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Second Annual CFOIC Community Conference

July 6, 2021Sondra Oster Baras Today, at our Second Annual CFOIC Conference of Communities, we handed out over a million dollars to more than 30 communities and several regional councils for security and community needs.  These are funds that you, our trusted friends and supporters, have contributed during these past few months.  Some of you

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Knesset Presentation

An Update from Israel June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021Sondra Oster Baras For most of the last two years, Israel has been embroiled in an ongoing election campaign, with four elections taking place in less than two years. Most of the time, we were governed by transition governments and for a short time by a permanent government that only lasted a few

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Trying to Understand the Violence in Israel

We are Still Fighting the 1948 War

June 1, 2021Sondra Oster Baras Israel experienced a totally new reality during these past few weeks.  A reality that could have been expected, a reality that some might even say was an obvious development. But at the end of the day, we woke up one morning and realized that the Arab-Israeli Conflict that we have

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Israel mourns her dead at Meron

May 4, 2021by Sondra Oster Baras A terrible tragedy happened late Thursday night.  As tens of thousands of people were exiting a major prayer gathering at Mt. Meron to celebrate the Lag Ba’Omer festival, a bottleneck was created, a few people slipped and fell, and in a domino cascade hundreds were crushed and trapped.  Forty-five

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 6, 2021by Sondra Oster Baras Tomorrow night begins Holocaust Remembrance Day.  It is a day of mourning, of memory, of identification with the victims of the most heinous crimes in the history of humanity, the brutal murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany.  Restaurants, theaters and places of entertainment close.  Memorial ceremonies are

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Judea and Samaria must Continue to Flourish!

by Sondra BarasMarch 2, 2021 A report was recently published with updated statistics on population growth in Judea and Samaria.  The numbers are so encouraging!  There are more than 475,000 people living in Judea and Samaria today, representing a growth of close to 3% in 2020 alone and a 17% growth rate over the last

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Esther, Mordecai and the Challenges of Exile

Each year, Jews all over the world celebrate the holiday of Purim. They celebrate the miracle of salvation as described in the Book of Esther, with special prayers in the synagogue, public readings of Esther, festive meals, gifts of sweet food packages to neighbors and friends and charity to the poor.  There is a spirit of

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Street Prayer Services

February 2, 2021by Sondra Baras Prayer is central to Judaism.  Jews pray to G-d, talk to G-d, sing to G-d, informally and whenever they feel the need.  Perhaps the Jew best known for his informal talks with G-d is Tevye, the milkman, from Fiddler on the Roof.  My favorite is when he turns to  G-d,

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Israel Deserves Better Leadership!

More than 2000 years ago, the Maccabees rebelled against the Syrian Greeks and miraculously defeated them, liberating the Jews from pagan rule and re-entering the Sacred Temple in Jerusalem.  They immediately set to work, purifying the Temple and renewing the ancient services.  But when they tried to light the Menorah, they discovered that there was only enough pure olive oil to last one day. 

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Chanukah meria

The Lesson of Hanukah

More than 2000 years ago, the Maccabees rebelled against the Syrian Greeks and miraculously defeated them, liberating the Jews from pagan rule and re-entering the Sacred Temple in Jerusalem.  They immediately set to work, purifying the Temple and renewing the ancient services.  But when they tried to light the Menorah, they discovered that there was only enough pure olive oil to last one day. 

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Ted Beckett

In Memory of Ted Beckett

November 2, 2020by Sondra Baras I am often asked about the origins of CFOIC Heartland.  People are particularly intrigued at the thought of an Orthodox Jew heading up an organization called Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. I always respond that the idea was a Christian one but I launched the organization’s Israel office and turned

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In Memory of my Father: Joseph Oster זצ״ל

October 6, 2020by Sondra Baras My father passed away three weeks ago.  He was 94 years old and during his final months, he had sunk into the depths of dementia and no longer recognized me.  It had been many months since I had been able to have even the most rudimentary conversation with him.  In a

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I have just returned from an amazing experience in the Israeli Knesset. Popular US television and radio commentator, Glen Beck, was a guest of the Knesset and I was invited to participate in the meeting with him. There were a number of Members of Knesset present at the meeting, as well as members of the press. And there were several dozen invitees who, like me, are involved in representing Israel abroad.

The atmosphere was electric as we waited in anticipation for Beck’s entrance. MK Danny Danon was chairman of the meeting and ushered Beck into the committee room. He introduced Mr. Beck and then Beck gave a brief talk that was both moving and personal.

