Inside Israel – Apples and Honey / Trumpets and Eritrea?? – Rosh H’Shana 5773

Hi and welcome to another look inside Israel as J of Jerusalem shares what she sees happening around her and in her own heart.  This is a longer post as I didn’t break it up into parts. I have so many good letters from J, so will include them in their entirety for awhile.  Thank you for reading and praying for Israel and J.  Now, here’s J . . .

Sweet and savory smells fill the air…fresh bread and the sounds of shofarim (rams horns)… streets full of people, running, but not with the urgent stress of regular days…somehow…a bit more ‘at ease’.  Inspite of the pressure of preparing large meals, there is a ‘sweetness’ in the air and a sweetness among the people.  “Shana tova oo mevorachet!” (A good and blessed year to you!) “and to you too!  May it be sweet and may all your prayers be answered.” The air is filled with the breath stopping sound of someone ‘practicing’ the blowing of the shofar, or perhaps trying out a new one outside of one of the many shops selling them right now.  In the shuk, the season has changed.  The stalls are laden with fresh dates and figs, almonds and honey, pomegranates and apples…today the green clementines (tangerines, mandarins depending upon where you are from) have made their early appearance, our first sign of the oncoming winter…What could be more of a tangible example of God’s faithfulness then the season following the season! 
The words: Rosh h’shana literally means the head of the year, and it is celebrated as the ‘new year’ on the Jewish calendar.  (this year is 5773) I don’t know WHY or when it became the new year as the command in the scripture is that PASSOVER was to be the first day of the year to us.  I have yet to find the answer to that, but not very much is written about rosh h’shana.  Levit. 23:23-25 says
“Then The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel saying: “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to The Lord.”’”
This is repeated in Numbers 29:1 and is again referred to every time the orders of the holidays are explained in the scriptures.  At sundown today people will gather, first at the synagogues to offer prayers, and then around heavily laden tables filled with joy and blessing.  Everywhere we greet one another with apples and honey (often sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and perhaps almonds and raisins) and a blessing that their new year may be sweet.  At the traditional meal, usually there is a fish served, or a fish head (“that you may be the head and not the tail” Deut 28:13 is the source of this tradition and the blessing spoken over the fish) or some ‘gefilte fish’- and Eastern European recipe, a great treat to those of us who love it and apparently really gross to those who don’t.  Usually there is also meat and poultry, salads galore, a circular challa (3 twined bread) symbolizing the cycle of years, an abundance of fruits, couscous, and ofcourse deserts.  There will be singing and blessing and it is a lovely evening…even with the threats hanging over the heads of the people right now.  Our prayer as a body is that the people will LOOK UP and seek GOD Who can tabernacle over our heads IF there will be true repentance.  He is faithful to His promises.  The yearly cycle of reading comes to a close during these fall feasts, and the book of Deuteronomy has just ended.  There, the blessing and the curse is spelled out;  I find it a fearsome chapter- series of chapters, and I have been praying for the fear of GOD to fall upon the people and conviction of sin…a crying out for the TRUE ‘geula’ or ‘redemption’…THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD. 
The 10 days following rosh h’shana are the ’10 days of awe’, the time of really seeking GOD as we approach Yom Kippur…the day of atonement.  But…ofcourse the temple is no longer a place that people can go to to carry out the required order of sacrifice to ‘gain atonement’…because a new and living way has been made into the holy of holies…and they don’t know or see. This is an EXCELLENT time to pray that the seeking hearts will be met by The Lamb.
So what does all of this have to do with Eritrea??  An interesting thing happened!  With the parting of our children, we are suddenly ‘A-L-O-N-E’.  Thankfully, old (as in ‘long time’!) friends invited us for shabat dinner this past Friday…talk about being led of The Lord!  They have (youngest among their other wonderful children) a son-who MUST be what Joshua was like- who is in the army.  He was bringing home a new friend, someone whom he had met in his kehila (fellowship).  This turned out to be ‘Daniel’ a 21 year old man from Eritrea.  One time I wrote to you trying unsuccessfully, to explain the African refugee problem that we are having…it is just so very complex!  Just to remind you, Israel is currently ‘home’ for some 100,000 illegal ‘refugees’ who have crossed the desert from Africa to come for a wide assortment of reasons.  Some have come to escape war (the south Sudanese Christians for example), many have come seeking work, others for ideological reasons, still others escaping the law.  For the only ethnically Jewish nation on earth…it has posed many questions.  We learned so much from this wonderful young man Daniel as we sat around the table.  Our host had a marvelous way of asking him to unfold his story.  I was surprised to learn that his reason for coming was to escape the army, but I soon came to understand that he was part of what has been come to be known as ‘slave armies’ or armies that take young men and they are never released from ‘service’, for life or until they are too old to be of use.  