Humanitarian aid goes blue and white
It is a privilege to give. Once we experience the joy of giving, a desire springs inside of us to see even children learn and understand how much richer we become when we share what we possess.
For decades many Jews and Christians around the world felt prompted in their hearts to give towards Israel – first to help it grow as a nation making the desert bloom, then also to support those who arrived in the land with not much more than the clothes on their back.
As the young nation was getting re-established in their ancient land, the harsh conditions could have made it what one might call “survival of the fittest”. However, that did not happen.
How was it averted, you may ask? In major part, it was thanks to the camaraderie and generosity of the people – of Israel supporters both in the land and abroad.
Although a lot has changed since the humble beginnings of independent Israel, these great values survived and continue to bear fruit.
Jews and Christians alike continue to give towards worthy projects in Israel that care for those in need.
One organization that plays an important role in this inter-sectorial supply-chain is called the Joseph Project.
This nonprofit humanitarian aid corporation is dedicated to the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel through providing a channel for Jewish and Gentile believers worldwide to demonstrate mercy and love to the people of Israel via humanitarian aid.
The Joseph Project imports a wide variety of practical aid into Israel from charities worldwide and distributes these items to needy families, rehab centers, hospitals, schools and more.
Their excellent operating system proved to be successful. Since the year 2000 the Joseph Project has delivered over $100 million worth of humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of needy Jews and Arabs.
In their dedication to grow and expand, this year the organization took on a new challenge: to cultivate generosity also in their own “backyard”.
Aware of the surplus of goods at successful Israeli companies, the Joseph Project developed a vision for a civil sustainability project where local business owners can support the needy in Israel.
This new initiative, called the Blue and White Project, focuses on receiving donations and contributions from businesses within Israel to pass forward. The goods collected from Israeli manufacturers are distributed among the disadvantaged in the land. The Joseph Project ensures that the supply chain runs smoothly, and by collaborating with the Ministry of Welfare they guarantee that the support reaches the appropriate households.
Through their incredible humanitarian work, the Joseph Project is giving believers worldwide a chance to come together and share the wealth. This opportunity is now extended to Israeli businesses, so together we can demonstrate God’s love to His people.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
Estera Wieja, born and raised in Poland, moved to Israel in 2010. She is a journalist and in 2018 joined the staff of Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) in Jerusalem.
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Israeli believers choose unique way of giving from the heart
About twice a year, believers in Haifa get together at Beit Eliyahu Messianic congregation to give blood.
It may sound like a strange reason to gather, but this has become a semi-annual outing for some families that make it a point to attend the blood drive. The event is often paired with either a handmade crafts sale at the seniors’ home nearby or the sale of secondhand clothes to support a ministry that works with women freed from prostitution.
Those who donate blood during these drives are mostly believers from the Haifa area, but not just from Beit Eliyahu.
For over a decade now, every six months or so or during times of conflict, Beit Eliyahu gets a call from Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency service. They then begin spreading the news verbally and electronically sending an announcement to other local congregations, creating a Facebook event and posting a notice on their website.
Since 2005, the congregation has organized blood drives for anyone who is interested to give approximately a half liter of blood to a stranger somewhere in dire need. At the most recent drive 40 people donated, with the average number of donations standing at 37 and the record at 52.
The idea first came to Heidi Litle when she was volunteering as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with MDA from 2004 to 2006.
“It was an easy connection,” she told Kehila News. “The Blood Bank is always looking for places to hold drives closer to where people are and in communities that are varied, so that it’s ‘easy’ to give and they can reach people that might not otherwise give blood. They are almost always in need of more units.”
And so, Beit Eliyahu became a logical place to hold regular blood drives due to its location in downtown Haifa, a densely populated neighborhood of one of Israel’s most intercultural cities. Other believers have since also started volunteering with MDA and see this as a great way to be a light in the community.
In preparation for a blood drive, the main hall is cleared of its rows of chairs and in their stead are erected tables for donors to fill out declaration forms; a station with hot beverages, water, juice and cookies to make sure everyone is well-hydrated and well-sugared before and after donating; a nook for one of the crew to review declaration forms and screen donors for adequate blood pressure and hemoglobin; and of course four to six comfy beds on which one lies during the procedure.
Since it takes about 15 minutes for the blood receptacle to fill up, many of those who come to donate use the opportunity to connect with the Blood Bank crew. They are not only giving of themselves physically to someone who might need the blood (victims of terrorism or life-threatening accidents, cancer patients and others), but they also share with the MDA workers about why they give and what Beit Eliyahu is about, opening the door for potentially deeper conversations about our faith.
According to Litle, the Blood Bank crew has come to enjoy these drives so much that they compete about who will get the shift.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.
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Career course being offered for Israeli believers next month
While Israel’s economic situation is already challenging with comparatively lower salaries and higher taxes and costs of living than many other nations, believers here can find themselves in an even worse situation than the average Israeli.
Arik Pelled, manager of E.L.Y. Israel’s Families department, said that many believers have a tougher time finding good jobs or getting out of a rut of low-paying jobs.
“We have more new immigrants — Ethiopians, Russians — and also people who are confused that God called them to ministry, but they aren’t making money in that and yet they have a family to support,” Pelled told KNI.
E.L.Y. is offering a course in response to this dilemma in order to provide tools to believers to help them refine their careers and be successful in the marketplace. This is the second time the organization has offered this course, called Strong and Courageous. After the first course several participants launched new careers, pursued more training or found scholarships or government assistance to do so.
Pelled said the course fills a “major need” and is designed for people who don’t know what type of work suits them, find themselves at a crossroad in their career or simply are looking for a change.
