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CBN Israel Comforts Bereaved Families During War

By Nicole Jansezian

This week, Israel marked Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism for 24 somber hours right before switching gears into Independence Day the following day.

Normally, the transition from solemn ceremonies dedicated to the fallen into the celebration of the birth of the Jewish state is welcomed with fireworks, a national air show, and picnics around the entire country. 

But as Israel celebrated its 76th year, festivities were muted as the national mourning was still raw from October 7. Some 1,200 people were killed on that day and another 250 taken hostage. Now, 132 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza and more than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed as a war still rages with no end in sight.

One of these soldiers was Cedrick Garin, killed in action on January 22, 2024, and the only son of Imelda Garin.

Imelda came to Israel from the Philippines on a visa for foreign workers in 1995. Cedrick was born in 2000 and Imelda, raised him alone after the boy’s father returned to the Philippines. 

Imelda worked several jobs to provide for her son and afford their small apartment. When Cedrick entered high school, he tried to quit school so he could also work and supplement his mother’s meager income. But Imelda convinced him to go back and made sure he graduated despite his tumultuous teen years.

When Cedrick was called up for army service at age 18, he insisted on joining a combat unit against his mother’s objections.

“He worked hard to become a fighter. I hoped that this would help him to mature because before it was a little bit hard for me,” Imelda told CBN Israel. “He told me, ‘Ima (mom), one day you will be proud of me.’ I said, “What do you mean, I will be proud of you when you finish the army?’ He said, “No, you will be proud of me, Ima. Not like before.’”

Cedrick distinguished himself as a solider and then tried out for a commanders course. He finished in the top three but didn’t expect to be chosen as the top because he was the only Filipino.

“Then one day he called me all happy and shouting, ‘Ima! I’m the one they chose based on excellence to become a commander,’” Imelda recalled.

When October 7 transpired, Cedrick knew he was being called up as a reservist to fight in Gaza and prepared both his mother and his wife Daniella for his absence. 

Imelda resisted the thought. 

“I start crying. I said, ‘No, don’t go.’” Imelda recalled Cedrick’s response: “‘No, Ima. I will do my job. This is the right time to fight for this country. I love this country. And now so many people died, so I must go.’”

One weekend in January, Cedrick came home for a visit. Normally when he said goodbye after his time off, he told him mom he would see her again soon. This time he didn’t, but Imelda didn’t notice at the time.

A few weeks later she awoke to phone call. Daniella was on the line crying and asked Imelda to come outside. As Imelda stepped outside in pajamas and slippers, she saw many people including soldiers. 

“Then I felt that something happened to Cedrick. Maybe he’s in the hospital or something else, but I didn’t think that he was gone,” she said. “When I saw the soldiers, I opened the gate. The soldier came to me, and he just started to tell me something. I said, ‘Stop, my son is alive. Maybe it’s not him. Maybe you didn’t recognize him and it’s not him.’” 

“I was there for an hour crying. I couldn’t accept this,” she said.

CBN Israel’s Family Department reached out to Imelda and Daniella after the news of Cedrick’s death made national headlines. The organization is helping Imelda with her debt, the expenses of a funeral and connected her with trauma counsellors as she navigates this new season.

“He’s the only one to do everything for me because my Hebrew is weak,” Imelda said of Cedrick. “He’s my mouth, he’s like my feet, because everything that I need, he’s the one to do it for me.”

Imelda said the hardest thing is not seeing her son.

“It’s been nearly four months, and I really miss him,” she said. “I know there is a purpose of the Almighty Father. We don’t know what’s the purpose, but later we will see the answer.”

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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After October 7, How Are American Jews?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

On May 12, Israel literally stopped—as it does each year for two minutes of silence—when sirens notified the country to come to a standstill on their Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron). Warning sirens also sounded with incoming rockets from Hamas and Hezbollah. There was no peace that day, even in grief. Later, at the Western Wall, President Isaac Herzog stood with his shirt collar torn in mourning, which he called “a symbol of a blood-drenched rend in the heart of the people. A tear in the heart of the State of Israel. … A great tragedy has befallen us.”

