Elderly Widow: Valentina’s Story

After many years in Ukraine, working full-time until retirement age, Valentina and her husband found themselves in a system that pays little in retirement benefits. She admitted, “It is hard to rest and enjoy your final years when you find yourself struggling to survive.” 

However, in Israel, even if citizens are poor, the welfare system offers them essential medical and social welfare. So the couple immigrated to Israel in 1999, to enjoy their twilight years in a place they call their ancestral homeland. And for a time, they lived there comfortably. 

Then, about 15 years ago, her husband became very ill and died. Valentina managed alone until 2020, when she suffered a heart attack, had surgery, and was in a coma for six days. Now in her 80s, she is happy to be alive, but finds it hard to survive financially. Unfortunately, Valentina’s income falls below the poverty line. She can barely afford the basics, and often must make difficult decisions about which needs are most urgent. At her age, who could she turn to? 

But then, friends like you reached out to her. Through CBN Israel, caring donors gave her vouchers, so she could purchase groceries, medicine and other necessities. They also provided her with a beautiful new couch, giving her a more comfortable place to rest. Valentina was thrilled, and exclaimed, “Thank you—I am so grateful for your love and support!” 

And for so many others with nowhere to turn, your gift to CBN Israel can provide housing, nutritious food, financial assistance, and more. With the needs escalating across the Holy Land, your continued support is a lifeline to Holocaust survivors, single moms, immigrant families, and terror victims. 

Please consider reaching out to help others in this special land today!


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Weekly Devotional: Do You Fear God?

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 niv).

We usually equate wisdom with our capacity to understand knowledge. Knowledge equals wisdom. Some may add that wisdom is the proper application of knowledge.

The Bible, however, teaches that wisdom equals the fear of God. That’s a rather odd equation for us, because when we speak of fear, we refer to an emotion connected with dread or terror. Those aspects are part of the biblical idea of fear, but within the Old Testament, fear of God is often synonymous with love of God.

Deuteronomy 6:5 called upon the children of Israel to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” A few verses later, within the same spirit, they are commanded: “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 nkjv).

Loving God means fearing Him and serving Him wholeheartedly. In other words, we fear (love) God by obeying (serving) Him in everything that we say and do.

Within the Bible, one does not gain wisdom by merely acquiring knowledge, information, or facts. Wisdom comes from fearing (obeying) God and His commandments. To know something within the Bible refers to a relational interaction.

After Abraham obeyed God and took Isaac to offer him up, God said to Abraham, “For now I know that you truly fear God” (Genesis 22:12 nlt). He knew that Abraham feared God because Abraham obeyed. One cannot know God without obeying God. And God learns our degree of commitment through our obedience to Him.

Wisdom, then, comes from obeying God, which is what relationship with God looks like in the Bible. It comes through relational interaction, which pertains to our doing His commands, not our emotions about Him.

Do we daily pursue the wisdom and insight of God? To acquire it, we must fear (love and obey) Him. This is what it truly means to have a relationship with God. 


Father, may we grow in our fear and knowledge of You today as we obey You with all our heart, soul, and strength. Amen.

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How Faith in Action Led to Christian Humanitarian Aid During the Ottoman Empire

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Over the years, many of the informative briefings I staffed took place at the historic American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. My groups of Christian leaders explored Israel within both a spiritual and a geopolitical context. Briefings came from both Jewish and Palestinian leaders, and the American Colony Hotel served as a location that was always on our agenda for an important briefing from a Palestinian representative.  

History unfolded as we walked along a wall that displayed old photos, postcards, memorabilia, and framed documents. This same wall captivated 21st-century Christian leaders when they learned that the hotel had been founded by a 19th-century Christian community of Americans and Swedes led by attorney Horatio Spafford, who moved to Jerusalem in 1881. 

After we climbed the stairs to the elegant Pasha meeting room and settled into our seats, I shared Spafford’s story. His beloved hymn, “It is Well With my Soul,” has provided 149 years of solace and hope to generations of believers since he penned it in 1873. I began singing “It is Well With my Soul,” and my group became the glorious Pasha Room a Capella Choir! In the former Jerusalem dwelling of the hymn’s lyricist, tears filled our eyes. Singing Spafford’s hymn is inscribed into our memories of holy moments in the Holy Land.  

