WORD INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY JERUSALEM // JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 // GLOBAL EDITION ISRAEL TURNING
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was established in 1980 in recognition of the biblical significance of Jerusalem and its unique connection to the Jewish people. Today the ICEJ represents millions of Christians, churches and denominations to the nation and people of Israel. We recognise in the restoration of Israel the faithfulness of God to keep His ancient covenant with the Jewish people. Our main objectives are:
* To stand with Israel in support and friendship;
* To equip and teach the worldwide Church regarding God’s purposes with Israel and the nations of the Middle East;
* To be an active voice of reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Arabs and to support the churches and congregations in the Holy Land.
From its head offices in Jerusalem, the ICEJ reaches out to more than 170 countries, with branch offices in over 90 nations.
Our vision is:
* To reach every segment of Israeli society with a Christian testimony of comfort and love, and
* To reach and actively represent to Israel the support of denominations, churches and believers from every nation on earth.
The Christian Embassy is a non-denominational faith-based ministry supported by the voluntary contributions of our members and friends across the globe. We invite you to join with us as we minister to Israel and the Jewish people worldwide by donating to the ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ.
FROM JERUSALEM CREDITS
ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler
VP International Affairs Mojmir Kallus VP Finance David Van der Walt VP Operations Barry R. Denison VP International Spokesman David Parsons VP AID & Aliyah Nicole Yoder
Editor/Publications Director Laurina Driesse
Writers Annaliese Johnson
Design/Illustrator Ryan Tsuen Administration Tobi H Photography Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Reuters, WSJ/Debbie Hill, World History Encyclopedia, vinnews.com, Wikimedia Commons, Levi Dörflinger, ICEJ Staff and Branches
The New King James Bible is used for all Bible references unless otherwise noted.
Word From Jerusalem is published by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Word From Jerusalem has no subscription price and is supported through contributions worldwide. All gifts to this ministry are tax-deductible (in countries where this applies). For more information, visit us at www.icej.org INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY JERUSALEM
P.O. Box 1192, Jerusalem • 9101002, ISRAEL
FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK
As I write, we are preparing to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day with hundreds of Holocaust survivors at a special event in Haifa. It is always a joy to get together with the residents we are caring for at our unique assisted-living home for needy Holocaust survivors in Haifa. Our team of Christian volunteers at the Haifa Home, led by Yudit Setz, are a living testimony of the love of Christ on display each and every day! You can read more in this magazine about our daily work with those who suffered during the Shoah.
The survivors we encounter and care for have come to appreciate that the world at least stops once a year to observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It will not change what happened to them in the past, but hopefully it will help change the future. This is a time to remind ourselves once again of our moral duty to keep their memories alive. There are far too many instances today of people making twisted and offensive analogies to the Holocaust. We must be vigilant in telling future generations what really happened and why we should not compare this immense tragedy to any other events.
This year, Israel will celebrate 75 years since its modern rebirth as a nation. This is definitely a time to rejoice in the great work of restoration which God is doing in Israel. But it also reminds us of how long it has been since the Holocaust and how the survivors will not be with us much longer.
Caring for Holocaust survivors is just one of the four main areas of our Aid work in Israel. The others are Israel in Crisis, Aliyah and Integration, and providing a Future and Hope for needy Israelis. We have set out brief summaries of our social aid categories in this magazine, and a few examples of your donations at work. So please read on to find out more.
There also is a Bible teaching on how the spiritual journey of Israel to bring salvation to the world first began, with the amazing figure of Abraham. May it speak into your life and walk with the Lord as we approach Israel’s 75th birthday.
We also have insights into Israel’s current situation, with a new government, a controversial push for judicial reforms, and what could be an historic breakthrough of peace with Saudi Arabia. Plus, there are reports on our ministry activities around the globe, and interesting new features on our Hebraic Roots and Biblical Archaeology.
May the Lord bless you as you read more about our ministry and consider lending your support. And please make plans to join us for this year’s Feast of Tabernacles in late September.
Thank you for standing with us!
Yours in Christ, Dr. Jürgen Bühler President International Christian Embassy Jerusalem
COVER PHOTO: Collage of sites in Israel: Megalim Solar Field, Farming in the Negev desert, Desalination Plant in Hadera, Fighter Jets, Israel Flag in downtown Tel Aviv, Kibbutz Beit She’an
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NETANYAHU SEEKS LEGACYSEALING DEAL WITH SAUDIS 9 13 CONTENTS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 GLOBAL EDITION 4 20 IN SEARCH OF OUR HEBRAIC ROOTS NEW FEATURED SERIES JEWISH ROOTS THE HEIR OF THE WHOLE WORLD OUR HEART FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS GIVING A ‘FUTURE AND A HOPE’ TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL 11
Abraham Sacrificing Isaac by Laurent de La Hyre. c. 1650
THE HEIR OF THE WHOLE WORLD
BY DR. JÜRGEN BÜHLER, ICEJ PRESIDENT
As modern Israel prepares to turn 75, I am drawn back to where the story of the Jewish people began, with Abraham. For many Christians, he is just one of many great men of God in the Bible. However, God’s word gives Abraham unique characteristics that no other person besides Jesus ever attained. It can be said that when Abraham appeared, salvation history began. Until Abraham, all we know about humanity is that every generation degenerated away from “the image of God”. Genesis 6:12 says, “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” And even the severe judgement of the Flood did not change them. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves…” declared an unrepentant humanity at Babel, following the hubris of Satan in wanting to be like God. In just 11 chapters, the Bible describes 2000 years of human moral decay – until Abraham
came. The rest of the Bible covers the next 2000 years – from Abraham to Jesus. Abraham’s life was not just a reset of history, like Noah, but the launching point for God’s salvation plan for the world.
fulfilments are still unfolding today. These promises to Abraham, and his calling, are found in Genesis 12:1-3…
“Now the LORD had said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”
This calling had four main facets: the promise of a land, of becoming a great nation, of receiving blessing and prominence, and finally of being a blessing to the entire world.
AN UNCHANGEABLE CALLING God repeatedly assures Abraham that these promises are absolute fixtures which cannot
THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM Abraham became the father of the Jewish people and received powerful promises whose
The name Abraham written in Hebrew script.
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The (Great) Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. (Wikimedia Commons)
be revoked, because they came with two immutable guarantees. First, God affirmed it through a unilateral (unconditional) covenant (Genesis 15:12-20). “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.” (v. 18)
Secondly, God further affirmed His intention by an immutable oath (Genesis 22:15ff). The writer of Hebrew comments on this oath: “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself … Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath…” (Hebrews 6:13–17)
Testament, by both Jesus (e.g. Matthew 22:32) and the Apostles (Acts 3:13; 7:32).
A FRIEND OF GOD
In Isaiah, God calls Abraham “My friend” (Isaiah 41:8; see also 2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23). John Calvin noted, “to be called ‘My servant’ by God is high and honourable, but how much is it to be called a friend of God.” Only Jesus later uses this title for his disciples (John 15:14).
HEIR OF THE WORLD
Possibly the most remarkable reference to Abraham comes from Paul. In Romans 4:13, Paul calls him the “heir of the world”. Some Jewish Sages point out that when Abraham encountered Melchizedek, this mysterious kingpriest blesses him as “possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19). The rabbis say this obviously implied that God intended to make him heir of all things.
FATHER OF US ALL
to a significance like no other person in the Old Testament. When Jesus told the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19ff), Lazarus was carried to Abraham’s bosom. And Abraham communicated with the rich man tormented in hell. This seems to suggest that even in the world to come, Abraham holds a prominent office in the heavenlies. Not only that, every Gentile who believes in Messiah will be linked to Abraham in eternity. Jesus assured: “… many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 8:11 - RSV). That means we will enjoy eternal fellowship together at the table of our father Abraham. Whether we like it or not, our lives are closely knitted with Abraham.
Now the reason why Abraham was so impactful lies in the unique calling of God over his life.
THE NATIONAL (PHYSICAL) CALLING OF ABRAHAM
God’s intention to keep all His promises to Abraham and his offspring is non-negotiable, and He will never change His mind on this. Even an unfaithful Israel cannot alter it. For those who think Israel’s unfaithfulness would cause God to change His mind about them, Paul cautions this would render God a liar (Romans 3:3-4).
