Every year right after Passover, there is a somber week during which Israelis observe Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. This year, in light of the October 7th massacre, the ensuing war against Hamas and the dramatic rise of global antisemitism, Israelis are experiencing this week of memorials from fresh wounds of tragedy, loss, increasing antisemitism and global isolation.

In particular, we are seeing some haunting similarities between 1948 and 2024 through which we feel God challenging and encouraging us with meaningful lessons from the past.

The Context of Israel’s Declaration of Independence

To give some context to the developments leading up to the moment the fledgling Jewish settlement in their ancient homeland bravely announced their independence, it is important to know that from 1920 to 1948 the British controlled the area called “Palestine” after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI.

It is worth knowing the source of the name “Palestine”: it does not have roots in the identity of the local Arab tribes living in the area under Ottoman rule but rather in the Roman occupation of Judea in the 1st century. In 135 AD after the second Jewish revolt, the Romans replaced the name Judea with “Palestina” in order to erase Jewish connection to the Land and to spite the Jews by naming their homeland and namesake, Judea, after their ancient enemies, the Philistines. Interestingly, the Philistine’s core settlement was located in the area that encompasses today’s Gaza Strip.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan that would partition British Mandate Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jews accepted the plan but the Arabs rejected it out of hand and immediately began attacking Jewish Settlements. Caught in an increasingly violent conflict between the Jews and Arabs, the British were intent on ending their colonial responsibilities in Palestine and, in April 1948, announced that the official termination of British Mandate Palestine would happen on May 14th, 1948. It wasn’t the British withdrawal that made that date meaningful. The fame and importance of this day come from the fact that it was the date when Ben Gurion made the declaration of the Independent State of Israel. One day later, on Saturday May 15th 1948, five Arab armies invaded the day-old Israel.


David Ben-Gurion publicly pronouncing the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14 1948, Tel Aviv, Israel.


The Declaration of Independence – An Act of Faith, Bravery or Insanity?

During their time ruling “Palestine”, the British were actively engaged in disarming Jewish militias up until the last day of their mandate on May 14, 1948. The Jewish paramilitary groups, which ultimately formed into the Israeli Defense Forces just two weeks after the Declaration of Independence, were highly motivated but poorly armed. While doing their best to find and seize Jewish weapons, the British were training and arming professional armies in Jordan and Egypt with modern armaments. The French Colonial powers were doing the same in Syria.

When the five Arab armies invaded the day-old State of Israel, these were armies that had been trained and armed by British and French colonial administrations. Of course it had not been their intent to train these forces in order that they would attack and prevail against the “illegal” Jewish State. However, the fact of the matter remains that when the British pulled out and the Arab armies attacked, the imbalance of firepower between the newly-formed IDF and the Arab armies was staggering: the Arab armies had much greater firepower with modern guns, tanks and even air forces. At the moment of the Declaration of Independence on May 14th, the Jewish State had guns and Molotov cocktails.  By May 18, the only heavy weaponry the IDF had were four old-fashioned howitzers used by the French army in the Franco-Prussian war.


A 1906 French cannon the IDF coined “The Little Napoleon” in the battle for Beer Sheba in 1948


Consequently, due to increasing violence and tensions in the Middle East, the United States, Britain and the United Nations enacted arms embargos against Israel and the Arab countries in Middle East. While the arms embargo was applied equally to the fledgling Jewish state and the Arab states, the Jewish state was in a woeful position as far as weapons while the Arab armies were fully armed. Over the course of Israel’s war of independence, Israel would be able to slowly procure weapons from Europe, much of which was World War I weaponry or even older. Czechoslovakia was the only government to flout the US, British and UN arms embargo to help Israel.


Israeli anti-aircraft battery attempting to shoot down Lebanese aircraft attacking the Galilee in 1948


Against All Odds – the place where miracles happen

Looking at the image of IDF warriors using a 48-year-old cannon to fight in the War of Independence, I am in awe. I know that they weren’t just fighting for their independence. They were fighting for their survival, even if it meant using forty-year-old cannons or Molotov cocktails. They knew that defeat at the hands of the Arab armies would mean a complete massacre of the Jewish settlement – October 7th- style. Today in Israel, we have the most advanced and cutting edge weaponry supplied by the US, and we can’t imagine facing the hostile Muslim armies around us without being armed to the teeth with it. On October 7th, Israel felt assured in its military, its state of the art border fence around the Gaza Strip and its first class intelligence gathering – and in that moment it was actually never weaker.

Threats of Embargos and International Pressure

On May 9th, US President Jo Biden announced that the US would halt the delivery of bombs and artillery shells to Israel if it invaded Rafa in the Gaza Strip, causing many in Israel to panic and Israel’s enemies, Iran included, to applaud with glee. For three months, the fighting against the Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip has been paused, and Israelis and pundits alike have been wondering, “What are we waiting for? When are we going to invade Rafa and finish the job?” When Israeli forces finally entered Rafa, the American threat of even a partial embargo frightened many in Israel.

It has become obvious that the Netanyahu government has been holding off invading Rafa, the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip, because of American pressure. The Biden government is being steamrolled by the extremist left and Free-Palestinian mobs in an election year. In Israel there is a sickening feeling that we are losing heart and losing momentum while Hamas gains support around the world and gets to play for time with never-ending sham hostage negations.

We of course know that God was involved in the miracle of the birth of the state of Israel in 1948 against all odds – a nation born out of the ashes of the Holocaust and a prevailing climate of deep-seated antisemitism in most countries and governments. Back in 1948, President Truman who was in support of the Jewish State, ultimately gave in to an anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic State Department and influential politicians who were interested in good relations with Arab oil states.

Today, I believe that the horrific attack on October 7th, the success and scope of which is mind-boggling, was God’s judgment against us in Israel in order to wake us up to seek Him and to make us get our priorities straight. At the same time, whenever God brings judgement upon Israel, He is also testing the nations as well as to how they will treat Israel in that moment. Right now, open rage and hatred of Israel and Jews is being expressed in ways we never imagined seeing again.

