March 31, 2022

Time for a New Exodus?

 Europe’s 1.4 million Jews 

In 1939, there were 16.6 million Jews worldwide, and a majority of the9.5 million (57%)lived in European countries. By the end of World War II in 1945, the Jewish population had shrunk to 3.8 million (35%) of the world’s 11 million Jews. According to the estimate, about 6.0 million European Jews were killed during the Holocaust. 

There are still more than a million Jews living in Europe making up about 10% of the world’s total Jewish population. That number has dropped significantly over the last several decades, especially in the Former Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries, due to the emigration to Israel. Now, a tiny fraction of the former Soviet Republics’ populationabout 310,000 peopleare Jewish. In the Eastern European countries of Poland, Hungary and Romania live about 100,000 Jews. 

Today, concerns over renewed anti-Semitism on the European continent have prompted Jewish leaders to talk of a new exodus from the region. See below the graphic about perpetrators of anti-Semitic verbal harassment and physical assault: 

According to the legend, Muslim and Christian groups make the vast majority of the attacks (Source: Bielefeld University)

 Many Jews in Europe feel under assault. In an EU poll of European Jews across the Continentpublished in January 2022a full 89% of those surveyed said that anti-Semitism had significantly increased over the past few years. They believed to be under “a sustained stream of abuse.” About 38% of those surveyed said that they no longer feel safe as Jews in Europe. 

European officials were stunned at the findings. Maybe they should not have been. Millions of new immigrants have settled in European countries, many from Muslim countries that harbor deep hostility to Israel, and sometimes also, to the Jews. 

Not waiting for their leaders, communities across Europe have begun to take action themselves because they fear what may happen if anti-Semitism is left unchallenged. In recent years, teachers, rabbis, imams, and local activists have launched countless initiatives to break stereotypes, educate youth and forge links across religions. Those fighting anti-Semitism caution that it is likely to take many years for their efforts to succeed. (References: Michael Lipka/Pew Research Center and other online resources) 

 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,  may my right hand forget her skill.  May my tongue cleave to the roof  of my mouth, if I do not remember you,  if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy  (Psalm 137:56) 

Standing with the guardians

As guardians, the IDF applies defense and deterrent operational strategies with a strict moral code of ethics. The instructions for ethical conduct given in the Torah are the Jewish people’s foundational principles. The IDF works to stop terror attacks all over Israel and guard the dangerous Gaza border area. Our David’s Shield project supports numerous IDF units with encouragement and needed care items. The project supports also 

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the reserve units, such as those who are called into active service during the wartime operations. 

Mark DeVito (CFI-USA) with soldiers stationed in the north (above) and a lone guardian in a watch tower (below)

 Ukraine and the Jews 

 The history of the Jews in Ukraine goes back over a thousand years. The Jewish community in the territory of Ukraine constitutes the third-largest Jewish community in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world. In Ukraine, the foundations developed for many modern Jewish theological and cultural traditions, such as Hasidic Judaism. While at times these communities flourished, they also faced periods of fierce persecution and anti-Semitic discrimination. 

Ukrainian Jews consist of a number of sub-groups, including Ashkenazi Jews, Mountain Jews, Bukharan Jews, Crimean Karaites, and Georgia Jews. From 1640 to1650, the Cossack and Crimean Tatar armies massacred and took into captivity tens of thousands of Jews, Roman Catholics, and Christians. Hundreds of Jewish communities were completely destroyed. 

In the following centuries, anti-Jewish riots and pogroms continued. During the Russian Revolution and War (1918-1920), an estimated 31,000 Jews were killed. In the years of the German occupation of Ukraine, about one million Ukrainian Jews were systematically killed. Remember the Babi Yar, Kiev, the massacre of 33,000 Jews by Nazis, in one location! 

In the days of the Ukrainian unrest in 2014, the Jewish aliyah to Israel increased over 140% as compared to the previous year. Since then, security has improved. In the 2019 Presidential Election, Ukraine elected its first Jewish President, Volodymyr Zelenski. As the tension is rising again on the Russia-Ukraine border, an estimated 75,000 Ukrainian Jews may be ready to leave the country for Israel. 

