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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.

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Friday, May 22nd, 2015 at 11:34 AM  | 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.”

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

Jerusalem and the Prophet’s Tomb

(Photo: flickr/Set Frantzman)

(Photo: flickr/Seth Frantzman)

Sunday was a glorious day for Israel. It was Jerusalem Day – the day on which the Holy City was reunited with the Jewish people after nearly two thousand years of separation, after its Jewish population had been driven out, persecuted, and terrorized for simply being Jews.

Instead of venturing into Jerusalem for the day’s celebration, I decided to visit the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet on a hilltop overlooking the ancient city of Jerusalem like a guardsmen. It’s not that I was trying to avoid the large crowds in Jerusalem; there were thousands of worshipers at Samuel’s tomb, as well, because the date of Jerusalem’s reunification and Samuel’s day of passing coincide. I made my decision because I simply felt moved to pay a visit to the Prophet’s grave.

It is no coincidence that Samuel’s day of passing would be the day that Jerusalem would be liberated thousands of years later. Samuel anointed King David, who captured the city in ancient times, and whose son King Solomon erected the Holy Temple.

It was also Samuel and King David who traversed the Judean mountain range in an effort to locate where the Temple –the holiest site in Jerusalem – would eventually rest. This hilltop where both Temples once stood is the same spot where Abraham bound Isaac and where Jacob dreamed that a ladder stretched all the way up to the heavens.

Of course, King David and Samuel had to guide them to the exact location. Divine inspiration led them to the site which serves as Judaism’s holiest place, the city of Jerusalem and its Holy Temple.

Samuel the Prophet never saw the building of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem; he died before its construction. But his resting place overlooking Jerusalem has witnessed all the city’s highs and lows – its construction, destruction, rebuilding, devastation, and in 1967, its reunification.

For thousands of years, Jews from far and near would travel with their young sons to give them the traditional first haircut at Samuel the Prophet’s grave on the day…

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Monday, May 18th, 2015 at 8:45 AM  | Stand for Israel

Four Hurt in Terror Attack

(Photo: screenshot)

(Photo: screenshot)

Terror has again struck the Holy Land in the form of a car-ramming attack. The Times of Israel reports that four Israeli students were injured at a bus stop on Thursday when a terrorist rammed them with his vehicle:

Four people were injured after a vehicle drove into a bus stop in the West Bank, in a possible terror attack Thursday afternoon.

The attack occurred outside the Alon Shvut settlement in the Etzon settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, at the site of a similar fatal attack in November.

The deputy head of the Etzion settlement bloc council Moshe Savil told Ynet news the driver came from the direction of nearby Kfar Etzion. “He crossed the highway and with great force struck a group of students who were waiting for the bus,” he said.

A suspect was arrested a short while later and was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. He is reported to be a Palestinian resident of Hebron.

One person was seriously injured, another moderately and two more lightly hurt in the incident, Israel Radio reported. All four were evacuated to a nearby Jerusalem hospital.

The victims are between 16 and 25 years old…

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Thursday, May 14th, 2015 at 8:25 AM  | Stand For Israel

Iran: We Have Divine Permission to Destroy Israel

(Photo: wikicommons)

(Photo: wikicommons)

If the ongoing nuclear talks, continued aggression across the Middle East, and implied threats against the U.S. are not enough, now The Algemeiner’s David Daoud reports that a top adviser for the Ayatollah Khamenei has announced that Iran has a divine right to destroy Israel:

An official close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asserted that his government has a godly ordained right to annihilate Israel, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.

The “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, a Khamenei representative in the elite Revolutionary Guards.

According to semi-official state news agency Fars, Zolnour said that, “the Noble Koran permits the Islamic Republic of Iran to destroy Israel.” He added that, “Even if Iran gives up its nuclear program, it will not weaken this country’s determination to destroy Israel.”

This is by no means the first time that Iranian political or military officials have threatened Israel with destruction.

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 at 8:49 AM  | Stand For Israel

Israel Honors WWII Vets 70 Years After V-E Day

(Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

(Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

May 8, 1945, is remembered as V-E Day, when the Allied forces at last defeated the Nazi regime in Europe. 70 years later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin honored the Jewish veterans of WWII:

Israeli leaders marked the 70th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany on Thursday evening, with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu honoring US, British and Russian Jewish war vets at a ceremony at the IDF tank memorial in Latrun…

“Around one and a half million Jews served in the Second World War, around eight percent of the entire Jewish population, and around half a million of whom, fell in battle,” Rivlin said at the ceremony. “Jewish servicemen fell as submarine commanders, fighter pilots, tank and infantry commanders, in the engineers and artillery corps, riflemen and regular soldiers. In every branch of the military, of each army which fought against the Nazis, were found decorated and dedicated Jewish heroes…”

The World War II vets at the ceremony were a link in the chain connecting the Maccabees of Jewish history to the future, “faces of the soldiers and commanders of the Israel Defense Forces,” the president said. “You are all links in the intricate chain of Jewish heroes, whose roots are in the pages of the Bible, and whose responsibility today, is to the defense of the people and land of Israel.”

“You have taught them the secret of heroism and humanity, the ethics of battle, and bravery,” Rivlin said. “Your tremendous valor, dear veterans, is deserving of a fitting commemoration.”

Netanyahu also spoke at the ceremony…The lesson learned from the Second World War and the Holocaust “was that we must be capable, prepared and able to defend ourselves by ourselves against any threat. That is the lesson of 70 years since the victory over Nazism.”

