Israel Prayer Update

Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel's most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 19,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Fill out the form on the side if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

  1. US to Veto Palestinian Resolution ‘To End Occupation’
  2. Hamas-Ruled Gaza Prepares for Next War against Israel
  3. European Court Takes Hamas Off Terrorist List
  4. How Iran Is Arming Hezbollah
  5. Terror Attack on Israeli Embassy in Athens
  6. How Israel’s Poor Were Lost Between Defense and Politics
  7. Childhood in Gaza under Hamas
  8. Mass Grave Discovered in Syria
  9. Israel and Germany Mark 50-Year Jubilee
  10. IDF Soldiers Celebrate Hanukkah with Holocaust Survivors
  1. US to Veto Palestinian Resolution ‘To End Occupation’

    US Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday 16 December, 2014 | WASHINGTON: The United States will veto a proposed Palestinian resolution "to end the occupation" at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. According to Palestinian sources, Secretary of State John Kerry said that America will veto the Jordanian-backed proposal at a meeting with the top Palestinian negotiator.

    It was not initially clear how the US would react to the proposal by the Palestinians after a shaky few months between US and Israeli relations. However, the US ultimately decided it would oppose the resolution, a unilateral move that would force a schedule for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

    The Americans clarified that they do not automatically veto all resolutions on Israel, and that they examine each Security Council resolution based on its merit. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the US opposed pre-determining the outcome of the peace process and that a timetable for the removal of security forces constituted a unilateral action.

    At his Tuesday evening meeting with Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Secretary Kerry said he opposed the Palestinian draft approved by the Arab League. He repeated the US decision to the foreign ministers of other world powers.

    The US administration is wary of vetoing resolutions, and the State Department stressed that there was talk that the US never voted against Israel at the Security Council, but Psaki noted the US had supported resolutions that were not "one-sided."

    Earlier in Paris, Kerry told journalists that it was "imperative to lower the temperature" in the region to find a path for peace wanted by both Israelis and Palestinians. "The status quo is unsustainable for both parties," he said. "Right now what we are trying to is have a constructive conversation with everybody to find the best way to go forward."

    The top American diplomat has worked tirelessly in recent days to prevent the Jordanian-backed resolution from being proposed at the Security Council.

    Itamar Eichner contributed to this report.

    Author: by Yitzhak Benhorin

    Source: (Ynetnews, December 16, 2014)

    Photo Credit: Gershom/gpo/Ashernet

    Prayer Focus

    Appeal to the Mighty Father on behalf of Israel for His intervention in the Palestinian resolution to the United Nations. Seek His guidance for world leaders who may make critical decisions about the security of the Land of Israel. Pray for God’s protection of the Promised Land and His chosen people from this threat.

    Scripture

    ...as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

    - Joshua 1:5b–6

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  2. Hamas-Ruled Gaza Prepares for Next War against Israel

    Gaza bound weapons (captured March 2014 by IDF) Tuesday, 16 December, 2014 | In Gaza, there is no serious reconstruction and certainly no disarmament. Instead, the Hamas-ruled enclave is gearing up for its next war against Israel. Three months after Operation Protective Edge, nothing has changed in Gaza. The Palestinian media has been full of reports about how the people in Gaza continue to suffer and how Hamas does nothing to help, preferring instead to invest its time and money in new rockets and terror tunnels.

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians whose homes were destroyed in the recent war are still living in tent camps set up by the refugee agency UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency]. Well over one million Gazans continue to be caught in the middle of an often-violent dispute between Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Hamas sees violence against Israel as a means of strengthening its own position.

    Reconstruction funds totaling USD $5.4 billion that were promised during negotiations in Cairo this summer continue to exist only on paper. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is currently touring the Persian Gulf in an attempt to collect the pledges.

    But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the money is not being released because Hamas refuses to honor its agreement to hand over control of Gaza’s border crossings.

    Hamas, in turn, blames Israel and Fatah of holding up the money, but it has become clear to both Israelis and Palestinians that the terror group will do anything to prevent the reconstruction of Gaza.

    Israel, for its part, has been working for months with the UN to advance the reconstruction in Gaza. But every step of the way, Hamas has scuttled any progress, such as when it suddenly raised taxes on imported cement.

    Earlier this week, Hamas forces proudly marched through Gaza City with large missiles and aerial drones, a clear message that the group intends to strike Israel even harder next time, even to the detriment of its own population.

