Remembering Our Heroes

(Photo: flickr/timokohlenberg)

(Photo: flickr/timokohlenberg)

Stand for Israel is suspending activity Monday, May 25, for Memorial Day. We’ll be back on Tuesday, May 26 — and rest assured, if any critically important developments related to Israel come up over the weekend, we’ll be here to let you know about them. We leave you with Rabbi Eckstein’s Memorial Day message from last year, where he asks us to pray for those grieving the loss of a loved one in the service of their country, and for the safety of those defending our freedoms:

Memorial Day weekend can be a time of mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s the unofficial beginning of summer – a particularly joyful time for those in the U.S. who have just endured one of the longest and harshest winters on record. On the other hand, for those mourning the loss in war of a close relative or loved one, there is a deep and personal sense of grief, mingled with pride for their service.

On this day, besides the joy of spending time with family and friends – hopefully outdoors, in the beauty of God’s creation – we honor our heroes. Around the country, people will gather to remember those who, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, gave “the last full measure of their devotion” for the country they loved – the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces throughout the country’s history, ordinary people who showed extraordinary courage and sacrifice in times of crisis…

Read more…

Comments (0) »

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at 2:44 PM  | Stand for Israel

Photo Friday: Let Me Go to the Fields

(Photo: PikiWiki/ Kibbutz Yagur Archive)

(Photo: PikiWiki/ Kibbutz Yagur Archive)

“Let me go to the fields…” (Ruth 2:2)

This weekend, the Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. Shavuot, also known as Pentecost, is not only the commemoration of God’s gift of His Word to His people, it is also the biblical harvest festival of firstfruits. In addition, every year on Shavuot, the Jewish people read the Book of Ruth in its entirety. In this picture from the middle of the 20th century, Israeli girls on a kibbutz celebrate Shavuot. Shabbat shalom, friends.

Comments (0) »

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at 11:34 AM  | Stand for Israel

Rabbi Eckstein Named One of Jerusalem Post’s Most Influential Jews

(Photo: Yossi Zwecker)

(Photo: Yossi Zwecker)

The Jerusalem Post has released its list of the world’s 50 most influential Jewish people. We would like to congratulate Rabbi Eckstein for making the list, and for being “A bridge-builder for interfaith cooperation”:

As founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has emerged as one of the most influential Jews in several countries – especially Israel, the US and Ukraine.

In America, Eckstein is best known as one of the primary bridges between the evangelical Christian Zionist community and the Jewish state, speaking at churches, promoting interfaith cooperation and raising millions in charitable contributions. Eckstein’s network of gentile supporters has become an important source of revenue for his operations in Israel and elsewhere, which have helped spread his influence.

Fellowship donations have financed the establishment of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Ethiopian aliya through the Jewish Agency and social services programs throughout Israel, which have earned him the moniker of “The Jewish state’s unofficial welfare minister.” The IFCJ also runs numerous programs providing hot meals and warm clothes to Israel’s poor, including the country’s large population of Holocaust survivors, among other projects.

In Ukraine, the fellowship has spent millions on resettling and providing for Jews displaced by their country’s conflict with Russian-backed separatists, funneling aid money through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Chabad.

Comments (0) »

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at 9:38 AM  | Stand for Israel

Shavuot and US-Israel Relations

(Photo: wikicommons/ James Emery)

(Photo: wikicommons/ James Emery)

Beginning this Saturday at sundown and continuing until sundown on Monday, the Jewish people will observe Shavuot, also known as Pentecost. Shavuot celebrates God’s gift of His Word on Mt. Sinai, while also being a festival of the firstfruits, a biblical concept well-known to Jews and Christians alike. Writing at Israel Hayom, Yoram Ettinger finds some interesting connections between this biblical observance and the historical relationship between the United States and Israel:

The foundations of U.S.-Israel relations were forged by the Bible-admiring Pilgrims of the 17th century and the Judeo-Christian values-driven Founding Fathers of the 18th century, preceding the evolution of the organized Jewish community, the Holocaust, the establishment of Israel and the appearance of AIPAC on the American scene. These foundations have nurtured a covenant between the American people — and their state and federal representatives — and the Jewish state, which has accorded Israel a unique standing as a foreign, but also a value-driven domestic issue.

