In memory of Esther Moore: All shall be well
Esther Moore, born in Belgium, daughter of Rick and Patricia Ridings, sister of Bethany Tal Rosenfeld and Anna Boyd, passed away in July leaving behind her husband Will Moore and their young son Calev.
During her 29 years of life on earth, Esther was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, musician, writer, blogger, photographer and so much more. Her life was celebrated during a memorial service at Succat Hallel earlier this week with nearly 200 people in attendance and thousands more around the world tuning into a live stream.
The Ridings family moved to Jerusalem in 2000 and they have been part of the Messianic community since. Rick and Patricia pioneered a house of prayer in Jerusalem — Succat Hallel, a 24/7 prayer room in Abu Tor that overlooks the Temple Mount and Mount of Olives.
Growing up in Jerusalem, Esther was a passionate worshipper and intercessor. Her childhood friend, Adiel Abramson, shared a story about their time growing up when they attended a camp called Soldout in 2002.
“Esther and two other girls were standing at the wall and interceding very loudly, praying for people’s salvation. I was on the side going through something else. Esther saw me, stopped and sat down and gave me a huge ‘Esther hug.’ You know what I mean if you have been hugged by her. I shared with her what I was going through,” Adiel related. “I had the most profound encounter with the Holy Spirit that night because Esther pulled me and prayed for me. She’s so compassionate. She was not judgmental. She received everyone with so much love.”
Esther’s first concert was at the Rosenfeld’s courtyard in downtown Jerusalem. Adam Rosenfeld, Esther’s brother in law, reminisced, “The audience was mesmerized. You could hear a pin drop.”
To the community in Jerusalem, Esther was not just a faithful and faith-filled sister, she was a free spirit filled with vision and life. She has left a trail and mark by her hugs, love and the beautiful songs she wrote, some of which are available online.
In 2010, Esther married Will Moore and moved to Bath in England. In 2014, their son Caleb, a lovely boy who has Down Syndrome, was born. Esther championed her son and promoted him every chance she could.
In January 2016, Esther was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive and fast-growing type of cancer.
During a memorial service in Jerusalem on Aug. 26 at Succat Hallel, Bethany commented on her sister’s response to the news of cancer.
“When she found out she had cancer at the age 25, yeah she yelled and screamed hitting her car. She let out all the emotions she felt to God. She nearly broke the dashboard. She was really real with the Lord. But she did not let herself stay in a place of self-pity. or bitterness. She chose gratitude,” Bethany said.
Over the course of 2016 and 2017, Esther underwent two surgeries — one that took out all the lymph nodes in her left arm and another when they found a second lump under her arm a few months later.
“When I was first told the diagnosis, I couldn’t even say the ‘C’ word without feeling emotionally overwhelmed and completely inadequate to deal with everything that comes with it. Yet now, when I look back over this and the many hard times we’ve had before, I don’t wish that these times had never happened. I feel the bittersweetness that I can imagine a wind-torn and half frozen mountain climber feels after conquering Everest. I look back over my life and, from this viewpoint, can see how every hard thing we’ve gone through have been little mountains that we’ve had to conquer as practice for this, our Everest. I see now that out of every single time of hardship we went through, including this sheer cliff of a challenge of getting through cancer, that unbelievably – good has come out of it. Every time.” — from Esther’s blog post on Oct. 16, 2016
When Esther found a third lump — the third time the cancer had recurred within 9 months — the doctors said there was nothing they could offer that would be curative, only palliative. Though the news was devastating, Esther and Will braved yet another wave and decided to move from the U.K. to Jerusalem, where Esther grew up and where her family lives.
Since fall 2017, Esther lived in Jerusalem and her family thanked God that they got to see her every day during her eight months in Jerusalem.
“I really learned to hold time with Esther,” said Bethany. “All we have to take into eternity is our heart, what God forms in our heart. This time on earth is like we are in a womb. It is dark and we cannot see God. We can hear His voice and heartbeat. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Even though Esther was my younger sister, she was my hero. She showed me what was 1 Corinthians 13:13 was, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’”
In April 2018, Esther fought her last battle against cancer with immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a treatment that supercharges the immune system to fight against the cancer. After six weeks of immunotherapy in an alternative treatment center near San Diego, Esther contracted sepsis and entered into a coma multiple times. (Click here to read more of the details of Esther’s treatments and to help with the remaining medical bills.)
During her last waking hours, she spoke her last words: “Hodu l’Adonai ki tov” (Give thanks to the Lord for He is good).
Esther breathed her last and stepped into eternity.
Will Moore, Esther’s husband, saw a beautiful vision during her last moments.