    Author: by Aviel Schneider

    Source: (Article courtesy of Israel Today magazine, December 16, 2014)

    Photo Credit: Ashernet

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that the eyes of the citizens of Hamas-ruled Gaza will be opened to the true intent of their elected government. Ask that they will have courage and see that continued violence and opposition to Israel is to their great detriment. Pray for peace and restoration.

    Scripture

    There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

    - Proverbs 19:21

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  3. European Court Takes Hamas Off Terrorist List

    EU flag The General Court of the European Union [EU] annulled a previous decision to keep the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, on a list of terrorist organizations. EU officials insist the decision is strictly procedural, and that the measures such as not allowing funding for Hamas, will remain in force for either three months or as long as an appeal against the decision is being considered.

    EU officials insist there is no change in official policy vis a vis Hamas. “When the Council of Ministers placed restrictive measures on Hamas they were supposed to follow a particular procedure which they did not fully follow,” David Kriss, the EU spokesman in Tel Aviv told The Media Line. “The court found that the sanctions placed on Hamas were not based on acts examined and confirmed.”

    However in a statement, the EU insisted that there had been no change in EU policy and said all Hamas assets in Europe will remain frozen.

    “This legal ruling is clearly based on procedural grounds and it does not imply any assessment by the Court of the substantive reasons for the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization,” the EU said in a statement. “It is a legal ruling of a court, not a political decision taken by the EU governments.”

    Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq welcomed the decision. "This is the correction of an error and an injustice that was caused to Hamas, which is a national liberation movement."

    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is running for reelection in less than three months, reacted harshly to the EU decision.

    "Today we saw shocking examples of European hypocrisy," Netanyahu said at a meeting with US Senator-elect Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa. "In Geneva, they are calling for war crimes investigation against Israel, while in Luxemburg, the European court removed Hamas from the terror organizations list."

    Netanyahu continued in the same vein, saying "It seems like too many people in Europe, on the land where 6 million Jews were slaughtered, learned nothing. But we in Israel did."

    Author: by Linda Gradstein

    Source: (The Media Line, December 17, 2014)

    Prayer Focus

    Pray for truth about the terrorist organization, Hamas, to come forth. Pray that the lies which are the basis of this “legal” decision will be uncovered. Ask that the eyes of the EU’s leaders be opened for the protection of Israeli and Gazan citizens, as well as the rest of the world.

    Scripture

    The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence. You hate all who do wrong; You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, LORD, detest.

    - Psalm 5:5–6 (NIV)

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  4. How Iran Is Arming Hezbollah

    Mural in Tehran, Iran glorifying a terrorist and stating,
    “Israel should go away”
    For years Iran has trained Hezbollah fighters and smuggled missiles to the terrorist group in violation of resolutions 1701 and 1747. All the while the UN has argued that it cannot 'verify' Hezbollah's illegal activity. The evidence of Iran and Hezbollah’s crimes is now overwhelmingly apparent.

    Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Division admitted that “The IRGC and Hezbollah are a single apparatus joined together.” (Fars news agency, 29 November 2014)

    Other news agencies have also published statements boasting about Hezbollah’s military capability. Naim Qassem, Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah, praised Iran for its fundamental and pivotal role in boosting Hezbollah’s capabilities saying:

    “… Hezbollah is in possession of missiles with pinpoint accuracy, and thanks to the equipment Hezbollah acquired, and with the Islamic Republic’s support and Hezbollah’s readiness for any future war, this war will be much tougher for the Israelis.” (Iran’s Tasnim news agency, 23 November 2014)

    Brigadier General Seyed Majid Moussavi, the Lieutenant Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Division bragged about Hezbollah’s capabilities saying:

    “[Hezbollah’s] operational missile capability includes a fully vast, but of course hidden Fateh class missiles, and this missile capability…Considering the range of their missiles, they are able now to attack all targets from Southern to Northern parts of the occupied territories.” (Fars news agency, 12 November 2014)

    On 24 November, Sepahnews published a statement by Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, in which he said:

    “Today, the whole region in Israel, from the north down to the south, are within the range of [Hezbollah’s] missiles, and this means the onset of the Israeli regime’s collapse.” (Sepahnews on 24 November 2014)

    Finally, I have enclosed a map that was published on 17 November 2014 in the Iranian News Agency Fars that depicts the range and accuracy of Iran’s Fateh missiles located in Lebanon.