He talked about the change that came into his life as a result of 9-11. He recalled his first visit to Israel in 2002 and how it changed his perception of Israel which had been fed until then by a very distorted media picture. He defined the Palestinian – Israeli conflict as being, on the leadership level, about the destruction of Israel and the Western world. But he left room for the fact that ordinary people, Jews and Arabs both, might be more able to resolve differences if removed from the power motivations of their leaders.

On this point, MK Aryeh Eldad noted some horrific incidents that he was personally exposed to – of terrorists and suicide bombers who sought to kill children, who sought to blow up a hospital where their lives had been saved. “Not every human being acts from the same motivation,” Eldad pointed out. How true.

Beck also noted how warmly he is received in Israel, by the ordinary people. One man even offered to let Beck move into his home if he was forced to leave the US. He was truly moved by that and so many similar gestures.

Glen Beck had also just returned from Poland, where he visited Auschwitz for the first time and came face to face with the Holocaust. And he understood the message! When MK Zippy Hotobeli requested that he refrain from presenting Israel or the Jewish people as victims, he mentioned the life-changing effect of the visit to Auschwitz on him. And he understood that the message wasn’t about the Jewish victim, but about Jewish heroism in carrying on. And not just carrying on, but in creating a paradise out of the wilderness that was Israel before the Jewish State was established. Beck expressed confidence that people all over the world would have a natural inclination to seek the truth and, at the same time, be drawn to those who have courage and strength, who despite unbelievable difficulties, pick themselves up and accomplish positive things. Like Israel. Like the Jewish people.

Beck then turned his attention to the age-old problem of anti-Semitism: “Anti-Semitism is about to go through the roof! . . . It is not about the Holocaust – the Holocaust is just the latest in a string of events that have been going on for hundreds of years.”

Glen Beck is bringing thousands of people to Israel for a major event in Jerusalem on August 24th. The theme of the event is a call for courage and, according to Beck, we in Israel already have courage, we are already well awake and aware of the dangers that surround us. That is probably true, but then one of the members of the audience noted to Beck that his presence and his message are important to us in Israel. “We need to know that there are people around the world who stand with Israel, who support us.”

I did not have a chance to meet Glen Beck in person at this event, but I am leaving for the US on Saturday night where I will be participating in the CUFI conference in Washington, DC next week. Glen Beck will be the keynote speaker at the Night to Honor Israel on Tuesday night and I will be doing my best to try and get a personal appointment with him.

Glen Beck is a controversial figure in the US and I can’t begin to comment on his opinions regarding US politics. However, I have been following his comments regarding Israel for the past few months and they are dead on. Beck has been fortunate to have been given an amazing talent by G-d to articulate positions in a way that are clear and convincing to so many. He has built up an amazing television audience and as he prepares to leave Fox News, he will probably be turning to other outlets to continue building his influence. Beck has used that influence to help Israel, and for that he will certainly be rewarded.

You and I may not have millions listening to our broadcasts, but we each have neighbors, friends and colleagues. As Glen Beck articulated so well in the Knesset, people instinctively want to hear the truth. But we have to give them the truth. We have to do what we can to provide facts to help combat the lies that surround us.

Last week I was in the UK and during two of my meetings, I was confronted by individuals who challenged my positions and offered Palestinian propaganda to counter my points. I easily responded, providing the information that would correct their misrepresentations. Frankly, I have no idea if I convinced them. I believe that they pondered what I said and a few thanked me for giving them a different outlook from what they are otherwise exposed to.

I did what I could, but even more importantly, I provided those strong supporters who were present as I responded to the challenges with the information they needed to counter similar accusations. Now, I am relying on them, and on you, to do what you can, to counter the accusations against Israel that you hear. And if you need my help to do it, just contact me!

And one last thing; as the various Members of Knesset addressed Glen Beck, many quoted from the Bible, and invoked G-d’s name and G-d’s promises to explain our Zionist ideology. MK Michael Ben-Ari, my neighbor in Karnei Shomron, was most moving when he declared that what we are witnessing today in Israel is G-d’s hand performing amazing miracles. As Ben-Ari made his statements Beck nodded with a real sense of satisfaction. And it was this bond of relation to the Bible that was most incredible of all.

You will not read this in the New York Times or hear it on CNN, except to mock those of faith. Yes, Israel is a country based on faith, where even an avowed secular Jew is debating the Bible in the Knesset. G-d is in the Knesset for G-d is evident everywhere in Israel. When you join with us, when you stand with Israel, you are not only standing with G-d’s people, you are walking with G-d.

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