Holocaust Survivor: Phima’s Story

Phima was just three years old when World War II reached his town of Slonin, Belarus. His parents fled to Uzbekistan with him and his two sisters. One day, his father left for work—and never returned. Sadly, 11 years later, the family learned that his father and six others had been abducted and murdered by the Nazis. 

At age 19, Phima joined the Uzbekistan military, attended university after that, and became a history and economics teacher. He and his wife finally moved to Israel to join their adult children there, made Aliyah, becoming Israeli citizens in 1996, and still live there today.

However, for elderly Holocaust survivors like Phima, now 85, and his wife, the October 7 horrors brought back nightmares of the Nazi onslaught they barely survived. And now, this elderly couple struggles to survive financially as well. Where could they turn for help?

Thankfully, friends like you were there. Through CBN Israel’s partnership with the Jewish Agency, a housing program called Amigour offers affordable living for over 27,000 Holocaust survivors and other needy elderly people. Couples and single seniors can live there in comfort and dignity. Plus, donors are building a new assisted living complex to house even more older Israelis. 

Due to their dire financial situation, Phima and his wife qualify to live there. He exclaims, “Amigour is one big family, and no one ever feels lonely!” Almost half of all remaining Holocaust survivors—about 147,000 people—live in Israel, and 25 percent live below the poverty line. Donors are giving them a nice home and a sense of community in their later years. 

This is only one example of how your gifts to CBN Israel can offer care for those in need. You can also provide food, housing, and essentials for war victims, as well as bringing aid to single mothers, immigrants, and other vulnerable Israelis. 

Please join us in extending a hand to others!

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Biblical Israel: Garden of Gethsemane

By Marc Turnage

Mark and Matthew identify Gethsemane as the place Jesus went with His disciples after eating the Passover within the city of Jerusalem, prior to His arrest (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32). These two Gospels provide the only mention of this place within ancient sources; thus, pinpointing its location proves difficult. 

The Gospel of Luke describes Jesus going to the Mount of Olives (22:39), which sits to the east, across the Kidron Valley (see John 18:1), from the city of Jerusalem. Passover pilgrims would consume their Passover meal, which was the lamb offered in the Temple, within the walled city of Jerusalem, but they stayed outside of the city on the surrounding hillsides. 

The name Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew, gat and shemen. A gat typically refers to a “wine press,” but it can refer, as a more generic term, to any pressing installation. Shemen refers to olive oil, which the olive groves on the mountain gave it the name, Mount of Olives. Thus, Gethsemane most likely refers to an olive oil pressing installation. 

Pilgrims to Jerusalem today can visit four different sites, which Christian traditions (Roman Catholic, Russian, Armenian, and Greek Orthodox) have identified as Gethsemane. All reside on the Mount of Olives. The traditions of these sites only date back at the earliest to the fourth century A.D. The most popular is the Roman Catholic site, maintained by the Franciscans. 

This site contains a church built by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi and a grove of olive trees. Some of these trees are several hundred years old, but they do not, as some claim, date back to the time of Jesus. The first century Jewish historian Josephus relates how the Roman army that laid siege to Jerusalem cut down all the trees in the vicinity to build their siege engines (War 6:1). 

While we do not know the precise location of Gethsemane, its location on the Mount of Olives offers an important geographic window into Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. The Mount of Olives sits on the eastern watershed of the Jerusalem hill country. Beyond the mountain’s ridge, the land drastically falls away toward the Jordan River Valley and the area of Jericho and the Dead Sea. This wilderness served bandits and refugees for centuries as it provided natural concealment to those hiding from authorities. 

When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He physically stood at the door of escape. He could have walked less than an hour and disappeared from Caiaphas and Pilate. This heightens the tension of His prayer, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). In that moment, He turned His back on the door of escape to face God’s will that lay in front of Him, the cross. 

This is something that can only be truly appreciated when one stands in this geography and realizes the choices that lay in front of Jesus: how easily He could have saved Himself, yet He submitted to His Father’s will.

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: When It Seems Like Evil Has Triumphed

“And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left” (Luke 23:33 NKJV).

The crucifixion of Jesus was intended to be an outright mockery of Jewish hopes of redemption. The Jews had just celebrated Passover, the festival of liberation and freedom.