    The international community does not have the luxury of ignoring the threat any longer. Israel should not be expected to stand idly by as Iran arms its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, and threatens our citizens. Israel will not accept any attacks on its territory.

    Author: by Israel Ambassador Ron Prosor

    Source: (Press release by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 12, 2014)

    Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org

    Photo License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anti_Israel.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that the God of Jacob will be the refuge for Israel, as Iran and Hezbollah continue to increase the range and accuracy of missiles designed to destroy Israel. May the enemies’ destructive efforts be thwarted at every turn and Israel be protected.

    Scripture

    Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. 

    - Psalm 46:10–11

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  5. Terror Attack on Israeli Embassy in Athens

    Kalishnikov (Ak-47) with magazines and ammunition Friday 12 December, 2014 | The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned today’s terror attack on the Israeli embassy in Athens, Greece, referring to the incident as “cowardly,” and expressed confidence in the ability of the Greek authorities to address the incident “with the utmost seriousness” and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    According to reports, over 50 rounds from Kalashnikov rifles were fired at the embassy by gunmen on motorcycles.

    “Whoever perpetrated this cowardly terror attack should know that it will neither intimidate Israel nor affect the strong Greek-Israeli relationship,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “Just weeks ago, we visited Athens and heard about the strength of that strategic partnership from both Israeli Ambassador Irit Ben-Abba and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Having discussed security issues with Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias during the visit, we know that the security forces will address this incident with the utmost seriousness, and have every confidence in their ability to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”

    In late November, a delegation of top ADL leaders attended a series of meetings with senior government, religious and community leaders in Athens, and received strong messages about the Greek government’s commitment to combating racism, extremism and anti-Semitism in its society.

    “We also believe the people of Greece will reject this terrorist attack,” Mr. Foxman added. “While there is a common perception that the Greek public is anti-Israel, our polling revealed that 41 percent of respondents have favorable views of Israel, compared to 32 percent with unfavorable views.”

    The League’s recent polling on anti-Semitic attitudes in 100 countries found that 69 percent of respondents in Greece agreed with a majority of anti-Semitic stereotypes tested, resulting in the highest score outside of the Middle East and North Africa.

    Source: (Anti-Defamation League, December 12, 2014)

    Photo Credit: valio_subaru/wikipedia.org

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%D0%90%D0%B2%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%82_%D0%9A%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B0%D1%88%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2_%D0%90%D0%9A-47.jpg

    Prayer Focus

    Pray that Jewish people, worldwide, who are facing persecution, will put their trust completely in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Thank Him that the Greek security forces are addressing this malicious attack and ask that the perpetrators will be apprehended and brought to justice.

    Scripture

    O Lord my God, in You I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me;

    - Psalm 7:1

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  6. How Israel’s Poor Were Lost Between Defense and Politics

    Items in Bridges for Peace food baskets “I do not need a poverty report to know that the three jobs my husband and I work do not pay enough to survive. We are fighting for food and clothing. They say there are tough security situations in Jerusalem? The war is first and foremost inside the home: how to survive, how to live, how do I feed my kids.”—Iris Umgazin, a 47-year-old mother of five from Jerusalem

    Israelis shared their stories of steep poverty after a National Insurance Institute report revealed on Tuesday that 1.6 million people lived below the poverty line. The government body tasked with improving the situation, the Alalouf Commission, has disappeared in the past six months—as the budget battle worsened and the governing coalition collapsed.

    “If the state does not act immediately to change the situation, the poverty rate will increase and Israeli society will not be able to develop properly,” warned Eli Alalouf, the chairman of the committee.

    The Alalouf Commission reported its conclusions last June, but they were abandoned in short order, with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and a war with Hamas in Gaza topping the headlines. Regardless, the majority of its recommendations, intended as the flagship of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war on poverty, were buried.

    Alalouf enumerated a series of essential steps which were formulated by the commission’s experts, including massive investment in education, welfare, and healthcare infrastructure. “Without such investment, the state and society in Israel will not be able to develop and halve the poverty rate within a decade, as recommended by the commission.”

    The commission chairman stressed that there was a need “to increase dramatically the number of apartments under public housing and the extent of the rental assistance provided to the needy, to raise pensions and to utilize rights like the negative income tax.”

