Tel Aviv Starts Offering Limited Bus Service on Shabbat
Since the foundation of the modern state of Israel, buses have not run on the Sabbath, especially in cities with a large ultra-Orthodox population—which is most Israeli cities. The ultra-Orthodox feel that this desecrates the Jewish law regarding the Sabbath, and believe that Jewish laws should be kept by everyone, even the secular. Despite this long-standing absence of Saturday public transportation, there has been a recent trial initiative of bus lines in Tel Aviv operating over the weekends. For the first two weeks, it served an estimated 10,000 people each weekend. Up until now, people from Tel Aviv without cars have been restricted to their immediate surroundings unless they are willing to pay for an expensive taxi to get anywhere on Saturday. However, this past Saturday, the ultra-Orthodox in Bnei Brak, a community on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, blocked intersections and would not allow the buses to pass. While these bus routes do not pass through their neighborhood, just the fact that they are running irritates the religious community, who feel that Tel Aviv has broken its promise of no work or city-wide travel on the Sabbath. Please pray for an amicable agreement to be reached between the ultra-Orthodox, who oppose Saturday transportation, and the city’s secular population, who want to be able to move about freely.
Israel’s Search and Rescue Teams Arrive in Albania
In the aftermath of the largest and strongest earthquake to hit Albania in decades, Israel has sent its search-and-rescue team to help. The earthquake measured 6.4 on the Richter scale and resulted in more than twenty-five deaths, more than six hundred fifty injured, and many still missing. The Israeli team continues to search for survivors in collapsed buildings and to help the injured. More than a dozen other countries flew in crews to help. Historically, Israel always is one of the first to arrive with help at the scene of natural disasters. Israeli search-and-rescue teams and medical assistance were provided in Haiti in 2008, Mexico in 2010, and Nepal in 2015 after their major earthquakes. Please pray for those affected by the earthquake, that they would be comforted and helped. Please pray for the Israeli search teams, that they would be effective.
Likud Party Challenger
Likud Member of Knesset, Gideon Sa’ar, has challenged Benjamin Netanyahu for the leadership of the party. He has asked for a Likud primary to see who would get voted as party head, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed. However, the twenty-one-day grace period is over this Wednesday, and if no Member of Knesset has achieved majority support, the country will move toward a third national election this March. If Sa’ar wins the primary and becomes the new leader of Likud, a coalition government would most likely be formed with Benjamin Gantz’s Blue and White party, Likud, and Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman. Leading up to the primary, Sa’ar’s family has been attacked on social media, which he has demanded be stopped since his family are not elected officials. Netanyahu has been Likud party head for fourteen years and is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Now, however, he is politically weak because of the legal indictments against him. Sa’ar’s call for a primary vote is not the result of legal woes but rather due to the fact that Netanyahu has now tried to form a government twice and failed. Please pray for Israel’s political situation.
Our workers in Israel are planning and getting ready for Hanukkah parties toward the end of December. Through these gatherings, we pray for many who are not yet believers to come and hear about the Light of the World! We hold special Hanukkah festivities in Jerusalem, Ramat Gan, Sderot, and many other places. We will tell the Hanukkah story and relate how Jesus is the Light of the World, and the light that shines within us, all as we share the warm potato latkes (pancakes), jelly donuts, and fun songs that punctuate the season. May you all celebrate the joy of holidays! Please pray, while we are planning, for creativity and wisdom—we hope to see our rooms packed with people!