- A Heart Connection
- Baruch HaBa 2015 Conference Gallery
- The Blind Rabbi & the Brazilian Cantor
- Thankful But Not Happy!
A Heart Connection
Welcome To Our Humble Home
Friendship and involvement are primary goals when we host the Baruch HaBa conferences. Filled with fellowship, prayer, fun, and the experience of Israel – both modern and ancient – our shared journey through the land creates heartfelt connections that can endure through the momentous days ahead. Tents of Mercy, together with Revive Israel and Tikkun International, has been hosting this conference every year and a half since 2005. Planning and preparing for this event has become a routine part of my work. But when I truly think about the reason that we host more than 100 guests from all over the world, I don’t want it to be a task I check off of my to-do list. Because hosting people, welcoming them into our lives and homes, in big or small ways should never be routine. I believe that it’s not by chance that the Bible encourages hospitality. There was a divine reason that the early believers met in each other’s living rooms. Throughout the Scriptures, lives were literally changed by open homes. When you invite someone over for coffee, pray with them, have dinner together, let them spend the night on your sofa, you open your life and your heart as well. Connections form that cannot be created in any other way. That’s really what this conference is all about – welcoming guests into our “home” and sharing a portion of our lives with them so that they can experience the heart of Israel and we can in turn receive from them. Today I received an email from one of our guests which said, “Thanks for the wonderful gathering with you, I have taken Israel back home with me.” To me, that embodies the essence of what God desires when he brings us together, even for a short time. He wants us to partake of each other, to share our dreams and callings, that we might see and pray and continue our journey, strengthening and refreshing one another in ways that will make Yeshua real to His people, Israel, and to the home nations of our friends.
As I write this text, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude. Our God blesses us with more than we deserve and more than we expect. My name is Moshe. I’m a Brazilian Jew who has lived in Israel for two years. When I moved to this beautiful country I never imagined what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would do to me and for me.
My story began about 10 years ago, when I started to return to the Jewish roots of my family. I was raised as a Christian, but I knew that my family had a Jewish background. It was common to hear our parents and grandparents tell stories and legends about “when we were Jews…” A decade ago, while studying everything possible to rediscover my Jewish inheritance, I decided to take some private Hebrew lessons. To my surprise the teacher´s husband was the rabbi of a Messianic community. I understood this was the path God had prepared for me, and I began to attend that congregation.
Initially the prayers and Jewish customs were unfamiliar, but gradually I began to feel at home. Suddenly, a day of sadness arrived. Unexpectedly our rabbi, a serious and admirable man, broke out into tears and shared his plight: an eye disease was progressing fast. In a short time he would be completely blind! Everyone started crying. In addition to the dimension of personal tragedy, our small community was at risk because no one else could perform the weekly Torah reading or sing the traditional Jewish prayers. This might be the end of our Messianic synagogue.
“Rabbi, if you’re going blind, from now on I´ll be your eyes!”
These were the words that jumped spontaneously out of my mouth as the Spirit sparked something that would change my life forever. Within a year I was leading the prayers every Sabbath at our synagogue.
The Torah Effect
All my life I had felt like an alien, unable to adjust. Depression consumed my youth. Shyness stole my friendships and opportunities. The enemy undermined my communion with God. Years passed. Then the irresponsible and hopeless young man who was me, underwent a profound change through exposure to the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God cleanses and restores.
When I tried to read the weekly Torah portion in Hebrew the first time, all I could say was:
“Lord, help me because I have no idea where to start!” And He did.
Something that usually takes years to learn, suddenly became clear. God showed me how to read and sing the Hebrew. Interaction with the text began to change me from the inside. I found myself remembering biblical texts that before were indecipherable. The prayers put me in touch with Holiness. As time passed by, the Holy Presence transformed me. Like a Bar Mitzvah boy, I was becoming a man. In a few years I became part of that congregation´s leadership.
“Get out of your country… from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
Sometimes our lives take completely unexpected turns. Doors begin to close and comfortable routines become a burden. Change becomes inevitable. I was now a married man with a family and a prosperous company. But several problems began to force a change. While seeking God´s answer, I received an unthinkable challenge. We were called to emigrate to Israel. Despite loving Israel and being an active Messianic Jew and Zionist, I had never thought about the possibility of making aliyah. But that’s what eventually happened in August of 2012. At age 40 I landed with my family in Israel.
The beginning was hard. War and rumours of war came fast and frightened us. But what followed was worse. Here I was, a former business owner, now an unemployed immigrant seeking professional stability in a strange land. I went through a year and a half of immense suffering and hard trials, more than I thought I could endure. After some time, the period of God´s testing passed. The period of mercy started, and I was finally at peace again – serving God in a serious congregation, received as a loved one, despite all the cultural differences and potential difficulties. Praise God, who made a way to settle a Brazilian family in the midst of the Russian Israeli community in Haifa!
