Archives For Israel

I am writing to you from JFK airport in New York (10 days ago) as Rosh Hashanah comes to a close. I was supposed to fly to San Diego and give one message and get home to Israel before Rosh Hashanah, but then I was invited to Orlando to promote our new show on, “Out of Zion.” I really didn’t want to go, but Elana said, “If you go, you can fly through Richmond on the way back and spend Rosh Hashanah with the girls.”

Chabad Richmond

And that is what I did. What a great day it was to be with my parents, my sister and my daughters. We went to the Orthodox Jewish synagogue with my parents. This was not the Conservative synagogue in which I grew up, but the far stricter, “Chabad” stream. And this synagogue has a special place in my heart. The rabbi’s father was the rabbi when I was a kid. After I came to faith in Yeshua, my parents asked me to meet with him, and we did, weekly. His goal was to convince me that Yeshua was not the Messiah and that I should simply become an Orthodox Jew.

Yankl Kranz (in the picture) was a dear, sweet man with good hopes for Richmond. He used to drive a huge ‘bookmobile’ trying to get Jewish kids to read Jewish books. It was a library on wheels. We really enjoyed each other. He died young and his son, Yossel, took over for him. Yossel and I have a bit in common. We are both American Jews, rabbis of sort, and we both married beautiful Israelis. He is a fantastic communicator and unlike in Orthodox Judaism in Israel, he doesn’t put guilt trips on the more secular Jews, but seeks to draw them in at whatever level they are willing to enter.

Theological Divide

However, despite the similarities there is a great theological divide. Though his sermon was well written and quite humorous, his basic point, as we were beginning the High Holy days—days where our sin is highlighted and we seek forgiveness—was not “Repent”. But the opposite. “You are far more righteous than you think. Don’t say I don’t keep kosher, say, I keep kosher most of the time. Don’t say, I don’t keep the Sabbath, but say, I keep the Sabbath most of the day.” He does not see us as sinners.

He characterized Jeremiah as depressed, not understanding that he was broken over the sinful state of the Jewish people as he saw prophetically that they were about to be conquered by the Babylonians and their Temple destroyed (586 BCE).

“If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered.” (Jeremiah 9:1)

Orthodox Judaism fails to understand that the Torah is not a set of rules to please God, but that our inability to keep the Torah revealed to us that we are sinners in need for forgiveness (Gal. 3, Rom. 7). While we should strive to keep the Ten Commandments, each time we read them we realize how far we fall short. Isaiah said that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Is. 64:6) To be clear, the analogy is referring to a woman’s monthly cycle.

We have Sinned!

Both Daniel and Isaiah cried out, “We have sinned” but modern Judaism (really post 2nd Temple Judaism created by Yochanan Ben Zakkai [read this about that guy!!] after the 2nd Temple was destroyed) says, we can earn forgiveness through:

  1. Giving
  2. Repentance
  3. Prayer
  4. Good works or mitzvot 

It is during this season however—the Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—that we sing Avinu Malkenu, Our Father and King. The very second line is:

Avinu malkeinu chatanu l’faneycha

אבינו מלכנו חתנו לפניך

And no, it does not mean, “Our father in heaven, we tried really hard.” It means, “Our father in heaven, we have sinned before you.” This cry is the cry of the Hebrew prophets. And God answered by sending us a Moshia (Savior) who was qualified to take the punishment we deserve, as Isaiah said, “So the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6)

In the same way that a judge doesn’t reward a murderer for the people he didn’t kill or the thief for how much he didn’t steal, God will not turn a blind eye to our sin just because we do some good things. But Yeshua came, and according to Isaiah, He took our punishment.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Yeshua came to make us holy, not through our keeping most of the Sabbath, but through His death and resurrection. Here is a video I made related to this.

May this be the Yom Kippur season that the we see the words of Zechariah come to pass:

 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Please consider a special gift this Yom Kippur to help us reach Israelis with the message of the Messiah. Thank you!