“It was the clearest vision I have ever seen. It was like I was back at our wedding waiting for Esther under the hupa. I saw her dancing down the aisle to me again. As I stood there I saw my tuxedo change and I knew it was not me standing under the hupa. It was Yeshua. All the emotion I had when I stood under the hupa came back. The excitement of seeing how happy she was dancing down the aisle and how in love and absolutely captivated by her beauty I was. It was the happiest moment of my life. I knew in a moment Yeshua was seeing His bride come, and he felt all those feelings ever more now as she danced towards Him. He is her true husband, and I know how joyful she is now.”
Will said his friends chided him for getting married so early, at age 21. But as he looked back he said it was the best decision he ever made since his time together with Esther would be so short.
Esther’s love continues to inspires. She loved and followed Yeshua with all her heart. God’s love for us is not dependent on our response. And Esther’s love for God was not dependent on God healing her.
“It was not about her getting her dreams and future and her calling here on earth,” Bethany said. “She loved God. Period. Without conditions. I hope I can be like that. She really finished her race well.”
As Rick Ridings, Esther’s father, remarked at the memorial service, “We don’t pretend that we know everything. It is better to know God than to know why. We can say with all of our heart that Esther knew God, even when she didn’t know why.”
Esther’s body might have been broken in the battle, but her spirit was strong. She lived 29 years of life to the fullest.
She has left a legacy on believers in Jerusalem and worldwide.
Click below to view Esther’s song: “Height of the Storm”
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Memorial for Esther Moore: Touching eternity on a Jerusalem rooftop
On a roof top overlooking the city that will receive Yeshua, under a moonlit Jerusalem sky, cooled by a strong summer breeze, a bereaved family gave whole-hearted praise to God. Through their tears, the Ridings-Moore-Rosenthal-Boyd family declared “Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov, Ki L’Olam Chasdo – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy is everlasting.”
These words, “Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov – הודו לאדוני כי טוב” were the last words spoken by their 29 year old daughter/wife/sister, Esther. She repeated them to each member of the family at her bedside, even as she was departing to be with her Lord. Over and over, at the memorial held in her honor on August 26, 2018, her family and close friends spoke of the courage, faith, and love shown by Esther in her two and a half year battle with cancer.
What left me unable to hold back tears was the unreserved way this remarkable family lifted their voices to give glory to the Creator/Redeemer/Healer to whom they had doggedly appealed for the rescue of their precious Esther. This was a young woman in the prime of life—a composer/singer of stirring songs, speaking directly of the dark storms of life that threaten to block out the light that yet will shine. Despite their crushing loss—three generations stood on that summer eve lifting their voices and their hands before the Most High, affirming “You’ll never let me down, never let me down. NO, you’ll never let me down.”
I thought to myself, these people are the real thing. Here they are, not pretending to understand why or how their exceedingly lovely young daughter/wife/sister has ended her earthly journey. Nor are they withholding their unspeakable sorrow. Yet they are giving tribute to Messiah Yeshua, whose coming kingdom they are so dedicated to hasten. Not incidentally, the Ridings’ have made this an around the clock pursuit by establishing Succat Hallel (Tabernacle of Praise) in Jerusalem in 1999. It has grown to be a 24/7 center of worship and intercession, with participants drawn from both Israel and the nations.
One could only be moved by the God-glorifying response of Esther’s husband, Will, her sisters, Bethany and Anna, her parents, Rick and Patricia, and all the nieces and nephews (who also sang and spoke movingly). Yet It was also the recounting of who Esther was (we should say “is”) and how she responded to the excruciating trial of watching her body being eaten away. “Esther was a free spirit, always wanting to be out doing things,” reflected Bethany (her big sister by 11 years). “It was so hard to see her hooked up to all those tubes in intensive care for so long. But even there, she still shone with the love of God and the joy of life. She didn’t hide her reaction of anger and grief to the initial shocking news of cancer, or of having a Downs Syndrome baby (Esther left behind her prized four year old son, Calev). She was neither bitter toward God, nor did she stay in self-pity.”
Bethany’s conclusion summed up the message of Esther’s life and of the entire evening. “All we have to take into eternity is our heart. This world is like a womb that we temporarily reside in. We can only hear God’s heartbeat—just as the child within his mother hears and feels her heartbeat.” What a thought—that our current stage is preparing us for a far more brilliant and lasting reality! Big sister continued, carried by a wave of lasting wonder. “Esther is my hero. She showed me, more than anything, LOVE—true love, unconditional love. Esther’s love for God wasn’t dependent on her healing or fulfilled dreams. I just hope I can be like that.”
