Update on Israel at the Olympics
Israel is off to a great start at the Olympics.
- The team has already won their first medal ever—a bronze medal—in taekwondo, a sport that is not common in Israel. At nineteen years of age, the winner, Avishag Semberg, is the youngest Israeli ever to win an Olympic medal.
- In a rare moment of sportsmanship between two generally hostile nations, the Israeli coach of the Czech basketball team shook hands with his rival—the coach of the Iranian basketball team.
- In contrast, an Algerian Judo contestant refused to compete when he found out his opponent would be Israeli. The International Judo Federation has suspended him, and both he and his coach were asked to leave the Olympics.
- For years, the families of the eleven Israeli athletes who were murdered by eight Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics in 1972 have petitioned the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence in their honor. Their request was finally honored this year at the opening ceremonies in Tokyo.
Pray for the safety, well-being, and good sportsmanship of all Olympic athletes.
Israel’s First Direct Flight to Morocco
When Israel signed the Abraham Accords last summer, it normalized relations with four Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. These unprecedented ties have unlocked new opportunities for trade, advancement in science and technology, and growth in tourism. This past Sunday, Israel opened its first direct plane route to Morocco, where Israeli passengers were met with mint tea, dates, and cakes to celebrate their arrival.
Until now, travelers from Israel to Morocco—some of whom were born in the North African state—had to fly through a third country to arrive at their destination. Now, El Al, Israel’s national airline plans five weekly trips to Marrakesh and Casablanca. Morocco has a rich Jewish history and is home to North Africa’s largest Jewish community, which numbers around 3,000. An estimated 700,000 Israelis are of Moroccan origin. This opening of direct flights between Israel and Morocco marks a milestone of improved relations between the two countries.
Please pray for continued open doors and friendship between Israel and Morocco.
Israel Grapples with Spike in Coronavirus Cases
As Israel battles a spike in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Bennett is imploring the remaining million unvaccinated Israelis to get their vaccination. The health professionals say that doing so will minimize the seriousness of the Delta variant and slow the rapid increase in the number of positive cases. Israel had seen its new coronavirus cases decrease to a dozen per day nationwide, but with summer travel and the emergence of the Delta variant, combined with the many who remain unvaccinated, Israel is seeing a massive resurgence.
For the first time since March, hospitals have more than one hundred coronavirus patients in serious condition, and the country’s current positivity rate is 1.8 percent. Israeli researchers have found that at-risk groups who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are less likely to develop serious symptoms compared to their unvaccinated counterparts. This data is based on a study among people over the age of forty with pre-existing health conditions. Israel is trying to stop the spike in cases before schools open and the Jewish high holidays arrive in September.
Please pray for Israel’s leaders and health practitioners as they make decisions regarding the virus. Pray also for people who are fighting against infection.
Plans for the Jewish High Holidays
The Jewish New Year falls very early this year, September 6–8, followed by the Day of Atonement on the 15–16 and then the Feast of Tabernacles September 20–27. It is not usual for all of the holidays to fall in September, which can be disruptive to work and school life—there are only nine school days scheduled for the month! Nevertheless, we rejoice and are glad to celebrate! The Jewish calendar runs on a lunar system, and the dates of holidays change every year when compared to the Gregorian calendar.
Typically, we have very festive gatherings for people attending our Bible studies, our Holocaust survivor friends scattered in different cities, and those involved in our ministry centers. However, with the spike in coronavirus cases and our concern for others, we are praying and seeking the Lord’s will for what we should do. At the least, we will be in touch with all of those in our circles, praying for and wishing them happy holidays. We also hope to send gift baskets to our Holocaust survivor friends and maybe make visits or see them in small groups. The fall festivals are a wonderful time of the year, and we hope that one day you can join us as well! Thank you for your prayers!
Please pray for our staff as we discuss our events and plans for the high holidays.