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Feast of Trumpets

Ron Cantor —  October 2, 2016 — Leave a comment

The ELCA, not to be confused with the star of Frozen—that would be Elsa—has taken a brazen stand against Israel. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has voted to divest from Israel and encourage the United States to pull all support until Israel leaves what they call “Palestinian Lands”. I take just over five minutes here to explain that there is no such thing as “Palestinian lands”. M apologies to Methodists everywhere for my mistake at the end 🙂

It is interesting, but I was told by a former leader of an ELCA church, that while they were voting to marry and ordain homosexuals, a tornado blew that tore off the steeple of the church!

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 3.40.54 PM

While Hillary Clinton was lying, saying that the FBI’s “Security Review” exonerated her and while Donald Trump was picking a fight with the Muslim family of a fallen U.S. soldier, you may have missed this important story.

World Vision, though having a long history of being anti-Israel, is the largest evangelical humanitarian aid organization with offices in 100 countries and a billion dollar annual budget. However, it appears they can now boast the title of “Sponsor of Terrorism.” Well, maybe not knowingly.

Their man in Gaza, Mohammad El Halabi, has been siphoning off millions to support—not starving children or hurting widows, but the terrorist group Hamas!

“According to Israel’s Shin Bet security service, El Halabi diverted around $7.2 million of World Vision money to Hamas each year. That is the equivalent of 60 percent of the charity’s total annual funding for Gaza.” (NBC News)

Israel’s Shin Bet (FBI) says that 40% of the funds—around $1.5 million—that were designated to civilian projects, were given to Hamas combat units in cash. But don’t worry, Mohammad El Halabi’s World Vision appointed lawyer spoke to him.

“He told me he never, ever transferred any money to Hamas and he has never been a Hamas member,” [lawyer] Muhamad Mahmud said. (NBC News)

Israel arrested him on June 15 and his detention has been extended until August 2, which was several days ago. We assume he is still in custody.

Not surprisingly World Vision is standing by their man.

“World Vision stands by Mohammad who is a widely respected and well-regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties.”

Well yeah, if you are going to pose as a humanitarian in order to funnel funds to terrorists to build tunnels, pay their salaries and fund other nefarious operations, you are not going to wear your suicide belt to work. The whole point of a con is convincing the people giving you millions that you are a great guy—everyone loves Mohamed!

But it doesn’t seem that World Vision properly vetted their Gaza Chief as he was an active member of Hamas just a year before he was hired.

The facts included in the indictment describe El Halabi as having a master’s degree in engineering. A member of Hamas since 1995, in 2004 he joined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas. In 2005 he was hired by World Vision to carry out administrative assignments at the charity’s Gaza branch. (Jewish Press)

I guess he lied to his lawyer when he said he had never been a member of Hamas.

Outlined in the article from the Jewish Press are facts that should give pause to anyone supporting World Vision.  Some of the Hamas terror tunnels are covered by plastic sheets with the World Vision logo! Imagine that—a group committed to helping the downtrodden, was being used for acts of destruction and terror.

World Vision has demonstrated a passion to delegitimize Israel. For years the organization has spoken against Israel. Just last year Steve Haas, the World Vision vice president, accused Israel of apartheid, failing to realize that Israel’s Arabs, unlike those in Saudi Arabia or Syria, have freedom of speech, can vote and enjoy all the rights of other Israeli citizens.

I believe that the major dividing issue in the Church in the last days will be over the state of Israel. When Christian organizations defend an employee giving millions to terrorists, and condemn the only true democracy in the Middle East—not to mention, “the apple of [God’s] eye,” their is a huge problem! Yes, God said whoever touches Israel, touches the apple of his eye. (Zech. 2:8)

Messiah’s Mandate seeks to counter these unbiblical and erroneous claims through blogs, videos, podcasts and teachings. Our free eBook, which has been downloaded thousands of times, sets the record straight when it comes to Israel and so-called Palestine.

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Yeshua is not going to return to an anti-Israel bride! Help us turn the tide.


