Outreach in Tel Aviv

Chosen People Ministries began a dynamic ministry among Israelis in the greater Tel Aviv area in 2017. This outreach focuses on presenting the gospel to younger Israelis—most of whom recently served in the military. These young adults are the sons and daughters of Israeli believers who came to faith in the past twenty to thirty years. 

What is amazing about this ministry is we now have a second-generation movement of the Holy Spirit; previously, we barely had a first! Godly parents raised godly children, and these young adults are at the core of our ministry. More than this—they are the FUTURE. These young people are enthusiastic, bold, and willing to tell their friends about the Lord. 

The programs at our current rented center in Tel Aviv are thriving! We sponsor up to four special events each month. Some of these include concerts, Sabbath dinners, and evangelistic lectures. In addition, we host regular Bible studies and much more throughout the month. 

At the moment, we are able to accommodate between fifty and sixty young adults at our events. These “on fire” young people are joining these events and bringing their not-yet-believing friends . . . and we are running out of room! 

To keep up with this growing move of the Spirit, we need a larger facility in Tel Aviv—a place where we can serve the Jewish people in this highest-populated area in Israel for many more years to come. Additional space will allow us to continue to fulfill the Chosen People Ministries mission statement: to pray for, evangelize, disciple, and serve Jewish people everywhere and to help fellow believers do the same.

We found a permanent facility with the potential to meet the needs of our growing ministry. The new space is a 4,000-square-foot space in a mixed commercial and residential building with ninety condominiums. 

Next door, two new large properties are being built with apartments for another 200 families. We will be surrounded by Israelis who have never heard the gospel message! 

We are very grateful for this opportunity because it will give us a presence among Israelis in this important community. God opened this door, and we invite you to come alongside us on this journey to expand His work in Israel.

We Found a Permanent Facility!

The Tel Aviv Messianic Center (“the Center”) will be the hub of Chosen People Ministries’ mission efforts in the greater Tel Aviv area. It will include space for a Messianic congregation, a gospel café, concerts, and young adult outreach gatherings. Additionally, we will host Bible studies, children’s events, public lectures on a wide variety of topics, and ministries to elderly Holocaust survivors. Most importantly, this new space will allow us to develop our community-based activities designed to demonstrate the love of the Messiah Jesus to Israelis. 

This facility is only a seven-minute walk from the border of downtown Tel Aviv, and over the next half dozen light rail stops there are about a million Israelis with no place to hear the gospel, meet believers, or comfortably explore questions of faith. 

Our experience over the past six years of ministry at our now-outgrown rented center confirms our conviction: this area is ideal!

The Importance of Messianic Centers

Owning property in Tel Aviv raises our visibility and makes our statement to the public more powerful: Jesus is Jewish! He is the Messiah, and there are multiple thousands of Jewish followers of Jesus in the Holy Land today. 

There are additional advantages to owning our own property. Permanence is essential for Chosen People Ministries to develop longer-term relationships with the Jewish community. Jewish people will view us as a stable part of their neighborhood. A permanent place for our ministry in Tel Aviv strengthens the idea that Messianic Jews are part of a substantial Jewish movement and should be taken seriously. Building lasting relationships with the Jewish community is critical for evangelism, discipleship, and congregational life. 

Additionally, Messianic believers and ministries in Israel often experience opposition. In fact, the religious Jewish community asked our current landlord to stop renting to us. He has supported us thus far but explained to our Tel Aviv staff how he will be in a difficult situation if the resistance keeps us. He has other businesses, which can be impacted by the unfriendliness. This scenario would be true anywhere we rent in the greater Tel Aviv area. So, you can see, if we want to build a lasting testimony in a particular place, it would be far better to own than to rent as we will be less vulnerable to conflict.

Timeline

Since the facility is raw space, we anticipate the buildout will take twelve months from the time we begin construction. Delays in Israel can come about for various reasons, including social unrest, difficulty in securing materials and workers, as well as the possibility of opposition to our gospel efforts by religious groups trying to prevent our work.

Chosen People Ministries—Israel

Israel is the centerpiece of our global strategy in reaching Jewish people with the gospel! There is only one Israel—the heart of Jewish identity, hopes, and dreams throughout the centuries. Today, more than seven million Jewish people live in the Holy Land. Our Tel Aviv Messianic Center will serve an area where more than 50 percent of Israelis live, work, and raise their families. 

Chosen People Ministries began serving in Israel in the 1930s under the name Beit Sar Shalom (the House of the Prince of Peace, from Isaiah 9:6). Over the past thirty years, we have grown and now have more than two dozen staff members serving with Chosen People Ministries in Israel—and have planted several congregations. We serve the aging Holocaust survivor community of almost 200,000 Jewish people. We conduct children’s camps throughout the year, and we are active in personal evangelism and discipleship as well as digital/web-based evangelism. 

In 2006, we purchased and dedicated our Jerusalem Messianic Center, which serves as Beit Sar Shalom’s headquarters in Israel and is constantly busy with a wide variety of outreach gospel activities.

Our currently rented outreach center in Ramat Gan is home base of an amazing movement of the Spirit among young adults through concerts, dinners, evangelistic lectures, and ministry to children and entire families. By God’s grace, we will now be able to move this already-thriving ministry across the street to a new and more permanent Tel Aviv Messianic Center, doubling our ministry space for an exciting new phase to expand God’s work. 

Local Partnerships

There are very few places for larger groups of Jewish believers to gather in Israel, and our center will provide space for other ministries to use for their outreaches in the greater Tel Aviv area. We plan to make the facility available to the body of Messiah in Tel Aviv for their use as well.

In Israel today, we are not simply reaching Jewish people for Jesus—we are helping build a national body of believers. The church in Israel is growing like never before. This larger and more permanent facility presents us with a perfect opportunity to expand our outreach in the greater Tel Aviv area and to enable like-minded ministries to do the same.

Together We Will Rise and Build

Nehemiah told those opposing his plan to rebuild the walls of the ancient city: “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build” (Neh 2:20). 

This challenge transcends the centuries and remains relevant today. 

Please join us in our vision to build the Tel Aviv Messianic Center. 

We value your prayers, enthusiasm, and financial support. 

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Filed under evangelism, Holocaust Survivors, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish

Helping Suffering Ukrainians

We are celebrating our 129th year of proclaiming the gospel among the Jewish people worldwide! For me, it is a great honor to lead this historic mission to the Jewish people started by Rabbi Leopold Cohn in 1894. 

Chosen People Ministries means so much to me and Zhava. My wife came to faith through young adults trained to witness to Jewish people by a Chosen People Ministries missionary at the very Jewish high school in Los Angeles she attended. I will be forever grateful for this Chosen People missionary and the young evangelists he trained! 

In so many wonderful ways, I am a debtor to the Lord and to Chosen People Ministries! Paul understood this great biblical truth so well when he wrote, 

I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise” (Romans 1:14, NKJV). 

As a young man, barely 19 years old and as a brand-new believer, Chosen People Ministries paid my way through Bible College. The missionaries who were part of the New York area work at that time helped disciple me in the Word of God, and I am thankful for their personal and devoted care for me and my walk with God. Especially as at the time my family did not understand my newfound faith and I desperately needed the support of more mature believers . . . Chosen People Ministries provided all this for me at a crucial time in my life. 

