International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Celebrating Jewish Life in Portugal

(Photo: wikicommons/Bricking)

(Photo: wikicommons/Bricking)

While much of Europe is proving to be a frightening and anti-Semitic place for European Jewry, Portugal is welcoming Jewish people. The Inquisition saw the expulsion of the country’s Jews, but now the country is giving them back their citizenship. The Times of Israel’s Rachel Delia Benaim reports on the celebrations at one renewed Portuguese synagogue:

Just before sunset on a balmy Friday evening in January, nearly 200 Jews congregated at the entrance of the Mekor Haim synagogue in the northern Portuguese city of Porto to welcome a new Torah into a restored holy space.

Men danced with the ornately decorated Torah scroll on the freshly painted sanctuary’s main floor, while separately, women danced and sang from the second floor balcony.

Typical of Porto’s native Sephardic style, the Torah was encased in ornate jewel-encrusted silver. Written in Jerusalem and completed in London, the scroll only arrived in its new home a few hours before the event, which was billed as the largest gathering of Jews in Portugal since the Inquisition.

Coming from 14 countries, including Israel, the UK, and Turkey, some 200 Jews converged on Porto’s refurbished synagogue in a weekend retreat celebrating the return of vibrant Jewish life to Portugal…

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Friday, February 5th, 2016 at 1:19 PM  | Stand For Israel

Photo Friday: The Holy People Who Are in the Land

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3)

A member of the IDF’s decorated Givati Brigade looks out on the Holy Land given by God to His holy people, a land that the brave men and women of Israel’s military protect. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, February 5th, 2016 at 9:40 AM  | Stand For Israel

IAF Keeps Eye on Iran Despite Nuclear Deal

(Photo: USAF)

(Photo: USAF)

After Western powers completed the nuclear agreement with Iran, the world’s media felt content that the Islamic Republic would no longer be a global threat. But The Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Lappin reports that since then – and especially after the recent release of $100 billion after sanctions were lifted – Israel’s military has kept tabs on Iran, as it still remains a current and future threat:

“Hezbollah in Lebanon remains the main threat,” a senior military source said.

“That’s where things are happening that we may not fully grasp. If a third Lebanon war breaks out, we may not fully be aware of the scope and intensity of that event. Hezbollah in the north is the main thing,” the source told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

But Iran remains a very significant potential theater in the future, he said.

Despite the historic nuclear agreement last year, “We always have to be ready. Iran heads an axis that threatens Israel. Who said that on the twelfth day of a [potential] war with Hezbollah, we won’t get an order from the prime minister to punish Iran [which sponsors and arms Hezbollah]?” Iran could build its confidence over the next three to five years, and then, in eight to 10 years, it could “lift its heads” and seek a nuclear breakout capability, the source said.

Meanwhile, Iran still “nourishes” the area with malicious terrorism and weapons, the source added.

“The IAF and Military Intelligence have to be ready,” he said.

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Friday, February 5th, 2016 at 7:47 AM  | Stand For Israel

Persecuted Christians: Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim

(Photo: screenshot/youtube)

(Photo: screenshot/youtube)

This month’s persecuted Christian is a Canadian pastor currently imprisoned in North Korea. Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim was born in South Korea, but spent his career as a pastor near Toronto, Canada. After being arrested during a missionary trip to North Korea a year ago, Reuters’ Jack Kim reports that Rev. Lim was forced to make a false confession and is currently imprisoned for life:

Hyeon Soo Lim, the head pastor at a Toronto church that is one of Canada’s largest, has been held by North Korea since February. He had appeared on North Korean state media earlier this year confessing to crimes against the state.

Lim admitted during the trial to “not only viciously defaming the highest dignity of Korea and its system but also possessing the wicked intention of trying to topple the Republic by staging an anti-state conspiracy,” KCNA said…

The prosecution sought the death penalty, but the defense asked for leniency despite the gravity of his crimes “so that he can witness for himself the reality of the nation of the Sun as it grows in power and prosperity,” KCNA said.

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Friday, February 5th, 2016 at 7:15 AM  | Stand For Israel

Israeli Border Guard, 19, Killed in Terror Attack

iitnHadar Cohen, an officer with Israel’s border police, was shot during an attack by three Palestinian terrorists outside the gates to Jerusalem’s Old City earlier this week. The 19-year-old later died of her wounds. Reports indicated that the three suspects, who were later shot and killed, were planning a larger, coordinated attack on civilians inside the Old City.

Also this week in Israel in the News:

• Nine Hamas operatives were killed in two separate incidents where terror tunnels that reached deep into Israeli territory had collapsed. The tunnels have been used to smuggle weapons and launch attacks on Israeli citizens.
• This week President Obama made a controversial visit to a mosque in Baltimore to advocate distinguishing between radical Islamists and peaceful Muslims.
• While recent reports indicate that ISIS has lost major ground in Iraq, the extremist terror group issued a threat to Israelis that they “have not forgotten Israel and are getting closer every day.”
• While the media spotlight on the region has faded, the situation in Ukraine has worsened with continuing attacks from Russian-backed rebels and deteriorating living conditions.

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein on the worsening conditions in Ukraine.

