Special Reports

ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles Opens at Ein Gedi

The ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles 2016 opened Sunday evening at the Ein Gedi Spa with nearly 4,000 pilgrims from more than 80 countries from around the world enjoying the traditional picnic, Davidic dance and worship and an invigorating message from Pastor Dionny Baez from Philadelphia, USA. The colorful and diverse crowd on the shore of the Dead Sea was very much alive with loud voices of prayer and praise all throughout the evening.

ICEJ National Directors from four continents opened the evening in prayer for the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Valley of the Dry Bones from Ezekiel chapter 37. Apostle Rene Terra Nova from Brazil told of an amazing answer to prayer in his country, where the government retracted a recent vote of approval at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on a resolution saying that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem had no connection to Judaism.

Several pilgrims commented with joy and excitement what it means for them to attend the Feast.

“We have brothers and sisters here from all over the Chinese-speaking world,” said Pastor Phillip Ho Wai Man from Hong Kong. “We are in the joy of Jesus and we pray for Israel every day at our fellowship!”

Sarah Renske from South Africa was attending the Feast for the first time.

“This event projects such hope for Israel and all of God’s people,” she declared. “When we come together with God as our King we’ll be victorious no matter what the enemy tries to do.”

Michael Fuchs from the UK agreed, saying “This is God’s Land, no one can take away what belongs to Him. He will carry out His plans in this time and we need to do our part. I’m German by nationality, South African by birth and I live in the UK, but Israel is the most important country in my life.”

Susan Michael, the Director of the ICEJ-USA Branch who has attended every Feast since the first one in 1980, commented on the vast numbers of Christians from China, Brazil and other non-Western countries who are attending this year.

“The demographics of the global Church are changing rapidly and the annual Feast of Tabernacles reflects that change,” she said. “Evangelical Christianity has plateaued if not weakened in Europe and America while it is growing exponentially in Latin America, Africa and Asia.  For example, the nation with the largest number of Christians will soon be China. Therefore, as the Feast audience changes we are making a great effort to accommodate them with an array of musical and speaking styles.”

ICEJ reiterates support for Israel at Knesset Christian Allies Caucus relaunch

In Budapest on Friday, Israel’s Knesset Christian Allies Caucus will celebrate its sixth birthday, marking a rare bright spot in Israel’s relations with the rest of the world.

Founded by the late MK Yuri Shtern, the Caucus will celebrate in Budapest by inaugurating its 16th sister caucus in the Hungarian parliament, with hopes to reach 30 by the end of the year.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joined the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus in late July to launch the initiative in the current 20th Knesset of Israel. Founded by the late MK Yuri Shtern 11 years ago, the Caucus has to be re-launched in each new government.

The event was attended by 25 Israeli parliamentarians, including three ministers, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and Michael Oren, former ambassador to the US. A special welcome was given to Rabbi Benny Elon, a former head of the caucus, who has been recovering from cancer.

The Executive Director of ICEJ Juergen Buehler had the honor to address the audience, quoting former president Shimon Peres saying Jewish-Christian relations were the best they have been in 2000 years.

“Nowhere in the world do we have a parliament with a caucus that reaches out specifically to Evangelical Christians,” Buehler said. “Our support for Israel is strategic at this time!”

The KCAC underlines the historical development of Jewish-Christian relations and it was established to build direct lines of communication, cooperation and coordination between the Knesset and Christian leaders around the world. Sister caucuses have been launched in the parliaments of some 32 countries.

In the new Knesset, the caucus will be chaired by Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov, assisted by his deputy from the Zionist Union, Deputy Knesset Speaker Yoel Hasson.

In his address, Ilatov said the caucus would focus on four main areas in the 20th Knesset: strengthening KCAC's 32 sister caucuses worldwide, combatting the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, working against the nuclearization of Iran, and striving for recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital by countries around the world.

KCAC director Josh Reinstein acknowledged that Israel is dependent on Christian support, while Former KCAC chairperson, Minister Gila Gamliel, pointed to the Bible saying that God will bless the Christian supporters of Israel for their devoted work. 

ICEJ News special request

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12

The ICEJ Media Team wishes to thank all of our loyal readers around the world for many years of support, and we have a special request for you today.

The battle against Israel is, first and foremost, a spiritual war in which the main weapons we have are prayer and fasting. We thank all of you who regularly pray and fast for Israel, but there's another way you can help the Jewish State.

