Love your neighbor: During recent fires, Messianic moshav hosted evacuees with real community spirit
Messianic Moshav Yad HaShmona outside of Jerusalem (Photo: Gilabrand/Wikimedia Commons)
It was unseasonably hot and arid when fires sprung up suddenly in the hills surrounding Jerusalem in late May. With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), the country was basically kindling for the raging flames.
In an instant thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes. The head of the Mateh Yehuda regional council called the hotel manager at Yad HaShmona — a nearby moshav populated by Messianic believers — for help in receiving evacuees.
“I have to evacuate all the residents of Kibbutz Harel within the next few minutes,” he told Tsuriel Bar David.
“Bring them,” Bar David responded. “We’ll figure out later how to accommodate them.”
Ayelet Ronen, chairwoman at Yad HaShmona, related the gripping account of receiving the fire victims on a moment’s notice, the second time the moshav has done so in the past few years.
“The head of the council knows we are always ready to help,” Ronen told Kehila News Israel. “We had guests at the hotel at the time, but Tsuriel said we would figure something out.”
Between Yad HaShmona and three other hotels hundreds of residents were housed that day. Some 23 families were taken in at Yad HaShmona.
During the intense three-day heatwave, thousands of acres of forests and 50 homes were destroyed as wildfires swept across Israel. Surrounding nations sent firefighting jets to help extinguish the flames, which took several days.
Ronen said the staff and residents at Yad HaShmona quickly jumped into action and prepared to receive the guests. The hotel staff organized rooms and prepared food while several of the residents spearheaded a collection of toys and clothes for the kids who were coming. One Yad HaShmona resident insisted that the children at the moshav start baking so they could hand out homemade cookies to the evacuees when they arrived for dinner.
“And indeed she stood at the door of the dining hall and distributed homemade cookies telling each person, ‘Whatever you need, please ask us,’” Ronen said. “Another woman bought several soccer balls for the kids.”
Ronen said the kids who live at the moshav took the guests’ children under their wings as well and brought them to play soccer at the field.
“They arrived very quickly and with very few belongings,” Ronen said. “You could just feel their emotions, their stress. They were worried about their homes and the fire was still not under control when they got here.”
At Kibbutz Harel, where many of them came from, 10 homes were destroyed and firefighters also found asbestos. An odor of burned plastic lingered for days and Israel’s ministries of health and environmental protection kept the residents away because of the noxious fumes.
“For a few days the residents were left in limbo,” Ronen said. “They were not allowed back into the kibbutz to see their homes and they had no idea whether they even had one. They were so tense.”
After the tension eased a bit and family members went back to work or school routines, some of the evacuees asked Ronen to tell them more about the moshav. She ended up meeting with a few women and shared her faith.
Yad HaShmona, founded in 1971 by Finnish believers, has nearly 300 residents and runs a hotel, convention center and banquet hall. The moshav was named in honor of eight Jewish refugees from Austria who escaped to Finland in 1938. However, the Finnish government handed the refugees over to the Gestapo in 1942. Seven of them subsequently died in the Holocaust and the lone survivor later immigrated to Israel.
“When I met with them I was able to share, who is Yeshua? Who are Messianic Jews? What do we believe? It was a very interesting conversation,” Ronen said. “It was very pleasant because it was a small group of kibbutznikim, left wingers who are very open and easy to talk to. …They were sorry more people didn’t come to listen.”
In 2016, the moshav hosted 40 families when a fire in their community forced them to leave.
“It was a Friday evening. They arrived — 40 families with kids, and their pets, but no bags. They were in shock.”
In much the same way, the moshav rose to the occasion even worrying about food for the pets.
But immediately after that, Yad Lachim — an extreme Orthodox Jewish organization — posted a warning on Facebook: “Don’t go to Yad HaShmona, the moshav of missionaries!”
Ironically, Ronen recalled, that very weekend, the religious evacuees were “stuck” at the moshav for the weekend since they do not travel on Shabbat for religious reasons.
“They had the opportunity to enjoy Shabbat with us and in fact, they were very happy,” she said. “And the members of Yad HaShmona bought them everything, even food for the dogs. That really touched them.”
Ronen explained that the Israeli government financially covers the evacuees’ stay to a certain extent, but that Yad HaShmona will go above and beyond the basic coverage to help the families feel at home while they are there. The moshav makes sure there is food that all the children will eat and help out with laundry too.
Eleven families from Kibbutz Harel remain at Yad HaShmona while renovations are underway at their homes and to the infrastructure that was damaged by the fires. Six homes were destroyed plus some agricultural buildings.
“At Yad Hashmona we have a very real and active community life, and people really feel it,” Ronen said. “That’s a big witness, in my opinion.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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“Instruction Will Go Out of Zion, the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem”
Local Israeli Hebrew speakers being trained in Biblical Hebrew Teaching to aid and assist Bible translators throughout the world
This last Sunday evening, the second group of 11 young Israelis graduated their course having been trained in Biblical Hebrew Teaching. They are preparing to train and assist Bible translators, active in translating the Bible into local languages around the world, on a volunteer basis.
Courses in Biblical Hebrew, involving some of these latest graduates, are being planned for Kenya and The Ivory Coast in the near future. Contacts for further courses have been established in The Solomon Islands, Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Spain.
Dr. Samy Tioyé, in his address said, “We have many people that are well versed in New Testament Greek Bible translating around the world. Increasingly Christians are realising that the New Testament is based on the Hebrew Tanach (Old Testament) and we do not have enough knowledge or experience in Hebrew translating. The Bible translating field, from Hebrew, is ripe and desperately needs people that are proficient in Biblical Hebrew to assist Bible translating efforts around the world.” Dr. Tioyé is the Global Translation Advisor at United Bible Societies.
Hebrew for the Nations (Ivrit LaAmim) was initiated in 2017, and is directed by Baruch (Brian) Kvasnica, under the auspices of the Jerusalem Seminary and in coordination with “Lech L’cha”, a ministry to teach, train and encourage young believers to live a life of faith, and the Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators.
The first Biblical Hebrew Teaching course was conducted in 2018 with 12 young Israelis graduating. Of these 2 were already sent out to Nigeria to conduct Biblical Hebrew courses with local Bible translators and 2 others are studying to add professional qualifications as Ulpan (Hebrew language school) teachers.
This article originally appeared on Israel Today, May 28, 2019, and reposted with permission.
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FLAME: a poem in memory of my dear departed friends Eddie and Yeshai, of blessed memory
The searing flame subsides but not diminished
as youth presses springtime into fall,
dross and thorns burned and purged
to clear the fields and open hidden vistas
eclipsed by illusion and wistful vanities,
scorching weeds of perfidy and superfluity
to expose the deep wells of mourning and joy
sprung forth to rekindle in a refreshing breeze
a divine flame focused to a white-hot beam
penetrating delusions and wild speculations
and severing arms of untruths in mercy,
quixotic in scope as time begins to vanish
and the last horizon draws ever nearer,
till fields are ripe and the wheat fat with grain
white unto harvest to the garners of Heaven,
a bright flame extinguished in this world
to shine above in perpetuity.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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Can Messianic humanitarian organizations aid Israelis as budget is slashed by $1.2 billion?
Believing humanitarian aid organizations in the land of Israel – which help both believers and unbelievers alike – have long supplied food, clothing, baby supplies, military equipment, furniture, paper goods, dental care, career training, home purchase assistance, child care, community assistance, forestry plantings and much more.
In fact, governmental officials have officially recognized a number of these organizations for their generous help and for the vital role they play in supporting the community. This vast array of assistance is well-known by top Israeli officials and government entities.
But the Israeli cabinet, in the face of a growing fiscal deficit, recently decided to cut its welfare budget by 1.2 billion shekels ($334 million) and will increasingly rely on NGOs and these believing organizations to ramp up aid to Israelis who will be severely impacted by these cuts.
These measures, which are expected to reduce the deficit to 3.7 percent by the end of 2022, were implemented in order to divert money to rebuild neighborhoods destroyed by recent devastating fires, to beef up security on the Gaza border and to cover subsidies for day care programs.
But the impact of this decision will, undoubtedly, be felt across a multitude of sectors, mostly by senior citizens living below the poverty line. Ultimately, the huge cuts will hurt many Israeli citizens.
Moshe Schapiro, CEO of charitable organizations in Canada, wrote in Globes that this underfunding of social services will cause the government to increasingly depend on philanthropy and will stress the organizations.
“There is nothing rational or ethical about this system, which forces NGOs to devote a large portion of their limited resources to fund-raising,” Schapiro wrote. “It impacts their ability to most effectively carry out their primary function as providers of professional public services. The real victims of this circumstance are the intended beneficiaries of these services.”
This is the time for Messianic and Christian humanitarian organizations to pick up the slack.
These organizations, largely funded by Zionist Christians outside of Israel, are focused on blessing the people and the land simply because they are commanded to do so in the scriptures. There is no hidden agenda of evangelizing in return for goods. To the contrary, some of these organizations have adopted a strict policy to make sure no strings are attached whenever charitable gifts or acts are made.
Kehila News Israel (KNI) has written extensively on several of these believing organizations. For example, the Joseph Project which has provided $100 million in humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel since 2000, importing tons of supplies and Vision for Israel, another large distribution center providing humanitarian aid to poor and needy Israelis, both Jewish and Arab.
Several Messianic organizations have established soup kitchens such as Abundant Bread of Salvation in Netanya, which also has a soup kitchen and clothing distribution plus provides medical, optical and dental assistance to the poor, and the Dugit center in Tel Aviv that has a Distribution Pantry as well. Some of these soup kitchens provide the only meal that a person may have that day.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has assisted in bringing home Ethiopian Jews who wish to immigrate to the country. The organization has sponsored this program through the help of international Christians who believe in the prophetic promises of the return the Jewish people to their homeland. For them, they are playing a role in this end-time regathering of the exiles.
Several organizations supply the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) with items the soldiers need but have not been allocated in the military budget. Soldiers are so grateful for these personal supplies not supplied by the government but which make their jobs easier.
Many organizations have donated furniture, clothing and other goods to any Israeli citizen unable to afford these things.
Holocaust survivors have been recipients of many of these goods and services, annually receiving special holiday food and other necessary items.
This is a wonderful opportunity to work together in a practical and useful way to bless Israelis and the nation at a time when it most needs help. Many government officials know that the Christian community outside of Israel shows their true friendship not just in word, but in deed, and through their generous financial gifts. Israeli leaders have often publicly expressed their gratitude for such help.
Increased support at this crucial time would help to cushion the loss of such a large amount of government services and subsidies given to Israelis. Those who want to join this effort, can contact KNI to see how they can help Israel.
See more articles about believing humanitarian organizations in Israel:
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.
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Ye’shi Reinhardt, tireless minister to Israeli trauma victims, suddenly passes away
Ye’shi Reinhardt, who tirelessly reached out to trauma victims and others in need from war-damaged Israeli economies, has died.
Described as intense and compassionate, Reinhardt died after landing in New Jersey on Thursday on his way to commence a summer-long speaking tour in the United States. His passing brings the total to three prominent Messianic leaders who have died in the past two weeks including pastor Eddie Santoro and intercessor Eliyahu Ben-Haim.
In 1992, Reinhardt founded Hands of Mercy, a humanitarian aid organization dedicated to helping victims of terror attacks, feeding the hungry and the homeless and providing various kinds of care to people living in the “war-damaged economy” of southern Israel. The organization was based in Jerusalem at first during the intifada, but as rocket attacks on communities near the Gaza border became a near daily occurrence, Reinhardt moved his base of operations to Sderot, one of the frequently attacked cities in the south.
Hands of Mercy also reaches out to those who suffer from PTSD due to living under attack or the constant threat of attacks. His organization provides animal therapy for children, holiday entertainment and food for families, dental care, food for soup kitchens, an outreach to the homeless, and care for people with specialized cases.
According to information from Hands of Mercy new leader, Yariv Goldman, Reinhardt — who grew up in Michigan — served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, an experience that marked him for life. Reinhardt was 72, according to the date of birth listed on his Facebook account.
“He exemplified the strength on how to turn personal trials and sufferings experienced into strength for doing good,” Goldman wrote. “Instead of living a life of victimhood, he chose to work tirelessly to help those who experienced similar traumas of war that he went through.”
As news spread of Reinhardt’s death, the internet was flooded with memories and accolades for his work.
“My brother and true friend, a brave warrior and generous soul who always gave his life for others,” said Elhanan Ben Avraham. “We’ll miss his Shabbat stays at our home and his always smiling face. A light has gone out of the world, and one of the shining stars in my sky is gone-higher.”
Many friends and acquaintances took to social media to bless Reinhardt’s memory and remark on the life-changing experiences they had through working with him. Several people spoke of his passion and his genuine love for people.
“He did not have children nor was given in marriage but the Israelis whom he knew and rubbed shoulders with loved him dearly, They knew that he was a listening ear and had a heart for them,” Renee Shmuel of Ima’s Goodies wrote. “He will be missed greatly.”
Reinhardt was never married but he poured “110 percent of himself into every situation… Hands of Mercy was his ‘child’ in which to do good and leave a legacy of purpose. He put all he had in it,” Goldman said.
Just before he left for America, in the last two weeks, Reinhardt legalized Goldman’s status to take over Hands of Mercy should anything happen to him.
“It was as if he knew, like he felt maybe he wasn’t returning, Goldman said. “He prepared everything and handed over the reins to put me as the head of the organization. He even organized his office, which he never does, right before he left.”
Goldman worried about joining, saying his evangelistic approach could upset people Reinhardt had built solid relationships with over the years.
“Before I agreed to take over I said this could cause you problems because you have good relations with the religious people in Sderot,” Goldman recalled. “I’m all for works of mercy … but I do it in the name of Yeshua. … He told me, on the contrary, he wants to see more fruit, he wanted something more evangelistic.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.