Then she poured out her heart before us in a song she wrote shortly after Esther’s passing. What gripped me was that, again, it was a cry out of the raging storm of grief and love. “From the womb of time, soon we’ll see clearly.”
Esther’s second sister, Anna, was no less eloquent, no less passionate in describing Esther, no less compelling as she added “This world in its broken state is not what God intends. We have a choice—to dwell on questions or to catch the wind and rise on the winds of praise.” Her song—one of startling, tender witness to Esther’s legacy—spoke of penetrating the earthly, worldly measures of what’s important to get to the ultimate reality of Messiah’s reign.
I am undone by this family. All three girls (including Esther, who sang to us through a gritty, gutsy black and white video “Height of the Storm” are writers of deep songs of devotion, sung hauntingly with humility and whole-hearted authenticity.
This was an evening when we touched eternity. We experienced the gracious presence of God on that rooftop overlooking the city of the King. We felt, together with Esther’s family, the incredible worth of one person who lives life to the full. We wept and we sang. And we listened in amazement, to a true tale of suffering and loss—met with unshaken trust in the goodness of God.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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Israeli Immigration Appeals Court rules foreign tour leaders are not missionaries
The Ministry of Interior refused to allow the entry into Israel of a Christian married couple who have served as tour leaders, bringing thousands of tourists to Israel in the past decades. A successful appeal to the Jerusalem Immigration Appeals Court overturned the decision.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson (their names have been changed for the purposes of this article) are South African tour leaders who have been guiding pilgrimages in Israel for the last 20 years. Obviously, pilgrim groups coming to the Holy Land are an important source of income for the Israeli economy and help improve Israel’s reputation abroad, especially if the group leaders are friends of Israel. Half of all tourists entering Israel are pilgrims who are here to visit historical holy sites.
The Ministry of Interior is aware of the importance of tourism and used to make concessions to make the life of travel agents and tour leaders coming into Israel easier. In the past, Ministry of Interior policy permitted foreign tour leaders to operate in Israel with a tourist visa, as long as the tour group is accompanied by a certified Israeli tour guide.
Refusal of entry into Israel
The Johnsons have worked with Israeli tourism companies for decades. They accompanied hundreds of groups over this period and even rented an apartment in Jerusalem so that they would have a place to stay while guiding pilgrims. In 2015, suddenly and with no prior warning, they were both denied entry into Israel, each under a different pretext.
Border control officials argued that Mr. Johnson, in whose name the Jerusalem apartment was rented, meant to illegally settle in Israel. Mrs. Johnson, on the other hand, was refused entry on the grounds that her work as a tour guide was not properly certified. The couple made an internal appeal to the Population and Migration Authority at the Ministry of Interior, which decided to approve the renewal of their tourist visa, with the right to repeatedly re-enter Israel.
Information about alleged missionary activity
In early 2017, Yad L’Achim (a Jewish orthodox organization dedicated to maintaining religious and racial purity in Israel) sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior claiming that the Johnsons were engaged in missionary activity. Therefore, the Johnsons were summoned to an interview at the Ministry of Interior office. As a result, their request to extend their visa was refused. The internal appeal they filed was rejected, and they were ordered to leave Israel.
Thus, the couple – supporters of Israel whose livelihood depends on having permission to enter the Holy Land – had no choice but to turn to a law firm specializing in appealing Ministry of Interior decisions. Advocate Michael Decker submitted their appeal to the Appeals Court.
The parties’ arguments to the Immigration Appeals Court
Lawyers’ representatives of the Ministry of Interior claimed:
That the Yad L’Achim organization provided information claiming that the appellants were missionaries and that missionary activity is a criminal offense in Israel. According to the claim, the appellants were involved in converting Jews to Christianity.
Moreover, the Ministry of Interior’s own sources claimed that the appellants’ center of life is in Israel, since they have been here for extended periods of time. Thus, the Johnsons either intended to illegally settle in Israel or have already de-facto settled here.
Representatives of the Ministry of Interior found it difficult to present actual proof of missionary activity. Therefore, they presented the secondary claim regarding the couple’s center of life and suggested a possible compromise; the Johnson’s tourist visa could be extended for six months, subject to depositing a bank guarantee. After the visa expired, the couple would have to apply for a work permit in Israel.
Advocate Decker, for the appellants, claimed:
The accusation of missionary activity was based on information from a rival tour guide and was, in fact, a false allegation submitted to Yad L’Achim in order to harm the livelihood of the petitioners.