The battles Israel fought in the past were mostly in the realm of "flesh and blood" and involved soldiers, tanks, airplanes, guns, missiles and ships. All the attempts by Israel's enemies to destroy her with these kinds of weapons failed.

However, the main effort by Israel's many enemies in this season of history is in the realm of the media. The weapons they use in this battle are lies, slander, unfair accusations, misinformation and deceit. Its purpose is to malign the Jewish State and, ultimately, discredit the God of Israel.

In order to counter this onslaught, it is necessary for Israel, and those who love her, to engage in the media war by getting the truth out. The ICEJ Media Team is doing our part by producing the Daily News Service, ICEJ TV Videos, the Monthly Word From Jerusalem magazine and other content on our website.

Our request today is for you to help us distribute this content to the Body of Christ worldwide. We're asking you to share this content on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and put a link to the ICEJ Website on your own blogs and webpages.

You can also help us by signing up for the Daily News Service, Word From Jerusalem Magazine and ICEJ TV alerts. If you have friends who you think would be interested, share the information about ICEJ with them as well, especially pastors and church leaders.

Together, we can help Israel fight the media battles!

Click here to visit the ICEJ Media section on our website

Click here to sign up for the daily internet news service

Click here to sign up for Word From Jerusalem Magazine

Click here to sign up for the ICEJ News App on your mobile device

Click here to visit the ICEJ TV portal

Senior Israeli, world Jewish leaders address Feast

The ICEJ's 35th annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem was addressed on Monday evening by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and President of the World Jewish Congress, Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a greeting by video. The trio of senior Israeli and Jewish Diaspora leaders all warmly embraced the thousands of Christians from over 80 nations attending this year's Feast gathering, marking a milestone in Jewish-Christian relations.

"To have President Rivlin, who represents the people of Israel, and President Lauder, representing the Jewish people worldwide, appear at our Feast tonight and deliver such warm words is an historic moment for our movement," ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Juergen Buehler told the lively audience. "And Prime Minister Netanyahu once again welcomed our presence, just weeks after he conveyed his appreciation in a letter to the Christian Embbasy for all our assistance to the nation during this summer's conflict."

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s greeting:

President Rivlin started his remarks by telling the pilgrims “I am very pleased to see you, friends of the people of Israel and supporters of the State of Israel, and welcome you on your journey to the Holy Land.”

“The people of Israel’s spirit was forged for many centuries in over a hundred Diasporas, far from their natural place. In all of those places, we lived and longed for our homeland, yearning to return to the land of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Solomon."

Today, in these challenging and unstable times, this vision is relevant more than ever," Rivlin continued. "The connection of Zionism to the Christian community bares deep historical roots. Many years before the establishment of the state of Israel, the Zionist movement was assisted by friends and supporters from different religions. Since then, and until nowadays, this friendship has grown stronger, to serve as a solid bond for other countries and societies around the world."

"Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for your consistent trust and support," he added.

"In light of the Sukkot festival, we appreciate you, Lovers of Israel and Jerusalem, for taking part in the joy of this holiday, and fulfilling in your lifetime the vision of the prophet Isiah, that we all follow. 'Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…'" said Rivlin.

President Reuven Rivlin's Speech:

“Thank you, my Christian brothers and sisters, for standing with Israel through this very difficult year," said Lauder in his address. "And thank you for standing here, in Jerusalem, the undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel. Israel has no better friends in the world than you. We know that you have watched out for us, and we will always watch out for you. The fact is, there is no safer place in the Middle East for Christians than here in Israel," he added.

"In Israel, Christians can pray in the open. In Israel, Christian holy sites are protected. In Israel, Christians do not fear for your lives. And here in the Jewish State of Israel, the Christian population is growing, not shrinking," noted Lauder.

"At the same time, 120,000 Christians have been killed throughout the Middle East and Africa every year of the past ten years. (Others) have fled as refugees. This is not by accident, the rampage against Christians is by design,” Lauder told the gathering.

He added that he had spoken up for Christians under attack, because “when hundreds of thousands of Christians are killed, this isn’t war, its genocide. And Jews know what happens when the world is silent to genocide. We learned that lesson the hard way, and we never want to see that repeated again, not to us, not to you, not to anybody."

"I am now convinced more than ever that we must join forces," Lauder insisted. "A Jewish-Christian coalition makes complete sense. Together, Christians and Jews must speak as one and tell the world, no more discrimination, no more terror, no more death and no more silence!”

