VFI News December 20, 2019

Holiday Greetings From Our Vision For Israel Team

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isa. 9:2

Jews and Christians throughout the world will join in times of celebration as we usher in both Hanukkah and Christmas this coming week.  We will light the first candle of Hanukkah in Israel on Sunday 22 Dec. 2019 at sunset. Love and appreciation to all of our faithful friends near and far.  May your holidays be lavish with blessings of love, joy, and miracles.

Hanukkah History

This joyous holiday commemorates events that took place in Judea more than 2,000 years ago when the Syrian king Antiochus ordered the Jews to abandon the Torah and publicly worship the Greek gods. This act provoking a rebellion led by Judas Maccabeus, climaxed with the retaking of the Temple in Jerusalem which had been desecrated by the Syrians. The army of Jews won despite their small numbers. In an eight-day celebration, the “Maccabees” (as the rebels came to be known) cleansed and rededicated the Temple (Hanukkah means “dedication”).  According to the Talmud, (the comprehensive written version of the Jewish oral law plus the commentaries on it), there was only enough consecrated oil to re-light the candelabra for one day, yet, miraculously, it remained lit for eight days. The central feature of the observance of Hanukkah is the nightly lighting of the menorah, an eight-branched candelabra with a place for a ninth candle used to light the others. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, and an additional candle is lit on each successive night, until, on the eighth night, the menorah is fully illuminated. (VFI News)

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. Jn. 1:5

Doughnuts, Latkes And Fried Apple Fritters

Many Jewish holidays are celebrated mainly at home among friends and family. Food is always a big part of Jewish festivals and Hanukkah is no exception. For hundreds of years, Jews have traditionally eaten oily foods on Hanukkah, in remembrance of the small jar of oil that miraculously provided fuel for the Temple menorah for eight days. A typical Hanukkah menu sounds as though it were planned by the under-12 crowd,(certainly not the low-fat diet folks): potato pancakes, (latkes) deep-fried in oil, strawberry jam-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot) covered in powdered sugar, fried apple fritters, cheese blintzes, etc.  Warm fragrances fill open air-markets in Israel as vendors display row upon row of these winter comfort foods for a few shekels a bag. Jewish mothers preparing and setting this rich fare on candle-lit tables at home try not to contemplate the calories accompanying such shameless indulgence.  “Never mind”, whisper the unspoken thoughts, “It’s Hanukkah. We’ll get back to non-gluten and fruit shakes in January”.  (VFI News)

General Washington: Hanukkah 1777

We, at VFI, take delight in sharing this inspiring story once again as Hanukkah 2019 approaches: The winter of 1777 was harsh, almost unbearable. The soldiers stationed in Valley Forge had no inkling of why they were there. In their midst was a lone Jewish soldier and it was the first night of Hanukkah.  When all of the soldiers in the tent were fast asleep, he took out his Menorah and lit one candle recited the blessings, and sat down to watch the small flame dancing merrily. The General, in person, stood by his side. He looked at him and said gently, "Why are you weeping? Are you cold, my friend?" The soldier jumped to his feet and saluted.  Then he said quietly, "I am weeping before my Father in Heaven, sir. Everyone's fate lies in His hands; He controls the fate of millions, the world over. I was praying for your success, General Washington. I came to this country because I was fleeing the persecution of tyrants who have forever oppressed my family, my townspeople and my nation. The despots will fall, sir, but you will be victorious!"  "Thank you, soldier!" the General replied heartily and sat on the ground before the menorah. And what have we here?" he asked. This is a candelabra. Jews all over the world are lighting the first candle of our festival, Hanukkah, tonight. This serves to commemorate a great miracle that occurred to our ancestors. They were only a handful compared to the massive armies, but they held out, thanks to their faith in God, and were granted a miracle." 

The bright flame ignited a flame of hope in the weary General's eyes and he cried out joyfully, "You are a Jew? Then you are descended from a people of prophets! And you say that we will win the war?" "Yes, sir!" he replied confidently. The General rose, his face glowing with renewed hope. They shook hands heartily. Washington asked the soldier for his name and address and disappeared into the night. On the first night of Hanukkah, 1778, our Jewish veteran was sitting in his home on Broome Street in New York. The first Hanukkah light was burning brightly on his windowsill. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. His wife rose to open it wide. To her astonishment, there stood President Washington.  "There is that fabulous light, the Hanukkah light," he cried out happily, spotting the candle by the window. "That flame, and your remarkable words, kindled a light in my heart on that dark and bitter night," he reminisced. "We were in a tight situation then, and your words encouraged me so! They spurred me on with new hope. You will soon be awarded a Medal of Honor from the United States of America for your bravery in Valley Forge, but tonight you will receive a personal memento from me." With these words he placed on the table a gold medal upon which was engraved a Hanukkah menorah with one light burning. Upon this medal was inscribed: "As a sign of thanks for the light of your candle. George Washington."  (VFI News/J. Post)

 “I will make you a light for the Gentiles that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." Isa. 49:6