The holiday of Shavuot — which commemorates the receipt of the Torah and the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai some 3,500 years ago — sheds light on the key values of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers…

Shavuot is celebrated 50 days after Passover (likewise, Pentecost — a derivative of the Greek word for 50 — is celebrated 50 days after Easter). Passover celebrates the Exodus, which has played a key role in shaping the American story, including the Revolutionary War and the struggle against slavery. The Liberty Bell bears an inscription: “Proclaim liberty upon the earth and unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10),” which refers to the Jubilee — the cornerstone of the biblical concept of liberty — commemorated every 50 years. According to Judaism, there are 50 gates to wisdom, studied during the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot, challenged by the 50 gates of impurity. The 50th gate of wisdom is the gate of liberty — a cardinal value in…

Read More »    Comments (2) »

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at 8:37 AM  | Stand for Israel

From Nineveh to Mosul, the Wrecked Relics Under ISIS Control

(Photo: flickr/sharnik)

(Photo: flickr/sharnik)

In yesterday’s Daily Dispatch, we noted that the Islamic State terror group (ISIS) has taken over the ancient biblical city of Palmyra – known in Bible times as Tadmor, and built by King Solomon. Throughout its vile spread across the Middle East, ISIS has destroyed many sacred and historical ruins, churches, and temples, in places much like Palmyra. The Times of Israel looks at these terrorists’ record of destroying archaeological sites ancient history:

When Islamic State fighters routed Syrian government forces and took control of the ruins of Palmyra Thursday morning, the ancient city became the latest archaeological site to fall into the hands of the terror group.

The extremist group views ancient ruins as idolatrous and has looted or destroyed several heritage sites under its control in Iraq, raising fears about the fate of Palmyra — one of the best-known historical sites in the Middle East…

Islamic State militants have already looted and vandalized a museum in the Iraqi city of Mosul and have massively damaged the ancient cities of Hatra and Nineveh — both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The attacks on the ancient sites are partially motivated by the group’s hostility to non-Islamic and pre-Islamic cultures. But some antiquities authorities have charged that the destruction is a cover for the selling of looted artifacts on the black market. The proceeds have helped fund the group’s rampage across northern and eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, where it has carved out a self-styled caliphate governed by a violent interpretation of Islamic law.

Here is a series of images of ancient heritage sites currently under Islamic State group control…

Comments (7) »

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at 8:21 AM  | Stand for Israel

ISIS Captures Ancient Biblical City of Palmyra

iitnThe Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) has captured the ancient biblical city of Palmyra in Syria, built by King Solomon, as well as the Iraqi city of Ramadi, as it continues its spread across the Middle East.

Also this week in Israel in the News:

• The White House will give Congress veto power over any Iranian nuclear deal.
• A new study finds Christianity the most oppressed religion in the world, with over 100,000 Christians killed each year.
• The new Middle East envoy to the United Nations blasts Israel in his very first address.
• Palestinian officials call for Israel to be expelled from world soccer.

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s Yonit Rothchild reflecting on Jerusalem Day, the celebration of the Jewish people’s nation being whole once again.

Read More »    Comments (2) »

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 at 3:52 PM  | Stand for Israel

A Heartwarming Surprise for IDF Lone Soldiers

Recently, Stand for Israel told you about the unexpected visit paid to some IDF troops. Now watch the mothers of lone Israel Defense Forces soldiers (soldiers who have no immediate family in the country) surprise their children thanks to The Fellowship’s donors. Thank you for standing for Israel and the brave men and women who protect her!

Comments (3) »

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 at 7:41 AM  | Stand for Israel

Why I Tour the US as an IDF Soldier

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

We always love hearing from the brave men and women who serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Yesterday we shared a letter from an IDF reservist who lives in the United States. And today, we share this letter by two IDF soldiers who tour the U.S., giving a face to the Israeli military, sharing their experiences, and standing for the Holy Land they’ve sworn to serve and protect:

We go because we want to correct the many lies and misrepresentations about the IDF. There is no comparison to actually meeting a soldier and learning from their first-hand experiences. We love Israel and we know best the moral dilemmas we faced.

