Inside Israel

Schools in Sderot Open After Five Months

Kindergarten, elementary, and high schools opened for the first time in five months in the city of Sderot, seven miles from the Gaza border. The city’s residents were evacuated after the horrific October 7 massacre and the subsequent continual rocket bombardment. As Israeli forces move further south in Gaza, the threat of rockets from Hamas has greatly lessened, though it has not disappeared completely. The children have been attending local schools wherever their families have been living, whether in hotels or rented accommodations paid for by the government since October.

Now, soldiers patrol the streets of Sderot, bringing calm and security to the city. Around 60 percent of the students returned on the first day. Some parents do not want their children to resume school so close to Gaza yet. Before the doors opened, the municipality prepared its staff through exercises with security forces and psychological services.

Please pray for the children and teachers of Sderot to adapt and help each other as everyone settles into new routines and learning despite fears and bad memories.

Read more at The Times of Israel . . .

40,000 Run in Thirteenth Annual Jerusalem Marathon

Jerusalem Marathon in 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jerusalem recently hosted its thirteenth annual marathon, with a record 40,000 runners participating. This year, the marathon was dedicated to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), security forces, and rescue teams. They could register for free. As a result, 15,000 Israeli soldiers on active or reserve duty ran the race. There were also 1,800 international runners representing seventy countries.  Many runners ran in full military uniform. Others waved Israeli flags, while some carried posters of the hostages in Gaza. The overall marathon winner was thirty-three-year-old Melkamu Jember, who finished with a time of 2:35:39, and the winner of the women’s race was Noah Berkman, with a time of 2:55:42. Both are Israeli. The mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, said,

I am proud that we broke the all-time record for the number of participants in the marathon and successfully held it, especially during this time. I am even more proud that it took place as a tribute and solidarity with the IDF and the security and rescue forces, thanks to the thousands of IDF soldiers in the reserves and regular service and to the runners from the security and rescue forces who came to participate in the country’s largest sports event in the capital of Israel.

Please pray for continued security and peace in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post . . .

Meron Disaster Commission Holds Leaders Accountable

Reuven Rivlin lights 45 Yahrzeit candles in memory of the victims of the disaster on Mount Meron, April 2021 (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Mark Neyman)

In 2021, a deadly crowd crush claimed the lives of forty-five Orthodox men and boys who came to Meron in northern Israel on a pilgrimage to the grave of a famous rabbi, Shimon Bar Yochai. During Lag b’Omer, the thirty-third day between Passover and Pentecost (Shavuot), thousands of people gather at this site. The official Mount Meron Disaster Commission reported Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli police commanders, and local officials hold personal responsibility for the disaster.

The findings reported how “negligence, lack of preparation, absent governance, no enforcement of construction law, and conflict over responsibilities, authority, and land ownership by politicians, civil servants, and law enforcement led to dangerous overcrowding and hazardous and illegal facility conditions.” Many police officers have since resigned. The commission recommends others be fired. This report also said the prime minister had failed in his leadership over disputes between ministries and government entities, resulting in the disaster.

Please pray for the families who are still mourning the tragic deaths of their loved ones.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post . . .

Chosen People Ministries Reaches Out to Israelis 160 Days Later

This week will mark 160 days since the brutal October 7 massacre by Hamas, with Israelis of all ages and backgrounds still haunted by flashbacks, grief, and fear. In the middle of all this trauma, personal touches through ministry abound! Our forty-plus Chosen People Ministries staff in Israel are more active than ever, ministering to the hurting, needy, hungry, cold, displaced, searching, disillusioned, and anxious—by the grace and in the name of our dear Immanuel.

We echo what another Jewish missionary once wrote: “Circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).

Ministry to Young Adults

Our young adults’ group, which, before the war, enjoyed playing games as soon as the Bible study ended, now prefers delving into deep, thoughtful, and open conversations. We enjoy having profound discussions regularly. There is so much hunger to know more—and even people who do not normally ask questions or talk are interacting and responsive.

Recently, a young man asked a series of serious questions, reflecting vulnerability. The spiritual high he experienced earlier as a believer, during which he sensed God’s peace and had multiple opportunities to proclaim the gospel, had since worn off and been replaced with emotional pain and spiritual struggle. He even began to weep. His openness blessed us and led others to do the same and mutually minister to each other as we considered Paul’s exhortation to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

A believing girl came to a worship night at our Tel Aviv Messianic Center. She suffered from an accident, which disrupted her stomach, affected her mentally, and led her to ask God many questions. Before the worship night started, one of our staff saw her face and knew she was not in good condition, so she stepped up to ask how the young lady was doing and to pray for her. After the worship night, the girl approached the staff member. Her whole disposition had changed. Her eyes were sparkling as she said, “This time with God and the praise” was exactly what she needed!

Ministry in Northern Israel

Our congregation, Or HaGalil (Light of Galilee) in the north, comprises a beautiful mix of Arab, Jewish, and other believers. An emotional and heartfelt discussion took place last Saturday during our prayer and fellowship time after one of the newer Jewish believers brought up a Scripture burden she has. This highly skilled medical doctor, loving wife, and mother of two adult children was convicted by Yeshua’s call to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43). The people of northern Israel have been hit hard by five months of constant fighting and rocket barrages from Hezbollah, and there is much insecurity about the future. This congregation discussed how to love an enemy at war against us who wants to kill us and obliterate our country. What does it mean practically and spiritually? How can we live out Jesus’ call?

Speaking of “love your enemies,” Israeli soldiers have asked the co-pastor of Or HaGalil to tell his testimony as a Lebanese Christian in Israel ministering with Jewish Messianic believers! He also continues to distribute basic supplies to hundreds of Israeli soldiers stationed in Upper Galilee along the Lebanese border, always making a point to pray for them and explain we are believers in Yeshua (Jesus). From thermal underwear to watches, apples, bags, first-aid, occasional home-cooked meals, and more, the supplies are a simple way of showing the soldiers we care for and appreciate them.

A Special Token of Gratitude

One unit was so grateful they decided to award a certificate of appreciation to Or Hagalil Congregation. This unexpected and unprecedented recognition of a Messianic congregation for helping soldiers in a special way is indeed a high honor. All the glory goes to the Lord!

We, the commanders and soldiers of the 7056th Battalion of the Northern Command, want to thank you personally and from the bottom of our hearts for your contribution to the battalion’s activities during the “Iron Swords” war.

It warms the heart to see how people like you take care of the soldiers with dedication, and take care of all the needs of the battalion, the soldiers, and more.

Thanks to people like you, we will win!

With great respect and appreciation,

7056th Battalion

The Eagle Brigade

Pray God will continue to work through our staff in Israel to help Israelis in need and proclaim the gospel.