Since October 7, 2023, every day is Memorial Day in Israel. The Times of Israel reports that 1,600 soldiers and civilians were killed either in combat or by terrorist attacks since Israel’s last Memorial Day, according to authorities. It was unquestionably the deadliest year for Israel’s security forces and civilians in 50 years. For 76 years—in multiple wars launched against Israel since its founding—the national casualties in this small country have totaled 30,140.

The day after Memorial Day, Israelis celebrated their Independence Day (Yom HaAtzma’ut). The switch from mourning to celebration is intentional, because for Israel, hope and happiness must endure. On May 14, Israel’s 76th anniversary was still celebrated, yet the celebrations were muted amid the heartbreak hovering over Israel in its national trauma. The usual dazzling fireworks displays—which might have triggered additional trauma in IDF soldiers, families and victims—were canceled.

The grim realities in Israel resonate with most American Jews. I checked in with several of my Jewish friends here in the United States by taking an informal poll during this significant week in Israel, asking them to reflect on their experiences here during the ongoing Hamas War. With eruptions on university campuses and the advent of additional silencing strategies toward Christians, we must echo the same concerns of our Jewish friends. Heed their voices. They are our “canary in the coal mine”—right here in the USA.

Susanne M. Reyto, a Holocaust survivor and an author (Pursuit of Freedom and Destination Freedom), is an educator through her books and leadership. She brought to Los Angeles the Violins of Hope, a collection of lovingly restored violins played by Jews during the Holocaust, to educate modern audiences through the power of music. Susanne cautions, “We must teach youngsters to empower themselves to fight for the truth. American Jewry has the good fortune of never having to flee and run to a homeland, so their appreciation for Israel is different than those of us who feel Israel is our umbrella protector.”

Ari Bussel, an Israeli-American friend and a foreign correspondent, gives us a clear view of what he saw with his own eyes: “Seeing my alma mater turn into a battleground at the University of California in Los Angeles caused me not to sleep. Jewish women dared to stand up at a press conference, and the young terrorist-protesters made them into victims. When the police moved in to arrest the aspiring terrorists in the encampment, they also attacked the police.”

Ari’s observation is that, once again, the lie has been multiplied—that Jews dared to attack the peaceful students! He warns, “To win, we must understand this is a war against the USA. Our enemies want ‘Death to Israel and Death to America’; they are against the two satans, and our fate will be one. Therefore, it is time for action to save America.”

My friend Norma Zager, an award-winning journalist, declares: “As a Jew in America today I feel an enormous sense of betrayal and fear. The promise of my country to accept all races, creeds and colors of people has been changed to ‘all but Jews.’ It should be a priority for every Jewish person to pray the Jewish State is triumphant.”

Paul Samuels, my Jewish husband, reveals another perspective. “Both my parents’ families fled Russian pogroms and immigrated through Ellis Island in the early 1900s. In the Bronx I was called a “Christ killer,” but no one marched against us. I am shocked now by the intense Jew hatred in the U.S. I don’t have deep fear, yet I look around me far more now,” he said. “I am glad that my parents are not alive to experience the same Jew hatred they faced as children in Russia. At 80, I am a proud first-generation American. My Dad served in World War II, and I am a Navy veteran.”  

Another Israeli-American friend is a deeply concerned parent of three younger children. “My children know they are Jews by birth and tradition and have family in Israel. Sadly, it’s a challenge to preserve their innocence. Some people simply dislike my kids for who they are, an awful reality. Can you imagine your kids living with that? I must teach my kids how to deal with hate and advocate for themselves. It’s a lot to ask.” My friend had chosen to remain silent about her Israeli heritage to avoid conflict, but October 7 totally changed her. “I cannot afford to keep quiet now. I must face the hatred head-on.”

