It has been 68 years since World War II ended. The Soviets overtook the first of the Nazi death camps in the summer of 1944, followed by the Americans and the British in the spring of 1945. The war came to a final end in May 1945. The horror of what mankind had done to our fellow man was more than we can wrap our thoughts around, even today. The horror that people were subjected to at the hands of such hateful people is beyond comprehension. Yet from such death can come life.
Every year we have an opportunity to gather together to honor the memories of those who lost their lives in the holocaust, those who survived but have lost all but their lives, those who have grown up in the ashes of these terrible memories. We gather together to publicly take a stand staying “Never Again!”.
This year Shalom has a plan to honor the memories of those who suffered, to bring new life out of a terrible tragedy. Shalom’s goal is to plant 100 trees in Israel through the Jewish National Fund saying:
If we can accomplish this before April 7, Yom HaShoah (Holocost Memorial Day), this Garden or Grove will be dedicated to the 6,000,000+ people whose lives were stolen from us during the Holocost.
Currently he has raised $175 to go toward this Garden of Trees. He is hoping to raise $325 more by Sunday evening. We will be participating in our local March of Remembrance again this year where he hopes to be able to share his plan with other participants in hopes of finding a way to bring a little life to Israel through the honoring of those whose lives were stolen.
If you would like to participate with our son, contact us and we will let you know you can participate with him in planting a Garden of Trees.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Liberation of Nazi Camps
Over the years we’ve been asked many times by friends and family exactly how it is we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Master, Yeshua of Nazareth. Coming from traditional Christian backgrounds, the majority of our friends and family are unfamiliar with Messianic Jewish observances, what they mean, and how they fit in with the Apostolic Writings. We thought we’d share a little about how our family celebrates the Passover season. For some Biblical background to these festivals, take a minute to look at Exodus 3 to 15, Leviticus 23:4 to 23, Numbers 28:16 to 31, Mark 14:12 to 16:13, and John 13 to 21:25.
Passover is the annual telling of the redemption of the children of Israel from slavery to Egypt. It is a commandment in the Torah to keep this night holy and separate, to observe it every year, and to instruct the next generation about what happened all those many years ago. The instruction is to tell the children as if we were there ourselves, as if we were the ones redeemed from slavery. This first day of the seven day festival is a special Sabbath, no matter which day of the week it falls. Hundreds of years after the first Passover, there was another significant Passover – when our Master Yeshua was crucified. At his final seder meal with his disciples, He spoke of the new covenant being ratified by His death and subsequent resurrection. Our annual Passover seder remembers both the beginning of the exodus from Egypt, the redemption from bondage, as well as the death of our Master, and our redemption from spiritual bondage. We have a special festive meal with special festival Bible readings and dialogue around the table as our family Passover seders typically last 6+ hours. We have an awesome time together! Often we will have a second (or third) seder within a few days and invite friends to join us. Continue reading
Last week I met with a friend for afternoon tea and part of our conversation revolved around a book she is reading. This book speaks of society’s need for masculinity and femininity, and that both are being severely compromised in today’s culture. This tied in well with some thoughts that Wes has had lately after reading a men’s book on marriage. As Wes and I have discussed the book he read and my thoughts about the book our friend was reading, some similarities between the two keep running through my thoughts. Men are created to be givers, the ones who push forward and bring the rest along with them and give of their efforts to their loved ones. Women are created to be receivers, the ones with open arms and nurturing. Yes, in a sense that’s giving too, but imagine your Mamma who opens her arms wide with a big smile when she sees you coming, ready to receive you into her embrace. There’s something about giving – in both the masculine and feminine attributes. Giving is a big part of the way we are wired and it’s something that is often overlooked in our busy lives, even looked down upon by some. Giving and receiving are traits that it seems our culture is quickly losing sight of.
This morning a friend shared this article with me and piqued my interest with just one quote, one like this:
The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.
That fits so well with what I have been thinking lately. In a nutshell, my thoughts of late have centered around pursuing righteousness and what that means, why it is important, and what it looks like.
While we were in Israel this past fall we were introduced to an incredible program that is designed to support Israeli farmers and small businesses, two things that our family is intimately familiar with. We wanted to take a few minutes and introduce you to this fantastic program that allows you to receive handcrafted, artisan-quality products directly from Israel, while supporting the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. What’s more, this program offers a way to help our family continue to volunteer in Israel.
