Celebrating Jerusalem's 50th Year Jubilee
AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT IN MY LIFE
Monthly Report: June 2017
Sivan - Tammuz 5777
A scene from the film "Dry Bones," on which I began work in early 1968. Though the film deteriorated before the days of digital, I believe it still packs a powerful message! —SSR
By Shira Sorko-Ram
"You are destined to live in Israel."
This prophecy was given to me numerous times as a young girl in my early 20's.
At that time, there were areas of my life not in right standing with God. I had my own plans and goals, and to me, moving to Israel sounded like I was being shipped off to a third-world country like Afghanistan or Siberia.
But on October 15, 1967, 50 years ago, I arrived in Israel for a two-week visit with my parents. Only four months before, the little nation of just over two million Jewish citizens had escaped complete annihilation by the concerted efforts of Syria, Jordan and Egypt along with Iraq, and had achieved a victory that was beyond the imagination of the prime minister, the army chiefs and the whole population of Israel.
The euphoria of the Jewish state was indescribable. To the Orthodox Jews, there was no doubt the Days of Messiah had arrived.
To the secular citizens, an unexplainable miracle had occurred. The Arab armies had been crushed—and surely they had learned their lesson. There would be no more war!
Everyone repeated in joyous rapture, "Jerusalem is once again ours!" It was into these stratospheric heights that my parents and I landed in Israel. And I stayed.
Two scenes I can never forget: When the next Independence Day rolled around in 1968, it was the first one where Israelis could celebrate in the ancient city of Jerusalem. I was standing on an incline looking down at tens of thousands of Israelis surrounding the area of Jaffa Gate (before it was landscaped). Spontaneously, with no microphones or musical instruments, the people began to sing "Jerusalem of Gold," the song that had been composed only shortly before war, and became the song of the Six Day War.
Later that night, the streets of modern Jerusalem were filled with musicians on balconies with their accordions and clarinets, while soldiers stood their rifles up teepee-style in the middle of circles they formed up and down the streets, while dancing the Hora through the night.
THE EARLIEST MESSIANIC PIONEERS
Quickly I discovered there was only a tiny remnant of Jewish believers in the entire land. For all practical purposes, they didn't exist. Yes, there was a family here and an individual there. Victor Smadja and his family, immigrants from Tunisia, had established a Messianic Assembly in Jerusalem; and the Heimoff family (now Bar David) that emigrated from Bulgaria, had a small group meeting in a Tel Aviv suburb. Ostrovsky hosted a Bible study in Jaffa. That was about it.
I thought to myself, "How in the world will the Israeli people, with only a tiny handful of believers in the land, ever have the opportunity to hear a clear explanation of salvation, according to the Bible?"
Even though I had no prior plans to remain in Israel, after consulting with my father, I decided to produce a 28-minute documentary on the establishment of the new state of Israel and the recent return of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, exactly as it had been foretold by the prophets.
I felt it was critical for Christians to understand that important portions of Biblical prophecy were unfolding "right now" and Israel needed the prayers of intercessors worldwide. I also began to study the Hebrew language.
CREATING THE "DRY BONES" SCRIPT
Together with my language studies, I spent almost three years working on this film which I called "Dry Bones." I struggled for months over the script, and then one day I thought to myself, "Why should I try to describe current fulfillment of prophecy? I have the best scriptwriters in the world—Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zachariah, to name a few!" And so I spent many months poring over the books of the entire Old Testament.
Each time I read a verse that foretold the suffering or described the glory of the coming Messiah, or talked about the return of the Jewish people to Israel, or Jerusalem's restoration, I wrote the Scriptures on a card. In those days there were no computers!
When I was finished, I had a stack of cards four inches tall. Out of those Scriptures I created a script and contracted an Israeli company to produce the film which I directed.
ASSEMBLING THE ARTISTS
During the filming, I had many opportunities to witness to my cinematographer, Adam Greenberg, who went on to be a much sought-after director of photography in Hollywood, filming movies such as "Terminator 2" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Adam taught me so much with his flowing lyrical camera work!