If you have stayed in or visited this lovely hotel and flower-filled grounds situated near the seam of western and eastern Jerusalem—the former armistice line after the Six-Day War—it is immediately clear that the American Colony Hotel is a historic jewel from another era. 

The jewel shines in more ways than one. Before its transformation into a hotel, an American group of Christians distinguished itself as forerunners in humanitarian outreach in the Holy Land. Their pioneering efforts are now expressed in outreaches of massive goodwill through hundreds of Christian organizations and millions of believers worldwide. 

The founders, prominent Chicago attorney Horatio Spafford and his wife, Anna, moved to Jerusalem after a horrific tragedy in 1873. Horatio had sent his wife and four daughters on the luxurious French passenger ship Ville du Havre to Europe for a vacation. He planned to join them shortly after settling last-minute business. On the Atlantic voyage, an ironclad clipper out of Glasgow, Scotland, plowed into the Ville du Havre in the dark of night and split it midships. Twelve minutes later, the ship sank. Two hundred and seventy-three souls drowned in the frigid waters; only 47 survived. Despite Anna’s desperate resolve to save her daughters, ages 11 to 2, they slipped out of her arms into the fearsome high seas. The children perished; Anna survived. 

She was later found unconscious atop a ship’s plank and rescued. After being evacuated to Paris, she sent a telegram to her husband with these dreadful words, “Saved, but saved alone. What shall I do?” Upon receiving the telegram, Horatio Spafford left Chicago to reunite with his grief-stricken wife. When the ship drew near to the tragic spot, the captain called Horatio up to the bridge. Later that night the grieving father’s profound words poured onto the paper, expressing not only his sorrow but his hope bound up in the beloved hymn with lyrical words, “The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend…” 

Waves of sorrow had begun rolling in for the Spaffords prior to this tragedy at sea. The wealthy Chicago couple had lost their 4-year-old son to scarlet fever, then the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed most of their real estate holdings. In a three-year span, their five children died, leaving them childless and without their former wealth.  

One answer to Anna’s heartbreaking telegram, “Saved, but saved alone. What shall I do?” came with the births of three more children. The devoted Christian couple chose to ease their deep wounds first by supplying food and other necessities to families that survived the Great Chicago Fire. Later, believing the unmistakable biblical relevance of the Holy Land, they moved to Jerusalem with a group of 17 Americans and began an outreach there. 

This first group rented a small house and lived a simple communal lifestyle. Locals often referred to them simply as “the Americans.” When a group of Swedish Christians moved to Jerusalem to join up with them, together they purchased and then moved into a mansion in 1883. (The dwelling had been built by an Ottoman nobleman—a Pasha—for his family.) By this time, the Christian group numbered 150 men, women, and children. They officially named their new home the American Colony.

The Colony set about establishing a clinic, an orphanage, and a hostel. The Christian commune expressed their faith by serving everyone in need, including the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Arab, and Bedouin communities. This ministry of mercy was respected and admired during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. (Also known as the Turkish Empire, this once-vast realm was founded in 1299 and had ruled over much of southeastern Europe, North Africa, and western Asia.) Although outwardly neutral, the Colony remained dedicated to the Holy Land and all its people. 

In the lead-up to World War I, the Ottoman Empire began to disintegrate. As war exploded throughout Europe and the Ottoman realm, Jerusalem was also invaded by hunger, typhus, field-ravaging locusts, and weapons of war. The Colony’s merciful ministry became even more pronounced. 

With the help of donations from American Christians, the Colony managed to feed 2,000 Jerusalemites daily in city-wide soup kitchens. Through Christian Herald newspaper advertisements in the U.S., the Colony employed hundreds of women who made lace and dresses for export to the United States. With Red Cross and Red Crescent approval, the American Colony also managed the military hospitals—where they treated both Turkish and European POWs. 

Colony members also preserved their early history by taking and printing photos of the people and environs. Today, these photographs offer a priceless look into Jerusalem’s history. In recent decades, the descendants of the Colony donated parts of this incomparable heirloom photo collection to the Library of Congress.