Rami Kleinstein, Israel’s version of Elton John or Billy Joel, and like me, an American immigrant to Israel (albeit, he came as a child), has a song called Matanot Kitanot, or Small Gifts. In it, he speaks of the cultural experience of Friday. You see, there is no comparable thing in other countries to Friday in Israel. I am not merely speaking of Shabbat, which begins Friday night—but all that is Yom Shishi in modern Israel.

There are only two verses in this song, and I can only assume that his intention is to compare the Friday experience from his childhood to the Friday experience as an adult living in Tel Aviv. Let me explain. Friday as a child meant coming home from from school, mom cooking all kinds of ethic wonders and then, dressed in white, fathers take the children to the synagogue. After prayers a delicious multi-cource meal—the Erev Shabbat meal—was waiting at home.

This meal is the central, galvanizing force of the Israeli family. I have no doubt that many broken marriages were saved as a result of the spouses realizing that divorce meant no Erev Shabbat family meal. Almost everyone—atheist Jews, religious Jews, not-so-sure-what-I-believe Jews—gather with their families for Erev Shabbat. Klienstein writes:

Another Friday, breathing the air,
 Light and shadow are playing “tag” again.
 The table is set, childhood photos on the wall,
 White processions are returning from the synagogue, 
And that smell which scratches my heart,
Sneaking in and opening doors,
 To a small joy, to the same old song
which is being passed along for generations.

But then Kleinstein grows up and marries a woman who would become one of Israel’s most beloved singers, Rita, divorces many years later, as he continues his successful music career. Now in his fifties as a secular Jew living in Tel Aivi, it is different. For Tel Aviv’im (people from Tel Aviv), Friday morning is sacred. The kids are at school, but you are not at work. It is like Saturday morning in the U.S. but without children. Shabbat, or Saturday here, is family day, but Yom Shishi is a break for the adults.

You go to a café, newspaper in hand—or more recently, your iPad. You could be alone or with friends. Maybe a date to the farmers’ marker, like Elana and I had this morning.

For others its mountain biking on Mount Carmel or hiking through the hills surrounding Jerusalem. Or maybe a walk with your dog on Rothschild street with all it’s trendy cafés and restaurants. I presume that the adult Kleinstein, a Tel Aviv celebrity, seeks to convey this picture in the second verse.

Another Friday—balcony and newspaper,
The sun, like worries, is slowly being erased, 
Simple melodies crawl through the window and there is no longer any storm which can hide the silence.

I remember my first trip to Israel. On Friday night in June 1991, I went with Elana’s brothers to their Moroccan synagogue. Moroccan Jews are Sephardic (as opposed to Ashkenazi [European] like my family) and their style of worship is much more lively than the stoic chanting in Hebrew with which I grew up. Dressed in white we retuned to Elana’s mother’s matchbox apartment and had a festive meal. I felt like I was dreaming and had gone back in time. Every family in that city was eating together.

That was 25 years ago. Thirteen years ago we moved to Israel and raised our kids here. However, in the past few years our children, now adults, have moved back to the U.S. How quiet Erev Shabbat has become for me and Elana. It’s hard. And a little sad. We are not used to ‘quiet’ on Erev Shabbat. And many of our friends who have dual citizenship are in the same boat.

But on the other hand, Elana and I, who had our first child nine months and three days after getting married, are enjoying the freedom at the young age of 50 of waking up on Yom Shishi, going to a café, shopping at the farmers’ market at the port of Tel Aviv or taking a walk on the beach—we are getting to live like a young couple, 28 years after the fact. That I like.

And with FaceTime, Skype and the like, our children are always only a few megabytes of bandwidth away.

Times change and so do we through the different stages of our lives. But one thing is sure: Elohim, who does not change.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Gen. 2:2-3)

Kleinstein ends his melodic tune with the words that we pray every week in the Kiddush, as we invite in the Sabbath, words that we will pray tonight at our congregation and will be chanted very shortly all over Israel:

Ki banu bacharta , ve’otanu kidashta…
Baruch ata adonai mekadesh hashabat

For thou hast chosen us and sanctified us…
Blessed art thou, God, sanctifier of the Sabbath.