It is a privilege to do the same for so many others in more than twenty-five cities in the United States and Canada and in twenty-one countries around the globe. I am so glad we can continue the Rabbi’s vision of bringing the gospel to the Jewish people—my people—in so many new and relevant ways without changing the eternal message of the gospel. I cannot tell you how many thousands of people, even millions, have watched the Messianic Jewish testimonies found on http://www.ifoundshalom. com. If you have not seen them, please watch and make sure you view my testimony on the site. It will help you appreciate what I write when you see the power of God’s deliverance in my life! 

Helping Suffering Ukrainians 

I am excited about all God is doing through Your Mission to the Jewish People today. Yet, at the same time, it grieves me when I remember the plight of war-torn Ukrainian families—especially in the midst of a dramatically cold and severe winter. 

During January, we like to remember the words of the great Jewish apostle who wrote, 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). 

We believe the gospel is “to the Jew first” and also to the Gentiles. This ministry strategy is of great practical importance to our mission, especially during these terrible and tragic days of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. We are doing all we can, especially during this deadly winter, to bring food, warmth, and spiritual hope to thousands who are suffering. 

This crisis has been ongoing for about a year, with no clear end in sight. Your generosity enables us to invest thousands of dollars in relief work each month in Ukraine and other places refugees have fled, like Poland, Germany, and Israel. 

Let me summarize what we have been able to do because of your prayers and generosity. 

Every month since the war began, we have sent aid to a network of Messianic Jewish congregations in Ukraine. We have served these congregations for more than thirty years! They are dependable, hardworking people whose lives are war shattered. Without our help, some of these dear brothers and sisters and their children would barely be making it. Knowing how winter, with freezing temperatures and shorter days, greatly exacerbates the hardship of life in Ukraine, we organized a winter relief fund some months ago to prepare for these harder times. 

These resources help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters receive everyday necessities like flashlights, winter clothing, heaters, generators, and sleeping bags. Due to Russian attacks, electricity is unreliable throughout the country. Heating and water are also scarce, especially in eastern Ukraine. In addition to winter supplies, we continue to provide funds for basics like rent, food, and medicine. 

One of our Russian-speaking Israeli staff members visits Ukraine and Poland several times a year to aid the relief efforts. He recently helped a church in western Ukraine organize a three-day retreat for refugees from Mariupol, a city hit hard by the fighting. The program includes walking in the mountains, playing games with the kids, relaxing, and studying the Bible. One man who attended went four days without drinking alcohol and just told us he has decided to quit drinking! He needs to take the next step and receive Jesus as His Savior, which will bring unimaginable healing to his heart, soul, and family. 

Project Promised Land 

More than 30,000 Ukrainians immigrated to Israel since the war began. Israel also received tens of thousands of immigrants from Russia, who oppose the war and Putin’s increasingly restrictive regime. Many of these newcomers arrive with little more than the clothing on their backs. 

Through Project Promised Land, our staff in Israel are hard at work helping the new arrivals settle into Israeli life. We distributed gift cards totaling thousands of dollars for groceries and other essentials. We also serve these refugees by assisting with government paperwork and organizing free tours of biblical sites. Hundreds of people participated in these tours. A few have come to faith and have since connected with local Israeli churches. 

Our staff hosted a three-day conference for families who recently arrived from Ukraine and Russia. The time together greatly encouraged these children and families who endured so much. We also regularly welcome these immigrants to Sabbath meetings and other events at our Jerusalem and Tel Aviv centers. Through these programs, our team embodies the love and compassion of Jesus, which leads to opportunities to proclaim the gospel. 

The Difference You Made 

I want you to know how much your support means to the thousands of Ukrainian lives we touched over this difficult year. There are so many stories I could tell, but here are two brief testimonies from the leaders of Ukrainian Messianic congregations we are helping: 

We are a Jewish Messianic Community in the city of Zhytomyr [near Kyiv]. We are grateful to God and Chosen People Ministries, as well as to our brothers and sisters who have raised finances to buy warm clothes and everything we need to get through winter. We are grateful to the ministry for having been able to send the funds necessary to help in this difficult time. May God bless and cover the needs of your hearts for the riches of His glory. Amen. 

Another congregational leader in Kharkiv writes: 

We want to thank Chosen People Ministries for monthly financial support during this difficult moment of life in Ukraine. We thank God for your work, prayers, special attention, and understanding of the whole situation! 

Unfortunately, the crisis is not over. No resolution is yet in sight, and we are still in the early days of winter. The coming months will be difficult with scarce heating and unreliable electricity throughout Ukraine. 

We request your prayers as we seek to tell Ukrainians about the healing work of Yeshua. Thank you, again, so much for your partnership. We could not do our work without you! 

And now some late breaking news! 

We are also purchasing a building in Tel Aviv. This property will provide more than twice the space as our current rental for our gospel events designed for both young and old. Since the new building was bare, we are now in the thick of renovating the property so it will be ready for our ministry programs. In the coming weeks, we will tell you much more about our exciting plans for our new Tel Aviv Messianic Center and how you can support the creation of a Messianic Center in Tel Aviv. 

Thanks for investing in the salvation of Jewish people in Israel, Ukraine, and around the globe! 

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Filed under evangelism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Kiev, Messianic Jewish, Uncategorized

Why we are excited for 2023

We are excited about all God is doing at the start of 2023—especially in the Land of Israel.

Your prayers and sacrificial support are critically important as it is impossible to find local funding enabling our Israeli team to preach the gospel in the Holy Land! One day we hope the work of the gospel by native Israeli evangelists will be self-supporting, but we are simply not there yet.

Israel has very few local congregations and less than 1 percent of Israelis are followers of Jesus . . . but we are making progress!

A New Messianic Center in Tel Aviv

We are especially excited to tell you we are purchasing a facility in Tel Aviv! The activities and events at our current Tel Aviv center are overflowing—mostly with younger Israelis who love to hear the word of God preached and are looking for a safe and attractive venue to bring their not yet saved friends and loved ones!

May I encourage you as the Lord leads to pray for and contribute to this growing ministry in Tel Aviv? At this moment, we are bursting at the seams! Just imagine how much more we could do with a space two-and-a-half times the size of our current rented facility!

Together, we can be part of the future predicted by Paul in Romans 11!

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written: “The Deliverer will come from of Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25–26)

I believe we are moving quickly toward this great day of redemption, and the salvation of Israelis is a major step in preparation for His return. Clearly, the remnant Paul describes in Romans 11:5 will increase as we draw closer to the Second Coming of Jesus.

The Costs for the New Tel Aviv Center

The total cost for this new facility is $6.5 million. This figure includes the build-out, as the property is bare. By God’s grace, we currently have raised $3 million to be used for the purchase and development of the new center.

We need an additional $3.5 million.

I will keep you posted on our progress toward the $3.5 million goal in the months ahead.

So, how do you eat the proverbial elephant (who by the way is unkosher!)? One bite at a time. Your gift, whatever size and however long you take to give it over the next twelve months, will make all the difference in the world and help us own the new Center without debt so we can use all future funding directly for the day-to-day ministry and operational expenses of the Tel Aviv Messianic Center.

The Enthusiasm of Our Israeli Staff

Our staff serving in Tel Aviv are enthusiastic! This one testimony says it all!

A couple of months ago, a young believer brought a not-yet-believing friend to one of our events in Ramat Gan. Though he had met believers many times, he was resistant to prayer. This day, however, was different. One of our staff noticed that he seemed upset. So, she approached the young man and offered to pray for him in Yeshua’s name. He gratefully accepted. Shortly afterward, another staff member—who did not know someone had already prayed for him—came over to him. This staff likewise spoke with him and prayed with him. Later, while the young man was sitting outside, a third staff member made the same offer of prayer. At one event, three people on our team independently prayed with this person about three distinct concerns. His joyful acceptance of prayer is a significant step for him. He has been to a few Messianic events and services, so our team prays he will soon recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Grateful for Your Partnership

Thanks for caring, and we look forward to all the Lord will do in the future to bring His chosen people, in His chosen land, to His chosen Messiah . . . for all!