You may remember a few recent posts about Tu B’Shevat, the new year for trees. Although Tu B’Shevat, or Arbor Day is the ideal time to plant trees in Israel, there is no such thing as a bad time for planting and supporting organizations that do. Even now is a good time! Although I (Shalom) would like to be out in the field planting myself, and my heartfelt passion is toward the re-building of Israel (specifically through reforestation as the first step), the doors aren’t open for that to happen yet. But, thank G-d for organizations that are keeping my dream alive, and even though I can’t be there helping personally, I would like to use my ambition in a positive way, extending an offer through the JNF (Jewish National Fund) to you. I would like to see a “Garden of Trees” planted this year in honor of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. First, let’s read a little about the JNF.
Recently, Erik Stakelbeck of CBN has aired three programs discussing Judea and Samaria, popularly called ‘the West Bank’. They have been great shows. In case you haven’t had a chance to see them, we’ll share the videos below.
For the best viewing of these videos, scroll down inside the video box and find the button to view in full screen.
From Samaria: Israel’s Biblical Heartland
In Judea, Where Israel’s Biblical Forefathers Walked
From Israel’s Bible Belt to America’s
”And they captured fortified cities and a rich land, and took possession of houses full of all good things, cisterns already hewn, vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. ” Nehemiah 9:25
“…and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” Exodus 3:8
The Promised Land
The Promised Land. A land flowing with milk and honey, scattered with vineyards, olive orchards and fruit treed in abundance. A green, lush land with flowing rivers and streams, rich pasture land, and an abundance quality forests. The land of Canaan, the land of Israel, a real life utopia. But, now Israel stands as a desert, in the heart of the Middle East with the Sahara desert quickly creeping in on her borders. What happened to the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey? What changed? Continue reading
Originally posted February 2, 2012. Tu B’Shevat this year is this Shabbat. Learn a little about the significance of trees and where YOU can participate by purchasing trees to be planted.
In earlier posts I’ve mentioned a little about how trees are significant in the Middle East. Trees have carried a tremendous significance in land rights, ownership and taxation. Whole traditions have grown up around trees. Tu B’Shevat is a special day where Judaism honors life through the planting of trees and this holiday is coming up soon, beginning Tuesday evening and concluding the at sundown on Wednesday February 8, to be exact.
Planting the first citrus trees in Israel in the 1920′s
In Israel, for example, there were very few trees just one hundred years ago. It wasn’t only in ancient days when the land was stripped and laid bare by invading forces. The Muslim Ottoman Empire ruled the land of Israel for four hundred years, from 1513 to 1917. They calculated property taxes based on the number of trees that were on the property so to avoid paying taxes and to retain wealth, the land was deforested. The only trees that were left after a short while were some olive trees. Olive trees were the choice because the olives produce oil that is useful for a wide variety of things from cooking to lighting to health, and Islam says that the olive tree is blessed by their god. There were virtually no fruit trees in the Ottoman Empire because fruit would be used to make wine and Muslims do not drink wine and if it only cost you money to have it, why? As you can imagine, not too long ago there were very few trees in the land of Israel and really, nobody lived there and nobody cared.
The Jewish tradition has had a particular respect for trees and all of creation, so much so that there is a traditional holiday designated just for the planting of trees, Tu B’Shevat – the fifteenth of the month of Shevat. This holiday goes back more than 2,000 years. Continue reading
Shortly after our return from Israel we received Boaz Michael’s newest book, Tent of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Gentile. Because I was in the midst of several other books at the time, it took a while before I could get to it. But I have to tell you that when I did, I couldn’t put it down. As I read, my heart soared and my spirit leapt with both confirmation and excitement for what the future holds.
“It should go without saying, but the Messianic Gentile’s faith must be Christ-centered, not Torah-centered.”
First, the book is simply beautiful. When I pulled it out of it’s shipping package, I was instantly drawn to the simple striking beauty of the cover. Beyond the cover, the material covered in this book is wonderful.
“The entire scope of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament looks forward to our day, to the time when the nations begin to rally around Israel and support her in her mission to show the God of Abraham to the entire world. The fact that the Messianic movement exists at all is evidence that the fulfillment of that prophecy is at hand. The apostles’ vision is finally coming to fruition. After two long millennia, we are privileged to witness and take part in this amazing, prophetic renewal.”
The thrust of Boaz Michael’s new book is a vision for the non-Jewish Messianic believer in Messiah Yeshua, and a vision for the body of Messiah as a whole. He begins with reminding many of us of the good points of the Christian church – and there is much good in the church, even if we’ve chosen to forget what that might be. This vision is about affecting a positive change in the greater body of Messiah. Continue reading
For those of you who know our story, you know that for a while now we have been trying to introduce the Jewish foundation of the Christian faith to our family, friends, and neighbors. We’ve hosted regular festival parties at our home, we’ve attended and hosted Bible studies that focus on the foundations of our faith and it’s origin, and we’ve been open to dialogue with those who are curious about what makes us different. We have had a desire to see the understanding of the cultural context of the Bible grow in the Christian community and we’ve had a great time mingling with people from all over our area. In the process we’ve been blessed to meet and be encouraged by many other families that are on this “Messianic” walk of faith with us and at various stages of their journeys.