So why did Pilate need to crucify anyone during Passover? This brutal act was his deliberate way of reminding the Jews in Jerusalem who, in fact, was in charge. His message was clear and simple: You may have celebrated redemption, but Rome still rules.

Jesus likely wore the plaque for the cross around His neck as He went from Pilate’s tribunal to the place of execution. It provided the crime for which He was executed: “This is the King of the Jews” (verse 38). Its mocking effigy not only ridiculed Jesus; it also taunted the Jews as they celebrated Passover, hoping for redemption.

The Roman soldiers also mocked Jesus, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself” (verse 37), a refrain that appears throughout the Passion story on the lips of Pilate and his soldiers, which carries a very anti-Jewish attitude.

Even the chief priests, the ones who brought Him to Pilate and cried for Him to be crucified, mocked Him. They had won. They used Pilate to carry out their dirty work. They had effectively protected their wealth and power, both of which were given them for their collaboration with imperial Rome.

And, as Jesus hung on the cross, subjected to the most cruel and painful torture ever designed by man, humiliated and mocked by those in power, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (verse 34).

The one who commanded His followers to, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27 NIV), did just that. He walked the path that He expects each of His followers to walk.

Then, when the moment of Jesus’ death came, He uttered the words of every faithful Jew upon their death bed, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31:5 NKJV). Like His Jewish contemporaries, Jesus’ citing part of the verse pointed to the larger context of the psalm, which is trusting God as the hope for redemption.

Everything about that awful day screamed that evil had triumphed. The ridicule, the humiliation. The pain, the cruelty. Hopes and dreams lay in tatters as Jesus hung on the cross. Yet, in the moment when He breathed His last, He uttered a profound confession in a faithful Father who had not abandoned Him.

Jesus went to the cross believing that His Father would not forsake Him but would raise Him from the dead. He never wavered. When the people mocked Him, He asked God to forgive them.

With His final breath, He affirmed His hope in a just and loving Father who would not abandon Him to the grave. He trusted that through His death and sacrifice on the cross, God’s redemption would be extended to all people.

When we find ourselves in the midst of chaos, with broken and shattered hopes, mocked and humiliated, do we give into despair? Jesus could have. In such moments, trusting God seems next to impossible.

The fear, the hurt, the pain, the loss, and the sheer devastation of these moments can overwhelm us. Jesus found Himself in such a moment on the cross. He was not rescued from the pain, the torture, the humiliation, or death. Yet He trusted in His Father.

Jesus not only perfectly represented God’s nature through the entirety of His trial and execution; He also showed us how to go through these moments of pain, suffering, and oppression as a human being. He forgave those who did this to Him, and He never lost faith in His Father.


Father, even in our darkest hour, may we be like Your Son Jesus, who when reviled, He forgave, and trusted in You. Amen.

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Purim: The Story of Esther

By Julie Stahl

“Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all of King Ahasuerus’s provinces, both near and far. He ordered them to celebrate the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month Adar every year because during those days the Jews got rid of their enemies. That was the month when their sorrow was turned into rejoicing and their mourning into a holiday. … For Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them. He cast the Pur (that is, the lot) to crush and destroy them. But when the matter was brought before the king, he commanded by letter that the evil plan Haman had devised against the Jews return on his own head and that he should be hanged with his sons on the gallows. For this reason these days are called Purim, from the word Pur” (Esther 9:20-22, 24-26 HCSB). 

Purim celebrates the Jewish people’s rescue from and victory over a wicked government minister who wanted to destroy them thousands of years ago as recorded in the book of Esther in the Bible. And although it’s the only book in the Bible where the name of God is not mentioned at all, His fingerprints are all over it! 

“The book of Esther is kind of about the end of the world—Jerusalem’s destroyed, there are no more prophets, God has stopped speaking to people, and you can’t see Him anywhere. The kingdom is gone, the armies are gone, the glory that was Jerusalem and Israel is gone, and the Jews are scattered throughout the Persian Empire,” says Yoram Hazony, author of God and Politics in Esther. 

Haman—an evil advisor to King Ahasueres (Xerxes) with a desire to wipe out the Jewish people—conspired to kill the entire Jewish population throughout the ancient Kingdom of Persia (modern-day Iran) on a single day. Since the King trusted Haman, he agreed. 