1948 and 2024 – a calendar convergence

Israel observes its national and biblical holidays with the Hebrew lunar calendar which moves by several days from year to year, even more in leap years like this year. The solar Gregorian calendar does not move in the same way so that, for instance, the first night of Passover 2023 fell on April 5th, and in 2024 it fell on April 22nd. This year, the Day of Independence, which is on the 5th of Iyar of the Hebrew calendar, falls on May 14th of the Gregorian calendar. In 1948, the 5th of Iyar fell on May 14th as well. This calendar convergence is not going unnoticed in Israel at a times she finds herself after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and in the greatest existential threat since the Yom Kippur war – the 50th anniversary of which fell on…October 7th of 2023.

So what does this convergence mean, if anything at all? For me, it is a stark reminder that our fate as a nation is in God’s hands, not our own and not in the amount or the quality of the weaponry we have. It is also a reminder that even if all our allies abandon us, God will not abandon us. When we realize that we are reliant on Him alone, the stress and anxiety of what the world is doing melts away. This Independence Day I am encouraged by the story of the victory God gave us in 1948 against all odds. We know that He did not return us to this land miraculously, in fulfilment of biblical prophecy, in order to destroy us. Though the nations will rage against us, it will get to the point where Messiah Himself will come and fight on our behalf.

A Great Need for Prayer

The starkest difference I see between Israel in 1948 and Israel today is the quality in her leadership. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, was an extraordinary, single-minded, hard-working, no-nonsense man devoted to the State of Israel. He lived simply and worked hard. It is rare that political leaders have that quality, and doubtless they are men for the hour, just like Winston Churchill was in WWII Europe. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government were beleaguered and compromised before October 7th, and now they are under immense pressure from within and without. Israelis know that Netanyahu has difficulty with making bold, critical decisions and withstanding international pressure. Please join us in prayer the God would guide and strengthen Prime Minister Netanyahu and his war cabinet to make bold decisions without fear and that their hearts would be instructed by the fear of the Lord instead!

Immediately following Passover, after rejoicing in God’s deliverance of our people and celebrating His mercy and miracles, we enter a very somber season. First, we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, and, a week later, Memorial Day which then culminates in Israel’s Independence Day celebrations only 24 hours later – making us all feel a little bit like being on an emotional roller-coaster.

These “ups and downs” are extremely difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced them in such proximity.  Yet for Israelis it is a part of life, as even on the saddest days we draw strength from stories of bravery and resilience, acknowledging the fact that no matter what troubles we have encountered along the way, we are still here… still strong… and are not going anywhere.

When I do, however, attempt to explain how we can endure this rollercoaster every year, Psalm 30 immediately comes to mind.

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

-Psalm 30:4-5

Since October 7, Israelis have been struggling with continuous loss, worry for hostages and soldiers, and darkness intertwined with the joys of life – not only national holidays, but also family celebrations of birthdays, newborns, weddings, and the general appreciation of being alive.

From the first verse of Psalm 30 until the last, these moments of rising and falling are intertwined with continuous thanksgiving and praise to our Lord – the one who lifts us up when we cry out, the one who heals us, the one whose anger is for a moment yet whose favor is for life, the one who hides His face but then turns towards us and transforms our mourning into dancing and gladness.

Most Israelis have what I believe is a God-given belief that we will rise up stronger than before – how else could we survive living in this country “pressed on every side”?

It is interesting that already in October right after the attacks, one of the top internet searches in Israel was “Tehillim” – Psalms. Religious or secular, willingly or not-so-willingly, Jews are connected to this land and to our God, the God of Israel, and, as a result, we tend to seek Him in times of trouble.

I believe this is exactly the reason why Paul states with such confidence in Romans 11:26 that “all Israel will be saved.” As Israeli believers we pray this verse daily over our nation, and we invite you to do the same as part of God’s olive tree.

One day, God will wipe away every tear, and sorrow will be no more – this hope is lifting us up during our present struggles, and it is our prayer that this hope will encourage and lift you up in any sorrows or loss you may be enduring.

by Katy Sorsher Smith


Lately, one of my favorite pastime amusements is “name that Bible verse”. I came up with this game myself: I hear a Bible verse in English and try to quote it in Hebrew from memory. The many amusing discoveries I have made through this game I can share some other time, like guessing what the Bible translator intended or my embarrassment at realizing how much I didn’t understand the original Hebrew. But there is a treasure I discovered: the word “presence” in the context of the presence of God:

“If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15 NKJ)

The truth is that the excavation of this treasure actually began in contemplating our translation of the well-known worship song “I Will Exalt” by Amanda Cook which we often sing and are blessed to worship God with in our congregation. In Hebrew, we call the song “Your Presence”. At the words “Your presence” in English, I could easily recall a number of Bible verses from memory, but with those words in modern Hebrew (nochechutcha), I wouldn’t be able to at all.

Of course, if Moses spoke English, he would have said:

“If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15 NKJ)

In Hebrew, however, it is written:

“If Your face does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.”

With the biblical word “panecha” (Your face) in Hebrew you have its English rendering as “presence”. The Hebrew translation of the above-mentioned song did not return to the biblical Hebrew original in relation to the word “presence” but rather translated the word literally, using instead modern Hebrew.

If I’m not mistaken, the definition of “nochechut” (presence) in modern Hebrew is “residing or being in a certain place”. For me, this definition calls to mind being in boring work meetings in which I can’t actually claim being “present” just because I am in the conference room with my co-workers.

However, when we say “face” in spoken Hebrew, in most contexts the definition is “the front part of the human or animal head, from the forehead to the chin”. In said work meetings, more than once my “face” is actually turned toward the cell phone in my hand. So, am I actually present in the meeting?