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Filed under Messianic Jewish, Judaism, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, evangelism

The Light of the World Is Born

Shalom in the name of our glorious Messiah!

On behalf of the Chosen People Ministries global family, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

For many of my fellow Jewish people, the very idea of linking these two holidays together is awkward. It still feels a little strange to me, even after being a Jesus follower for the past fifty years. Yet, I realize that having one without the other is impossible.

Let me explain. The story of Hanukkah describes the ways God protected and preserved His chosen people. If Antiochus Epiphanes destroyed the Jewish people, then how would Mary have given birth to the Jewish Messiah, Jesus? In other words, “Without Hanukkah—there would be no Christmas!”

I continue to reflect upon the similarities and differences between Christmas and Hanukkah. The similarities include the theme of lights, giving gifts, families gathering, and viewing the God of Israel as the deliverer of His people. Yet, the differences between the holidays loom large because there is no other time of year when Christians think more about the incarnation—God becoming human—than on Christmas.

HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

It is still astounding to me, and largely unknown by my Jewish people, how the only mention of Hanukkah in the Bible is found in the Gospel of John chapter 10. But, of course, if you have read our newsletter for a while or spent time on our website, you know Jewish people do not accept the New Testament as God’s Word. I do, as does all our staff, but again, this is not a typical Jewish view.

The traditional Jewish view of the New Testament is one of the most difficult challenges we face in bringing the gospel to the Jewish people.

I still remember the day I realized Jesus was the Messiah. It happened after I read the New Testament and understood Jesus was Jewish and celebrated the Jewish holidays—including Hanukkah! Then, as I continued reading, I realized the New Testament, especially the Gospels, seemed like part two of the Hebrew Scriptures.

In the Old Testament, we read about the promises of God to the Jewish people and the nations of the world. In the New Testament, we see how those promises are fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, tells one magnificent and seamless story of God’s plan for redemption.

GOD IN THE FLESH

This incredible story, told through both testaments, made perfect sense to me. Even more importantly, I fell in love with the Messiah Jesus and believed He was indeed God wrapped in human flesh!

Yet, accepting His deity is difficult for most Jewish people, as we are raised to believe God has no physical form. Jewish people expect the Messiah to be a religious, political, and military leader, not God in the flesh.

Modern Judaism considers the first two commandments—to have no other gods before us nor to create graven images of God—the reason why the very idea of an incarnation is unacceptable.

The Christmas/Hanukkah season intensifies these differences as it is increasingly difficult for Jewish people to avoid the issue of Jesus’ deity! Every nativity scene reminds us of the New Testament teaching about how God became a man. As believers, we know the Messiah’s deity is true and fulfills God’s promises to the Jewish people found in Isaiah 7:14 and again in chapter 9, verses 6 and 7.

In Micah 5:2, we learn this leader in Israel, the Messiah, was to be born in Bethlehem, whose “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”

The Hebrew Scriptures present unshakable evidence for the deity of the Messiah throughout its pages, yet most Jewish people do not recognize or accept it. This conflict over the deity of Jesus is at the heart and core of Christmas and Hanukkah.

It was during the celebration of Hanukkah when Jesus made one of the clearest statements about His deity. We also see how the Jewish people of His day took exception to His declaration of divinity:

“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “. . . If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. (John 10:30–39, emphasis added)

Have you ever wondered why the Jewish leaders had such a strong reaction to Jesus’ pronouncement? It seems to stretch far beyond theological disagreement as, after all, they wanted to stone Him! It is impossible to understand the reaction of the Jewish leaders without knowing the background of Hanukkah.

THE HANUKKAH STORY

So, I hope you do not mind me telling you the Hanukkah story. It is always a blessing for me.

You will not find the story of Hanukkah in the Bible. Instead, it appears in the books of the Maccabees, which are part of the Apocrypha, writings outside the canon of Scripture. Jewish people view these books as historical documents but not divinely inspired Scripture.

Again, please allow me to summarize the story of Hanukkah in my own words.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a Seleucid king who reigned from 175–164 BCE over part of the Greek Empire, which Alexander the Great’s four generals divided among themselves upon his death. Antiochus bore the title Epiphanes (God manifest), implying his “incarnation” of the Greek god Zeus. Jewish people called Antiochus the madman (Epimanes) because of his cruel and erratic behavior.

This polytheistic madman wanted the Jewish people to follow Hellenistic ways and periodically outlawed Jewish worship and practices. Finally, he sent his emissaries throughout Israel along with a portable statue of himself and demanded the Jewish people bow down and worship him as a Greek god incarnate. But those faithful among the Jewish community could not stomach idolatry and would not bow to the statue of Antiochus Epiphanes!

The Jewish people who lived in a small town called Modi’in led a grassroots rebellion against the Syrian Greeks from 167–160 BCE under the leadership of Mattathias, a Levitical priest, along with his son Judah.

The Maccabees fought hard for seven years and in 160 BCE defeated the Syrian Greeks, retaking Jerusalem and the Temple. But their joy turned quickly to horror when they discovered that Antiochus sacrificed a pig on the Temple altar.

The Maccabees dismantled the holy altar and removed the stones, which they believed to be beyond cleansing. Jewish tradition tells us they heaped the stones into a pile in the Temple area where they would await the coming of a great prophet to cleanse them. Then, they built a new altar.

JEWISH LOYALTY TO THE ONE TRUE GOD

Hanukkah celebrates the victory of faithfulness over idolatry—more specifically, worshiping the image of a man who believed he was the incarnation of a false god. In this instance, it was Antiochus. Jewish spiritual loyalty resisted idolatry and refused to worship the image of a man claiming to be god.

May I speculate? I believe this spiritual loyalty and resistance to the idea of an incarnation was a strategy the devil used to repel the Jewish people from the actual incarnation of God as predicted by the prophets of Israel. Who can blame the Jewish leaders for resisting what, in their understanding, was an idolatrous statement by Jesus in declaring His oneness with the Father (John 10)? The religious loyalty of the Jewish leaders blinded them. They did not recognize God was fulfilling the promises of Scripture through taking on flesh and dying for the sins of the Jewish people and the world (Isaiah 9:6–7, 53:1–12; Micah 5:2, etc.)!

I cannot blame my people for resisting idolatry. However, the leaders already observed a Messiah who healed, performed miracles, and claimed to fulfill the prophecy of the One who was indeed God in the flesh. He opened the eyes of the blind, fed multitudes miraculously, cast out demons, and fulfilled the messianic qualifications peppered throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

My prayer is for both Jews and Gentiles who have not yet concluded that Jesus is God in the flesh. Understanding this and coming to know the One who is the reason for the season, the son of David, and the Savior of the world is life changing! I pray the Lord will lead each of us to make the truth of His deity known among both Jews and Gentiles in the days ahead.

Thank you so much for your prayers and sacrificial support of Your Mission to the Jewish People. We have some incredible outreach projects on the horizon, which I will tell you about in the future. Meanwhile, I pray your love for the Messiah will grow more profound as you reflect upon the miracle of the incarnation!

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Holidays & Festivals, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jewish Holidays, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Uncategorized

Sharing the Light of Jesus

This season of the year reminds me of the beautiful passage in the book of Psalms in which David declares, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105).