Ari Bussel has an unambiguous message for his fellow Jews. “American Jews are responsible for the failure to respond to our Jewish students. The Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations of North America, Hillel and J Street, the organized Jewish world failed miserably and is fully responsible.”

My message as a Christian to other Christians reflects the thoughts of my Jewish friend who was a U.S. Navy pilot flying the famous F-14 Tomcats. “As an American I put my life on the line for the United States, including in the Iraq War. I am heartened by the evangelical Christian outreach to the Jewish community.”  

Let us make sure our “evangelical Christian outreach” multiplies. We must not remain silent on the sidelines like the German church in the 1930s. Our Christian faith was built on the rock of ancient Judaism. We are grafted into Israel, our spiritual homeland, and read a Jewish-inscribed Bible and serve a Jewish Savior. Standing with the Jewish community in the United States and worldwide is an important way to honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s redemptive plan! Reach out to your Jewish friends with encouragement this week!  

Our CBN Israel team welcomes you to join us this week based on Psalm 119:28—“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

 

Prayer Points:

  • Pray strength for Israelis afflicted by the ongoing national traumas.
  • Pray that Jews everywhere will reconnect with their Holy Scriptures.
  • Pray for Christians to reach out personally to any Jewish friends.
  • Pray for total victory for the Israel Defense Forces in Rafah.

 

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 ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

 

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Providing Food and a Sense of Home for the Displaced

Talya was anxious about returning home to Maagalim, near Gaza, with its daily sirens and rocket fire. She and her little boy, along with her neighbors, were evacuated to a moshav, or farm community, in Yad Hashmona outside Jerusalem. She is safer, but living in transition has been challenging.

 

Evacuees from the north and south have had to make a new routine here and a sense of home for themselves. And organizations like CBN Israel have joined together to help with that process.

 

Thanks to caring friends like you, CBN Israel has offered evacuees temporary lodging and essentials, along with a food truck that hands out free lunches every day. Here, they can gather at the truck for a midday meal to connect with each other, and share the traumas and challenges of being displaced. For now, it gives them something to look forward to—and a sense of belonging.

 

Donors also hosted a festival for families, with bouncy castles, carnival food, and a Superbook movie. For the displaced children staying there, it gives them a reprieve from the war.

 

“The kids are living out of their house …there’s no school, there’s no normal life,” CBN Israel Director Daniel Carlson explains. “This just gives them some time to forget and be kids again.”

 

As an architect, Talya realizes the difference between a house and a home, and observes, “Back in my town near the Gaza border, I only have four walls to go back to… What we have here is home, we have routine.” She is thankful for those who have supported her, and says, “It warms my heart that there are people who think of us, in this dark situation, who want the best for us.”

 

And your gifts to CBN Israel can offer encouragement and practical aid to so many war victims—as well as to Holocaust survivors, single moms, and refugees. The needs are great, and you can make a difference.

 

Please join with us today in blessing those in need!

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Yom HaAtzma’ut: Israel’s Independence Day

By Julie Stahl

Yom HaAtzma’ut is Israel’s national Independence Day, and this year marks the 76th anniversary of the modern Jewish state!

“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children” (Isaiah 66:8 NIV).

On May 14, 1948, just before the Sabbath, some 350 guests crammed into an un-air-conditioned, Tel Aviv art gallery for a 32-minute ceremony that would change the world forever.

We, members of the people’s council, representatives of the Jewish community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist movement, are here assembled on the day of the termination of the British Mandate over Eretz-Israel and, by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” declared David Ben-Gurion, Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and soon to be the first prime minister of the fledgling state.

On that historic day, Ben-Gurion spoke for 11 million Jewish men, women, and children around the world who had no voice, no address, and nowhere to go. For the first time in nearly 2,000 years, they finally had their own nation in their ancestral homeland.

“It was promised to us by God. We are the only people in the history of the world that live on the same land, speak the same language, and believe in the same God more than 3,000 years,” says Isaac Dror, who heads the education efforts for Independence Hall, the place where the declaration was made.