 A Mountain Jewish family in Or Akiva hosted one of our tours for an evening of a multi-course traditional meal, music and friendship 

 Wall of Prayer 

 “You will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live” (Isaiah 58:12). 

CFI’s Wall of Prayer department is repairing and restoring spiritual prayer walls around Israel. As we align our motives and actions with God’s heart, we too can be the repairers that He intended. When CFI issued the clarion call to strengthen prayer surrounding Israel, prayer warriors from several continents responded. They faithfully cry out to God on behalf of Israel. They are like first-century believers. “All these with one mind were continuing together in prayer…” (Acts 1:14). 

Linda McMurray, Wall of Prayer Join us to “Restore the Walls” as we International  Directors pray with Linda (and others from the Jerusalem Headquarters) for spiritual coverage, protection, and guidance for the Israeli leaders and military, and peace over the Jewish nation. 

 Exhibiting solidarity with the IDF 

 CFI Jerusalem’s Project David’s Shield exhibits solidarity in two ways. First, we build relationships with and trust of individual Brigade and Unit Commanders. We openly share with them that we are Bible-believing Christians from the nations and that we believe the restoration of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is in accordance with promises contained in the Hebrew Scriptures. 

We also acknowledge that Israel’s enemiesas history has shown countless timesare poised to attack in full force at any time in Israel’s never-ending war for survival, for their very of existence. 

We agree that Israel needs a Defense Forcea modern-day King David’s army! God has given His title deed to Israel, with the expectation that it will be defended by physical guardians, the soldiers of the IDF, just as David’s army did. Secondly, we strive to provide items and equipment to soldiers as an expression of our support. The items help to show soldiers that we care, and we love them for who they are as much as what they accomplish in defense of Israel. The items allow us to meet with the soldiers, look them in the eyes and tell them that we believe they are doing the right thing. 

Not only is it right. God says it is righteous! 

CFI Jerusalemand Project David’s Shieldwill continue to encourage the brave soldiers who are defending this nation. With God’s help and yours, we will remove the barriers that remain between us. 

 for the nation of Israel throughout the world. 

As Christians, we have a Biblical obligation to pray for the Jewish people and Israel’s security. More significantly, we have the mandate to believe God when He says that, He remembers His covenant forever, the covenant which He made with Abraham and confirmed it to Jacob, to Israel, as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you, I will give the land of Canaan. Moreover, the land which I gave to Avraham and Yitzhak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you” (Genesis 35:12). 

I have been humbled and privileged to represent the nation as the supervisor for this significant project. Thank you for the honor. 

Jim McKenzie
Project David’s Shield Supervisor
3rdQ2021 For Zion’s Sake, CFI Jerusalem
shield@cfijerusalem.org

Jim McKenzie has now returned to the U.S. He and Linda will be greatly missed. Please pray for the right replacement for this important post in Jerusalem, serving the soldiers of the IDF and the people of Israel. 

IDF soldiers touring the old city of Jerusalem (left) and a unit base in the Golan Heights (right)

March 1, 2022

Removing Barriers

CFI’s Jim and Linda McKenzie with soldiers

 What is the Mission of the IDF? 

The purpose of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is to protect the existence of the state of Israel, its independence, and the security of its citizens and residents. As a nation, Israel has sacrificed its men and women in its struggle to protect its people and country. 

They have, over the years, developed a unique ability to stand together in the most difficult of moments. More than any other nation on earth, Israel is incredibly able to realize the concept of mutual togetherness. 

One of the sad effects of war that widows and orphans of fallen soldiers are forced to grasp is the painful reality of this never-ending war just to exist. The shadow of mourning and loss is a common factor connecting them in a unique way that provides excellent opportunities for them to develop special relationships. 

Jim and Linda bring winter fleece jackets and other items to soldiers

 CFI’s David Shield project had a special honor to serve an organization that exists solely due to the effects of warthe Foundation for the Families of Fallen Paratroopers. CFI gifted them with catered food for a reunion event of over 300 widows and orphans. These events are critical to an atmosphere of general well-being and unity that is necessary for Israel to endure. 