Lauder also described the growing problem of anti-Semitism in the world, adding “the same people who go after us are also going after you. That is why Christians and Jews must join forces and act together. We must always remember our shared values and our shared past."

"The Festival of Sukkot reminds us that there is a strong are to help us when our own arm fails us…throughout time, Jews have always faced great challenges. But with God’s help, Jews have always prevailed. Today, there is one big difference. Today, we do not stand alone. Anything that comes our way, we face together with you," stated Lauder.

Lauder drew his warmest response from the Christian audeince when he quoted from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy: “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.”

"That is exactly what we say in the Torah, that we must not be afraid, we must find strength," assured Lauder. "This doesn’t come from the President of the World Jewish Congress, this comes from a higher source. Do not fear, have courage, have strength. We will be strengthened together, and we will not fail!"

Ambassador Ron Lauder's Address:

Confronting the real face of Islam

As we entered Umar Mulinde’s hospital room in Ramat Gan, we were immediately grateful that a friend had sent us his photograph. This at least partially prepared us for the sight of the disfiguring burns on his beautiful face. Still, we quickly learned that the blinded right eye, the scorched skin, the missing nostril and the swollen lips have not lessened Umar’s passion for his mission in life: to proclaim his love for God and for Israel to fellow Ugandans.

Mulinde was born in Uganda in 1973 to a devout Muslim family comprising several wives and 52 children. His maternal grandfather is an imam, his father a well-known Islamic leader. Today, however, Mulinde is an Evangelical Christian pastor who leads a Kampala church of more than 1,000 believers, many former Muslims like him.

Last Christmas Eve, a figure approached Mulinde shouting “Allahu Akbar” and threw acid on him. The right side of his face bore the brunt of the injury. He was rushed to the hospital, but it was soon evident that the medical facilities in Uganda for such severe burns were inadequate. Mulinde called friends in Israel, who quickly arranged for his admittance to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where we met him.

We wondered if the attack on Mulinde was because of his conversion from Islam to Christianity – a capital crime under Islamic Shari’a law. “Even though Uganda’s population is 80 percent Christian,” he explained, “it was declared a Muslim country under Idi Amin, and the Muslims were organized and motivated. They always found ways to disprove Christianity’s claims by using passages from the Koran. But a pastor named Deogratias decided that if he wanted to convince Muslims about the truth of Christianity, he needed to study Arabic and be familiar with the Koran.” Deogratias convinced Mulinde that Christianity was true. He was 19 at the time and knew converting to Christianity would mean being totally cut off from his Muslim family and friends. Instead, he chose to live a double life, inwardly believing as a Christian but outwardly keeping the rules of Islam.

Then he began having a recurring dream: “My hands and my feet were tied. And I’m burning in fire. I am screaming. To my right a man with a shining face is telling me, ‘Islam brings you this torture. Become a Christian and you will survive it.’”

Mulinde went to his grandfather the imam to seek advice. “He said that maybe Christianity had sent an evil jinn to torture me and that we needed to cast it out using a prayer.” But when Umar returned home, on the day before Easter, the dream recurred again and again. The next morning – Easter Sunday – Mulinde entered a church for the first time in his life and announced that he wanted to become a Christian. Just as he left the service he was spotted by three Muslim friends, who promptly reported him to the local sheikh. A group of Muslims assaulted him – the beginning of his persecution. From that moment on Mulinde was an outcast from his community.

Nonetheless, he began to speak publicly about his new faith, and he did so before ever larger audiences. “I am a new person. I have started a new life,” he repeatedly told us. Even from his Ugandan pastor Umar Mulinde wearing a special Israeli-developed mask that promotes proper healing and shaping of the major skin graft operation he underwent to repair facial burns he suffered from an acid attack by Muslim militants. (ICEJ photo)sickbed and with his slurred speech, it’s not difficult to imagine Mulinde convincing great crowds with the peace and confidence that he radiates.

“As a Muslim, I had a very legalistic approach to life. I did things not out of love, but out of fear of Allah. I did not have inner peace but was a prisoner on a mission. I did things not because I wanted to do them but because I was told to do them, and I did them in the exact way I was taught to. As a Muslim I thought I had to kill infidels, but now that I am a Christian my heart is filled with love. The power that motivates me is God’s love and love for Israel. I feel that the spirit that previously dwelt in me has disappeared and now I’m a real person.”

