Journalist Less Hostile to Israel after Learning Facts on the Ground

“No matter how socially unacceptable it was, I was willing to change my mind,” says a journalist who experienced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict firsthand. 

Former Huffington Post reporter Hunter Stuart grew up believing that “that Israel is unjustly bullying the Palestinians,” but changed his views about the conflict when he moved to Jerusalem in 2015 to report from there, he wrote in this week’s issue of The Jerusalem Report.

His views didn’t change right away. “I believe Israel should relinquish control of all of the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria],” he wrote in a post shortly after moving into the Jerusalem neighborhood of Baka. “The occupation is an act of colonialism that only creates suffering, frustration, and despair for millions of Palestinians.”

Stuart regularly found himself getting into arguments. In one case, a roommate suggested that most Palestinians supported terror.  Stuart objected to the characterization. The roommate then showed him a 2013 Pew Research poll pointing to 62 percent support for terror among Palestinians. Furthermore, Stuart recalled, “the Palestinian territories were the only place in the Muslim world where a majority of citizens supported terrorism; everywhere else it was a minority ‒ from Lebanon and Egypt to Pakistan and Malaysia.”

While he refused to concede the point, “the statistic stuck with me,” Stuart wrote.

Soon after that incident, the so-called “knife intifada” began, sparked by charges that Israel was threatening Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Stuart admitted that his initial reaction was to blame the Israelis for the violence, but the reality of the situation soon became much more real to him.

Taking Perspective Most News Outlets Wanted

One day, in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, he was spotted by a number of Palestinian youth who started taunting him as “Yehudi,” or “Jew.” Noting that the group was approaching him “with a terrifying sparkle in their eyes,” he responded by saying that he wasn’t Jewish and that he “loved Palestine.” That stopped the group, but, he recounted, “the look in their eyes when they first saw me is something I’ll never forget.” An acquaintance, originally from Silwan, later told Stuart, “If you were Jewish, they probably would have killed you.”

After that incident, he admitted, “my attitude began to shift, probably because the violence was, for the first time, affecting me directly.”

While reporting on a terror attack soon afterward for the Jordanian news site al-Bawaba, Stuart “ended up writing a very sympathetic story about the killer… Writing about the attack with the detached analytical eye of a journalist, I was able to take the perspective that (I was fast learning) most news outlets wanted – that Israel was to blame for Palestinian violence."

He then learned that one of the people killed in the attack, peace activist, Richard Lakin, was a friend of a friend of his. “I felt horrible for having publicly glorified one of the murderers,” he wrote. His killers were paid 20,000 shekels ($5,300) to carry out the attack, and more than a year later, “you can still see their faces plaastered around east Jerusalem on posters hailing them as martyrs.”

Critical Treatment Israel Receives

Stuart went on to observe the uniquely critical treatment Israel received from the media, NGOs and European politicians:

“In almost any nation, when the police confront a terrorist in the act of killing people, they shoot him dead and human-rights groups don’t make a peep. This happens in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh; it happens in Germany and England and France and Spain, and it sure as hell happens in the US (see San Bernardino and the Orlando nightclub massacre, the Boston Marathon bombings and others). Did Amnesty International condemn Barack Obama or Abdel Fattah al-Sisi or Angela Merkel or François Hollande when their police forces killed a terrorist? Nope. But they made a point of condemning Israel,” he wrote.

The reason for this bias against Israel, Stuart wrote, is that it’s easier “to become outraged watching two radically different civilizations collide than it is watching Alawite Muslims kill Sunni Muslims in Syria, for example, because to a Western observer the difference between Alawite and Sunni is too subtle to fit into a compelling narrative that can be easily summarized on Facebook.”

“So, now, I don’t know what to think,” Stuart concluded.

“I’m squarely in the center of one of the most polarized issues in the world. I guess, at least, I can say that, no matter how socially unacceptable it was, I was willing to change my mind.”

Stuart is not the first journalist to have changed his mind about Israel after visiting the country. Zenobia Ravji explored her own, similar experience in the article, Yes, Many Journalists Choose Sides in a Conflict—and Often for the Worst Reasons, which was published in The Tower Magazine last year.

This article was shared with permission from United With Israel dated 2/20/17.

Israel - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Conference - Sunday, March 26, 2017

Yorba Linda Community Center, 3 - 7 PM

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HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

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Join us as we hear from a Holocaust survivor, Dr. David Shichor, born in Budapest, Huntary, on St. Patrick Day in 1933 in the year when the Nazis took power in Germany. He will share how his family survived during that extremely difficult time. 

 

 

THE SCATTERED RETURN

Join Robb Schwartz for a challenging look into Israel's past, present, and future as he traces the history of Jewish dispersions and re-gatherings away from and back to the Land of Israel. Beginning with Moses' law and working through the prophets, Robb will show how the promises of God to His people are as relevant today as they were in the ancient world. Robb is a Messianic Jew and author of Operation Last Exodus, a novel based on the possibility of a modern day American exodus. 

A LIGHT TO THE NATIONS

God's call for His people to be a light to the nations is as much a physical reality as a theological one. From the covenant with Abraham to the prophecies of Isaiah and the ministry of Jesus, God's plan for the people of Israel and the Gentiles has been connected through the land itself. Together, we will explore God's use of the land of Israel to accomplish His goals, and through that, our hope for humanity. Brandon Ridley is Youth Pastor at Beach Bible Church in Huntington Beach.                                                        

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

Deby Brown will give a brief Prophecy update. She will share what triggers the Tribulation period known as Daniel's 70th Week. Deby is Director of Song For Israel and leads annual tours to Israel.

