24 February 2013

Jewish and Arab Believers Unite to Worship


WATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS BELOW
Victor Bahbah, Pastor of ‘Fountains of Salvation’ Arabic Congregation in Jaffa felt in his spirit to do something special to honour the Lord on the auspicious date 12.12.12. He called Avi  Mizrachi , a Jewish, Hebrew speaking Pastor and suggested they bring their two congregations together: Jewish and Arab to worship and pray on the 12th December 2012. It also happened to be the 4th night of Hanuka. 

During the previous month, war had raged with Gaza and the world had watched the apparent hatred between the Jewish and Arab people groups. Pastor Victor shared that through Yeshua (Jesus), the walls of hatred between their two people groups was broken down and they could stand together in unity. 

09 February 2013

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...



Everyone loves a good story. Especially when the hero or heroine overcomes incredible odds and thwarts the evil plans of the enemy. The Biblical Book of Esther is one of those great stories: a young girl from a minority refugee community finds herself in the royal household of the King of an empire. Hearing of a dastardly plan to annihilate her own people, she submits herself to God and prepares to challenge the King, potentially at the risk of her own life. The villain of the story, Haman and his sons are executed but the wheels of his wicked scheme are already rolling. So, the King grants the Jewish community permission to defend themselves against those who are trying to kill them. Bloody battles ensue, in which many people are killed. By the end of the story, the Jewish community has survived and to mark the end of these battles, Esther's uncle Mordecai (who has his own interesting side plot in the narrative) writes a letter to the Jewish community of the empire...
"Mordecai wrote a letter and sent copies to all the Jews in all King Xerxes’ provinces, regardless of distance, calling for an annual celebration on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as the occasion when Jews got relief from their enemies, the month in which their sorrow turned to joy, mourning somersaulted into a holiday for parties and fun and laughter, the sending and receiving of presents and of giving gifts to the poor."                                                       from The Message (MSG) - Book of Esther, Chapter 9
This celebration called 'Purim' is celebrated by the Jewish community around the world. To put it in a modern perspective, I imagine the relief and joy of the people was similar to that experienced by the allies at the end of World War II, when spontaneous dancing and celebrations filled the streets. In 2013, Purim falls on 24th February. As with all Jewish holidays, it begins at sundown on the day before.


How to Celebrate Purim





  • READ THE BOOK OF ESTHER TOGETHER - In Jewish tradition, this a lively rendering with the Congregation yelling, stomping and shaking wooden football rattles when the name of the evil Haman is mentioned. Often, children act out the story in full costume. This is a great opportunity to vividly tell a Bible story to our families or church. Why not, set up a puppet show or make a funny video to interpret the story or recruit different members of the Congregation to dress up and perform.

02 February 2013

Adopt a Group of Holocaust Survivors



The Problem


'Warm House' in Sderot, Israel
Thousands of Holocaust survivors immigrated to Israel in the 1990s from the Former Soviet Union. They were survivors from the ghettos and other atrocities of world war II. Most of them speak Russian and a high percentage of them were intellectuals - artists, composers, writers, managers, teachers etc. Today these immigrants are concentrated in different towns and cities throughout Israel. Due to the horrific things they experienced during the war, this large group of elderly Israelis need special care on a personal level, in relationships with their families, on an economic level and also on a social level. Often, other holocaust survivors are the only people they can truly relate to as even their own families cannot really understand the terrible experiences they had to live through. Memories suppressed during busy working lives can resurface during retirement without any sense of relief. The unique issues of this group of people if left unaddressed leads to isolation, loneliness, depression and poverty.


The Solution


'Beit Hamim' (Warm Houses). A nationwide network of home groups meeting once a week, each home group catering for 15-30 holocaust survivors. The group is taken care of by a local coordinator.

Basic Principles

'Warm House' in Katzrim receiving winter blankets

  • Establishing an active social support network for each holocaust survivor
  • Giving a sense of belonging and purpose for each person
  • Meetings of 'Self Help' groups for specific issues
  • Help with coping with loneliness and heavy loss
  • Financial support for underprivileged members of the network


Activities

Birthday Party at 'Warm House' in Kiryat Ata, Israel

  • Weekly coffee mornings with refreshments
  • Shared Lunches and Dinners
  • Celebrations: birthdays, Israeli and Jewish holidays
  • Social activities: tours, conferences, cultural events: music, poetry, games, films, lectures
  • Visits by youth groups from Israel and overseas


Goal

German Youth visit 'Warm House' in Or Akiva, Israel

1,000 'Beit Hamim' (Warm Houses) Home Groups covering every city and community in Israel.
Currently 50 'Beit Hamim' are operating.