The Spaffords superbly embodied 2 Corinthians 1:3-5: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

Although the Spaffords faced unimaginable sorrows, they rested in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. With His enduring comfort and help, they and the American Colony left a legacy of faith in action for today’s Christians both personally and corporately. In the ensuing decades, when the American Colony became a full-fledged luxury hotel, it also followed the imprimatur of the Christian founders by remaining an island of calm for all sides in many a stormy political or wartime sea. Israelis, Palestinians, diplomats, mediators, journalists, and representatives of all faiths meet there to this day to discuss the multifaceted issues challenging the region. 

Join us at CBN Israel to prayerfully revisit the first verse of the beloved hymn as a reminder of the profound meaning, the Lord’s unconditional love, and turning our sorrows into acts of compassion to honor our Lord Jesus and all peoples in Israel. 

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Please join us in prayer this week for the Holy Land:

  • Pray for the numerous ministries that bless Israel with humanitarian aid. 
  • Pray for Christians under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to share their faith.
  • Pray for increasing cooperative relationships between Jews and Arab Palestinians. 
  • Pray for wisdom for leaders of Christian ministries in Israel. 

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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New Immigrant: Shuli’s Story

They came from a long line of Belarus immigrants who have made Israel their home. Shuli and her husband settled in Sderot years ago. Sadly, they have learned to live with terrorism from Hamas-ruled Gaza. Their five children have grown up knowing the stress of rocket attacks. 

Shuli stays home caring for her big family, and tries to remain cheerful through health issues, including abdominal surgery. Her husband is the breadwinner, working at a steady but low-paying job. With no car, using the bus for all their transportation needs is challenging.  

Living only on her husband’s wages, Shuli’s family budgets as best as they can. But it means that paying bills takes precedence over other needs, like household maintenance. Over time, the ceiling leaks have become unbearable, especially during the past wet winter. It has led to toxic mold, and breathing in musty odors in the apartment. Yet, how could they afford repairs? 

Thankfully, through CBN Israel, friends like you provided urgently needed renovations to their home. Donors also gave them vouchers to purchase nutritional food and other necessities. Shuli is thrilled, saying, “I used to watch CBN on TV, when we lived in Belarus. And now, it is deeply touching that CBN Israel was here to help my family in our time of need. Thank you so much!” 

Your gift to CBN Israel can help many other immigrant families, along with Holocaust survivors, single moms, lone soldiers, and others with nowhere to turn. We see a growing number of people in crisis situations across Israel. You can offer them food, shelter, financial aid, and more—while delivering news and stories from the Holy Land. 

Please join us today in making a difference!


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Weekly Devotional: Remember Where You Have Come From

“Remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NKJV).

Remember! One of the most frequent commands throughout the Bible is “Remember!” Remember the road you’ve traveled, the struggles and trials you’ve faced. And remember who brought you along your path.

Remember who provided for you, cared for you, and calls upon you to remember and observe His commandments. Remember.

We often turn to God in our times of need. When circumstances, finances, diagnoses, and life are too overwhelming, then we turn to God. We cling to Him through those wilderness times of our life, relying upon His presence and provision. But once He brings us through those times and we find ourselves upon a firm footing, standing in the Promised Land, how quickly do we forget, rely upon ourselves, and ultimately turn from His ways? Remember.

The festivals that God gave Israel within the Old Testament served two purposes: 1) They were connected with the agricultural cycle, particularly the harvest times, and 2) they called the people to remember what God did for them in the wilderness—how He led them and provided for them.

The agricultural nature of the festivals called upon the Israelites to remember who sent the rain in its season so the crops could grow, and ultimately who was responsible for their sustenance and provision. The connection with the wilderness wanderings called upon the people to remember a time when their need for God and His provision was more acute, to remember where they came from.

During the fall harvest festival, Sukkot, God instructed the children of Israel to construct temporary shelters, or booths, that they lived in for the duration of the festival. “Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42-43 NIV).