It follows then that I can suggest that the word “face” adds to the word “presence” the meaning of attention and eyes intently focused.

Take a look at the word “face” in the biblical Hebrew which is translated as “presence” in the following verses:

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob (Psalm 114:7 BSB)

מִלִּפְנֵי אָדוֹן חוּלִי אָרֶץ מִלִּפְנֵי אֱלוֹהַּ יַעֲקֹב (תהילים 114:7)

Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him in song. (Psalms 95:2 BSB)

נְקַדְּמָה פָנָיו בְּתוֹדָה בִּזְמִרוֹת נָרִיעַ לוֹ (תהילים 95:2)

Jonah, however, got up to flee to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:3)

וַיָּקָם יוֹנָה לִבְרֹחַ תַּרְשִׁישָׁה, מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה (יונה 1:3)

Isn’t that a wonderful meaning of the word “presence”? God’s face, His eyes turned towards us, His focused attention which His face expresses.

The root of the modern Hebrew word for presence “נ.כ.ח” (N.K.H) comes from a word which appears in the Bible, mostly in context to location, as alternatives to the words “face”, “opposite of”, or “in front of”. For example:

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and the LORD examines all his paths. (Provers 5:21 BSB)

כִּי נֹכַח עֵינֵי ה’ דַּרְכֵי אִישׁ וְכָל מַעְגְּלֹתָיו מְפַלֵּס (משלי 5:21)

Let’s remember that the word “presence” in Hebrew is “face”, and therefore the presence of God is His face. To be in the presence of God is to be in the gaze of His face, His illuminating, holy face. When we are in front of His face, we cannot but be aware of the focus of His eyes upon us, and we cannot but look back at Him and worship Him.


The Gospels tell us that, immediately after Yeshua’s last breath, the veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. Even though the Gospels do not explain the significance of this event, we view it as a declaration by God that every believer is now allowed into His holy presence, as beforehand only the High Priest was allowed in once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Apostle Paul describes it in this way:

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way opened for us through the curtain of His body…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…” –(Heb. 10:19-20, 22)

Since I first became a believer, I saw the rending of the veil as an expression of God’s mercy towards us, a consequence of Yeshua’s last words, “It is finished.”

Just recently, however, God gave me a glimpse into His side of the story.

As I was pondering the outline of a teaching I would like to present to Tiferet Yeshua Congregation,  I came to the part of the torn veil, and God gave me a vision of a cemetery: I saw a family burying a loved one – something we are unfortunately used to these days due to over 600 soldiers who have lost their lives in the war— and one of the cemetery’s rabbis (serving as a priest) made a  cut on the clothes of the immediate family, from top to bottom, as a symbol of mourning.

Kriah, the Jewish tradition of tearing of one’s clothes from top to bottom as a sign of mourning, is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. When the Patriarch Jacob thought his son Joseph was dead, he tore his garments (Gen. 37:34). David and his men rent their clothing upon hearing about the deaths of King Saul and Jonathan (II Sam. 1:11). Job, grieving the death of his children, stood up and tore his clothing (Job 1:20).

The Lord opened my eyes, and I realized that the rending of the veil in the Temple which we see as a sign of God’s mercy towards us was, in fact, God Himself tearing His clothes as a sign of mourning for His Only Son.  In that moment, God lost a part of Himself, and, though He knew it would not be for long, it was His time to grieve. As the prophet Daniel prophesied, God the Father experienced having His own Son cut off from Him:

” …the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing.” (Dan. 9:26)

This Passover, as we remember Yeshua’s death as a Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world, let us also remember the unbelievable cost God Himself had to pay to give us that forgiveness and the access into His presence.

by Katy Sorsher


Five months have passed since the horrific Hamas attack against Israel on October 7th. In that time, the world has moved on, and the majority of international public opinion has settled on the narrative that “Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza” while ignoring or being ignorant of the basic facts, context and history of this conflict.

Here are a few of those basic facts many in the world need an education on right now:

  • Free Palestine? Israel was not occupying the Gaza Strip! In 2005, Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip after dramatically dismantling Jewish settlements there. A year later, Hamas was elected, and Gaza has effectively been a “Palestinian State” since then.


  • Israeli Aggression? Rather: Israeli restraint! In response to the constant rocket attacks coming from the “Palestinian state” of Gaza, Israel invested in an advanced rocket defense system rather than launching a full-scale ground war, opting for surgical precision strikes against Hamas military targets to avoid civilian causalities.


  • Israeli Genocide in Gaza? The world press and world leaders, including US President Biden, have been quoting the Hamas health ministry causality report numbers which are extremely high. Respected statistical studies of those reports reveal that Hamas numbers are, in all likelihood, highly exaggerated. Considering the number of Hamas combatants killed which Israel reported in the context of statistical data from other urban conflicts, Israel is actually doing a remarkable job limiting the number of civilian deaths while fighting a cruel enemy hiding behind its citizens.

In the years since 2006 when Hamas started launching rocket attacks against Israel’s southern communities from the “liberated” Gaza Strip, I remember Israeli politicians and political pundits wrangled back and forth over the Gaza conundrum: invading the Strip would include civilian causalities due to the nature of urban warfare in a densely populated area like the Gaza Strip and the reality of Hama’s evil nature to hide behind its own civilians. Analysts also knew that many Israeli soldiers would lose their lives in a Gaza ground-offensive invasion (which they have); during those years Israel became overly protective of its soldiers. All of that changed on October 7th.

After the mind-blowing brutality against our innocent civilians, all of the fog surrounding the “Gaza Conundrum” became startlingly clear. It is our national and moral obligation to destroy Hamas.



For us in Israel, we are living a different reality than the rest of the world. In the immediate weeks and months following the Hamas attack, everyone, on one level or another, was still dealing with trauma (fear, anxiety, depression). What added insult to injury was witnessing the growing Jew hatred around the world and mind-boggling criticism and hatred of Israel.