But, unknown to the King, his beloved Queen Esther was Jewish. She and her cousin Mordechai exposed the plot and turned the tables. So the Jews were rescued and instead became victorious over their enemies. This is what we celebrate at Purim. 

Hazony says there’s a deep lesson here.

“We all like favor, we all like political favor; we love it when people love us and Esther does, too. She loves being queen,” says Hazony. “But the question is when it comes down to it and you need to do something to throw away that favor, throw away political favor in order to do the right thing, do you have it in you?” 

At the Western Wall and in synagogues in Israel and around the world, Megillat Esther, or the scroll of the Book of Esther, is read on Purim. But this reading is unlike any other. Parents and children dress up in costumes. At one time, this ritual was to imitate the biblical characters, but now it includes popular costumes, too. They cheer when the names of heroes Mordechai and Esther are read—and boo and use noise makers when the name of Haman, the villain of the story, is mentioned. 

According to Rabbi Welton, there are two possible reasons for the costumes: to symbolize how Esther concealed her identity until the last moment or how God was a “concealed force behind the salvation of the Jews.” 

Sending financial gifts to the poor and food gifts to others are traditions. Some Jews have a Purim feast. A special treat called hamentaschen (“Haman’s hat” in Yiddish) or oznei Haman (“Haman’s ears” in Hebrew) is a triangular cookie filled with dates, chocolate or nuts eaten at the holiday. 

In most Jewish communities, the holiday is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, but in walled cities or those that were at one time like Jerusalem, the holiday is celebrated a day later and known as Shushan Purim. 

Hazony summed up Purim like this: “The Persian Empire. One Jewish Woman. Guess Who Wins?” 

Holiday Greeting: Hag Purim Sameach! (“Happy Purim!”) 

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN—first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with CBN News’ Middle East Bureau in Jerusalem since 2009. She also plays an integral role in the weekly CBN News program, Jerusalem Dateline. 

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The Promise of Purim: Israel is Eternal!

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

For Purim, the Feast of Esther, Israelis have already prepared for one of their most joyous holidays. On the Hebrew calendar year, 5784 in the month of Adar, the celebration will commence at sundown on March 24 and end at nightfall on March 25. Purim is greeted in religious and secular contexts with street parties, costumes worn by adults and children, and synagogues filled to capacity.

Israelis will take a festival breather from their ongoing national five-month trauma, whether reading the Megillah—Esther’s ten chapters—or fasting, feasting, attending parties and parades, and giving gifts to charities and children. Purim holds the promise of celebrating victories over enemies. It is a Jewish way to affirm life.

During the first Purim since October 7, 2023, the “Hamans” in the Middle East—Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran—should take notice. Israel is alive and standing strong!

Haman, of course, was the genocidal, power-hungry propagandist who hated the Jews exiled in the Persian empire. In the dramatic book of Esther, he was considered as a prime minister in the empire of King Xerxes (also called Ahasuerus) around 474 B.C. God in His sovereignty used the exiled Queen Esther and her kinsman Mordecai to change the course of Jewish existential history from death to life.

The Persian Empire was the largest ever, stretching across three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Estimates suggest a population of 50 million—thus comprising 44 percent of the world’s people at that time.

Esther (Hadassah) truly lived the Persian meaning of her name, “Star.” This stunning woman stepped onto the runway of history when King Xerxes chose her in an ancient beauty contest to replace his deposed Queen Vashti. Esther grew up in obscurity under the protection of Mordecai, her kinsman and mentor. The numbers are lost to antiquity, but some scholars estimate the Jewish population to have been at 20 percent in the Persian Empire. Esther and Mordecai, a future Jewish heroine and hero, were among them.

We can easily assume that Mordecai was a righteous Jew as we read about his refusal to obey the arrogant Haman’s order to bow to him. When Mordecai refused, a fire of hatred lit inside Haman against the Jews as a whole. Haman’s hate manifested by using lies and propaganda against the Jewish population to persuade the King to issue a genocidal edict. Sounds familiar! Mordecai overheard Haman’s murderous plan and covertly passed it on to Queen Esther. He asked her to appeal to the King, although it was a risky request, even for a Queen, to disregard the royal protocols.