It is a joy to follow the Light of the World, Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah. John pointed to the true light who enlightens all who believe:

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:4–9)

The Scriptures teach us Jesus is the Incarnate Word (John 1:14)—God in the flesh—who is the ultimate light of God and reflects the glory once seen resting upon the mercy seat in the Temple.

Jesus let His disciples know that He is the Light of the World: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’” (John 8:12).

As His disciples, He calls us to reflect His light as instruments dispelling the darkness of our broken and sinful world. 

THE LIGHT SHINES AMONG UKRAINIANS AND RUSSIANS SUFFERING THE RAVAGES OF WAR

I recently received a note from Maxim, one of our Israeli staff members who is shining the light of the Lord among his fellow Russian speakers as they immigrate to Israel from Ukraine and Russia. So many Russian Jewish people are trying to escape the forced draft and general oppression of the Russian leadership, and we are doing all we can to reach them. We are engaged with this growing group of almost one hundred thousand, and more enter Israel daily. Many have arrived with just the clothes on their backs, and some receive help from the Israeli government.

Let me allow Maxim to speak for himself!

Shalom. 

I hope you have a blessed holiday. I want to share with you about our first family conference and thank you for this opportunity, especially for the financial support. The idea for this project was brewing for several years. While leading children’s camps, it occurred to me it would be good to do something for families with children. In connection with the war in Ukraine and the arrival of new immigrants from Ukraine and Russia to Israel, we decided the time had come for a family conference. At our children’s camp last summer, many kids who attended were new immigrants with overwhelming needs we tried to meet with the love of Jesus! 

We held the family conference last month in Haifa. We booked thirty-four rooms, and there were more than eighty of us. Most of the invitees were new immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, and many of them were non-believers. We also invited families from local congregations to get to know the newly arrived immigrants. The theme of the conference was “Our Family Starts with Me.” 

Everyone arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and then, after supper, we gathered together for the first meeting, where we joined together for worship and a Bible lesson. After the meeting, we took the children on a night safari to the Haifa Zoo. On Friday, we celebrated with a beautiful Sabbath dinner, played exciting games, and everyone enjoyed themselves. We had meetings twice a day for an hour and a half. 

One of our Ukrainian Jewish missionaries did an excellent job of leading worship. I prepared lessons, which were more like conversations, during which participants could express their opinions and raise pressing issues. There was a lot of free time for families to talk among themselves and with each other. The kids had the best time playing ping-pong, during which we had many conversations. 

The most important part of the retreat was our time with the parents. They are receptive to the gospel and our love for many reasons, especially because they are hurting. I thank God for this opportunity and the newly opened doors. 

Thank you again for your support, prayers, and participation. 

Please pray for our upcoming trip to the country of Georgia with a group of twenty-two elderly Russian and Ukrainian Holocaust survivors. 

Blessings during this holiday season, and remember to pray for us! 

Maxim 

HIS LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS

The Lord has been so generous to each one of us. Without your partnership, we could never provide the funding that Maxim needs to be a light to the new immigrants to Israel who are escaping a hellish war in Ukraine. It is going to be a harsh winter in Ukraine, and Your Mission to the Jewish People is there on the ground, bringing heating devices, food, medicine, and various emergency services in partnership with other ministries to help Ukrainians survive the aggression of the Russian military. 

May I also ask you to pray for our ministries among the very religious Jewish community? I never thought I would see the breakthroughs we are witnessing today. In Israel, New York City, the United Kingdom, and online, we receive requests from ultra-Orthodox Jewish people who want to learn more about Jesus. I cannot provide further details, but I am asking you to pray. We are confident now quite a few among the very devout are seeking the Lord. We must find and nurture them; what we have planned should help. I am sorry to be so vague, but there are considerable community consequences when ultra-religious Jewish people come to believe in Jesus. 

I am praying the light of the Messiah will shine brightly in the hearts of religious Jewish people who recognize He died for their sins, rose from the grave, and provides abundant life now and forever. 

Would you join me in praying for the most religious of all the Jewish community? These folks could one day make up 50 percent or more of the Jewish population worldwide. We talked about these precious people in the past, but now is the time for us to take further loving and sensitive action to make the Light of the World known in every corner of the religious Jewish community. 

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Filed under evangelism, Holidays & Festivals, Israel, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jewish Holidays, Jews and Christians, Judaism, Kiev, Messianic Jewish, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks to the Lord for He Is Good

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday that does not come from the Bible. It actually has “Jewish” origins, as many of the Pilgrims viewed themselves as the “children of Israel fleeing ‘Egypt’ (England), crossing the ‘Red Sea’ (the Atlantic Ocean), and emerging from this ‘Exodus’ to their own ‘promised land’ (New England).”1

The Pilgrims believed their role in God’s plan was similar to the purpose God gave to Abraham and his descendants: to be a blessing to the nations. These British religious refugees to the New World eventually led to the Puritan movement, which profoundly influenced the growth of the gospel in what would become the United States of America.

One of the great Puritan preachers, Cotton Mather, published a well-known sermon about thanksgiving in 1689. I especially appreciate his comment:

To praise God, is to Acknowledge in Him something Excellent, as ‘tis said in Psal. 148.13. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His Name alone is Excellent; thus, when we Acknowledge an Excellency in all those Manifestations which God maketh of Himself; then ‘tis that we praise Him. Now the Praises owing to the God of Heaven from us, are obliged not only by what He Is, but also by what He Does: indeed by what He Does it is that we come to Learn what He is. We ought to Acknowledge an Excellency in the Nature of God; which is to Ascribe Glory to Him.2

Ever since I came to faith in Jesus at age nineteen, I have believed that it was better to focus on who God is rather than what He does for us. One great temptation in giving thanks is to focus on what He has done rather than who He is. God’s character and glorious nature never change, but His works can change daily as the Lord is intimately involved in all aspects of our daily lives.

We understand God’s character through the Bible. One of my favorite passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that describes the character of God is in Exodus chapters 33 and 34. If you recall, God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, then hid him in the cleft of a rock, passing by him while declaring the glorious attributes of His nature. This action was in response to Moses’ request, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” (Exod 33:18).

God answered, 

“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” (Exod 33:20–23)

It is well worth reflecting on the following passage where His attributes are listed:

Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exod 34:6–7)

This monumental event on Mount Sinai—the manifestation of God’s attributes—became an important prayer within Judaism known as the Thirteen Attributes of God.

I genuinely believe the best way to thank God is to show our gratitude for His unchanging character. This lesson is what God taught Moses on top of Mount Sinai. Likewise, the Puritan leader Cotton Mather discovered this same truth.

Therefore, we, too, should begin our prayers of thanksgiving by first acknowledging His glorious character and the magnificence of His attributes. Then, we should continue praising and thanking Him for all He has done.

His good works proceed from His good character, and I believe this order in our prayers of thanksgiving is also critical.

WE ARE GRATEFUL

This Thanksgiving holiday, Your Mission to the Jewish People has so much to be thankful for as a ministry among the Jewish people. Our hearts are overflowing with the simple joy of knowing a good and benevolent God who created, loved, and redeemed us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

I am sure you will enjoy the testimonies we have compiled for this newsletter, and please rejoice with us for what the Lord has done! Let me list a few points of praise for your encouragement.