To register for this event, click here.

Tu BSh'vat -- the Jewish Holiday -- New Year for the Trees

This Jewish holiday is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month Sh’vat (February 11th this year) known as the “New Year for the Trees.” It is similar to our Arbor Day or an environmental awareness day.

“I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.” Isaiah 41.19-20

Tu B’Sh’vat marks the beginning of spring in Israel! Most of the rains have already fallen. The beautiful almond trees show the first sign of spring as they begin to bloom.

On this special day, the synagogues around the work plan special activities to celebrate. Together they pray prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord Who gave them the Land of Israel and all its goodness.

Israel is famous for their growth of olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates. It is traditional to have a ceremonial meal on Tu B'Shvat, in which these fruits from the Holy Land are eaten.

In addition, it has become a tradition to plant a tree on this holiday. Last year there were so many fires in Israel - especially in the Haifa area - that trees need to be replanted. On our tour to Israel this year, we hope to spend a few hours planting new trees in this area!

Tu b’Sh’vat is considered a national Israeli holiday and not a Biblical one. However, the fact that Israel became desolate while her people were exiled and then became inhabited and fruitful is a prophetical fulfillment.

Since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Land of Israel has been desolate as was predicted. It was a wilderness with no vegetation and almost uninhabitable.  In fact, in 1867, Mark Twain visited Israel and published his impression in a book called Innocents Abroad. Here is his description:

“….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

However, today you will see a beautiful land, filled with agriculture! Over 200 million trees have been planted since Israel reclaimed her land in 1948. She is considered the bread basket for the entire Middle East, exporting fruits, vegetables and all kinds of agricultural products to her neighbors. This is a fulfillment of Scripture. Zechariah 8:12 says of Israel: For the seed shall be prosperous, The vine shall give its fruit, The ground shall give her increase, And the heavens shall give their dew. I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, and they will fill the whole world with fruit. Isaiah 27:6

The Tomb Of Jesus

Joseph of Arimathea was, according to all four Gospels, the man who assumed responsibility for the burial of Jesus after Jesus' crucifixion. He is described in Matthew 27:57 as simply a "rich man and disciple of Jesus."  We gain more information about him in Mark 15:43 and learn Joseph of Arimathea was a "prominent council member, who was waiting for the Kingdom of God." In Luke 23:50-56 we see how much he cared for Jesus in that he asked for the body of Jesus, took it down off the cross, wrapped it in linen and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. In that day families would share the same tomb/cave, but Jesus was the first to be buried there.

No one knows for sure if this is exactly the place (pictured) that the Bible is referring to, but there is very strong evidence that it is accurate. It is a sobering moment to visit the tomb, walk inside of it, and consider that Jesus the Messiah was buried there.

Nearby the tomb pictured, are several round stones much like the one that had been rolled across the opening and sealed by Roman soldiers after Jesus was placed inside. I am so grateful that the story doesn't end there! No tomb can keep our Messiah sealed inside. He has risen! He has paid the price for my sin and yours and lives forever.

Join us on our Israel tour, May 25 - June 5th and see this tomb for yourself. Click here for more information.

 

The Pool of Bethesda - Israel

Read John 5:1-18.  In this account, if you think about it a minute, the man had been ill for 38 years. Jesus asked, "Do you want to be well?” His situation seemed hopeless.  Every time he wanted to get into the waters, somebody else got there first. And there he lay and his situation seemed hopeless.  When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well, he said “But I have no one to help me.” He is making an excuse for why nothing is happening. He didn’t really expect anything. He didn’t expect Jesus to do anything.  His hope lay in getting into the waters. But he needed to take action and Jesus gave him that challenge and said “Pick up your pallet and walk.” And he did.

Sometimes we think about our situations where we think things are hopeless and it has been this way for 38 years and nothing is ever going to change it.  We need to remember that part of our problem might be that we are making excuses…that we are not expecting Jesus to do anything. We are sitting there in our hopelessness, making excuses, instead of acting on what Jesus has told us to do in His Word, and that by faith, we need to pick up our pallet and walk. And that is the solution, rather than lying in wait in hopelessness, like poor me, I hope somebody comes along and helps me someday.

Come see this site for yourself on our Israel Tour May 25 - June 5, 2017. Click here for itinerary and more information.

Capernaum - Israel

Take a look at the stones in the third picture. At the base of those stones, you will see gray stones…the salt stones. Those are the very stones of the synagogue that was here at the time of Jesus. These are the stones that heard the messages Jesus preached. These are the stones that watched, in a sense (it says the stones cry out), when Jesus in that synagogue, cast out demons. People were set free. (Another church was built on top of the synagogue where Jesus preached).

In Matthew 12-13, you see that Jesus came and settled in Capernaum. This is where Jesus lived! From here, you can look out at the sea that Jesus sailed on - His disciples fished on. You can look at what remains of Peter’s house. As a tourist, you can stand in the synagogue that is built on the stones where Jesus was. and there are wine presses and the things that were used in that day.

In verse 13-14: "...He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Napthali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, 'The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who were sitting in the darkness saw a great light..."

Who is Jesus? He is the Light of the world! John chapter 1 says He is the Light, the true Light that lights every man that believes in Him. The people sitting in darkness are about to see a great light! What will they do with Him? It says this was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet (v. 14). 

Matthew 4:17 says "From that time Jesus began to preach (in the synagogue in Capernaum) and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"

Learn more and see it for yourself during our 2017 Israel Tour, May 25-June 5, 2017. For more information, click here:

2016 ANTISEMITIC STATISTICS

Diaspora Affairs Ministry released a report surveying antisemitic incidents in the West during 2016. There were notable increases in Germany and Britain.  However, the sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in the US was more shocking.

