Just Like the Holocaust

Since the horrific Hamas attack and massacre on October 7th, we Israelis have been referencing the Holocaust to describe the scope of that horrible day: “The worst tragedy for Jews since the Holocaust.” Mia Schem who survived 55 days as a hostage in Gaza said about her experience, “I went through a holocaust.”  In Sderot where terrorists went from apartment to apartment killing people, residents who hid their children in closets and cupboards afterward said, “It was like we were back in the Holocaust hiding our children from Nazis.”

The comparisons are not exaggerations. The collective trauma of what happened to us on October 7th touched our collective consciousness of the Holocaust. In the immediate aftermath of the October 7th attacks during which everyone was struck with fear and terrified that terrorists might infiltrate our neighborhoods with no one to help, mental health professionals said that many Holocaust survivors began experiencing serious post-trauma events.

A National Outpouring of Support

In the wake of the October 7th attacks, Israelis responded to the hour of need with the greatest outpouring of support this country has ever seen: support for the communities that suffered attacks, support for our soldiers heading to war in Gaza, support for the over 100,000 residents who have been displaced from the conflict zones on our southern and northern borders. Christian friends of Israel around the world came to Israel’s aid during her time of tribulation with a generous outpouring of support. Here at Tiferet Yeshua, we have been supporting our soldiers and displaced civilians together with the generous help of our partners from the nations.

The Original Survivors Get Overlooked

With all the focus on the pressing needs of so many in the country, a very special and needy population was overlooked: the original Holocaust survivors. After being released from the army reserves, Moti Cohen (Assistant Pastor and Feed Tel Aviv Director) reached out to his friend Gideon who works with Holocaust survivors to see if we could do something special for them during New Year.

Gideon shared with Moti that he has been making personal visits to Holocaust survivors, but that none of those he is in contact with had left their homes since the 7th of October. Due to the great focus on those in need from the war crisis, organizations that usually help Holocaust survivors had their resources pulled in other directions.

Celebrating the Original Survivors

On December 28th, Tiferet Yeshua’s Feed Tel Aviv hosted a special New Year’s celebration event in honor of Holocaust survivors from a Russian background. “Novy God”, the Russian New Year celebration, is the most important and sentimental holiday for Russian Jews. Since all religious holidays were banned during soviet times, this holiday became our sole and central holiday.

Moti is a gifted chef and prepared all the traditional Russian delicacies that are served during this holiday. The tables were decorated, and the survivors were welcomed as guests of honor. After a delicious holiday meal, the survivors were treated to a concert of traditional songs.

Mourning to Dancing

Our team of volunteers was deeply touched to see how much these precious Holocaust survivors appreciated the banquet, how happy they were with the music, and to see them joyfully celebrating and dancing to the songs they know and love.

These particular survivors were the children whose parents hid them from the Nazis during the Holocaust. They were children of Jewish partisans who fled to the forests and barely survived there, children who were passed from house to house, living in terror of discovery. They are a living witness and testimony. They remind us that there is hope, that God is faithful to His promises to save Israel, physically and spiritually.

At Feed Tel Aviv weekly outreach to the homeless, we work in two teams: one team stays at the outreach center in south Tel Aviv to serve healthy, home-cooked meals to those who are able to make it to us. The second team of volunteers heads to the streets and back alleys equipped with food, drinks and first aid to distribute to the drug addicts who are too weak or sick to make it to the outreach center (in our next update, we will share the experiences of our street team).

The In-House Dynamic

Every evening at the outreach center, our volunteer team serves over a hundred people. Many of those who come are homeless, but not all. Some come because they are hungry, and they know that they will get a delicious, home-cooked meal. Some come because they just want a hot cup of tea or something cold and refreshing to drink in the summer months. Then there are some who come who aren’t hungry or thirsty; they are lonely and like the friendly company they have with us in a comfortable, clean and welcoming environment.