Early on in our journey we decided that there was no value in being “Pagan Hunters“. We did not want to bash our friends over the head with the possibility that they were participating in pagan rituals as they worshiped Hashem through Messiah Yeshua with all their hearts. We also decided to stop answering questions that weren’t being asked and to stop using unfamiliar words and phrases with people, but to communicate with them in a common language. We were Remembering the Beginning. (these two posts were written 6 and 7 years ago, by the way)
One topic that has been a regular issue of concern has been the identity of the non-Jewish believer in Messiah Yeshua. Over the years our family has grown in the understanding that It’s Okay To Be A Gentile. Really. We have grown to understand that when Hashem speaks through Moses and the prophets about the people of the nations seeking Him and worshiping Him, that it is evidence of His great mercy and grace. That non-Jews, people who do not have an eternal covenant with Him, would choose to drop everything and worship Him, is incredible. In fact, we believe that this is evidence of Yeshua’s Messiaship, since it is understood that it is through the Messiah that the people of the nations would become faithful to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The sheer numbers of non-Jewish worshipers of the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the message and ministry of Messiah Yeshua proves Hashem’s incredible mercy. There is honor in being a Gentile, a non-Jew, who has attached himself or herself to the King of the Universe through His promised Messiah, Yeshua.
Our experience in the last few years has been exciting. Continue reading
Today in my daily reading I read about Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite (a man of the mountains). What I read reminded me of the spirit of the people of Esh Kodesh. Shammah stood firm in his barley field when the Philistines came and attacked. All the people of the community fled except for Shammah – he stood his ground and the L-RD worked a great victory through him, and became one of King David’s greatest mighty men. It made me think of Messiah, Son of David, and His mighty men. I firmly believe that the men and women of the Mountains of Israel will find themselves in the honored positions of “Mighty Men and Women” in Messiah’s Kingdom, may it be soon and in our day. We need to be standing with these mighty men and women in the mountains of Israel. Today and every day. We need to take a stand and reverse the “international pressure” that causes foolish and evil things to take place.
In the last few days the IDF has been standing guard in a field just outside a small community in the Shomron, in the mountains of Israel. They (the Israel Defense Force) have been called to protect the people who are plowing the ground. But what is so backward about this is that they are not protecting the Jewish residents from working in their own fields, but they are protecting the Arabs who have been given state permission to plow up these Jewish fields – fields that are on state owned land, not ‘contested’ land. Already they have arrested and imprisoned one man who was defending his crops from a regular attacker, and given more than the maximum sentence for his actions while the attacker was never even investigated. What sense does this make? Women and children going to the fields to peacefully protest this completely backward action of the State, men being told that it’s their fault that the Arabs threw rocks at him because his kippah and his attire provoked him to do it. What?!? News reports say that an Arab attacked a Jewish man with an ax! Seriously. The Army allows radicals and anarchists to incite the Arabs says the newspaper.
Take a look at what anarchists have been able to achieve with “international pressure”: The Destruction Of Esh Kodesh Day 1 and at Day 2. Click on these links, look at the photos. The text on these pages is minimal. It’ll only take a minute of your time. Click here to see more of the story at the Arutz Sheva News website.
What do you think of these things?
This year the 8th of Tevet falls on Friday, December 21. The 9th of Tevet falls on Shabbat.
On the 8th of Tevet, 246 BCE, 72 Jewish scholars complete the Greek translation of the Torah on behalf of the Greco-Egyptian king Ptomemy II. The translation is later called the Septuagint which means “seventy”.
On the 9th of Tevet we remember the life of Ezra the Scribe. This is the same Ezra who wrote the book of Ezra in the Bible after leading a group of Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem from Babylon. He was the High Priest at that time and taught Torah to the returnees and enforced the Torah standards in Jerusalem. His influence on Judaism is tremendous and we see the effects of his leadership even today. 10 Tevet is the anniversary of Ezra’s death. May his memory continue to be for a blessing.
The 9th of Tevet is also the date we remember the life of the Apostle Shimon Peter (Kefa) bar Yonah, according to rabbinic tradition, Megillat Ta’anit, Orach Chaim 580). Shimon Kefa is remembered as Yeshua’s chief disciple and is a source of inspiration for other disciples of Master Yeshua. There is much to learn about Shimon Kefa, suggested reading is Remembering Yeshua’s Chief Disciple: The Apostle Peter in Rabbinic Literature. May his memory continue to be for a blessing.