Lital works for a news site in Israel. Born in Ashdod, she holds a BA in Social Sciences from the Open University and is working towards her Masters in American Jewry at Haifa University.  Proud of her service in the IDF, she considers it an honor to contribute whatever she can to her country, which led Lital to choose service in the border police unit. She served in checkpoints, stations aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks — a position usually held by men.

Lital tells a harrowing tale of a woman in labor, screaming in pain, who arrived in an ambulance at a checkpoint between Israel and the West Bank.  She is 18-years old. What would you do?  In that split second, Lital made the executive decision to check the ambulance to ensure that nothing harmful was being transported into Israel. She found an explosive device hidden under one of the seats…

I served in Hebron, ensuring that Muslims and Jews could safely pray in its holy sites. My other position was in Gaza. We received reports of tunnels being built. One day, mortar shells shot by Hamas terrorists hit the base. All activity stopped, and the Erez border crossing with Egypt was closed. Just then, a Palestinian boy arrived at the checkpoint, heading for his appointment at the children’s hospital in Tel Aviv. My task…

Read More »    Comments (8) »

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 at 7:38 AM  | Stand for Israel

An IDF Reservist Happy to Serve

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

In Israel, young people are required to serve in the IDF. For many, their service does not end there, though. Writing at The Times of Israel, an IDF reservist who lives in the U.S. tells why he looks forward to serving the Holy Land:

One moment I’m procrastinating – scrolling through my Facebook feed when I should be working, munching on a killer glazed donut – the next, I’m frantically searching the web for a reasonably priced gym. It all started with an unassuming red blot that lit up my inbox.

The note came from my close friend, Yaniv, who also happens to be the lieutenant to whom I report in the reserves. “Hey Izzy, what’s up with you over the next two weeks? Any chance you’re visiting DC? I’ll be there for work.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “Oh, and our unit’s been drafted for training up north the first week of June. You coming?”

Of course I’m coming, and he knows it. Since my return to the United States, I haven’t missed a day of reserve duty – not once since the IDF released me from active service at the tail end of 2011. But June? We weren’t scheduled to draft until November. Why call us up so early? And why are we training up North? ISIS? I purchase my airfare before nightfall—I’ve already found a gym that’ll whip me back into shape.

Throughout Israel’s relatively brief history, there have been many IDF veterans, women and men who live abroad but return to Israel; they’ve taken up arms when the Jewish State needed them most. But I’ve met only a couple others like me—young men who return to Israel each year at their own expense to train with their counterparts in the Special Forces. Our logic? If we’re inevitably going to head into the fog of war with our Israeli brothers, then we should know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We need to work out the chinks in our phalanx so that when the lead starts…

Read More »    Comments (1) »

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 at 1:14 PM  | Stand for Israel

Netanyahu: New Government’s Top Priority Is Israel’s Security

(Photo: Haim Zach/GPO/ASHERNET)

(Photo: Haim Zach/GPO/ASHERNET)

As Israel’s newest government has at last been formed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gathered his new ministers yesterday. Israel Hayom reports that Netanyahu emphasized that the top priority for the government will remain Israel’s security:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “This government has been established at a time of great challenges and opportunities. Our first challenge is to ensure the security of Israel in the face of accumulating threats around us. Radical Islam is lapping at all our borders, nearly all in the form of factions and forces led by Iran and other radical elements. At the same time, aided by the agreement proposed to it, Iran is making progress in achieving a nuclear weapon. All the enemies of Israel know that in the face of these threats, we have red lines.”

Netanyahu went on to say that, as of now, Israel has been able to stay out of the turmoil sweeping through the Middle East. “We will continue to guard the security of Israel,” the prime minister vowed. “The threats in the region also create opportunities. Many states around us have common interests with us, they see eye to eye with us on the dangers, and they see Israel as central partner in fending them off. We will make every effort to translate this cooperation into processes for stability and peace, including attempts to reach a responsible diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians, which will safeguard Israel’s essential interests. We will continue to promote deeper ties with the U.S. administration and the American people. Even at times of disagreements, this bond is stronger than any difference of opinion.”

Comments (11) »

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 at 8:18 AM  | Stand for Israel