According to the report, the recent US presidential campaign was a major catalyst for the dissemination of hate speech and enabled the voices of marginal groups to reach far beyond their own communities.

The Israeli government report noted that the common thread among these groups was an opposition to political correctness, an affirmation of racial supremacy, and a resistance to multiculturalism and to immigration. These ideas, the ministry said, lead to antisemitic discourse and Holocaust denial.

Antisemitism is almost always a symptom of broader forms of prejudice and blind hatred. The Diaspora Affairs Ministry report reinforces the findings of an Anti-Defamation League report released in October that documented the frightening rise of antisemitic tweets.

There are no easy answers to antisemitism, humanity’s oldest hatred. The government could do more than just release an annual report. Tracking and reporting antisemitic attacks is important, but that needs to be followed up with aggressive diplomatic action. Partnerships need to be forged and legislation needs to be passed. The real antidote to hatred is upholding a positive vision for mutual respect and understanding.  Taken from JPOST 1/23/17

A Two-State Solution is a Three-State Problem by Ron Cantor

Ron Cantor is the host of Out of Zion on Godtv and the director of Messiah’s Mandate, Tel Aviv-based teaching ministry to Israel and the nations. To learn more, go to: www.roncantor.com The following article is used with permission:

Today in Paris, the “Kings of the Earth” (Ps. 2) have taken their stand against God’s holy mountain, Jerusalem. They want to give Judea and Samaria (The West Bank) and East Jerusalem (including the Western Wall and Temple Mount) to the so-called Palestinians in hopes of creating a two-state solution.

However, what people don’t seem to know is that there already is a Palestinian state for Arabs that was recently created and it is called Jordan. Here is a little history.

1) The word Palestine comes, not from the Arabs, but the Romans. The Roman emperor Hadrian changed the name from Judea to Palestine in 135AD.

2) Before World War I, the border of “Palestine” was not only lands west of the Jordan River, what we now call Israel, but lands east of the Jordan as well—all of modern-day Jordan and Israel.

3) Great Britain took control of this land in 1917 after the Turks were defeated in WWI. They told the Jews in writing that their aim was to create a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. This document is known as the Balfour Declaration.

4) In 1920, the San Remo Conference (the legal body made up of the victors of WWI) assembled to decide how to administrate lands taken from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). This group embraced the Balfour Declaration, giving the establishment of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine international legal backing.

5) However, in 1921, Great Britain gave up 80% of historic Palestine as a gesture to the Arabs and created Transjordan (which would become Jordan). In addition, they officially removed this area from the land formerly promised for the establishment of a Jewish state. And if they had to revise their commitment to the Jewish people, then it can be established that they had originally planned to allow Jewish settlement on both sides of the Jordan River.

6) Now understand: there had never been a nation called Jordan or Transjordan in the past. This was a brand-new nation for Palestinian Arabs living on the East Bank of the Jordan.

7) Therefore, to take more land that was promised legally for Jewish settlement and create another Palestinian Arab state would be in fact, a third state in the region, two of which are for Palestinian Arabs and one for Palestinian Jews.

8) You may be surprised that I just used the term, “Palestinian Jews”. But that was the term given to anyone living in historic Palestine—Jew, Arab or Christian. There was no Arab nationality connected to the word nor has there ever been an Arab nation called Palestine.

So, when the nations of the world seek to divide up the Promised Land, creating an Arab nation on the West Bank of the Jordan, understand it is not a two-state solution, but a three-state problem. What is worse is that the leadership of the Palestinians is utterly corrupt, robbing the people and stealing international aid money. Islamic terror groups would seize power very quickly, even as they already have in Gaza.

While on the one hand, the West fights ISIS; they want to create another state of Islamic radicals. Israel embraces democratic ideals, human rights and a robust economy, but the nations want to create a nation that will soon be another Islamic totalitarian state. Israel floods the world with technological and medical breakthroughs, while the Islamic states teach their children hate and murder. Do we really need another state like this?

Despite it all, we stand in Israel knowing that the same God who rebirthed Israel out of the ashes of the Holocaust and has given us victory in every attack against us since, will continue to watch over us.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (Ps. 121:1-4)

If you want to learn more, download my free e-Book, “The 15 Most Important Facts about the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

Israel Tour With Jewish Roots Emphasis PLUS Petra, Jordan

May 25 - June 5, 2017

 (12-day study tour)

Registration deadline: February 25, 2017

We invite you to share the experience of a lifetime—a trip to the land of the Bible—where the Patriarchs of our faith walked.  On this 12-day journey, visit Jerusalem with its garden tomb, Mt. of Olives and Garden of Gethsemene, Caesarea by the Sea, visit Megiddo where the Battle of Armegeddon will take place, float in the Dead Sea, view the Mt. of Beatitudes, stand on Mt. Nebo where Moses overlooked the Promised Land, get baptized in the Jordan River, take a Cable Car up to Masada, witness Ein Gedi where David fled from Saul,  see the Qumran Caves, kayak in the Sea of Galilee, visit the village of Nazareth where Jesus lived, and tour Petra (Jordan) where many assume the Jews will flee in the future, and so much more!    

Our tour has a "Jewish roots" focus with optional Sabbath (Shabbat) worship services at two different Messianic congregations (churches where Jewish and Gentile believers worship together). For those interested in more information and who live in the southern California area, we will be having several Information Receptions. Our next Informational Reception will be Saturday, January 14th, at 1:30 pm at 651 W. Sunflower, Santa Ana (3 blocks east of South Coast Plaza) in the Conference Room. Please email info@SongForIsrael.org for more information.