God’s love and grace and the passing of time continue to heal, help and encourage us. As a nation, we are also experiencing a great level of national solidarity and seeing a deeper level of spiritual maturity and togetherness in the congregation. However, we are still living in a reality of:

  • mourning for the loss of so much life, for the lives of many soldiers who are continuing to fall in the line of duty in Gaza, and for the 130 hostages still held by Hamas in abominable conditions


  • fear, anxiety, pressure anticipating the very real possibility that an all-out war with Hezbollah may break out in the coming weeks\ months. Israeli authorities have been preparing and directing citizens in certain areas to prepare for a war in which a). the entire country will be covered in rocket attacks b). we will possibly be spending days and weeks on end in safe rooms and bomb shelters c). there’s a high possibility that we will be without electricity and water


  • sadness, depression over the entire situation, realizing and coming to terms with (or not) the fact that antisemitism is alive and growing in a way we never imagined.

It is hard to convey how Israelis feel when we see how willingly and vigorously so many in the world latch onto misleading or blatantly false statements and ideas about Israel and the situation we are in. When you are publicly lied about and defamed, it is painful, distressing, and even traumatic. All Israelis are feeling that right now.

We want to thank you for your love, care and concern for all of us during this time. We also thank you for committing to standing in the gap for Israel during this critical time.


Please also pray for the advancement of the gospel in Muslim nations. We are hearing amazing reports of the Body of Messiah growing by leaps and bounds in places like Iran and Afghanistan. A wave of spiritual awakening is sweeping the Middle East, and we believe it’s on its way to us!

As people of faith and a part of this nation, we are keenly aware that throughout our history God has used our enemies to bring judgement against us and return us to Him. The book of Judges is a template of how God used Israel’s enemies to chasten the fledgling nation dwelling in the Promised Land whenever they lost sight of their identity as His chosen people and began worshipping other gods, thus enacting the covenant curses He enumerated in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Today, the lines of this curse speak to new, deep wounds in our souls which they describe:

The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven…

You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it…

 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand…

The sights you see will drive you mad. -Deuteronomy 28:25, 30, 32, 34

In response to enemy attack, ancient Israel would repent and cry out to God to save them, and He would raise up a deliverer. Israel continued in this sad cycle throughout her ancient history until God began sending His prophets to warn and call the people to repent and return to God, lest He bring destruction and exile upon them. Finally, God sent the great Prophet, Yeshua Himself, who stood overlooking Jerusalem and sorrowfully declared her impending judgement that would result in an exile lasting nearly two-thousand years…until 1948.


Since the establishment of the modern state of Israel (a miracle and fulfillment of biblical prophecy), Israel has experienced two main instances of God’s chastening through our enemies: the Yom Kippur War which began on October 6th, 1973 and again, fifty years later (according to the Gregorian calendar), on October 7th, 2023—a day which fell on another biblical holy day (according to the lunar calendar), the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles when we celebrate the Word of God given by Moses to the Israelites.

The surprise attacks Israel experienced in 1973 and 2023 have a number of elements in common. In both instances, Israel’s government and military were completely caught off guard. In the wake of each attack, the entire nation, including our leaders, was struck by the terror that this attack could be a third “chorban bait” which refers to the destruction of the two temples: in other words, national destruction.

In the months since October 7th and the years since the Yom Kippur War, it became apparent that pride and arrogance in the government and security agencies caused a great institutional blindness to the many warning signs of an attack. Indeed, the failures in each instance are so egregious that is clear God struck our leaders with blindness.

Finally, each of these terrible blows against modern Israel came on two of our most significant biblical holidays: Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles). Understanding that as a nation, we are in the template of blessings and curses God established in the Torah, today we must tune our ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us. The voices of the prophets who spoke to this nation in ancient days and foreshadowed our present regathered nation echo the same message time and again:

My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and they have dug their own cisterns—broken cisterns that cannot hold water. -Jeremiah 2:13


The attack we suffered on October 7th was far worse than what struck us fifty years earlier. On Yom Kippur 1973, Arab armies attacked us from vast open territory in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. Yom Kippur war battles were fought between the military forces outside of population centers. On the early morning of October 7th, a Sabbath and a holiday, Hamas terrorists crossed a matter of a few kilometers to attack defenseless farms, villages and cities where many were still asleep in their beds; they entered homes and perpetrated massacres that defy description. They massacred our people completely unhindered for most of the day because the army and security forces were in utter confusion and disarray.


One of the greatest massacres on October 7th took place at Nova, the desert rave where terrorists paraglided into the middle of partygoers. In one of the news broadcasts, I saw in the central pavilion set up for the party, the partygoers had erected a giant statue of Buddha around which they danced all night. My heart broke when I saw that. Many in Israel who saw that blatant display of idolatry did the quick arithmetic of “God is judging the hedonistic, secular Israelis for the sin of idolatry.” On many social media sites, Israelis lamented “the sin of the golden calf” at the Nova festival. But what I saw at that party were the lost sheep of Israel.


When Jews who have left orthodox Judaism seek spiritual meaning, they seek it in mysticism and eastern religions which they see as the only options open to them. Due to the legacy of Christian\western antisemitism which culminated in the holocaust and rabbinic teaching that the New Testament is a forbidden, dangerous Christian book a great barrier exists between even secular Israelis and the revelation of Yeshua as the Messiah.  While many, including many believers here in the Land, indeed saw October 7th as God’s judgment on the sins of secular Israel – abortion, immorality and materialism—I felt strongly that the judgement of the Lord was against the spiritual shepherds of Israel who had rejected Him, the source of living waters, hindering anyone else from Him:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds who tend My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away….” -Jeremiah 23:1-2


In February we shared the prophetic word that our brother Oren received just weeks before the October 7th attack. In the word, the Lord said that He would bring great suffering on our people in order to break the shell of religion which is keeping them in spiritual exile and hindering them from coming to Yeshua, the source of living waters.

