ICEJ Tribute to Rabbi Eckstein
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem mourns the sudden passing of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and pays tribute to this unique pioneer and visionary of closer Jewish-Christian relations. Rabbi Eckstein foresaw, like few other Jewish leaders did, the strategic importance to Israel and the Jewish people of forging ties with the global Evangelical community. The generous aid that he gathered from Christians around the world brought vital assistance and tremendous blessings to countless Israelis. The ICEJ extends our most sincere condolences to the Eckstein family. His daughter, Yael, and the Fellowship he founded can be proud of the great legacy of kindness and caring which he has left in their hands.
This article is a press release by the ICEJ.
Dr. Jürgen Bühler currently serves as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). He is an ordained minister with the German Pentecostal Federation (BFP) and his unique scriptural insights into issues relating to Israel, the Church and the nations have placed him in great demand as a speaker all over the world.
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Interview about Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
Paul Calvert questions Liz Kaufman who is staff veterinarian at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, about their conservation work and education programmes.
Paul: When was the zoo started and why was it started?
Liz: 25 years ago we started construction on this site. The old site was in the middle of Jerusalem, and it was a very small site in what is now a housing project; they still call it the zoo.
We moved to Malha on the outskirts of the city to a 35 acre area, which was blank, all the trees that you see here today were planted and that would have been 25 years ago.
Paul: What is the mission of the zoo?
Liz: The mission of the zoo is conservation, education and entertainment. We want people to have fun and we want them to learn about conservation issues.
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Seminar to raise awareness, give hope to families facing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
When Laura Seton and her husband started encountering behavioral issues with their adopted boys they sought out specialist after specialist in Israel to find a proper diagnosis and support for their specific needs.
Until this summer when they got a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, they had only a series of wrong determinations and no answers on how to help their sons, who are biological brothers. With little treatment available here, the Setons traveled to Chicago in the fall to learn about treatment options there. At that time they became aware of Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a Chicago-based world-renowned researcher in the field of FASD.
The diagnosis and subsequent treatment has changed life for the Setons who were spinning their wheels by only considering developmental and behavioral approaches to dealing with their sons’ challenges.
“My reaction used to be, he’s just being nasty, but that is not the case: It is literally an inability for two parts of his brain to communicate with each other,” Seton explained. “The part that says, ‘you may not hurt someone’ doesn’t speak with the part that is acting out.”
And now thanks to their discovery and this new connection, Chasnoff will be leading a seminar in Israel next week to educate and bring awareness of the issue of FASD— an under-diagnosed and misunderstood challenge that can be common in adopted or fostered children. Israelis from both Messianic and non-Messianic backgrounds have seamlessly worked together to put this seminar together in a short time.
HaTikva Families, which is financially sponsoring the seminar, is working with Sharona Duchne who runs a wide-reaching online portal, Adoptive Wisdom, for any Israeli parents grappling with the challenges of adoption.
Rebecca Rikhi, manager of HaTikva Families, of the Messianic organization HaTikva Project, said the goals of the seminar match the department’s own mission of recruiting, equipping, and then supporting families who adopt or foster children in Israel.
“I did months of research before we launched HaTikva Families and what I saw is that post-adoption support just does not exist,” Rikhi said. “And these children have experienced immense trauma. FASD is something you don’t know before and then all of a sudden your child has behavioral issues and you don’t know how to deal with it. You go to the professionals and they say, oh its ADHD. But you have to approach FASD differently. It is so important that people are aware of that.”
“We have to give them strategies to deal with this challenging behavior,” she said.
Attendees will run the gamut of Israeli society from pediatric medical professionals and social workers to parents. Chasnoff will be teaching on what happens to a fetus whose mother drinks alcohol and how it affects brain development and the child’s behavior and cognitive abilities. He will advise on how to diagnose and treat FASD.
FASD is the package of conditions that can arise in a child if a mother had been drinking alcohol during pregnancy. The effects can range from physical and neurological problems to serious birth defects. Symptoms may look similar to traits of ADHD or autism, but are not treated the same. Chasnoff emphasizes that FASD cannot be considered in isolation as many children likely suffered other traumas and neglect before adoption.
Duchne, a self made expert in the issue of adoption and its unforeseen challenges, is herself an adoptive parent. She found that the country’s professionals lack expertise regarding children who suffered trauma and neglect.