Among the crowd of witnesses was Yael Sharett, whose father Moshe Sharett was on stage with Ben-Gurion and was the country’s first foreign minister and second prime minister. At age 17, Yael wrote as her father dictated one of the drafts of the declaration. She shared a chair with her aunt at the ceremony.

“It’s really epic. It’s poetry actually. The only time I was really moved I must say was when the Rabbi Levine made the old age Jewish blessing: shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh,” Yael told CBN News.

That ancient Jewish prayer, which is recited on momentous occasions, offers thanks to God “who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day.”

Then they sang HaTikvah (“The Hope”), which is Israel’s national anthem.

The next day, which was the Sabbath, U.S. President Harry Truman became the first world leader to recognize Israel.

“He understood something that most of his top advisors and ministers failed to see. This is truly prophecy being realized,” Dror said.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations had passed resolution 181 calling for the creation of a Jewish State and an Arab State in British-controlled Mandatory Palestine.

The plan set aside land in the Galilee, along the Mediterranean and the Negev Desert for the Jewish people, while the Arabs were to receive all of biblical Judea and Samaria, later known as the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and other small portions. Perhaps the most controversial part of the plan was that an international body would control Jerusalem.

Still the Jewish people accepted the plan, but the Arabs rejected it. Less than six months later the Jewish people declared independence. The following day, the armies of five Arab nations attacked Israel.

Many countries have fought wars for their independence, but Israel’s war was not common. They had been granted independence by the sovereign, Britain; the decision was confirmed by the United Nations; and the Jewish people were returning to the historic land of their ancestors. But it was their neighbors who did not want them to exist.

A year later, the Jewish state was still standing and had increased its size by nearly 50 percent. Against overwhelming odds, this fledgling State of Israel not only survived but grew beyond expectation.

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Partition Plan, Israel’s mission to the U.N. celebrated by returning to the hall in Flushing Meadows, New York, where the U.N. vote took place.

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said: “In this very hall 70 years ago when the United Nations declared to the modern world an ancient truth that the Jewish people have a natural, irrevocable right to an independent state in their ancestral and eternal homeland.”

Israelis commemorate their Independence Day on the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar. During a televised ceremony that includes various leaders, Israelis make the transition from mourning on their memorial day to celebrating their independence. 

This year, the nation marks this momentous occasion for the first time since the brutal Hamas invasion and massacre on October 7th. The ongoing war has brought untold suffering. Innocent lives have been lost and the entire nation is living under the shadow of danger.

As of this month, 132 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza, over 200,000 Israelis are internally displaced, and the country continues to face a grave threat from its sworn enemies in the region who seek to harm her people, devastate her land, and erase her existence.

On this special day, may we continue to pray for the Jewish nation and renew our pledge to stand united with Israel.

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: Do You Sanctify His Name?

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them’” (Numbers 20:12 HCSB).

The children of Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin without water. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron, wishing themselves back in Egypt.

God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to bring water out for the people. Moses, however, in his anger, struck the rock and brought forth water. The disobedience of Moses and Aaron prevented them from entering the Promised Land.

This seems like an odd story. Regardless of how Moses did it, water still came from the rock. Why did God get so upset? Because Moses did not do what He commanded. Moses and Aaron brought the congregation before the Tent of Meeting, and God’s glory appeared to everyone. They heard what He said. But still, water came from the rock. Problem solved. Yet, it wasn’t.

Shepherds, like Moses, have a knack for finding water in the desert. Moses’ efforts made him the source of Israel’s provision, not God. His action showed that he did not trust God to bring forth water simply at his word. Moreover, his disobedience in front of the congregation did not sanctify God; in fact, it did the opposite. It profaned Him.

According to the Bible, our behavior either sanctifies God’s name or profanes it. We sanctify His name through our obedience to Him in the common and ordinary aspects of our everyday lives. The Bible often provides ordinary examples of ways to sanctify God’s name in our daily lives. To disobey means that we profane His name.

