Two Men From Gaza

Last night I was delighted to meet two men, both born in Gaza, both raised Palestinians, both whose lives were changed by meeting Jesus Christ!

It was in a crowded home filled with curious people of all ages. Before the two men shared their stories, delicious Arab foods were served and conversations began. When the meal was finished, the honored guests began.

Tass Saada, born in Gaza, raised in Saudi Arabia as a Palestinian refugee, ran away from home at age 17 to fight in Gaza as a PLO sniper, fighting against the Jew.  Tass was raised to hate the Jews. 

Tass Saada

Tass Saada

For Tass, his childhood memories included visits in his home with leaders such as Osama Bin Ladin and Yassir Arafat. It was during one of those visits that Yassir Arafat recruited Tass as his personal chauffeur. He was later chosen by Arafat to be trained as an assassain, and eventually awarded the nickname "Butcher."

Even though he hated America and Americans, in 1974 he came to the United States to get an education, hoping he could fight the Jews better with his brain. He felt that Americans treated him well and this surprised him, so he decided to stay. He felt the quickest way to become a citizen was to marry, so he found a bride rather quickly and married.

Once married, Tass' father cut off financial support, so Tass began working as a dishwasher at an upscale French restaurant. He was shocked that at the first table he cleared as a busboy, the guest thanked him for taking his dirty dishes. Tass was used to abusing the help, not thanking them. He decided to be very kind to this man. Later he learned the man was a multi-billionaire. 

In 1993, Tass was confronted about his lack of fear of God. Although he worshipped Allah, his friend challenged him and told him that the identity of Allah, whom he worshipped--was the God of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael and Jacob--whom the Islamists have rejected. He was told that he could not hate the Jews. His response was, "The only Jew is a dead Jew." His friend shared the Love of Jesus Christ and the gospel and Tass experienced a radical salvation experience. He was told that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6)

While Tass was studying his Bible as a new believer, he ran across Matthew 5:43-44, where Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." He wondered how he could ever love the Jews. But God changed his heart.

Now, many years later, Tass and his wife are in ministry together, serving Jesus Christ. Their goal is to reconcile Arabs and Jews to the Father. Once they are reconciled to the Father, it is so much easier to be reconciled to one another. 

Read more about his story in his book, Once An Arafat Man.

 

The second gentleman at the gathering heads up the Voice of the Refugees headquartered in Anaheim. Also a Palestinian Arab born in Gaza, he shared about his life and how he came to a place where he found salvatin in Jesus Christ. His nonprofit Voice of the Refugees mobilizes local resources in order to fully engage and assist Middle Eastern (mostly Arab) refugees, to establish them in Orange County. They share the love of Christ and the gospel with each person or family and he says "we have a 100% success rate. We share the gospel with each encounter." He says it is up to the Holy Spirit to do the rest. You can learn more about this local ministry at www.jvor.org. 

God is working in the hearts of those born in Gaza. Although at the moment they all appear to be enemies of Israel, God is still doing a mighty and miraculous work among the Arabs. We are encouraged, as Tass quoted, to "love our enemies" and I agree with him that the only way the Jews and Arabs will find peace among one another is if they have peace with God, the Father. Please pray for the Arab people, that they also will find this to be true.

Two Events THIS Saturday, February 21st

Join us at 2:30 PM at Friends Church Yorba Linda for a demonstration making HAMANTASCHEN cookies to give to your Jewish friends. They are traditionally given as gifts on the Jewish holiday of Purim. Not only will you watch the demonstration, you will taste these delectables and take home the recipe to bake your own. Learn about this Jewish holiday with a brief Bible teaching. (Purim is March 5th.)  $10 for class, which will be collected at the door (cash or check only, please). Click here to register. Registration is a must!

At 7 PM, join us for an informational reception regarding our Greece/Israel Tour at Richfield Community Church, Yorba Linda. For details, click here.

French Jews under Seige! Help them Come Home to Israel!