AN INCREASE IN CONGREGATIONS AND JEWISH BELIEVERS IN ISRAEL

When I first traveled to Israel as a believer in 1976, fewer than 500 Messianic Jews may have lived in the land. Some Jewish believers had survived the Holocaust, and a few had moved from North Africa to Israel. Most were not native Israelis and had come to Israel as believers from other parts of the globe. Some came to be part of the great Israel experiment, and others came to serve the Lord in the land. Now, more than seventy years later, there are probably between 20,000 and 30,000 Messianic Jews in the Holy Land, most of whom came to faith in Israel.

I believe we are now in a second-generation and even third-generation outpouring of the Spirit, transforming the national Israeli Messianic body.

This movement of the Spirit has also transformed our ministry as we continue to reach younger generations of Israelis along with the hundreds of elderly Holocaust survivors who we have been serving these past twenty-plus years. We now have our first generation of Jewish believers born in Israel, speaking Hebrew as their native language, attending Israeli schools, and serving in the Israeli army.

These Israeli believers are young, bold, and willing to give their all for Jesus the Messiah!

That is why we have rented a facility in the greater Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Gan where we organize Sabbath outreach dinners, concerts, café nights, Bible studies, reading groups for moms and children, and so much more each month. We can do this because the Lord is working within a new generation of Israelis.

We are in the thick of this outpouring of the Spirit—discipling and nurturing new believers and this new generation of young Israeli leaders!

The future of the Messianic Jewish movement in Israel is bright, and I hope you will want to participate in this work of the Spirit through Your Mission to the Jewish People.

We do need more worship space!

NEW MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES WITH TRAVELING ISRAELIS

We are reaching Israelis by meeting adventurous post-army young adults in places like the Upper West Side of New York City, the South Island of New Zealand, India, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. We are also about to open up ministry stations in Brazil and Japan to reach these wandering Israelis. Our short-term and permanent teams are sharing the gospel with them as they enjoy hikes, BBQs, hummus nights, or a lovely meal of traditional Chinese food!

The Israeli traveler community is a cultural phenomenon and a growing trend that enables us to speak to young Israelis in areas where there is less pressure to conform. In these contexts, they allow themselves to search outside of their usual choices for ways to have happy and meaningful lives and are open to new ways to have a relationship with the God of Israel.

In addition, we are creating a hosting network within the United States, and if you would like to host young Israeli people just out of the army in your home, please let us know! We are now beginning to look for American hosts for the new year.

AN INCREASE IN PRO-JESUS SENTIMENT AMONG YOUNGER GENERATIONS OF JEWISH PEOPLE

We are surprised by the large number of young Jewish people from all over the world responding to our social media, Facebook ads, our new campus outreaches, and the congregations we plant. A recent Barna survey has revealed that Jewish millennials are more open than their parents to the gospel and even to the possibility that Jesus is both Messiah and God in the flesh. We find this astounding! In addition, young people are the majority of the more than 10,000 Jewish non-believers we have met online through our digital outreach campaigns over the last few years, including our Isaiah 53 Explained eBook offer and our “I Found Shalom” video testimonies.

I am also very excited about resuming our residential outreach ministry (House of Living Waters) at New York University (NYU),which has the largest concentration of Jewish students in the United States. We have two young men living in an apartment across the street from the NYU campus and a young woman living in Brooklyn. They are all actively engaged in sharing the gospel with Jewish students.

Again, these opportunities and the openheartedness of the younger generations give me incredible hope for the future of God’s work in bringing the Jewish remnant to Himself in these last days (Romans 11:25–29).

Happy Thanksgiving—and remember to save room for pumpkin pie!

1 Marvin R. Wilson, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 127.

2 Cotton Mather, “A Sermon Preached to the Honourable Convention of the Governour, Council, and Representatives of the Massachuset-Colony in New-England on May 23, 1689,” https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A50176.0001.001/1:5?rgn=div1;view=fulltext.

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We are thankful for you!

I am grateful to God for you and how He uses the Chosen People Ministries global family to serve in nineteen countries worldwide.

I also want you to know how grateful I am for your love, prayers, and support. We are a faith mission, which means that our missionaries, including myself, are responsible for raising our support. After almost fifty years of personally raising my own support, I think I can translate what this means for you. Simply put, we trust the Lord for His provision for our lives and ministry through the generosity and sacrifice of believers like you and local congregations who believe in our mission to reach Jewish people with the gospel.

I have spent my adult life trying to ensure that Jewish evangelism does not become the great omission of the Great Commission. Jewish evangelism is not one of the side jobs of the church; it should be, according to the Bible, one of its main concerns.

A well-known theologian, Jakob Jocz, who has an amazing testimony, firmly believed in Jewish evangelism. Jakob grew up in a Jewish home. His father became a believer some years later and entered full-time missionary service. Jakob, who would become a leading Messianic Jewish theologian, wrote The Jewish People and Jesus Christ, a must-read for every believer. In another book, The Spiritual History of Israel, Jocz wrote: “If the Church has no Gospel for the Jews, it has no Gospel for the world.”1

Jewish evangelism is essential because of the Jewish people’s role in God’s plan and purposes! In one critical passage in Romans, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, tells us that the path to world redemption includes bringing the gospel to the Jewish people. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).

We need to take this passage seriously and literally. It is written in the present tense and implies an ongoing action. Paul was not suggesting that the gospel was to go to the Jews first and then cease going to the Jewish people in order to turn to the Gentiles. Instead, this biblical principle of evangelizing the Jewish people is, for all ages, a priority of heart for all believers in Jesus.

God chose the Jewish people as His bridge of redemption to a dark and broken world. His people received, transmitted, and preserved the Scriptures. Jesus Himself was born of a Jewish virgin (as promised), many Jewish people throughout the ages continued to believe in Jesus’ messiahship, and the Jewish people will play a significant role in the second coming when, as a nation, the Jewish community will recognize the promised Messiah (Matthew 23:39).

Our calling is to make disciples because time is short, and the next great event on God’s timetable is the salvation of the Jewish people. The Gentiles have a pivotal role to play in the redemption of the Jewish people today and tomorrow: God calls upon the Gentiles—initially reached by the Jewish disciples—to bring the message back to the original messengers (Romans 11:11)!

Based upon the teaching of the New Testament, I believe every Christian should be, in one way or another, supporting missions to the Jews, either through prayer, giving, or other means of love, support, and encouragement. We are partners in this great work, and I hope this Thanksgiving you will consider joining us in this great work of reaching the Jewish people.

So, please allow me to tell you what God is doing through our staff and your support. 

Around the United States

We are so grateful for our many missionaries serving among the almost six million Jewish people across the United States. Through our Foundations ’22 campaign, we emphasize the work of direct and personal evangelism, discipleship, and training. We are actively building a new generation of missionaries to the Jewish people. Our Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies is now a hybrid program—in person, in Brooklyn, and online.

New York City

We had a great summer outreach in New York City, where we brought a few dozen volunteers and staff for a week of reaching out to both religious and non-religious Jewish people.

We are beginning to do more work among the ultra-Orthodox and would appreciate your prayers for this ministry. It is difficult but so rewarding and worthwhile. We are praying that God will open the hearts of the most religious in our community.

Around the Globe

Last month, we observed the Jewish fall festivals, which include the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). All these festivals, in one way or another, point to Jesus. We had a fruitful season reaching out to our beloved Jewish people worldwide through our services, Bible studies, and various outreach ministries.

We held services in Argentina at our beautiful center in Buenos Aires, home to more than a quarter million Jewish people. In Australia, we observed the holidays and spoke to many Jewish people about the Lord at our new congregational and ministry center that recently opened in Melbourne. We were able to do the same in London through the congregation we launched in the heart of Jewish North London.

