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Hanukkah 2014 / 5775: December 17 +

by Dr. Theresa Newell, Chairman of CMJ-USA Board of DirectorsHappy Chanukah greeting
Did you know that Hanukkah is only mentioned in the New Testament and not in the Hebrew Scriptures? Where?
In John 10:22, 23 we read: "Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade."  This was the Feast of Hanukkah, also referred to as the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Light. Hanukkah is an eight-day feast beginning on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar (December 17).
Why this name?
...because the Feast being celebrated was due to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Seleucid rulers in the 2nd century BC. The rebellion against the pagan rulers was led by a Jewish priestly family who took the name Maccabee (meaning "the hammer" in Hebrew). Their ragged band of guerrilla warriors defeated the powerful occupying army and ruled Israel for about 100 years, ending with the conquest by Rome in 63 BC. It was the last time that Israel was under Jewish rule until AD 1948, when Israel declared statehood!
How is Hanukkah celebrated? 
On each of the eight evenings of Hanukkah a menorah with nine arms (called a hanukiah), each bearing a candle, is lit--one on the first night, two on the second, etc. A traditional game is played with a four-sided spinning top, called a dreidel. On each side of the top is a Hebrew letter: N, G, H, S (standing for the Hebrew words, Nes gadol haya sham--meaning "A great miracle happened there," referring to the miracle story of the oil lamp in the re-dedicated Temple burning eight days when there was consecrated oil from only one day). Children spin the top and play for candy pieces.

Jerusalem Focus on General Who Stopped the War!

by Charles Gardner
The World War I British officer who gave the order to lay down arms in 1918 is the subject of a year-long exhibition in Jerusalem opening this week. On the 50th anniversary of his death, Lt. Gen. Sir William Dobbie’s life is being celebrated at Christ Church, an Anglican community with strong links to the family and located within the ancient walls of the Old City.
Soldier of Christ:  General Dobbie pictured with his wife and daughter
When in 1929 riots broke out in what was then part of the British Mandate of Palestine as Arabs became anxious about growing Jewish immigration, the then Brigadier Dobbie – a distant cousin of T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia fame) – successfully brought calm to the situation as he sought God’s guidance!
With very few troops and widespread disorder throughout the country, the career army officer and devout Christian was faced with a dilemma. Rejecting outright such suggestions as placing the country under martial law or requesting RAF bombing raids on Arab villages, Dobbie turned to prayer. It was hardly a textbook tactic but, when reinforcements arrived, he spread his men very thinly to cover as wide an area as possible, and the violence ceased in the early stages before things got out of hand.

Anti-Semitism on the Rise

by Dr. Theresa Newell, Chairman of CMJ-USA Board of Directors
Recently I attended a meeting at the local Jewish Community Center where a senior State Department official said that rising hostility and prejudice against Jews is reaching levels not seen in decades, particularly in Europe. The speaker Ira Forman is the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
In his report Forman cited data from the end of last year showing that 29% of European Jews polled said they had considered leaving their countries because of perceived anti-Semitism. The countries with the highest percentage thinking of leaving were Belgium (40%), France (46%), and Hungary (48%). It was noted that France has the largest population of Jews in Europe, about 400,000.  Muslims make up 7.5% of France’s population, the largest in a European country. 
In the September 29th issue of The Wall Street Journal’s front page, a headline read “In Struggle Against Mideast Jihadist, Europe Puts Its Own on Trial.” The story’s dateline was Antwerp, Belgium, where members of a group named Sharia4Belgium will go on trial for recruiting for and fighting with jihadists in Syria and Iraq. The article noted: “Belgian authorities say roughly 300 Belgians  . . . have traveled to Syria, a disproportionate number for a country of 11 million.”

Arabs And Jews Worship Together

- posted on, 31 August 2014
“We decided to be the Good Samaritan,” explained an Arab pastor to a crowd of Jewish and Arab believers who had gathered for an evening of fellowship and worship on the Mount of Olives last Thursday. They had decided as a church to love the ones they were not supposed to love, according to the world. They had first agreed to look out for online arguments full of hatred, and started to sow seeds of peace wherever they found them. As they posted loving words into the furious facebook fights, they noticed the conversations often started to turn from being vindictive into becoming more kind.

“So then,” he explained to the gathering who enjoyed a barbeque as the sun set over Jerusalem, “we decided to take it up a level...”

War in the Middle East

by Rt. Rev. J. H. Rodgers
Bishop John Rogers serves as a board member and as CMJ’s Theologian in Residence. He received his Th.D. from the University of Basel, Switzerland and has served as both professor and dean-president in US seminaries.
The present situation in the Middle East generally and [particularly] between Israel and the Hamas-led Palestinians of Gaza raises the question of war. When is it right? How must it be conducted? What must be its aim?

We need to define our terms. What is war? One definition is that war is an armed conflict between one nation and another or between sizable factions within the same nation. The various conflicts in the Middle East certainly qualify as war under that definition. What is unique in these conflicts is that where one of the members of the conflict is Muslim, the ultimate aim of the Muslim party is conquest, that is, to establish Sharia Law over both parties of the conflict or in extreme cases the utter obliteration of the non-Muslim party.

Source of Lasting Peace

The Israeli cabinet met this morning to consider a cease-fire proposal by Egypt and voted to approve it. The leadership of Hamas also met and rejected the proposal, resuming rocket fire on Israel territories. Shortly thereafter, Israel resumed its attacks on Hamas sites.

It is a sadly familiar sequence of events. And it demonstrates how profoundly difficult it is for peace of any kind to be established once hatred has taken root. The situation seems hopeless to almost everyone. Almost everyone…

This last weekend was profoundly instructive as to the real source of peace. In God’s providence, the Elav Youth Conference was already scheduled in Haifa, Israel. It is a gathering of young Arab and Jewish disciples of Jesus.

They met, worshiped, and shared the love of God while all around them war and hatred was raging. Most touching was the spontaneous decision they made to wash each other’s feet. What a contrast—is this not obedience to what the Apostle John wrote in his letter? (1 John 4:7)

These young people have been reconciled to God and to each other through faith in Jesus/Issa/Yeshua the Messiah, who came to save each and all of them. They demonstrated to the hostile world around them, not how things must be…but how things can be when the Kingdom of God begins to be formed in the hearts and minds of the community of His disciples.

Muslim goes to Mecca - and finds Jesus!

Now he wants to help re-unite the sons of Abraham

Charles Gardner reports from CMJ-sponsored conference in Jerusalem, May 2014
A Turkish Muslim who made a pilgrimage to Mecca in a desperate attempt to get his life back on track returned as a Christian to the great astonishment of his family. Now a pastor, Ali Pektash has been addressing a [CMJ-sponsored] conference in Jerusalem called At the Crossroads, and sees it as part of his mission to help re-unite the sons of Abraham.

Ali, a Kurd, suffered from alcohol addiction when friends persuaded him to make Hajj (pilgrimage) to Islam’s holy city. It was in Saudi Arabia, where liquor is banned, and the religious ritual might cure him, they suggested.

When he got there, he cried out to God for help (if indeed He was there) and fell asleep.

Statement of Faith

We affirm our belief in historic Christianity as revealed in the Scriptures and summarized in the three Creeds (the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian) and the Thirty-Nine Articles. We recognize the need today for reaffirming the following beliefs:

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