This means not only in the Old Testament but also for the writers of the New Testament, God’s promises to Abraham have eternal validity –including Israel’s land promise, her blessings, and her national calling.
AMAZING FACTS ABOUT ABRAHAM
Abraham’s stature is so great, certain statements about him in both the Old and New Testaments are simply remarkable.
First, it is noteworthy that God identifies Himself with Abraham more than twenty times in the Bible, saying He is “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. This includes five times in the New
Equally remarkable is Paul’s weighty statement that Abraham “is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16). He repeats this theme in both Romans and Galatians, asserting that all who have faith in Jesus are also sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).
THE FIRST PROPHET
Abraham also is the first man to be called a “prophet” (Genesis 20:7). Indeed, he had unparalleled insight into the distant future. Jesus says Abraham could “see my day” (John 8:56), meaning he had a vision and understanding of the coming Messiah. But his foresight reached even further! According to Paul, the Gospel “was preached to Abraham beforehand” (Galatians 3:8). That means from early on, he knew what started through him would not stop with his own Jewish people, but as God had said, he would be a father of nations and kings, and even all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). Yet amazingly, his vision did not stop there. According to Hebrews, “he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10 - RSV). That means long before the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation, Abraham saw the holy city he describes in chapters 21 and 22. Indeed, Abraham could see to the end of history.
ABRAHAM’S HEAVENLY SIGNIFICANCE
One more amazing fact: Jesus elevates Abraham
Abraham’s calling in Genesis 12:1-3 eventually gives birth to his physical descendants, the people of Israel. Here the physical and spiritual DNA of the Jewish people emanate, and from here originate all the claims which Israel holds to the Land of Canaan. This Land promise is upheld throughout the Bible, from Genesis all the way through the New Testament.
Based on this ancient covenant, Israel today has returned to its ancestral homeland and is turning it into a Garden of Eden. Abraham is the founding seed of national Israel. In his circumcision, he foreshadowed the distinct identity of Israel given some 400 years later when receiving the Law at Sinai. Since Abraham, every male descendant was circumcised on the eighth day as a sign of the divine covenant (see Genesis 17). Today, 4000 years later, the modern State of Israel is celebrating its 75th birthday and the nation is stronger than ever, impacting the world on many levels.
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God’s intention to keep all His promises to Abraham and his offspring is non-negotiable, and He will never change His mind on this.
The universal (spiritual) calling of Abraham At the same time, there is a wider, even universal aspect of this calling. From the beginning, God already revealed a calling over Abraham that went beyond his physical ancestors. While they would become a “great nation”, this nation also was destined to release a great blessing for the whole world. “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
Abraham understood that the ultimate destiny of his descendants was not just some self-serving purpose, but to be a blessing to every nation on earth (Genesis 28:14). God revealed early on the global impact of this blessing, vowing that Abraham’s descendants would be “as sand which is on the seashore” and “as the stars of heaven” (Genesis 22:17; 26:4). To Abraham’s grandson Jacob, God specified that “a company of nations shall proceed from you and kings shall come from your body” (Genesis 35:11).
pushed wide open to bring the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth. Paul states, “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)
FROM ALL THIS, WE CAN ESTABLISH:
Likewise, Jesus commanded his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) And the accomplishment of this global mission would – according to Jesus – signal the end of the age: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) The world has never been closer to that day.
THE TENSION IN ABRAHAM’S CALLING
Thus, the Apostle Paul concluded that when He first called Abraham, it also was the moment when God revealed His decision to save the world. To the church in Galatia, he writes: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed’.” (Galatians 3:8)
The ultimate, singular seed that broke through the national boundaries of Israel into the family of nations was Jesus, the son of Abraham. Paul understood that in Jesus, the door was now
One major challenge for Paul, however, was to witness in his day that Jesus was being more widely accepted by Gentiles than by his own people. “I was found by those who did not seek Me”, Paul writes with sorrow in Romans 10:20. Already in Paul’s time, some Gentiles took this as a sign that God was finished with Israel. To the church in Rome, he responds: “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Romans 11:1) Paul answers forcefully, “By no means!” For Paul, his own salvation was proof that God’s promises to Abraham’s natural descendants were still intact. God would still watch over the seed of Abraham, even if they were “enemies of the Gospel”. For they remained “beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Romans 11:28). Paul had full confidence that God’s promises to Abraham one day would come to fulfilment, and then “all Israel will be saved”.
First, there are people to this day who still wrongly believe the Church has replaced or superseded Israel for rejecting their Messiah. Yet, we saw that the Church’s calling is a direct consequence of the calling of Abraham. The Gentile church worldwide exists today because God is faithful to His promises to Abraham, and if God ever changed His mind regarding His covenant with Abraham, it would be fatal to the Church as well. According to the writer of Hebrews, it is exactly the immutability of God’s promises to Abraham which provides believers “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Hebrews 6:19). Let us, therefore, hold fast the anchor God has offered us.
Secondly, as spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham, let us identify ourselves with these great Patriarchs of our faith. God identifies Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. The way they experienced God teaches us much for our own lives. I encourage you to read again the Book of Genesis. It is the story of your spiritual ancestors. Their battles are likely your battles, and their victories can become your victories.
Lastly, one of Paul’s great sorrows was that his own brothers – the physical sons of Abraham – have largely not experienced yet the promise of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that the same outpouring of the Spirit that came through Yeshua to the Gentiles also will come to the people to whom it was originally promised.
6 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 TEACHING
“In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”
– Genesis 12:3 –
The Gentile church worldwide exists today because God is faithful to His promises to Abraham, and if God ever changed His mind regarding His covenant with Abraham, it would be fatal to the church as well.
TRIBUTE TO DR. JOHANN LÜCKHOFF
Dr. Johann Walter Lückhoff, the founding director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, passed away in his home in South Africa in late December 2022, leaving behind a unique legacy as a modern-day pioneer of Christian relations with Israel.
At the very inception of the Christian Embassy in September 1980, Dr. Lückhoff was asked to head up its initial leadership team and served as Executive Director from 1980 to 2000. In that time, he opened new doors for Christians to engage with Israeli leaders, gave vision to the Feast of Tabernacles as a dynamic worship event, and set the course of the ministry to assist in practical and significant ways with Aliyah and social needs in Israel.
Born in South Africa, Dr. Lückhoff sensed a strong calling to God’s purposes for Israel from an early age. He studied economics and foreign relations before entering seminary and receiving ordination as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church. His training and time of service in his country’s diplomatic corps and his doctorate in theological studies made Johann uniquely qualified to lead the Christian Embassy in its formative years as a global Christian ministry seeking to impact both churches and nations in their relations with Israel and the Jewish people.
Rev. Malcolm Hedding, who succeeded Johann as ICEJ Executive Director in 2001, said:
“Johann Lückhoff was tasked with building the organisation in Israel, and internationally, by laying for it a firm foundation. In this regard, he
did so with wisdom and excellence, as can be seen in the global reach of our ministry today.”
Rev. Ingolf Ellßel, Chairman of the ICEJ’s international Board of Trustees, commented that “the foundation laid by Johann Lückhoff has stood the test of time and today millions of lives in Israel and abroad have been impacted and blessed in ways that only heaven will one day reveal.”
Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the current ICEJ President, added: “I consider it a great privilege to have experienced first-hand the statesmanship of Dr. Lückhoff. He was a true diplomat of the Kingdom of God and gave excellent leadership to the ICEJ. His legacy is felt not only within our ministry but in many other pro-Israel organisations around the world that were inspired by the work he guided.”
It was a special privilege for the ICEJ to host Dr. Lückhoff at its recent Feast of Tabernacles in October 2022. Though in frail health and bound to a wheelchair, Johann insisted on attending every Feast event. The Christian Embassy honoured him during this year’s Feast with a special award for his legacy of leadership.
TRIBUTE TO PASTOR JACK HAYFORD
The ICEJ also expresses its immense respect and affection for Pastor Jack Hayford, who passed away in early January 2023, at his home in Los Angeles, at age 88.