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Friday, May 8th, 2015 at 1:43 PM  | Stand For Israel

Yael Eckstein on Cover of Israeli Women’s Magazine

(Photo: Nashim Magazine)

(Photo: Nashim Magazine)

The Fellowship‘s Senior Vice President, Yael Eckstein, was recently featured on the cover of Nashim (Women) magazine! Here’s the translation of the cover story:

See the Hebrew version here

Going to the Defense

by Shira Hershkovitz

Yael Eckstein, daughter of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and senior vice-president of “The Fellowship,” in her first full interview with “Nashim,” talks about coping with the allegations against The Fellowship, her great appreciation for her father, the touching moments during her work with The Fellowship and also answers the most difficult questions

A year ago, the Ministry of Education announced the “Summer of Fellowship” or “Schools of the Summer Vacation,” camps that were supposed to be financed by “The Fellowship” with funds that come from the pockets of Christians, mostly evangelicals, from the United States. The announcement by the Minister of Education, Shai Piron, caused a large reverberation in the religious sector and resulted in a lot of noise and angry reactions from the rabbis, educators, parents and community leaders who called for a boycott of the camps. This re-awakened an ancient debate about accepting donations from Gentiles.

Some, like Rabbi Stav, head of the “Tzohar” organization, maintained that it’s permissible to accept these funds. In a letter which he published, the Rabbi wrote: “At the factual level, the money provided by ‘The Fellowship’ was donated by evangelical Christians. This movement supports the Jewish people and believes that Israel should guard its religion, and the return of the Jewish people to Israel is part of the fulfillment of the Jewish mission.” Rabbi Stav also emphasized in his letter that the donors have no direct personal acquaintance with those who benefit from the money.

Contrary to the opinion of Rabbi Stav other claims arose, such as that of Rabbi Aviner who maintained that if, during the two thousand years of Diaspora, when we were persecuted, poor and unfortunate we didn’t agree to accept missionary funds, then how much more so should we refuse during these times. Last summer Rabbi Aviner also called upon citizens not…

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Friday, May 8th, 2015 at 9:14 AM  | Stand For Israel

In Between Wars

(Photo: ASHERNET/IDF)

(Photo: ASHERNET/IDF)

Despite the fact that this summer is nearing, last summer’s war with Hamas still reverberates with the people of Israel and its scars – both physical and psychological – still show. Israeli mother and Times of Israel editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer writes about the toll that war has taken on her family and her country:

Nine months since the war last summer.

And  still, we line our shoes by the door just in case we have to run again, like we did so many nights, over earth, dry and cracked — the little one fell, the scar still there on his knee.  Look carefully, just below the thigh.

Their shoes wait: From sandals to rainboots to sneakers, now… And sandals again soon as summer rolls around. Only one size bigger because children grow.

(Each day takes us further from the last war, but closer to the next.)

And the fear is always there for me, even when I laugh with all my teeth. But I never turn the music to full volume because we can’t afford to miss the siren, and miss that chance to run…

And today, I walked by one of the many bomb shelters that dot our fields and our valleys, that fill our cities and our mountains. And behind this door — this very door — the teachers in my son’s preschool transformed this cold grey space into a classroom, with plastic cars and fuzzy bears, with books and puzzles, and a bubble machine, so that life could go on as normally as possible while the rockets fell and the sirens wailed.

They planted seeds, the children and the teachers, during that stretch of time when no one strayed far from any shelter…

But the shelters stand. Thank God they’re empty, but Thank God they’re there… but still…. while stone and metal stays the same, look how the flowers grow.

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Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 at 8:23 AM  | Stand For Israel

Oldest Copy of Ten Commandments in Israel

Given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments are pillars of both the Christian and Jewish faiths. The Times of Israel’s Daniel Estrin reports that now the oldest complete copy of the Ten Commandments is on display in Israel:

The world’s oldest complete copy of the Ten Commandments is going on rare display at Israel’s leading museum in an exhibit tracing civilization’s most pivotal moments.

The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scroll, from a collection of the world’s most ancient biblical manuscripts discovered near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, has never before been publicly displayed in Israel and has only been shown in brief exhibits abroad, said Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The manuscript is so brittle that it will only be on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem for two weeks before it is returned to a secure, pitch-black, climate-controlled storage facility at the museum.

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Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 at 12:35 PM  | Stand for Israel

Calling the Holy Land Home

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

(Photo: Oren Nahshon)

Last week’s celebrations in Israel – Yom HaZikaron, or Memorial Day, and Yom HaAtzmaut, or Independence Day – especially resonated with Fellowship Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein, who writes in The Jerusalem Post of her love for the Holy Land that she calls home:

I love the street names, which are almost all named in honor of biblical heroes, founders of the nation of Israel, or philanthropists who helped develop the modern state.

I love the savtot (grandmothers) who spend their days reciting Tehillim (psalms) while sitting on park benches, in public buses and inside ancient synagogues.

I love the fact that my children are in school with Jewish kids from Ethiopia, Yemen, Morocco, Russia and many other places.

I love how people go to weddings in jeans and a button-down shirt.

I love how everyone feels like family to each other, creating an atmosphere where you can be blunt and speak your mind.

I love how when I take my babies for a walk, everyone on the street comes up to me with their opinion on whether the baby is too cold or too hot.

I love how the people of Israel have diverse opinions on almost everything, yet everyone comes together in unity during times of celebration and hardships.

I love how the country shuts down for Jewish holidays, and how on Fridays even the radio broadcaster closes his show with “Shabbat Shalom.”

I love taking family trips to biblical places like Beersheba, Jerusalem and the Judean Hills, and studying the stories that took places there thousands of years ago.

Most of all, I love living in country where every stone, hilltop and flower is imbued with holiness and sanctity, with the story and heritage of my people.

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Friday, May 1st, 2015 at 8:53 AM  | Stand For Israel