The Common Denominator

People from all walks of life and backgrounds gather at our outreach center. The common denominator they share: they have either fallen on hard times, are lost, outcast, or are running away from trouble and pain. Sometimes even religious\observant Jews come to eat at the center. They come because they know that the food we prepare is kosher. Whenever someone from a religious background comes, we always end up having interesting conversations about the Bible and the Messiah promised Israel.

One young man who came to our center shared that his father is a rabbi. I ended up sitting with him for a while and even read to him from the New Testament. He was intrigued by what I read and said he wanted to read more on his own.

Loving on whoever comes

A woman named Tami has been coming to eat at our center for several years.  She usually has several suitcases with her because she is homeless and carries all her belongings from place to place. Several weeks in a row we did not see Tami, and we started to worry about her. We were relieved when she finally showed up again; she told us that she has been “living” at a construction site in north Tel Aviv where they are building new high-rises. She said she made the effort to come all the way down to south Tel Aviv to our center because she knew that she could get a warm, nourishing meal and then have a couple more boxed up to take with her. She constantly thanks us and blesses us every time she comes.

Moti with Tami at the outreach center

Recently a man named Andrey started coming to the center who is handicapped and gets around in a wheelchair. He is usually on the streets because he is addicted to drugs, a fact which gets him kicked out of the state-run support centers which he is in and out of. When he first showed up, he took a double portion of food– he said he was starving and that he hadn’t tasted food that delicious in a long time (most outreach centers to the poor serve leftovers which they receive from hotels and restaurants). After Andrey had eaten, I sat with him and we started talking. “Why do you use drugs,” I asked him, “when there are rehabilitation centers that offer you a place to live and support to get clean from drugs?”

Andrey’s answer told me a lot about the many people who end up homeless because of drug addiction: “Drugs are the only thing”, he said, “that offers me the possibility to escape my reality which has been one of suffering since the day I was born. I experienced abuse, sickness, you name it. My memories and subconscious are full of suffering. Only drugs help me to escape to another world where I can be happy.”  I shared with him about the suffering Messiah who came to save us from our brokenness and pain and that God’s love can reach even the darkest places in us. It is my prayer that he and the many others who come to us for a little respite from the darkness and difficulties of the streets will take with them the seeds of love we sow in them each time, whether by word or just giving them a warm meal, acceptance, and a place at the table.

Thank you for supporting this important ministry! Without your support we would not be able to be there for these precious people society has given up on.


Feed Tel Aviv Holocaust Survivors Holiday Outreach

This year, our Passover holocaust survivors event was especially meaningful for all of us! We all felt a special sense of  joy, and many of the survivors asked us about our faith, much more than in previous years, and there was a great openness for us to share about our hope in Messiah. 
Moti and Igor leading the Passover Holocaust Survivors Outreach


Holocaust Remembrance Day comes the week after the Passover holiday, so it is very meaningful for us to celebrate the victory of life over death with these survivors. We even had the honor to celebrate the 95th birthday of Yosef (in the picture below), a man who has endured unimaginable trials in the holocaust and in his life afterwards. Seeing him with a smile on his face, celebrating his 95th birthday with us, truly delighted my heart!  Our sincerest thanks to all of you who support this important outreach!
TEL AVIV Street Outreach
When the weather warms up, we like to head out to the parks in Tel Aviv to share the gospel: we call it our “Gospel Grill Outreach”. We bring food, grills, and instruments for worship. When planning this outreach, we felt led to head to a specific area on the sea boardwalk in Tel Aviv, a place where there are paths and grassy areas where we could set up our grills. Little did we know the place we were set up would become a place the enemy would attack: the next day after our outreach, a terrorist rammed his car into a group of tourists who were in the grassy area where we held our outreach, sadly killing one man.
Everyone who participated felt that there was a special openness in the people they had the opportunity to speak to, and they felt that there was grace in their conversations with them. There was also a group of bible students from Glaubenszentrum bible school in Germany who did a wonderful job of talking with people and sharing the hope they have in the Jewish Messiah. People also approached the group when they were worshipping to ask them about who they are.
Quite a few people took home New Testaments and booklets with the biblical prophesies about the Messiah. Several people we spoke to said that they would like to be in touch with us to learn more. Several days later, a woman the group witnessed to, came to our main service and was deeply touched by the message. Since then, she has been back every week. Praise God! Please pray for all the people whom God brought into our path during this outreach, that the seeds of the gospel would fall on good soil and that the Holy Spirit would water them to bring forth a harvest of salvation.