Pastor Hayford was a highly esteemed pillar of evangelical Christianity in our day, and will be especially remembered for giving apostolic leadership to the ever-growing Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement worldwide. He had a boundless passion for worship and for preaching the Word of God with sincerity and power, while his exemplary life and ministry
as a shepherd of the Lord’s flock has left an enduring mark on our generation. Also of great note, Pastor Hayford possessed a deep love and respect for Israel and the Jewish people, which he faithfully spread to others within his vast sphere of influence.
Pastor Hayford served as chancellor of a successful seminary, founded the Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California, and was president of the Foursquare Church denomination. In addition, Hayford was a bestselling author and song writer.
Regarding Israel, Pastor Hayford made some 40 trips to the Holy Land to lead tours and speak at ministry events. He was a featured speaker at the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles and served on the Global Advisory Board of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
“There may have been no greater example today of a minister with a true shepherd’s heart than Jack Hayford”, said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “Hayford’s love for Israel brought him to our Feast and our circle of friends and trusted advisers. I hold dearly every moment spent with him.”
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NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT FACES
‘CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS’ OVER JUDICIAL REFORMS
BY DAVID PARSONS, ICEJ VICE PRESIDENT & SENIOR SPOKESMAN
Rather than another close nail-biter as expected, Israel’s recent elections ended with Benjamin Netanyahu – already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister –securing a surprisingly easy path to form a right-of-center government with a comfortable margin of 64 Knesset seats. Since taking office, however, the new government is running into a growing protest movement against its proposed judicial reforms that is shaking Israel’s democratic foundations. The heated dispute is quickly making the nation’s three recent years of political deadlock almost seem like ‘the good old days’.
No doubt, most Israelis were relieved that the political impasse which drug the country through five elections in 43 months was broken, and that a strong, proven leader like Netanyahu was back in power. After all, the nation has been trending rightward for quite some time, with 62% of Israelis identifying themselves as right-wing, according to a study by the Israel Democracy Institute.
But some elements of Netanyahu’s coalition are too far right for many in Israel and abroad. They are especially troubled by the intolerant views of certain Religious Zionist leaders on the Arab minority, the LGBTQ movement, and even Christians. Netanyahu himself helped the far Right unite and gain political legitimacy, but he surely did not foresee them winning 14 Knesset seats to become such a powerful player in his government.
Netanyahu’s new government has been passing a flurry of legislation to solidify its position, with a particular goal of reining in the Israeli courts. Many on the Right feel the
more liberal judiciary has gone too far in its expansive review and reversal of numerous laws and government decisions over recent years. Thus, the new Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin of Likud, announced a sweeping series of judicial reforms which the coalition intends to pass in coming weeks, including a measure banning unelected judges from nullifying laws passed by the elected members of parliament. Even the way judges are selected is set for major changes.
This has triggered panic on the Left, which is warning these reforms will destroy Israel’s democracy by crippling its most principled and widely respected branch of government. They are vowing to launch a nationwide uprising that will dwarf the bitter ‘black flag’ protests against Netanyahu of recent years – a threat which the Right is labelling an ‘insurrection’ and attempted ‘coup d’état ’.
This heated debate has been brewing for some time now, ever since the Israeli courts began in the early 1990s to invalidate Knesset laws without any clear authority to do so. The underlying problem is that the judiciary cannot rightly declare a law ‘unconstitutional’ because Israel has no constitution. Thus, there are no enshrined checks and balances regulating relations between the legislative and judicial branches.
One commonly heard explanation for Israel’s lack of a constitution is that the ultra-Orthodox originally objected to such a document because the Torah should be considered modern Israel’s constitution. But it was actually Israel’s founding father David Ben Gurion who quashed the idea, arguing that the young nation was poised to be
a model of progressive socialism and did not need such a rigid legal document impeding the path forward. So, some on the Right say the Left has no grounds to complain and that true democracy is letting elected officials make the most important decisions, while the courts should only interpret the laws.
At the heart of the current ‘constitutional crisis’ also lies a tug-of-war over the character of Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state. For decades, the largely liberal judiciary has been borrowing heavily from court decisions in other Western democracies to expand and protect minority rights and individual democratic freedoms in Israel. Many on the Right see this as judicial overreach which is undermining Jewish majority rule.
The religious Right is further concerned that too many recent immigrants are not truly Jewish according to halachic law and thus wants to change the Law of Return. The Right’s distrust of the courts also prompted them to pass the contentious Basic Law on Israel as the NationState of the Jewish People in 2018, just to remind judges of the ‘Jewish’ part of Jewish and democratic.
The raging dispute over the proposed judicial reforms is rapidly coming to a head as Israel’s Supreme Court just overwhelmingly ruled that Shas party leader Arye Deri is barred from serving as a cabinet minister due to his two past convictions for financial crimes while in public office. Netanyahu needs Deri’s faction to keep his new government afloat, and must find a way around this sudden political crisis or plunge Israel into yet a sixth snap election in a row.
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Netanyahu and Deri toasting in happier days (vinnews.com).
NETANYAHU SEEKS LEGACY-SEALING DEAL WITH SAUDIS
BY DAVID PARSONS, ICEJ VICE PRESIDENT & SENIOR SPOKESMAN
The impact of the Abraham Accords continues to reverberate throughout the Middle East, and returning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu certainly hopes to build on their momentum, especially by sealing an historic breakthrough with Saudi Arabia. But Riyadh is signalling any deal first depends on rebuilding their frayed relations with the United States.
Two years on, the Abraham Accords are still bearing good fruit in the region. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates continue to expand their trade and investment ties with Israel, while Morocco is now welcoming scores of Israeli tourists. Jerusalem’s relations with Egypt also continue to warm, and the Negev Forum countries recently met again in Abu Dhabi and are planning an even larger regional summit in Morocco this spring. Hopes also are growing that perhaps Indonesia and other key Muslim nations further afield may soon open ties with Israel.
However, not everyone is joining the bandwagon. Sudan may have signed the Accords, but is too fractured to contribute anything to the normalization process. And while Oman was seen as the next possible Arab state to reconcile with Israel, its new leader is leaning closer to Iran and its parliament recently voted to criminalize any interactions with “the Zionist entity”.
Meantime, Jordan just skipped the latest Abrahamic gathering again. Even though the Hashemite kingdom has a long-standing peace treaty with Israel, a majority of its population identify as Palestinians and reject any move to de-prioritize the Palestinian cause. Instead, Amman has upped its rhetoric against Israel concerning Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and even turned down Israel’s recent offer to supply the energy-strapped nation with natural gas.
For Netanyahu, the best response to Jordanian and Palestinian obstinacy is to seek a normalization pact with Saudi Arabia – the biggest prize left in the region. Returning to power in late December, he made clear in his first Knesset speech that this was his main foreign policy goal, contending that peace with Riyadh would leave Jordan and the Palestinians too isolated to continue rejecting peace with Israel.
For their part, the Saudis recently indicated to a visiting delegation of American Jewish leaders they indeed are ready for an historic rapprochement with Israel, but it is first contingent on improved relations with Washington. Riyadh has watched the Biden administration return to Obama-era policies of appeasing Iran despite its relentless drive for nuclear weapons, while US President Joe Biden has labelled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman a “pariah” and “murderer” following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudis retaliated last October by lowering oil output despite Biden’s plea to increase production to ease the global energy crisis, a move which embarrassed the Democratic leader just before the US midterm elections. Biden threatened to impose “consequences” on Riyadh, marking a new low in US-Saudi relations.
As a result, the Saudis reportedly told their recent Jewish visitors they had three key demands to reach a peace deal with Israel, none of which involved the Palestinians.
First, they seek a written agreement enshrining Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner of the US and committing Washington to come to Riyadh’s defense if attacked.
Second, they seek a preferred ally status which would ensure the reliability of American weapons sales. When signing the Abraham Accords, the US reportedly promised the UAE it would be able to purchase the new F-35 stealth fighter, and no doubt Riyadh expects the same.
Finally, the Saudis want American help to develop a peaceful civilian nuclear program that would allow them to enrich uranium.
This wish list has left Netanyahu in the position of playing mediator to repair the broken US-Saudi relationship. He already has pledged to convince his ‘old friend’ Joe Biden to reaffirm Washington’s commitment to its traditional allies in the Middle East, a move which he claims will greatly stabilize the region. It also will lead to a major leap in the budding peace between Israel and the Arab world. And ultimately, he contends, it will facilitate a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians.