Every Israeli knows someone who has served in the armywho has probably served themselvesand who most certainly has lost a family member or friend. The bereaved families never forget. They grieve for the young men and women killed in past wars while future generations are anxious to serve and fight to defend their very existence. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11). 

A total of 23,928 men and women have died defending the land of Israel [since 1948]. Annually, on Memorial Day, the country stops to contemplate all they have sacrificed. Did God reject His people? By no means! His call is irrevocable.

“I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).

 Together Again 

Following years of serving the needy and helping with the assimilation process, we are grateful. The Ethiopian Learning Center will catapult the ministry into a new phase of service which will create long-term opportunities for the Ethiopian Jews to catch up to the rest of Israeli society. CFI continues the assessment of community needs and brings aid. 

 Join us with your prayers and support for the new Learning Center to bless the Ethiopian community. 

Ethiopian Jews back to their ancestral home in Israel

January 29, 2022

The Lord will go forth

 Ethiopian national holiday 

 In 2008, Israel officially acknowledged and enacted into law the traditional Ethiopian holiday “Sigd.” On November 3, 2021, the festival took place in person in the Promenade Park of Jerusalem with many more Ethiopians than in the past years. Ethiopian Jews have always stood on their oral history, which continues to strengthen them as a community. During “Sigd,” Ethiopians gather in high places to pray and fast and then celebrate. 

The Ethiopian Jews face difficulties with integration into the Israeli society. CFI’s outreach project Hope for the Future continues to impact their community as it has done since the first immigrants from Ethiopia arrived in the 1980s. 

 “Sigd” gathering in Jerusalem (top), and one of the  colorful celebration meals (bottom) 

 Prayers of many 

 More Ethiopian Jews to arrive 

In November 2021, the Israeli government approved bringing about 5,000 Jews from Ethiopia, who have been waiting for years in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa. The recent operations have brought only small groups to Israel due to the problems of identifying their Jewish ancestry. Israel’s Immigration Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata is recorded saying that “today we are correcting an ongoing injustice done to those waiting for their immigration to be approved. The previous governments did not implement it.” In 2021, a total of 1,600 Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel. 

Other Jewish immigration 

In 2021, the total number of new immigrants was 27,050. It rose by 30% compared to 2020. The new arrivals included 4,000 immigrants from the U.S., which is the highest figure since 1973. About 7,500 Jewish immigrants arrived from Russia, 3,000 from Ukraine, and 3,500 French Jews became Israeli citizens, each group showing an increase over to the previous year. 

Fires and terrorist attacks 

Our hearts go out to all who experienced the loss of their property in the Jerusalem Forest wildfire in Fall 2021. The destruction included the Harari Harp workshop, Metzuda Winery, and several homes. Israel National News reported that it was due to an arson fire that was set in several locations. In the recent car-ramming terrorist attacks, entire families were injured, and one young man was killed. 

Thank you, our friends, for your prayers! 

Together we are making a profound difference in the lives of Israeli civilians suffering from repeated rockets and other attacks. 

“The Lord will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies” (Isaiah 42:13). 

January 29, 2022

Do not hold them back

 Rescue from Addis Ababa 

For the last century, Ethiopian Jews have struggled to join their brothers and sisters in Israel. Heroic efforts have been made by the Israeli government through a series of operations, including Operations Moses, Solomon, and Joshua to bring Jews home. As of 2021, the Ethiopian community in Israel numbers about 160,000. Many in Ethiopia still wait to be reunited with their families and to join in the historic journey of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. 

Learning Center for Ethiopian Jewry 

A new season has begun at CFI for the assistance of Ethiopian immigrants. The history of the work records that in the late 1980s, Ray and Sharon Sanders lived across the street from the Ethiopian Absorption Center in Mevasseret Zion. Also in those years, many families were separated as all of them did not make it to Israel on the various flight operations. The Sanders saw a need to assist the newcomers. 

When more family members arrived, CFI established a program and called it “Together Again.” Over the years, good contacts were built with the absorption center personnel, social workers, community leaders, and of cause, with the Ethiopian Jews. 