The only obstacle—and it was a big one—was that Israel was such a young country there was not even a single film lab in the country to develop film. We had to send the film to France, and they ruined a great deal of the original film. We had to re-film a number of sections, much to our dismay. (These were the days before video!) Nevertheless, we persevered.
I had the greatest of privileges to meet two of modern Israel's founders—giants in Israel's history: First prime minister David Ben Gurion in 1965 and prime minister Golda Meir in 1971. PM Ben Gurion asked me, "WHEN ARE YOU MOVING TO ISRAEL?"
I met one of Israel's finest composers and conductors, Noam Sheriff. Having run out of funds to enlist such a world-renowned musician, I asked him if he would compose the music for free. He agreed! I only had to pay for the recording sessions.
I searched for a very expressive voice with an Israeli accent to read the script. I was introduced to Yossi Yadin, a famous actor in Israel, and brother of the celebrated archeologist, Yigael Yadin, who excavated Masada and Megiddo, and who later became Deputy Prime Minister.
Yossi agreed to narrate the film. In order to physically make the script, I simply took a Bible and cut out the Scriptures, one by one, and pasted them on paper. At first Yossi was taken aback, asking if I wasn't desecrating the Bible by cutting it up. I told him that desecrating the Bible was done by those who did not keep the commandments written in it. He was satisfied with the answer and we recorded the narration.
GOLDA MEIR ASKED TO SEE "DRY BONES"
Yossi talked to Golda Meir, then Prime Minister of Israel, about "Dry Bones." She told him she wanted to see the film herself. Knowing how busy she was, I wrote her, offering to bring the film to her home. She invited me to show her the film on August 10, 1971.
With great anticipation, this opportunity brought me to much prayer! As a girlfriend and I prayed, I seemed to see Golda Meir on her bed at night, looking up and asking, "Is there really a God?" I also felt there was going to be some type of spiritual opposition to this invitation, and I and my friend began to pray with deep intercession that the Lord would allow me to show her this film without interruption.
The day came for me to take the film to her house and I entered with a large bouquet of flowers. I remember the security people looking carefully through it to make sure there was no bomb planted among the stems. Several aides and family members were also there.
After small talk, the film began. Its theme portrayed Israel in the late sixties as a nation raised out of the ashes just as the prophets had prophesied would come to pass in the latter days. There was also a section where the narrator read Isaiah 53 about the suffering Messiah who would die for the sins of His people.
The images portrayed a Messiah-like figure falling among his sheep in a black and white, heavily overexposed film, giving it a mystical appearance. That scene was interwoven with a sheep being slaughtered on an altar. It ended with the prophets' call to repentance, and God's promise in Ezekiel to redeem his sheep from the wolves among the nations.
When the film was finished there was silence. Then Golda asked, "What part of the film was Old Testament and what part was New?" I answered, "The entire narration was only Old Testament." She sat thoughtfully, and then said, "But why the blood? What significance does it have?"
Of course, that opened up the theme of the priestly office of the Levitical tribe which was commanded to shed the blood of animals in order to pay the price for the sins of the Israelites. I stressed that only after the shedding of blood, could the Cohanim (priests) enter into the presence of God to make supplication for the people.
"That," I explained, "is why Yeshua had to die and offer his life so we might live. He is the Lamb of God. He is the way to permanent forgiveness of sin for the Jewish people—and, in fact, all who want it. He is the gateway to the presence of the God of Israel."
"Golda again brought up the scene of Isaiah 53, and said softly, "That was Jesus." I was amazed at how open her heart seemed to be as she spoke.
Suddenly, another person in the room shouted out rather angrily, "This is idol worship (avodah zarah)! This is against Judaism!"
That ended our conversation. But I had spent almost an hour speaking about the way to salvation with Prime Minister Golda Meir. I felt certain that through our prayers (and others who had been praying for us) the Lord held back the comments of the angry man until the prime minister had had an opportunity to hear the Good News through the prophets' own words.