Ugandan pastor Umar Mulinde wearing a special Israeli-developed mask that promotes proper healing and shaping of the major skin graft operation he underwent to repair facial burns he suffered from an acid attack by Muslim militants. (ICEJ photo)

“When I was a Muslim I hated Israel. Don’t know why. Everybody was like that. I knew nothing about Israel – not even where it was on the map. But after I became a Christian, I loved reading the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments, and I saw phrases like ‘the God of Israel’ and ‘the people of Israel’ repeated continually in the Scriptures. What did that mean?”

In Kampala, Mulinde met a group of devout Christian women who prayed for Israel everyday. So in 2008, Mulinde made his first visit to Israel, arriving via the Taba crossing from Egypt. In the car that met him was an Israeli guide and an Arab driver. He was shocked. “I didn’t know that Jews allowed Arabs to live in Israel and to work. I believed that Jews were persecuting and hunting Arabs.” During his visit he saw that hotel workers were Arabs, living in safety and going about their business. “My eyes were opened that Israel is a democracy... and a country of peace. I loved the nation and the people.”

In the meantime, Mulinde took an online course about Israel, which further changed his thinking and, before long, transformed his life. Before the recent attack, Umar organized two more tours of Israel for fellow Ugandan pastors.

Although only 12% of Uganda’s population is Muslim, Islamist activists are increasingly trying to enact Shari’a there. Then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited in 2010 seeking to install Iranian oil refineries in the country. Mulinde and colleagues wrote letters addressed to Ugandan officials, including President Yoweri Museveni, opposing Shari’a and declaring that the government had to make a choice between Iran or Israel, with Israel by far the best option. Mulinde also organized quiet street demonstrations. “Wherever there is Shari’a law there is no room for Christianity and no love for Israel,” he told us. “We managed to gather millions of signatures against the Shari’a, and I threatened to take legal action.”

Mulinde believes that his public activities against enforcing Shari’a is one of the reasons for the attack against him. “We stood and we fought because it was the right thing to do.” He also has no doubt that the Muslim agenda is to Islamize the whole world. “Both in Africa and in the West, Muslims use money as a means of influence. While there is no democracy in their own countries, they exploit democracy in the West for their own gain. Outwardly they preach peace but in the mosques they preach something totally different.”

Just as he has dedicated his life to revealing the truth about Israel, Mulinde wants to expose the lies surrounding Islam. “I want to thank the Israelis for being lovers of peace and for being considerate of other nations. But I also want to encourage them not to give their land away for promises of peace. You gave away Gaza and you are receiving missiles in return. If you give east Jerusalem, they will take the western part of the city too, until they also take Tel Aviv.” “People in America must learn more about Islam,” he continued. “Compromising with Islam will not solve a thing.” Mulinde plans to return to Uganda soon, though reluctantly. “I never imagined that they would chase me until my death.”

In recent days, doctors decided to remove Mulinde’s damaged right eye before the infection spread to his good one. He still has severe pains and recovery is slow. But Umar Mulinde refuses to be discouraged. “Someone once said, ‘Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.’ But if we act, we will win.”

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Daphne Netanyahu is the editor-in-chief of Maraah, a Hebrew language online weekly.

Lela Gilbert is an author and editor whose latest book, Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Visitor (Encounter Books) will be released in late 2012.

This article was first published in the May 2012 issue of
The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition; www.jpost.com/ce

Benzion Netanyahu

Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israel's current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, died on Monday, 30 April 2012, at age 102. Following is a profile of his life and career which was published just a few weeks before his passing in the March 2012 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition; www.jpost.com/ce

Robust hands rest atop a cane and his eyes are watching, serene. The family dog so wants attention from him. He is a very great man, and my son and I are enjoying an evening with him in Jerusalem.

Benzion Netanyahu, patriarch of a legendary Israeli family, will turn 102 this month, and his memories stretch from white-hot sand dunes in Tel Aviv in the 1920s, to the latest news of the still raging conflict with the Arabs. His insights into the Zionism movement are invaluable for historians and students alike.

It is a history that he lived. His family emigrated to Palestine from Poland when he was ten years old. Benzion studied in the teachers’ seminary run by David Yellin, and later went on to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He specialized in history and was especially inspired by professor Joseph Klausner.

Netanyahu's father, Nathan Mileikowsky, used to sign some of his articles with the name “Netanyahu” (Hebrew for “gift of God”). It was a common practice for Israelis at the time to adopt a Hebrew name and his son Benzion eventually adopted this family name.

