Special Reports

Senior Israeli, world Jewish leaders address Feast

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

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

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s greeting:

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

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

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

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

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

President Reuven Rivlin's Speech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ambassador Ron Lauder's Address:

Israel reviews 2011

Israel is greeting 2012 with a hopeful and optomistic attitude after an eventful 2011.

The Central Bureau of Statistics published a comprehensive report of the Jewish State's status in various economic, social, demographic and cultural areas.

To see the Central Bureau of Statistics summary of Israel in 2011, click HERE (PDF)

The IDF also posted a short youtube video taking a look at some of the challenges Israel faced in 2011, as well as some of the Jewish State's triumphs.

Netanyahu sends Christmas greetings to the world

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends his Christmas greetings to Christians in Israel and around the world;

Ayalon stars in 'The truth about the Refugees'

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stars in the latest video produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled "The Truth about the Refugees"

As the name implies, the new video gives a truthful historical account of the refugees, both Jewish and Arab, created by the Israeli War of Independance in 1948. Refugees from that war and their descendents (on the Palestinian side) are still being used by many in the Palestinian camp as an excuse to refuse to negotiate a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The issue is also widely used by Israel's enemies around the world to demonize the Jewish State, making Ayalon's video particularly helpful for pro-Israel activists.

Please help Israel and the ICEJ by sharing this video with as many people as possible.

It feels like walking

The Oranim School in Ashkelon has become a very special place for handicapped children across the Negev ever since the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem helped to fund the installment of a state-of-the-art therapeutic swimming pool. The unique pool opened four years ago and an ICEJ delegation paid a visit to the school recently to see how the facility is being put to good use.

We watched as young students Tali and Dascha were carefully pushed in their wheelchairs close to the edge of the pool. A special lifting device was used to slowly lower Tali into the water, where her hydrotherapist was waiting for her. Tali, who is 12 years old and from an Ethiopian immigrant family, has a severe spastic paralysis that has confined her to a wheelchair. But once in the water, she was splashing and smiling. The buoyancy gives her a wholly new freedom of motion.

“Tali is unable to walk, but when she is in the water she feels like she can”, said Jardena Zachlach, director of the school. “In the water, Tali can move so much better than is possible in her wheelchair or in bed.”

Meanwhile, Dascha had been calmly awaiting her turn. When it came, the hydrotherapist moved her slowly through the water. The sensation brought a smile to her face, as her body felt lighter and her cramped muscles could relax. Coming from a Russian immigrant family, Dascha is also unable to walk. Yet she is set free to move about in the unique environment of the swimming pool, which is providing not only therapy and but also lots of old-fashioned fun for dozens of special boys and girls who would otherwise miss out on some of the joys of childhood.

The city of Ashkelon is proud of its one-of-a-kind school with the therapeutic swimming pool for disabled youngsters and they get a lot of visitors. Parents of handicapped children are especially keen to bring them to Oranim. Some 130 hydrotherapy sessions take place in the pool each week. Two days a week are set aside for the 61 disabled children attending the Oranim school. On the other days, handicapped children from kindergartens and schools all over Ashkelon and surrounding areas are able to come and use the pool.

“From the beginning, it was the plan that the pool would be available for handicapped children from all over Israel”, said Zvi Givati, a former ICEJ liaison who initiated the project. In the afternoons, adults also are allowed to use the swimming pool in case they need hydrotherapy for back ailments and other mobility problems, he noted.

“This pool is unique in Israel and maybe unique also worldwide”, said Osnat Tov, director of the swimming pool. What is so special is that the pool is equipped with ropes and bars stretched over its basin and on the sides extending down into the water. This makes it possible for handicapped people to move freely, she explained, adding that the Israeli army is also now interested in using this special design for its work in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

“It is wonderful and very touching to see the children able to move and enjoy themselves in this way”, said ICEJ International Director Jürgen Bühler during the visit to the pool facility. “We want to continue supporting this important project also in the future.”

“Thank you! Your help is very, very important to our children”, responded Tzachlach on behalf of the school.

Asked how the ICEJ can continue to help the school, she noted that they are in need of special stainless steel wheelchairs for handicapped children and adults that would allow them to take showers by themselves, as well as non-slip carpets for the swimming pool area.

Meantime, Ashkelon is located only ten kilometers north of the Gaza Strip and thus faces the added harsh reality of repeated rocket attacks launched by Palestinian terror militias. Recently, a Kassam rocket hit the town not far from the Oranim School. The school’s ‘sensory room’, where the special-needs children normally go to have their senses stimulated in a relaxed atmosphere, has been turned into a temporary bomb shelter and thus cannot be used to its fullest. So the school also needs separate secured rooms to protect the children during the persistent rocket barrages from Gaza.

BOX: If you are interested in supporting our efforts to fund this and other projects to assist the handicapped in Israel, please make your donation. Make an on-line donation today.



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