Rosh HaShanah / Update from Israel
Dear Christian Leader,
This evening, September 15, marks the beginning of Rosh HaShanah, which is the beginning of the year 5784 on the Hebrew calendar. In Hebrew, "Rosh" means "head" or "beginning" and "HaShanah" means "the year." So, Rosh Hashanah is the head, or beginning, of the year. This Rosh HaShanah is the beginning of 5784 because according to Jewish scholars, it has been 5784 years since the creation of the world.
Rosh HaShanah is the beginning of the biblical High Holy Days, which culminate with Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. The ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are a period of self-examination and repentance. Five days after the beginning of Yom Kippur, the holiday of Sukkot, or Tabernacles, begins. Tabernacles (booths) recalls the time the Israelites lived in booths on their way from Egypt to the land of Israel. The observance of these three holidays is detailed in Leviticus 23:23-44.
In the Bible, Rosh HaShanah is also referred to as Yom HaTeruah, or the Day of the Trumpet (shofar). This is why Rosh Hashanah is announced and celebrated by the blowing of the shofar, or ram's horn. The roots of blowing the shofar are found in Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6, which refer to “a day of blowing the shofar” and “the day of commemorating the blowing of the shofar.” In biblical times, the sounding of the shofar was used to alert people to physical danger, such as an approaching enemy army. On Rosh HaShanah, the shofar serves as a spiritual wakeup call.
So, at this very important time of the year, we wish our Jewish friends
Shanah tovah u'metukah!
A good and sweet year!
An Important Update from Israel!
Based on the number of phone calls and emails we have received, we know there has been some concern about recent news reports in relation to issues involving Christians in Israel. One issue has to do with attacks on Christians and Christian property. The second has to do with the difficulty several Christian Zionist organizations have had recently in relation to getting workers into Israel. As we have explained to those of you who have contacted us, there is some substance to the reports.
However, the media and all those who hate Israel have taken a bit of substance and blown what has happened out of proportion for the purpose of demonizing Israel. Furthermore, various reports have attempted to make it appear as if 1) attacks on Christians and Christian property by fringe elements in Israeli society are condoned by the current Israeli government and 2) are even part of a concerted effort on the part of the government to limit the ability of Christian organizations to get workers into Israel.
Nothing could be farther from the truth!
1) The fact is: There have been attacks on Christian clergy in the Old City of Jerusalem who are recognizable due to their distinctive attire. These attacks are most usually in the form of being spit upon. There have also been a few cases of vandalization of Christian property and in the spring of this year, there were two demonstrations against Christian gatherings, in which Christians were shouted at, spit upon, pushed, and even kicked.
All of this is, of course, reprehensible! And in the case of the two demonstrations in which Christians were physically attacked, it is quite alarming!
However, the truth is that the media and various anti-Israel organizations are notreporting that these attacks are being perpetrated by a VERY small fringe element within Israeli society that considers Christians a threat to Israel and the Jewish way of life. Furthermore, the media is not reporting the fact that Israeli government officials and police are doing everything they can to protect Christians and Christian property - consistent with the principles of religious freedom for all that is foundational to the Jewish State.
Arrests have been made and perpetrators have been charged.
2) The fact is: Several Christian Zionist organizations have recently had difficulty getting workers into Israel. However, it is not true that this is the result of hostility towards Christians on the part of the current Israeli government as a whole. Rather, it has been the consequence of disorganization on an administrative level within the Ministry of Interior due, at least in part, to the turmoil caused by multiple elections and governments within the last few years.
What is true is that the current Israeli government and the vast majority of Israeli citizens greatly appreciate Christian support for Israel and understand that Christians around the world are the most important source of support for the Jewish State. This reality is clearly demonstrated through the results of a meeting held Tuesday, September 12, between the Ministry of Interior and senior leaders of three Christian Zionist organizations that have recently experienced difficulty getting workers into Israel as a result of the disorganization described above.
Here is a statement released by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem:
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Please note in particular what we have put in bold.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2023
Mr. Eyal Sisu, the new director general of the Population Administration within the Ministry of Interior, convened a meeting this week with senior leaders of three leading global Christian Zionist organizations based in Israel, along with their legal counsel, to discuss their recent staff visa issues. Mr. Sisu assured the representatives from the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Bridges for Peace, and Christian Friends of Israel that there is no change in the policy of the State of Israel regarding the Christian Zionist organizations, adding that their presence in the country is warmly welcomed and their support for Israel is appreciated.
It was agreed that the prior understanding from 2020 concerning visas available to the three Christian organizations would be upheld by the Ministry of Interior until any new regulations are approved that will meet the long-term staffing needs of the organizations.
The Christian organizations expressed their gratitude to Mr. Sisu for the clarifications and the very positive attitude towards their work on Israel’s behalf.
In such a time as this, as we witness an alarming rise in antisemitism - and its twin evil of anti-Zionism - please use information such as this to refute hateful lies. Speak out in defense of Israel and the Jewish people!
It is true that Israel has no better friends than Christians who understand what the Bible has to say about the future for the Jewish people. But it is also true that Christians have no better friends than Jews who understand the importance of us standing together as one!