Song for Israel is partnering with ICEJ to help Jewish people make "Aliyah" (a move to Israel). Please read their article written by David Parsons and Howard Flower below:

The dramatic terror attacks in Paris in early January have served as a sobering wake­up call to the world about the dangerous resurgence of anti­Semitism in Europe. But for Jews in France and all across the continent, it was more a crushing reminder of the harsh reality they know has existed already for years now.

Long before the terror assault on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and the deadly hostage stand­off at the Hyper Cache kosher supermarket in Paris left 17 people dead, one could visit Jewish communities anywhere in Europe and find a people under siege. Jewish synagogues, museums and community centers all have metal detectors and armed guards posted outside. Jewish schools and seminaries have become like fortresses.

If anything, the terror attacks in Paris have shattered any remaining sense of security for much of European Jewry. The hope that their governments could somehow protect them is vanishing.

But protect them from what?

Even with the public outrage and the mass ‘unity’ rallies in the wake of the Paris attacks, most world leaders are still unwilling to identify the real menace now stalking the Jews of Europe – the scourge of Islamic jihadism.

The rallies spoke out against both anti­Semitism and Islamophobia – as if they were equally terrorising scores of innocent lives at present.

The rising threat now facing European Jewry is an extremely toxic mix. First, there is still much classical anti­Semitism among native Europeans which induces them to vilify Israel as a main cause of Muslim extremism. Add to that the youth violence among the growing Muslim immigrant communities from North Africa and the Middle East. And now home­grown jihadists are returning from battle in places like Yemen, Iraq and Syria as trained militiamen seeking to hunt down easy Jewish prey.

No wonder then that Jews are starting to leave France in record numbers. French aliyah reached an all­time level in 2014 with nearly 7,000 Jewish people moving to Israel. It marked the first time in Israel’s modern history that the highest number of Jewish immigrants came from a Western country.

Jewish Agency authorities were already anticipating that number to double in 2015 to around 15,000. And that was before the Paris terror attacks, which are now expected to accelerate French Jewish aliyah even more.2/5/2015 French Jews under siege! Help them come home to Israel. 

Last year, some 50,000 French Jews approached the Jewish Agency for information about moving to Israel. The week after the Paris attacks, another 2,000 Jews signed up to begin the aliyah process. Thus the Jewish Agency has asked the Christian Embassy to assist with funding for the huge influx of French Jews expected to come home to Israel in 2015.

The general perception is that most French Jews can afford the move to Israel. But the reality is that nearly three-fourths of the 550,000 Jews in France come from families that escaped to there from North Africa two generations ago and many still live in poorer neighbourhoods alongside Muslim immigrants that came from the same countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

So they are the most vulnerable Jews at present, and the least able to afford the expenses of moving to another country. And according to the Jewish Agency, it is Sephardic Jews in France which feel the least secure and are showing the most interest in making aliyah right now.

Over coming months, the ICEJ will be funding aliyah seminars, ground transport, flight tickets, absorption costs and other expenses involved in the immigration process. The Jewish Agency has estimated that the average cost for those who need assistance is $1100 per person.

So please give today to this urgent need. Help us bring home more French Jews, before it is too late!

To support this Aliyah project, please make an on-line donation today by clicking here. Help Song For Israel make a difference for the persecuted Jewish people in France and around the world.

Please "like" us on Facebook and Google + (Song For Israel). Thank you!

Tu B'Sh'vat -- the Jewish Holiday -- "New Year for the Trees"

This Jewish holiday is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month Sh’vat (which begins tonight, February 3rd), 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.

Tu b’Sh’vat is considered a national Israeli holiday and not a Biblical one; it does have prophetic significance.

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.”

“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

Purim Cookie Baking Demonstration

Join us for this demonstration for baking hamantaschen cookies, which are given as gifts on the Jewish holiday of Purim. Not only will you watch the demonstration, you will taste these delectables and take home the recipe to bake your own. Learn about this Jewish holiday with a brief Bible teaching. You will be encouraged to bake these cookies and give them to your Jewish friends for Purim (on March 5th). $10 for class, which will be collected at the door (cash or check only, please). Space is limited. Please register below.