To be successful, Netanyahu must not only persuade Biden to change course on the Saudis, he also must rein in right-wing members of his governing coalition who want to expand and fully legitimate the settlement enterprise. They did promise not to stand in his way on making peace with Riyadh, so we will soon see if the veteran statesman can indeed broker a legacy-sealing deal with the guardians of Mecca and Medina.
Netanyahu and Biden are ‘old friends’ (WSJ/Debbie Hill)
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The biggest prize left: Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman (Reuters)
BY LAURINA DRIESSE
srael often is forced to deal with sudden crises, when war or natural disaster strikes. The Christian Embassy steps in to help vulnerable Israeli communities in these times of turmoil. When such emergencies arise, it is a tremendous testimony when Christians are the first to arrive with help.
From north to south, Israel is surrounded by Islamic terror militias with large rocket arsenals and the intent to destroy her. However, the Christian Embassy stands firm with Israel by providing muchneeded bomb shelters to shield them against the constant threat of rocket attacks.
Thanks to our very generous donors from around the world, scores of Israelis can sleep soundly, and their children can joyfully play at kindergartens knowing that there is a shelter nearby.
In the year 2022, the ICEJ donated another 17 new bomb shelters to protect vulnerable Israeli communities. Some were smaller portable bell-shaped shelters, others were medium cube-shaped mobile ones, and two were larger underground shelters that needed extensive renovations for use in important public buildings.
Ten of the shelters were placed last year in the Gaza border region, and seven were positioned on the northern border to protect against the rocket threat posed by the Hizbullah terror militia in Lebanon. With the shelters delivered last year, the ICEJ has now donated a total number of 182 bomb shelters to protect Israeli communities since 2007! Each shelter displays an ICEJ dedication plaque assuring Israelis that Christian friends from around the world care about them.
Israel has the proven ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile batteries used to intercept medium-range rockets. But for communities living within
10-15 kilometers of the Gaza border, families have a mere 15 seconds to seek shelter before the rockets land, and the Iron Dome system is not able to shoot down such short-range projectiles.
In August of last year, Ofir Libshtein, mayor of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council in southern Israel, told the ICEJ that the ten towns in his region were targeted with over 300 rockets during a three-day intense barrage from Gaza, which meant hearing the red alert sirens hundreds of times and having to run for their safe rooms each time.
“The Iron Dome is an amazing miracle,” said Mayor Libshtein. “We have found a solution to deal with 96% of the rockets. But because we are so close to the border, we have rockets hit before the alarm even sounds sometimes.”
Meanwhile, the northern region of Israel is densely populated, and the Lebanese border is volatile. Many of the older homes do not have special safe rooms, leaving families vulnerable and having to run to a nearby shelter in the event of a missile attack.
Most of the shelters we have donated were placed near community and sports centers, clinics, at bus stops near entrances to communities, close to schools and kindergartens, and in other public places, bringing a sense of security to all around.
“It is always so encouraging when Israelis living under this constant rocket threat tell us that our bomb shelters are indeed saving lives and giving their families the peace of mind they need to continue their daily lives in these vulnerable areas”, said ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler.
Many more communities located along Israel’s borders remain vulnerable, lacking sufficient shelters to protect them against an onslaught of rocket fire. So, please consider your own donation towards a life-saving bomb shelter to protect more Israeli lives.
STANDING WITH ISRAEL IN TIMES OF CRISIS
AID & ALIYAH PROJECTS DONATE AT: give.icej.org/crisis “The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7) Installation of a bomb shelter 10 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
OUR HEART FOR HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS
BY LAURINA DRIESSE
For more than a decade now, the ICEJ has had a special burden to care for the growing number of Holocaust survivors who are unable to support themselves. Most of these elderly survivors are now in their 80s and 90s and many are feeble or cannot make ends meet. We have responded to this urgent need through several means, most notably by establishing the only elderly home in Israel solely dedicated to caring for indigent Holocaust survivors.
Located in Haifa, the ICEJ’s unique Home for Holocaust survivors saw the addition of a new residential building last year, and it was completed just in time to receive an influx of 17 Ukrainian Jewish survivors rescued from the horrors of yet another war – the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Each new resident brought their own tragic story of bravery and survival as they arrived with a suitcase loaded only with essentials, leaving behind a lifetime of memories. In addition, another survivor from Israel also recently moved into the Home.
Sadly, six of our residents passed away during 2022, while another two relocated to more
suitable nursing homes to provide more intensive care for their medical conditions.
This means that there are 54 Holocaust survivors in total currently living at the Home, while several dozen more survivors living in nearby neighbourhoods of Haifa also regularly take part in the Home’s weekly activities.
The ICEJ team also welcomed new Christian volunteers who serve the survivors so faithfully, doing physical activities with them and providing daily care for their needs. One of the new volunteers speaks Russian and Romanian, which makes communicating with the survivors easier.
Through your generous giving, our sponsorship of the Home also includes fourteen 24/7 caregivers coming from five nations (Philippines, Moldova, Ukraine, India and Sri Lanka).
The ICEJ’s “Adopt a Survivor” initiative also is still running strong, with our adoption partners coming from 15 countries last year. We received approximately 250 beautiful letters and packages for the survivors during 2022. Perhaps you might want to join the “Adopt a Survivor” project!
The Haifa Home seeks to enable all its residents to live out their final years surrounded by love and professional support. Our ongoing support is vital, and the “Adopt a Survivor’ program is an opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways. If you have a desire to help these precious people who went through the horrors of the Holocaust, you can opt for a monthly commitment to ensure ongoing quality care and daily therapeutic activities for the residents. To find out more about this opportunity, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The ICEJ also helped launch a national call center in Israel last year which operates around the clock on weekdays. The call center is manned by staff and community volunteers across Israeli society as well as youth performing their national service. These teams are actively reaching out to hundreds of Holocaust survivors every day to inquire about their condition and needs, and then work to immediately assist them. For instance, they help provide medical and rehabilitation equipment, oxygen generators, wheelchairs and walkers, surveillance cameras for continuous assistance, as well as prescribed medications, hot meals, and groceries, all free of charge to the Holocaust survivors and other elderly in Israel. The volunteers also pay home visits, and deliver blankets, appliances, and other household items, as needed.
Please continue to help the ICEJ extend our hand of compassion to deserving Holocaust survivors in Israel by supporting the Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors and our related initiatives. Thank you for caring, and for giving your best gift today!
DONATE AT: give.icej.org/survivors
AID & ALIYAH PROJECTS
“I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities.” (Psalm 31:7)
The ICEJ Home for Holocaust survivors located in Haifa.
11 | WORD FROM JERUSALEM
Resident at the Haifa Home Fanny
THE CONSTANT CALL OF ALIYAH
BY LAURINA DRIESSE
For over forty years now, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has faithfully answered the divine call for Christians to partner with God in the great Ingathering of the Jewish people. We believe it is the hand of God, in keeping with His promises to restore Israel after their long exile. The ICEJ has now assisted over 170,000 Jews from around the world to make Aliyah (return) to Israel. We also have helped tens of thousands of new Jewish immigrants get adjusted to their new lives once back in the land of their forefathers.
bus transportation, and/or accommodations enroute. Among them were 1,092 Ukrainian Jews desperate to escape their war-torn cities.
This included 190 Holocaust survivors plus an additional 100 frail elderly Jews who were all rescued from Ukraine and provided special accommodations, transport and medical care along the way to Israel. Our staff were privileged to welcome 17 of these Holocaust survivors from Ukraine into the ICEJ’s unique assisted-living home in Haifa.
23 Ethiopian students, each with at least 8-to-11 years of schooling, were sponsored by the ICEJ to join a special 9-month course that enabled them to complete their high school studies. Another 20 new arrivals participated in afterschool educational programs for Ethiopian children.
This past year witnessed a massive surge in Jewish immigration to Israel, largely due to the brutal war in Ukraine and the economic and political uncertainty in Russia. Latest figures show that well over 73,000 Jews made Aliyah last year, with some 80% coming from the former Soviet republics. This is nearly double the number of Jewish immigrants to Israel in recent years.