“The FASD children have this too, but more extreme; their brain is underdeveloped,” she noted. “But if you don’t know this and you assume this child can do this and that, you will be frustrated. Only when you understand that his brain functions a different way, you can cope. When you understand the issue, you will receive the right toolbox to deal with it.”
And this is why the seminar is so important, she emphasized.
“No one can tell you the number of FASD children in Israel because most of the children haven’t been diagnosed,” Duchne said. “The general assumption is, maybe 300 were diagnosed with FASD from the adoptive community.”
“The problem now is raising awareness that there are many children with FASD that haven’t been diagnosed with it, but instead maybe with autism or ADHD,” she said.
Duchne just celebrated her 12-year “family holiday” as she calls it. Duchne adopted Osher when he was 6 years old.
“The first two weeks were sweet like honey, then it got sweet and sour, then it got sour,” she recalled.
While her son doesn’t have FASD she found he had other issues such as post-trauma and an inability to regulate his emotions. Duchne did her own research and found resources, most of which were in English, and started translating into Hebrew. She started blogging and eventually expanded into an online portal for adoptive and foster parents in Israel, providing training and tons of information. Her site is appropriately called Adoptive Wisdom.
Some 16,000 Israelis have been adopted since the founding of the state. Adopted children ages 18 and under number 3,300. Some 360,000 children are considered at risk in Israel and many are living in government institutions.
“The research shows it is better to have children in a family, for their development and livelihood,” Rikhi said. “Israel will say we don’t have a crisis because the kids are not on the streets. We say it is a crisis because they are not in families — it is an orphan and vulnerable children crisis.”
So coming alongside this FASD initiative is a way of supporting the families who have taken children into their homes already and HaTikva Families approaches the issue proactively.
“More and more we are learning you can rewire the brain and you can bring healing even though there was trauma in the past,” Rikhi said. “If you really connect to the heart of the child and understand their loss then you can bring healing.”
The diagnosis has changed life for the Setons.
“I would say that one of the main things that has helped us and continues to help us is when you look at your child’s behavior, you’re always interpreting it. And if you understand that he can’t help it, that his brain is damaged, you will react differently than if he’s just acting out,” Seton said. “And when your reaction changes, then his reaction changes.”
Though there is currently no cure, only treatment, Seton sees this as a tool God has given her to lean on Him more.
“No one has come up with a cure, but certainly love and nurture are a big help,” she said. “And God is our great healer and He’s the one we need to be attached to.”
For more information and to register, see this webpage in Hebrew.
FASD: There is Something we can do!
Sunday, Jan. 6, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
The Anglican School in Jerusalem, 82 Prophets Street
The seminar will be given in English with Hebrew translation
Dr. Ira Chasnoff is a professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago and a leading researcher in the field of child development and the effects of maternal alcohol and drug use on newborns and children. He has written “The Mystery of Risk: Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy, and the Vulnerable Child” and produced the documentary, Moment to Moment: Teens Growing Up With FASDs.
N.J. Schiavi has lived in Israel for over 15 years and is a freelance writer for Kehila News Israel.
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Hide and seek: archaeological discoveries of 2018 shed light on the Bible
Just as 2018 was drawing to a close, an unsuspecting woman in Beit She’an, Israel, was taking a stroll after a particularly heavy downpour. Suddenly, she noticed some ancient sculptures (which later turned out to be from the late Roman period) sticking out of the mud, revealed after more than one and a half thousand years by the rain.1
Like a game of hide and seek, it’s almost comedic how often priceless archaeological treasures pop up in this ancient land! And very often they bring a message or insight of some kind.
Here’s a review of some of the most exciting archaeological findings from 2018:
The day after the Prime Minister of Pakistan declared that there is no historical evidence for Jesus,2 archaeologists from Hebrew University revealed that the ring of Pontius Pilate had been discovered near Bethlehem! This timely discovery adds further credence to the already substantial historical and archaeological evidence for Jesus, and what the New Testament has written about him. And what remarkable timing! The ring itself was found some 50 years ago along with many other artifacts, but only now have experts managed to decipher the name on the ring:
“The famous name on it was discerned after a thorough cleansing, when it was photographed with the use of a special camera at the Israel Antiquities Authority labs. The inscription on what was apparently a stamping ring included a picture of a wine vessel surrounded by Greek writing translated as saying “Pilatus.’”3
The name was very rare, the ring belonged to a man of high status who was in the cavalry, and the dating fits. They are confident that it did indeed belong to the Pontius Pilate of the New Testament. Did God orchestrate events to reveal this ring right after that ludicrous statement denying historical evidence for Jesus? We shouldn’t be surprised!