I left her residence at midnight, after having spent two hours with her; I felt God had desired that she have opportunity to ask questions of her heart.
The next day I received a phone call from the same aide who had burst out with his comments of idol worship. He told me the prime minister had enjoyed very much the film and the evening. In fact, he told me everyone there had found the evening very interesting.
I heard, after she died in 1983, that she had requested to have a believing doctor care for her in the hospital in her last days. He later wrote me that as a Christian he had the privilege of giving her care, but had not spoken to her about faith. I do know she asked serious questions that night and listened carefully to the Good News of Israel's ancient prophets.
One day the Good News will permeate this land in such clarity and power that all Israel will be saved. We believers in Israel today are pioneers, knowing that eventful day is coming! And oh, how we long to see it!
View this 47-year-old film "Dry Bones":
This article was printed in the Maoz Israel Report 10 years ago. On this 50th anniversary of Jerusalem's liberation, I thought it appropriate to retell the story of my visit with Golda Meir, the prime minister who led the nation between the miraculous Six Day War and the terrible Yom Kippur War which happened six years later. SSR.
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A little dose of history
THE HOLY LAND:
OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS AND FAKE NEWS
Archeological dig at City of David.
So history repeats itself. For the 50 years I have lived in Israel, every single new U.S. president has made one of his top-priorities the goal of solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and bringing peace to the Middle East. And who doesn't want peace? The Israeli people are desperate for peace. And I'm sure many Arab citizens also yearn for peace.
As President Donald Trump tries his hand at this ultimate peace deal, hopefully his advisors are supplying him with accurate briefs on the subject of "whose land is this?" Certainly, for every Bible believer, it is worth spending a few minutes to review the historical facts.
Yes facts, not fiction. Genuine historic documents—instead of the fake history that was first propagated by terrorist Yasser Arafat and now disseminated by all Palestinian leaders. Their rewriting of history has been phenomenally successful. Today the world's 1.6 billion Muslims and almost all world leaders have accepted the "Palestinian narrative."
Perhaps the only group of people who are currently open to the real facts will be Christians who are truth-seekers and their understanding is based first of all on God's word. So here goes: Mohammed never visited Jerusalem and did not consider it important enough to mention in the Quran even once. Mecca is mentioned, but not Jerusalem. The Quran does refer to the children of Israel and states that the Promised Land belongs to them.
Quran, 17:104 : "And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: Dwell securely in the Promised Land." Quran, 5:20-21: "Moses said to his people ... O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you."
Some twenty-five hundred years before Mohammed was born, Abraham talked with his God who promised him the Holy Land long before any other current world religion was conceived. The Jewish Holy Temple stood on Mount Moriah 1500 years before Islamic warriors spread across the Middle East ultimately conquering great swaths of the earth and forcing Islamic conversion on its citizens.
BEFORE THERE WERE MOSQUES
But when Yeshua walked on the streets of ancient Jerusalem there were no mosques nor churches there—only the Jewish Temple and nothing else. King David himself purchased the land on which the first Temple was built in the 10th century BC. The Bible records the deed, the name of the previous owner, and the purchase price:
Then David said to Ornan, "Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall grant it to me at the full price ... So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place.
Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (I Chronicles 21:22,25; II Chronicles 3:1)
The Temple Mount was purchased by a Jewish King for the Jewish people.
THE YEAR 1517AD
But allow me to skip over hundreds of years for the sake of brevity, to the year 1517 when the Ottoman Turks conquered the Holy Land and ruled for exactly 400 years.