Turning Olive Oil Waste Into Clean Energy

Olive trees have been growing in Israel for thousands of years. Today, more 81,000 acres of olive orchards in Israel produce between 15,000 and 16,000 tons of extra-virgin olive oil every year. Olive oil extraction typically leaves around 40% of the olive harvest behind as waste, creating some 80,000 tons of olive pomace in Judea & Samaria and Gaza each year.  While the use of the olive oil leftovers is becoming a trend in cosmetics and health goods, a trio of graduates in the Gaza Strip are marketing an innovative energy product, bringing sustainable, affordable energy to the region. Tamer Abo Motlaq, 26, Usama Qudaih, 24, and Khaled Abo Motlaq, 24 have recently founded the Olive Jift Project, a start-up that transforms "jift" – a byproduct of olive oil pressing – into fuel pellets for domestic and industrial use. "Not only do the jift pellets help to disperse this waste, they also prevent over-logging of citrus trees for firewood. And the pellets are more efficient too”, said Tamer.  "Regular firewood burns for four to five hours while a jift block burns for seven to 10 hours”, he said. “The pellets are also cheap, costing about $150 a ton for the company to make, which translates to about half the local price of a kilogram of firewood”. The pellets are already finding success. Having marketed them to local outlets and on social media, demand for the olive jift pellets has already exceeded supply. "We were surprised that despite our production rate of 1,000 kg per hour we often run out of jift,"  said Tamer.  The company hopes to double its production capacity, workforce, and engineering staff next year. (VFI News)

Non-Jewish Immigrants Outnumber Jewish Arrivals In Israel

Over 27,300 people have made aliyah from January through October of 2019. Some 28,000 immigrants moved to the Jewish state during all of 2018, a record likely to be surpassed by the end of Dec. 2019. Last year also marked the first time in Israel’s history that Jewish immigrants to Israel were outnumbered by non-Jewish immigrants. Such immigrants, coming largely from the former Soviet Union and Baltic states, count Jewish ancestry but are ineligible to marry as Jews under the state-controlled rabbinic court system. According to a recent Israeli media report, 3.3 million people have immigrated to Israel since 1948. Around 44% of them have come since 1990. (VFI News)

“As He says also in Hosea: ‘I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.’” Rom. 9:25

$150 B. Dollars Worth Of Jewish Possessions Left in Arab Lands

Thousands of Jewish residents in Arab countries were forced to flee their homes following the creation of the state of Israel.  Jewish refugees far outnumbered so-called Palestinian refugees who voluntarily left Israel decades ago - having been counseled to do so by Arab warlords - and now clamor for the right to return by the millions and reclaim land, houses, and Israeli citizenship.  Jews, on the other hand, suffered the losses, remade their lives and prospered in other lands, mainly in Israel who absorbed and nurtured them. They have not been standing at Arab doors with their hands outstretched, demanding to be let back in and compensated along with their progeny.  A new report published days ago, which was completed with the help of the National Security Council, notes that Jews who were expelled or fled Arab nations in the late 1940s and ’50s left some $31.3 billion worth of property in Iran; $6.7 billion in Libya; $1.4 billion in Syria; $2.6 billion in Yemen; and $700 million in Yemen’s temporary capital of Aden. The parameters examined in the report include rural and urban property, businesses’ value, loss of income and potential income, and loss of communal property.” Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel is expected to share the findings with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in the coming weeks. (VFI News)

Prince Charles to Visit Israel in the New Year

Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, will be in Israel for the first time in an official capacity in Jan. 2020.  He is scheduled to attend the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem. No senior member of the Royal House had spent time in Israel in their official capacity until last year when Charles’ son Prince William arrived on a state visit.  The queen has never visited the Jewish state. However, her husband, Prince Philip, has been to visit his mother’s grave on the Mount of Olives. His mother, Princess Alice of Greece, hid a Jewish woman named Rachel Cohen and two of her children during the Holocaust and is recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile.  Many believe the lack of UK Royal House visits to Israel was due to a policy adopted following the Zionist movement’s use of violence against British nationals when the United Kingdom ruled the Mandate on Palestine – an area comprising modern-day Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The issues of anti-Semitism and British-Israeli relations had loomed large in the minds of British Jews during the recent general election in which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged incumbent Boris Johnson for the premiership. Corbyn, a fierce critic of Israel, had promised to recognize Palestine and cease arms sales to Israel if elected. However, Johnson’s Conservatives soundly defeated Labour in last Thursday’s 12 Dec. 2019 election, gaining 365 of the 650 seats in Parliament to some 202 for Labour.  (VFI News)

“The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isa. 60:3

A Season To Give A Special Gift To Jerusalem

This past year many of you have helped us at VFI to make a tremendous difference in the lives of underprivileged children, their families, and the elderly. We want to thank all of you who have given so generously throughout the year. We couldn’t have blessed the needy in the land in so many diverse ways without you. For those who would like the opportunity to bless Israel before the year’s end, there is still time for you to make a tax-deductible gift before 31 Dec. 2019, according to the laws in your own country. Give generously at www.visionforisrael.com.  Please continue to help hands and hearts at VFI rebuild hope and provide for the nation’s poor both now and in 2020.