With Pelled, Naamah Smith, project manager of E.L.Y. Families, and personal coach Hannah Shiloh, participants will explore questions about their own identity, gifts and strengths.
During and after the course E.L.Y. will guide the participants through their next steps, whether finding academic or professional training, business coaching, networking or even finding whether they are eligible for help from the government.
“In this course, we will learn how to turn confusion into clarity and challenge into a positive opportunity,” the course advertises.
“That’s why we opened the course last year,” Pelled said. “To help people get to know themselves better, to know whether their career choice is realistic and to give them tools to enter the cycle of professional work. Basically to strengthen and lift them up, build their confidence.”
One of E.L.Y.’s missions is to help believers build strong families personally and financially. Pelled said believers need to take responsibility for their financial situation.
“Many times believers say, ‘God will help us.’ So they don’t make a plan,” Pelled said. “But God loves order and He is always looking toward the future. We also need to be doing that.”
Smith said the course is very individualized and takes many factors into consideration as they advise each course participant how to build a plan for their lives.
“We get to know the participants through personal meetings, we try to understand what to do with their specific situation, we look for professional connections for them or get help that is due to them through the government,” she explained. “We take a holistic approach to each person.”
The four-week course costs 200 shekels. It will take place at Beit Sar Shalom in Ramat Gan every Tuesday in February from 6 to 9 p.m. To register for the course, contact Naamah Smith at 972.53.623.3281 or email@example.com.
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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One in Messiah – Joint gathering of believers from the region of Judah and beyond
On January 12, we conducted a joint Shabbat service with congregations and believers from around the region of the Tribe of Judah, and beyond. The gathering was initiated by Tom Hess, with our congregation, Nachalat Yeshua, handling most of the logistics and equipment needed, acting as hosts, so to speak. As some of you may know, the borders of Israel in the Bible do not extend to Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat, for example, if we accept the prescribed borders described by the LORD to the prophet Ezekiel in ch. 47 (at least, as I understand them now). But we did have believers come up for the service as far as Eilat in the south, from Arad in the east, from Sderot, Ashkelon, and Ashdod in the west, and from Bethlehem in the north!
Yes, we had four Arab brothers join us, being that Bethlehem is part of Judah. Two of the brothers were from Gaza, but moved to Bethlehem some years ago as Hamas took more control in Gaza. Another of the brothers told me that his father used to live in Beer Sheva, and went to a Sonday school operated by the Christian and Missionary Alliance back in the ’50s and early ’60s. I took him to where Yeshua’s Inheritance Cong meets today, which is where the school operated from in those early years. Jewish children were not allowed to go to the school, because the religious authorities forbade the parents from sending them there. Understandable, if regrettable. About 400 gathered together from around the region. Obviously there are more than 400 believers in the area, but not all came, and not all congregations participated. But for those who did, it was a time of encouragement, and for looking ahead to the breakthroughs that the Lord will yet do in our cities and region towards the salvation of many more souls through repentance and faith in the gospel “today”, and towards the salvation of ‘all Israel’ at the end of the age.
Please pray with us for spiritual breakthroughs, including the State of Israel allowing more Jewish believers to immigrate to Israel, and for Jews from Spain who may be descendants of Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the time of the Inquisition, and find it difficult to immigrate now that they discover that they are also Jewish.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Haifa Messianic congregation wins appeal against city decision to tax
A Messianic congregation has won its appeal against the Haifa municipality which wanted to charge property taxes on the portion of the congregational building used for childcare during services.
The precedent-setting case was argued in the District Court of Haifa after Bethesda Messianic Assembly appealed the municipality’s decision to levy the property taxes, a decision was confirmed by the internal appeals board of the City.
While the city called it a daycare or nursery, the service provided by the congregation is an adjunct to the adult service and takes place at the same time.
The municipality considered it a business, but the District Court ruled in the congregation’s favor that the nursery was an inseparable part of the primary purpose at Bethesda — prayer.
“The Court emphasized that the nursery was active only during the time of prayer and that the care of the infants was handled by volunteers from the congregation, and not by someone who was paid to do so,” attorney Marvin Kramer told KNI. “It held that there was a real connection between the congregation and the nursery, which exempted having to pay arnona (municipal property tax) for that part of the property.”
The congregation gathers regularly on Wednesday and Saturday and uses a community hall upstairs for the main service, while the basement, with a separate entrance, serves as a space for childcare. Despite the separate entrances, the court did not see that as an obstacle to the tax exemption.
A municipal inspector visited the site in 2015 and reported the use of the basement, leading the city to levy property taxes. The congregation objected and appealed arguing that the basement is only used concurrently with services and should not be independently considered. The internal appeals board confirmed the decision of the City, but its decision was overturned by the District Court.
The city attempted to appeal the District Court ruling to the Supreme Court of Israel, but the high court rejected the city’s request last month.
Kramer said the ruling can be used as a precedent for other congregations.
“The judgement of the District Court in favor of Bethesda can be used as a precedent for arguing that a practical interpretation of the law, in the face of existing facts and justifiable circumstances of activities that are supportive of the primary exempt purpose, should allow for similar results for other congregations,” he said.
Haifa District Court Judge Bracha Bar-Ziv agreed with the house of prayer.
“There is no dispute that this is not business activity in all parts of the property,” Bar-Ziv said in her October ruling. “There is no dispute that the main part of the property is used for prayer or religious studies.”
“Considering the nature of the activity, its scope and its dates, I believe that the place should be considered a ‘nursery’ whose activity is not in itself but an integral part of the main activity — prayer,” Bar-Ziv said. “It operates only during the hours when there is prayer, the protection of the children is not carried out by a kindergarten teacher but by a member of the community and girls who help her, and the number of children is very limited.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.