The land was so barren and unimportant that it didn't begin to approach the concept of a nation state with borders. One traveler, Charles Thompson in 1744 wrote, "I shall henceforwards, without Regard to geographical Niceties and Criticisms, consider myself as in the Holy Land, Palestine or Judea; which Names I find used indifferently, though perhaps with some Impropriety, to signify the same Country." (books.google.co.il)
When the Allies defeated the Turks in 1917, the British and French carved up the Middle East between themselves: France agreed to administer a mandate over Lebanon and Syria. Britain governed Iraq and the Holy Land—the latter they referred to as "Mandatory Palestine" (although rich Syrian absentee landlords and rulers saw the land as Southern Syria). Palestine then became the area's common name. (cotf.edu)
THE MANDATE DID NOT GIVE BRITAIN SOVEREIGN RIGHTS
It must be understood that the British Mandate which was validated by the League of Nations (forerunner to the UN) did not give the British sovereign rights over the Holy Land. In fact, the Mandate specifically and only appointed Britain to support the creation of a Jewish state! Yes! Read the Mandate. (avalon.law.yale.edu)
While all non-Jews living in Palestine were assured civil and religious rights, the Mandate did not mention the word "Arab," much less "Palestinian."
Indeed, the Mandate stated that Britain would be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 21, 1917, [i.e. The Balfour Declaration] which declared Britain's intention to help the Jewish people establish a homeland for the Jews. As for the former owners of the Holy Land's "state lands," the Ottoman Turks showed no interest in repossessing their lost lands in Palestine. So to whom did the land belong?
The rest of the Mandate's story is all down hill. Britain decided to ask the League of Nations to detach [separate] the land east of the Jordan River from the very Mandate which was supposed to create a Jewish nation. In other words, it asked the League to exempt three-quarters of the land mandated for the Jewish people in order to give it to the Arabs. This in spite of Article 5 of the Mandate which specifically stated: "The Mandatory [Britain] shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power." (Ibid.)
TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLE
Bending to Britain's request, The League of Nations (which became the UN) did create an Arab state, called it Jordan and then handed it over to a Saudi emir. Now look closely! The British high commissioner in Palestine explained they were simply creating two states for two peoples "a Jewish National Home in Palestine west of the Jordan [River] and a separate Arab entity in Palestine east of the Jordan." (palestinefacts.org)
Anyone who knows Middle East geography would understand that the commissioner was saying that there would be two states for two peoples: the area where the nation of Jordan was created would be the state for Arabs. The area on the west side of the Jordan would include all of modern Israel and all of what is called today "occupied Palestinian territory."
So the British did create a "separate" Arab entity called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. But Allah demanded the entire Holy Land. The Arabs' rioting continued for years, killing both Jews and British soldiers, while insisting that there would be no Jewish state. Finally an exhausted Britain gave up and turned the whole mess over to the United Nations.
THREE STATES FOR TWO PEOPLES?
The UN divided up what was left of the Holy Land into a second Arab state (which would be in Judea and Samaria) and a Jewish state. The Jewish leadership accepted the UN plan for the establishment of two states. The Arabs rejected it out of hand.
Indeed, the area allotted for a second Arab state (west of the Jordan) was rejected by all surrounding Arab states. A day after Israel announced their new state in 1948, the Arab nations launched a war of annihilation against the Jews. Miraculously, newborn Israel survived and even expanded its UN designated borders.
In this war to destroy Israel, Jordan's army overran and occupied Judea and Samaria (where a second Arab state was to have been planned) plus East Jerusalem. The only two countries that ever recognized Jordanian sovereignty were Britain and Pakistan! Though Jordan annexed what is called the West Bank in 1950, it was never recognized by the international community. So, again, to whom did the land belong? Remember, at that time there were no "Palestinian people."
Sixteen years later, when Jordan, Egypt and Syria stood ready to attack Israel again, Israeli forces executed a preemptive strike and conquered Judea and Samaria and ancient Jerusalem in what is known as the Six Day War. (Israel also pushed Egypt out of Sinai and Gaza, and Syria out of the Golan Heights, but that's for another story.) But here is the question again. To whom did Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem belong? Jordan? Britain? The Turks?