It is not like our army, where our young men and women serve 2-3 years, but this is ‘for life’;  So Daniel, who is a mighty prayer warrior and strong Spirit filled Christian, traveled first (at age 16!) to Sudan, and from there to Ethiopia.  Then his path turned to Israel, where his brother had preceded him. He told us of the Bedouin tribes- men in the desert, much like pirates…but these traffic in people:  The take huge sums of money to guide them through the desert.  I understood from him that at about half way, they stop, and more money is demanded of them.  If they refuse to pay, or can’t pay, they are severely tortured…boiling water poured into them etc.  He said that they are forced to call their parents (yes, cell phones are everywhere!) and beg for more money before they can be taken on.  He said that many die during the trip (which he surprised me by saying that it only took 3 days).  He said that he came for work and to see ‘the Holy Land’ which he had learned about, and learned to love, all of his life.  He also wanted to see a ‘living Jew’, but MOST of all…he wanted to know if any Jews believed in Jesus, so he asked The Lord to lead him to a place where Jews worshiped Jesus…and that is where he met our friend’s son!  He is a strong and healthy young man and has been given a visa for 4 months which he is confident that he will be able to renew, if The Lord wills.  He has been working as a cleaning man in yeshivas (the religious schools where men live and study intensely) and he is a bold witness.  Please pray for this young man to be truly led by The Lord ALL the way.  After we ate, our gracious host asked him if he would like to call his parents and his face just lit up!  A phone was handed to him and we enjoyed the joy on his face as he greeted his father and reassured him that he is well.  Having not heard from our own younger daughter in some time, I can imagine the joy of the father’s heart to hear his son’s voice from a foreign land. 
Not all of the African refugees are as Daniel however.  Among them we have received many moslems, and some terrorists as well as criminals and aids patients.  There is much drinking, drugs and prostitution among them.  They come from Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, Eretria, as well as other countries.  Thankfully many volunteers work with them and also groups of believers.  But it is a very complicated issue.  I am so thankful for meeting Daniel, and for the family that so blessed us with an evening that lifted us, so soon after our new situation began. 
A dear sister and prayer warrior stopped to greet me this past Friday morning as I arrived for early morning ifi prayer group.  Soon the conversation turned to ‘the situation’ in connection with Iran and our other surrounding neighboring countries.  ‘Some of what is being circulated among the believers in the nations has been really horrible’ she told me.  Not knowing exactly what she was referring to, I agreed.  I am often forwarded things from here, often from large, ‘glossy’ ministries, that seem to me so sensational that it embarrasses me.  ‘What are you referring to?’ I asked her. ‘Is there something specific?’ She nodded, ‘Yes. A fairly large ministry sent out a real ‘scare-letter’!  He ‘quoted’ some supposed sources and so I confronted him concerning this and asked if he had ACTUALLY SEEN AND HEARD THIS.  ‘Well…no…not exactly, but someone SAID…’, was his answer.  I was horrified!  People will believe anything, but it is THE TRUTH that is so very important and sets us free.’ And…that got me thinking.  I thought about all of the JUNK going out over the media, and I am sorry to say, even some ‘Christian media’…’opinions’ passing for ‘fact’…’distortions’ passing for ‘TRUTH’…and I realized what a RARE QUANTITY TRUTH IS.  Everyone wants to know what is going to happen.  Will there be w_r (leave the ‘a’ out with this word as it is automatically traced in emails) or not.  God knows.  Many others PRETEND to know.  I know a wide assortment of ‘real men and women of God who hear from God’ and I feel that I can say with a certainty, that no one KNOWS.  Is it possible?  Oh yes.  Is it ‘likely’…probably, in MY OPINION, but the day and the hour?  I don’t know.  Have I made provision?  Yes, we have made some preparations and we have updated our gas masks.  Will we rely on them and do we have a plan?  When David was a boy and stepped forward to challenge Goliath, it was NOT in the power of his flesh, but in the power of The Lord.  I do not know how it would go with my nation should these things come to pass.  I read MANY things in scripture and I have laid them before The Lord.  I am confident that He KNOWS and can and will lead me…but I also see my nation… and I weep with grief at the sight of things that so many do, and I do not know how God will choose to deal at this time.  We are ‘prepared’ with some PRACTICAL things, but the issue is the heart.  I want to encourage you that if you receive letters from here proclaiming that ‘everyone is in a panic’ or ‘everyone is stocking up and preparing’, take it to The Lord.  Our world is ‘upside down’ as we arrive at the new year 5773…but it is ONLY GOD Who has kept is going up until now, and ONLY GOD can lead us through WHATEVER lies ahead! 
May you and your loved ones be ‘found of Him in peace’ and may all of your prayers be answered!  I wish you all a ‘SHANA TOVA OMEVOREKET’!   שנה טובה ומבורכת
Lovingly, your sis here/
ani b’derek
Published in: on October 7, 2012 at 8:21 am  Comments (2)  
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Inside Israel – Rosh – h’shana