Dwelling in booths was to remind future generations—generations that did not experience the hardships and uncertainty of the wilderness—how God provided for His people.

When later generations found themselves living prosperously in the land, the booths reminded them of a time in their history when their forefathers lacked such prosperity, and in that moment, they should remember God, who brought Israel out of Egypt.

What is the ultimate goal of this remembrance? We find it in the passage from Deuteronomy quoted initially: “Remember … whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

We confront our limitations and smallness in times of need. We realize how finite we are. It becomes easy to turn to God in those moments. And, as a loving Father, He comes to us. But when we find ourselves in times of prosperity, it’s too easy to think we stand alone on our own two feet, and turning from God and His commandments becomes easy.

Remember where you have come from. Remember where He has taken you. Remember His commandments and purposes for your life. Remember that He is your Savior and King.


Father, thank You for taking us through the wildernesses of our lives and providing for us. May we always—in good times and in bad, in plenty and in want—remember You and all that You have done for us. Amen.

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On Being an Advocate for Israel 

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Being an advocate for Israel begins in the heart. When commanded by Jesus to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” it is important to see that a part of our love for Him is loving His chosen people, the Jews. Knowing that He sees us loving Him through caring for His people, I have been a privileged supporter of Israel and educated in that love by some of the best. I want to share ideas in the hope that you who already care about the world’s only Jewish nation and the Jewish people will also know how to be a capable defender of Israel in everyday life. 

I have lost count of how many times I have traveled to Israel. Standing on Israel’s border is a spiritual, geographical, and policy lesson. In my numerous visits to Israel’s borders, I have gained another layer of understanding. One year, during Syria’s horrific civil war, a Golan Heights ATV team led one of my groups of Christian leaders atop Israel’s Golan for a look into Syria. As we listened to a defense expert, mortars in the distance punctuated his briefing as a grim backdrop to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship of massive cruelty. 

On another trip, our group met at an unnamed location overlooking Syria at a military outpost with Israeli tanks hidden in gullies. By this time, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was embedded in its occupation of Syria in various locations to oversee Iran’s substantial weapons depots. Iran’s threats to destroy Israel are unmistakable and up close. From there, Damascus was approximately 40 miles north. Defending their country, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) frequently ventures into Syria by air to destroy weapons depots that Iran continues to transfer into Syria. Part of the IDF’s core policy is its intent to destroy weapons, not civilians.  

In every defense briefing I have heard in more than 20 years of advocacy for Israel, I have never met any IDF personnel who wanted anything but peace. Peace has always been, and will always remain, their goal. Thankfully, the years have produced a number of peace treaties—first with Jordan and Egypt, then the Abraham Accords under former President Trump’s leadership, and now Bahrain and United Arab Emirates. 

As a member of professional staff for organizations that view support for Israel as an imperative, I have accumulated advocacy resources through my firsthand experiences and the outstanding organizations where I have enjoyed the privilege of working. In a recent online webinar briefing by Israel’s Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, he masterfully communicated an insider’s look at international media and offered useful strategies for those who stand with Israel, whether individually or in media. Conricus served in the IDF for 24 years, completing his last four years as the IDF International Spokesman. He is now International Spokesman for the Israel Defense and Security Forum. 

My goal for readers of this week’s column is to pass along how to successfully relay truths about Israel, and how two minutes of your time as a citizen makes a difference! Our faith is foundational, yet we must remember James 2:26: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

I have often advised those whom I mentor with a principle for Israel advocacy: govern your passions with wisdom, whether in calls, emails, social media, or in person. Although the Bible is our ultimate authority—viewing God’s unbreakable covenants with the Jews as eternal—it is easy to become angry about the incessant slander against Israel and the Jewish community. However, lean on God’s truths, which are more valuable than hysteria and emotions. Lt. Col. Conricus advises turning outrage into action in a reasoned way and to provide more facts than opinions. As he points out: “Frustration and emotions are not a work plan.” 

