Massive Fires in Jerusalem Mountains
A horrific forest fire swept through the mountains around Jerusalem this week and caused many communities to evacuate. After two days, the fires had burned 6,200 acres of forest and sent massive smoke clouds into the sky that were so thick they blocked out the sun in Jerusalem. The fires even threatened the world-renowned Hadassah Hospital, which the fires narrowly missed. The staff nearly had to evacuate all their patients.
Hot temperatures and dry climate allowed the fires to grow swiftly and outpace the firefighters. The government sent out a plea for international help, but by day three, the fires were under control. Leaders called in 200 units comprising a total of 1,500 firefighters. The Palestinian fire brigade also helped in the struggle to contain the flames. Officials now suspect that arson caused the blaze. The fires ignited in two separate locations near Beit Meir—an area where not many hikers go and where it seems unlikely that a person could have started a fire accidentally.
Please pray for the firefighters who worked so hard to put out the fires and for the forests’ rehabilitation.
Israel Approves Vaccine Booster during Massive Spike in Coronavirus Cases
Israel’s Health Ministry recently approved making a coronavirus booster vaccination available to those forty and older. Currently, more than 1.2 million Israelis ages fifty and older have already received their third shot. Those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 will not be given the third dose. In January and February, Israel led the world in fully vaccinating a large percentage of its population.
However, Israel is now seeing a massive surge in coronavirus cases for two key reasons: the Delta variant is significantly more contagious than previous strains of the coronavirus, and the effectiveness of the vaccination from six months ago has begun to decrease. The number of coronavirus cases among Israelis sixty and older—most of whom have received a third dose of the vaccine—is decreasing. Since the Jewish high holidays are coming up, and many people will gather with friends and family to celebrate, Prime Minister Bennett is working hard to avoid lockdowns.
Please pray for the current surge of coronavirus cases to decrease.
Prime Minister Bennett to Meet with President Biden
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is set to fly to the United States this week to meet with President Biden. This will be President Biden’s first time meeting with an Israeli prime minister. The key topics of discussion will include Iran’s nuclear threat and the United States’ commitment to their alliance with Israel, especially after the withdrawal from Afghanistan and upheaval in the Middle East.
The two leaders will also discuss issues regarding the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza as well as how to further strengthen ties with other Arab countries in the wake of last year’s Abraham Accords. Bennett and his team had wanted to travel to New York City to meet with American Jewish leaders as part of this visit. However, due to the continued spread of the coronavirus, they are only visiting Washington, D.C. and will not leave the hotel except for official meetings.
Please pray that this strategic meeting would strengthen the relationship between Israel and the United States.
Israeli to Launch into Space in 2022
In early 2022, Eytan Stibbe will become the second Israeli to fly to space. On the trip, he will visit the International Space Station and conduct experiments for several Israeli universities, start-ups, and hospitals. He will take along a special coin minted during the Bar Kochba Revolt of 132 CE. At that historic turning point in history, the Jewish people were revolting against Rome. The Jewish fighters were especially upset that the Romans were building a pagan temple over the ruins of the holy Second Temple, which had been destroyed only sixty years earlier.
Archaeologists recently discovered the coin in the caves of the Judean desert as they were searching for more scroll fragments. The Dead Sea Scrolls, including an intact scroll of Isaiah, were found in this area during the late 1940s.
Please pray for Eytan Stibbe and his team as they prepare for this important trip.
Chosen People Ministries—Israel Prepares for Rosh Hashanah
Our staff in Israel is welcoming the upcoming Jewish high holidays by making gift bags for Holocaust survivors. Usually, we treat the Holocaust survivors in a few different cities to a joyous and festive meal with music, Scripture, and fellowship. This year, that kind of event is not possible. Instead, we will distribute these wonderful gift bags packed with holiday goodies with love and smiles to each person.
We have already packed several hundred bags that are ready for us to give out before Rosh Hashanah starts the evening of September 5. These Holocaust survivors know of our faith and trust in the Messiah; many have even asked for prayer and sought out answers. We pray that these gift bags would encourage them during another set of holidays marred by the pandemic.
Please pray that these Holocaust survivors find their hope and security in the Messiah Jesus, who loves each one so dearly!