One thing is for sure, the land didn't belong to any Palestinians because, as we know, at that time there were no Palestinian people. Notice that in the UN-proposed division of the land, and all the documents up to the Six Day War, there was mention only of Arabs; not a Palestinian was to be found!
Today, this newly created people-group is determine to conquer the entire Holy Land including East Jerusalem, but they really have no justified legal claim to it, having never ruled it. In fact, Jerusalem has never been the capital of any nation throughout history, except Israel. Furthermore, how can Israel be occupying another nation's land since there has been no recognized sovereign entity in the Holy Land west of the Jordan River since the Ottoman Empire? And as we have seen, the Turks now for a hundred years have shown no interest in reclaiming it.
Mandatory Palestine map
JORDAN ABDICATES RIGHTS
When Israel signed a peace agreement with Jordan in 1994, King Hussein, the former occupier of land mandated for a Jewish state, asked of Israel two conditions: the first was a promise that the Jordan River would continue supplying water to the people of Jordan. No problem. Israel agreed.
The second condition was that the Jordanian army would continue guarding the east bank of the Jordan River (Jordan's border) but that Israel, not Jordan, would guard the west bank of the Jordan including Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. Therefore, the king of Jordan waived any legal rights his country might have claimed.
Even when the Jordanians did occupy Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, they never considered making it their capital. I myself visited Jerusalem in 1959 and 1965, and the Jordanians had left it a backwater, poverty-stricken village, while the Jordanian King ruled in his capital of Amman.
What will it take for the nations to acknowledge that no other nation has ever made Jerusalem their capital? Believe it or not, the one and only source for the Muslim's claim to Jerusalem and the site of the Temple Mount, is a mention in the Quran of a dream that Mohammed had about an unknown "far distant place." As one author asked, "Can any Muslim in the world produce any credible evidence for Islamic connection to Israel's Temple site, other than in Mohammed's dream?"
The best reference for understanding the Muslim-Arab mentality and its politically-motivated falsification of history is Mohammed's own advice to his followers: "War is deception." In the feckless mandate, Britain and then the UN "solved" the problem of Jerusalem by declaring it an "international city." But the Arabs would hear none of it. The idea was a dead letter from the start. Israel captured its ancient capital back from Jordan in a war with Arabs who fought to eradicate the Jewish state. In 1980, Israel's Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, declaring it to be the undivided capital of the Jewish state forever. Zachariah saw it all: And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. (Zachariah 12:3)
Not a good deal for anyone. We must pray earnestly for President Donald Trump as he looks to make the ultimate deal to bring peace to the Israel-Palestinian conflict by dividing up His Land in order to create an Islamic State. At this writing, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced he's ready to negotiate for peace with Israel.
Yeshua the Messiah said: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down by nations, till the times of nations be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)
Not a good deal for anyone.
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After four years of hard labor ...
DR. DAVID H. STERN'S
JEWISH NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
IN HEBREW IS FINISHED!
Jewish New Testament Commentary in Hebrew
One of the largest projects Maoz has ever undertaken was the translation into Hebrew of the Jewish New Testament Commentary. It took four years! And now it is completed!
We invited 120 of Israel's Messianic pioneers and leaders from all over Israel to celebrate David Stern's life and his contribution to the Messianic Movement in Israel and around the world. He and his wife Martha, two children and their families, including eight grandchildren, were all in attendance.
Each Messianic leader who attended received a copy of the Hebrew version of the Jewish New Testament Commentary as our gift to them. It was a glorious evening which none of us will ever forget. And we will always be grateful for our Maoz contributors who donated the $100,000 for the translation. We estimated it would cost that amount, and that's what it came out to—within a couple of hundred dollars! Thank you, Maoz partners! Your investment is now a reality and will impact Israel for years to come!
A great time of prayer and blessing
Dr. David H. Stern Event
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PASSOVER SEDER AT
CONGREGATION TIFERET YESHUA
Over 70 people came to celebrate the last Passover Seder at Tiferet Yeshua. "The event was amazing; it felt like we were all of one heart, and nobody rushed home!" says David Trubek, elder of Tiferet Yeshua.