If you live outside of California and will be joining our tour, please fill out the registration form by clicking here, so that you will receive any handouts given out at the meetings.

Printable copies of the itinerary, registration form and colorful flier may be found by clicking here.

Enjoy photos from some of our previous tours below.

Pictures from our Chanukah Party

Below are some pictures gathered from our very fun Chanukah Party!

Deby shared about Jesus/Yeshua, The Light of the World

In John 10:22- Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) was in Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication (translated from the Hebrew, Chanukah).  Why do the Scriptures not teach about this event? Chanukah commemorates something that happened in between the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. It was about the unlikely victory of the Jewish people from 165 BCE against the Syrian Emperor, Antiochus Epiphanes, who sacrificed a pig in the Holy Temple, desecrating the Temple, and demanded that all the Jews worship his Greek god.

Chanukah is an 8-day feast where the rededication of the Temple is celebrated. 

Years after the victory (referred to as the Macabbean Revolt), Yeshua recognized Chanukah as the occasion to declare Himself as the Son of God. In John 8:12, Yeshua told the scribes and Pharisees, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Later in the same conversation with the scribes and Pharisees, there is a discussion about Abraham and in the end, Yeshua says in v. 58, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” This became a problem as the Pharisees recognized Yeshua was calling Himself God.

In John 8, while in the Temple, Yeshua declares in v. 12, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of light.”

It was during the Feast of Dedication, Chanukah, that Yeshua shows He is the Messiah, the Light of the world. He relates the lights of Chanukah to Himself as being the Light of the world. 

Cotillion Dancers dance to a Chanukah song!

Swing Dancers dance to a Chanukah song!

 

Listed below are the raffle prizes that were donated and pictures of the winners:

1) Who doesn’t want to win during a game of spin the dreidel? Then how about winning A GELT OF GIFT CARDS! This gift includes a Trader Joe’s $25 card, two In-N-Out Burger cards each worth $7.85, a Starbucks $25 card, Blaze Pizza $25 card, two $10 Lucille’s BBQ cards, a Happy Nails $25 card, and an A La Minute $20 card! YUM! Won by Carolyn Dupaquier

2) PIE, ANYONE? This gift includes a total of 12 pies for a whole year! Your choice of one pie per month from one of America’s favoite restaurants, Polly’s Pies! Who doesn’t need a sweet, gourmet treat once a month? Also included is a ceramic pie serving dish, with a pumpkin pie recipe! So maybe, 13 pies? Won by Linda Gilman.

3) A DAY AT THE SALON! Join Suzy Kil at Addiction Salon in Orange for a haircut valued at $65. Plus, a bottle of Ulta Beauty Buttercream Cupcake 3-in-1 Smoothie Shower Gel, Bubble Bath, and Shampoo! Won by Pamela Sherman.

4) A DAY AT THE SALON! Join Suzy Kil at Addiction Salon in Orange for a partial highlight and haircut valued at $150. Plus, a lovely bottle of Ulta Beauty Hibiscus Punch 3-in-1 Smoothie Shower Gel, Bubble Bath, and Shampoo! Won by Dorris Lyons and Eva Valez.

5) A WORLD OF FRAGRANCE – Gift #1 donated by Catharina Baker which includes a treasure trove of multiple scents from soap to perfume! Perfect for getting compliments on new, modern, and fresh scents of the day—just for you! Won by Julia Humphrey.

6) A WORLD OF FRAGRANCE – Gift #2 donated by Catharina Baker which includes a treasure trove of multiple scents from soap to perfume! Perfect for getting compliments on new, modern, and fresh scents of the day—just for you! Won by Eva Valez.

7) Need to rest and relax this weekend? Well this prize includes a private reserve bottle of 2014 CHARDONNAY donated by the Familia Achiro Winery located in Dutch Flat, California. Plus a $25 gift card to BJ’s Restaurant and Grille located in Anaheim Hills. Won by Carolyn Dupaquier.

8) Need to rest and relax this weekend? Well this prize includes a private reserve bottle of 2013 BARBERA donated by the Familia Achiro Winery located in Dutch Flat, California. Plus a $25 giftcard to Stefano’s Restaurant located in Yorba Linda. Won by Janet Allen.

9) A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES includes 4 admission tickets and 4 complimentary bags of popcorn at Starlight Cinema City. This gift also includes gourmet popcorn, Whoppers, pretzels, and Good and Plenty candy. What a fun night out with the family! Won by John Windsor.

10) INSPIRATIONAL BIBLE QUOTE FRAME donated by Jennifer (Deby’s daughter). A Blessing for the home. Who doesn’t need a daily reminder of God’s everlasting love? Won by Julie Healis.

11) IT’S BURGER TIME!!! Enjoy FOUR $7.85 Gift Cards to IN-N-OUT!! Also included in this gift pack is some gourmet popcorn, a set of straws, and old time sodas: Orange Soda, Root Beer, Lime Rickey, and Black Cherry Cola Soda. A fun gift to share with friends and family! Won by Dana Roberts.

12) IT’S BURGER TIME!!! Enjoy FOUR $7.85 Gift Cards to IN-N-OUT!! Also included in this gift pack is some gourmet popcorn, a set of straws, and old time sodas: Root Beer, Lime Rickey, Black Cherry Cola, and Blue Cream Soda. A fun gift to share with friends and family! Won by Janet Allen.

 13) IT’S PARTY TIME! This gift includes a classic glass Chanukah tray and server for all those latkes, a Chanukah ugly sweater cookie kit, a dreidel mold, and a novelty kitchen utensil.  Stop schvitzing and get to work! Won by Susan Young.