    Ilana Curiel and Ahiya Raved contributed to this report.

    Editor’s note: Please consider a donation to BFP’s Food program to help us provide the necessities to Israel’s poor. Click here to give.

    Author: by Omri Efraim

    Source: (Excerpt of article from Ynetnews, December 17, 2014)

    Prayer Focus

    With the increasing poverty levels in Israel, appeal to Father God for relief and assistance for those who are struggling so desperately. Pray that their basic needs for food and healthcare will be met by Israel and its supporters, who willingly give to bless the people of Israel.

    Scripture

    He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. 

    - Proverbs 22:9

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  7. Childhood in Gaza under Hamas

    Hamas children's television program Monday 15 December, 2014 | What is it like to grow up as a child in Gaza? Arguably, it is an environment that makes Hitler Youth look tame. In 2013, Hamas established 700 summer camps for Gaza children to attend during their break from school. The camps were designed for a capacity of 100,000 children. According to reports, 60,000 of those who attended were girls.

    Those who attended were indoctrinated with vile anti-Semitism and engaged in military-style games.

    According to Hamas's Education Minister, Osama Mazini, the goal of the camps was to train the next generation for the liberation of Palestine.

    The IDF's official blog recently posted a brief video showing what it is like to be a child growing up in Gaza today. The images are shocking. Children, young children, are shown shooting weapons that appear to be real. Seeing the guns kick when fired indicates the preadolescent boys are shooting live ammunition.

    The video includes a scene from children's television. In it, Assud, a life-size rabbit speaks with a happy voice. Behind its smiling rabbit mask come the words, "I, Assud, will get rid of the Jews, Allah willing."

    Along with its video, the blog's author writes, "For years, Hamas has brainwashed and manipulated people in Gaza, and they start young.

    "While students their age around the world make friends, learn and expand their horizons, the children of Gaza are subjected to Hamas’ oppressive authoritarian rule that deprives them of a real education and teaches them violence and hatred."

    The video is titled, "Childhood in Gaza under Hamas' rule," can be seen on YouTube.  Click here to view.

    Author: by Brian Schrauger

    Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 15, 2014)

    Photo Credit: Palestinian Media Watch/YouTube

    Photo License: http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=11384

    Prayer Focus

    Pray for the children of Gaza, that they will know truth, life and righteousness, in spite of the brainwashing and indoctrination they are encountering. Ask for the Lord in His mighty grace to release them from this education of violence and hatred.

    Scripture

    The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.

    - Proverbs 20:7

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  8. Mass Grave Discovered in Syria

    ISIS emblem A mass grave containing the bodies of 230 Syrians killed by ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] terrorists was discovered on Wednesday [Dec. 17] in Deir Ezzor province. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the victims were members of the Shaitat tribe, more than 900 of whom have now been murdered by the Islamic State since last summer.

    The Observatory, which monitors the Syrian Civil War, reports that most of those slain were civilians clearly killed in execution style after the Shaitats tried to stem the advance of ISIS fighters. “Hundreds” of other tribe members are still missing. Mass graves have been found in other locations after ISIS passed through. On Wednesday, the Observatory also said that since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, at least 110,000 supporters of President Bashar Al-Assad have been killed.

    Source: The Media Line

    Photo Credit: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

    Photo License: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emblem_of_the_Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levant.png

    Prayer Focus

    Pray for the Lord’s protection for the oppressed people in Syria who have lost so much. Beseech the Father to intervene in their defense and to secure the nearby borders of Israel against the violence of ISIS.

    Scripture

    You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.

    - Psalm 10:17–18 (NIV)

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  9. Israel and Germany Mark 50-Year Jubilee

    President Gauck (r) and Ambassador Hadas-Handelsman (l) On Wednesday, December 17, 2014, in Berlin, the Israel Foreign Ministry officially launched the events marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. The event took place in the residence of Israel Ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, with the participation of German President Joachim Gauck, who joined the ambassador in lighting the Hanukkah candles.

    This event is an important landmark in the deep relations between the two countries. Alongside memories of the past and a complex and variegated history, Israel and Germany share common values and a vision for the future, and are working to increase cooperation in a wide variety of fields. Today, the special relationship between the countries is expressed in many areas, including policy-making, diplomacy, business, science, culture and more.