Welcome to another look inside Israel today with J of Jerusalem sharing with us. Thank you for your prayers for Israel, J and her family!
Now, here’s J . . .

“SHANA TOVA OMEVORACH!” (good and blessed new year) “AMEN! VAY L’COL BEIT YISRAEL!” (Amen, and to all of the house of Israel) “AMEN VEY AMEN!” (amen and amen) This greeting has rung through the air as gifts and greetings are exchanged with friends and strangers, and as scouts give out apples dipped in honey and gifts and flowers are seen in everyone’s bundles as they scurry to run last minute errands. The stores have literally emptied their shelves of food as this year Rosh h’shana won’t end until sunset between Friday and Saturday…shabat… so nothing will open at least until Saturday night, but more likely Sunday morning…and Lord knows, we might just starve by then if we didn’t have lots and lots of food in the house! The houses are scrubbed clean and the streets are aromatic with cooking smells…but more then that, there is a solemn feeling…hearts ARE being prepared.

The Rosh h’shana shofar calls to and speaks of a ‘personal repentance’ and time of soul searching and cleaning and marks the approach Yom Kippur…the MOST solemn day of the year…of corporate fasting and repentance in a week’s time.

Soon the sun will go down. Already the streets are quiet except for a few people rushing home. Shops are closed and public transportation has ground to a halt. It is such a special kind of ‘hush’ that descends upon this city…Jerusalem…as a ‘high holiday’ approaches. The shofarim are out and polished, ready to sound loudly following the prayers that usher in the new year 5772. More then a million food baskets have been given out to the poorest of the population by the many non profit organizations; less then usual because giving of donations is down reflecting the economy. There are many large public meals to gather in those who might not have a table to go to.

And there is an air of anticipation as well…what WILL this coming year hold. For those of us who believe…who know Yeshua, are known of Him and know His Word, there is peace; but for those who long for and look for peace in this world? For those of us who know Him there is a KNOWING of His ‘provision’, but for others who don’t know how they will pay the rent of set out the next meal? What a blessing to be free of the anxiety and intensity that is too often ‘normal life’ here. He is so good to us, but our prayers are, of course, for our brothers and sisters after the flesh…and so often our own family members.

I, rather passionately (for it was passionate) requested prayer last week for the situation concerning the UN vote concerning a Palestinian state carved out of Israel. Several friends forwarded to me a letter that they received (I would love to be in touch with whoever wrote it if any of you know) which I will include at the end as it is the most encouraging thing I have read in so long and perhaps someone has not seen it and will also be encouraged. (It is a humbly written prayer journal of someone who went to NYC to pray concerning this debate) Several of you have asked me to share a bit more about what is going on right now here and what my I assessment was of the speeches. It is so complicated that I do it with much fear and trembling. May The Lord help me to share what is helpful toward prayer, and an accurate description:

First, let me share that according to our newly released end of the year census our population has grown to 7,797,400. Note that the year of the Hebrew calendar is 5,772. That counting was begun when the commandments were given at Sinai to Moses and yet the battle over that very fact is was what I witnessed as I watched the UN speeches and listened to the subsequent commentaries and debates in the media. The legitimacy of the state of Israel and our increasing ‘intransigence’ (as they put it) in the eyes of the world is what is being questioned. My personal assessment (as some of you asked for) of the speeches made me wonder if the reporters and diplomats heard the same men speaking. What I saw was a passionate, enraged Mahmud Abbas accusing Israel of the most outrageous lies (‘this apartheid state is killing thousands of our people every day with impunity!’) greeted with standing ovations and deafening cheers from a full audience. My prayer, and perhaps most of yours, was for Binyamin Netanyahu to speak Truth as he had said that he would, and that was what I heard with my ears. My opinion of what I saw (and I continued to pray as we watched) was a nearly broken and humble (not the way our Prime Minister is usually characterized) man speaking Truth to such a degree that it HAD to have taken supernatural grace. (again, I can send copies of both or either speech to anyone who would like) He spoke to a half empty, mostly bored looking auditorium with occasional sounds of light applause (the commentator said that it came mostly from the gallery and not from the delegates, some of whom walked out in the middle. This did not happen with Abbas). I was interested and blessed to see one member of the Palestinian delegation remain and listen and the delegation from Lebanon also appeared to be listening. We had prayed for those with a hunger for Truth to receive mercy to hear. I continue to pray for them.