Seals of Hezekiah and Isaiah
Two important seals were discovered this year in Jerusalem, bearing the names of two important men: one was King Hezekiah, and the other was Isaiah. The seal of King Hezekiah was discovered close to Hezekiah’s tunnel in the City of David, and the other was found earlier in the year with what appeared to be the name of Isaiah the Prophet. However, the seal was missing a piece and it is not clear whether it in fact was Isaiah the Prophet or another Isaiah. However, we can say for sure that Isaiah was not only a contemporary of Hezekiah, but according to the Bible, the two men knew each other, met together, and Isaiah gave Hezekiah counsel. The discovery caused people to reflect on Isaiah and his prophecies, with one mainstream news source explaining why Isaiah 53 is seen as a prophecy about Jesus!
Temple tax silver shekel “beka” weight
A weight to measure silver for the temple tax was found this year.4 Exodus 38:25-26 tells us that God required half shekel temple tax due from each member of the community, regardless of whether they were rich or poor: “
The silver from those numbered from the congregation was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the Sanctuary shekel—that is, a beka, or half a shekel per head, according to the shekel of the Sanctuary, for everyone who was recorded, from 20 years old and upward, for 603,550 men.”
The tiny weight (5.5 grams / 0.2 ounces) was inscribed with the Hebrew letters spelling beka and was discovered in archaeological excavations near Robinson’s arch, where the temple once stood. This silver half shekel tax is significant for a number of reasons.
Silver represents redemption of a life (consider the lives of Joseph and Jesus were exchanged for silver coins). We can also see the significance in the Tabernacle where the bases upon which the poles rest are all made of silver. The poles are made of wood, overlaid in gold, and resting in silver. This is like us as corruptible humanity (wood), wrapped in God’s holiness (gold), and resting in the redemption that Jesus bought for us (silver).
Even though rich and poor paying the same amount might go against our sense of fair play, it speaks volumes about the equal value of each life before God. We were all redeemed for the same price: The blood of Yeshua the Messiah.
Oldest known inscription of Jerusalem
An ancient column, dated to 100 BC, was found, with the word Jerusalem inscribed in Hebrew. This exciting discovery is the oldest known example with the name “Jerusalem” fully spelled out in this manner. The artifact proves that Jewish people were indeed in the land at that time, and that there were Hebrew speakers living and working in Jerusalem. Along with an ancient Roman pillar found in 2016 marked with the word “Judea”, it’s getting harder and harder to say that the Jewish people have no connection to the land. They very evidently do, and archaeological discoveries are proving it again and again.
Figurine from time of ancient Israel
The perfectly preserved head of an ancient but tiny figurine from the ninth century BC was found earlier this year. “We’re guessing [it’s] probably a king, but we have no way of proving that,” said Robert Mullins, Ph.D., lead archaeologist at Abel Beth Maacah and chair and professor in Azusa Pacific’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies.5 According to Mullins, radiocarbon dating suggests the sculpture was made some time between 902-806 B.C. “Given that the head was found in a city that sat on the border of three different ancient kingdoms, we do not know whether it depicts the likes of King Ahab of Israel, King Hazael of Aram-Damascus, or King Ethbaal of Tyre, rulers known from the Bible and other sources. The head represents a royal enigma.” The hunt will go on to find the identity of the mystery king from the days of ancient Israel!
Who knows what we’ll dig up in 2019?