    Speaking at the ceremony, German President Gauck said: "We have begun the 50th jubilee year, during which Israeli President Rivlin will come to Germany for a state visit in May. While we will certainly not forget the past, more importantly: We will look forward, we will work together to ensure that our special, friendly relations continue to deepen. Germany will always stand on the side of Israel, with a friendship that has been proven even in difficult times."

    Dozens of events in many fields will be held during the 50th anniversary year, both in Germany and in Israel. These events are guided by the desire to strengthen the ties of the young generation in Germany to the State of Israel and Israeli society.

    The year 2015 will provide an opportunity to launch new long-term cooperative projects, in order to further strengthen the ties between the two peoples. One such project is the "New Kibbutz", in which young Germans from Bavaria will spend several months as interns in Israeli high-tech companies. This project, which promises to be economically profitable while forging ties between young Israelis and Germans, is a good example of the varied and intensive activity which we can expect to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.

    Source: (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 18, 2014)

    Photo Credit: Embassy of Israel, Berlin

    Prayer Focus

    Praise the Lord for the past 50 years of good relations between the countries of Israel and Germany. Pray that Germany’s leaders will continue to stand with Israel, even as the anti-Semitic pressure from other countries in the EU and the world is increasing.

    Scripture

    How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel! Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.

    - Numbers 24:5, 9b

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  10. IDF Soldiers Celebrate Hanukkah with Holocaust Survivors

    IDF soldiers and Holocaust survivors lit the first Hanukkah candle together Tuesday 17 December, 2014 | More than a thousand released IDF soldiers visited the homes of about 500 Holocaust survivors in Israel to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with them as part of a broader initiative by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims and the Impact scholarship program funded by the Friends of the IDF organization.

    About a dozen released IDF soldiers arrived at the Gil Oz retirement home in Petah Tikva to light the first candle with Holocaust survivors.

    Bila Lutstein, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, said: "I'm happy about the new friends that came to celebrate the holiday with us. It's fun to get out of a routine and hold an event to light the candles. It still excites me every year anew, to celebrate the holiday in Israel and to feel the sense of Zionism and belonging."

    Shkolnik Z'non, a Holocaust survivor from Poland who survived the Holocaust by first escaping to Siberia and later hid in a forest in Ukraine, said: "I feel amazing and proud to light the first candle of Hanukkah. It is an amazing opportunity to be happy together and it is very comforting to see this young group and feel the holiday spirit that they bring with them."

    "It's very emotional to celebrate here with the survivors," said Elchi Malichi, 25, a civil engineering student. "I feel the need to donate to them as much as possible and give them the respect that they deserve. At the end of the day we are here thanks to them and are continuing their path."

    Malichi, who served as a fighter and commander in the Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, said that "On a day-to-day basis I don't get to meet these people and unfortunately for us it will become rarer as more and more survivors pass away. I'm happy to have been given this opportunity to light the first candle of Hanukah with survivors, to provide them with love and warmth and to recognize them for what they went through and persevered in the name of the Jewish nation. It is an empowering experience and something I will never forget."

    The released IDF soldiers brought Menorahs, candles, and sufganyot (jelly doughnuts) to the homes of the survivors, with at least two scholarship recipients arriving at each home.

    The released soldiers who are a part of the scholarship fund also conducted Hanukkah parties at about 50 retirement homes all over Israel that house Holocaust survivors.

    Orit Margolis, 26, who served in the combat support of the Engineering Corps, said that she feels a sense of duty. "It's a special opportunity to meet with people who survived despite the impossible reality they experienced and it warms my heart to visit survivors and to learn from them," said Margolis, who is an accounting student.

    Margolis added that the younger generation bears the responsibility to "remember and pass on the stories of the survivors to the next generation, who will not have the honor to meet the generation of Holocaust survivors personally."

    The CEO of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims, Rony Kalinsky, explained that "several Holocaust survivors have suffered feelings of loneliness and hardship for many years, feelings that are likely to heighten during holiday season. The initiative enables the survivors to experience and celebrate the holiday of miracles with a big group."

    Author: by Omri Efraim

    Source: (Excerpt of article, Ynetnews, December 17, 2014)

    Prayer Focus

    Praise the Almighty for the dedication of the IDF soldiers and Holocaust survivors who have both contributed mightily to the nation of Israel. Thank Him for the blessing that these two groups have given each other by celebrating the beginning of Hanukkah together.

    Scripture

    Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 

    - John 10:22–23

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