The ICEJ responded with a banner year for our Aliyah and Integration efforts, as we assisted a total of 6,308 Jews in making Israel their new home in 2022, including Aliyah flights for 1,646 new immigrants.
Our Aliyah support last year helped bring 4,732 Jewish immigrants to Israel, whether through the flights themselves, pre-flight assistance (Aliyah camps and seminars),
Early in the Ukraine refugee crisis, the ICEJ’s Finnish branch delivered two truckloads of humanitarian aid to Poland for dispersal among needy Ukrainian Jewish families suddenly uprooted from their homes.
Amid the crisis, the Jewish Agency established an Aliyah assistance hotline so people could access urgent Aliyah information. To ensure that desperate people received the information they needed immediately, our own hotline for Holocaust survivors stepped in to help answer calls when Jewish Agency representatives could not answer.
30 Immigrants from the FSU received nursing recertification so they can practice their profession in Israel.
10 Ukrainian teens who arrived in Israel without their parents participated in a six-month integration program which included housing, Hebrew lessons, seminars and army preparation.
20 Homes were furnished for new immigrants arriving from Ukraine, which assisted some 60 immigrants.
490 New immigrant families received welcome packs.
29 Ukrainian immigrant families received subsidized dental treatment.
50 FSU immigrant families were helped with their accommodation in Israel for their first two weeks, and provided with household and electrical appliances, plus linen and bedding.
In addition, our support extended to ensuring that 1,571 new arrivals landed softly in their homeland and integrated as smoothly and quickly as possible into Israeli society. For instance:
(Isaiah 49:22 / NIV) DONATE AT: give.icej.org/aliyah
79 New immigrants from the FSU received assistance with professional recertification. Sixteen were doctors, while 34 others received vocational training in the hi-tech industry.
Know that your support toward the work of Aliyah and Integration is making a big difference in helping Jews from around the world reach Israel and get settled in their ancestral homeland. The surge in Aliyah is expected to continue well into 2023, so please keep supporting the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts.
AID & ALIYAH PROJECTS
“This is what the
LORD says: ‘See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.”
Jani Salokangas, ICEJFinland National Director
ICEJ staff welcome Aliyah arrivals at Ben Gurion International Airport
12 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
Ukrainian Jews on an Aliyah bus transfer
GIVING A ‘FUTURE AND A HOPE’ TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
BY NICOLE YODER
Since 1980, the ICEJ has reached out across Israel to touch the lives of those in need in every sector of Israeli society through a wide variety of humanitarian projects. Our vision has always been to build relationships, foster reconciliation, and share God’s love by responding to the many pressing social needs throughout the Land. Our decades of experience in Israel ensures that your contributions reach the people who need it most.
One of the main areas of focus of these aid programs is our “Giving a Future and a Hope” fund, which allows us to assist needy families, women in crisis, troubled youths, minorities, those struggling in the periphery, and many other disadvantaged communities in Israel. These projects seek to impact the lives of as many Israelis in need as possible, demonstrating Christian love and showing practical care to give each beneficiary renewed hope and a brighter future.
From single mothers, the disabled, and youths-at-risk to the elderly, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is there to help on your behalf. We assist Israelis who are unemployed or in financial hardship. We are there at holiday times to comfort and cheer those who lack. We sponsor promising students who just need a chance to succeed. We reach out to minority communities who need someone to help level the playing field for them. All of this is in keeping with the biblical command to “defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.” (Psalm 82:3)
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW
ACCOMPLISHED THESE GOALS LAST YEAR:
The ICEJ sponsored a large food distribution program and rented a refrigerated truck used to pick up and deliver donated food items for the poor.
We provided aid to 170 women in crisis as well as practical items to support 10 babies of unwed mothers.
We funded major house repairs for 28 disadvantaged families.
We donated a new computer room for a Druze girls’ school, and covered late school fees for dozens of Druze students from families severely impacted by the corona crisis.
A local Messianic school received a new playground.
We provided mentors and educational support for some 50 youths who were close to dropping out of school.
We assisted Israeli youths-at-risk and disabled national servicemen who were learning computer repair skills and were able to restore 100 computers for disadvantaged families in the community.
Our Aid staff personally distributed Passover care baskets to 990 needy Jewish families across the country.
At Rosh HaShana, 50 Ethiopian Jewish families received a special flour to make a traditional flat bread for the Fall High Holidays.
The ICEJ gave Christmas gifts to 1300 children, plus holiday food packs and gift vouchers to Christian Arab families in Nazareth, Haifa, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
We supplied furniture, equipment and games for an Arab youth center in northern Israel that offers after school tutoring.
We provided school supplies, clothing and basic household items for 90 Israeli orphans.
We funded a vocational training course in photography for deaf students.
We sponsored a new computer coding course for promising Arab students who aspire to work in Israel’s hi-tech industry.
Visit our website at icej.org to read more about these charitable projects made possible by your financial gifts.
Please continue supporting our “Giving a Future and a Hope” projects to bless and comfort Israelis in need.
AID & ALIYAH PROJECTS
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah
DONATE TODAY AT: give.icej.org/givinghope
STRENGTHENING FAMILIES EDUCATION & ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
13 | WORD FROM JERUSALEM
CHILDREN & YOUTHS AT RISK COEXISTENCE IN ISRAEL
ICEJ HELPS ISRAELI YOUTHS-AT-RISK DEVELOP NEW SKILLS
BY LAURINA DRIESSE
As part of our ministry of blessing and comfort to Israel, the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem is thrilled to see disadvantaged children flourish in a loving and supportive environment, which encourages their growth and development.
During Hanukkah in December, Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah, visited an Israeli youth village we support which is home to 141 young people. Most of these children are between the ages of 6 to 18 years and have been removed from their homes for their own well-being. Though most of the youngsters can spend time at home with their families occasionally, it would not be safe for some of them to visit home.
Meanwhile, there is a small group of children who participate at the youth village programs but still live at home. The hope is that with support, these children will not need to be removed from their families.
The youth village has embarked on an educational and therapeutic project to open a bakery operated by the children. An instructor familiar with working with at-risk children is teaching them life skills alongside learning to bake and cook. This initiative has taken off like hot cakes, proving to be immensely popular with the youths.
Anxious to get started, but with little resources to purchase essential equipment, a room was designated for the new bakery. With a few giveaways like used mixers, a second-hand oven, and a small refrigerator, the project kicked off with great enthusiasm. However, to turn this dream into a reality, they still need more equipment to get the project fully up and running.
“The ICEJ is so excited to support this initiative, as over the course of the next few years, these at-risk children will build their skills and learn to develop business and marketing plans which will drive this initiative into becoming a real business in the community” explained Nicole.
During Hanukkah, when baked treats are plentiful in Israel, there was a lot of excitement about being able to get out of school a few hours early to use their new skills to bake for the village Hanukkah party! Nicole was there to witness the joyful youths work energetically to bake 170 delicious sufganiyot (doughnuts)! Later, during the party, the young bakers added colorful toppings to give each guest’s taste buds a unique flavorful treat!
“He looked like a pent-up bundle of emotion and energy, all wound up and so sweetly shy at the same time, as though he did not know exactly what to do with himself,” noted Nicole. “I was so touched to hear that the parents received a special taxi, paid for by the village, so that they could make it to the party. It was their first visit there although their son has lived in the village for four years already. No wonder he was so excited.”
The director quickly suggested that he go and choose a gift for his mother from a nearby table. “You should have seen him shoot off at a run to get that gift for his mother. What a special day for him and so many other children who welcomed their parents to the village for Hanukkah,” shared Nicole.
The whole village was abuzz preparing for the Hanukkah party. One young man, who struggles with stuttering, could be heard practicing a beautiful song to perform at the party. Somehow when he sings, the stuttering fades and he can sing clearly.
Meanwhile, guests were beginning to arrive at the front gate. Shlomi*, a boy of about 11 years old, was alive with anticipation for the party, and even more so when he spotted his parents arriving. He called out to the director: “Maya, look! My mom and dad are here!”
Warm thanks to the ICEJ’s Canadian friends who gave the first donation towards purchasing an industrial oven to get this project going.