- Israelnationalnews.com, Woman finds 1,700-year-old stone busts while taking walk, 30/12/18
- Times of Israel, Pakistani PM denigrates Jesus, wants world convention to prevent insult to Islam ‘There is no mention of Jesus in history,’ says Imran Khan, ‘but the entire life of Muhammad, who was Allah’s last prophet, is part of history’, 30/11/2018
- Haaretz, Ring of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate Who Crucified Jesus Found in Herodion Site in West Bank, Nir Hasson, 2nd December 2018
- City of David, New Discovery: A 3000 Year Old “Beka” Weight,
- A Royal Enigma: Ancient Head from Biblical City Displayed at Israel Museum
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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[Israeli Politics 101] Who’s Running and What it Means for Israeli Messianic Believers
Not that long ago, there were two main political parties in Israel – Likud (“Consolidation”) and (“Avoda” )Labor. Likud was the more conservative and Labor was more left leaning. As time went on, more centrist parties began to pop up, among them – the now defunct Kadima (“Move Ahead”) headed by the late Ariel Sharon, Shinui (“Change”) headed by the late Tommy Lapid, father of Yair Lapid who himself established Yesh Atid (There is a Future) just a few years ago. Another hopeful was Minister of Finance, Moshe Kahlon who, in 2014, established Kulanu (“All of us Together”). Other smaller parties, of which there are many, joined one of the two major political parties to provide enough mandates (voices) in order to become the ruling party, but, it’s notable to recognize that, in recent years, most of Israel’s Prime Minister were elected from either Likud or Labor.
Now, as the decision of early elections scheduled for April 9th, has been taken, there has been the emergence of two new political parties – one called Hosen L’Yisrael (“Resilience”) headed by Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and another called Yamin HeChadash (the New Right) co-headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
What does all this mean for Messianic believers? Here’s what we already know. Under the Likud leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish believers attempting to immigrate to Israel have had to, for years, confront the ultra-orthodox party stronghold of the Interior Ministry who traditionally has been given control of that office of government. It has been unfriendly, antagonistic and unwelcoming to Messianics, blatantly and systematically denying them the right of return. That situation would likely not change under another Likud term.
The Labor party, whose views lean towards many positions which most believers would not share, is much more embracing and sympathetic towards Jewish believers who want to return to their homeland. Some Labor Knesset ministers have even personally, and through their party, tried to help a number of believers in their fight for citizenship.
It is anyone’s guess how the two new parties would respond towards Messianic Jews, but both Bennett and Shaked of Yamin HeChadash are of a more traditional and religious stripe and would likely offer governmental portfolios to their more religiously observant party friends who may not be any friendlier to believers than the Likud has been to the present day.
Yesh Atid, run by Yair Lapid takes a centrist position on most issues, bucking the present system of allowing military exemptions and stipends to the ultra-orthodox, and would seek to be more pluralistic to the secular majority of Israeli citizens, but also amongst their party members are those who have been vocally unfavorable to Messianic Jews. While they may seek to distribute governmental portfolios to more centrist leaning individuals, it’s not clear if they would remove the present collective body of ultra-orthodox zealots from the Interior Ministry, the very group which determines issues of birth registry, marriage, death and immigration rights.
Finally, Former IDF chief Benny Ganz, (Hosen L’Yisrael) has not yet stated his political positions nor does anyone seem to know who will be associated with his party. Gantz is said to hold moderate positions toward Palestinians which places him left of Netanyahu. Although the former paratrooper who rose to the prestigious rank of IDF chief of staff, is said to project a sense of integrity and security, he, nonetheless, represents an unknown commodity to the Israeli public who have yet to know his political leanings and aspirations.
One thing for sure is that many Israelis are tired of business as usual and looking for what they believe to be needed change. With looming threats that Bibi Netanyahu stands to be criminally indicted over charges of corruption, there, perhaps, has not been a better opportunity for aspiring candidates to jump into the political pool and do their best to appeal to the 70% of secular Israeli citizens who long for a more pluralistic, democratic atmosphere which breaks the stranglehold of the ultra-orthodox which have long supported the Likud party and continue to control their definition of who is a Jew, how today’s Judaism is defined and who, despite their birthright, does not fit into that category.
Messianic Jews and their gentile believing counterparts should certainly be concerned over the differing political positions of those seeking to run the country, questions of Israel’s security and any prospective peace deals, but, perhaps, the most important political factor that Israeli Jewish believers and those who regularly support and pray for Israel should concern themselves over is whether or not Jewish believers are welcomed to return to the land of their forefathers and also able to enjoy religious freedom as full and valued Israeli citizens.
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.