Happy New Year

Happy New Year Jackie Santoro

The summer season is over and the kids are back in school. Happily, the familiar rhythm of life has once again returned following the two-year pandemic hiatus. Now it’s hard for the younger ones to remember that there was a moment in time when they actually had to wear masks in school!

Here in Israel, the month long High Holy Day Feast Season is fast approaching and the nation is preparing for Rosh Hashana which begins on the evening of September 25th. The stores are crowded as everyone has to fill up on groceries and traditional holiday gifts before the stores close for the extended holiday. It’s a hectic, and often frenzied time but a joyous one as families come together and celebrate the traditional Jewish New Year. This Feast is followed by the solemn twenty-four hours of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and then five days later, the week-long festive time of Succoth or Feast of Tabernacles. The students enjoy many days off from school and the whole nation takes a break with half days of work and many offices closed.

I will be celebrating with a houseful as well, both family and friends. This will be a special time for us as my granddaughter, Lia will be celebrating her first Rosh Hashana as a soldier in the IDF. She was inducted about two weeks ago and is currently in basic training. In Israel, the army is a challenging rite of passage for every young person and its importance in each life cannot be overestimated.

I appreciate your prayers for Lia during this time that she will overcome each challenge and difficulty and succeed in the tasks and job before her. Pray that she will see Him who is her strength and refuge!

Recently while Yonas, our newest elder was sharing about his experiences as an officer in the IDF, I realized the degree to which the Israeli army experience makes up the DNA of this nation and is foundational to Israeli culture. The army is the culmination of their High School studies and many times their particular army experience molds them for their university studies and ultimate careers. The friendships made in the army are often lifelong and very committed.

Please keep all the young soldiers who serve this nation with so much devotion and sacrifice in your prayers. For believers, the army service challenges their faith at every turn but if they stand firm, they will become true warriors in the spirit, having learned to overcome the enemy from within and from without. As the number of believing soldiers increase each year, may we see a great revival even in the IDF!

In addition to the celebration of the Fall Holidays, the nation is once again in the midst of another election. This one, like the recent ones in the last few years, holds little hope of a victory for either party and once again there will be intense competition among the political parties to form a coalition that will be able to garner 61 votes and govern the country.

Various smaller parties are being formed just for election purposes and there is an ongoing sense of increasing instability and confusion in Israeli politics. The “right” led by Likkud (Netanyahu) is becoming more extreme right wing and what was previously the “center” led by now Prime Minister Lapid is veering more towards the extreme left and it’s hard to predict where it will all end up.

And all this is happening in the midst of high tensions with Iran as it races toward nuclear capability. Israel is committed to not letting Iran succeed, letting the world know that Israel is ready to do whatever it must to stop Iran. There are regular attacks by the IDF on Syrian targets, including the airport in Damascus which is receiving Iranian shipments of arms earmarked for the Hezbollah to aid in its ongoing military buildup on the northern Israel border.

On the brighter side, our congregation is being renewed and restored as we continue to meet regularly. We feel it is a new season and we are definitely excited about all that is in front of us. We have a new director for our children’s program and she is a great blessing and answer to prayer! We have many children and more on the way and more young people coming and engagements and weddings! It is all a sign of vibrant life as we endeavor to establish a loving, supportive, relational community that is relevant in these complicated and unpredictable days we are living in. We continue to meet in smaller geographical groups once a month and these have been very successful as members get to know those in the area in which they live in a more intimate setting.

Please continue to pray for the leadership to remain united and to strategize with wisdom and love as we move forward and build according to the pattern He gave us in His word. May the name of Yeshua be proclaimed so strongly in our midst that it reverberates throughout this city. May this be a year be marked by signs and wonders and great healings!

I am continuing the “Third Season” group and it is a joy every time we “seniors” meet together. We all very much need the encouragement of fellowship in this special season of our lives in these very special times. I also continue to meet with different widows regularly. I am also grateful that Zion’s Glory has also been able to help the congregation financially.

Although Rosh Hashana is not the Biblical New Year, it is celebrated by the nation as the traditional New Year on the Jewish calendar. For us in the Land, it does feel as if the year is ending and a new one is beginning.

As I think over this year, I am so aware how my life has changed these last few years as I am learning to live life without Eddie. In this new season, I feel a renewed committment to live in the “light of his love”. I desire to grow in revelation of the reality of God’s incomparable love that He has given us in Yeshua, the depths of which are impossible for our natural minds to comprehend. Only as we walk in the true light of this love, are we able to overcome fear and face the ongoing difficulties that often feel so overwhelming. I don’t want to cling to this life, but to Yeshua who is my life. To walk in His peace is certainly the true victory in every battle.

In this New Year, 5783, may we know this love that surpasses knowledge – that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19).

I thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement always! May your days be filled with His love and joy in this very special season as we celebrate the Feasts of the Lord, with eager hearts to see His Glory revealed.

With love from Zion,