The Jerusalem prayer List – Friday, April 17, 2009

Passover is over! Life in Israel is getting back to normal. People are again returning to use their normal kitchen ware and eat bread. Eating Matzo for seven days is not as simple as some people think because the Matzo is a very heavy “bread” – one square of Matzo is worth at least one and a half hefty slices of bread. As soon as Passover is over on the evening of the 7th evening people rush to the bakeries and pastry shops to buy bread and baked goods.

In Israel

the holidays come in clusters, we have the fall clusters that start with Rosh-HaShana and ends with the eight days of Sukkoth (The Feast of Tabernacles) with Yom Kipur (The Day of Atonement) in the middle between these two very important holidays. The Spring cluster of holidays starts with Purim and comes Passover and immediately after Passover come the days of remembrance for the Holocaust first and than immediately after the day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers in all the wars of Israel and immediately Israel’s independence day.

Traditionally in our congregation we have a big picnic on Israel’s day of independence. It seems like all of Israel is out “on every high hill and under every green tree” doing grill and eating meat cooked on the wafts of smoke. Israel is 61 years old in two weeks and the greatest sentiments of many many Israelis is that we are living a miracle. David Ben-Gurion, who’s name in Ukraine in 1905 before he immigrated to Israel was David Green, said even before the State of Israel was born that in Israel “a person who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.”

Just immagine that the State of Israel is surviving under impossible odds. First from inside the State of Israel – the miracle is that people from some 104 countries have gathered in this small stretch of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea. We have such an incredible mixture of people a mosaic of colors and cultures. In Europe during the dark ages of racism and Naziism people said, “He looks Jewish.” Come to Israel and see the black Ethiopian Jews and the Blond Scandinavian Jews and the olive colored skin of the Moroccan or Iraqi Jews and see the different foods and tastes and tell me what is Jewish food!

The second miracle is the place of Israel in the scientific community of the world. The whole Arab world has received eight Nobel prizes and there are over 120 Jews who have received Nobel prizes, but out of these more than 120 Jews there are more than 8 Israeli Jews who have received this highly esteemed prize. Many of the inventions of the 20th century that grace our lives in medicine and in High Tech were developed and invented in Israel by people who had family that burned in the ovens of Bergen Belzen and Aucshwitz and Sobibor and Ravensbrook that is located just outside of Berlin. Israel is a State created by a generation of the Ashes that have covered the face of Europe and that for a 1000 years will not be wiped off. I myself am the son of Jews that lived through the Natzi period in Europe. My sister that was 10 years old when World War II started purchased every day a fresh loaf of bread and a carton of milk even though she lived alone and could never finish a loaf of bread or a carton of milk per day. When I asked her, “why are you buying so many loafs of bread and cartons of milk?” She answer me: “During the war we were poor and we had very little food and we could not afford to buy even one loaf of bread per week. Now I can buy every day a fresh loaf of bread and a milk carton every day – I am enjoying the plenty that I did not have when I was a child.” Of course this is silly but I can undersand my sister and that generation that survived the era of hate of World War II and has rebuilt a country on the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the land of Israel. Like the Phenix raising out of the sand and coming to life again the Jewish people have returned to this land that was mainly a waste and have turned into a garden that feeds even the best of Europe’s gourmet generation.

The third point of celebration of Israel’s independence of 61 years is that Israel has survived seven wars with the Arab armies that always were at least 13 times the size of the Israeli army. This too is nothing short of a wonder that even the Arab nation wonders about until this very day.

I could go on and on with the praise of Israel and the reason for celebration of our 61 years of independence, but I must say that Israel as a State is far from perfect and that many big mistakes have been made both internally and externally both toward Jews and toward Arabs, but all in all this too is a part of the miracle that is called Israel – the return of the seed of Abraham to the place and land that God had promised him and his seed forever. (See Genesis 12 and 13 and 15 and 22 and on and on – if God means what He says this promise that appears at least a dozen times in the book of Genesis alone must be taken seriously by all believers.)

I would like to say that what is written above about Israel has nothing to do with the Christian Denominations doctrines of Pre-Post-Mid-or-A-Millennialism. I am talking about todays reality that is the State of Israel a predominately Jewish country that is living out the dream of thousands of years. This reality does not and will not fit into the doctrinal controversies of the Christian churches that have divided and have subdivided over these totally speculative at best issues.

We all need to pray for the State of Israel just like each one of us needs to pray also for the countries that we live in and enjoy the freedoms and pleasures that God has given us. It is a good thing to pray for our countries and for the governments that rule over us.

I would like to ask you to pray for the lost Jews of Portugal, the Marranos, those Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism and kept their Jewish identity hidden until this very day. We need to do something to help these Jews who have been hidden and oppressed for more than 500 years. The Jewish establishment ought not force these Jews who have suffered so much to convert to Orthodox Judaism in order to be accepted and reclaimed back into the fold. It would be just exactly the same thing that the Catholic church did during the days of the inquisition. Israel as accepted as Jews blacks from Ethiopia and Indian tribes from the boarder of India and Nepal, and a rainbow of races. We must do all that we can not to repeat the mistakes of history. We the Jewish people and the State of Israel must receive and welcome these Jews as they are and welcome them back home without forcing them to convert to Judaism because they are already Jews.

I need your special prayers and also financial support for this project in Portugal. In fact in a few days I shall go to Portugal and meet with our dear brothers from Brazil to start the organization of our next step in this process. If you are interested to reclaim and restore the Marrano Jews and the Anusim back to the fold of Israel please support us in this major historical struggle.

We need to continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering illness and chronic sickness.

Just a few days ago I received a letter from Dr. Tim Tucker who is hospitalized in Finland with A.L.S. for several years. He asked me to ask you all to keep praying for him because we believe that our God is a God of miracles who is able to do all and everything without limits.

We continue to pray for the following sick brothers and sisters all around the world. Please pray for Aggi a dear friend who is facing cancer, and for Dubi a dear old friend who is quite old and dealing with cancer too. We also lift up Kathy in Denver, Colorado, and Ruby in Oklahoma, and Paulo in Curitiba, Brazil. Sally is a fine Israeli women with cancer. In Jerusalem we continue to pray for Sarit, and Zvi and Sara, and Miriam, Lea, Ahuva, Ilana, all these dear sisters from our congregation in Jerusalem. We have to continue to pray for Paulo in Brazil, and Ruby in Oklahoma, and Liz’s sister in Tennessee. I ask you to also continue to pray for the Lord to heal Marcia my wife and show His mercy to Danah and Noaam, my daughter and granddaughter in California.

Please pray for the Roeh Israel Congregation in Jerusalem. We need God’s guidance and strength to be able to improve and change and become better servants and better stewards of His Kingdom. The same prayer goes for Netivyah and our very dedicated staff. We all need to improve and do better during these times.

Our building has some structural problems and some of the floors are sinking. This next week work will begin to see what is the cause of these problems and it will be a rather expensive task but for the safety of the people and the building we have to do these repairs and although we don’t yet know the scope of this job – we need your prayers and your support to be able to stand this challenges.

We also need to find a solution to the humanitarian work that we are doing in providing food for the needy and poor of Jerusalem. We need God’s direction and your prayers to God so that He can bless and provide us with answers to these problems.

Blessings upon you and yours from Jerusalem the city of the great King,

Joseph Shulam

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