Date: Saturday, February 21, 2015

Location:  Friends Church Yorba Linda: 5141 Lakeview Avenue, Yorba Linda, CA 92886, Roadhouse Kitchen

Time: 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Hamantaschen for Purim.jpg
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Kibbutz Sa'ad School in Israel Receives New Shelter

Following is an update from operation lifeshield. Please click here for song for israel's bomb shelter project information.

Following is an update from operation lifeshield. Please click here for song for israel's bomb shelter project information.

Truly, one of my favorite moments is when I get to meet real heroes. Rafi Babion, Security Chief for the Sdot Negev Region in Southern Israel is one of the great heroes of Israel, and I am grateful for the close connection we have. Rafi has guided Operation Lifeshield in the placement of shelters in his region, and has chosen locations where we can be of maximum help.

The Kibbutz Sa'ad School, located only a few miles from the Gaza border, has been hit by Kassam rockets from Hamas frequently. Most recently, this summer, one of the rockets struck next to a room adjoining the school principal's office. Thankfully, the principal was unhurt. Damage to the exterior wall told a terrifying story, as hundreds of shrapnel shards embedded the wall.

We delivered a Lifeshield Bell shelter this month to the school, and it now sits in the bus drop-off and pick-up area. Click on the thumbnail image to view the video of school and new shelter.

Also, the music in this video is especially intense, so best to crank-up the volume when watching.

 

Blessings from Israel,                                                                                                                                                                                                       Shmuel Bowman                                                                                                                                                                             Executive Director | Operation Lifeshield

To donate to Song For Israel's Bomb Shelter project, please click here. 

Shmuel Bowman, executive director - operation lifeshield

Shmuel Bowman, executive director - operation lifeshield



Iran and Hezbollah Planning Imminent Joint Invasion in Galilee

High level intelligence has warned that Iran and Hezbollah are planning an imminent invasion to the Galilee, northern Israel, in response to the airstrike carried out by Israel last Sunday, killing 11 people. Among those killed were a senior IRGC General Muhammad Allahdadi, Jihad Mughniveh (son of former Hezbollah Chief), five Iranians (one of them Revolutionary Guard, Muhammad Issa (head of Hezbollah’s operation in war-torn Syria and Iraq), and several operatives of the Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah. However Israel claims that the strike was intended to take out Syrian terrorists and that Israel had no knowledge that the IRGC General was in the vicinity.

The Jerusalem Post reported: ‘”We did not expect the outcome in terms of the stature of those killed—certainly not the Iranian general,’ Reuters quoted the Israeli source as saying. ‘We thought we were hitting an enemy field unit that was on its way to carry out an attack on us at the frontier fence. We got the alert, we spotted the vehicle, identified it was an enemy vehicle and took the shot. We saw this as a limited tactical operation.’” The reason for the attack was that intelligent sources learned that Mughniyeh was plotting a series of deadly cross-border terrorist attacks from Syria into Israel. He has been described as a “relentless terrorist.”

The Israeli Defense Force deployed units and an Iron Dome to the volatile area today, after hearing Commander Muhammad Ali Jafari, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander warn that Israel can expect “ruinous thunderbolds.”

Please pray for the safety of Israel’s borders and that tensions would calm in the Middle East. Pray that God would thwart the enemies plans.

Anticipated French to Make Aliyah (Move) to Israel

It is no secret that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and particularly in France. France has the largest Jewish population in Europe and threats and incidents more than doubled last year.

Hundreds of thousands of people packed into a Paris square today under extraordinary security for a massive unity rally following last week’s terror attacks in and around the French capital. Dozens of world leaders attended the event, among those was Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Reuters (Paris), “'Israel expects the number of French Jews moving there (Israel) this year, which was already predicted to rise sharply from 2014’s record level, to accelerate further after the killings at a Paris kosher grocery,' a senior official said on Sunday.”