Please pray for our global missionaries as they press on to reach God’s chosen people everywhere.

Ministry to Holocaust Survivors

One of our most incredible ministries in Israel is reaching elderly Holocaust survivors, who are becoming fewer and fewer each day. There is not much time left to reach them for the Messiah! Yet, we continue to have an excellent entry point into their hearts and souls as we provide comfort, companionship, food, medical care, and, as the Lord enables, conversations about Jesus. We hope to continue this ministry until the last Holocaust survivor has heard the gospel.

Children’s Ministries

We have several camps in the United States and Israel, and it is a joy to be back in person, bringing the love of our Messiah to American and Israeli children. Over the last few months, we had more than one hundred children attend our camps across the globe, and by God’s grace, some of these young people came to faith in Jesus and were baptized. But, of course, we do this all with parental permission, and some of the parents are not yet believers.

During our recent camp in Israel, we discovered quite a few children from immigrant families recently came to Israel from war-torn Ukraine. Please pray for these newcomers, especially the children, as they learn Hebrew, grow in the Messiah, and settle in a new country.

Young Adults

This past summer, we had the joy of mentoring young adults through our Living Waters mentoring retreat in Israel. I taught about leadership to encourage this next generation of leaders working tirelessly in their local congregations and with a considerable amount of spiritual responsibility. We also invited spouses and kids to this retreat so that we could minister to the whole family.

Again, we could not minister in these ways without your prayers and support.

Ministry in Ukraine and to Russian-speaking Jewish people

We recently sponsored a conference in Berlin, Germany, attended by more than eighty leaders from Russian and Ukrainian Messianic ministries and congregations. It was challenging as both Russian and Ukrainian believers who got along well before the war had to work out their unity in the Lord during the week. But it was worth it as they worshiped together, studied God’s Word, and collaborated on how to be more effective in reaching Ukrainian and Russian Jewish people in their countries and in Israel, as many have immigrated to the Holy Land.

Please pray for them as we expect a harsh winter in Ukraine. We will do everything we can in partnership with other ministries to bring relief and comfort to those who have lost their homes, jobs, congregations, and so much more. Thank you for supporting this effort and for your generous gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving! We are so thankful for you!

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10–11, emphasis added)

1 Jakob Jocz, Spiritual History of Israel (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961), 160.

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Can I Be Jewish and Believe in Jesus?

Why is it difficult and, at times, even volatile to invite a Jewish person to consider whether Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel? After all, those extending the invitation usually mean well! But oftentimes, our kindest and best efforts to share the good news with a Jewish friend or loved one seems to upset the person we love and care about. I know this from personal experience as I am a Jewish believer in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) and love my family and friends. Yet, many of my family members are unwilling to hear about the one who dramatically changed my life, and a few have even become antagonistic. Again, the question is why.

Maybe you are Jewish and do not believe that Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel. I hope you will continue reading and maybe have the opportunity to explain to your Christian friends why the Jewish people they speak with might not respond well to conversations about Jesus.

A Quick and Personal Answer

Many Jewish people, including members of my own family, think that if they acknowledge the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah, they will no longer be Jewish. I fully understand this objection as it is exactly the way I felt years ago before I came to believe the Jewish Messiah had already come. I grew up in a traditional Jewish home in New York City and was taught—more by osmosis than in a classroom—that Jewish people simply are not supposed to believe in Jesus and that being Jewish and belief in Jesus are two irreconcilable truths. 

Indeed, I remember the day I accepted that Yeshua was the Messiah. I went to bed that night thinking I may wake up the next morning as a non-Jew! I realize this does not seem rational, but this is how I and many Jewish people are raised. We are taught that there is a massive, invisible chasm separating Jesus and his fellow Jews today, especially after two thousand years of negative history between Jews and Christians. That was why, in my mind, accepting Jesus as my Messiah was tantamount to identity suicide. Yet, I was willing to sacrifice my community, heritage, and all to follow him because I was so convinced he was our promised Messiah!

Now, for any Jewish readers, before your blood pressure rises to new levels, please do not think that being Jewish was meaningless to me. My Jewish identity has always been precious to me. Most of my relatives from Europe died in the Shoah! Yet, I was ready to be viewed as a non-Jew for the sake of following Jesus whom I believed was the Messiah. I believed it would be a sacrifice well worth the price! I was willing to accept the Jewish community’s rejection for his sake.

To my relief, I woke up the next morning after making the decision that Jesus was the Messiah and felt as Jewish as ever! The good news is that I came to realize that I not only did not have to cease being Jewish but, in many ways, I felt more Jewish than ever before. I know a host of other Messianic Jews who feel the same way. When we first came to believe, many of us thought we were the only Jewish people in the world who believed in Jesus, and then we discovered one another. Believe me, there is a growing community of Jews who think Yeshua is the Messiah—in the United States, in Israel, and around the globe. The apostle Paul (also known as Saul) even wrote about this in his letter to the Roman believers in the New Testament (Romans 11:5).

Not that truth is measured by a majority vote, but it does not hurt to recognize that you are not alone as a believer in Yeshua and that you are loyal to the Jewish people. There are tens of thousands of Jewish people, like me, who believe Jesus is the Messiah and strongly identify as Jewish.

Jewish Identity Strengthened

The Hebrew Scriptures began to mean more to me after I became a follower of Jesus. I also recognized that the New Testament is a Jewish book as almost all of the authors are Jewish. The idea of a personal Messiah is very Jewish and an ideal I was raised with but never took seriously until the day I met Yeshua! I felt very much at home believing that the Messiah had come. I was raised to expect he would! Most of all, I renewed my faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believed in the God of Israel through the Messiah of Israel because I knew, in the depths of my heart, it was true.

My newfound relationship with God through the Messiah gave me a new sense of spiritual, emotional, and internal intimacy with God. If you follow him, then you know what I mean. If you do not and are seeking a closer relationship with God, then I hope you will take the chance to explore the Messiah and discover what I and so many others are saying is true. Allow me to quote a famous verse from the New Testament penned by John (Yochanan in Hebrew) the apostle: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Yeshua was speaking with one of Israel’s first-century spiritual leaders when he said this. I finally understood that being Jewish was not an accident of birth and that God’s goal in creating and calling the Jewish people into miraculous existence was to be known by His chosen people in the deepest way possible. I recognized that my being Jewish is important to God and therefore should be important to me. God made me Jewish, and He miraculously created the Jewish people from two elderly Semites (Abraham and Sarah) who could no longer bear children. And God gave the Jewish people—the chosen people—a divine purpose: to be a light to the nations and the vehicle of His eternal truth, both through the Scriptures and ultimately through the Jewish Messiah, whom to know is life everlasting.

I do not feel less Jewish; in fact, I feel more Jewish than ever before. It makes the suffering and the difficulties that Jewish people have faced through the centuries worthwhile. We belong to God, and we have been created for a holy purpose. I am a part of His grand design for all humanity as He created and chose the Jewish people to bless the nations of the world. As God said to our father Abram, “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). I share in that Jewish calling now more than ever through Jesus the Messiah and will continue to live my life for a greater purpose: to share His love and light through the Messiah with a dark and broken world.

As Jews, we have a concept called Tikkun Olam, literally “the repairing of the world.” The Jewish people are called to be His servants and a bridge of messianic redemption to the world. But this is only possible through the Messiah. We cannot bring true shalom to the world without the Messiah, as he is called “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6–7).