In subsequent decades, he contributed greatly to many of the successes of Zionism. To begin with, Benzion is the father of three accomplished sons: Yonatan, the revered IDF commander who fell in the Entebbe rescue mission; Binyamin, Israel’s current prime minister; and Iddo, a physician and gifted writer. All three sons served in the elite counter-terrorism unit Sayeret Matkal.

Benzion, who with his beloved wife, Cela, raised the family in Jerusalem, near the Old City, is by profession an historian of world renown and a professor emeritus at Cornell University. His classic work, Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, analyzes what brought about the Spanish Inquisition.

The landmark book overturned centuries of accepted scholarship on the motives of Catholic leaders in Spain in confronting conversoes – Jews forced to adopt Christianity – about their supposed secret practice of Judaism. Today, Benzion’s reassessment is considered a towering work in the field of Inquisition studies.

Incredibly, he has remained prolific in his latter years and a collection of his essays will be published in a new book, The Founding Fathers of Zionism, by Balfour Books in April. Originally released in Hebrew, the book profiles five Zionist pioneers whose pre-state activism led to the modern miracle on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. The Founding Fathers provides rich insights into Theodor Herzl, Leo Pinsker, Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill, and Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Benzion himself worked closely with Jabotinsky, founder of the Revisionist movement within Zionism.

When Benzion Netanyahu succeeded Jabotinsky as director of the Revisionist chapter in the US during the 1940s, he stood out from many mainstream American Jewish leaders in his promotion of the Zionist cause. He set about to mold American public opinion to support the idea of creating a Jewish state and pressure the US government itself also to support the concept, as well as to pressure England to desist from its anti-Zionist policies in Palestine.

For instance, when it was learned that the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, was living in France at the end of the war, Benzion sponsored large newspaper advertisements featuring a photograph of Husseini meeting with Hitler and urging that he be tried for war crimes. Among his crimes, Husseini had sabotaged a prisoner exchange deal with the Germans that would have saved the lives of 4,000 Jewish children.

Benzion Netanyahu also became close to Col. John Henry Patterson, the British commander of the First Zion Mule Corps who had moved to America after retirement. Binyamin Netanyahu has stated that his brother Yonatan was named after Patterson, such was the respect that his father had for the Christian officer who so helped the Zionist movement by forming the first Jewish fighting force since the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Individual histories so often impact the destinies of nations, and for Israel it would prove fateful that Netanyahu’s family (he was born in Warsaw) left Europe before the Nazi specter arose. In the family dining room in Jerusalem (Netanyahu purchased the home  in 1950 and has lived there mostly ever since, except for teaching stints in the US), the Netanyahu family discussed a whole host of subjects, and the sons developed a deep sense of pride in their country and the sacrifices of its pioneers.

The most poignant moment for the Netanyahu family came when Yonatan, assigned to lead the rescue force to free Jewish hostages being held by PLO terrorists at Entebbe airport on July 4, 1976, was killed seconds before the terrorists were gunned down. Binyamin Netanyahu has said that the tragedy propelled him into the fight against terrorism. He and Iddo both served with distinction in the same unit, although they were on standby during the Entebbe operation. Iddo’s own 2003 book, Entebbe: The Jonathan Netanyahu Story, is a moving account of the raid and its aftermath.

I first met Benzion almost a decade ago, and patiently waited for his book manuscript to be translated from Hebrew into English. Sitting with him in a living room that is itself wrapped in history is quite an experience, as he vividly described the drive toward statehood.

“Russia hated the Jews before she knew them,” he said wistfully. It is a fascinating line, and one from his new book. It recalls the thoroughly singular experience of the Jewish people, so unlike any other people in history. Jew-hatred incubates in many hearts, seemingly before a person is aware of it.

Still, I believe he realizes that the successes of Zionism — that the people of Israel are alive and secure in their ancient homeland — rise higher than the painful steps it took to get here. His books, from The Founding Fathers, to a slightly obscure title — Don Isaac Abravanel: Statesman and Philosopher — are riveting, and have key insights not only for Jews and Christians interested in the history of the Jewish people, but for anyone ready to be inspired by heroic tales of survival against absurdly steep odds.