We often want to blame the media, secularism, politicians, and non-believers for God’s name being profaned in the world. However, the Bible tells us that non-believing nations were not called to sanctify God’s name; His people were.

The secular forces in our world are not responsible for God’s name being profaned in our world; we are. When we fail to obey Him, we profane His name. But when we obey Him, we sanctify His name before the world.

God takes this seriously. So seriously, that it prevented Moses and Aaron from entering the Promised Land. The first benediction of the prayer Jesus taught His followers to pray requested, “May we sanctify Your name.” How? By obeying His will.

PRAYER

Father, may we sanctify Your name in our world today through our obedience to Your word. Amen.

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Yom HaZikaron: Israel’s Memorial Day

By Julie Stahl

“The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die” (Psalm 116:15).

A week after Yom HaShoah (“Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day”), Israelis mark Yom HaZikaron (“Israel’s Memorial Day”) to honor and remember those who died fighting for their country and those murdered in terror attacks.

A televised state ceremony is held at the Western Wall and neighborhoods throughout the country hold their own ceremonies in public places, with the participation of the youth. 

Israelis stand in the streets for an hour or more as the people who died from those neighborhoods are remembered and honored.

Following the October 7th invasion and massacre as well as the ongoing war with Hamas and Hezbollah, this day is more real and relevant than ever for most Israelis.

Many visit cemeteries and attend other ceremonies on the day. Schools are in session but have special programs to honor fallen soldiers and terror victims.

Twice, on the evening before Israel’s Memorial Day and the following morning itself, Israelis collectively stand in silence as a siren sounds calling to mind the sacrifices that were made by family and friends for Israel’s freedom and security. 

“I was thinking about all the soldiers from the beginning of the modern State of Israel up until today who had to fight on the frontlines and on the home front,” said Shai Yosipov, a former IDF combat medic.

“It’s so important that everyone understands the price and the responsibility we have for living in this country. We not only remember our fallen loved ones, but we also acknowledge that there has always been a sacrifice that needed to be made so that we could be here today,” says Yosipov.

“During the siren, I was praying for families who’ve lost so many, and I prayed that God would give them comfort from the pain,” says Sarah Rivka Yekutiel, who moved to Israel from Boston many years ago.

“It’s an emotional time for everyone, whether you’ve lost family or not. This day is very heavy and intense,” said Orital Saban, who recently moved to Israel from Canada.

More than 23,000 Israeli and Jewish soldiers and more than 3,100 terror victims have fallen since 1860. 

At sundown on Israel’s Memorial Day, Israelis make an incredible leap from mourning those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to celebrating Yom HaAtzma’ut (“Israel’s Independence Day”).

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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Poignant Holocaust Remembrance Day Reminds Israelis of October 7 Atrocities

By Nicole Jansezian

While sirens rang out, all of Israel came to a standstill for two minutes last week. 

These weren’t the sirens that warn of incoming rockets or reminders of the current war still raging on Israel’s borders, but rather were a sign for Israelis to mark in silence Holocaust Remembrance Day, honoring the memory of 6 million Jews killed in the Nazi slaughter.

This year the memories were not too distant. More than half of Jewish Israelis believe that what happened on October 7 is comparable to the Holocaust, according to a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute. 

Israel observes Holocaust Remembrance Day on the date on the Hebrew calendar that marks the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The date commemorated internationally is on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

One of CBN Israel’s focuses in its humanitarian outreach is caring for the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors in Israel—at least one third of whom live below the poverty line. Financial and material help is designed to allow them to live with dignity after all they suffered.

Two such survivors that CBN Israel supports are Malka and Michael who came under attack when a rocket destroyed their home and almost killed them.

“When I heard the blast, I thought the world ended. I saw my husband covered in blood,” Malka said. “Shrapnel pierced his ear. He has Parkinson’s disease, and I couldn’t move him to safety. It was so horrible.”