Believing in and proclaiming the good news that the Messiah has come is everything God created us to do. I can barely articulate the joy I have in knowing the Messiah and in fulfilling his purposes for my life. I do hope and pray this will be true for you as well!

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Introducing some of my heroes . . .

I hope you have time to read a little story. I love good stories, and this is a good one! 

Isaac Feinstein is one of my heroes. He became a martyr for Jesus at the start of World War II. Joseph Hoffman Cohn, the son of another of my heroes in the faith, Leopold Cohn, the founder of Chosen People Ministries, tells the story. 

THE COHNS’ LIFE AND MINISTRY 

As you might know from Chosen People Ministries’ history, Leopold Cohn immigrated to the United States in the early 1890s and came to the Lord in 1892. He founded Chosen People Ministries in 1894 and held outreach meetings in a cleaned-out horse stable in Brooklyn! 

Leopold grew up in the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, among whom most members who remained in Europe died during the Holocaust. However, by God’s grace, quite a few from the Satmar community landed safely on the shores of the United States of America, where they have thrived and grown to become one of the world’s largest Hasidic sects.1 

Naturally, Leopold Cohn’s ministry focused on the millions of eastern European Jewish immigrants, like the Satmar, who settled in turn-of-the-century New York City. Leopold’s son Joseph became the director of Chosen People Ministries in 1932 after his father passed into the presence of the Lord. As the ominous Nazi plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe became known, Joseph began to share in the desperation of his fellow Jews in Europe. 

Joseph Hoffman Cohn traveled throughout Europe from 1938 to 1939, encouraging Messianic Jewish leaders to leave the continent because he sensed what was coming. This trip to Europe was Joseph’s last-ditch effort to help as many of the Jewish missionary leaders as possible. His reports of his conversations and adventures appeared in various issues of the Chosen People magazine, some of which I have included below. 

THE MARTYRDOM OF ISAAC FEINSTEIN 

Joseph Cohn was especially fond of Isaac Feinstein, who led the Norwegian Israelite Mission work in Jassy, Romania, before the Nazi invasion. Cohn visited with Feinstein before the war and tried to persuade him and his family to leave Europe: 

It was the summer of 1938. We were walking together on the Buda side of the Danube at Budapest. My companion was Isaac Feinstein, a beloved young Jewish brother who was then stationed at Galatz in Romania, about 200 miles farther east than Budapest, and was carrying on a faithful and brilliant testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ under the support of some Christian brethren in Norway. I coveted this young man and his talents for our work here in the States. 

Every time I looked into his face I could not help thinking of Nathaniel of old, the Israelite in whom our Lord found no guile. His eyes burned with the explosiveness of impassioned zeal. He had the perfect background for a marvelous ministry to the Jews of New York City. He was young, he was steeped in all the Hebrew lore as on his way he was a master in Israel and could speak to his Jewish compatriots with authority. So I turned to him suddenly and asked him if he would leave Romania, take his wife and six children and come to America and join our staff. 

I pointed out to him the imminent dangers developing in Europe and brutal thoughts of Nazism and asked him to ponder and to pray seriously over the question as to whether the Lord would not have him leave these lands of horror and come to America for a greatly enlarged field of service and testimony. 

He was overwhelmed for a moment, but soon recovered his poise and told me frankly with affection and emotion how grateful he was for this compliment. But that he felt it would be an act of cowardice to leave his post in the face of threatened dangers. He felt that Nazis or no Nazis, it was his duty to stay at his post. There were so many of his Jewish brethren in Galatz who were depending on him for spiritual comfort and leadership that he would feel all his life the terrible shame of having deserted them in the hour of their need. So, we parted, and my last words to him then were that if ever the time came that he found himself compelled to leave Romania, he should take the first boat to New York and report to our office.2 

Cohn continued, 

Came the war, one by one the Nazi beasts took captive country after country. And soon Romania fell victim and the Nazis stormed over the land like the lice in Egypt. And to Galatz they came, spreading cruelties and death on every side. They seized this young brother, who had done them no harm but was a faithful servant to the Lord Jesus Christ. They tied him to a stake and then for days they tortured him. His tongue hung out of his mouth in desperate body-torturing thirst, but never was he shown one shred of mercy or decency. Finally, he died from sheer torture and exhaustion.

Cohn printed a letter from Isaac’s wife, Esther, in the Chosen People magazine in which she thanked him and Chosen People Ministries for their support. She also provided insight regarding her continued ministry among the refugees and the plight of the survivors in general: 

This week I had the great joy to receive a letter from you, though with the date January 14, 1944, so it is just a year ago. 

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your help which I had never expected, and which came in such a wonderful way to us. I really see that the Lord sent it and I take it from his hand praising him. Of course, I had heard of you through my dear husband, but I shouldn’t have thought to ask your help. It was Richard (Wurmbrand) who wanted me to do it. How glad I should be to have news from our friends there, but what a terrible time they must have gone through. I am looking forward very much to seeing you when you will come to Europe. I shall have lots to tell you. 

Somehow, I feel that you are a sort of a father for my little orphans and I am so happy that you take an interest in them. For the present I am working among Jewish refugee children and am trying to be a mother to those poor dear ones who lost so much. My own children are well, living with friends, except my six-year-old, little Gabrielle, was not healthy like the others and must be looked after in a special home. I use part of the money to pay her board. I ask the Lord to bless for all you do and have done for us.3 

Cohn wrote of the ministry’s continued concern for the wife and children of the martyred Feinstein. He also shared with us his expectations for post-war ministry among the survivors. 

His widow with her six children escaped to Switzerland, and like the woman in the wilderness of Revelation, it is our privilege to nurture her as we send each month, through your generosity, $100 that she may have food for herself and her children. This is only a sample of what will await us once the war is finished and we are told to go across and minister to these, His disciples.4

HEROES OF THE FAITH 

Many Jewish refugees also came to Jesus through the efforts of Isaac’s wife, Esther! I cannot help but think that if the author of Hebrews wrote chapter eleven today, Isaac and Esther would take their place next to Abraham, Sarah, and the other heroes and heroines of the faith. Hebrews chapter twelve describes a cloud of witnesses, and I wonder if Isaac and Esther are in the heavenly stands cheering us on as we reach Jewish people for Jesus today! (Heb 12:1–3). 

YOUR PARTNERSHIP IS DEEPLY APPRECIATED 

I wish you could meet our brave missionary staff serving the Lord in Israel, Ukraine, Brooklyn, Buenos Aires, and many other places where Jewish people are plentiful, and there are few Christians. There are many obstacles and much opposition to presenting Jesus to His kinsmen in the flesh. 

Yet, I rarely hear a complaint about the difficulties our staff experience. Moreover, I believe their peace of soul and confidence in the Lord is partly the result of your faithful prayers and support. We see the light of God’s love shining through the dark clouds of difficulty because of you! So, thank you for caring about the Jewish people and our missionary staff.

1 Hasidism is a form of ultra-Orthodox Judaism characterized by conservative religious values and an insular lifestyle, of which the Satmar group is one of the most extreme. 

2 Joseph Hoffman Cohn, “Salutation,” Chosen People 48, no.7 (1944a): 6. 

3 Esther Feinstein, “Jewish Notes,” Chosen People 51, no. 2 (1945b):14. 

4 Cohn, Chosen People (1944a):6. 

5 Latte Neanni, “Romanian Jewish Chronology,” The Romanian Jewish Community, December 9, 2020, accessed September 6, 2022, https://www.romanianjewish.org/. 