14) A LITTLE BLING FOR YOUR COLLECTION! Four (4) pairs of lovely, designer earrings from the creation of Sandy Dileo. Also, one (1) cross and sterling silver prayer charm necklace and one (1) necklace with crystal beads and silver ring. This is a perfect gift for any woman going out for a night on the town! (Approx. Value $100) Won by Pamela Rohan.

15) HANUKKAH GOODIE BASKET perfect for those eight nights of lights! This basket of goodies includes one (1) men’s large T-Shirt based on 1 Corinthians 15:51, a Schmoozer mug with a $5 Starbucks Gift Card, a Tin of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix, a Chanukah Stamp Set, and themed Disney Dreidels. This’ll keep the kids entertained for a good few hours! Won by Elleke Reid-Humphreys.

16) HANUKKAH GOODIE BASKET perfect for those eight nights of lights! This basket of goodies includes one (1) men’s large T-Shirt based on 1 Corinthians 15:51, a Schmoozer mug with a $5 Starbucks Gift Card, eight (8) Star of David novelty candles, a Starbucks Via Instant Italian Roast, and four (4) Ghirardelli Premium Hot Cocoa Mixes. Won by John Baker.

17) SHOPPING SPREE for the New Year! This gift includes a $75 Gift Certificate for ARIEL GORDON fine jewelry located in South Coast Plaza plus a collectible Disney Hanukkah pin and desk novelty. Won by Pamela Sherman.

18) Having a PARTY for the holidays? Then this beautiful SPODE “The Judaica Collection” Star of David serving dish and a keepsake Hanukkah hand towel are a must.  Won by Christopher Otis.

19) CHOCOLATE FOR ALL! You’ll be the absolute bell of the ball! Or should I say, you’ll be the “sweetest” of them all!? This gift includes an old fashioned candy jar filled with classic chocolates, plus a gift certificate for 1 pound of See’s Candy. Won by Julie Healis.

20) MISCELLANEOUS GOODIES donated by Sheila Looney include a lovely blanket, a devo, a lunch pail and treats. Just right for our cold Southern California Nights! Won by Pamela Rohan.

21) A BEAUTIFUL FLORAL ARRANGEMENT FROM MOTHER EARTH FLORIST won by Janet Allen.

A very special thank you to all who donated raffle prizes and cash donations!

 

 

Chanukah Series: The Dreidel

The dreidel is one of the best known symbols of Chanukah. A four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side, the dreidel is used to play a fun Chanukah game of chance. The word dreidel comes from a Yiddish word meaning “to turn.” Each side of the dreidel has one letter of the Hebrew alphabet:

Pictured from RIGHT TO LEFT  נ (NUN), ג (GIMEL), ה (HEI), ש (SHIN)

Pictured from RIGHT TO LEFT  נ (NUN), ג (GIMEL), ה (HEI), ש (SHIN)

Since the Greeks outlawed the study of the Torah, it was hidden whenever someone approached.  Instead, the dreidels were taken out and played like a game of chance. The letters on the dreidels form the acronym for “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” which translates "a great miracle happened there". In Israel, the fourth side of most dreidels is inscribed with the letter פ (Pei), which changes the acronym to “ Nes Gadol Hayah Poh” which translates “a great miracle happened here," referring to the miracle that occurred in the land of Israel, the Holy Land. The situation there seemed dire and beyond hope. The commitment of a few people turned the situation around (like a Dreidel turns around) and brought out the miracle and God's salvation.

Spinning the dreidel is not part of the official Chanukah ceremonies, but has become a traditional game played during the holiday. It has become one of the symbols associated with Chanukah.

To play the game of dreidel, two to four players each get a handful of pennies or chocolate money called gelt. The dreidel continues to be passed around the circle until one player has won everyone's coins.

Rules of the game To play the game of Dreidel, two to four players each get an equal number of game pieces (usually 10–15). The game pieces can be any object, such as chocolate money called gelt, pennies, or raisins. The remainder of the pot is left in the middle. The youngest player spins the dreidel to begin the game. It can be played in several rounds.

At the beginning of each round, every participant puts one game piece into the center "pot." In addition, every time the pot is empty and sometimes if it has one game piece left, every player puts one in the pot.

Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn. Depending on which side is facing up when it stops spinning, they give or take game pieces from the pot:

  • NUN - Loses his turn and the top passes to the next player
  • GIMEL - Wins everything in the pot
  • HEY - Win half the pot. (If there is an odd number of pieces in the pot, the player rounds up to the nearest  whole number)
  • SHIN (or PEH) - Lose all of his coins or some play that he only adds a game piece to the pot.

If the player is out of pieces, they are either "out of the game" or may ask another player for a "loan."

The winner is the one who ends up with all the pieces.

A famous song is sung about this game. “I Have a Little Dreidel” (also known as the Dreidel song) is a very famous song in the English-speaking world for Chanukah. The English version of the song is well associated with the festival of Chanukah and is known by many Jews and non-Jews alike. The lyrics of the song are simple and about making a dreidel and playing with it. The lyrics are as follows:

I Have a Little Dreidel I have a little dreidel I made it out of clay, And when it's dry and ready O dreidel I shall play. O dreidel dreidel dreidel I made it out of clay, And when it's dry and ready, O dreidel I shall play.

According to some historians, Jews first played with a spinning top during the rule of the Greek King Antiochus'. In Judea, Antiochus had outlawed Jewish worship, so the Jews would use a game with the spinning top as a ruse to conceal that they were secretly studying Torah.