CFI must keep working to help them receive comparable assistance to make a living in Israel. Educational opportunities are needed, and then, teachers to teach them to use modern technological equipment, such as computers, for the younger generation. Appliances like sewing machines are helpful for the older generation to produce garments and crafts to earn a living for their families. 

 New ideas and creativity are helping CFI to reach out with Christian love and caring hearts. CFI wants to touch whole Ethiopian communities to make a difference. CFI is excited to launch this vision from God that will inject new energy, hands-on possibilities, and hope into many hearts. Of course, CFI will give God all the glory. 

The purchase of accessible appliances, material for a computer center, power computer cart, laptops, sewing machines, software programs, overhead projector and screen; and certainly the rest of the material needed for the building of this outreach center would not have been possible without provisions by Pastor Jentezen Franklin from Georgia, along other donors. 

You all will have a part to play in our new Ethiopian Learning Center as the Center will be a place to tackle computer illiteracy, career complacency, and to offer a reinforced curriculum for IT learning, business classes, and to continue reinforcing sewing and tailoring skills. 

We are indebted and thank all of you, our supporters across the world, for your invaluable help in carrying out this precious new vision. (To read the full article by Sharon Sanders, please visit www.cfijerusalem.org – For Zion’s Sake magazine.) 

“Do not fear, for I am with you, I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back. Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 43:5-6, NASB). 

Ethiopian Jews receive help and care at the Distribution Center

January 29, 2022

The return of a lost tribe

 Mosaic kingdom behind the rivers of Ethiopia 

 The history of Ethiopian Jewry goes back millennia. For almost two thousand years, the Beta Israel (House of Israel) had their own community, even their own kingdom, and army in the Simien Mountains region of Ethiopia. Their main city was Gondar, and their king was said to be a descendant of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest Zadok of Jerusalem. They lived autonomously from 850 to 1270 A.D. 

The Beta Israel was cut off from the rest of the Jewish world. They believed that they were among the only Jews left on earth after the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. Slowly word of the existence of a Mosaic [of Moses] kingdom lying on the other side of the rivers of Ethiopia began to filter out. Throughout the centuries, the Beta Israel fought numerous wars against other tribes, survived slavery, and resisted forced conversion to Islam and other faiths. 

In the 1850s, the Beta Israel population was estimated to number about 250,000 people. Only a few decades later, famine would greatly reduce their numbers. 

 In1859, a London-based missionary organization began operating in Ethiopia, and also converting the Beta Israel members into Christianity. Soon, several European rabbis took a note of it and recognized the Jewishness of the Beta Israel. In 1868, a Jewish-French orientalist, Joseph Halevy, was sent to study the conditions of the Jews. After Halevy returned from Ethiopia, he called the world Jewish community to save the Ethiopian Jews, and to establish Jewish schools for them. He even suggested bringing thousands of Beta Israel members to settle in Ottoman Syria years before the first Zionist organization. 

As a result of Halevy’s and others’ efforts, in 1908 the chief rabbis of forty-five countries made a joint statement officially declaring that Ethiopian Jews were indeed Jewish. This decision would later be affirmed by the leading rabbis of Israel, including Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Shlomo Goren. In the early 20th century, the Jewishness of the Beta Israel became openly supported by European Jewish communities. 

Ethiopian Jewish men, who with their families, have settled in the city of Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv.

 January 2022: Caring for Holocaust Survivors 

 Grateful recipients 

“I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to you for your close cooperation with us over the years. As a head of the Association of  Concentration Camps and Ghetto Survivors, I have known and cooperated/worked with the international organization of Christian Friends of Israel for over  20 years, and despite this, I never cease to appreciate and admire the work of your department. Holocaust survivorsold and sick peopledearly appreciate your home visits, how you listen and record their stories. They treasure warm relationships, attention, solidarity, and material support, as well as preserving the memory of the Holocaust. I ask you to convey gratitude from the Holocaust survivors, and from me personally, to all kind people who are able to perceive other people’s suffering as their own, and how wonderful it is that such people are still among us! We wish you health and success in your noble work. May kindness and generosity return to you a hundredfold. With deep respect, Gita Koifman” 

 Our Holocaust team members visiting survivors