Twenty years after the Holocaust, a group of German Christians arrived in Israel seeking to live their lives alongside the Jews with the intention of helping to usher in the redemption. Fifty-two years later, Kibbutz Beth-El has become an integral part of the city of Zichron Yaakov, the lives and fate of its members intermingled with the nation of Israel.
There are approximately 800 people – adults and children – living on the kibbutz. Emma and Elsa Berger, the founders of the movement, led the first group of German Protestants to their new home in the Holy Land in 1963. Emma, who passed away in 1984, was quoted as saying, “We feel that we are all of the seed of Abraham, and an invisible hand has led us to Israel.”
For many years, the surrounding community of Israelis suspected the group of German Christians of being missionaries with a hidden agenda to convert the Jews. There were even incidents and legal attempts to stop the community from taking root. Time and familiarity brought down the walls of distrust as the kibbutz began to employ local residents. Today, Kibbutz Beth-El is the largest private employer in the city and are fully accepted by their Jewish neighbors, now that their intentions have passed the test of time.
Stefan Link, one of the original members who arrived from Germany, explained their connection to Israel to Breaking Israel News. “We went to Hebron and visited the grave of Ruth. She said, ‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ This very much spoke to our hearts. That is how we feel about Israel. It is an act of kindness that God gave us this, to be with Israel. And especially at times like this we must stand with Israel.”
Since 1963, Emma Berger emphasized to the members that the Messiah would be in Israel and that anyone wanting to have a part in it needed to be here. They are strong in their Christian faith and have no intention of converting Jews, but they also have no intention of leaving us.
Their belief is powerful in its simplicity, espousing a literal reading of the Old and New Testaments, without interpretations or commentary. There are no churches or Christian religious symbols, no crosses, and they observe Saturday as their day of worship and rest. Stefan described it simply, saying, “When two people with pure hearts meet, there is God, in the holy space that is between them.”
With almost prophetic vision, in 1977 the members of Bet El taught themselves engineering and began to build air-filtration systems for use in protection against poison gas attacks. Their initiative was at least partly due to a belief that the War of Gog and Magog that precedes the Messiah will involve chemical warfare. During the Gulf War in 1991, Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein threatened to use chemical weapons and nerve gas in the missiles he fired at Israel. Suddenly, their filtration systems were very much in demand and their new industry was born.
It is incredibly poignant that a German group is building systems to protect Israel from genocidal attacks. Those with a spiritual perspective will see the tikkun (fixing) in this. At first, their efforts in this area seemed foolish to others, a complex solution to a science fiction scenario. But now, their NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) system is the only one made in Israel to protect the Jewish State against a very real threat from enemies who do not hesitate to arm their missiles with nerve gas.
Believing in a modest, almost austere, lifestyle, the kibbutz members do not own televisions and eschew nightclubs and other modern urban distractions. The kibbutz ideology of communal living and non-ownership has become a part of their theology, based on their understanding of the New Testament. There are sister communities in Binyamina, Magen-Shaul, the Golan Heights and Haifa and another 700 members in Germany, Hungary, Romania, Canada and Africa who are prohibited from coming to Israel due to restrictions by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior.
The members in Israel have permanent resident status and their children serve in the Israel Defense Forces in non-combat roles. A positive force in the Israeli economy, the community has established seven factories that employ more than 700 Israelis. Their many fields provide the raw material for a home-style bakery, and a factory that produces jams and jellies.
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A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Sep 30, 2019 0Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign secretary, has recently commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians, most acutely occurring in the Muslim World, and especially in the Arab/Muslim...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.