Eventually paramedics reached and treated the couple and got them to safety. Now CBN Israel is supporting the couple with rent and groceries while their home is being repaired.

To mark the somber occasion, representatives of CBN Israel attended the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony of the Association of the Deaf in Israel in which survivors who are also deaf, shared their stories in sign language with a large crowd that gathered in Tel Aviv.

Understanding that in war time the challenges of people with disabilities are exacerbated—for instance, people who are deaf cannot hear sirens that warn of incoming rockets—CBN Israel is now coming alongside the Association of the Deaf to support their community. 

At a moving ceremony, participants watched the testimony of Leah Boznitsky, who became deaf at the age of 2 right before the Nazis entered her hometown in France. Leah survived because her parents placed her in a Catholic orphanage during the war where she hid her Jewish identity.

Leah, who sadly passed away on October 12, was able to reach Israel in 1949 after a harrowing journey and time spent in a detainment center. She was a longtime member of the Association of the Deaf branch in Tel Aviv.

Through CBN Israel’s support of organizations such as these, our impact will extend to more communities throughout the country who have suffered in diverse ways. 

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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Stepping into Holocaust History: Connecting 1933 and 2023

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

On March 22, 1933, the Nazis admitted prisoners to Dachau, the first concentration camp where they began to imprison Germans whom they deemed a political, social, or cultural threat to their unholy government. Ninety years later, on October 7, 2023, Hamas invaded the Jewish homeland in an attempt to repeat a holocaust. Echoes of World War II arose amid terrorists’ frenzied shouts and Israelis’ anguished screams, with 1,200 murdered, hostages kidnapped, and thousands wounded.

At Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on May 5, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, “The terrorist attack on October 7 was not a holocaust—not because of the lack of intention to destroy us, but because of the lack of the ability to destroy us.” In God’s fulfillment of promises, Israel became a modern state in 1948 and with it gained the ability to defend itself.

During World War II, reports from Europe about Nazi mass arrests, industrialized murders, and the numbers of concentration camps merely trickled out. Today, with the ubiquitous presence of social media, we have no excuse for misunderstanding or misrepresenting the events of October 7. Nevertheless, mainstream media is weaponizing truth into lies day and night in every time zone. It is essential to listen to trustworthy media only, which I will mention in my closing.

The goals of Hamas replicate the Third Reich’s homicidal goals. Back then, most of Germany’s Protestant and Catholic clergy and their congregations embraced the Nazis. Now, too, many clergy and churches live in dangerous passivity by departing from God’s redemptive vision through Israel and the Jews outlined in the Bible.

The 1988 Hamas Charter that is still in force notes in Article 12: “Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Muslim land. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female.”

Hamas claims that theirs is a religious creed, but it strikes me as an addiction. Murdering Jews is their horrific “high”—carried out with no regret. That partly explains these pitiless terrorists acting as if they were producers excitedly filming innocents on a movie set in Israeli homes! Read the statement of Ghazi Hamad, who is part of the Hamas political bureau and who refers to the October 7 attack as Operation al-Aqsa Flood. “We are called a nation of martyrs … proud to sacrifice martyrs,” Hamad declared. “Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country,” which he called “a catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nations.” This statement is the only fact we should believe. Inaction will not stop these brutes. World War II proves my point.

Is it too much to hope that the 2024 annual Days of Remembrance between May 5 and May 12 have awakened facts for naysayers and those whose thinking has been distorted by hatred?

It is debatable as to whether the two—Holocaust Remembrance Day and October 7—should even be mentioned in the same sentence. Yet, it is important now to reiterate the October 7 atrocities, especially since we have massive numbers of facts from the beginning of the attempted holocaust. The genocidal murders of 6 million Jews in World War II, embedded in the Jewish DNA for 90 years now, re-invaded their minds and hearts with demonic intensity—as it took place not in Europe but inside the Jewish homeland. Non-Jews cannot fully grasp the depths of Israel’s national trauma over this lethal invasion into their ancestral homeland—on their own soil—with God’s unbreakable deed thousands of years ago for all eternity.