The Young Cantor
There are moments when we can see that our lives have come full circle. We are like a leaf in the wind when in the hands of God. He takes us wherever He chooses. Although often a mystery, there is always a bigger plan behind His decisions, and I saw it up close this week.
During my years serving as a cantor, some of my greatest joys came from preparing boys for their Bar Mitzvah “becoming a man” ceremonies. I’ve had the opportunity to teach many, including some here in Israel, but none impacted me like this last one. The boy stood up before the assembly to read publicly from the Torah scroll last Saturday in our congregation. The difficult text was sung without errors, in a pure and fluent way, almost supernatural. I was overwhelmed. You see, the young man Ariel is the eldest son of the blind Brazilian rabbi who changed my life.
For the past decade Shavei Tzion (Return to Zion) congregation has developed several social projects in various sectors of Israeli society: From Holocaust survivors to underprivileged children. From Messianic soldiers to homeless people. New immigrants, war refugees, and others have been touched by our attempt to reach new disciples for Yeshua. And we also want to serve the Messianic community in the Diaspora.
From this successful experience, hosting a Brazilian family and performing their son’s Bar Mitzvah in our congregation, came the idea for a new venture. It is our desire to extend this opportunity to the nations. We want to open the doors of our synagogue to Jewish families that want to provide their child with a meaningful and enriching Bar Mitzvah experience.
It will be our privilege to provide interested families a period of preparation for the Bar Mitzvah ceremony including online training, quality lodging and the use of our facilities and Torah scroll. In addition, there will also be the opportunity to tour Israel with Messianic guides.
If you´re part of a Messianic congregation, have children close to the age of 12 and want to know more about this project you´re invited to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” ( John 1: 11)
Imagine a family reunion after 2000 years. The thrilling anticipation of bonding. Connecting all the dots of your origin and history. Healing, strengthening, and enriching your born identity. You had always heard about them, but now you will actually see your relatives. You will find a strong resemblance, and a common thread that runs through your histories. To witness such an encounter with your past is truly a miracle.
Israel is the home of such a miracle – the biggest family reunion ever. Jews are returning from exile worldwide. It is a wonderful thing.
Yet despite the excitement, the return of exiles to the Land has also been a source of social, cultural, and racial clashes. Such has been the weaving of Ethiopian Jewry back into the fabric of Israeli Society.
The return of the last remaining community of Israel from the soil of Africa started in the late 1970’s and still continues today. The Jews of Ethiopia have realized their long-awaited dream of coming to the Promised Land according to the promises of God through the mouth of great prophets. Today they number around 140,000 in Israel. But the Ethio-Israeli community has not seen the promises fully come to pass. While thankful to be with fellow Israelis they are not happy with the discrimination and racism that they have experienced in many pockets of society.
Discrimination and lack of acceptance toward their very own Jewish Ethiopian brothers has caused great offence to the story of God’s redemption of Israel. This condition of inequality has crept into Israeli society at large, even affecting government institutions. This discrimination was largely hidden for the last 30 years, with only minor and ineffective demonstrations and appeals. Due to the meek and humble character of the Ethio-Israeli community, empty promises from prime ministers and leaders were taken at face value. But now that has changed.
Volcanic anger and frustration erupted into violent demonstrations in early May when a video went viral. The video showed an innocent Ethio-Israeli IDF soldier in uniform, being brutally beaten by police for no specific reason. The video did not leave any room for doubt about discrimination targeted at Ethio-Israelis. Apparently this is not an isolated event but something many young Israeli Ethiopians have experienced at the hands of police. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that 40% of juvenile jail inmates in Israel are young Ethio-Israelis.
What makes this wave of demonstrations different is that it is coming from the younger generation – many of whom were born in Israel. The racism, discrimination, and derogatory remarks towards the Ethiopians have continued into the next generation – a generation that will not allow themselves to be gullibly reassured by lip service of politicians.
The discrimination is not just from the police. It is present in numerous places including some schools who refuse to receive Ethiopian pupils, some employers who discriminate and some neighborhoods which have not allowed Ethiopians to buy or rent homes.
The police chief has fired the officers in the video, and he also called to open all the files of incarcerated Ethiopian juveniles. This is a step toward righting the wrongs, but the journey towards equality is going to be long.
Looking back at the history of our nation, there was a time such as this. The whole camp of Israel was stopped in their journey towards the Promised Land when: “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married… So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed” (Numbers 12:9). God saw this arrogance of heart, and He departed from their midst. They could not move forward. God feels strongly about discrimination and racism.
The family reunion born in the heart of God was not meant to end in debasing one another. Quite the opposite, it is Israel’s irrevocable calling to be a brotherhood nation that is diverse but unified in the loving heart of the Father. Maybe this can only happen fully when all Israel receives the One who “came to His own…”
“That they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, shall bring My offering.” (Zephaniah 3:9-10)