* Name changed to protect privacy
Please also consider giving to the ICEJ’s ‘Future and a Hope’ fund, which helps disadvantaged Israelis reach towards a brighter and more hopeful future. You may donate at: give.icej.org/givinghope
AID & ALIYAH PROJECTS
& YOUTHS AT RISK
14 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
ICEJ SUPPORTS ALIYAH WINTER CAMPS FOR UKRAINIAN JEWISH YOUTHS
BY ICEJ STAFF
The current major wave of Aliyah hitting Israel continues to roll into 2023. More than 73,000 Jews immigrated to Israel in 2022, the highest numbers since the years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989. The main causes are the direct and indirect results of the war in Ukraine. The ICEJ continues to assist in many innovative ways in this amazing ingathering, such as assisting with Aliyah winter camps for Ukrainian Jewish youth in the safety of the nearby Baltic states.
In early January, the ICEJ began the new year by supporting a wonderful innovative Aliyah Winter Camp for young Ukrainian Jewish youths, ages 12-to-17, together with Jewish children from the Baltic states. There was a jovial atmosphere on the bus as fifty-four youth from Ukraine recently crossed the border into Poland and continued to Riga, Latvia, to join 21 Ukrainian refugee children living in other East European countries along with 45 Latvian Jewish children.
“This is just one tangible example of the critical work for the Jews of Ukraine, made possible thanks to generous friends such as yourselves”, said Danielle Mor of the Jewish Agency, which organized the camp. “May 2023 be marked by such joy and hope.”
This is the second Aliyah youth camp that the ICEJ has recently supported in the Baltic region. The first such “Dacha” camp was in held in Lithuania in September for more than 100 children.
The vast majority of the 73,000-plus Jewish olim who arrived in Israel in 2022 were from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. There also has been a noticeable increase from other former Soviet republics, such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The ICEJ is well positioned to assist with this upsurge from the Baltic States, as we continue to work closely with the regional Jewish Agency representatives. For instance, the ICEJ is helping with Aliyah flights, airport transfers, Aliyah preparation seminars, and trips to the Israeli consul for visas.
On 18 December, the ICEJ supported a special Hanukkah Day of Israel in Riga and our first sponsored flight was on the 19th of December. The first family was brought from a coastal city to the airport by van with extra baggage for the direct flight to Israel.
The youth were so excited to stay in a 3-star resort hotel and soon the conference rooms turned into hives of activity as the youngsters started making new friends, embracing their heritage, and learning all they could about making Aliyah from Israeli counselors, who shared about the thrilling opportunities that await them in Israel.
The Aliyah winter camp was called “Dacha”, which is the popular Russian name for a country home where people often go for a rest during their summer or winter breaks. The winter respite usually runs from New Year’s Eve to January 10th, when people often say: “I am going to my dacha”.
These Aliyah youth camps have been a huge success over the years, and this latest one definitely was no different!
Isaac, one of the campers from Lviv, expressed his opinion of the camp by showing a big “thumbs up” sign!
Meanwhile, another youth from near Kyiv simply called it, “Super!”
The Jewish remnant still in the former Soviet Union now have many concerns about their safety and future. They risk being conscripted for military service in Russia, while in Ukraine men of draft age are restricted from leaving the country. This has led to the separation of family members, some of whom have gone to Israel and others to East European countries. The ICEJ is helping in these situations, as well as with our integration programs and humanitarian help in the Diaspora.
The ICEJ will continue to support Aliyah from the former Soviet republics. Our Aliyah work first began in Vienna in 1980 and since then we have assisted more than 170,000 Jews coming home to Israel, plus many, many more during their integration process.
Thank you for partnering with us in our Aliyah efforts to bring Jews back to their biblical homeland – the Land of Israel. Please support this work by giving at: give.icej.org/aliyah
AID & ALIYAH PROJECTS
15 | WORD FROM JERUSALEM
ALL THE WAY FROM DOWN UNDER
BY YUDIT SETZ
Eleven years ago, Ruth, the wife of our ICEJ-New Zealand national director Derek McDowell, passed away. In Ruth’s memory, money was donated to beautify the Haifa Home and a sign was put up on our street in her honour. The sign beautifully expressed Ruth’s life and became a positive testimony to many Israelis who walked by. The sign reads: “As a true friend of Israel, Ruth lived out the essence of her biblical namesake. ‘Your people are my people, and your God is my God.’ (Ruth 1:16)” This also expresses how we feel.
In December, Ruth and Derek’s eldest son, Aaron, came with his wife all the way from New Zealand for what became a very moving visit to Ruth’s memorial.
HAIFA HOME RESIDENTS CAST FIRST VOTE IN ISRAEL
BY YUDIT SETZ
In early November, Israelis headed for the ballot box again. For our new residents at the Haifa Home from Ukraine, it was a special, even festive day. Together, we went to the voting station at a school close by. There was excitement in the air, as for the first time they could vote in Israel.
“I am so happy today that I participated in the elections and that I am really part of my new homeland now. I was able to select who I wanted, and it made me feel Israeli,” said Lena, smiling.
Lena came to Israel from Kharkov several months ago, one of 17 elderly Holocaust survivors rescued from the war in Ukraine last year who now live in our special Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors.
It was an exciting day as well for 89-year-old Svetlana. With the new walker she received the day before, we made our way to the voting booth and she, too, proudly cast her first vote in Israel.
A widow of 89, Svetlana left Kramatorsk in March. This is the second major war in her life, as she was eight years old when the Holocaust started. From that time, she remembers bombings and loud aircraft. Her mother dug a trench in the back yard and covered it with twigs and earth. When they heard the planes, they would run and hide in the trench. Last Spring, she heard that familiar sound again from childhood. She was standing at her kitchen table cutting vegetables, when suddenly she heard planes roar overhead, followed by loud explosions. This time, the planes were not German but Russian.
“Thank you very much for the wonderful visit today”, Aaron said afterwards. “It was so special to see Mum’s memorial and I was delighted to get so much more from the visit. It’s incredible what the Home has done and is still doing. What a great contribution.”
Svetlana shared other Holocaust memories with us. When the Nazis came, they began mass shootings. They gathered a large group of people and ordered them into the town’s water tower. The place was absolutely packed. Then a soldier threw a bomb. Many people lost their lives, but because the place was so full, those who entered first survived. Svetlana and her family were among the survivors. After the German soldiers left, they climbed out of the tower. She still remembers passing over heaps of dead bodies.
More than 80 years have passed. After Russia attacked Ukraine last Spring, Svetlana fled Kramatorsk and made it to Budapest. A few months ago, she arrived in Israel and now lives in the Haifa Home.
Svetlana’s only son, who lived in Mariupol with his family, soon fled to Belgium. Her only brother passed away from Covid a year ago. In Israel, we have become Svetlana’s new family, as our ICEJ team from different countries now take care of her.
“I can’t understand what is going on nowadays. It looks like everything is turned upside down”, she recently remarked. “When I was a child my father and my uncle fought together with the Russians against Hitler’s Germany, but today Russian aircraft bomb my hometown, and people from Germany serve and help me.”
Svetlana votes for the first time in Israel
AN UNEXPECTED VISIT
BY YUDIT SETZ
Alexander and Karolin, both Christians from Germany, recently visited the Haifa Home as part of a round-theworld trip on their bikes to raise funds for a charitable project assisting disadvantaged youths. Here, they met Zelda, who was born in Poland but had to flee to Russia during the Holocaust. Although Zelda endured many hardships and is now very old, she is still in good spirits and loves to talk to people. She
ICEJ TEAM IN ACTION
Thanks to our great team of Christian volunteers, the ICEJ is able to do so much for the residents at the Haifa Home.
even seems to draw energy from telling others about her life.
On the road for five months already, Alexander and Karolin said this was one of the most exciting stops on their journey.
“It’s been an honour to meet all the residents in this wonderful Home”, said Alexander. “It served as a reminder to us to keep telling their
stories. The next generation will not have the chance to meet these precious people in person.”
THE HEARTBEAT OF HOMECARE
BY CORRIE VAN MAANEN
Homecare! The word says it all. We care about people, mostly elderly Jews in their own homes. They made Aliyah to Israel, some many years ago, others more recently. All came with hopes and dreams. Some came alone, others with their offspring. They all left behind lives and homes in the former Soviet Union. Many are adjusting well and call Israel their home after years of integration and adjustment. Their children and grandchildren are now finding their way in Israeli society.
