This summer was an historically hot summer. The raging heat coupled with the overshadowing threat of possible war, made for an even more tense and 'tight' atmosphere in Israel. Thankfully, we are looking forward to be able to look back on this season as a time that has passed. As the air begins to cool, ushering in the beautiful season of autumn, we enter into the High Holidays. This season is particularly focused on the process of redemption, to enter into a promised home of celebration.

The 'Days of Awe', as this season is called, is a time filled with self-examination. These days follow Rosh Hashana, when we have entered a new Hebrew calendar year and precede Yom Kippur, when according to God's plan we will begin the new year by examining the actions of our body and intentions of our heart.

We feel impressed that this year is to be a year of focus on unity. Historically, the Enemy always thrives on the division of people. The Second Temple was destroyed because of unfounded hatred. Agreement and unity among people is so significant that when humans united together at the Tower of Babel, God actually divided them by language in order to thwart their attempts. This idea is strengthened by Yeshua's own words that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

In this vein, we are convinced that Yeshua's message is not about avoiding conflict or confrontation, but about reaching out to others. To isolate ourselves and live in an individual bubble or even a community bubble is to miss entirely the plan that God has for us as believers. With this in mind, we soberly seek to find God's heart for one another as a family, as a community, as a nation and even God's heart for our enemies.

Recently we got caught in the middle of a neighborhood scandal and intrigue when one neighbor, in the next building, accused another neighbor, in the apartment above us, of stealing her plum tree which she had just bought to plant in her yard. We did our best to be friendly and sympathetic yet truthful, not implicating our upstairs neighbor directly, as we hadn't witnessed the alleged crime. A few days after the initial accusation and full-blown event, police visit and all, we ran into the accusing neighbor in the park. She greeted us with the seasonal "Shana Tova" and then proceeded to tell us that she had decided to forgive the neighbor and drop the accusation. Since the days leading up to Yom Kippur are supposed to be days in which we examine our hearts and actions, she said that she preferred a clean conscience without bitterness towards the neighbor. The neighbor who had stolen the tree, she said, would have to face judgment by God, but not by her.

As for us, we were shocked by this uncommon response of large-heartedness and goodwill, from one Israeli to another. In a "watch out for your own self" kind of society, it is uncommon for people to overlook offense, particularly of that magnitude. We were once again impressed that if a marginally religious, yet certainly God-fearing Israeli would take such a significant step towards her fellow human being, how much more should we, followers of Yeshua reach out to those around us.

Yeshua also said "whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done it unto me." In the spirit of unity, reaching out to our fellow Israelis, and following Yeshua's example of compassion and care for those around us, we were blessed once again to be able to extend a practical hand to our community. In the days leading up to Rosh Hashana, we packed and distributed 500 bags filled with dry goods and holiday items to local needy families.

Working joyfully together, to pack the new, ecologically sound bags that we ordered for the occasion, we rejoiced at the opportunity to help our neighbors enter into the holiday celebration, and to bridge the sometimes glaring gap of cultural background and socio-economic status. We are honored to have the privilege to be the hands reaching out in this town, and we know that we are able to do this because of the partnership of so many of you who have joined us in support in one way or another to bring relief in these Days of Awe.

"So we, being many, are one body in the Messiah, and every one members one of another." (Romans 12:5)

By Avi Tekle

Donate ... to the work of Avi Tekle at Ohalei Rachamim

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Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Daniel Juster: The Is No Fear In Love
Moshe Morrison: Enduring Friendship
Eitan Shishkoff: Your Descendants Shall Inherit The Land
Eddie Santoro: Yeshua Superstar
Asher Intrater: Restoration Of All Things