At our Feed Tel Aviv outreach center in south Tel Aviv, our doors are open to all. We routinely serve people from all walks of life: Arabs, Jews, African migrants. For those who aren’t familiar, observant Jews and Muslims have careful dietary restrictions. Muslim dietary laws restrict pork, alcohol and inhumane slaughter practices. For observant Jews, the requirements are much more strict, and those who keep kosher are very careful about where they eat. The observant Jews and Muslims who come to our outreach center know us well and the fact that we keep a kosher kitchen, for both Jewish and Muslim requirements, even thought we may not have a kosher “certificate” from the rabbinate—they would never give us one anyway because of our faith in Yeshua!

For me, it is beautiful to see Muslims, observant Jews and refugees from the nations sitting together at the same table, receiving food, hospitality and the love of God from us. In the Middle East, hospitality is an essential part of our culture, both for Arabs and Jews, and God has called us to offer His hospitality to the neediest of the needy in our city. Often when I look at the table at the outreach center and see society’s outcasts from all different backgrounds gathered together there, I am reminded how the Messiah shared a table with society’s “undesirables” and was sharply criticized by the religious authorities for it:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

-Matthew 11:18-19


At our Feed Tel Aviv table: observant Jews together with Muslims and secular Israelis


A little love goes a long way

Here are just a couple stories of many people who have shared our table and whose lives have been touched by this outreach:

Haled is an Arab man from a Muslim village in Samaria who ran away from his village years ago and eventually landed on the streets of Tel Aviv. A few years ago, we witnessed to Haled, and he ended up praying with us to receive the Yeshua as Lord. Haled makes his living by collecting glass and plastic bottles for recycling, and, according to him, our outreach saves him from going hungry. Whenever Haled comes to the outreach for a hot meal, he brings a bag with him so we can send a couple more portions with him which help him get through the week. Haled also comes to the outreach center to discuss his faith and to get more discipleship and prayer.


Moti and Shulamit, a faithful volunteer, praying with Haled


Sasha, a man in his thirties, ended up on the streets just recently. He told us, like many others we have met, that with the increase in food prices and a sudden rise in his rent, he was unable to make ends meet and pay his bills. When Sasha first came to us, he was so happy to get food and clothes from us. He told us that we are doing a great “mitzva” (good deed) and said that he prayed “the Holy One blessed be He” would bless us. Because he has so little money and is trying to cut back wherever he can, Sasha said that he has lost more than 10 kilos (22 pounds) since he’s been on the streets.

I shared with Sasha about our outreach and what we believe. He was deeply moved by what I shared with him, and he asked me to pass on his thanks to all who support this ministry. Sasha shared that recently he had been in a dark place and was deeply depressed, but meeting us gave him hope that there is still light in the world.

We want to thank all of you who support this outreach! You are with us out there touching the lives of these precious people with the love of God!

Over the summer we met some people from abroad who had come to Israel for the purpose of ministering to Israelis. I suggested that they join us for our weekly outreach to the homeless in south Tel Aviv. Their response to my invitation surprised me. They said that they used to minister to homeless drug addicts in their home country, but they found that there is very little “fruit” with that population. What it felt like I was hearing was: it’s not worth the time to serve the neediest of the needy because you don’t come away with many success stories. 

Numbers-focused ministry can get our hearts off focus

Those of us who work in ministry know that raising funds for what we are doing can be a challenge, and it is easy to fall into a place where we begin to focus on what looks impressive, measuring the worth of what we are doing by the number of success stories. That is something that we all struggle with. There are also outreach and discipleship movements models that are highly focused on numbers and multiplication: while all efforts to share the gospel and disciple new believers are holy work, we all need to be reminded how important it is to keep our hearts focused on the Lord and the people we serve.