Please check our site daily for more in this Chanukah series! Comment if you have enjoyed this Chanukah Series! Happy Chanukah!

Join us for a dredel game at our Chanukah Party tonight, December 30th, at the Yorba Linda Community Center! Click here to register and for more information.

Chanukah Series: Gelt (Chocolate Money)

The tradition of Chanukah gelt (money given to children during Chanukah) originates from a 17th century practice of Polish Jewry to give money to their small children for distribution to their teachers. Later, children were allowed to keep the money for themselves.

In the 18th century, it became custom for poor yeshiva students to visit homes of Jewish benefactors dispensing Chanukah money. It is also possible that the custom evolved from Jews in Eastern Europe giving coins to religious teachers as a token of gratitude. (Similar to the custom of tipping service people on Christmas.)

In 1958, the Bank of Israel issued commemorative coins for use as Chanukah gelt. That year, the coin bore the image of the menorah that appeared on Maccabean coins 2,000 years earlier.

Children often use chocolate gelt to play dreidel with. Parents, grandparents or other relatives give older children actual money.

In Chassidic communities, the rabbis continue the practice of distributing small coins to those visiting them during Chanukah. Chassidic Jews consider this to be a blessing from the Rabbi, and a hope for success.

Please check back daily to read more about Chanukah!

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Chanukah Series: Sufganiot (Jelly-Filled Doughnuts)

Food plays an important role in Jewish celebrations, and Chanukah is no exception. Fried foods, in particular, have become a tradition during the celebration of Chanukah, as the oil used is reminiscent of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the holy Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated.

A favorite dessert consumed during Chanukah is the sufganiyot, meaning, “sponge” to describe its texture. Traditionally, this fried donut is filled with red jelly and topped with sugar icing or dusted with powdered sugar. However, today, many variations of this sweet treat exist, including both sweet and savory fillings.

We will be serving sufganiyot from Krispy Kreme at our Chanukah party this Friday, December 30th, 7 pm at the Yorba Linda Community Center. Our reservation list is now full, but you may be placed on the waiting list by clicking here.

Below is a recipe for a traditional jelly-filled sufganiyot, but if you’re adventurous in the kitchen, why not experiment by filling your donuts with salted caramel or sliced bananas and fudge.

Sufganoit - Jelly Doughnuts

Jamie Geller, author of Quick and Kosher Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing, contributed this Sufganiot Jelly Doughnut recipe for Hanukkah. Geller made these with her whole family one night during Hanukkah. Everyone was given a part – from deep-fry duty to powdering to quality control tasting. It was a delicious and fun mess!

PREP TIME: 8 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 10 MINUTES

TOTAL TIME: 18 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 (8-ounce) cartons vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups canola oil
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup seedless strawberry jelly

PREPARATION:

1.  In a large bowl, place flour, yogurt, vanilla sugar and eggs.

2. Knead until all ingredients are combined and a sticky, doughy batter is formed. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Heat 6 cups canola oil in a 6-quart stockpot, covered, over medium heat.

4. When dough is ready, uncover oil and raise heat to high.

5. Scoop out a tablespoonful of batter and drop in oil. Don’t make the doughnuts too big, so they can cook through.

6. You should be able to fry about 7 doughnuts at a time. Using a slotted spoon, turn doughnuts when halfway browned, about 30 seconds to 1minute. Fry for another 2 to 3 minutes or until entire doughnut is deep golden brown and cooked through.

7. Remove doughnuts and let cool on paper towel-lined plates. Repeat previous two steps with remaining batter.

8. Fill a squeeze bottle with jelly and inject a little into each doughnut.

9. Roll each doughnut in confectioners’ sugar. Or shake 3 doughnuts at a time in a paper bag filled with confectioners’ sugar.

YIELD: 14 doughnuts

SOURCE:Quick and Kosher: Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing, by Jamie Geller. Recipe reprinted with permission from Feldheim Publishers.

Jamie Geller was “The Bride Who Knew Nothing” – until she found her niche as everybody’s favorite kosher cook next door. She is the author of the best-selling Quick & Kosher cookbook series, creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine and host  of the popular Quick & Kosher cooking show online at youtube.com/joyofkosher and on-air on JLTV.  Join Jamie and the world’s largest kosher food community on joyofkosher.com to discover 5,000 FREE kosher recipes, inspiring menu ideas, how-to videos, and more! Follow more of Jamie’s Quick & Kosher cooking adventures on Twitter@JoyofKosher and on facebook.com/joyofkosher. Recipe and photo reprinted and used with permission from Feldheim Publishers.

Check back daily for another Chanukah tradition!

Contributed by Jen Fedler

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Chanukah Series: Gift Giving

Getty Gift.jpg

One of the major reasons Chanukah has become so centered around gifts is because of its proximity to Christmas. On the Jewish calendar, Chanukah is celebrated beginning on sundown on the 25th day of Kislev. This year it began on December 24th.

There has always been a tradition of giving, but in a different way than it is today. Gift-giving at Chanukah (one gift each night) is a relatively modern Jewish tradition, developed in response to the older tradition of gift-giving at Christmas. It is extremely unusual for Jews to give Chanukah gifts to anyone other than their own young children. The only traditional gift of the holiday is "gelt," (Yiddish for money) small amounts of money.

Instead of focusing on gifts, Jewish people prefer to focus on Israel’s victory, which Chanukah commemorates and as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people.

Check back daily for more Chanukah traditions!

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Song For Israel - 2016 in Review

Song For Israel would like to thank you those of you who partnered with us financially and prayerfully. In 2016, Song For Israel was able to boldly help stand in the gap for Israel and the Jewish people.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to continue to pursue our goal of proclaiming God's eternal plan through Israel.  We could not do that without your support.

