“The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). When I recited this verse in my prayers, it suddenly hit me. That is what Israel is all about. The Jewish people were reviled, persecuted or at best ignored for centuries. We were just like that worthless piece of stone that even the builders could find no use for. And yet, somehow, we are not only useful, of value, but we have prime value — the chief cornerstone that the entire building depends on.
Ramadan began on Saturday and the Arabs are going crazy. Of course, not all Arabs. But in the days that led up to Ramadan and since, terrorism has reared its ugly head once again. Arab citizens of Israel as well as their Palestinian co-religionists, have attacked and murdered Jews in Beersheva, Hadera and Bnei Brak. A terrorist got on a bus in Gush Etzion and repeatedly stabbed a passenger with a screw-driver in his chest.
Ukraine! There is nothing else on anyone’s minds today but the terrible situation that has developed in the Ukraine. An independent country in Eastern Europe, formerly part of the Soviet bloc, has been invaded by Russia. Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, has long desired the restoration of Russian imperial and Soviet powers, which included Russian influence or control over Eastern Europe.
Today I had lunch with a couple of Danish journalists. They were truly interested in Israel and in Judea and Samaria and asked questions,. They wanted to know why I decided to live here and what our life is like here. At one point, I made a statement that I often make in these contexts: “So many people think we are a bunch of militant crazies who just want to kill Arabs at any opportunity, but we’re not.” And then one of the journalists asked me: “Why do you think people think that?”
This is a day for celebration. Or as King David put it in Psalms: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). This morning, my newest grandson, my 10th grandchild, will have his circumcision ceremony. And while this is my 9th grandson undergoing circumcision, following 4 sons who experienced the same ceremony, this time it is all quite different. And wonderful all in its own way.
This morning, Moriah, a young Jewish woman living in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood of Jerusalem, was stabbed by an Arab terrorist as she was walking her children to school. The terrorist was a 14-year-old girl and Moriah’s neighbor. As soon as she had brazenly stabbed the young mother, the girl went off to her nearby school.
I just returned from the US where I had the opportunity to connect personally with so many Jewish and Christian friends of Israel and of the communities in Judea and Samaria. While I usually spend the overwhelming portion of my time amongst Christian friends, on this trip, I was able to connect with a number of Jewish friends, as well. And they shared some of their greatest fears and concerns with me. And I want to share them with you.
Thoughts on the Torah portion by Sondra Oster Baras “And God said to Abram go forth from your country and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) What an amazing Scripture! So begins the story of Abraham and the story of the Jewish people.
Last week, I spent a day in the Hebron Hills, visiting communities throughout the area. It was an incredible opportunity to connect in a more intimate way with the wonderful people in the area, to rejoice with them in their accomplishments and to listen as they expressed their concerns and explained the challenges they face. And I was so proud to see the new security equipment that had been purchased with the assistance of our wonderful CFOIC Heartland donors.
But everyone I met noted the same challenge — Arab encroachment on the public lands surrounding each community.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett traveled to the US last week for his first meeting with US President Joe Biden. Speculation abounded as to what the atmosphere and outcome of the meeting would be. Bennett and his team had already landed in the US and Bennett had already met with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken when news broke of the terrible terrorist attack at the Kabul airport, killing dozens of people including 13 US marines. As the tragedy unfolded, the Biden-Bennett meeting was postponed to the next day.
The Hebrew calendar is a lunar one and it is based on the monthly cycle of the moon rather than on the annual cycle of the sun. A solar year is 365 days and the months are merely a convenience — dividing the year into 12 roughly equal periods of time. The lunar calendar, however, is based on the renewal of the moon which happens regularly every 29 or 30 days. The lunar year, therefore, is roughly 11 days shorter than the solar year.
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 donated small sums, whatever you could manage to give. And some of you donated larger sums. But all of you took part in this. YOU deserve our thanks.