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 8:50 PM  | Stand for Israel

A Light in the Darkness

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

Writing at The Jerusalem Post, IFCJ Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein recalls a dream she had, one that shed light on her home – that Israel does have its problems and can be improved, but that despite that, it is the Jewish people’s historic and God-given homeland:

From afar, I saw a border crossing that had divine light shining on it, in midst of the darkness. A big Star of David covered the golden border gates and confident soldiers stood guard. “Finally, safety!” I remember yelling out loud and running as fast as I could to make it to freedom.

As I approached – without saying a word – the gates opened and the soldiers’ stern faces transformed into smiles. “Welcome home,” they said, as I fell to the ground, laughing out loud, sobbing with joy, and soaking in the much yearned-for feeling of belonging.

And then I woke up.

Even though it was a dream, it felt real. I found my sense of belonging and peace on the holy soil of Israel.

And after searching and running over what felt like the entire world, it was the only place where I found safety.

What I have realized in the few weeks since I had that eye-opening dream is that God sent me a gift. In one dream, I experienced the 2,000- year exile and suffering of the Jewish people – along with the miraculous liberation of our ancient homeland.

I have often thought what a blessing the modern State of Israel is to the Jewish people, and how it is the manifestation of the collective prayers of my people through thousands of years of exile and persecution.

But since I had this dream, my heart can finally feel what up until now only my mind was able to grasp…

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 1:54 PM  | Stand For Israel

Rabbi Eckstein and Church Leaders Meet Tony Blair

Last week, Rabbi Eckstein and The Fellowship had the pleasure of hosting church leaders from the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) for a tour of the Holy Land. Between visiting Fellowship projects and biblical sites, the group was honored with a visit with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who spoke about The Fellowship’s work and his own work in Israel.

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 12:11 PM  | Stand For Israel

“Hadar Saved My Life”: Slain Policewoman Remembered, Laid to Rest

(Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

(Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Yesterday we reported on the death of the 19-year-old police officer, Hadar Cohen, who was wounded in a Jerusalem terror attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the other officer wounded in the attack, who told him that Hadar saved her life:

Netanyahu praised the injured warriors, telling them “Your responsiveness and resourcefulness prevented a huge disaster. All of Israel embraces you and hopes you get better soon.”

Ravit recounted to the Prime Minister the sequence of events during the attack, adding, “We are here to protect citizens. This is why we enlisted and why we are here. I have no doubt Hadar knew this and acted out of this belief.”

“I understand that Hadar saved my life,” she added.

This afternoon, Hadar was laid to rest at Yehud Military Cemetery, where she was remembered by her loved ones as “larger than life”:

Cohen’s father Ofer recited the Kaddish prayer for his daughter, before eulogizing her: “My beloved Hadar, my dear daughter…who was more beloved to me than anything. How am I supposed to separate from you now, how?”

With grief in his voice, he continued, “everyone says you were a hero, a true hero, that you saved lots of people with your body and soul. But no one truly knows you my Hadar, your warmth. I have three words (in Hebrew – ed.) to tell you: I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you and salute you. Rest in peace, may your soul be entwined in life…”

An aunt, Zehavit Cohen, said, “Hadar was a good girl and stunning. Everything she wanted, she achieved. She longed to join the Border Police and fought to get there. She always said how fun and good it was, even when it was hard.”

“I told her, ‘Don’t worry, you are larger than life.'”


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Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 8:12 AM  | Stand For Israel

“I Have Never Seen It This Bad” – Rabbi Eckstein in Ukraine

(Photo: Ina Markovitz)

(Photo: IFCJ)

While the war and social unrest in Ukraine has fallen out of the news as of late, the situation there is worse than ever.

Rabbi Eckstein, in Ukraine this week to assess the situation there, says he has “never seen it this bad.” Many elderly in the Ukrainian Jewish community have gone days with no food or water. For many, a cup of hot water is a meal. When they can afford to, they buy half a loaf of bread, which must then last two weeks.

One woman he met has lost everything. Anna, an elderly woman whose house was bombed during the military operations in Ukraine, not only lost her home, but her lifelong partner, as well. During the bombing, Anna’s husband died of a heart attack.

It is people like Anna who Rabbi Eckstein and IFCJ are helping, people who have nothing and who no one else seems to care for. You can help these elderly and impoverished members of Ukraine’s Jewish community, as well, through IFCJ’s Operation Winter Warmth.

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 8:08 AM  | Stand For Israel

Live Updates:
Terror in Israel

(Photo: IDF)

(Photo: IDF)

February 4, 2016 – 8:00 a.m.
Two teenage terrorists stab a security guard at a bus station in the Israeli city of Ramle.
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February 3, 2016 – 10:00 a.m.
19-year-old Israeli policewoman dies from wounds suffered in Jerusalem terror attack.
Read More

February 3, 2016 – 7:45 a.m.
Two Israeli Policewomen Badly Hurt in Jerusalem’s Old City
Read More

January 31, 2016 -7:48 a.m.
Three IDF soldiers wounded in shooting attack near Beit El; shooter, a Palestinian Authority police officer, was neutralized.
Read More

January 30, 2016 – 11:00 a.m.
An Israeli teen is wounded in a stabbing attack near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Read More

January 27, 2016 4:07 p.m.
One Israeli in serious condition after suspected terror stabbing in West Bank
Read More


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Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 8:00 AM  | Stand For Israel