6 Tuvia Friling, Radu Ioanid, and Mihail E. Ionescu, eds., International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania: Final Report (Iași, Romania: Polirom, 2005), 249. 

7 “The JUST Act Report: Romania,” United States Department of State, accessed September 1, 2022, https://www.state.gov/reports/just-act-report-to-congress/romania/. 

8 Romania: Ukraine Refugee Situation Update (UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency, July 12, 2022), https://data.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/94235.

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The Tabernacle: A Portrait of Redemption

Let me tell you how excited I am about a new Bible teaching project we have been working on these past several months! We are partnering with a wonderful Christian production company to create a virtual three-dimensional model and tour of the Tabernacle, which was the “portable Temple” where God dwelt during the Israelites’ journeys on the way to the promised land. The Hebrew for “tabernacle” is mishkan, which means dwelling place.

In Exodus 25:1–27:19, Moses outlined the plan for the Tabernacle, which God revealed to him on Mount Sinai. In many ways, the Tabernacle is a biblical type that points to the person and work of Messiah Jesus. That is one reason why I believe it is crucial that we understand the Tabernacle! Within this incredible structure, we find the “spiritual essentials” we need to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Once done, we hope our 3D model will help you experience the Tabernacle in a fresh and deeper way. You will find several images of the model in this newsletter.

Now, allow me to give you a “sneak peek” by examining the Tabernacle’s components and showing why they are important for anyone who wants to live for the Lord.

THE ALTAR (מִזְבֵּחַ)—mizbeiach

One of the major roles of the priests was to offer sacrifices to God on the altar (Exodus 27:1–8) in the Tabernacle (and eventually the Temple). One cannot underestimate the importance of the required sacrifices for atonement. We read in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

Yeshua was the lamb of God who offered Himself as a sacrifice, and His death atoned for the sins of Israel and the entire world (John 1:29). We are grateful for God’s sacrifice of His Son for our salvation. As followers of the Messiah, we also offer ourselves in sacrificial service, which is our spiritual duty (Romans 12:1–2).

THE LAVER (כִּיּוֹר)—kiyor

The priests were commanded to cleanse themselves in the laver, or basin, before offering sacrifices (Exodus 30:17–20). This law teaches us a key lesson, as there must be purity before we are able to worship. The laver teaches us the importance of purity and cleansing in our spiritual lives. In fact, the cleansing that Israel and the world needs is not produced by bathing in water, but rather we are washed and purified through the blood of Jesus. The laver points to the perfect cleansing we experience by faith through His sacrifice for our sins.

I believe the Lord had the death of the Messiah Jesus in mind when the prophet wrote, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zechariah 13:1).

This end-time cleansing will take place when the Jewish people turn to Him who was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). For those of us who already know the Lord, we understand God forgives and cleanses us each day as we confess our sins and re-experience the full power of His atoning blood (1 John 1:9).

THE LAMPSTAND (מְנוֹרָה)—menorah

God instructed Israel to make a lampstand with six branches (Exodus 25:31–40). Light is an integral theme in the Bible and a key element of our walk with God. His light guides us. His word is a lamp to our feet and a light that keeps us from stumbling (Psalm 119:105). The Lord chose Israel to be a light to the nations, yet His Son Yeshua, Himself an Israelite, shines this light more brightly than any individual or nation.

He is the light of the world, as John wrote, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

The Ner Tamid, the eternal light, in today’s synagogue is a reminder of the menorah that burned in the Temple. God told Israel to burn a lamp continually in the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:20–21). This eternal light points to God’s eternal, glorious, and holy character. God is unchanging in His attributes and nature. The ever-present light reminds us that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob exists from everlasting to everlasting and that His Son shares the same nature. Therefore, Micah wrote that the Messiah’s “goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic 5:2).

THE BREAD OF THE PRESENCE (לֶחֶם פָּנִים)—lechem panim

In the ancient Middle East and even today, a meal is the ultimate expression of intimacy and friendship between individuals. The bread of the Presence refers to a meal we can share with God that speaks of this potential depth of intimacy and friendship with the King of kings. Israel was to always have bread on a table in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:23–30; Leviticus 24:5–6).

Yeshua has made a way for us to enter into and enjoy this relationship with the Lord. We are forgiven friends of the almighty and holy God of the universe through the sacrifice of Yeshua (John 15:15). In Him, we are free to fellowship with God like friends sharing a meal. We also joyfully await the marriage supper of the Lamb when the Messiah will dine with His bride (Revelation 19:9).

The laver and the altar prepare our hearts for the beauty of this eternal fellowship with the Lord and Creator of all things.

THE ALTAR OF INCENSE (מִזְבַּח הַקּטֹרֶת)—mizbach ha-ketoret

Prayers of intercession were another special responsibility of the priests. God instructed them to continually burn incense in the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:1–10) to symbolize their prayers wafting between earth and heaven.

Prayer is, of course, critical to our spiritual life. It is the line of communication between us and the Lord. We may pray liturgically or spontaneously—with or without a formula. Just as the priests were to burn incense constantly, we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

THE DIVIDING VEIL (פָּרֹכֶת)—parochet

This veil was a curtain that divided the holy place and the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:31–33). Once a year, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) sacrifice (Leviticus 16).

The moment Yeshua died on Golgotha, the veil in the Temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51) as a sign that all who believe now have access to the Holy of Holies through faith in the justifying work of Yeshua on the cross (Romans 5:1–2; Hebrews 10:19–20). One of the critical components of a healthy spiritual life is recognizing the access we have to God through the Messiah. Nothing can stand between us and God. We simply need to take advantage of this marvelous and privileged access to the presence of God, nurtured through prayer, reading Scripture, fellowship, meditation, and obedience for those cleansed by His atoning blood.

THE ARK (אָרוֹן)—aron

In Exodus 25:10–22, God told the Israelites how to build the ark. He commanded them to place several important items in the ark, including the two stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:1–5), Aaron’s blooming rod (Numbers 17:1–11), and a pot of manna (Exodus 16:33–34). All these items testified to God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people. These reminders of God’s word, the miracle of His transforming power, and His provision were important, and they reminded the high priest of why his obligations to the rest of the nation were so critical.

Yeshua is represented by each of the three items within the ark. As to the manna, He said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven” (John 6:51). Aaron’s rod was a definitive symbol of God’s power, representing how Jesus was God on earth; “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Finally, the word of God, represented by the stone tablets, finds its greatest fulfillment in the Messiah, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

THE MERCY SEAT (כַפֹּרֶת)—kaporet

The mercy seat is the piece of Tabernacle furniture that was most significant for the ancient Israelites. The mercy seat covered the ark in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 25:17–22). One might think of the mercy seat as atonement central. It was where the high priest sprinkled blood when he entered the Holy of Holies once a year to seek atonement for the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:14–15).

Yeshua died once for all, for all humanity, and His one sacrifice suffices for all time (Hebrews 9:11–14). His blood fully cleanses all who believe. Yet, that is not the end of His work as our perfect High Priest, as Jesus continually intercedes for us in heaven. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). 

He is our everlasting High Priest!

In Conclusion

As you can see, the Tabernacle gives us much to consider as this mobile Temple reveals so many of the essential building blocks that shape our spiritual lives. The Tabernacle pointed to Jesus our Messiah who fulfills every intricate feature of the Tabernacle. The shadows match the substance. I hope this brief guide to the Tabernacle encourages you to more deeply appreciate the atonement Jesus made for us.

Thanks to Him and Him alone, we can draw near to the Lord each and every moment of our lives!

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