Netanyahu has pledged to find ways to boost Jewish immigration from France as well as other European countries that are being affected by anti-Semitism.

Song For Israel is here to help! We are partnering with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to help Jewish people move to Israel (Aliyah). This excerpt from the ICEJ website gives us a definition of Aliyah:

What is Aliyah?

Throughout history, the Jews have often been exiled, or expelled from their homeland. In 70 AD, with the destruction of the second temple they were dispersed from the Straits of Gibraltar to the edges of India. Although dispersed throughout the world, the longing to return to their homeland, however, was never abandoned. It is a centuries old custom for Jews, when closing out the Passover Meal, to say “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Aliyah is a Hebrew word that means to “go up.” While originally it referred to ascending to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Feasts, today it has come to mean the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel.

Aliyah, simply stated, is the ingathering of the exiles from the four corners of the earth —   it is the immigration of Jews back to their ancestral homeland. Aliyah “is rooted in the Jewish people’s fervent hope to rebuild its national life in the country from which it was exiled nearly 2,000 years ago.”

 Aliyah is Biblical

Although you may not hear the term “Aliyah” preached from the pulpit, taught in Sunday School or even listed in the concordance of your bible (no matter the version), it is biblical. It is also very much on the heart of God, and he wants you to be involved (more about that later).

The prophets spoke of Aliyah — God’s plan to bring the children of Israel home. Isaiah penned some of these promises: “He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:5-6)

“See. I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up My banner to the peoples; they will carry your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.” (Isaiah 49:22) (www.ICEJ.org).

Our Aliyah campaign will run through June 2015.  To make a donation toward helping the Jewish people who are finding their way “home,” please click here.

A Prayer for 2015

Our Father in Heaven,

As we reflect on 2014, we recognize that You have been watching over us, showing us favor and guiding our every step. Thank you for the challenges that you put in our paths to cause us to depend on You.  We ask forgiveness for the times when we did not seek Your face nor follow Your ways.

As we begin a new year, we commit ourselves to You afresh, asking for Your help that we might please You in all that we do. Draw us closer to You through prayer. Teach us to depend even more on You. Draw us to your precious Word, that we may discover even more of who You are. Give us strength to choose to walk in your ways and not ours. Would you use us to make a difference for You in our world in 2015?

We humble ourselves before you, The Holy One of Israel. You have watched over Israel for thousands of years and You have not forgotten Your people. Your covenant endures forever.

We pray for those in living in Israel today, that You would cause them to seek Your face in 2015 and that You would comfort them during any attacks that may come from every side. Please keep them safe. We pray that Your people would recognize that YOU are the One Who is protecting them and that YOU are the refuge they can run to.

We pray for the Jewish people and the Christians throughout the world who are being persecuted—that they would not lose hope—that You would protect their minds and provide a way of escape.

Abba, please forgive our nation, as we have turned away from You. Would You purge the wickedness from the United States and restore us to a right relationship with You? Would You provide us with Godly leaders who would strive to please You?

Fill us with Your love and Your power, that we might be effective witnesses of Messiah in our community. We ask that you strengthen us and that you would provide all that we need to serve you.

We pray that we would grow in the grace and knowledge of Messiah in 2015.

Thank You for hearing our prayer. We pray these things in the name of Yeshua (Jesus)!

Amen

 

Song For Israel--Our Year at a Glance

Song For Israel would like to thank you for partnering with us financially and prayerfully. In 2014 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:

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  • Collected $3,995 toward the building of bomb shelters in Israel by Operation Lifeshield. The Israeli government will match this gift, making our contribution $7,990!
  • Provided volunteers, representing seven churches, for the Orange County Jewish Federation at its annual Israel Expo;
  • Led six Biblical Zionism classes;
  • Taught a Purim cookie demonstration;
  • Hosted a fascinating seminar by Shmuel Bowman, an Israeli scribe (and director of Operartion Lifeshield);
  • Began writing our own curriculum called, "God's Eternal Plan for Israel;"
  • Led two Bible study classes on the Book of Revelation;
  • Hosted 26 prayer meetings;
  • Spoke at Whittier Community Church with the message, "God's Fingerprints in Israel:"
  • Participated in the 3rd Annual "Israel--The Elusive Peace Conference:"
  • Partnered with Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, Yorba Linda,, which sponsored our conference;
  • Established helpful ways to receive donations through AmazonSmiles and Ebay;
  • With the help of 24 volunteers, we hosted an awesome Feast of Tabernacles Celebration Dinner for 48 people;
  • Partnered with Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation, hosting an informative seminar with Sally Shiff, from Israel; and
  • Celebrated our year-end with a Chanukah party!

And, with your help we're excited about 2015!  We plan to:

  • Provide even more volunteers for the 2015 Israel Expo;
  • Consider venturing into radio, doing short 15-minute spots on KBRT, to reach a larger audience across Southern California;
  • Finish curriculum, "God's Eternal Plan for Israel;"
  • Host the 4th Annual "Israel--The Elusive Peace" Conference this spring;
  • Hold our first Spring Fundraising Dinner;
  • Host the annual Israel Tour in June 2015 (with a side trip to Greece);
  • Partner with Ben David Messianic Jewish Congregation for a Passover Seder;
  • Host a 1/2-day conference with Sally Shiff from Israel;
  • Host quarterly educational seminars;
  • Continue to raise money for bomb shelters in Israel through Operation Lifeshield;
  • Lead eight "God's Eternal Plan for Israel" classes (using our new curriculum);
  • Offer a Feast of Tabernacles Celebration Dinner;
  • Host another Purim cookie demonstration;
  • Offer four inductive Bible studies; and
  • Host a fabulous Chanukah party

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 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 to Song For Israel. To donate, click here.  You may also want to sponsor a project: 1) $600 to publish our new "God's Eternal Plan for Israel" curriculum; or 2) Donate towards our Spring Fundraising Dinner.

Thank you for helping Song For Israel ipact our world in support of Israel and the Jewish people. May God richly bless you.

Blessings and Shalom,

Deby Brown and the entire Song For Israel Team

About Song For Israel

Song For Israel challenges Christians to examine their view of God's eternal plan for Israel and the Jewish people. We educate Christians (and others) on the Biblical truth and significance of God's eternal promises to the Jewish people and what that means in the world today (how it affects our worldview, how we vote, and what we support). Song For Israel works relentlessly to build Biblical awareness and active support for Israel and the Jewish people through prayer, education, service projects, and financial support.

 

 

 

 

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 was on the evening of Tuesday, December 16th. Candle lighting is each evening following that until the evening of Wednesday, December 24th. 

Check back daily for more Chanukah traditions!

Chanukah Series: Gift Giving

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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 16th.

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!

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!

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.

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

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!

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!

Chanukah Series -- The Feast of Dedication and its History

Tonight begins 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 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.  

 

Sally Shiff (From Israel) -- Recap From Our Event

Sally Shiff was here visiting with us December 1st and began her time of sharing with the 90-second sound of a siren that resounds throughout Israel warning of incoming rockets. During the sound of the siren, she shared pictures of people running for shelter. It was eerie and helped put the evening in context.

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Sally experienced those sirens blarring at least ten times in her town of Kfar Saba, which is a 120-year old city of approximately 100,000 people.

She shared about the constant unrest that Israelis live under.

The message continued with an encouragement to "know the signs of the times" from Ezekiel 33....this is not something to be taken lightly, but rather, a responsibility. We are to be watchmen.

Sally finally ended with a "question/answer" time and a discussion about how to effectively pray for Israel. Sally left us with her booklet entitled "How to Pray for Israel." For your free copy, please email: info@songforisrael.org and request your copy be emailed to you.

Song For Israel will be hosting a 1/2-day seminar with Sally in 2015. Please watch the newsletter for more information. If you are not receiving our newsletter, please click here to sign up to receive them via email.

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