In the days and weeks after the attack, while we were processing everything that had happened in the light of the word that the Lord had graciously given us, we realized that there was a deep and important message in the fact that the attack came on the last day of Sukkot, traditionally called Simchat Torah when we celebrate the giving of the Word of God. We realized with awe that our Lord, the Word of God made flesh, stood in the Temple two thousand years ago on the very same day and cried out:

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” -John 7:37-38

We believe that Yeshua’s cry to come to Him, the source of living waters and the living Word of God, is going out to our people right now in a more powerful way than ever. Our people have been led to broken cisterns (rabbinic Judaism) or have been fleeing to other broken cisterns (secularism, mysticism), but we believe that through this great tragedy that God allowed to strike us, many are seeking for truth more earnestly than ever and, in His faithfulness and mercy, He is drawing them to Him. Please stand in prayer with the people of Israel in this hour of trial that the shell of religion would shatter and release the people of Israel to come to their Messiah, the source of living waters.

It has been five months since the Hamas attack of October 7 – one of the darkest days in the history of modern Israel and one of the longest wars we’ve had to fight.

During these five months, clouds have gathered over our nation: clouds of uncertainty, mourning, and despair for Israelis personally, as well dark clouds over both the domestic political and international landscape. For five months our usual “Ma nish’ma?” (how is it going) has only one answer: “Just like all Israel.”

For decades Israel has been priding herself on being the only democracy in the Middle East, a start-up nation, filled with innovation and breakthroughs in technology, science, medicine. For many this dream was crushed at 6:29am on Shabbat of Simkhat Torah – the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles when we celebrate the Word of God given by Moses to the Israelites thousands of years ago.

Israel’s small piece of land is surrounded by enemies on all sides except the Mediterranean Sea. When thousands of Hamas terrorists poured into Israel on October 7, their hope was that all fronts would join them in this attack. It was God’s mercy that kept our other enemies from joining the attack on that day. However, since then, they have been engaging in increasing attacks against Israel as a show of support to Hamas: in the north, Hezbollah, the terrorist organization funded by Iran, has joined with barrages of mortars and rockets from Lebanon and Syria.

If that was not enough, Judea and Samaria in the East have also been brewing with hundreds of attempted terror attacks, many of them successful. For now, Israeli Arabs, who make up about 20% of the Israeli population, have kept the peace, and we are hoping it stays that way.


The ground operation in the Gaza Strip continues, although it has slowed down significantly due to several factors:

  • IDF troops are now in the southern part of the Strip – the area to which over 1.2 million Gazans fled from the northern and middle zones as our troops were progressing in their fight with terrorists. This requires different operational tactics and presents challenges of keeping Gazan civilians safe. Unlike the bias reports of world media, Israel does not target civilians and always looks for ways to protect them from Hamas—our real enemy in this war.
  • One hundred and thirty-four hostages are still held by Hamas, and the issue has created a controversy among Israelis whether they should be returned by negotiations and concessions or by military operation. Our government, for now, is advancing the military option while trying to reach an agreement with Hamas to return as many as possible alive.
  • The unprecedented world support we’ve had on October 7 has now evolved into enormous pressure for a cease-fire, with threats of defunding, sanctions, embargo, etc. Israel faces a huge dilemma, understanding that the only way Hamas can be disarmed and dismantled is through a military ground operation.

Even though the IDF has been drawing down the number of forces in the Gaza Strip, the fighting continues, Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israel from time to time, and we continue to lose soldiers in battle. Yet, there’s a feeling of stagnation, and no one can really tell what is going to happen next.


We can’t really call what has been going on in the north a war. Rather, Hezbollah has been testing boundaries, firing into Israel on a daily basis. Israel, on her part, has  been reacting to these attacks by destroying the rocket launch sites while also taking advantage of opportunities to precise-target Hamas and Hezbollah VIP’s in Lebanon and Syria.

Ultimately, Israel’s  goal is to expel Hezbollah from the demilitarized zone in Lebanon established by UN Security Council resolution 1701 in August of 2006. This resolution was broken by Hezbollah not even a month after it came into effect, and, until now, Israel unfortunately tolerated the situation with Hezbollah digging underground attack tunnels and establishing terror bases along the border.

In the light of the October 7th attack, no Israeli citizen from the northern border communities is willing to live with a deadly terrorist organization at their back door. Just a week and a half after the October 7th attack, Israel evacuated over 120,000 of its citizens from the northern border communities. The expectation is that either that there will be a negotiated Hezbollah withdrawal from the demilitarized zone (a nearly impossible scenario) or Israel will have to attack in order force Hezbollah away from the border and out of the demilitarized zone. Israelis are preparing for the more likely scenario–an all out war with Hezbollah, one of the most powerful terrorist organizations in the Middle East.


Hezbollah is much more powerful than Hamas: in addition to its geographical advantage (higher ground), Hezbollah has over 120,000 missiles, advanced technology and sophisticated weaponry, including precision missiles that can reach any part of Israel. Hamas’ October attack mimics precisely the plan Hezbollah wants to execute against Israel when an opportunity presents itself, and such an attack is only a matter of time. With the horrors of October 7th still lingering in our minds, everyone is expecting the IDF to make sure such an attack from Hezbollah does not happen. None of the evacuated citizens will return to their homes until they know it is safe.

For now, both sides are exercising a certain measure of self-control, but everyone knows that an all-out war with Hezbollah in the next several months is a very real possibility. In the event of such a war, all of Israel would be covered by a powerful barrage of missiles that would challenge our iron dome system and precision weapons which would target strategic infrastructure. This means that we would all find ourselves for perhaps weeks on end living in our bomb shelters, very possibly without electricity and water. Already many Israelis have starting storing bottled water and food provisions and are even buying emergency generators.