Never Giving up Hope

There is truth in what the people from abroad said about ministry to the homeless: it is not often that you see those who are willing to make the commitment to enter a drug rehabilitation program after being a long time on the streets. There are many reasons why this is so. This kind of service can also be very difficult and challenging emotionally, and sometimes you can become discouraged and drained. But, God in His grace always sends us encouragement and reminders when we need it!

The truth is that each time we are on the streets ministering with food, first aid and the love of Yeshua, there are always those who agree to have us pray for them. Some even pray and ask Yeshua into their hearts. Even if those people don’t end up getting off the streets, we know that we have sown seeds of God’s love and truth in the darkest places.

Each person is the whole world  

We have a saying in Hebrew that says each person is the world entire. It basically means that saving one person is like saving the whole world. This last month we met a young woman in her twenties who is coming to the area to buy drugs. She is new to the streets and is living out of her car. Over the last several weeks, we have had many deep conversations with her; one of our regular lady volunteers made a special connection with her. In our conversations with her we shared about the hope in Yeshua and about getting into a drug rehabilitation program.

Last week this young woman arrived an hour before we start serving, while we were still setting up and preparing the food. The volunteer who has a good connection with her sat for over an hour with her, talking and praying. Afterwards she even joined us in preparing and serving the food. Two days ago, this young woman entered a Messianic drug rehabilitation program.

Saving just one person from the street is great fruit indeed!

I personally want to thank all of you who support this ministry and enable us to serve this marginalized and even despised population here in Israel. For us it is reason to rejoice when even just one person’s life is saved from the streets. Yeshua calls us to leave the ninety-nine for the one, and to rejoice when that one who is rescued. We hope that you celebrate with us over each precious person who is saved!

by Moti Cohen

At our congregation, we see first-hand how important it is to be connected to a local body of believers. The story of Maya, a woman who went through discipleship with us over the summer, encapsulates how essential it is. During covid, Maya found us online and joined our online services. Over fifteen years earlier, she had come to faith after Christian friends from Europe had witnessed to her. However, she never got connected with other believers here in Israel and, as a result, never grew in her faith. Eventually, Maya returned to her life in the world.

When we finally resumed in-person services at Tiferet Yeshua in January of 2022, Maya began attending regularly. After hearing her story, we invited her to bible study meetings during the week, which she attended regularly, and to one on one discipleship. This last summer, she committed her life to the Lord in water immersion. The Lord touched Maya in a powerful way during her immersion: she prayed to be set free from a nicotine addiction she’s struggled with for years, and God set her free completely! 

Maya’s immersion this summer with the pastoral team Gil and Kosta

Coming Alive in the Body

We always stress to people how important it is to be connected to a local body of believers: unfortunately many believers in Israel, particularly young believers, do not belong to a congregation or small group. Not only is the local body the place where believers are discipled, supported, encouraged and strengthened in their faith, but it is also the place where they can begin serving in the gifts God has given them. That is exactly what has happened with Maya.

The Chef in the Streets

Several weeks ago, Maya started volunteering with Associate Pastor Moti Cohen at our weekly Feed Tel Aviv outreach to the homeless in the streets of south Tel Aviv. It turns out that Maya is a chef: according to Moti, Maya is doing wonders in the kitchen preparing the food for the street outreach and helping manage the food preparation and distribution.

Maya also has a special approach and connection with the women we minister to on the streets (women who are addicted to drugs and working in the sex industry to fund their addiction). Many people volunteer with us at Feed Tel Aviv, and Moti has come to recognize when someone has a special calling to minister to the homeless. Maya is one of them: she knows how to talk to them, to put them at ease and how to communicate the love of God to them in a genuine way. That ability is rare and special.

