum Conference two months later: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

The Six Day War was indisputably a series of miracles. And the aftermath – by now close on half a century – has been a series of miracles no less.

Baruch HaShem! Praise G-d!

(Based on information from Arutz 7 & Wikipedia)

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The now famous photographs of three of the paratroopers who were in the group that liberated the Western Wall in 1967 – all were overwhelmed at their first sight of it.            On the right – the same three men in 2007.

Hopefully, b’ezrat HaShem, with G-d’s help, we will see them together again in 3 years time to clebrate the 50th Jubilee of Jerusalem in 2017!

The Wonder of the Restoration of Israel

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
…They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our G-D.

~ Isaiah 35:1-2

Riders traverse the southern desert area in modern Israel, which is reprentative of the barren landscape that comprised much of the Land until its rebirth during the past century.856562_10151417548345053_1776331928_o

No Flowers!

There is a record of the first ambassadorial visit to Israel of foreign dignitaries, who happened to be the President of Thailand and his wife. Golda Meir was Foreign Minister at the time and shortly before their scheduled arrival she asked her personal assistant to order a large bouquet of flowers to present to the First Lady. The problem arose that there were no flowers to be had!

The nation’s first preoccupation, besides the challenges of defense against constant attacks, was building housing for thousands of immigrants and refugees who were arriving from the four corners of the earth! Any further time and resources were devoted first to planting trees on the denuded hills and to clearing stoney ground and draining swamps in order to plant crops for food. There certainly was no opportunity to establish gardens or greenhouses to raise flowers. That was a luxury. Fortunately, they were able to arrange for some to be flown in overnight from Europe and the presentation could be made.

One aspect of the miracle and fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy is that today, only 50 or so years later, Israel is one of the largest exporters of flowers in the world. The desert truly has blossomed!

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 “And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel,
and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them…”
~ Amos 9:14a

 TEL AVIV – Hill of Spring – nothing but sand dunes!

Digging the first foundation in 1908.

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 TEL AVIV beach – 100 years later

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TEL AVIV –  Rothschild Blvd – the “old” and the new!

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TEL AVIV at night.

The southern-most tip of Israel. A marina in the rebuilt city of  EILAT on the shores of the Red Sea.

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The beautiful port city of HAIFA on the Mediteranean coast north of Tel Aviv.

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Haifa at night! 

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THE ONE AND ONLY CAPITAL OF ISRAEL ~ REBUILT JERUSALEM.

The Golden Gate and Old City from the Mount of Olives.

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A city compacted together… new neghborhoods spreading out over the Judean hills.

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 Pic. Elchanan ben Avraham

Sparkling like a jewel at night.

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YEHUDAH and SHOMRON  ~  JUDEA and SAMARIA

“But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt.”

~ Ezekiel 36: 8-10

Brave planting and building on the desert mountains.

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I will give this Land to Abraham's seed

 

“…and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof…”  

~Amos 9:14b

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…they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
~ Amos 9:14c

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Photo: Geneva Seeds    Artwork: Betty Rubenstein, Lavender Garden, U-Boutique, Israel

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The photographer describes it well: “This is not Tuscany! It is Bitronot Ruchama in Israel” – a beautiful nature reserve one hour south of Tel Aviv.

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With full hearts we  praise and thank the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ~ the God of Israel ~  for being faithful and true, in His great compassion and love, and for the miracle of the Restoration of His Land, to His people in accord with His Scriptures.

“And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them,” says YHWH your God. 

~ Amos 19 :15

 So we proclaim. Amen and Amen.

Cycles & Recycling – 2

Not sure why these are catching my eye… but hope you also enjoy them.

1. An exhibition in Jerusalem’s Safra Square in the Municipal Buildings.  When one rides the bicycle it operates whatever feature is above it – the fan spins, the phonograph plays, the drum beats, flowers bloom, spotlight shines, etc. Great fun! Kids love them…
and I think the Orthodox fellow was tempted until he saw my camera!

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2. Very enterprising!

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3. Bob Dylan’s portrayal of a bicycle…

 

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4.  Must be Florida!

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[Thanks to Taryn Daley for pic.]

 5. Rustic charm…

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[Thanks to Barbara Whiting for pic.]

 6. Happy days in Israel … good kibbutz transport!

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PURIM in JERUSALEM

PARTY IN THE PARK

Every Purim the City of Jerusalem hosts a celebration in the Safra Square Park at the municipal building complex on Jaffa Road. At the time of Mordechai and Esther, “walled cities,” such as Susa the capital of Persia, had an extra day of celebration (see Esther 9:18), so Jerusalem is one big party on the second day of Purim.  Kids, families, costumes, music, parties everywhere!