With your help this year, Song For Israel:

Kfar Silver students.jpg

·      Launched a new Bomb Shelter Project for a high           school in Kfar Silver, Israel.  Amount collected to date   is  $1,940 (See photo to the right)

·      Launched a new SFI project called “Aliyah” (to help persecuted Jewish people around the world move to Israel). Amount collected to date is $250

·      Completed writing of our book called, Understanding God’s Eternal Plan For Israel

·      Held an 8-week beta test group for Understanding God’s Eternal Plan for Israel. (10 people participated)

·      We were re-invited to apply for the James L. Stamp Foundation grant and mid-December received funds to publish our book and purchase a piece of office equipment;

·      Partnered with Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation for their Passover Seder at the Embassy Suites in Garden Grove in March

·      Began preparations for our conference in March of 2017

·      Led two Bible study classes in the Book of Hebrews, Parts 2 & 3, and Titus

·      Hosted 18 Prayer Meetings

·      Donations that have come in via Ebay sellers, Ebay Give, iGive and AmazonSmile were $333.30

·      Will host and celebrate a Chanukah party at the Yorba Linda Community Center on December 30th

And, with your help, we’re excited about 2017 and plan to:

·            Offer a conference in March, 2017

·            Partner with Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation for a Passover Seder

·            Host the annual Israel Tour May 25 - June 5 (with a side trip to Petra, Jordan)

·            Continue to raise money for a bomb shelters in Israel through Operation Lifeshield

·            Continue to raise money for the “Aliyah” project in Israel

·            Publish the book, Understanding God’s Eternal Plan for Israel

·            Create a new workbook to go with Understanding God’s Eternal Plan for Israel

·            Offer several 8-week classes for small groups with the Understanding God’s Eternal Plan for Israel curriculum

·            Offer 2 inductive Bible Studies in the Book of Daniel

·            Look for more churches who share our vision and would enjoy partnering with us

·            Host a fabulous Chanukah party

·            Work on a plan to reach new people and share our vision

As always, Song For Israel counts on your support.  The discrimination towards Israel is rising every day! Your gift is extremely important to SFI because it provides resources that make an immediate impact through education, lifesaving bomb shelters, and ministry to the Jewish people.

Will you prayerfully consider partnering with us to proclaim God’s eternal plan for Israel? Please consider a monthly partnership and/or a year-end tax-deductible donation for Song For Israel. In addition, you might feel led to consider the following special projects:

1. Funds to help offset costs of our March conference

2. Donate towards our Spring Fundraising Dinner

3. Donate toward our Bomb Shelter or Aliyah Project

To make a donation, please click here.

Scripture tells us that “Those who bless Israel will be blessed…” (Genesis 12:3) In addition, our prayer team regularly prays that God will bless you, our donors.

Once again, thank you for helping Song For Israel impact our world in support of Israel and the Jewish people. May God richly bless you.

Blessings and Shalom,

The entire Song For Israel Team

Chanukah Series -- The Feast of Dedication and its History

Tonight marks the third day in the the eight days of Chanukah, celebrated all over the world by Jewish people and now more and more by Christians. Song For Israel will post an article each day during Chanukah, explaining traditions  surrounding the holiday, including the dreidle, gelt, gifts, the nine-candle menorah, recipes and more! Please visit our website daily! 

When in 175 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes became King of Syria, all citizens had to embrace the Greek religion and culture. In Judea, Sabbath observance was outlawed, kosher* laws and circumcision forbidden and those found practicing Judaism were killed.  By sacrificing pigs on the altar and erecting a statue of Zeus, the Jerusalem Temple was desecrated.

Some Jews complied with Antiochus’ decrees. Others became secret believers or chose to become martyrs.

In 167 BC, Mattathias, the village elder and priest of Modi’in, refused to kill the Greek’s sacrificial pig and eat its flesh. When someone offered to perform the rites instead, Mattathias became so enraged that he killed the man. In the ensuing riot, the Greek soldiers were killed by Mattathias, his five sons and some villagers. Together with a group of people who were faithful to the Lord, Mattathias hid in the hills of the Judean Desert. From this area they conducted guerrilla attacks against the Greeks. After the death of Mattathias, Judah became the military leader. His nickname “Maccabee” is probably derived from the acronym: “Mi kamocha ba’elim Adonai” – “Who is like you among the gods, oh LORD”.

Even though Jerusalem’s Temple was liberated by the Maccabees in 164 BC, it was only in 142 BC that Judean independence was achieved.

As sole survivor of the family, Judah’s brother Simon became the High Priest and ruler. This was the beginning of the Hasmonean dynasty, which continued until the Roman occupation of Judea in 63 BC.

Chanukah (dedication) refers to the re-dedication and cleansing of the Second Temple in 164 BC. There was only a one-day supply of pure (kosher*) olive oil to light the Temple’s Menorah* (seven-branched candelabra). The Menorah was lit, and miraculously burned for eight days.

In Jesus’ time, Chanukah was called the “Feast of Dedication." “Then came the 'Feast of Dedication' at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.” John 10:22-23 (NIV)

The Temple in Jerusalem was the Jewish religious and national symbol. After its destruction, the religious focus moved to the synagogue. Rabbis switched to the “oil legend” (the miracle that kept the Temple’s Menorah burning for eight days). As a visual and hopeful reminder that miracles still happened, people began to light oil lamps in their houses. 

Not wanting to irk the Roman occupiers, the Jewish military aspect of the Festival diminished.