God spoke through Mordecai’s discerning challenge in Esther 4:14 NIV. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Although Esther was hesitant, she responded courageously with a strategy of fasting and prayer and asked others to join her. When the King chose Esther as Queen of Persia, in wisdom Mordecai advised her not to reveal she was Jewish. When Esther later made the request to petition the King on behalf of her people, the timing was perfect. She openly declared her Jewish heritage and reported Haman’s genocidal plan. Furious at Haman, King Xerxes acted immediately by sending out a decree across the empire ordering the Jewish community’s rescue. He then sentenced Haman and his sons to hang on the very gallows Haman had built to hang Mordecai.

Presently, Hamas is the most notable example of genocidal anti-Semitism, promising to repeat October 7 again and again. However, Hamas closely imitates an ancient and modern line of evil Haman predecessors. Hamas’s attempts to wipe Israel and Jews off the map are no different than the Hitler’s Jew hatred that ultimately led to the systematic murder and genocide of 6 million Jewish men, women, and children. The top modern-day Hamans are the Islamist Imams who in 1979 took over Iran in a religious war to recreate a worldwide Muslim caliphate. Their key targets are the United States, Israel, Europe, and the Western world at large.

The Islamic Regime of Iran is not only forging ahead in its quest for a nuclear bomb; they also finance their own Haman-like prime ministers in Hamas, Hezbollah, and Houthis. It is no secret that the Islamic Regime and each proxy “prime minister” avows their goals—shouting in media, speeches, and now, the most barbaric murders and kidnappings in one day since the Holocaust.

The name Hamas appears in the Bible, defined not only as violence, but also as sin and injustice against God and others. Although scholars may not agree on exactly how many times that word appears—from as few as four to as many as 60—what is certain is this: Hamas instigated the first great destruction of all mankind where Genesis 6:11 records, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” The Hebrew word for violence here is Hamas. Today, Hamas bears the identical character and definition from ancient to modern times against Jews, Christians, Muslims, and anyone blocking their evil intent.

One of the Purim traditions I like best happens during the reading of Esther. When a rabbi, leader, or family member reads Mordecai’s name, others shout, “Blessed be Mordecai.” When Haman’s name is read, people stomp their feet, make noise with groggers (rattles) and yell, “Cursed be Haman!”

Esther and Mordecai are our brave role models for today—to speak out on behalf of the Jewish people everywhere possible with truth. Israel is here to stay, confirmed by world history and the Bible’s sacred history. Will we in the Christian community heed God’s call to us through Mordecai and Esther? Or, with silence and inaction, will we become accomplices to Iran and its surrogates, similar to the German church prior to and during the Holocaust?

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to pray with us from a proclamation in 2 Samuel 7: 22-24:

“How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you. … And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself … and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for Christians to stand firm in our resolve to spread truth about Israel.
  • Pray for the American public to see the grave consequences of appeasement strategies with Iran that have been employed by the current and previous administrations.
  • Pray for President Biden and his surrogates to relent from intruding into Israel’s governmental decisions.
  • Pray for unity among Israelis as the war passes into another month and as Israel fights for its very existence.

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 and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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Protecting Children in Israel’s Daycare Centers

Since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October, Israelis have been desperate to return to their daily work routine. But a big obstacle has been the lack of bomb shelters in some buildings.

Ilanit discovered this when she tried to re-open her private nursery school that serves over 100 children in central Israel. Israel’s Homefront Command prohibited her daycare and four others from operating because they didn’t have protected spaces.

Their city was under heavy fire, yet the daycare managers couldn’t afford to install shelters. Ilanit said, “It was extremely dangerous. There were many missiles, and we were even hit.” Working parents of small children rely heavily on daycare. How could they return to their jobs?

Then caring friends like you helped make a way through CBN Israel! Alice, head of CBN Israel’s Victims of Terror department, empathized with these parents’ concerns—especially since she herself is a mother of two young children. So, she set out to find a solution.

Although Alice had helped CBN Israel provide dozens of bomb shelters for public areas, building shelters for five private daycares proved much more challenging. “The rockets that are being fired into central Israel from Gaza … are much heavier and stronger,” she explained, so the shelters must be custom made with thicker walls. Also, “they had to have air filters, AC, electricity, and internet. All the bomb shelters must be built to a certain standard to meet the requirements of the Homefront Command.”