A Living Testimony

Maya is a testimony of God’s desires for all believers: Maya attends services and bible studies regularly and, within weeks of committing her life to the Lord, is on the streets sharing the love of God, sharing the wisdom He has given her through life experiences and through the gifts He has entrusted to her. Maya’s journey is a witness to all of us to continue in whole-hearted devotion to the Lord, to not forsake the gathering together as believers (Hebrews 10:25) and to serve in the gits that the Lord has entrusted to each of us! (I Timothy 4:14)

We have a simple motto at congregation Tiferet Yeshua: Love God. Love each other. Love our city (Matt. 22:38-40) When our leadership team was discussing the best way to “love our city”, God reminded me of a powerful and convicting passage in the book of James:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

James 2:14-16 ESV

I then felt God tell me: put your cooking skills and pastoral training together and hit the streets. I didn’t need to look very far for a place to start: just a few city blocks away from our congregation is Israel’s skid row, the worst area in all Israel for drugs, homelessness and prostitution. That is how Feed Tel Aviv ministry was born.

Love is an Action…  

Each week, we prepare 450 healthy, home-cooked meals, the majority of which we serve out of a soup kitchen facility in the worst area of south Tel Aviv. After we finish serving warm meals at the facility, we bring sandwiches and drinks to the back alleyways where the hard-core drug addicts live who are too weak and sick to make it to our facility.

We are always asked, “Who are you? Why are you here?” That is our cue to share about the love that has brought us to the streets to serve them. We offer prayer and the word of hope to whomever is open. Whoever is willing, we offer to bring directly to a drug rehab center run by believers.

Last Minute Hope – A matter of life and death

Many of the people who volunteer with us for the first time are shocked by the squalor and suffering on the streets. It is a very difficult and dark place to serve, and the lives of the people we minister to are in constant danger from drug overdose, violence, or illness attacking their weakened bodies. Rarely are people able to commit to going to drug rehabilitation we offer them– it is a frightening and challenging step for them, if they are clear-headed enough to make that decision, and those who do usually have a spouse or a child for whom they want to turn their lives around.

I can’t tell you how many people we have prayed with and shared the gospel with. When we do, I know that it might be their last opportunity to hear life-saving truth. Several years ago, we were praying with a woman who was horribly addicted to street drugs: she broke down weeping when we prayed for her, and I will never forget her prayer asking the Lord to save her and inviting Him into her life. The next day, someone informed me that she was found on a park bench the following morning: she had died during the night. Our hearts were broken, but we also knew that that precious woman had cried out to God the night before and invited the Him into her life.  

A young woman caught in drug addiction and prostitution…

Nicole showed up at our outreach every week. She would have a warm meal and the ladies who volunteer with us would always talk to her and prayed with her often. Nicole was very young and found herself caught in a vicious prostitution ring run by a powerful criminal gang that kept her enslaved through her relentless drug addiction. We shared the gospel with Nicole, and she prayed with us, but she always ended up going back out onto the street. Two weeks ago, someone who comes to our outreach center shared the sad news with us: Nicole had died of a drug overdose. Her death was reported in a small local paper. 

As much as this ministry is an outreach to the neediest of the needy, the people on whom our society has given up, it is also an essential learning experience for us.

When we minister to these precious people, we touch the essence of what it means to follow Yeshua: humbling ourselves to be open to and to serve those who are in the most desperate need of His love. That is indeed what He did for us.

I think that these dark, trashy, rat-infested streets where the homeless live is not very different from how the world felt to Yeshua when emptied Himself of His glory to come down to earth to serve and save us.

Thank you for supporting this important outreach! When you do, you are with us serving food and sharing the words of life to the neediest of the needy here in Israel.


by Moti Cohen

Director of Feed Tel Aviv




One of the toughest neighborhoods in Israel  

The area of Tel Aviv’s central bus station where we do our food outreach to the homeless is a very tough neighborhood—it may even be the worst in all Israel. The streets where we serve –where the hard-core drug addicts hang out and there is much prostitution— are controlled by Arab crime families from the cities Lod and Ramle in central Israel and from Rahat, a troubled Bedouin city in the Negev where crime is out of control.