Only in the 19th century, with the emergence of the Zionist movement and Jewish nationalism, Chanukah’s military aspect re-surfaced. The Jewish people took courage in remembering the strength and courage of the Maccabees.

The festival is observed by kindling lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Chanukiah*. It has eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash* (attendant or sexton) and used to kindle the other candles.

Religious neighbourhoods have outdoor chanukiot placed along the streets.

                                                                           CHANUKAH CANDLE DAY 1

On the first night of the Festival, public candle-lightning ceremonies are held all over the world. On each night, an additional light is kindled, until all candles burn on the eighth and final night.

After the lighting of the candles it is tradition to sing the hymn Ma'or Tzur (see below). The song contains six stanzas. The first and last deal with general themes of divine salvation; the middle four deal with events of persecution in Jewish history, and praise God for survival despite these tragedies:

The exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the miracle of the holiday of Purim, and the Hasmonean victory over the Greeks.

A popular (non-literal translation) is called "Rock of Ages". Based on the German version by Leopold Stein (1810–1882), it was written by Talmudic linguist Marcus Jastrow and Gustav Gottheil.

MAOZ TZUR

(1st. stanza)

My Refuge my Rock of salvation!

'Tis pleasant to sing to your praises.
Let our house of prayer
be restored.

And there we will offer You our thanks.
When You will have utterly
silenced the loud-mouthed foe.

Then we will celebrate with song and psalm the altar's dedication.

ROCK OF AGES

Rock of Ages, let our song, praise Thy saving power;

Thou, amidst the raging foes, wast our sheltering tower.

Furious they assailed us, but Thine arm availed us,

And Thy Word broke their sword, when our own strength failed us.

Kindling new the holy lamps, priests, approved in suffering,

Purified the nation's shrine, brought to God their offering.

And His courts surrounding, hear, in joy abounding,

Happy throngs, singing songs with a mighty sounding.

Children of the martyr race, whether free or fettered,

Wake the echoes of the songs where ye may be scattered.

Yours the message cheering, that the time is nearing

Which will see, all men free, tyrants disappearing

From the book: Remember, Observe, Rejoice ©  by Petra van der Zande, which may be purchased from Lulu Press by clicking here.  Used with permission.  

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Chanukah Series: Latkes (Potato Pancakes!)

Latkes are traditionally eaten during the Chanukah festival. The oil for cooking the latkes is symbolic of the oil from the Chanukah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle.

Despite the popularity of latkes and tradition of eating them during Chanukah, they are hard to come by in stores or restaurants in Israel, having been largely replaced by the Chanukah doughnut (see upcoming article on Sufganoit or Jelly Doughnuts).

Latkes are not necessarily be made from potatoes. Sometimes they are made from a variety of other vegetables, cheeses, legumes, or starches. Potato pancakes are shallow-fried pancakes of grated or ground potatoes and may be topped with a variety of condiments, ranging from the savory (such as sour cream or cottage cheese) to the sweet (such as apple sauce or sugar), or they may be served ungarnished. Potato pancakes are sometimes made from mashed potatoes.

Potato Pancakes, Latkes with Sour Cream

Avi’s Favorite Latke Recipe Makes about 24 latkes

Ingredients: • 7-8 large russet potatoes, peeled • 1 1/2 medium onions • 6 large eggs, beaten • 3/4 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper • 3/4 cup canola oil (for frying) • Applesauce and sour cream, for serving

Directions: Grate the potatoes and onion into a bowl or pulse in food processor (careful not to puree it). Drain any excess liquid from the bowl and add the eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together to thoroughly combine them.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Spoon the latke mixture into the hot oil forming small pancakes, using 3-4 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. Cook until the underside is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the latke over and cook until the other side is golden and the potatoes are cooked through, about 2 more minutes.

One way to tell that your latkes are done is by sound: when it stops sizzling it’s time to flip it over. Allowing a latke to remain in the oil after the sizzling has stopped will result in greasy, oil-logged latkes (which is not what you want).

When done, remove the latkes from the oil and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Pat off the excess oil once they have cooled a bit, then serve hot with applesauce or sour cream.

Here is a video to show you how to make them:

Check back daily for more Chanukah traditions!

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Chanukah Series: The Nine-Candle Menorah

The Chanukah menorah, also called a “hanukkiah,” is a nine-branched candleholder and one of the most common symbols of Chanukah.

Just after sundown, family members and friends gather around the menorah and recite blessings as the middle candle, the shamash, is lit. It is a little taller than the other eight candles and is used to light all the other candles. It is considered to be the servant candle, lighting candles from left to right. One additional candle on the menorah is lit on each of Chanukah's eight nights.

On the eighth night, all nine candles (the 8 Chanukah candles and the shamash) are lit. On nights after the first, only the first two blessings are recited; the third blessing, called “she-hekhianu” is only recited on the first night of holidays. 

Lighting the Chanukah menorah is an important part of celebrating this Jewish holiday. According to the Hanukkah story, once Jewish revolutionaries had retaken the Temple from the Syrians they wanted to rededicate it to God and restore its ritual purity. Eight days worth of oil were needed to complete the ritual purification, but they were only able to find one day's worth of oil. They lit the menorah anyway and miraculously, the oil lasted for eight full days. The menorah reminds us of this miracle of the Chanukah lights.

The Jewish people use a different, seven-candle menorah for their weekly Sabbaths (Shabbats). The seven is significant because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He asks us to rest on the seventh day too. “Shabbat” in English means “to rest.”

First candle lighting of the Menorah for this Chanukah will be this evening,, December 24th. Candle lighting is each evening following that until the evening of Saturday, December 31st. 

Check back daily for more Chanukah traditions!

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