Thanks to the support of kindhearted donors, sturdy bomb shelters were installed at the daycare centers, enabling many families to return to work. Plus, the shelters offer safety for neighbors living in unprotected homes nearby. “I feel so safe now,” said Ilanit gratefully. “My staff is protected, and the parents will not be worried.”

And your gifts to CBN Israel can also help war victims with meals, temporary housing, and trauma therapy—while providing essentials for Holocaust victims and families in need.

Please join us in blessing others today!


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Biblical Israel: Mount of Olives

By Marc Turnage

The Mount of Olives is a north-south ridge that sits on the eastern watershed of the hills around Jerusalem. To its east, the land slopes drastically down towards the Jordan River Valley and the area around Jericho, towards the Dead Sea. 

The steep fall-off of the topography east of the Mount of Olives, together with the weather patterns coming from the west off the Mediterranean Sea, which causes the rain to fall along the heights of the hill country, means that the land to the east of the Mount of Olives sits in the rain shadow, with little vegetation. This wilderness provided refuge for those seeking concealment from the authorities. When David fled Jerusalem from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13-23), he went over the Mount of Olives into this wilderness seeking refuge.

The Mount of Olives in antiquity never belonged inside the city of Jerusalem. It always sat as its eastern boundary separated from the city of Jerusalem by the Kidron Valley. The Mount of Olives also served as Jerusalem’s cemetery beginning in the Chalcolithic period (Stone Age). Tombs from the time of the Judean monarchy (Old Testament), as well as the first century (New Testament) have been discovered on the Mount of Olives. At the foot of the mountain sit three monumentally decorated tombs from the first centuries B.C. and A.D., one of which is the misnamed Tomb of Absalom. 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on His “Triumphal Entry” (Luke 19:28-29), He approached the city from the Mount of Olives. Pilgrims to Jerusalem today can walk down the Mount of Olives on the “Palm Sunday” processional route, but this would not have been the path Jesus took, as it led through a first century cemetery, which would have rendered Him ritually impure prohibiting Him from entering the Temple. Most likely His route would have taken Him over one the saddles of the ridge on either its northern or southern part. 

The prophet Zechariah proclaimed that at the end of the age, when God’s kingdom is revealed in all the world, that He will stand on the Mount of Olives, which will split east to west, opening a chasm that will cause the mountain to move to the north and south (Zechariah 14:4). The Mount of Olives is not only connected to Jerusalem’s history in both the Old and New Testaments; it is also directly linked to its future. 

Marc Turnage is President/CEO of Biblical Expeditions. He is an authority on ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He has published widely for both academic and popular audiences. His most recent book, Windows into the Bible, was named by Outreach Magazine as one of its top 100 Christian living resources. Marc is a widely sought-after speaker and a gifted teacher. He has been guiding groups to the lands of the Bible—Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy—for over twenty years.

Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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Weekly Devotional: Finding God in the Ordinary

“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 NKJV).

We usually approach our Bible reading hoping to find something for our “spiritual” lives, but the Bible is not always “spiritual” in the way this word is often understood.

Many of the stories and wisdom sayings of the Bible represent the everyday reality of the people living in ancient Israel and Judah. They are not innately religious, but they can help us embrace a more holistic form of “spirituality” that encompasses all aspects of our lives.

And this, in part, provides the opportunity to teach us about biblical spirituality. It penetrated everyday life—the common, ordinary existence of the people. It did not solely pertain to those moments of religious practice and observance, but offered regular, commonsense wisdom. The book of Ecclesiastes is filled with this.

Ecclesiastes has an abrupt and abrasive outlook and message. The Teacher has sought understanding and wisdom and concludes that it really does not matter, since the end of everyone is the same. Along the way of his discovery, he shares practical wisdom. Our text for today offers one example.

His message: Do not sit idle waiting for the right moment or the right time. If the farmer waited for the proper wind, he would never sow. If he tries to time the rains, he won’t have seed in the soil when the rain comes because he waited for the proper moment.

The Teacher notes that the only way one can ensure he or she will prosper is to practice industry all day, sow in the morning and in the evening do not sit idle, for no one knows what will work, The Bible encourages a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility. This probably derived from the people living in a world where existence required daily effort and attention.