At the mercy of criminal gangs

So how do the criminal gangs that control the area view our presence there? To say that they don’t like us is putting it mildly. Criminal gangs make their money by selling drugs and running brothels, so when we help drug addicts and prostitutes get off the street, we are hurting their ability to make money. Every drug addict is like a walking ATM for the dealers because each day he goes to great lengths to get money for drugs. The same goes for the girls who are working in prostitution, many of whom have been coerced or forced into it: each girl turns a profit for her pimp. Most of the women in prostitution are also drug addicts, and they pay for their drugs through prostitution: when these women succeed in getting off the street, it is a double loss for the drug and prostitution rings.

Moti offering food and drink to one of the women working on the streets


“Why are you here?”

To be able to do the work that God has called us to do in this area, we have to be diplomatic and smart. Honor and respect are inherent currency in the Middle Eastern culture, especially in Arab communities, and we always make sure to be very respectful to criminals running things in our area. Very often, they will ask us why we are doing this, who is supporting us, and what our motivation is. That is when we have the opportunity to share the gospel with them.

Sharing the gospel with Arab-speakers

Whenever there is opportunity, we share the gospel with anyone who crosses our paths, and many who do are Muslim-background Arabs. In addition to the Arab criminal groups who control the area where we serve, many young Arab Muslim men come to this area because of the prostitution. There are also Palestinian construction workers from Judea and Samaria (called the West Bank in the media), in Israel legally and some illegally, who end up sleeping on the streets here because they do not want to risk not being able to get back to their jobs if they go home for the night.

In addition to Hebrew and Russian, we keep Arabic bibles and outreach material at our center which we hand out on a regular basis. In order to be able to discuss the gospel with Muslims, we need to have a basic knowledge of how the Koran speaks about Jesus. When we talk about Ee’sua ibn Miriyam (Jesus the son of Mary), using His proper Arabic name from the Koran, it somehow opens their hearts and we are able to share about His work of redemption and the forgiveness of sins.

A surprising outreach tool   

There is one book that we always make sure to have on hand in Arabic: Run Baby Run by Nicky Cruz. In the 1950’s, Cruz led a notoriously violent street gang in New York City and was saved by the gospel of love that he heard from preacher David Wilkerson. Because many of the Arab men in our area are either directly involved in criminal gangs or influenced by them, this book has a powerful impact on them.

An Arab man gets a copy of “Run Baby Run” from a volunteer at our outreach


When the crime gangs loose profit

Just recently we dealt a blow to the bottom line of the drug dealers’ bottom line when I had the honor of driving a man to a rehab center run by believers. This man who suffers from a serious drug addiction has been coming to our center for meals for several years. This man knows us well and over time has learned to trust us. At one point when he was badly wounded in a street fight, he came to us for first aid.

Recently he shared with us that he has a little son whom he is not allowed to see because of his drug addiction. During the day he keeps himself busy at a construction job, but in the evening, when he is alone and has nothing to do, he ends succumbing to his addiction. Each day he tells himself that he will break the cycle of addiction so that he can make a new start and have a relationship with his son, but each evening after work, he falls back into his addiction. That evening when he was sharing with us his sadness and frustration, he let us pray for him. As we prayed for him, he asked the Lord into his life, and, immediately afterwards, he threw away all the drugs that he had on him. Right then I asked him if he wanted me to drive him to a drug rehabilitation center run by believers, and he said “Yes!”

That evening when I drove him to the rehab center, I felt such joy! Serving on the streets, we see so much pain and sadness in the lives of many who are unwilling to make the serious commitment to go to a rehab program. Not only did this young man open his heart to the Lord, but then he agreed to being taken physically out of the cycle of crime and enslavement to addiction and brought to an amazing rehabilitation center run by believers where he will have every chance and support to become free through God’s grace. It is truly a lifesaving step!