Moreover, the Ministry of Interior had no proof that the couple engaged in missionary activity. Furthermore, there could be no proof – the couple focused their activities on work with Christian pilgrims; as such, they never guided groups of Jews. Thus, any preaching of Christian doctrine was aimed at Christian tourists. If a person really wants to engage in missionary activity in Israel (converting Jews to Christianity), then guiding pilgrims is the least effective course of action.
Also, since other tour leaders are not required to obtain a work permit, there is no reason the Johnsons would require one. This request was a backup “condolence prize” for the Ministry of Interior after their main accusation could not be proven.
Lastly, the Johnsons are South African citizens. They and their family members all reside in South Africa, and their wages come from foreign pilgrims, so their center of life is not in Israel by any definition. Therefore, there is no reason to require a work permit that is not required of other tour leaders. The position of the Ministry of Interior is unfounded, and it needlessly harms both the appellants and the Israeli tourists, since the appellants will not be able to guide pilgrims who have already arrived in Israel.
Immigration Appeals Court verdict: There is no basis for the Ministry of Interior’s claims
Judge Menachem Pashititzky went straight to the heart of the matter when he asked whether the Ministry of Interior had proof that even a single Jew had converted to Christianity because of the appellants’ activity. In addition, the judge emphasized to the legal representatives of the Ministry of Interior that in any case, missionary activity is not in itself forbidden in Israel. The law in Israel only prohibits granting favors or money to entice a person to convert and/or persuade minors to convert. Since the respondent did not have evidence of any conversions (due to the appellants concentrating on work with Christians), the Ministry of Interior’s entire line of reasoning is baseless. The conclusion is that the Ministry of Interior rushed to conclusions that harmed the appellants on the basis of entirely invented, false claims.
Furthermore, his Honor agreed that the appellants’ center of life is in South Africa, and that they have no intention of settling in Israel. Beyond the arguments’ above, the allegation was disproven by common sense, the decades during which the appellants lived in South Africa and guided groups to Israel without settling here. In this context, the judge also noted that he did not understand the reasons for the change in the Ministry’s long-standing policy regarding the requirement for a work visa.
In conclusion, the judge ruled in favor of the appellants, since the respondent’s decision was deemed unreasonable and disproportionate. The couple will receive a tourist visa by the end of 2018, subject to a bank deposit of NIS 30,000 in order to ensure they do not illegally settle in Israel. They will need to apply for a work visa to continue working in 2019 and declare that they will not perform any illegal missionary activity during their stay in Israel.
Joshua Pex is a partner at the law firm Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh, which represented the appellants in this matter.
Advocate Joshua Pex is a partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm in Jerusalem. He specializes in immigration to Israel.
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‘My Face Toward the Lord:’ New Messianic album released
Almost one year since Panai el-Adonai (My Face Toward the Lord), hosted by Yuval Messianic School of Music and Arts and the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries, an album of the same name is being released with all the songs from the special concert which drew believers together from around the nation.
There is no better time than now, right before the High Holidays, to remember this blessed evening and the meaningful songs for the people of Israel.
The concert was perfectly timed. In the spirit of Yom Kippur, believers from all over Israel and the world came together with songs of praise and prayer to pray for unity among the Body of the Messiah and to inspire unity among all the people of Israel.
The name of the concert was taken from the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel prayed not only for his people but also with his people, for forgiveness and repentance:
“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking Him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession […] ‘We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.’” Daniel 9:3-5
“The whole idea is to awaken our hearts to repentance: to return to Him, to approach Him, to long for Him – especially now, before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and after Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year); to prepare our hearts for this time, together with the people of Israel and to join us to the current mood of the nation,” Yaron, one of the concert’s musicians, told KNI.
Panai el-Adonai was different from previous concerts. It presented the Messianic faith and believers as inseparable from the Jewish people and showed how the Messianic community thoroughly identifies with Israel’s seasons and culture.
Many of the children, teens, soldiers, men and women in the audience felt that at the concert they prepared their hearts for introspection before God. They were encouraged that God is eternal and His forgiveness and grace are unconditional and limitless. He is always at work.
It is meaningful to be able to approach God on such important days – when all the people of Israel are in prayer and supplication before the Lord – in unity and love.
Musicians led worship singing touching and moving lyrics from Jewish holy and literary sources along with original Messianic hymns based on biblical verses. The fact that believers can sing Jewish songs of supplication together is not to be taken for granted and we thank God for it.
This season as we approach Elul, the Jewish month of repentance and introspection, we invite you to purchase the recording for yourself and your loved ones and to listen to the music. We hope and pray that through these songs many will recognize God’s forgiveness and experience His heart.