During the last five months, I keep thinking with sadness of all the people who do not know the Lord and don’t have Him to lean on. After all, spiritual battles are raging around us, whether we are aware of it or not, and they affect everyone. At Tiferet Yeshua, we understand that this war is only a physical symptom of the heavenly realm where real war is happening until God’s ultimate victory over Satan and his forces.

Until that time, God’s Word exhorts all of us to understand the signs of the times (the physical manifestations of the advancing spiritual war) and to stand in the gap for Israel in prayer. In fact, the prophet Isaiah exhorts “all who call on the name of the LORD” to pray for Israel night and day and to give Him no rest until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isa. 62:7).

Standing with Israel these days is not a popular thing to do. The issue of Israel is dividing families, friends, co-workers, even nations. Most likely it will become more uncomfortable and even dangerous to stand with Israel in the future. Yet, while Israel is not perfect in any way, this is the one nation on earth whose existence is a living witness of God’s faithfulness to His Word. And Israel is stage upon which the culminating end-time battle will play out before the coming of Messiah Yeshua: it is every believers vested interest to know, care about and pray for what happens here! 

God’s Word tells us that:

  • God has chosen Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6)
  • God has given the land of the modern state of Israel (and more!) to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as an everlasting inheritance (Genesis 12:7, Genesis 15:18, Ezekiel 37:21)
  • God will not forsake Israel and His calling to Israel is irrevocable (Genesis 17:7-8, Ezekiel 11:17, Isaiah 11:12, Jeremiah 30:3, Ezekiel 39:25-29)
  • God will fight for Israel against all nations who will come against her in battle (Jeremiah 30:7, Joel 3:2, Zechariah 14)
  • God will never again uproot Israel from this land (Amos 9:14-15)
  • God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse it (Genesis 12:3)
  • God will judge nations according to their treatment of Israel (Matthew 25)
  • God will save Israel physically and spiritually (Ezekiel 37, Romans 11:26)
  • Israel’s salvation will mean life from the dead to the world (Romans 11:15)

With these things in mind, we invite you to pray daily for Israel, for both physical and spiritual deliverance. Believers in Israel and the nations are all part of one body of Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua prayed for this unity, and right now we need you, our brothers and sisters in the nations, to help us stand in the midst of this storm.

You can get specific prayer points in the prayer guide we recently shared.

by Katy Sorsher Smith





Last year on Purim (March 7th, 2023), an announcement was made that there would be a historic global prayer initiative for Israel which would take place in May. By all accounts, this global prayer initiative, called “The Isaiah 62 Fast\Global 21 Day of Prayer for Israel”, was unprecedented: over five million believers from around the world committed to stand in prayer for Israel during that time.

One of my fellow worshippers at Tiferet Yeshua who had also heard about this prayer movement for Israel said to me, “What is going to happen here that God is raising up so much prayer for us right now? It’s kind of scary. There is definitely a reason that we are going to need this prayer.” If we had known what was really in store for us exactly 7 months later…frankly, we would have been terrified.

That horrific tragedy would strike our people on October 7th, the dimensions of which we are still living out today. However, as we gathered together as a congregation on zoom that day to seek the Lord, we recalled a prophetic word which was shared in our midst less than one month before and realized with awe that God had been lovingly preparing us for this moment.


The idea of suffering and enduring persecution is terrifying and naturally something one wants to avoid. This is perhaps one of the main reasons the theology of pre-tribulation rapture is so largely embraced and advanced (Tiferet Yeshua leadership does not hold to a pre-tribulation rapture of believers). The point here is not to argue the theology of those differing positions. What I want to convey is that, here in Israel, we are experiencing a tribulation: a condensed, microcosm of the worst of human horrors (sadistic rape, torture, murder, captivity in abominable conditions) which has then been followed by a growing chorus of hate, blame and offence from many in the world.

God, however, in His mercy, spoke to us before it happened. Even though we had no idea how quickly and how literally the prophetic word would come to pass, it continues to be an encouragement and guide to us as we navigate this difficult, frightening and often confusing situation. This prophetic word strengthened us in the knowledge that God is sovereign, that He is motivated by perfect love for us, and that He will clearly speak to us inorder to prepare us beforehand.

In this tribulation, we are discovering how incredibly present He is. We are also discovering how this tribulation is causing so many frivolous pleasures and worries of the world to simply evaporate. It is causing His Word and promises to burn within us. We do not see explicit promises in the Word of God to take us out of tribulation: on the contrary, Yeshua promises that we will have tribulation in the world (Jn. 16:33). However, the Word promises that God will be a very present help in tribulation (Ps. 46:1). Discovering that through experience is gold refined by fire!


In September of 2023, Oren, a greatly gifted teacher at Tiferet Yeshua, submitted a word he had received from the Lord to Gil, our lead pastor. Oren, a truly humble and sincere man of God, explained to Gil that he had never heard a “word” from the Lord before and, furthermore, that nothing like this had ever happened to him. Oren described how on the evening of Rosh Ha Shanah he experienced an overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit and was moved to write words which he felt were barely His own.

After prayerfully considering the word and sharing it with our elders, Gil felt that Oren needed to share it with the whole congregation at the next service which was the service right before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The timing was perfect, of course, because it was God’s timing: that service was dedicated to standing before God in humble repentance and intercession for our people.


Oren sharing the word at Tiferet Yeshua on September 22, 2023

Humility and the Fear of the Lord

Tiferet Yeshua elder David Trubeck who led the service on the day that Oren shared this word asked everyone to listen to it in a spirit of the fear of the Lord. In the same way, may you all who read this word consider it in the same spirit. The original word was received and shared in Hebrew, and some portions of the word are specifically for the Jewish believers in the Land. However, I translate here the portions which I feel God wants shared and through which, I believe, He would speak to and encourage you.


The Jews are my people, the apple of my eye, I will never forsake them because I am faithful.

I returned them to their Land to prove My faithfulness and to fulfil my plan of redemption for them. Right now, they are discovering that without Me there is nothing that connects them one to another. What connected them in past was the hope inside and difficulties from without.