For me, stepping into any Jewish commemoration is a step into history both ancient and modern, celebratory or somber. On May 5, I attended a somber, emotional, yet uplifting program sponsored by the Birmingham Jewish Foundation in Alabama. Movingly presented with memorable storytelling, honoring both Holocaust survivors and liberators, it also included a special tribute to the late Amnon Weinstein. Weinstein was the Israeli founder of the world-renowned Violins of Hope, violins lovingly restored for the last 30 years by luthiers Amnon and his son, Avshi.

Amnon and Avshi had appeared in Birmingham in 2018 with 60 of the precious, restored Holocaust-era violins. The recent tribute to Amnon, the brilliant recipient of honors worldwide, including Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit, is close to my heart. I served on the board of the South Carolina Violins of Hope, and in April 2022, with numerous sponsors, we held four large-scale concerts featuring the historic violins as well as numerous smaller venues. Around 10,000 attended and heard one of Amnon’s inspiring quotes, “Our violins present the victory of the human spirit over evil and hatred.” 

Nazis murdered 400 of Weinstein’s family during the Shoah. In the 1930s, his parents escaped from Poland to Israel, where Amnon’s father set up shop in Tel Aviv. Amnon and his son, Avshi, carried on the business, dedicating it to collecting and restoring violins played by Jewish musicians held in concentration camps during the Holocaust. After concerts in 2018, Amnon and Avshi presented Violins of Hope Birmingham with the lovingly restored violin. As part of the May 5th tribute, a local violinist played two beautiful melodies. My tears fell as I heard the century-old violin and prayed for Jews worldwide who are facing danger at every turn.

In the Samford University auditorium (no protesters outside or inside), in stories told by Holocaust survivors and their families, several comments clearly reminded me of Hamas. “After the Holocaust, survivors were liberated but not free.” “Nazis began a steady drip then moved into shocking speed.” “A small rockslide must be removed quickly because an avalanche is unstoppable.” “At Buchenwald, when Allies freed the survivors, the killing furnaces still burned with Jewish bodies.”

Nazis and Hamas are both cut from rancid, evil cloth. Hamas’s attempted holocaust was stopped, yet Israelis are not free from their national trauma and not yet totally victorious. Hamas has repeatedly fired barrages of rockets into Israel for almost 20 years, then with shocking speed in the al-Aqsa Flood on October 7. Burning Jewish families tied together and babies in the ovens of homes in the Israeli kibbutzim reenacted the Nazi tool of demonic fire.

Ghazi Hamad says Hamas are victims. “Therefore, nobody should blame us for the things we do. On October 7, October 10, October 1,000,000—everything we do is justified!” If you believe what Ghazi Hamad defends, then act!

Commit to choosing at least one article a week. Pass it on. Christians must deliver facts about what is happening in Gaza amid the falsehoods overwhelming so many minds. Here are several news outlets I trust: CBN Israel, Gatestone Institute, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), and Israel’s Defense and Security Forum (IDSF).

Join our CBN Israel team this week knowing that Israel and the Jewish people will forever carry the profound message of survival and resilience. As we read in 2 Samuel 7: 24-26, “You have established Your people Israel as Your very own forever … so that Your name will be great forever. Then men will say, The LORD Almighty is God over Israel.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for facts from Holocaust Remembrance Week to renew compassion.
  • Pray strength for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet as they must make weighty decisions.
  • Pray for the IDF shifting Gaza residents to safe zones to eliminate Hamas in Rafah. 
  • Pray for Israelis to remain unified and have supernatural patience amid pain.
  • Pray for American university leaders to make wise decisions. 

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 ArleneBridgesSamuels.com.

