Greetings again, dear brothers and sisters,
I know that it is perhaps too soon since my last letter, but I did want to share what I have seen and heard while it is yet fresh in my heart. May you be encouraged and blessed and may THE LORD alone be glorified and edified!
“for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it”. MATTHEW 13:17
I suspected that Israel turning 70 would be dramatic even though I am always amazed when I walk around Jerusalem. The city is a clear example of The Lord’s ability and faithfulness to fulfill His own promises.
The grieving that I began to describe in the letter that I sent you on Remembrance Day, seemed deeper this year. How was that possible? It is terribly deep EVERY year. As I watched films and saw photos of soldiers and families, it hit me afresh that not one picture was taken on foreign soil but all HERE…in our neighborhoods, around the corner and down the block in this very tiny country…because these, our sons and daughters, husbands and wives really are defending the land that is in front of their houses, our houses. I
It is all so personal and all so in your face ALL the time. There are no faceless people, even though the population of the country is approaching 9 million. They are daily on the train with me. Many are soldiers whom I laugh with and pray for and whose packs I trip over as it is strewn in the aisle. I tell a sleepy soldier to mind his bullets as they are slipping out, or another that his phone is ringing.
But then it happened: the crowds gravitated back to Har Herzl (Mount Herzl). Streams flowing into rivers and then becoming an ocean of people. I watched and then turned on the television. I like to watch the ceremony (“tekes” in Hebrew). It is truly like having a finger on the pulse of a patient. It is only in Hebrew and I can understand much of it, and so it means a lot to me.
Always it seems as though it is IMPOSSIBLE to go in a hair’s breadth from deep and real mourning into rejoicing, but now I have come to expect that they will pull it off, AGAIN. Nevertheless, I lift up a prayer because there is the heart and morale of this people who still do not know Him at stake.
And this is the 70th year!
The Biblical significance of the numbers do not go unnoticed here. Seventy is perfection, completeness, I could go on and on. Most of you know, and this country knows, and seems to me to be looking up with expectation. Everyone is excited. Everyone over 70 remembers…
The ceremonies are opened and the prayers are spoken and embraced. The trumpet sounds its minor notes and moves to the major ones and the flag is raised. The eyes look upward. The ceremonies are intermingled with song, prayer, poems, speeches and a theatrical show in lights and dance. This years was spectacular. The story of our people from the beginning.
How in the world did they do this: turn the stage into Mt. Sinai one minute and a flood of the words of all of the prophets in Hebrew in the next? Drones flew over adding displays to the sky.
But it is NOT the ceremony – dramatic and emotional though it was – that I want to describe to and share with you. Not the speeches that moved the heart and inspired and brought tears again and again: Not the memories that reminded us that THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE, BUT IT IS!
Let me share with you a few things that turned my head.
I am moved by our national anthem, HaTikvah. I waited for it at the end of the ceremonies and there in my living room alone when it began I stood to my feet to sing http://www.hebrewsongs.com/?song=hatikva . When it ended, I turned off the television to go out into the streets and I STILL heard HaTikvah being sung loudly.
I checked the TV and radio and they were off. So I went out onto my merepesset and there across, the street and spilling over into the street and all around, hundreds of people stood straight and tall singing with one voice raised spontaneously. “Eretz zion, vey Yerushaleyem…”
It was one of those defining those moments! A moment of deep deep transported emotion, transported into the full knowing that INDEED GOD IS DOING THIS.
And you might roll your eyes at that statement, thinking it is just fleshly emotion, if you did not KNOW The Word and He Who gave The Word and made the promises, but I know that I am speaking to people who have also read and been quickened by The Holy Spirit to KNOW that GOD IS FULFILLING HIS WORD. GOD IS BRINGING HIS PEOPLE BACK TO REVEAL HIMSELF for the last days HAVE been written about and…well…here we are!
At work yesterday, each patient shared about their day and their wonder at it all. I asked people and heard many stories. Twice I was in for a personal shock. Tova told me that she was a baby in 1948 when her family arrived from Romania. They went to Jerusalem which was shortly besieged by Arab armies, and there was no food.
She told me about being a small child in war and starvation and then she said, “I am sure that we would have starved to death except for these things: care packages. They kept us alive.”
I began to shake. Do you know how the stirring of a childhood memory can cause you to shake? Perhaps it just touches something so tender but there I was shaking. “Tova, I was born in NYC in 1946 and brought home EVERY DAY from the time that I was in kindergarten. We would pack those care packages with our own hands. I brought around a can to my neighbors and said, ‘Pennies for Israel!’ And yes Tova, I DO know about those boxes. My young heart really DID care as we packed them!”
We stared at each other and hugged with tears. What a strangely intense moment.
A little later I was sharing that experience with Binyamin and Sylvia. They are in their 80s and 90s and seemed like typical New Yorkers to me so it never occurred to me that perhaps they had immigrated first to the US as children. But they had, from the war. And it startled me when Binyamin started recounting the awful times that this world has seen and referred to the great depression.
I had always heard about it from my parents who grew up in it and were greatly impacted by it, but it always seemed to me as if the war overshadowed even that. Suddenly Binyamin explained something I never understood before. “You know, there was NO FOOD in THE WORLD! Do you realize that we lost our 6 million, but 42 million people died in the war. The earth was scorched. There was no one to farm the land that wasn’t burned and there were no farmers. The animals had no food and died. The factories were burned and gone. THERE WAS NO FOOD EXCEPT IN AMERICA!”
Growing up in America, if I had learned about that I didn’t understand it fully. It never hit me, but it DID hit me that moment as I watched him describe the world wide hunger and starvation after the war. And again I shook. “THANK YOU LORD FOR OUR DAILY BREAD.”
I have one more vivid experience to share before sending this and running off into a way too busy day:
We, once again, joined our kehila (congregation) at the home of dear brother and sister who live in the hills above Modi’en to share barbeque (‘mangel’ in Hebrew) fellowship, song, and testimony. As we left, one of the young soldiers asked for a ride back to Latrune where he was meeting other believing soldiers. Happily we took him and as we stopped at the bus stop in Latrune to let him off, a young woman at the bus stop, tanned and sporting a huge backpack, ran up and asked if we were going to Jerusalem and if she could have a ride. As the door swung open to let her in, a second young woman with several backpacks ran up and asked the same question. This one in accented English, so we took her as well.
As we asked each one about themselves and how their celebration had been, the second one took over. She did not speak Hebrew as she was a 19-year old German tourist from Berlin who did not know WHY she came to Israel. “Probably for the weather.”
My husband asked her if this had been her first Passover and she burst out, “Oh YES! Do you KNOW that they don’t eat bread for a whole week? I have never heard of such a thing! It was awful! AND they have this thing called Shabbat when the buses do not run. Amazing!”
I asked her, “Have you ever read the Bible? All of these things are written about in there.”
She laughed, “Oh no! I have never even seen one but I will likely read one now, after the Quran, of course! They have some interesting stories I hear…”
We did not have much time, but I admit to being shocked that this German girl from Berlin knew nothing about the Jews. I thought that the Holocaust was taught extensively in Germany and assumed that the basics of who the Jews were would also be understood. And this young woman had never even SEEN a Bible…
HOW QUICKLY I FORGOT MY OWN IGNORANCE! How can I be truly thankful until I remember how MUCH GOD HAS TAUGHT ME AND the way that HE has lead me in my ignorance.
AND YET HE CONTINUES TO LEADS. (IF we will let Him). You, me, this nation and yours. May we glorify HIM and may this, our 70th year be the year of revelation and of revival.
your sister J