I want to thank you so much for your faithful support of this ministry! Without your help we could not be out there providing food, love and hope to so many.

by Moti Cohen


For a long time it has been on my heart that Tiferet Yeshua could find a way to bless and serve holocaust survivors. In December, Gideon, a friend from another congregation who has a calling to serve holocaust survivors, approached me about doing something special for a group of Russian background holocaust survivors for the Russian New Year holiday celebration “Novy God”. Through a generous donation from the Joseph Project to Tiferet Yeshua’s Feed Tel Aviv ministry, we were able to plan a special New Year’s banquet for over forty holocaust survivors.

For nearly two years of corona many of these holocaust survivors were isolated in their homes and unable to gather with friends and family. The opportunity to celebrate together one of the most nostalgic and meaningful holidays for Jews from Russian backgrounds was a great blessing for them.  All of those invited knew they were coming to a holiday celebration hosted by Messianic Jews, and they all came to Tiferet Yeshua on their own, taking busses or taxis and then hiking up a flight of stairs—people in their eighties and nineties!



A Sephardic Jew Masters Russian Delicacies

Our goal was to bless and serve our special guests. When they arrived, we escorted them to decorated holiday tables and treated them to a traditional holiday sing-along in Russian. Afterward, we began serving them their holiday meal. One of my gifts that God has graciously allowed me to use for serving others in His name is cooking: each week I prepare home-cooked, wholesome meals for our street outreach to the homeless. This time, I used my cooking skills to dive into a culinary tradition that is completely new for me: the traditional Russian kitchen! With help from my wife who speaks Russian, I watched YouTube videos of Russian “babushkas” cooking traditional dishes, consulted with some Russian mothers and grandmothers here in Israel, and followed their directions exactly.

When I introduced myself to the group with the help of translators, I told them that their holiday meal was prepared by a Moroccan\Persian Jew who has never tasted any of these dishes before: that fact delighted and touched them. At the end of the meal, a very old man came up to me and emotionally shared that one dish in particular that I made brought him back to his childhood in Moscow. For me it was a great honor to be able to serve these special people who survived the greatest human atrocity in living memory and chose to immigrate to Israel. And it was an honor to share with them the love and hope we have God: He truly blessed the time we had together with a spirit of openness, and Kosta and Victoria, who are both of Russian backgrounds, followed the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit to share encouraging words of hope from the Bible and New Testament.


For me this event was very special because my grandmother is a holocaust survivor from Latvia. At the beginning of WWII when the Nazis invaded Latvia, my grandmother fled to Russia with her mother and siblings. After the war, they returned to Latvia: that area of Latvia boasted a Jewish population of a several hundred thousand before the war. After the war, there were only three hundred Jews left.

When I was serving the holocaust survivors, I felt like I was serving my grandmother, and it was a great honor for me. Holocaust survivors deal with very complicated psychological and spiritual struggles. In addition to trauma and survivor’s guilt, many of them see the holocaust as proof that God doesn’t exist. I shared with them from my heart that their survival, just like my grandmother’s, is a miracle, and that the reason we are here today is because God has a perfect plan for His people Israel and for each one of them.


I felt it was important to emphasize that the miracle of the survival of the Jewish people and the establishment of the Jewish state are proof that God exists and has a plan for us. His plan for us, I told them, is that we would get to know Him. Afterward, many of them came up to me to express their thanks and tell me how touched they were by what I shared. Praise God for His love for these precious holocaust survivors and their open hearts!


“Novy God”, the Russian New Year celebration, is the most important and sentimental holiday for Russian Jews. Since all religious holidays were banned during soviet times, this holiday became our sole and central holiday. I shared with the holocaust survivors that I immigrated to Israel from Russia when I was a teenager, and that for all of us this holiday reminds us of warm, joyful times with our families.