Unfortunately, among them are people who are broken from tough life experiences. Some are barely making it, financially or emotionally. They are languishing at the edge of society. Their life’s story is often too painful to share or hard to capture in words. With our Homecare program, we respectfully look for opportunities to walk alongside them. Not to speak big words, but to sit beside and listen. To give help where needed and lovingly offer practical nursing care. We bring hope, often with a cup of tea, celebrating a birthday, sharing the joy of the Jewish holidays or just everyday life, and building up precious relationships.
For many Russian-speaking Jews in Israel, New Year’s Day is an important day to celebrate. A tree reminds them of spring approaching in the long, cold, dark Russian winters they left behind. Some bring their artificial tree in a suitcase when they make Aliyah. It shows the importance. Sharing the evening with family and friends, it brings back childhood memories, a nostalgia for holidays past.
In a recent weekly visit to an elderly Jewish immigrant, I was hesitant to wish him ‘Happy New Year!’. With his fragile health and blindness
at 97 years old, it is hard for him to find happiness. His family is not in Israel. He felt the struggle of the moment and explained that while others say, ‘Happy New Year’, Jews pray every day for the Eternal One to bring blessing and provision. With a little taste of wine, we lifted our glasses and wished each other well in daily provision. This was a beautiful picture of the simplicity and faithful work of ICEJ Homecare.
Please support this compassionate outreach to Holocaust survivors by giving at:
Please support the comforting work of our Homecare program at: give.icej.org/homecare 17 | WORD FROM JERUSALEM
CHANGING OF THE GUARD IN ICEJ-DENMARK
The Board of the ICEJ’s Danish office recently approved by unanimous decision a change in leadership. Christina Elisabeth Leinum is stepping down as our national director in Denmark and will be replaced in that role by Nick David Hansen. He has served as our administrative manager in Denmark and recently completed with excellence the ICEJ Leadership Course. Christina will continue her involvement with the ICEJ as a speaker, and as a member of the Danish board and of the International Association of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. Christina has served with distinction as national director for the past eight years, rebuilding the work and making an impact for Israel in Denmark.
ICEJ COSTA RICA MARKS 40TH ANNIVERSARY
CENTRAL AFRICAN NATIONS CELEBRATE THE FEAST
As Christians from 70 nations gathered in Israel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles last October, many ICEJ offices organised local Succot celebrations and Feast watch parties as well. One such Feast gathering was hosted by ICEJ-Gabon at the Church of the Grace of Christ, led by Rev. Bernard Makocho. All the participants were edified by his powerful message on the origins, meaning and prophetic significance of this Feast for both Jews and Christians. Later that
day, Judicaël Mounguengui, the ICEJ-Gabon national director and Central Africa regional coordinator, convened an online Feast celebration with Christian leaders and participants from several surrounding African nations, including Cameroon and the Central African Republic. The main message was delivered by Dr. Meviane Nguema, while other pastors and ministry leaders shared testimonies and led times of prayer. Earlier, Dr. Nguema had overseen the collection of a Feast offering that was sent to the head office in Jerusalem as a sign of the commitment of the Body of Christ in Central Africa to support Israel not only in prayer but also in financial giving.
In October, ICEJ-Costa Rica held a special celebration during the Feast of Tabernacles to mark 40 years since the branch was founded by Rabbi Conrado Umaña in 1982. He joined some 100 people in attendance at the host church in the city of Alajuela, as Teresita Torres Picado was honoured for her 30 years of service to the ministry, including 22 as
national director of ICEJ-Costa Rica. She then passed the baton of leadership to Mauricio Bolaños Barrantes as the new branch director. He has gone through a three-year preparation process for the role under the guidance of Mrs. Torres, who passed on her knowledge, expertise and above all her love for Israel.
18 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
PAN-AFRICA SPEAKING TOUR FINDS GROWING LOVE FOR ISRAEL
In November, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman David Parsons conducted a three-week speaking tour that took him to diverse parts of Africa, where he continued to encounter a growing love and interest in Israel across the continent.
The ministry trip began in the Ivory Coast, in West Africa, where ICEJ national chairman Apostle Apollinaire Gboagnon invited David to his home church in Abidjan to address a three-day ministry and prayer conference focused on the theme “The Mount of Transfiguration”. Dr. Gboagnon enjoys much respect nation-wide as president of the Evangelical Alliance in Ivory Coast, and together with our national director Rev. David Kuhen Silue, they are having a strong impact for Israel in their nation and across French-speaking West Africa, especially in building interest among Christians to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
Next came a visit to Zambia in southern Africa to speak at a four-day leadership conference hosted by Bishop Festus Mulwanda in the capital of Lusaka. Bishop Mulwanda had just attended the Feast in Jerusalem for the first time and was eager for his network of church pastors and leaders to learn more about Israel. David presented a teaching series that explained why Christians should stand with a restored Israel from the perspective of both Kingdom and Covenant theology. Bishop Mulwanda is now exploring with fellow church leaders the launching of a new ICEJ office in Zambia.
The final leg of the journey took David to Tanzania, in East Africa. This was his fifth visit to the country in the past seven years, and national director Stanton Newton and his team once again had a very busy and productive speaking schedule planned. The first stop was Arusha, near Mt. Kilimanjaro, to meet with Dr. Ben and Hellen Lema, founders of Safina Radio, the largest Christian radio station in Tanzania. They are faithful servants of God, and over recent years their listeners nationwide have donated generously to fund Aliyah flights for hundreds of Ethiopian Jews to return to Israel. Afterwards, the packed schedule included speaking in churches in Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora, Singida, Dodoma, Morogoro and Dar es Salaam. It was a special treat to help Bishop Moses Fimbo dedicate his new church sanctuary near the shores of Lake Victoria. In all locales, there was a great hunger for teachings on Israel and open hearts to support our work, particularly the Ethiopian Aliyah.
ICEJ-USA HOSTS DENISON FOR ‘TASTE OF TABERNACLES’,
Fresh on the heels of our Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem, ICEJ-USA hosted a ‘Taste of Tabernacles’ conference in Niles, Ohio in November to give participants a sense of what the Feast is like. Rev. Barry Denison, ICEJ Vice President for Operations, was invited from Jerusalem to serve as a featured speaker. Afterwards, Barry travelled to speak in various churches in Decatur and
Huntsville, Alabama and Morristown, Tennessee. He also was interviewed on Moody Radio and for an ICEJ-USA young adults webinar called “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Barry found there was a lot of interest in knowing more about Israel, its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, the impact of the Abraham Accords on the region, and the situation for Jews and Palestinian Arabs in Judea/Samaria.
Rev. Barry Denison, ICEJ Vice President for Operations, being interviewed on Moody Radio.
IN SEARCH OF OUR HEBRAIC ROOTS
BY DR. MOJMIR KALLUS, ICEJ VICE PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:1-3)
More than 40 years ago, the founders of ICEJ chose this prophetic passage as a guideline for our work. These verses herald a new era in the history of the Jewish people. After centuries of exile, persecution and punishment, God would turn a new page and restore Israel according to His own promises. A partial restoration had happened before, after their return from Babylon, but this time there is a new witness: the Church from the nations, which is called upon to comfort Israel, pray for her and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.
It turns out that this is also a new era for the Church. After centuries of preaching contempt and hatred towards the Jews, the combined effect of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the Jewish state forced Christian leaders to rethink their theology. That opened the way for Christians to examine a long-lost heritage of our faith, namely the Hebrew background of Jesus’ life and teachings, the way Jews have understood the Bible and kept the biblical feasts, and so much more. This new quest has come to be known as the search for our Hebraic roots and the Jewishness of Jesus. It is greatly encouraged by Paul in Romans 11:17-18, when he says that Gentile believers “became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree... remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
An obvious start is to look at the biblical feasts. On Passover, Jesus was offered as a blameless
Lamb for the sins of the world, fulfilling the prophetic picture of the lamb whose blood saved the Israelites from death in Egypt (Exodus 12). It is a fascinating exercise to compare the Jewish custom of celebrating the Seder meal on Passover eve with the story of the Last Supper. Many such New Testament passages come to life in a new way when we read them in light of their original Hebraic setting.