Pray for them always.

Pray for your people in order that their ears may be unstopped and the eyes of their hearts may be opened

And they will see Me, the One whom they have pierced.

Their love for me is trapped in a shell of religion.

The day is near when that shell will crack, and they will understand that there is no more need for it:

“But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD. I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

This shell will crack through great pain and suffering which this people has not known.

If there were a way to prevent this pain, it would be prevented.

I suffer My people’s affliction.

How I have longed to gather them under my wings, but they prevented it!

Pray for my people

…They have returned from the exile, but their hearts are still in exile from Me, the source of living water.

For the sake of My great Name, I will save them so that all will know, lest heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not one stroke of the pen will pass away from My Law until everything is accomplished. The enemy will attempt to destroy in order to prove that I am not sovereign. But all his plans will fail, even though they will cause no small amount on pain.

Pray for my people.

He who loves my people loves Me and is faithful to Me.

He who knows Me will keep My laws.

The Keeper of Israel will neither slumber nor sleep and will be to them a hope and a future

The day is not far off. The time is not far off.

I will not forsake them, I will not relent until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.”

“Then you will live in the land that I gave your forefathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:28)

Then all the nations will know that the LORD has returned to His people.

Like the Egyptians who heard Joseph weeping when he revealed himself to his brothers, then all will be silent in fear and trembling.

And all will know that My people have returned to Me and will not forsake Me again.

We ask all of you, our friends in the nations, to continue standing together with us in prayer for Israel, that He will accomplish His perfect plan of redemption for them through this present pain and suffering.

We invite you to listen to our brother Oren’s amazing testimony here!

My story starts when I was very young. I was ten years old when the harsh reality of life hit me full force. My very best friend, someone who was closer to me than a brother, died from a malignant brain tumor. I had no way to deal with this great loss because I was what one could call the textbook definition of an abused child. I had a mother who would put cigarettes out on my body. I endured physical and emotional abuse in the worst way you can imagine throughout my entire childhood. That was the reality that I was born into. – by Yechiel Aviv


Yechiel telling his story

My Starting Point: Abuse, Violence, Loss

After losing my very best friend at age ten to cancer, it’s no surprise that I found myself in a boarding school for troubled teens just a few years later. My life at the boarding school, however, didn’t improve and continued to be defined by by violence and abuse—a reality that just became routine. Being torn down and humiliated, abused, witnessing difficult things was how I grew up.  It’s also no surprise where it eventually led me: by the age of nineteen, I was using hard-core drugs and hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. By the age of twenty-five, the sky collapsed on me.

After medicating my pain for years with powerful drugs, I suddenly lost all sense of who I was. One day I got up and didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I didn’t know my name. I didn’t know the people in my family I was living with. I experienced a complete blackout, a complete disconnect from reality. It was the most terrifying experience—there’s nothing darker than realizing that you are standing on the edge of insanity. At that moment, I was faced with two options: either commit suicide or fight for my life. And fighting for my life meant fighting for my sanity, which was the hardest part.

The Fight for Sanity

When I decided that I was going to fight for my life, I somehow knew that there was someone on the other side, someone who heard me. During this journey, the battle for my sanity, I asked this someone for help. I would cry out, “If you can hear me, I am begging for help, that someone will save me because I am in complete darkness!”

God sends me three emissaries

In response to my cry, God, of course, sent help. Over the years in my struggle back to life, three different people came to me with the Isaiah 53 prophecy about the Messiah. However, without even reading the prophecy, I rejected them. I told them, “Guys, this just isn’t the direction.” The one thing that I did know is that God speaks in the language of love and light. Everywhere I searched for what spoke of these concepts, love and light. My search led me in many differet directions: I went to an ultra-orthodox Yeshiva (religious school). I tried Buddhism. You name it, I tried it. But nothing was “it”.

The Fourth Emissary

One morning while I was waiting for a bus, I was approached by a woman who started sharing the gospel with me. The best way I can describe her is an “energy bomb for Yeshua”. She was excited and full of passion, and my reaction to her was, “Slow down for a moment because you’re coming on really strong here.” Needless to say, I rebuffed her, but, at the same time, I realized that something strange was going on: this was the fourth time that someone was bringing me this same Yeshua in the prophecy of Isaiah 53.

God ambushes me

God would not let me off the hook so easily. He heard me when I cried out to Him when I was twenty-five, and He continued pursuing me with the right answer to my plea. Not long after this “pushy” woman Adriana from the bus stop tried to share about Yeshua, I started a new job at a special education facility. On one of the first days at the job, I suddenly heard a loud, familiar voice saying, “Shalom, good morning everyone!” I turned around and whom do I see but Adriana from the bus stop.

“What are you doing here?” I asked her in surprise.

“What are you doing here?” she asked me.

When we realized that we both worked there, we started laughing.  “I think God is planning something here!” she told me with a twinkle in her eye. In our time working together, I discovered what an amazing, compassionate and passionate woman of God Adriana is. She told me that she was praying for me and that she would gladly connect me to a couple guys from her congregation if I ever wanted to learn about Yeshua.

The Encounter

Eventually, I decided that I needed to understand what this Isaiah 53 prophecy is all about. I finally opened the book of Isaiah and began reading this powerful prophecy about the Messiah for the first time. As I was reading, I prayed, “I don’t know who you are, who this Yeshua is, but I’m asking You, God, please, I need an answer. ” At that moment, I felt something that is hard to describe: I felt as if two hands were physically holding my own hands, and I began trembling all over. When I finally calmed down, I immediately called Adriana and asked her to put me in touch with the two men from her congregation. Moti and Kosta, two amazing men from Tiferet Yeshua, reached out to me and we began studying the New Testament together.

Coming Home to Yeshua

Reading the New Testament, I discovered the spiritual concepts that I always knew were the language of God: love and light. The more I read and learned, the more I realized that Yeshua was the love and the light I was always looking for.