Christians especially will thrill at the historical detail of the modern ingathering of the Jewish people to their ancestral land, given the depth of that history provided by Netanyahu in The Founding Fathers. For example, the societal conditions in 19th century Russia neatly overlay the soaring prophecies from Isaiah and Jeremiah that promise the Return. Indeed, Netanyahu writes about the very moments when The Return became real for European Jewry:

“The ‘legion of prophets’ arose indeed fifteen years later with the appearance of Herzl, Nordau, Zangwill and their crusading associates. It was only then that Pinsker’s dream of establishing the leadership of the movement in a western country was finally realized. It was then that the first Congress could be convened and the Jewish question placed before the governments of the world and made an international issue.”

His latest book is a tour de force, as usual, and the smiling, twinkle-eyed old man sits in triumph in the ancient city of his forefathers — a living testimony to the power that life has over death.

This article was first published in the March 2012 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition; www.jpost.com/ce
Jim Fletcher is a writer and pro-Israel activist who can be reached at

Remembering the 'Righteous' heroes

In 1963, Yad Vashem embarked upon a special project to grant the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” to those Gentiles who had helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust.

This designation is given to non-Jews who risked their own lives to save Jews during the Nazi genocide. Those recognized as “Righteous Gentiles” receive a medal and a certificate of honor. Israel also confers honorary citizenship upon them, as well as a standing offer to reside in Israel.

Over the years some 130 Righteous Gentiles have taken up the offer to move to Israel, and for many the decision was a courageous one. Relatives and friends often frowned upon them, and they faced having to start their lives all over again in a new country.

There are still several dozen Righteous Gentiles now living in Israel who are well into old age, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has partnered with the Israeli charitable ATZUM to help meet their daily needs. This sends a clear message to the rescuers that their heroism and sacrifice have not been forgotten.

Jerzy Radzio and his family were among those recognized as Righteous Gentiles who moved to Israel. Today, Jerzy has passed on but he is survived by his wife Aldona and daughter Beata.

Like so many Righteous Gentiles, the Radzios never planned to become rescuers and were totally unprepared for the moment in which they had to make momentous decisions. Jerzy and his brother Slavek Radzio were teenagers when they watched a line of Jews being marched along the Vistula River and into a forced labor camp in 1942.

It all happened very fast. Slavek, a well-built young man, pulled out a Jewish couple named Shmuel and Dvora Lipszyc from the line and hid them behind him. As the guards were not looking, they also grabbed Shmuel‘s mother-in-law Leah Batz. A few days later, they managed to smuggle Shmuel's brother Avraham out of the Jablonna camp near Warsaw.

“Jerzy and Slavek came home with the Lipszyc family,” Aldona recently recalled. “They just called out to their mother, 'We’ve brought guests!' And without any questions asked, these 'guests' moved in with them.”

The Radzio family quickly changed the attic of their home into a concealed living space. In the beginning, the Jewish 'guests' paid the Radzio family, who were Polish Christian, for the cost of their upkeep. But even when their money ran out the Radzios shared all their food with them, despite living entirely on the salary of one of the brothers.

During this two year period they experienced many anxious moments, especially when a Nazi army unit was stationed nearby.

Eventually, Jerzy and Aldona Radzio decided to move to Israel, where they renewed their close friendship with Avraham and Shmuel. The relationship had turned into something beautiful, despite having been born in an era marked by fear and cruelty.

Please consider your gift to help us assist these and other elderly Righteous Gentiles in Israel. They deserve our comfort and thanks for showing true Christian love at a critical time. Give to ICEJ AID here!

Adopting a Holocaust Survivor

In recent years, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has intensified its effort to reach out in compassion to Israel's aging community of Holocaust survivors, which currently numbers around 200,00. Most of these survivors are now well into their 70s and 80s if not older, and many suffer from illnesses related to the severe malnourishment they endured as youngsters during the worst deprivations of World War II. Besides serious medical problems, many also struggle with acute loneliness and other emotional traumas.

One of the ways we are assisting them is through an adoption program whereby Christians around the world can befriend and support an individual Holocaust survivor.

The ICEJ's Holocaust Survivor Adoption Program is not only a vital source of financial support, it also helps the survivors know that they are not forgotten. Each one is deeply grateful for this assistance and tells their Jewish friends and neighbors about their Christian sponsors.

Some of the adoptions are done through the Israeli charity L'Chaim, while other potential adoptees reside in the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors.

By becoming a part of the program, you can have a personal sense of connection to these precious Holocaust survivors and the assisted-living home we have created for them in Haifa. On a recent visit, we learned more fully how much the support means.

