In the early days of the Church, the believers—most of them Jewish—were community minded. They devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer. They shared what they had with all who had needs, even selling their possessions to provide for one another (Acts 2). They lived life as a community, looking after and taking care of each other.
The Jewish world has continued to put great emphasis on caring for the community. Charity forms an integral part of Jewish life. In Hebrew, it is called tzedakah. Yet while many people equate tzedakah strictly to charity, the word actually means “justice” or “righteousness.” It entails doing the right things by helping people or causes in need. There are lots of ways to practice tzedakah, but the most common is to give money to the poor or to donate to a worthwhile cause.
Ever since its rebirth in 1948, the State of Israel’s arms have always been wide open to receive Jewish people in need of a home or a safe haven. During Israel’s first year as a nation, the tiny population of 650,000 citizens welcomed a staggering 650,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab world and Holocaust survivors from Europe—most of them arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Over the past 75 years, Jewish people have continued returning to the land of their promise, sometimes in trickles and at other times in steady streams. Over the course of 2022, the number of Jewish immigrants coming home to Israel from the four corners of the earth has been higher than in many years. Nearly 70,000 Jewish people arrived in Israel, most driven from the land of their birth by the war raging between Russia and Ukraine. Like the first Jewish refugees who arrived in the newborn Jewish state with nothing, these new Israelis have also come without the ability to start over, provide for their needs and rebuild their lives.
God has called us to help meet these practical needs with Christian love. We do so in many ways, but one of the largest is our Food program. Every month, Bridges for Peace helps more than 24,000 needy people all over Israel put food on the table. The vast majority of those who receive food are immigrants, although we also help Holocaust survivors, the elderly, widows, orphans and children from underprivileged homes. In answer to the rising needs in 2022, we opened our storehouse and gave generously. As a result, we have spent more than came into the food budget. Moreover, we expect that the need this year will be even greater than last year. If we are to continue giving at these generous levels, we desperately need an increase in our food budget.
The Sliepoi family of five left Ukraine in a hurry as they realized that it wasn’t safe to remain in the crossfire of the conflict with Russia. The family had only a few hours to pack and they made it to safety with only two bags between five people. Now that they are in Israel, they are struggling to learn Hebrew. The family is working hard to reestablish their lives in their new homeland. The children are studying online with the school they attended in Ukraine. Bridges for Peace provided laptops to ensure that the children could continue their studies. On top of that, we give them food every month. After the trauma of war and leaving everything behind, the Sliepois received a warm welcome they didn’t expect, instilling them with new hope.
Vladimir and Tatiana from Zhitomir are in Israel trying to recover emotionally. “When there was heavy shelling of Kyiv, it was not just scary; it was filled with horror! In our city too sirens sound all the time. Several times there were rockets. People died. Houses were destroyed. People tried to leave the city by train or bus. There were huge queues at the train stations.”
These are just two examples of the people we reach out to with love and practical assistance. Your gifts to our Food program will help us meet the basic needs for 24,000 needy Israelis. For just US $25 we can provide a generous grocery bag of staple food items. Your gift is an investment into God’s Kingdom community. Let’s be like the early Church, looking after and taking care of those in need. James said, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them ‘depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (2:15–16). Let’s feed the earthly family of Jesus (Yeshua) today.
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
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