Understanding some of the media infrastructure is important. The world’s top three media giants are The Associated Press (AP), Reuters, and Agence France-Presse (AFP), each founded in the mid-1800s. Their media ecosystem is vast. Other media, even though large, rely on these top three, which have thousands of staff spread out in almost every country. AP alone has more than a 3-billion-person reach. Generally trusted, this news agency trio has high stature and incredible power to report breaking news. However, news agencies can distort the news with their own headlines and reporting, which fuels the flame of lies and anti-Semitism. With 480 registered journalists in Israel, that number increases by nearly 2,000 when media reporters rush to Israel to cover a major conflict.

Lt. Col. Conricus cited two main media problems: that cause and effect are too often missing from news reports, as is the correct chronology of events. Here is an example: Hamas fires rockets from Gaza toward Israel. The media is silent. As soon as Israel reacts, media reports it immediately—without looking at cause and effect. One headline read, “Israel troops kill Palestinian in Tel Aviv.” However, this action took place after a Palestinian had killed an Israeli. 

Sometimes headlines are the only thing the public reads or hears, which shapes the narrative against Israel. There’s simply no context provided that would enhance readers’ understanding of the events. Conricus says we must “demand cause and effect and chronology on headlines.” We must learn to ask, “Is this the right headline? Who started the attack? Was Israel the aggressor—or was Israel defending itself?” Why do media give the same respect to terrorists as they do to Israeli officials? Conricus adds, “We know that Israel is not perfect and that is not what we are looking for. We want fairness in media.”

One of his most revealing comments concerns Palestinians who work for media. Conricus notes that some of these workers are excellent, but that an anti-Israel bias predominates among many Palestinian reporters, stringers, and photographers. Terrorist organization Hamas in the August 2022 Breaking Dawn conflict was disturbed about accurate reports from stringers—that some Hamas-launched rockets fell in their own territory and killed Palestinians. Hamas’s response, “If you report what we don’t like, we will come after you and your family.” Palestinians are bullied and afraid for their families. Israel does not use those tactics. Confronting lies yet not shutting them down are marks of freedom. 

Known for its freedom of the press, Israel maintains a direct line for the international media to the IDF, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel police, and Prime Minister. Although the high level of access is available, does that make a difference when international media views the IDF and terrorists on equal footing? 

Israel and the United States are facing unprecedented challenges in a world turned upside down with evil. It is time for believers and all people of good will to repurpose propaganda into a pure form. Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda for Germany’s Third Reich, perfected evil propaganda. Now we must respond to the call of this time in our world to rise up united. 

We must be truth tellers, repeating truths in a wise and reasonable way—in conversations, media outlets, events, your social media, churches, and synagogues. We must be the mainstream media. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Let us make Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus and the Israel Defense and Security Forum proud that we are on their advocacy team. Yet, far beyond, let us actively honor God by standing up for His chosen people, the Jews, whom He appointed to transmit His words in the Bible and sent His only begotten Son to redeem the entire world.

Trusted sources are available for you to educate, then activate, yourself about Israel in particular. Your action is valuable even for two minutes! If you sign up (free) for,,, and, they will send you action alerts with letters already written based on urgent issues. In addition, other news outlets are trusted and helpful, including CBN News, Times of Israel, All Israel News, and The Jerusalem Post.

Join CBN Israel this week to pray that God would protect Israel and continue to raise up advocates to support the Jewish nation and people:

  • Pray for Christians to link faith and action on behalf of Israel.
  • Pray for the people and nation of Israel as they face the continual threat of war and terrorism on their treacherous borders.  
  • Pray for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and their safety as they seek to protect their small land from enemies on all sides. 
  • Pray that CBN Israel will continue to combat the lies and falsehoods by spreading the light of truth about Israel through unbiased news and films. 

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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New Immigrant: Maxim’s Story

For Maxim and his family, being Jewish in a predominantly Muslim area of Russia came with its share of persecution. So in May 2021, he and his wife finally immigrated to Israel with their six children. They stayed with kind friends as they explored the country and decided that Haifa was the best choice to settle—largely due to its affordability for their large family. 

They found an apartment in that area near friends. The apartment was new—but totally empty. Immigrating to a new country meant leaving behind furniture, beds, appliances, and other items we take for granted. Living on a meager income with so many kids, where could they turn? 

