Israel Imposes Second National Lockdown Ahead of the Jewish Holidays
In a bold and perhaps controversial move, the Knesset voted yesterday to impose a second lockdown nationwide. The lockdown is set to begin on Friday, September 18, 2020, which is the day the Jewish high holidays begin. The three-week restriction will last through the entire holiday season. The move comes as another eleven deaths were recorded on Sunday, bringing Israel’s total fatality count to 1,119. There are still more than five hundred patients with COVID-19 in serious condition. Scheduling the lockdown during the Jewish fall festivals has left some in the religious community feeling discriminated against. Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who is part of the ultra-Orthodox community, resigned his position in protest. In spite of opposition, Prime Minister Netanyahu, defending the reimposition of restrictions, said, “We believe we will be able to lower the number of cases if the public is vigilant and observes the directives.”
Please pray for the safety and health of the nation and wisdom for Israel’s leaders as they make the best decisions they can in the face of difficult circumstances.
Great Synagogue in Jerusalem Closed for the Holidays
The Jerusalem Great Synagogue was established in 1958. Since then, the Jewish high holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, have always been held in the synagogue. That is, until this year. For the first time, there will be no services for the high holy days in the Great Synagogue this year. In an announcement released yesterday, the coronavirus is just too much of a risk to worshippers to remain open. According to the statement released Sunday morning, “the deciding consideration was the personal safety of every one of you.” Despite the synagogue’s spacious hall and the potential for social distancing within the building, the 1,400-person-capacity sanctuary will remain empty until further notice. The synagogue stated, “We will all pray for a better year, and if God wills, we will pray in the Great Synagogue soon….”
Please pray that Jewish people in Israel and worldwide are able to celebrate the high holidays, whether in person or online, and that they see the truth of Yeshua the Messiah revealed in the festivals!
Bahrain Establishes Diplomatic Ties with Israel
Following the recent announcement of formal ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain has become the fourth Arab nation to establish a diplomatic relationship with Israel. The historic agreement was announced by President Donald Trump on Friday, the nineteenth anniversary of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor on the Middle East, told reporters, “The region is responding very favorably to the UAE deal and hopefully it’s a sign that even more will come.” Although Saudi Arabia has not made any overt movement toward normalization of ties with Israel, Bahrain’s close relationship with Riyadh most likely means that the deal between Bahrain and Israel was approved by the Saudi kingdom. Despite the silence of Saudi Arabia, there are still additional Arab nations in the region with whom it is anticipated relations will come.
Praise God for the advancement of peace in the Middle East! Please pray that the peace continues to spread.
First UAE Delegation Visit Threatened by Lockdown
An official delegation from the United Arab Emirates is scheduled to arrive in Israel on September 22, 2020. However, with coronavirus rates increasing and a national lockdown expected to begin on September 18, the visit may need to be postponed. Science Minister Izhar Shay indicated that if the historic meeting does move forward as planned, “a special modality will be required.” The official signing of the agreement between Israel and the UAE will be signed tomorrow in Washington, D.C. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan will sign the document. Bahrain’s foreign minister will also attend the event.
Please pray that delegates from the United Arab Emirates are understanding of the difficult situation in Israel, whether they are able to meet in person with restrictions or the meeting has to be postponed.
From the Editor
Our staff with Chosen People Ministries—Israel have faced these extraordinary times with boldness and passion. Moses commissioned Joshua with the statement, “Be strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:23), and that is what our workers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Netanya, and all over the country have done. Now, facing another lockdown during one of the most effective evangelistic seasons of the year, they truly need our prayers. There is so much happening so quickly right now that we were unable to get a mission report, which is why I am writing. And yet, knowing the staff, they are still going to be looking for ways to bring the gospel to the Jewish people of Israel, as they have been doing these seven months of pandemic, in the most effective ways possible. Although they will not be able to hold high holy day services, I am confident that the Lord will use them to propel the gospel forward.
Please pray that the Lord will lead the Chosen People Ministries—Israel staff in the ways to declare the good news of Messiah Yeshua during the fall festivals.