But even after the farmer labored sowing his seed and reaping his harvest, he blessed God who brought food from the earth. The farmer viewed God as being part of the common and ordinary aspects of his life.

So, too, our lives offer us the opportunity to continually invite God into our everyday moments. The writer of Ecclesiastes certainly viewed our labor, our work, and all of life as being spiritual. Why? Because God wants to be involved in our daily lives, and we are invited to welcome Him into all aspects of our existence.


Father, as we labor today and live our lives, may our work and energy be pleasing before You. May we seize every moment and bless You for all that You provide. Amen.

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CBN Israel Helps a Grieving Widow Whose Husband Was Murdered by Hamas on October 7

By Nicole Jansezian

Married just one month, Yovel was looking forward to relaxing with her husband Mor over the weekend after a hectic season of wedding celebrations and the series of Jewish holidays which were winding down on October 7.

But after some arm-twisting from their friends, they made a last-minute—and ultimately life-changing—decision to head to a music festival that was taking place in southern Israel. Ten minutes after they arrived, rockets started flying in and concertgoers fled in utter panic. 

Unbeknownst to them, rockets were the least of their worries.

They immediately jumped in their car and started speeding north, assuming they were almost out of harm’s way.

“After about five minutes, we saw one of the infamous white pickups used by Hamas that were in all the videos from that day. It was blocking the road and we had only a split second to decide what we should do. Mor said he was going to try to go around it. He said to duck and to start praying,” Yovel said.

Mor sped up and swerved but a rain of bullets pounded the car. Mor was struck in the head and the car flipped over landing in a ditch.

“I’m pretty sure I lost consciousness when the car flipped because I don’t really remember what happened in those first few minutes,” she said. But after Yovel regained consciousness, she started asking who in the car was alive. Mor didn’t answer.

“I just didn’t know what to do. I tried to save him. I put my hand on his chest and checked for a pulse. I felt that there was no pulse,” she recalled. “I pleaded with him, ‘Mor, get up, please. No, it can’t be that you’re dead. It can’t be. We just got married. There’s no way.’”

But Yovel had no time to grieve. Hamas terrorists were prowling the street shooting at the cars they struck to finish off anyone who survived. They pretended they were dead and waited for help. Help did not arrive for another five hours. During that time Yovel and her friends heard people being kidnapped and a woman being raped. The woman was killed afterwards along with her husband. 

When the army finally arrived, each passenger was taken to a different location until they could finally get them to a hospital later that night for treatment.

Now Yovel, 26, is dealing with anxiety attacks and nightmares and she can’t go back to work.

“I started a new chapter in my life. It’s like a baby learning to walk. They took everything from me, and I must start over again,” she said. 

But she knows she has support and prayers from the CBN Israel family. Through CBN Israel’s partnership with the Jewish Agency, Yovel received financial aid so she could start the process of healing from this unfathomable trauma.

“Thank you for opening your hearts so that we can smile and laugh again. Thank you for thinking of us, and thank you for fighting for us,” she said. “It is not taken for granted how you are helping and standing with us.”

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

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Jerusalem’s Western Wall: The Place to Post Prayers for Israel, the IDF, Hostages, and Their Families

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

The unholy terror assaults of October 7, 2023, have generated a constant flow of humanitarian aid and prayers worldwide, including kindhearted outreaches toward Israelis from evangelical Christians. Due to Israel’s necessary existential war against barbaric trespassers, visits from overseas supporters have diminished. Our prayers, however, have not.

For both Jews and Christians, the Western Wall in Jerusalem is a sacred place to pray and insert our written prayers. The Western Wall is the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, which has been the most holy site in Judaism since Solomon built the First Temple, completed in 957 B.C.  The ideal way to leave prayers in the wall is walking up to it and wedging our prayers into crevices. Doing so is spiritually unforgettable. However, whether for those who have previously stood and touched the Kotel or those who long to go to Israel for the first time, the organization Aish HaTorah (“The Fire of Torah”) will place your prayer notes in the Kotel for you.