Because friends like you cared, they had help through CBN Israel. Donors gave them financial assistance to purchase furniture and other essentials. Plus, they provided grocery vouchers, so Maxim could put healthy meals on the table. It was a true blessing during this major transition. 

The family is still adapting to life in Israel, making new friends and learning Hebrew. Maxim is grateful for all the financial and emotional support in this time of change, saying, “While it has not been easy, we are so glad we decided to leave Russia and come to Israel… We are touched beyond words.”

And your gift to CBN Israel can bless even more people in need with nowhere to turn. You can be there for desperate single mothers, aged Holocaust survivors, frightened terror victims, and more. You can give those in crisis the help and hope they need. As more people in Israel cry out for assistance, you can bring groceries, housing, and financial aid to those who are hurting. 

Please join us in reaching out those in need!


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Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement

By Julie Stahl

“Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:27 NLT). 

Yom Kippur is the Holiest Day in the Jewish year, the “Day of Atonement.” 

The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the “Ten Days of Awe.” This is your chance, so to speak, to get your heart and relationships right before Yom Kippur. According to Jewish tradition, this is the time that one’s name is either inscribed or not in the Book of Life for another year. 

“These are heavy, heavy days of repentance, reflection, and seeking God’s face as we prepare to go stand before Him in a state of fasting, a state of humility on the day of Yom Kippur,” says Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion. 

In some traditions, worshippers pray Selichot or slichot prayers (“forgiveness”) as much as a month before Rosh Hashanah to make sure they are prepared for that day. 

“The Bible speaks about Yom Kippur in terms of being a great day of judgment, of us standing before God. It’s traditionally, according to a Jewish perspective, a time in which we will literally be standing before the Father on that Day of Judgment,” says Michael.

It’s customary to wear white on this day. In some traditions, men wear a white robe or, in Yiddish, kittel. That tradition comes from Isaiah 1:18 (NLT), where God says, “Come now, let’s settle this. … Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” 

Yom Kippur has five prayer services throughout the day, which is more than any other Jewish holiday. 

“The Viddui is the central prayer of confession and forgiveness of the Jewish people on Yom Kippur. And it’s a prayer that they pray not only on behalf of themselves but on behalf of all the Jewish people around the world,” says Reverend David Pileggi of Christ Church in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

He says that the Viddui prayer recognizes the words of Jeremiah: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
(Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). 

“One thing we learn from the Jewish people about Yom Kippur is that it’s not enough to say you’re sorry. You have to confess, say you’re sorry, and then at the same time take practical steps to change your behavior,” says Pileggi. 

He says there’s a parallel between Yom Kippur and the teachings of Jesus. 

“We have a saying of Jesus, don’t we? It says, if you bring your gift to the altar and your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother. Jewish tradition says, to go get your relationship right with your neighbor, with your brother, with your family member, forgive and be reconciled and then on the Day of Atonement, when you begin to fast and pray and to confess, God will hear your prayer and forgive you as you have forgiven others,” says Pileggi. 

“It’s the teaching of Jesus and it’s also something that’s part and parcel of Jewish tradition and here the two line up very nicely,” Pileggi adds. 

In the synagogue, the Book of Jonah is read. 

“Jonah is a symbol of repentance. He’s commanded by God to call the people of Nineveh to repent, but he himself was struggling through his own reflections about who receives God’s judgment and who receives God’s mercy,” says Michael. 

“So, Jonah can so often symbolize our own actions—doubting God, disobeying God, and determining who’s worthy of His redemption. But, like Jonah, we’re invited to repent of our disobedience and prejudices so that we can rejoin God in building His kingdom,” Michael adds. 

He affirms that Yom Kippur holds a deep meaning even for those who believe in Jesus. 

“It’s through the work of Messiah that our sins are taken away. He is our great atonement. I think this is a beautiful biblical understanding for us to affirm and hold onto in the context of our daily lives, but at the same time, we also need to be reminded to live a life of repentance,” Michael concludes. 

Holiday Greeting: G’mar Chatimah Tovah (“May you be sealed for good in the Book of Life”) and Tzom Kal (used to wish others an “easy fast”). 

