Grieving Family Members Plant Trees in Honor of Loved Ones
Israel just observed Tu Bishvat (the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month, Shvat). This holiday celebrates trees. For many Jewish people today, it is also an occasion for ecological awareness. Tu Bishvat is a festive time when people enjoy a meal together, eating dried fruits and nuts and planting trees. To commemorate this holiday, an estimated 1,000 people—family and friends of those murdered at the SuperNova Music Festival on October 7 at Re’im—gathered to plant 200 seedlings in honor of their loved ones. Together with the Jewish National Fund, the families wanted to bring new life to this area of death and destruction. Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 360 people at this festival in the early morning hours of October 7 after storming through the security wall just a few miles away.
Please pray for comfort for those whose loved ones so tragically lost their lives during the October 7 massacre.
Israel Cares for Holocaust Survivors
January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated in 1945. On this day, we take time to remember those whom the Nazis murdered and those who are alive today to continue to tell their stories. There are 245,000 Holocaust survivors living in ninety countries, with 148,000 residing in Israel. The average age of a Holocaust survivor is eighty-six, but they range in age from seventy-seven to one hundred. In 1945, 75 percent of the survivors were between the ages of three and twelve.
The definition of a survivor includes not only European Jewish people whom the Nazis imprisoned in concentration camps or ghettos. It also includes those forced to flee or live in hiding in areas under Nazi control. This category would also include Jewish people who were persecuted in North Africa (for instance, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia). Survivors can receive monetary payouts from Germany, of which Germany has given 90 billion dollars to date. These funds help survivors receive home care, food, medicine, and transportation.
Please pray for these precious people who have experienced so much and have lived a long life. Pray all their needs are met, and they will experience the Lord’s steadfast love for them.
Twenty-one Soldiers Die in Israel’s Deadliest Incident in Gaza
Israeli forces were preparing the demolition of a building in northern Gaza very close to the border with Israel. It was in shooting range for Hamas to launch missiles into Israeli communities along the border. The goal is to create a buffer zone by removing buildings Hamas could use to attack Israeli border villages in the future. But Hamas terrorists mounted a surprise attack, killing twenty-one Israeli soldiers. It was the deadliest incident for Israeli forces since the war began. The news devastated the country.
The Israeli Defense Forces released a statement saying, “Around 4 in the afternoon, at least one terrorist, presumably emerging from a tunnel and hence undetected, fired an anti-tank missile at a tank securing the operation, resulting in the death of two soldiers in the tank and injuries to two others. Meanwhile, an RPG was launched by the cell toward a complex of two adjoining houses occupied by dozens of soldiers as part of the operation. Initial estimates suggest that the anti-tank fire in the building triggered several explosives planted by the force inside, causing the complete collapse of the dual-building complex due to the massive blast.”
Please pray for the families and friends of the fallen who died so tragically in service to Israel.
Kid’s Party Encourages Families in Ashkelon
Our staff and friends recently hosted a kid’s party with a local congregation in Ashkelon. More than 100 children and parents arrived for an afternoon of games, crafts, songs, and stories. We talked about the Lord and His love and salvation for them, sang Sabbath songs and blessings together, and ate a festive BBQ meal. What made this party unique was almost everyone in the room had been seriously affected by the events of October 7. Many families evacuated, many without work, and all with much trauma and fear. They have returned and are trying to establish a routine again with full-time school and work, but it is hard. We cooked a delicious meal of chicken, fresh salads, and bread for them. The children left with paint—and smiles!—on their faces.
Our ministry has hosted events for this group of people before. Slowly but surely, some have returned to attend the congregation and learn more about Jesus. The pastor of the congregation was very grateful to see all the friendly faces. Let us pray the children and parents will remember the love, the message, and the truth they heard and experienced at this party. Even more, the day called for torrential rain, but there was only sunshine for the few hours of our party! Ashkelon has also been the city most hit by rockets. Even though sirens warned of incoming missiles, it was only for another section of the city. Praise God for allowing this event to happen!
Please pray for these dear people, young and old, to come to a saving relationship with Jesus.