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Victim of Terrorism: Katerina’s Story

Katerina and her husband Alexsky were raising their family in Ukraine when the Russian attacks began in 2014. Alexsky saw how it traumatized their oldest daughter, who was 10 years old, and knew it was time to leave. They sought refuge in Israel and made Aliyah, becoming Israeli citizens in 2017.

Then came the October 7 Hamas invasion. With no safe room in her apartment, their oldest daughter, now an adult, was terrified, and moved back home. When their city of Ashkelon came under heavy rocket fire, Katerina stayed at home with the kids, while Alexsky had to work, facing danger in the streets. The government soon evacuated Katrina and her children to safety, while Alexsky looked for extra jobs, trying in vain to make ends meet.

When Katerina returned, their finances were even tighter. She recalls, “Because I wasn’t working, we suddenly couldn’t pay the bills. It was very stressful.” Yet, friends like you were there for them.

Through CBN Israel’s partnership with a local ministry, the food packages that caring donors provided for this desperate family kept them from starving. They also gave the couple emergency finances for extra groceries and essentials, and to pay off their mounting debt from lost income during the war. Katerina shared, “We’re very thankful for people who care. It was a big help. We’re so grateful!”

Your gifts to CBN Israel can help many more war victims with food, lodging, and necessities—while continuing to assist others in dire need. And your support can also offer a crucial lifeline to elderly Holocaust survivors, single mothers, refugees, and those who are struggling alone.

Please consider blessing Israel’s people at this critical time!

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Biblical Israel: Pool of Siloam

By Marc Turnage

Located on the southern part of the rock cliff that marks the hill of the City of David (in Jerusalem), near the southern end of the Tyropoean Valley sits the Pool of Siloam. The pool was accidentally discovered in 2004 by workmen laying a new sewage line in the southern part of the City of David. The Gihon Spring, Jerusalem’s primary water source, supplied water to the pool in antiquity via the so-called Hezekiah’s Tunnel. 

Archaeologists uncovered two flights of five narrow steps separated by a wide landing that descend into the pool. This enabled people to descend to different levels based upon the fluctuation of the water level due to either the rainy or dry seasons within the land of Israel. Although the archaeologists only uncovered one side of the steps of the pool, it seems that such an arrangement of steps surrounded the pool on four sides. The pool covered roughly an acre of land. Coins and pottery date the construction of the stepped pool to the mid first century B.C.

To the north of the pool, archaeologists uncovered a fine pavement of stones that resemble the first century street that runs to the west of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Discovery of column drums and column bases protruding from the pavement suggests that a colonnade ran along the pavement. 

The Pool of Siloam appears twice within the New Testament (Luke 13:4; and John 9:7). In John, Jesus instructed the blind man to wash the mud from his eyes in the pool to be healed. It served the water needs of ancient Jerusalem (along with other pools in the city), and it also served as the largest ritual immersion pool within the city. Jewish pilgrims, who needed to be ritually pure before entering the sacred precincts of the Temple (see Acts 21:26), could use the Pool of Siloam for ritual immersion. Its size and proximity to the Temple makes it a suitable location for the baptism of the three thousand who responded to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). 

Archaeologists have suggested that the holes found on the steps leading into the pool might have supported screens made of wood or mats to provide privacy for those ritually immersing in the pool. Jewish ritual immersion, like what we find in the New Testament, required privacy as the person immersing did so in the nude, nothing can come between the bather and the water. 

During the first century, on the last night of the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam and brought to the altar of the Temple and poured out as a libation. The festival occurs at the end of the summer (around October), and the water libation requested rains from God (see John 7:37). This ceremony, known as the Beth HaShoeva, occurred at night. Jewish sources describe how pilgrims lined the route from the pool to the Temple carrying torches.

The first century Pool of Siloam likely covers the same pool mentioned in Nehemiah (3:15). Then, at a later time, the pool was enlarged and constructed in the manner of a Jewish ritual immersion bath. 

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.

Website: WITBUniversity.com
Facebook: @witbuniversity
Podcast: Windows into the Bible Podcast

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