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism at Regent University; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. She is also an integral part of CBN News’ award-winning show, Jerusalem Dateline, a weekly news program providing a biblical and prophetic perspective to what is happening in Israel and the Middle East. 

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Weekly Devotional: The Day of Atonement

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (Matthew 5:23-24 NLT).

The Bible describes three types of sins: 1) intentional sins that I commit against God, 2) unintentional sins that I commit against God, and 3) sins that I commit against my neighbor. For sins I intentionally commit against God, the only course of forgiveness is repentance: You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart (Psalm 51:16-17 HCSB). 

Jesus’ injunction to His followers (Matthew 5:23-24) comes from this biblical realization regarding the different ways in which we must deal with the broken relationships in our lives. For Jesus’ first-century Galilean listeners, the only place they could make an offering was in the Jerusalem Temple—a journey that took at least four days from the Galilee. 

It’s striking to hear Jesus’ words as His initial audience did: If you are at the altar in Jerusalem and remember that someone has something against you, leave your offering, go back at least four days’ journey, and be reconciled. Then return to Jerusalem and present your offering to God. Reconciliation with one’s neighbor provided the foundation for that offering to be accepted. 

Jesus’ commandment to His followers, even the spirit of it, grew from the world of ancient Judaism. This commandment is still practiced today within the Jewish community in the days surrounding Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most holy day within Judaism. In the days leading up to Yom Kippur—a day when people fast, repent, and call upon God to forgive the sins they committed against Him—Jewish people first seek to be reconciled with their neighbors. 

They ask forgiveness and seek to make restitution. Why? Because of the belief that we cannot ask forgiveness from God on Yom Kippur if we have unrepaired relationships with our neighbors. Those must be repaired first, even if we must make restitution. 

This same spirit stands behind the teachings of Jesus. My relationships with others provide the foundation for my relationship with God. Zacchaeus told Jesus, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today” (Luke 19:8-9 NLT). 

When we think about the Day of Atonement, we often focus upon our relationship with God and His forgiveness of our sins. The Bible teaches that our repairing, making restitution, and reconciling ourselves with our neighbor is an indicator of our relationship with God: If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen (1 John 4:20 HCSB).


Father, forgive us as we have forgiven. Amen. 

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Will Jewish Year 5783 Be A Good One for Israel? Not if it depends on Abbas and Raisi

By Arlene Bridges Samuels 

Israelis celebrated a new Jewish year 5783 with their traditional Days of Awe, which began with the Feast of Trumpets—also called Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year”)—on September 25-27. On Thursday prior to Rosh Hashanah, around 35,000 people crowded the Western Wall plaza for pre-Rosh Hashanah prayers.

The sound of hundreds of ram’s horns (shofars) saturated the air as the holiday commenced two days later. Families and friends feasted on sumptuous meals that included dipping apples in honey accompanied by heartwarming greetings: “May we enjoy a sweet new year” and “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.” 

The Days of Awe are overflowing with celebrations, introspection, and repentance. These 10 days end with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the holiest day of the year. In the 25-hour period from sunset October 4 until sunset October 5, it is a national holiday. The country all but shuts down; many people fast and attend synagogue—with a day off work for adults—and children happily ride their bikes on the no-traffic streets.

However, after United Nations General Assembly speeches last week by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, it is not surprising that wishes for a “sweet near year” for Israel were not spoken. After all, both leaders would prefer that the world’s only Jewish nation be eradicated. 

Abbas and Raisi have each perfected the art of turning truth upside down, displaying a level of unmatched hypocrisy. They have fine-tuned their speeches by holding up photographs of terrorists and praising them as heroic martyrs on holy missions.

Mr. Abbas spent 47 minutes at the UN glorifying his own leadership and claiming that Palestinians were Israel’s victims. He defined Israel as an apartheid nation that he accused of massacring thousands of children and carrying out assaults on Islamic and Christian holy sites. He also claimed Israel was not a peace partner. Yet this dictator, who lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Ramallah and has stayed in power many years longer than the four he was elected to, has defiantly refused direct negotiations with Israel’s leaders since 2009.