While they may feel alone in their day to day lives, especially during covid, I wanted them know that no matter where they are, God is very near to them, as the Word says, and that He has special compassion for the lonely and broken-hearted. God then led me to read John 3:16 to them in Russian: a simple, powerful declaration of the gospel from the Word. All of us on the team felt that there was a special openness with these dear people and that God touched many of their hearts. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would water the seeds of hope from God’s Word that were sewn in their hearts, that He would speak to them in their times of loneliness and isolation and bring them comfort and peace in Messiah Yeshua.



This last week, Tiferet Yeshua hosted a first aid certification course, organized by Tiferet Yeshua youth leader, Halel, for the volunteers who work on the streets of south Tel Aviv. Most of the volunteers who work with Feed Tel Aviv are first aid certified, but this course offered newer volunteers a chance to become certified and was a great refresher for those who are already.

You may be asking, “Why would volunteers in a food outreach program need to be first aid certified?” It is a great question. The answer is with the homeless we serve in south Tel Aviv: people living on the streets are more than hungry: they are extremely vulnerable to violence, sickness and disease. Because the need for first aid is so great among the homeless, one of our volunteers always focuses solely on first aid each time we go out to serve food.

It Begins and Ends with Drugs:

The common denominator for everyone on the streets is drugs. Because of the proliferation of cheap, highly addictive synthetic drugs, many vulnerable people become hopelessly addicted after one hit. Addiction takes over their lives, they lose everything and end up on the streets, and many fall into crime and prostitution to support their habit. These drugs are a powerful tool of the enemy to quickly destroy people. We have witnessed it time and again how, in a matter of weeks and months, people who look healthy become weak and frail, their teeth fall out, they look years beyond their actual age, and all the life goes out of their eyes.

Afraid to seek professional medical care:

In serious cases where we see that people need professional medical care, we always try to get them to a hospital, and sometimes we succeed. However, because the people we are trying to help often have been involved in crime and prostitution to fund their addiction, they are afraid of going to the hospital for fear that the police will be called to deal with them, and they are usually unwilling to let us call an ambulance or bring them to the ER. This means that, very often, the help we offer is the only help they are willing to accept.


(Feed Tel Aviv volunteers caring for the homless with food and first aid)


Violence at the hands of powerful drug dealers:

Since drugs is the powerful force dominating what happens in south Tel Aviv, it is not surprising that the ones controlling this area are the drug dealers. The worst wounds we see in the homeless are from violence at the hands of drug dealers. Many of the homeless drug addicts become “cups”, or middlemen, for the drug dealers to collect money owed them. If the “cups” don’t come up with the money, for whatever reason, the drug dealers will make a point to leave people with horrific facial scars in order to send a message to the others on the street.

Bodies weakened by drug use and attack:

The most common first aid that we give is disinfecting wounds— in the hands, arms, legs and feet. Because people’s systems are so weakened by the drug use and they are living in unsanitary conditions, festering wounds become a persistent problem. The homeless often have wounds from being attacked by animals, be it rats, dogs or cats. Whenever someone it bitten by an animal, we try to get them to the hospital for shots against animal-born illnesses. However, usually the only help they are willing to accept is that which we are giving them.

Building trust takes time but opens doors to the heart:

Our motto at Feed Tel Aviv is: share the love of God, hope, and the gospel of salvation with the homeless in our city. Firstly, meeting people’s immediate physical needs in a caring and compassionate way—this is bringing them the love of God. We tell them about drug rehabilitation centers run by believers and actively connect any who are interested—bringing them hope. When we are meeting their physical needs, we ask if they would like prayer, opening the door to share who we are and in in whose name we pray—to share the gospel of salvation. Some do and some don’t.

But I don’t lose hope for those who refuse prayer at first: over time, seeing us there month after month, year after year, many begin to open up to us. And they often point out that they received the food and first aid from us for a long time before they felt comfortable sharing their stories with us and being willing to hear about what brings us to the streets to serve them—the love of God and the message of salvation!

We can continue this very important outreach to the homeless in Tel Aviv thanks to the generous support of our friends in the nations. Thank you!

Associate Pastor Moti Cohen