Following the speeches I turned to a French station that reports in English. In the past, they seem to have been more sympathetic and less virile then British BBC or Sky, or European CNN that are available to us in English. Fox news (also available from the US) was not covering it. To my surprise (and I had to guard my heart from breaking and to remind myself that this is the eyes of the world) they had a round table discussion to debate the speeches and had NOTHING positive to say about us, and only praise for the Abbas speech. As I said, it was difficult to keep from weeping. I could only believe that what I was witnessing was what I had prayed about; the difference between Truth and lies and the fact that Truth can be robbed, twisted and mocked…as it was in The Face of Yeshua on this earth. And that is what I thought of…Yeshua…Truth…crucified. It renewed in me the ‘awe of the cross’ that I had when, more then 30 years ago, I first caught a glimpse of it…when Truth was murdered…oh praise Him that He rose again!! ‘Truth’ has been such a sacred Name to me as I was so very long a prisoner of lies and a child of the father of lies.

And though the world may rejoice at murdering Truth we KNOW that Truth will triumph, and even though we do NOT know what path this will all take(although some claim to…I trust His Perfect Hands to bring it all to a just finale in His Perfect time)and what we may have to walk through and witness, we KNOW that He really DOES, and that The King of Glory, The Just and True Judge, The One and Only Merciful God, will keep each and every one of His promises… and NOT according to OUR understanding, but according to His. (and least any of you think that I am ‘fearful’, please believe me, I am NOT)

How is this playing out ‘on the ground’? Well…the Palestinians have been greatly emboldened and inflamed in general. It feels like being near a bunch of simmering pots. The saddest thing that happened (have ANY of you heard about this??) was a father (about 26 years old) and his less then a year old son who were stoned. Their death was first reported as a car accident (even more tragic since the 25 year old wife is pregnant with their second child) but then, as the wreck was examined, rock holes was found and blood stained rocks within. The bodies were exhumed by the army for autopsy and found that they had been killed by stones. Last night rocket fire resumed from Gaza against our south.

INTERESTINGLY? The UN security council debates begin on Rosh h’shana.
And now, the sun is going down and I will pack the food that we are taking to our daughter’s house. What a blessing! The shofar will sound as it has for 5772 years. He is faithful…may we be found faithful as well.

I am writing this to faithful friend. I send you my love. May His blessing to each of you be found in the Sweetness of His Presence. I am encouraged each time I hear from one of you. God bless you. Your sis here.

(I will post the letter J is talking about next Sunday! Blessings and love, in His name.)

Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 6:30 am  Comments Off on Inside Israel – Rosh – h’shana  
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Inside Israel – Moving towards the New Year

So good to have you here for another look at Israel, through J of Jerusalem’s eyes and heart. She has a very precious way of sharing and is a blessing to us who aren’t there, but long for His will and His nation Israel. Thank you for your prayers! Now, here’s J . . .

Our first rain showers of the year came, yesterday to the North and Tel Aviv, and in the night and today to Jerusalem. The smell of the air, after the long hot summer, is indescribable. How comforting and assuring that after the UN speeches last night, we have our first sprinkle. It is not a full rain, but it is a reminder of the promise of His faithfulness. And ‘faithful’, thank you for all of those who watched and prayed last night (our time) for our Prime Minister and the hearts of the world leaders. Even several who wrote back that they were, right then watching and praying! I will refrain from commenting on the events right now, but I do know that He heard our prayers! If any of you did not hear the speeches and would like to hear or read them and can’t find the links, please ask me and I will send them.

As I smell the freshness of the air, I also prepare for our fall feasts. The entire country prepares. We are entering nearly a month of mo’edeem (appointed times before The Lord). First is Rosh h’shana (the new year, the feast of trumpets), beginning this coming Wed. night, a time of thanksgiving and prayer and the blowing of shofarim (ram’s horn), of giving of gifts, eating apples and honey and meals together. Indeed, the shofarim have been sounding every morning since the beginning of the month of Tishri (on the Hebrew calendar). The days of Awe follow, leading up to Yom Kippur (the day of Atonement) a week after Rosh h’shana. This is quickly followed by the full, wonderful week of Sukkot (feast of tabernacles) –a time of thanksgiving and sitting in the outdoor sukka. Sukkot ends with Simchat Torah (rejoice in revealed The Word). What a month! What a time for Israel to stand…again…in precarious situations…forced to look up and find her strength and salvation in God Alone! By His grace, I will share with you the times, smells, heartbeats of the days ahead.