Eyal, an Israeli from Tel Aviv, who attended for the first time, was surprised how interactive all the members of the congregation were with the Seder, the dynamics between them and the fact that everyone participated in the readings and Messianic songs!
Of course, an inseparable part of the traditional Seder is the music, which contains traditional songs everybody sings around the table. The Lord brought our hearts together as worship leaders Roman and Tanya Kadin led us in joyful praise, singing these ancient songs together with songs that glorify the Lamb of God.
"I don't remember ever participating in such an extremely blessed Passover Seder," says Olga Gez, a member of Tiferet Yeshua congregation. Many believers and non-believers desire to experience a Messianic Passover Seder, but because of the size of our congregational fellowship hall, we were limited with the number of people we could host. Tiferet Yeshua has an aspiration to renovate our main hall, so that next year we'll be able to invite many more to our Passover Seder! And next year we would love to livestream our congregational Seder, to give a chance for Israelis all over the world to take part in it!
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HEADING FOR MJAA CONFERENCE
2016 Conference Attendees -- Messianic Jewish Alliance of America
Every year the largest gathering of Messianic Jews in the world takes place at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. The Messianic Jewish Alliance of America hosts a week-long conference of teaching, fellowship, worship, concerts, youth events, and much much more. In fact, it was at this conference in 1975 that David Stern met Martha and soon they were married!
We have seen that bringing Israelis to the MJAA enriches the Messianic experience for both Israeli and American Jewish believers, not to speak of those who come from many different countries around the world. Israelis have the opportunity to see large numbers of strong Messianic Jewish believers, while Jews from around the world can rejoice in the fact that they see with their own eyes Israeli Messianic Jews who are also members of congregations throughout Israel.
Every year our Maoz partners have supplied the funds to enable Israelis to attend the MJAA Conference, for which we are so grateful. This year 22 Israelis have been selected to attend. Each of them has paid $500 for which many have saved up for a long time. Also the MJAA is participating in bringing the Israelis to the conference. The amount yet needed for each young adult attending and for which Maoz is committed, is $1850* per person.
We are sowing into the lives of the new generation of Israeli born-again believers. It is worth it!
Dear Maoz Partner,
This is a monumental time for Israel!
Having just celebrated Jerusalem's 50th anniversary on May 24 according to the Hebrew calendar, many of us will celebrate it again according to the Gregorian (Western) calendar on June 7!
Fifty years! Fifty years ago there was only a tiny handful of Jews who had been introduced to Yeshua the Messiah as Lord and Savior!
Now no one really knows the number. Gallup should do a poll in Israel!
What we do know is there are hundreds of teenagers who attend Israeli Messianic Jewish congregations, and many hundreds more on the outskirts of the Messianic movement, believing in their heads, but not yet making a complete commitment to what they know is the truth.
We at Maoz know there is no better investment than impacting the lives of our Israeli young people—to not only be a follower of the God of Israel and His Son Yeshua, but to become leaders, using their talents in ministry, in the marketplace, in music, art and every other means that builds the Body of Believers in Israel.
That is why each year we send a number of Israeli young people who are committed to the Lord and their local congregation to the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America's annual conference. The interaction of Israeli Jewish believers with their counterparts from America and many other countries is beneficial to all involved.
Therefore the MJAA and Maoz partner each year to bring Israeli young people to the week-long MJAA conference at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. Each one of the delegates also contributes $500 toward his or her trip.
Our part is to raise the remainder—$1850 per individual. We have 22 in our delegation this year.
Every year, you, our Maoz partners, have understood the vision and the importance of this trip for the spiritual life and growth of our Messianic teenagers and young adults in Israel.
Last year was fantastic. May this year be even more so!
For the day when "All Israel shall be Saved!",
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. Thank you for investing in our young people! Their future and Israel's future is worth it!