The Pushkie Project
(Pointing To The Future, Part Two)
by Moshe Morrison (with Eitan Shishkoff)

As far back as I can remember, it used to hang on the back side of the doorpost between the kitchen and the stairs that went down to the basement. It was not very big. But its presence was unmistakable. It measured about six inches high, three inches wide and an inch and a quarter deep. Its blue and white colors stood out against the drab wall of the basement stairway. I didn't always communicate with it. But somehow I never missed seeing it. It was a fixture there, always. You noticed it every time you went up down to the basement and back.

Its lips were slightly parted, ready to receive that which would fill its tummy. And quite frequently we did feed it, but not all the time. What was this strange creature that lived at the entrance to the basement? The Jewish National Fund collection box, affectionately known as "the pushkie." Pushkie size, any shape. The early ones were relatively simple, and usually had a significant but not demanding place in the home. Today, you can even buy pushkies in the shape of famous synagogues or historic Jewish buildings.

There were other pushkies that inhabited our house at different times. Collection boxes for various Jewish causes. They seemed to come and go. But the JNF box reigned supreme. Periodically a little old man with a long beard would come to the door to carry off the contents of the box.

"This little box was a living link with the land of Israel."

The thing about the JNF pushkie is that it was our connection to Israel. It was like a piece of the sacred soil that lived in our house and always reminded us of our relationship with the miracle of the Jewish homeland. When putting coins in, we thought mostly in terms of planting trees, which was a lifeline in the 1950's, the early days of statehood. With each coin dropped in the box, another root system was spreading into the earth of Eretz Yisrael. Though we lived in the Diaspora, most of us didn't think of it as such. This little box was a living link with the land of Israel. It was a reminder everywhere we went. At Hebrew school, in offices, in Jewish institutions-it was almost impossible to go anywhere and not see one. It was a means to touch something very deep inside of us. The pushkie spoke through its mere presence.

In my mind, as a kid, planting trees, pushkies and Israel were all intertwined. When someone passed away you planted trees in their honor. When a bar mitzvah happened, we planted trees. It ties in deeply with the whole concept of reclaiming the land. Planting trees, building roads and laying infrastructure for new communities are all activities that speak of the future ... potential for life and growth and blessing in the days to come. Reclaiming what was lost in order to enter into what was promised.

"Like the Israeli pioneers, we are reclaiming spiritual swamps & sand dunes."

This is the work we are called to as Messiah's servants in the land-reclaiming what was lost in order to build what was promised. Like previous generations of Israeli pioneers, who cleared mosquito-infested swamps and built Tel Aviv on the sand dunes, we have come back to the land in order to reclaim our lost heritage and build the future that the Messiah sets before us. It involves preparing the soil. It involves intensive labor. Rav Shaul talks about laboring intensively "until Messiah is formed in you (Galatians 4:19)." As God's emissaries, we are intensively laboring until we see Messiah revealed in Israel, reclaiming the spiritual swamps and sand dunes.

A portion of this reclamation is the acquisition of physical property and buildings, which says a lot about the permanence of our presence here as Messianic Israelis. Just one or two generations ago there were only a handful of Jewish believers in the land, never mind owning property. Presently there are anywhere from 7,000-10,000 Messianic Jews in Israel. They are interspersed in approximately 100 congregations. A number of these groups own their congregational building, almost unheard of only a dozen years ago when Ohalei Rachamim (Tents of Mercy) began.

When we started in 1995 we rented a funky old warehouse in a small industrial section adjacent to many low income apartment buildings. Folks in the neighborhood who noticed our arrival, probably assumed that like the various businesses that inhabited the warehouses and disappeared 6 months later, we would also soon be gone. Some, hoping to assist our departure, even set fire to the building (see "Part 1" in last month's OASIS). But the tactic didn't work, because we're still here ten years later. In fact, that outbreak of persecution enabled us to purchase a beginning portion of a new fire-resistant, bigger, much more prominent building. Since our entry into the new facility in 1998, the growth of the ministry has necessitated renting nearly the entire structure.

"You don't need a basement to have a pushkie."

Now we feel that the Lord is saying to expand our cement tent pegs and purchase that which we've been renting (please see the accompanying diagram). We're opening this phase of our growth by giving our local congregants the pleasure and the privilege of participating in the Pushkie Project, to sow the first seeds. However, we know that our friends around the world, who have already played a huge part in establishing Tents of Mercy, will want to experience the blessing of the pushkie.

On special occasions like Erev Shabbat, feast times, birthdays, anniversaries or good grades on the kids' tests at school, it's a wonderful way to connect the joyful moments of your life with the reclamation of Israel through placing this facility in praying, harvesting hands. And while we won't send around a little old guy with a long beard every month to collect its contents, you can take the contents to the bank and deposit them, writing a check for the amount you've collected. Like those across the world who filled their pushkies from the founding of the Jewish National Fund in 1901 until now, you will be joining the national revival of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.

In the early days of the return to Israel the pushkies helped provide assistance to the Zionist pioneers (chalutzim). Your participation in the Pushkie Project will provide a base for Messianic spiritual chalutzim to hasten the coming of Yeshua's kingdom in Israel. By reclaiming a physical facility for the distribution of humanitarian aid and the planting of Hebrew speaking New Covenant congregations, you will be organically connected with the miracle of Israel's end times resurrection.

By Moshe Morrison

To receive your own pushkie (pictured in the photo above), please sign up by visiting our website: http://www.tents-of-mercy.org/content/view/76/71/


Donate ... to the work of Moshe Morrison at Ohalei Rachamim

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Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Dan Juster: Apartheid
Martin Shoub: Hand in Hand
Michael Cohen: Yom Kippur 5768