Following a very full ifi prayer meeting yesterday at 6:30am… a time when Isaiah 14:32 was spine tingling alive “What will they answer the messengers of the nations? That The Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.” (how TIMELY!) I ran to the bus to get to work. Even more then usual yesterday morning I was so sad to have to leave early. My bus stop near the ifi Friday meeting is at the shuk and from a distance the bus stop looked unusually crowded for 7am. As I approached I saw that there was a class of, perhaps 6th or 7th graders there with their teacher, a tour guide and an armed soldier guarding them (that is the law for any organized group of children together… there must be an armed guard with them) I listened as the guide, along with the teacher, was sharing the history of the shuk and it’s habits. The children were excited to enter it’s just-waking alleys. I love the way Israelis tour Israel…CONSTANTLY! As if everyone wants to get to know each rock and tree personally. I prayed for them to encounter Yeshua.

I was off to begin my day.
But it was a bus ride the day before that I wanted to share with you. Once again I took the 18 bus; that is the bus that I told you about, whose new route has been a nightmare. It was jammed, so I stood beside a young woman who was already grumbling. ‘He thinks we are bowling balls, this driver! It is impossible to stand up. Why can’t he drive smoothly?’ I had to agree that he did seem to be doing his best to knock us all down. ‘Well, that is probably the one good thing about the lite rail anyway is that it is a smooth ride.’ I said. ‘Ah! Olmert’s! He took all of our money and built luxury buildings, a lite rail and ruined our public transportation!’ she continued. I laughed ‘Well…the GOOD thing is that no one ‘outside’ knows how stupid we are. The nations think that we are so clever. That is probably our best weapon…they don’t know. And since we ARE so clueless, we would be crazy to think there is no God, since only He could keep this crazy country going!’ She thought; ‘You are right ‘ she said. ‘It’s a miracle that we keep going’ There I agreed and it opened the door for a wonderful conversation. She is a single woman, probably in her mid thirties, and she has 3 old people whom she cares for. This is hard work, and low paying at that.

I soon found out that she was very discouraged and her life was hard. She asked about mine, and I shared with her some of our situations…but again I laughed; ‘Without Elohim I would quit…but He makes it all worthwhile…He is enough, He fills my heart with Joy, and we still have a roof over our heads and food today.’ I smiled. ‘You are religious?’ she asked, obviously surprised, since I do not dress like the religious women. ‘No. But I love Elohim with all of my heart and I get up very early every morning and read the scriptures without a prayer book or a rabbi and then I pray from my heart.’ She looked serious ‘Oh, that is the best way. To pray from your heart. I think He hears then.’ I answered ‘Oh, He always hears an honest heart that is sincerely seeking Him. Did you know, the scriptures are really EASY to understand if you ask Him to help? We don’t need the rabbis to tell us what they say.’ She nodded ‘Yes. They have our history in them’ (the children read the scriptures in school as the history book) ‘But more then that!’ I said…’It is the CHARACTER of those who follow Elohim…and those who don’t… that we can also look at. The character of King David, for example; his life was so hard but he always turned to God and he was given help and joy and strength and wisdom from God’. I went on to explain that even more then man’s character, we learn of GOD’S character and of His ways. My new friend’s stop came and we warmly thanked one another for a good ride together and wished one another a Good New Year. ‘Shana tova omevorach!’ (Happy and blessed new year) As she got off the woman behind me burst out with ‘THIS BUS IS RIDICULOUS! WHAT DID OLMERT DO TO US!’ I think I can actually THANK our x prime minister Olmert for the wonderful opportunities that he is providing me to share words of encouragement toward The Lord, prayerfully opening windows to The Name of Yeshua.

Shabat has drawn to an end now and I hear that we are on high alert along the Egyptian border. God knows what lies ahead this week…this night…this hour…and THAT is so comforting! How wonderful is His Mercy, how Great His Love! Thank you for your continuing prayers for this nation, this people and for the indigenous body of Messiah here. Love and blessing to each of you. Your sis

ani b’derek

Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 6:29 am  Comments Off on Inside Israel – Moving towards the New Year  
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