There are parallels between the Jewish and Christian understandings of Pentecost as well. While Jews celebrate the giving of the Word of God on Mount Sinai, Christians remember the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). One needs the other: the Word without the Spirit is a dead letter, while the true work of the Spirit will always be supported by the Word.
It is not a coincidence that the founding of the Christian Embassy was connected to the first Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, another biblical feast which has great global significance. Though never kept by the Church, this fall harvest festival will have its glorious prophetic fulfilment at the second coming of the Lord.
Many more insights can be gleaned from the biblical significance of the Hebrew months or from the weekly Torah readings and Jewish prayer customs. This journey is not without its pitfalls, however. Some Christians become so overwhelmed by the richness of Jewish traditions, or some of its outward symbols, that they run the danger of losing sight of the uniqueness of Jesus’ work of salvation. Ultimately, there is only one way to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the New Covenant which he established (Romans 3:28). The guiding principle should be what Paul wrote to the Colossians (2:16-17): “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
It is in this spirit that we invite you to join us as we ever seek to discover and bring forth treasures both new and old (Matthew 13:52).
FEAST OF TABERNACLES 2020
The Last Supper by Vicente Juan Macip. Wikimedia Commons
20 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023
ISRAELIS EXCITED OVER HEZEKIAH INSCRIPTIONS – BOTH
BY ANNALIESE JOHNSON, ICEJ STAFF WRITER
An Israeli professor recently caused waves among archaeologists by claiming he has discovered new ancient Hebrew inscriptions in Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem which mirror passages in the Old Testament. The debate over these inscriptions comes as Israel prepares to celebrate 75 years of independence amid rising hopes that the original “Siloam Inscription” – found in the same man-made water channel and carted off by the Ottomans more than a century ago – may be returned by Turkey during this special anniversary year.
Prof. Gershon Galil recently announced that he has identified and deciphered new Hebraic inscriptions carved in the walls of King Hezekiah’s tunnel in the ancient City of David, located in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem. He explained the inscriptions were there in plain sight all along but needed a trained eye to distinguish the ancient lettering from ordinary chisel marks.
Galil claimed the carved letters not only repeat the Siloam Inscription, which describes the digging of the underground water tunnel connecting the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam, but they also give a more complete account of the reign of King Hezekiah. They date the tunnel’s completion to the second of Tammuz during his 17th year as king (709 BC), and also reference other notable events under his rule, including reforms and “the wars against Philistia”. Several lines apparently repeat almost verbatim certain verses found in 2 Kings chapters 18 and 20.
If accurate, the finds would further verify the biblical account of Hezekiah’s kingship, while also strengthening the view that the biblical books on Israel’s kings are based on actual chronicles and royal inscriptions from that era.
However, critics insist Galil has failed to provide photos and other evidence for a proper peer review, a complaint common to several of his other recent far-reaching claims. Prof. Galil has responded that all his proofs will soon be published in an upcoming book.
If his claims are true, one expert said this would be “one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Israel of all time”. Most notably, it would replace the Ketef Hinnom silver amulets as the oldest Hebrew writings used to authenticate the Bible.
The Ketef Hinnom silver amulets, which date to 600 BC, contain roughly 100 Hebrew words in 12 lines that match the Aaronic blessings found in Numbers 6:24-26. In contrast, this latest discovery consists of 11 lines of inscriptions denoting Hezekiah as king of Judah and listing his main accomplishments.
Of course, King Hezekiah’s most enduring feat is the 533-meter tunnel cut in bedrock which bears his name. Visited by millions of people over recent decades, it is referenced in the famous “Siloam Inscription” which dates back 2,700 years. Discovered in 1880, the Siloam Inscription is a stone slab with ancient Hebraic lettering that marks the spot where work ended on the extensive tunnel ordered by King Hezekiah to protect the walled city of Jerusalem’s water supply during times of siege. The historic stone was taken to Istanbul during the waning days of Ottoman rule in the land, several decades before the nation of Israel was reborn.
While previous discussions between Jerusalem and Ankara have failed to secure the return of the highly-prized artifact, President Isaac Herzog did broach the subject in his official state visit to Turkey last fall. Given that Jerusalem’s relations with Turkey are on the mend, it has raised hopes that the Hezekiah stone may finally come home in time for Israel’s 75th anniversary in May.
Whether or not this national treasure is returned soon, we should all be grateful that Israel has been free to uncover its rich biblical heritage ever since Jewish sovereignty was restored in the Land in 1948, leading to one incredible find after another in the exciting field of Biblical archaeology. With any other sovereign in the Land of Israel, these biblical gems likely would have remained buried or been sold on the black market and lost to history.
This was amply demonstrated by the saga of the Dead Sea Scrolls, first discovered near Qumran in the Judean wilderness in 1947 – just prior to Israel’s rebirth. It was Israeli academics who first alerted the world to the enormity of their discovery and began collecting and preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls for proper examination.
21 | WORD FROM JERUSALEM
Siloam inscription. World History Encyclopedia
WE KNOW THE POWER OF PRAYER!
The work and ministry of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, both in Israel and worldwide, is fuelled by prayer. We know that we cannot accomplish anything of lasting value without first placing everything into God’s hands through prayer. Yet when we pray, the Lord hears and answers in His own amazing ways.
One recently answered prayer came as the leadership and staff in our Jerusalem headquarters were finishing up a week of strategy meetings in December to plan for the new year. Based on a leading from the Lord, we made a firm decision to rent some extra office space in our building to create a yearround TV studio for our weekly webinars and other video productions. We also committed to start broadcasting the Feast of Tabernacles ourselves, utilizing our own qualified staff from Jerusalem and our branch offices around the globe. These were big steps of faith and they would incur substantial costs, but we ended our strategy meetings with a time of prayer for these very needs and trusted the Lord to move on our behalf.
One hour later, a staff member met with a Christian couple who love Israel and appreciate our ministry, and they inquired if we needed funds for our TV broadcast needs. After hearing of our decision that very day, they immediately
committed to giving a large donation to cover the costs of the studio, new TV equipment and the first year of Feast broadcasts. This was an incredibly encouraging confirmation for everyone, to see our faith and prayers answered so quickly and fully.
In another instance of answered prayer, a few months back we had an urgent prayer request from Pastor Marco Mosquera in Ecuador during our Rosh Chodesh Prayer Chain. We invited him to share the need on the next Global Prayer Gathering, where he informed us that indigenous peoples in his country were leading nationwide protests and strikes over food and fuel prices which had paralysed Ecuador for almost two weeks, threatening to unseat the conservative President Guillermo Lasso and to overturn one of Latin America’s dwindling number of investor-friendly governments. Demonstrators set up roadblocks using burning tires and trees to cut off major routes to the capital of Quito. Clashes between protesters and the army and riot police also disrupted supplies of food and other necessities, and halved the nation’s oil production, Ecuador’s main export. So, we prayed during the GPG on that Wednesday and by Friday the protests and strikes were called off and an amazing calm came over the nation. The Lord moved and peace returned!
So, make sure to join us online for our weekly Global Prayer Gathering and our monthly Rosh Chodesh Prayer Chain, and see what God can and will do in your life and nation.
62 GLOBAL PRAYER GATHERING
Join us online every Wednesday as we bring together respected Christian pastors and ministry leaders from Israel and worldwide for a time of prayer and worship together.
ROSH CHODESH PRAYER CHAIN
Join us for global prayer on “Rosh Chodesh”, at the start of each month according to the Hebrew calendar. Recently, this powerful online 24/7 prayer vigil has been stretching for 10 days and involving churches and prayer groups from more than 60 nations.
62 PRAYER CAMPAIGN
Churches and prayer groups come together the first Wednesday of every month to pray for Israel, the Middle East, and their own nations. Sign up for our monthly Isaiah 62 Prayer Letter with suggested prayer points. To sign up or learn more, go to: icej.org/prayer
22 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 PRAYER UPDATE
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Stay tuned for more info on Land Packages and Online Feast packages! 29 September - 6 october 2023 • Two days in the Galilee • Five days in Jerusalem • Parade of Nations • Communion at Garden Tomb • Jerusalem March • Prayer Vigil • Solidarity visit to Negev “For God is
earth; Sing praises with understanding.”