"I love her without knowing her!" said Esther as she held a postcard from her adoptive Christian sponsor close to her heart. "After losing family in the Holocaust, it means so much that people are thinking of us."

As Yitzhak slept, devoted wife Fanny smiled with pleasure as a letter to the couple was translated into Hebrew. Yitzhak sleeps a lot, she explained, as he is very weak now. When Yitzhak was only 10 years old, he worked as hard as any adult in the Lodz slave labor camp to avoid deportation to the death camps. His small size allowed him to escape from the ghetto at night to try and steal food and other items to help its Jewish residents cope. Now he is weakened by poor health and old age to the point that it has basically overcome him. But Yitzhak takes comfort in knowing that his waning years are being spent within the secure and loving environment of the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors.

Many Christians today say they would have risked their lives to help rescue Jews if they had lived back during the Nazi genocide. Yet right now, we have the opportunity to help those who did survive but still struggle with its impact even in old age. Please consider making one of these dear ones your personal friend.

Contact us at icejaid@icej.org for more information on adopting a Holocaust survivor. Or send a generous donation to ICEJ AID to help us cover the continuing renovations and daily operating costs of the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. Make your gift today by clicking here!

The Haifa Home welcomes new residents

Benjamin Ginsberg was born in 1919 in Vilnius, Lithuania where he grew up with four sisters. During childhood life was quite “sweet” for Benjamin, as his Jewish parents owned a confectionery.He admits to pinching a treat here-and-there and thus was a little heavy as a child, he says with a twinkle.

But then things turned dark for Jews in Lithuania. Benjamin left Vilnius just before the local pogroms started in 1939, then the Soviets invaded in 1940, followed by the German occupation in 1941. Benjamin´s parents and three sisters had stayed behind and as a result perished in the Holocaust. Only Benjamin and one of his sisters survived, having been sent to live with relatives and friends in Switzerland, Italy and finally Holland.

When Benjamin arrived in the Netherlands, he was able to get fake documents to live openly  for five years. This was a miracle which saved his life!

At the end of the war, Benjamin was 26 years old and joined the Youth Aliyah movement heading to Israel.He landed in Haifa in March 1946 aboard the illegal ship “Tel Chai”.He met a young lady on the vessel that would become his wife. They married and settled in Haifa, where he became a book keeper and fought in Israel's War of Independence.His sister also made Aliyah soon after.

Benjamin's wife died 14 years ago and his sister lived to age 95 before passing away as well. Today, he has one son living in Ashkelon, four grand children and four great-grandchildren.They visit him once a month at the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors, where he took up residence two years ago. At 92 years old, Benjamin is one of the oldest residents at the assisted-living home built by the ICEJ.

“I am very lazy now”, he says with a smile. “It is very good to be here. I get everything I need: They bring me tea and meals and I don´t have to do anything by myself. It is like to be in a hotel often times. I don´t have words. The people here are all so nice!”

One of the newest residents of the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors isYosef Friedman, who was born in 1932 in Bucharest, Romania.

When Yossi was eleven years old, he barely escaped being deported in a Nazi round-up of the local Jewish community. His family lived just beside a synagogue, but his father had deserted the family and his mother stopped sending Yossi to events for Jewish youths. So when he saw Nazi soldiers herding all the area Jews together in the synagogue one evening, the soldiers told him to “Go away!” Apparently, they did not know he was Jewish and did not want any “witnesses” to what was happening. The next day a truck came and took the detained Jews to a death camp.

Yossi and his mother had escaped that first deportation but they continued to live in constant fear of discovery. The anxiety of capture stayed with them throughout the war years.

Yossi only made aliyah to Israel in1964. He fought in the 1967 Six-Day War and then kept a promise that if he survived the battle he would come back and marry his sweetheart Diana, who was divorced and had two children already.
Today,thecoupleare still happily married more than 40 years later, with one daughter added to the family. The couple were living in a small house in Neve Shanan when Yossi first heard about the assisted-living home for survivors.

“Singing brought me to the Haifa Home”, Yossi recently recalled. “When I once worked for an electrical company, I met a singer at a work party. I told him that I can sing too and gave him a demonstration. Not long ago I contacted this singer again. He sings every Thursday at the Haifa Home and invited me and my wife to come one day.”

Yossi and Diana were instantly drawn by the “community of kindness” they encountered there, as the residents themselves describe the home.

They now live together in a little apartment in the Haifa Home. “Everything is wonderful, it is a wonderful place”, Yossi said enthusiastically.