Founded in 1974, Aish is now a vast educational institution. Their building sits directly across—and above—the plaza from the Kotel. Simply use this link. Some years ago, advances in technology first opened this digital door for prayer. Once you send your email, Aish will print your prayer in a very small font on a very small piece of paper. One of the Aish students then quickly delivers it to the Kotel and stuffs your prayer in between the holy stones. In essence, we are participating in a centuries-long tradition through another human messenger!

I invite every reader to send supportive digital prayers now and as frequently as possible. In 2005, my dear friends Earl and Kathleen Cox organized a detailed 24/7 prayer vigil at the Kotel. Visitors from many nations signed onto the prayer schedule for the year. Earl and Kathleen wound up sitting for hours when some time slots weren’t filled. Earl is the Ambassador of Goodwill to Jews and Christians worldwide, appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Their example sets a precedent for an easy digital effort.

Describing the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you may have heard the phrase, “All prayers are local.” By writing our prayers on paper, then placing the papers into a crevice, rabbis have added their perspective, observing that this action represents “having a continual prayer linked to the prime source.” Their estimate rings true with in-person prayers from millions of people a year—Israelis and visitors alike.

These moments are a reminder that no matter how deep and dark the crisis, we should offer up our highest praises for God’s sovereignty, love, and justice. Feel free to invite your children and others to add their prayers. Include personal prayers for your family and friends, as I have done many times over the years.

Here is one of the prayers I sent to the Kotel through using this link. I chose and referred to Psalm 20 under the topic of Protection and Danger to Jewish People.

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You! Your unending love for Israel and for me and my family is a treasure! Please keep police and IDF safe on the Temple Mount and Kotel area during the threats for jihad during Ramadan. I pray that ‘You will grant support from Zion… May the enemies fall, and Israel rise up and stand firm. I will shout for joy over your victory and lift up my banners to You!’”

The Kotel, a symbol and reality for the worldwide Jewish community, is engraved into the Jewish DNA. Their prayers over thousands of years toward their ancient and modern capital, Jerusalem, have continued every day—whether the Jews were scattered all over the world, trapped in the Holocaust, or (as they are today) uniting against the evil Islamic Regime and its surrogates on their borders. In the Jewish ancestral homeland, we can be grateful that the IDF is fighting evil on the front lines, since Christians are also in the crosshairs, even in the United States.

In addition to delivering our digital prayers to the Kotel, another service provided by Aish is a 24-hour live webcam of activity at the Western Wall. You can view live feed at this link. The webcam offers opportunities to view the beautiful Jewish culture through both its celebrations and its sorrows. Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations for local and international Jewish families often take place at this site. Several IDF units hold their inspiring swearing-in occasions and other related events there, such as the opening ceremony of Yom Hazikaron—Israel’s Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers. For prayers since October 7, 2023, crowds gather on the Western Wall Plaza, which can hold some 400,000 people.

Standing as Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall Plaza contains the world’s largest synagogue, houses 153 Torah scrolls, and hosts 10 million people each year. A staff of around 150 people operate out of the central hub of the Western Wall Heritage Center next to the Kotel. One example among numerous logistics, before the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) 20 workers build a giant Sukkah at the back of the plaza. The shelter holds 400 people! The staff works in quiet excellence, in shifts around the clock, day in and day out. Every detail in their myriad tasks holds with it the sacred responsibility of the Kotel.

Under the direction of rabbis, the prayer notes are removed from the Kotel twice a year—at both Rosh Hashanah and Passover. They are reverently buried on the Mount of Olives (also sacred to us in the Christian community), where Jesus ascended to heaven. As Christians, we can be grateful for the welcome given to us at the Kotel where our Lord walked, and to know our own prayers are buried with care.

Let us stand together, more than ever, with all forms of prayer, at the Kotel—digitally, in our churches, in our homes, and in our Bible studies on behalf of our spiritual homeland and our unsurpassed ally, Israel. We welcome you to join our CBN Israel prayers from Psalm 103:19—“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

Prayer Points

  • Pray for our Christian commitment to continue our daily prayers for Israel.
  • Pray for safety amid Ramadan, where Imams turn their main holiday into a jihad.
  • Pray for hostages still alive or for Hamas to return the bodies of those murdered.
  • Pray for Israeli fortitude to press on in unity to rid Gaza of evil.
  • Pray for valiant IDF members fighting Hezbollah in the north and terror groups operating in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

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 and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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