Thursday, July 12, 2012

From Diaspora to Aliyah by Eddie Santoro

An eloquent expression
of what it means to one Messianic family

to have come full circle
back to live in the Land of their fathers

 Jackie Eddie Santoro 
co-leader at Ahavat Yeshua
(The Love of Yeshua) 
Congregation in  Jerusalem
Zion’s Glory Ministry is also a Tikkun Emmisaries Ministry

It's “Chofesh HaGadol” in Israel. In English that means “The big vacation” and that means school is out and summer vacation has arrived.  This affects Jackie and me personally as we are the proud grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters, Lia and Tori.

Our son, Evan and his Israeli wife, Iris both work long hours and not having the kids in school presents a significant day care challenge. So for some weeks during the summer, Jackie and I will be investing more time in watching our grandchildren. As any grandparent can testify, this “chore” is a source of incredible blessing and joy. The fact that we have two Israeli granddaughters is in itself a testimony of God's faithfulness. Allow me to share a precious story with you that the Lord put in my heart many years ago.

It was the fall of 1997 and we had just made Aliyah. We were new in the Land and almost everything felt different and strange. We could not speak the language, we did not understand the local people and we knew very little about Israeli society. Several weeks after we had arrived in our new home, the "High Holy Days" came upon us.

The experience was very different from what we knew as Jews living in the States. In Israel, the Jewish Feasts are the national holidays and the entire nation joins together in observance of these special days.

As the sun went down at the start of this Yom Kippur, Jackie and I were sitting on the deck of our newly rented apartment, feeling very alone and very far from home. As the sun sank low in the evening sky, we saw people beginning to walk on the street below. All of them were going in the same direction; families beautifully dressed for the holiday, and each man carrying or wearing his prayer shawl. Not having any idea of where they were going but desiring to be a part of Israeli society, I quickly changed my clothes, grabbed my prayer shawl and went down to the street and just followed along with the crowd. After a brief walk, we arrived at a local synagogue. I entered and participated along with everyone else, in my first and only orthodox Yom Kippur service in my fifteen years in Israel.

After the service I returned home. As I entered our apartment, there on the table were the holiday candles burning brightly in the candlesticks that had been passed down in the family from generation to generation. In that moment, the Lord spoke to me and I understood in a deeper way the miracle of our return to Israel. He showed me how over those long years, at some distant time, our families had been driven out of their home in Israel. I do not know the details of that long journey but I do know that somehow both our families ended up in Eastern Europe in the city of Minsk.

Mercifully, early in the twentieth century our families immigrated to the United States thus avoiding the terrible destiny that awaited all of those Jews who remained in their homes. From Israel to Europe and from Europe to America, the generations before us continued their long journey and at some unknown point, these candlesticks were purchased and accompanied our wandering Jewish family. 

And then, finally, in our generation those candlesticks completed the circle. We had the privilege and honor to pack them in a carton and return them, along with our family, back to where our journey originally began. In us, the long years of exile had been completed. In us, God's promises had been fulfilled and finally in us, the ancient seed that had been cast out from Israel so many generations before had finally come home.

As I consider the wonderful faithfulness of the Lord in fulfilling his promise to return us to the Land of our forefathers, I am filled with thanksgiving for his abounding mercy to us. He has not only established us in the Land, but through our seed he has blessed us with two Israeli granddaughters. These two beautiful children are not immigrants in a foreign land. They do not struggle with the language or the different traditions of Israeli society. They were born here and are growing up here and it is our prayer that through them the fulfillment of God's promise to Israel will move ever closer to its glorious climax.

Our congregation, Ahavat Yeshua is also filled with many people who have left their homes in distant countries to fulfill God's call to return to the Land. Most have no families here, and struggle daily to overcome the many challenges that accompany living in Israel. Each has a unique story and each needs an abundance of grace to succeed here.

Please pray for Evan and Iris and their children and for all of those who have returned and have chosen to fulfill God's destiny for themselves here. Pray that each would have significant impact through the new seed that they are planting in the soil of Israel and that each one would be used mightily to further the Kingdom, especially here in Jerusalem.

Please also pray for the return of many more Jews from throughout the earth back to Israel. The return of Israel from the Diaspora to their promised homeland is one of the great events that must occur in these last days. The journey is not an easy one but the rewards and blessing of being a part of Israel in these momentous times is more than worth the challenge.

We are grateful that we are home. We are grateful that the journey has ended. And we are grateful for each one of you who has helped us and continues to stand with us.  This Sabbath evening those ancient candlesticks will shine brightly from our table in the heart of Israel.  

To make a donation to the Santoro ministry Donations designated for Zion’s Glory: Tikkun Ministries PO Box 2997 Gaithersburg, Maryland