Neither receives a pension, so they live off the small amount of money they get from renting out their old house.

“Here we get everything we need – medical treatment, three meals a day. And we have communion with very nice people”, Yossi said cheerfully.

ICEJ joins Holocaust observances on Yom HaShoah

As Israel observed its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on 19 April, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was invited to join senior Israeli government figures and Jewish leaders from around the world at the official ceremonies at Yad Vashem.

The Yom HaShoah events began with an evening ceremony in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem attended by Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz, among other dignitaries and special guests. The evening featured the moving personal testimonies of six Holocaust survivors who lit candles for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The next morning, a two-minute siren sounded across Israel in memory of those who perished in the Nazi genocide. Immediately following the nationwide siren, Peres and Netanyahu were the first to lay wreaths back in Warsaw Ghetto Square. Moments later, Gottfried Bühler, national director for ICEJ-Germany, and ICEJ media director David Parsons laid a wreath on behalf of the Christian Embassy as well as Christians Friends of Yad Vashem, the Embassy’s unique partnership with that revered institution.

“It was quite an honour to be part of this solemn occasion, especially as a German Christian”, noted Gottfried Bühler. “Our welcome involvement shows there has been progress made towards Jewish-Christian reconciliation, but we Christians still have so much more to do.”

Meantime, the ICEJ sponsored a Christian Leadership seminar at Yad Vashem the same week so that participants could also be in Jerusalem to experience the Yom HaShoah ceremonies. A group of 26 Christian pastors and ministry leaders from 11 countries around the world took part in the week-long conference, which featured intensive training sessions conducted by the International School for Holocaust Studies and Christian Friends of Yad Vashem.

The seminars aimed to give these Christian leaders the tools necessary to speak authoritatively about the history of antisemitism and the factual basis of the Shoah. The conference included in-depth tours of the museum, archives and research facilities at Yad Vashem, plus personal encounters with Holocaust survivors and lectures by leading scholars in the field of Holocaust education.

The responses from participants were overwhelmingly positive. Several praised the high quality of the scholarship presented in the seminars, while everyone found the times of engagement with Holocaust survivors to be unforgettable.

Rosemary Schindler, grand niece of Oscar Schindler, the Righteous Gentile immortalized in the movie Schindler’s List, spoke of how the conference will reinforce her long-standing efforts on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

“This course is helping to enhance our ministry by allowing us to meet with Holocaust survivors personally and understand that these are real people. It was not just tales from someone’s imagination. The Holocaust is not fiction, it’s fact! And as we know history can repeat itself, so we need to listen to them and honour them”, said Schindler, whose ministry is based in California.

“Every nation needs to take that two minutes and join Israel when they stand and honour the Holocaust victims each year”, she insisted.

“As a pastor it’s wonderful for me as I’m learning not just the history of the Holocaust, but more than that of the roots behind it and how the teaching of Replacement theology came into place and grew through the centuries”, stated Pastor Tim Carscadden from Louisiana.

“It’s so helpful to hear from these Holocaust survivors because you feel what they went through. And it was good to also hear how some Christians helped them and to know that not all of the Church was totally silent”, he continued.

“I am also seeing the parallels with racism in the American South and I can identify with how it gets entrenched in a culture. And this course at Yad Vashem helps me to be able to combat that back home”, he assured.

“Apart from learning a lot more about the Holocaust, it’s also been part of my personal journey of faith”, explained British pastor Mike Kerry. “One of the things that has really left an impression on me is to realise the impact this has had on every Jewish family in the world.”

“I found the ceremonies extremely profound and emotional. The thing that impacted me the most was to hear from the six survivors representing the six million Jewish victims of the Nazis at the candle-lighting ceremony”, he added.

“One thing we can actually do is to give a proper Christian voice to these atrocities; that this was an unprecedented fact and we need to proclaim that in our congregations. We need to stand up and declare this was wrong!”

This latest Christian Leadership Seminar was made possible largely through donations from ICEJ-Germany. Yad Vashem recognised these contributions by unveiling a plaque last month honouring Christian Stephan, the long-time director of the ICEJ’s German branch who passed away in late February.

The ICEJ is committed to sponsoring another Christian Leadership Seminar at Yad Vashem for a new group of pastors and ministry leaders in the autumn of 2012, as well as two more in 2013. Please consider sponsoring pastors from your country to come learn important historic lessons and values at Yad Vashem.

Donate today to help support the work of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem.