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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


by Katy Sorsher Smith
Memorial Day 2012This year Israel is turning sixty-four. 
On Wednesday night Israel’s streets will erupt with sounds of joy and gladness as millions of its citizens will go out to the street to celebrate our country’s birthday.
For lack of a better comparison, imagine a big street carnival with many stages, performers, food stands, games for kids etc. – but imagine it in every city and every town in our country. 
Children will be running with Israeli flags, with silly strings and foam, spraying everyone they see on their way, and (for the most part) they will be met with a smile.
But just 24 hours before that, at 8pm on Tuesday night, a memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror started, and for twenty-four hours Israel will be crying, remembering, and mourning.
In its short modern history, Israel has had eight major wars – not counting the many various military operations. That’s a war every eight years!
A day after Ben Gurion’s joyous proclamation of the termination of the British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel, we were attacked by five Arab armies from neighboring countries. The Independence War, which was really already in progress since the famous UN pro-Israel vote on November 29, 1947, intensified on multiple fronts. The war, which continued until July 20, 1949, is considered to be the bloodiest of Israel’s wars, with 6,373 killed and 15,000 wounded.
Operation Kadesh, also known as the Sinai Campaign of 1956 lasted 100 hours, during which IDF removed the Egyptian blockade of the southern city of Eilat, and conquered Sinai, which was later returned to Egypt – twice! In this campaign Israel lost 231 soldiers.
Israel’s most famous Six-Day War of June 1967 was definitely a turning point in God’s plan for His people. After two thousand years of “the times of the Gentiles,” when Jerusalem’s old city has been trodden down by nations, to the amazement and joy of every Israeli, the Old City once again returned to Israel’s possession. 776 Israeli soldiers fell in the Six-Day War.
The War of Attrition (1968-70) was a static exchange of artillery fire along the Bar Lev line on the Suez Canal. After Israeli Air Force began bombing attacks against targets in Egypt, Egyptians soon called for USSR intervention, after which the US, fearing nuclear confrontation, negotiated a “cease-fire stand-still” formula. Israel lost 1,424 soldiers between the Six-Day war and August 8, 1970.
0607-soldiers-in-jerusalem-1967These and other events allowed Egypt in secret coordination with Syria to prepare for the worst war in Israel’s history, when on October 6, 1973, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Israel came under a surprise attack. 2,688 soldiers fell. The Yom Kippur war was followed by a series of Separation-of-Forces agreements with Egypt and Syria, establishing a strip of territory in which no troops would be allowed.
The Lebanon War – Operation Peace for Galilee of 1982, started on June 6. Ceasefire with Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon which was declared in July 1981 was broken, and Israel had no other choice but to launch a campaign to protect her citizens in the north. A total of 1,216 soldiers were killed between June 5, 1982 and May 31, 1985. The operation was not successful for Israel, and many more soldiers were lost until Israel decided on a one-sided withdrawal from Lebanon. Years later, in 2006, Israel would launch another campaign in Lebanon – the Second Lebanon War, to fight the Hizbullah terrorists, who terrorized the entire north of Israel with rocket fire.
One other war Israel was a part of, even though IDF was not a participant, was the Gulf War of 1991. During this war, millions of Israelis, including yours truly, were practically glued to their gas masks and the specially-equipped rooms in their homes. Over a period of more than 1 month, 19 missile attacks were launched on Israel, causing 13 civilian deaths.
22,993. This is the total number of the lost in Israel’s wars, struggles and terror attacks since 1860. 126 of them since last Memorial Day.
Tonight at 8pm and tomorrow morning at 11am the sirens will once again remind all Israel that she is surrounded by enemies, who want this number to rise exponentially.
In this 24-hour mourning period, each name will be read somewhere in Israel. Across IDF bases, soldiers will keep watch near a memorial fire, periodically changing guard. There is not one person in Israel who is not personally affected by these wars and attacks. Either a loved one or a friend’s loved one – each home has someone to remember this day.
But just like Psalm 30 says, God has an amazing ability to turn our mourning into dancing. No waiting, no therapy – just like that – one minute you mourn – the next you’re filled with joy. Each year Israel is a great example of this, and one day she will be a wonderful example of God’s miracle of salvation, when all Israel shall be saved.
For everything there is a season under the sun. A time to mourn and a time to rejoice. A time to die and a time to live.
Today we tell Israel, “LIVE!” We say to the dry bones, “Be filled with the Spirit of God and arise!  Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the Glory of the Lord is rising upon you!” We mourn with you, Israel. We rejoice with you, Israel!

Happy Birthday, my dear Israel! You are not only my home, you are the dwelling place of the Greatest King, who will wipe away every tear, and restore you to Him!

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This week in Israel Donate Button

Part 1:

On April 26th, Israel will celebrate the sixty-fourth anniversary of her independence. One person who has a special reason to celebrate is Bracha.

Bracha is a fifty-eight-year-old widow who recently came to Israel after a long and painful journey from Ethiopia. She walked with her children and grandchildren for weeks to reach the spot where there was a plane to take them to Israel. Sadly, not all of them made it: Bracha’s daughter died along the way. “I continued to walk with my two children and her two children,” Bracha remembers, “but when we arrived at the plane, it was bittersweet.”

Despite this deep sorrow, Bracha feels blessed to be in Israel. “When we landed in the Holy Land, I kneeled down and kissed the ground,” she says. “I thought, This is the ground that my ancestors have been telling stories about for so many generations, and I kept thanking God that He gave me the opportunity of living out their dream.”

Once in Israel, Bracha struggled to support her children and grandchildren. “I felt so bad that I couldn’t provide food for them,” Bracha says.

Bracha soon learned about The Fellowship and how impoverished Jewish families in Israel can count on us to help during times of urgent need. “Now, each night when we eat dinner, we appreciate it so much and thank God and The Fellowship for giving us that blessing,” she says.

You can join Bracha in celebration and make a strong statement of support for Israel and her people when you donate to The Fellowship’s Guardians of Israel program.

Your gift will help us provide basic needs, such as food, clothing, and medical assistance that so many families, children, and elderly people — including Holocaust survivors — in Israel need right now.

While the world has changed a great deal since 1948 when Israel became an independent state, she remains surrounded by enemies, and spending on defense leaves the government with little to help destitute people like Bracha and her family. That is why each donation to The Fellowship can make such a meaningful difference.

The Fellowship is proud to be one of the largest humanitarian organizations in Israel. But that also means that we have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves. We hope that you will mark Israel’s independence in a very special way this year by making a generous donation to help needy Jews in the Holy Land.

Part 2:

Dear Pastor and Friend of The Fellowship,

On May 14, 1948, the fifth day of the month of Iyar on the Jewish calendar, Jewish leaders gathered in Tel Aviv to sign the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel—Israel's Declaration of Independence.

This extraordinary document states, "By virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, [we] hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."

With this bold declaration, the modern State of Israel was born. And so it is that every year at this time Israel Independence Day is observed. Yom HaAtzmaut, as it is known in Hebrew, is a day of jubilation—a day for Jews to mark the re-establishment of their sovereign nation after generations of exile, and to celebrate the history and accomplishments of the modern State of Israel.

From the very beginning, Israel extended a hand of friendship to neighboring states, encouraging them, as Israel's Declaration of Independence puts it, to "establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people."

Despite this, most of Israel's neighbors still do not recognize the Jewish state. Some, in fact, are preparing themselves for the day that they can, in the words of the Iranian president, "wipe Israel off the map."

Even in the West, with its values of democracy and personal liberty—values fully embraced by Israel—her legitimacy is routinely questioned in academic circles, on newspaper op-ed pages, and even in some churches. Sixty-plus years after its birth, it seems Israel is still the only nation on earth that is continually called on to justify its existence.

For Israelis and friends of Israel—indeed, for any fair-minded person who values democracy and freedom—Israel Independence Day should be, first and foremost, a day for celebration. On this day, let's thank God for a nation that stands as a beacon of democracy in the midst of authoritarian regimes… for a nation where every day scientific and technological advances are made that benefit the entire world… for a nation that, since its inception, has worked to fulfill the biblical promise, "Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn" (Isaiah 60:3).

U.S.Israel Relationship: Ties that Bind

While Israel's Arab neighbors reacted with hostility to the founding of the Jewish state, the U.S. became the first nation to recognize Israel. It is instructive to remember that the man primarily responsible for this was a devoted Christian—President Harry S. Truman.

In Truman's administration, there were those who spoke forcefully against U.S. recognition of the new Jewish state. One of these, Secretary of State James Forrestal, summed up this viewpoint by saying, "There are thirty million Arabs on one side and about six hundred thousand Jews on the other. It is clear that in any contest, the Arabs are going to overwhelm the Jews. Why don't you face up to the realities? Just look at the numbers!"

Harry Truman was not without his faults. He occasionally displayed in his private correspondence some of the anti-Semitic prejudices that were all too prevalent at that time. But, ultimately, it is to his everlasting credit that, as far as the right of Israel to exist was concerned, Truman was unimpressed by "the numbers."

In his memoirs, Clark Clifford, who was special counsel to Truman, remembers Truman's strong counterpoint to Forrestal's position: "From [Truman's] youth, he had detested intolerance and discrimination. He had been deeply moved by the plight of the millions of homeless of World War II, and felt that alone among the homeless, the Jews had no homeland of their own to which they could return."

As a Christian, Truman had other reasons to support the Jews' return to their homeland. Clifford continues, "[Truman] was a student and believer in the Bible since his youth. From his reading of the Old Testament, he felt the Jews derived a legitimate historical right to Palestine, and he sometimes cited such biblical lines as Deuteronomy 1:8: "'Behold, I have given up the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the Lord hath sworn unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.'"

Truman never regretted his decision to recognize the Jewish state—a move he took just eleven minutes after Israel declared its independence. "I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have faith in it now," he said in 1952. "I believe it has a glorious future before it—not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization."

Call for Support

In light of the threats today against Israel and the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, it is time for friends of Israel and the Jewish people to speak out. One of the most important battles Israel must fight is the battle for public opinion. You and your congregation can help Israel win this battle through prayer, advocacy, and by spreading the truth about Israel's ongoing struggle for peace and security. One easy first step you can take is to visit our Stand for Israel website ( to see how you can become involved.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Part 3:

April 24, 2012
As Israel prepares to celebrate her 64th year of independence on April 26, I invite you to reflect with me for a moment on how far she has come in such a short time.
Today, Israel is among the world leaders in both business and technology — ranking second in both venture capital funds and hi-tech start-up companies, with the highest rate of entrepreneurship among women of any country in the world. Despite her hostile neighbors, Israel is still standing strong as the only democracy in the Middle East.
While there is much to celebrate about Israel and her people, she must unfortunately remain among the world’s leaders in defense spending. That is why, since 1983, The Fellowship has been dedicated to providing as much humanitarian assistance as we can, to help the most vulnerable in Israel.
Through our Guardians of Israel program we are reaching out to victims of terror, the elderly, youth and families every day. We provide food to hungry families, daily necessities to impoverished people, and bomb shelters to help protect Israel’s most vulnerable communities.
As one of the largest providers of social services in the country, The Fellowship has a unique bond with Israel and her people. We hope you will join us in wishing Israel a safe and very happy Independence Day.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Sig
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
You can show your support for Israel and her people by making a generous gift to help The Fellowship provide basic necessities and lifesaving protection today. Thank you

Part 4:
We have much to remember and also to give thanks for in our prayers this week. Although attacks on the Jewish state persist in all manners, we celebrate Israel's Memorial Day and Independence Day with grateful hearts. We take comfort knowing that, in times of war and in times of peace, God always show us his unfailing love. For this we rejoice!
  • More rockets have been fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza into the south of Israel. Please pray for safety for those Israelis who live in constant threat of danger, and as always, for peace in the land. “So Israel will live in safety; Jacob will dwell secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew" (Deuteronomy 33:28).
  • This week, as we celebrate Israel’s Memorial Day (Yom Ha’Zikaron) and Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut), give thanks for the freedom of the Jewish state, and remember all those who lost their lives to secure that independence. “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts” (Psalm 119:45).
  • Pray for the family, friends, and all those touched by the life of Charles Colson, noted Christian leader and longtime friend of The Fellowship. Colson passed away this weekend, but his memory will live on. “May your unfailing love be my comfort” (Psalm 119:76).
  • Please pray for all of those who will make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) this spring. May they find security and comfort in the transition to their new home. “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:33-34).
  • Pray for wisdom for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama, and all other world leaders who seek peace. “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10).

Happy Birthday Israel and congratulations for your Independence's Day!
God will blesses you today and forever!

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