He punctuated his speech by holding up numerous photos, including those of Nasser Abu Hamid, who murdered seven Israelis and attempted the murders of 12 more. Due to multiple life sentences, Hamid has been in prison since 2002. He was diagnosed with cancer, sent to several Israeli hospitals, and transferred for treatment to remove lung tumors. He remains terminal. Abbas calls Hamid and the terrorist prisoners “heroic martyrs” and “the living conscience of our people.” 

According to Israeli and Palestinian media, on Monday Abbas then called Defense Minister Benny Gantz and President Isaac Herzog with a Rosh Hashanah greeting. However, will 5783 produce a call to his Palestinian terrorists to stop assaulting and murdering Israelis?   

Abbas and Raisi share the same playbook of lies and hypocrisy. Taking no responsibility for the detrimental impact their policies have on their own people, both are disenchanted with the United States. Yet their name-calling is even more intense against Israel. In fact, Raisi strode to the United Nations podium and unleashed a torrent of lies calling Israel a “savage power.”

Like Abbas, he accused Israel of killing women and children in a “dark report card of the Zionist regime.” He went on to name Gaza the biggest prison in the world. There was no mention, of course, about Israel’s unilateral decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005 when—under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon—8,000 Israelis were forced to vacate their homes, businesses, schools, and synagogues. 

Typically, there was no mention either about Hamas, Raisi’s hateful surrogate that purposely places civilian women and children in harm’s way. This, from an Islamic theocrat that formerly served as a prosecuting judge who ordered thousands of Iranians killed. Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard commented that Raisi is “a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.” 

During Raisi’s speech at the United Nations, Iranians were protesting throughout Iran about the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died while detained by the “morality police.” Her crime? Not wearing an acceptable headdress as required by the Islamic Republic’s strict laws about women’s clothing. 

Indeed, the protests center on far more than clothing. It is about citizens living under an oppressive regime since 1979—a regime more interested in developing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction than relieving the woes of their own people. In 2019, demonstrations broke out over fuel prices. Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed in the subsequent clampdown. 

We can pray that current protests will not result in the same or higher statistics. Yet news is not emerging consistently, as the Iranian regime is using rolling blackouts on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram were shut down earlier. The Media Line reports 50 deaths thus far in two weeks of protests, but the total will likely be higher. Hundreds have been arrested, including journalists.

With his history of ruthlessness as an indicator, Raisi is carrying out his vow to “deal decisively” with citizens he views as a threat to what he calls Iran’s security and tranquility. 

Like Abbas, Raisi held up a picture before exiting the podium. It showed a smiling Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Raisi praised him as a freedom-seeking martyr. Soleimani’s smile cannot erase the fact that this brutal warlord oversaw thousands of deaths and crippling injuries of American military personnel who served during the Iraq War. For 20 years, Soleimani commanded the IRGC’s terrorist actions against Israel in Syria and other locations around the world. The United States assassinated Soleimani in 2020 via drone at the Baghdad International Airport.

Abbas and Raisi each made contemptible claims at the United Nations. In his long list of lies, Abbas insists he is willing to negotiate but that Israel refuses. Raisi insists that their nuclear quest is peaceful. The evidence against both claims is overwhelming. 

The world’s citizens must not be trapped in the widespread propaganda, especially with the long arm of Iranian terror reaching into many parts of the world, including the United States. 

Nevertheless, too many are deceived. It remains the responsibility of Christians, Jews, and all who accept the truth about Palestinian and Iranian leaders’ deceptions to stand up as truth-bearers in relationships, social media, and beneficial reforms while we pray that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” No matter the state of the world, we can completely count on our Lord Jesus and the truths God has provided in the Bible. 

We welcome you to join CBN Israel in prayer reflecting on Proverbs 12:22: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”

  • Pray for Iran’s citizens bravely standing up against their oppressive regime.
  • Pray with thankfulness for Jesus’ one and only atonement for believers.
  • Pray for Israel during the Days of Awe while under high terror alerts.
  • Pray for safety and vigilance for Israel’s security personnel in all sectors.
  • Pray for the Lord’s direction on how He wants you to advocate for truth.  

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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