To purchase the digital album: yuvalarts.org/worship
Yuval – Worship Center of Music and the Arts is a center that trains, equips and guides artistic expression, creativity and musicality to bring honor to the Lord. Yuval also takes part in producing national Messianic music festivals and concerts in partnership with other Israeli Messianic organizations.
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Seaborne solidarity mission sets sail for Israel’s shores
A highly unusual voyage has just been launched in Scandinavia’s far north. On Saturday August 25, 2018, a remarkable sea voyage with Israel as its final destination set sail from Gothenburg, Sweden.
The ship bears a unique name and inscription that match its unusual mission. The sleek sailing vessel is the Elida V, which means “fast-sailing ship” in old Norse. Like its Viking forbearers, the ship is wind-powered but its crew is moved by a very different spirit. Emblazoned on both its port and starboard sides is the phrase “Sailing for Jesus.” The long cruise from Scandinavia to the Israel’s Mediterranean coast has a two-fold purpose: to show support and love for Israel and to highlight the increasingly desperate plight of Christians in the Middle East.
Activist flotillas and sailing initiatives to breach the blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza enclave from the sea have become somewhat of a sad routine in Israel. Therefore, it is surprising and refreshing that a grassroots sailing-initiative coming out of Sweden, a country not known for overwhelming support of Israel, has a different destination and purpose. Instead of seeking a confrontation with the Israeli navy to cause bad PR for Israel, this mission is intent on recognizing Israel and promoting genuine dialog.
Israel is the natural destination for a ship that wants to show support for the Jewish nation, but if the twin goal is to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East, why Israel? Well, there’s really nowhere else to dock. The Elida’s Captain’s Blog compares Israel’s national values and character to a lighthouse in the night surrounded by dictatorships and regimes that trample on human rights.
The proof of Israel’s unique tolerance? Where else in the Middle East would a ship emblazoned with the phrase “Sailing for Jesus” be officially welcomed by a government ministry?
Visiting Israel during the celebratory 70th year of existence as a genuine democracy with a proven track record of co-existence between different ethnic and religious groups is therefore highly appropriate. Furthermore, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the national Christian population is actually growing. It is sad that activist groups generally take Israel to task when the country battles extremists while protecting its own minorities. This ignores the Muslim-majority nations in the region that actively discriminate and persecute their Christian minorities.
By calling on the Herzliya Marina in Israel, the Elida cruise seeks to highlight and recognize Israel’s unique national achievements and state character while breaking the silence on the plight of Christian communities in the wider Middle East.
The Elida’s Prophetic Calling
Even though the Elida V only just set sail for Israel this weekend, this voyage has long been expected. Ever since the first Elida vessel put to sea in the 1960s, each ship has been painted in a blue-and-white color scheme resembling the blue bars on Israel’s national ensign. Stefan Abrahamson’s father, Lennart, who captained the Elida I, explained to people inquiring of the color scheme that he had received a prophetic message, namely, that one of his future ships would sail to Israel. He believed the prophetic word and therefore painted the ship and every subsequent one in the colors of Israel’s national flag. The Elida V is now underway to fulfill this prophecy.
The Elida’s Political Purpose
Dialog is not easy and depends on your interlocutor, and the Elida’s crew know this. The Elida’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does seek dialog, but its corner stone is a recognition of Israel’s right to exist before everything else. Theirs is not a hapless blue-eyed effort that hard-nosed Middle Easterners should dismiss. Rather it should be recognized as a deliberate endeavor to show support for Israel’s core values while providing a platform for constructive dialog with people who are willing to recognize Israel’s fundamental right to exist.
Further, the Elida’s voyage amounts to more than just a symbolic gesture. It has a well-thought through practical and political dimension. The kick-off event for the voyage occurs at a pivotal time in the Swedish political cycle, as elections are scheduled to be held shortly on September 9, 2018. Elida’s casting-off event itself involved a political happening, where e.g. Swedish parliamentarian Magnus Oscarsson for the Christian Democrats party took part.
Israel literally parts the political waters in Sweden. Many in the electorate are openly dissatisfied with the incumbent government’s line toward Israel. One of the changes that many voters hope to see after election night is a different Swedish stance concerning Israel.
Engage with and Visit the Elida
The Swedish sailing vessel will be arriving at Herzliya Marina around October 12 for a ten-day-long visit in Israel. There is a standing invitation to visit the ship while it is in port, and if you’re lucky you might even be able to go for a short sail. If you wish to support the Elida or even join one of the other legs in the voyage, you can find more information here under the Captain’s Blog.
A special thanks to Leif Danielsson, who provided photos and background materials for this article.