I took these pictures during the party of March, 2014 – Adar B 5774. At the time folks were voting for their favorite pics. Enjoy!

 

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PLEASE JOIN IN THE FUN

Make your choices from the Purim pictures and place your 5 votes in the Comments box below.
Type the letter of the category with the number of the picture of your choice
For example:  A – 3 ;  B – 12 ;  C – 18   etc.      
Enjoy! 

CATEGORIES:

A. BEST FAMILY PIC

B. BEST QUEEN ESTHER

C. BEST GIRL PIC

D. BEST BOY PIC

E. YOUR FAVORITE PIC OVERALL

2. Sweet Queen!

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5.   Where’s Ima?! He took my crayon!

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6. Beautiful Queen Esthers!

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7. Zebra and Ninja ~ brothers!

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9.  Little Queen Esthers and Abba

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10. Keren and Penguins or PingGwins in Hebrew – Happily no ice in sight!

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11. Time out for coloring in.     Mmm… I’ll just enjoy my ice-lolly.

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15.  A sad little Brave…

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19. Mordechai and Esther

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20. That’s all folks…I’m exhausted!  Shalom and Lehit’ra’ot – till next time!

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Tourism up! On the other hand…

2013  – A Record Year for Tourism in Israel – in which we rejoice, but on the other hand…it is a good time to pause and reflect.

A record 3.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2013, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The USA was top of the list, with 18%. A close second was Russia and third was France.

NH4JERUSALEM was considered the most popular attraction, with 75% of tourists visiting the capital. All said they were pleased with their visit and rated Israel 4.3 out of 5.

The number of American visitors is encouraging; particularly in the light of a U.S. survey by the Pew Research Center that found a growing number of American Jews are becoming less involved with Israel, Judaism, and Jewish tradition. This is reflected in the increasing number of mixed marriages and even anti-Zionism and mounting support for the Palestinians. When asked about this trend in an Israeli survey, 38 percent described it as “alarming,” 23 percent “sad,” and 8 percent “frustrating.”

Israelis have always relied on the support of Americans, both Jews and Christians, and  it is painful to see the drift away from Zionism, especially among Jewish Americans.  As Myles Weiss, of ZLP, well commented: “Zionism basically is not only political, it is entwined with the greatest hopes of all mankind—HaTikvah, The Hope. Israel is a tiny, reborn nation celebrating life, providing breakthroughs in science and medicine [and agriculture and media technology, etc., etc.], and hoping and watching for Messiah.”

In his very relevant book Future Tense, Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of England, quotes economist Alan Greenspan’s observation that we have entered an age of turbulence, which can engender fear. However, as Rabbi Sacks describes, “The antidote to fear is faith, a faith that knows the dangers but never loses hope.” [1]

He connects this hope to the Jewish people and says: “The Jewish people are ancient but still young; a suffering people still suffused with moral energy; a people who have known the worst fate can throw at them, and can still rejoice. They remain a living symbol of hope.” Significantly, the stirring and beautiful national anthem of Israel is simply entitled HaTikvah, “The Hope.”

 ISRAEL is not only “another interesting tourist spot to visit.” Loyalty to Israel, and standing in support with her, and even loving her, is a result of believing in the Word and truth of the God of Israel; of loving what He loves, of standing for what He stands for.

Thus, all who share our trust in Him, can sing together with Israel
HaTikvah – the Hope!

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Cycling and Recycling in Israel

Cycling is a growing sport and industry in Israel, despite the country’s many hills and sometimes extreme weather. I have seen evidence in the growing number of cycle shops, such as this one on the busy Agrippas Street near the Shuk in Jerusalem.

 

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How to keep cool while cycling? Creative cycles in Jerusalem…

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Recycling in the fascinating and colorful Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot …

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Another creative recycling effort in the Negev town of Arad:

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As everywhere, children love to cycle. On a wander with friends in a town situated in the beautiful hills of Samaria, I spotted this little girl’s bike. Preparing for a ride – or just got back?

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Just for good measure and a smile – a Balloon Bike I saw at the modern new Mamilla Mall, situated just outside Jerusalem’s Old City at Jaffa Gate entrance. You can maybe float on this one!

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Yummy vegetable bike. Maybe this would encourage children to eat their veges!

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Hebrew lesson:  bicycle – ofanayim [off’a’nai‘yim]

vegetables – yerakot [ye’ra’kot]

OK, I’m off for a ride… Le’hit’ra’ot!  Bye for now!

~ Keren