Inside Israel

Albert Bourla Receives Genesis Prize

Albert Bourla at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 24, 2018. (Source: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Thanachaiary)

Every year, the Genesis Foundation awards the “Genesis Prize” to someone who has inspired the next generation of Jewish people through their outstanding professional achievement and commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people. This year’s winner is Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla. His leadership allowed the company to produce the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible. In a large global vote involving seventy-one countries, he received the highest number of votes. The Genesis Foundation unanimously approved his nomination. Normally, winners donate their one-million-dollar prize to a philanthropic cause. Bourla has asked that his prize be donated to preserve the memory of those who died in the Holocaust with an emphasis on the Greek Jewish community.

Albert Bourla was born in Thessaloniki, Greece to parents who survived the Holocaust. He said, “I was brought up in a Jewish family who believed that each of us is only as strong as the bonds of our community; and that we are all called upon by God to repair the world.”

“Genesis Foundation Chief Executive Officer Stan Polovets praised Bourla, saying he ‘personifies two of the most fundamental Jewish values: the commitment to the sanctity of life and to repairing the world. Millions of people are alive and healthy because of what Dr. Bourla and his team at Pfizer accomplished. It is a proud moment not just for the winner but for the entire Jewish community.’”

Past winners include violinist Itzhak Perlman, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Please pray that Dr. Bourla and others like him continue to use their skills to help those sick and struggling in our world.

Heavy Snow in Northern Israel

Snow in Jerusalem in 2013 (Source: מעין שנדרוביץ/Wikimedia Commons)

This past week, Israel has seen unseasonably cold temperatures. A lot of snow blanketed Mount Hermon and the elevated areas of the Golan Heights. Even Jerusalem got a little snow! The city has prepared snowplows, though Jerusalem will likely only receive light snow. Some schools in northern Israel were closed due to dangerous roads. The military told hikers to be extra alert and stay on designated paths. In the Golan Heights, there are buried land mines from previous wars that enemy troops left behind. Heavy snow is covering some markers that indicate where land mines may be. Additionally, The Electric Company said that the all-time record for Israel’s winter electricity consumption was broken last Wednesday. Israel is bracing for a few more days of rain and cold.

Please pray that the poor and vulnerable in Israel will stay warm and have enough money for food and to remain warm and stay healthy.

Read more about the snow in Northern Israel. . .

Read more about the skiing season at Mount Hermon. . .

Israel Has Most Daily COVID-19 Cases per Capita

Israeli Police wearing masks in March 2020 (Source: Israel Police/Facebook)

Israel has the highest amount of daily COVID-19 cases per capita in the world. This fact does not necessarily mean that Israel has the highest infection rate. Israel also leads the world in its high daily testing rate. Mongolia, Peru, Canada, and Georgia follow Israel in their daily COVID-19 cases. Israel is facing massive staff shortages in schools and kindergartens. Thousands of children have also been sent home after a COVID-19 exposure. Prime Minister Bennett will change the rules this week. Children will take the antigen rapid tests twice a week at home and attend school regardless of exposure. They will only need to isolate if they test positive for the coronavirus. The government will give millions of rapid tests to homes with schoolchildren.

This strategy will help stop disruptions for thousands of students who have no symptoms of the virus and allow the educational system to return to some normalcy. A more consistent school schedule will also allow parents to continue working. Last week, there were roughly 300,000 children in isolation and more than 1,000 kindergarten schools closed because of COVID-19 exposure or staff shortages—some permanently. Health experts think that the peak of Omicron transmission in Israel is happening now or very soon, as in many countries.

Please pray that God will heal those who are sick with COVID-19 in the hospitals, and that this virus will decline and weaken!

Praise Reports from Our Staff in Israel

We can share the gospel in practical ways, such as washing dishes! (Illustrative/Source: Kelly Moon/Unsplash)

Here are recent reports from two of our staff:

We all want to find ways to be a blessing or encouragement to those around us. Sometimes what we perceive as little or insignificant might be enormous to the recipient. While recently visiting neighbors who were sitting “shiva” (seven days of grieving following the loss of a family member), I noticed the sink was full of dirty dishes and the dishwasher was full of clean dishes. Quietly stepping away from the conversations, I started to unload and reload the dishwasher. Sometimes, just showing up, listening to others while they speak, and looking for ways to meet their practical needs has a greater impact than we expect.

Another one of our staff members struck up a friendship with a well-known personality on social media. After months of conversations, questions, Bible study, and prayer, this person asked Jesus to forgive his sins and acknowledged that He is the Messiah of Israel! With more than 250,000 followers, this individual has a lot of influence online. Please pray for his discipleship and growth.

Praise God for all the different ways we can serve and love our community, sharing the message of the Messiah Jesus as we go!