I continued studying with Moti and Kosta and attending services at Tiferet Yeshua every week. One evening during worship at Tiferet Yeshua, I had a powerful encounter with Yeshua: we were singing “How good is your lovingkindness to me, O God of my salvation,” and suddenly I felt like I was standing in a waterfall of love. I began weeping like a baby, and from that moment I knew that I had come home and gave my life to Yeshua.

It is simply a miracle what Yeshua has done in my life. Today I understand in a deeper way that I didn’t go through that long, difficult journey in my life for nothing. I understand that I have a purpose to share my story and to help others who are in darkness. Yeshua is the only hope, He is the light, and even in the darkest times in your life, you can lift up your head because there is hope in Him.

Yechiel sharing his testimony in Tiferet Yeshua

Redeeming the Irredeemable

One of the greatest miracles in my life was how God redeemed my broken relationship with my family. In the darkest period of my life, I cut ties with my family because they weren’t there for me. The whole difficult story of my parents, how they had treated me over the years, the abuse, I just put it all aside and blamed them for everything. When I started walking with Yeshua, I began to learn what true forgiveness and love  are. He taught me to open up the darkest places in me to His love. After twelve years of not talking with my family, I got back in touch with them, and God began healing our relationship. The love and respect that exist between us now is something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. The love and the light of Yeshua have changed me miraculously!


I was traveling in the US with my family when Hamas attacked Israel, and, because our flights were canceled, it took us several days to make it home. Miraculously, we all got onto an El-Al flight back to Israel. We were honored to fly with almost one hundred young Israeli reservists who had dropped everything to return home to fight: most of them would go straight to their bases from the airport. I am amazed because these are the exact same scenes my parents told me about during the Yom Kippur war.

Supporting Soldiers and Civilians on the Homefront

Once home, we realized how much better it felt to be here during this crisis – something which must sound strange. It was difficult being in the US where life was continuing as normal while a horrific massacre and war were happening at home. Once in Israel, we discovered an amazing solidarity and unity among the people unlike anything I have ever felt before. Everyone is sharing the same shock and sadness. And everyone is doing what they can to support the soldiers on the front and the southern communities that have been displaced: the blood banks are full, IDF units in the south fighting the terrorist incursion and preparing for a land invasion into Gaza have been overwhelmed with care packages to the point that they are saying, “Don’t bring anymore! We have all we need.”

A Call for Help

At the same time, we have been hearing of needs and shortages in army units called to the northern border, especially in reserve combat units which are lacking some basic essentials. We made a call to our supporters abroad that we want to prepare 400 care packages for these combat units experiencing shortages in basic essentials. Thanks to the support of many who answered the call, we were able to put together 200 care packages with help from volunteers at Tiferet Yeshua. In the same afternoon, a group of several young adult volunteers and I caravanned in our cars to the border with Lebanon in the Upper Galilee: our team had done some investigating through army channels and were connected with a paratroopers platoon that would be grateful for supplies.

A Surprise Welcome on the Lebanon Border

By the time we were ascending the Galilee, it was late in the day and a beautiful red sunset was flaming over the mountains. It was nearly dark when we made it to the paratroopers base at the top of the Galilee. At the main gate of the base, we were met by guards and expected to be told to unload the packages there at the gate so that the soldiers could bring them into the base. However, they warmly welcomed us and let us in – they said it was their first time allowing civilians onto their base! Once inside, we were welcomed by all the soldiers there. The army contact with whom we had coordinated the delivery had said that the platoon would be away at a training exercise until late into the night, so we were surprised then to find the whole platoon there when we arrived.

An Even Greater Surprise

When we began unloading the packages, suddenly I heard a booming voice call out, “Gil Afriat, is that you?” I turned around and saw a dear face I know well: Yehuda Bachana, a leader at Netivya congregation in Jerusalem. Seeing that we had a personal connection with one of their own made our visit with the soldiers of this platoon even warmer and more personable. But the surprises did not end there.

After unloading the packages, the soldiers invited us to sit with them for coffee. When one soldier heard that, in addition to serving at a Messianic Jewish congregation, I work part time as an engineer at Intel, he told me excitedly, “Hey, I work at Intel too!”. When I asked him what engineering group he worked in, it turns out he works in the same group I do, just in a different city, and that he sometimes comes up to our branch to work with our team! At that point, he yelled out to one of his friends, “Hey, get over here!” The friend he introduced me to I recognized: he is a young engineer who recently joined my group at Intel. We talked for a while: he shared their experiences fighting the terrorists in the south before they were transferred to the northern border. We talked about engineering and about God as well. “When this is over,” he said, “let’s have lunch in the cafeteria together.”

In the time we spent on the base with the soldiers, we had wonderful conversations, and many wanted to talk to us about our faith. I am still in awe at the amazing grace God poured out on our visit. One soldier who lives in Tel Aviv told me, “When the war is over, I’m coming to visit you all.” We were invited to stay for dinner (what an honor!), but, because it was late and we still had a long drive back, first making it down the small winding Galilee roads in the dark, we decided it would be best to be on our way.

I am in awe at how God surprised me in so many ways during our trip! We are so honored to be able to serve these amazing soldiers who are giving their all to serve Israel. God also blessed me with so many special personal connections during our visit. Yehuda told me that the soldiers love the things we put into the care packages (protein bars, energy bars, caffeine gel packs, among other items) which are perfect for long strenuous training and days on end combat. I told Yehuda that he will probably have a lot of great opportunities to answer questions about his faith after our visit (each soldier got a care package with a blessing from “Tiferet Yeshua, a Messianic Jewish congregation in Tel Aviv”). We let them know that we want to prepare another 200 packages for them and asked them to update us about their needs.

Sincerest thanks to all those who supported this project “Supporting Our Soldiers”!

Please help us continue to bless and show God’s love to these dear soldiers