What’s Up With the Dreidel?

chanukah-dreidelHistory reveals that there was a time when the Syrians forbid study of the Torah. Those Jewish People who were serious about continuing to study the Hebrew Scriptures despite their difficult circumstances studied in secret. They kept spinning tops called dreidels handy. This way if Jews were found studying, they could quickly pretend that had only been playing.

Outside of Israel, a dreidel contains the Hebrew letters “nun,” “gimel,” “hay,” and “shin” on  its four sides. These letters stand for “Nes gadol haya sham,” which means, “A great miracle happened there,” referring to Israel.

The letters also stand for the gifts you get depending on which letter lands face up after the dreidel has been spun. To play the dreidel game, each player starts with the same amount of tokens, typically chocolate coins called gelt. Each player puts one token in the pot. Players take turns spinning the dreidel. Then each player follows the directions of what to do next depending on what Hebrew letter lands face up:

Nun = “nisht,” which means you don’t do anything

Gimel = “gants,” which means take the whole pot of chocolate coins, or gelt

Hay = “halb,” which means to take half the chocolate coins

Shin = “shtel,” which means you have to add chocolate coins to the pot

The game ends when a single player wins all the chocolate coins.

Happy Chanukah!

Jewish Voice Ministries International


Chanukah: The Rekindling of Righteousness

GIFTWhat if Chanukah is more than just candles and presents? What if it isn’t really the memorial of a miracle? What if the real Chanukah story is actually a rallying cry for the Jewish People, and a graphic exhortation to all who have dedicated their lives to serve the Messiah Yeshua?

Today, the occasional, passing homage to the real story of Chanukah is too often lost in the buzz of wintertime festivities. As a result, what many do not remember about Chanukah is its unsettling, unsanitized, and all-too-important origins.

The real story of Chanukah is a story of turmoil and upheaval for the nation of Israel. It is a story about the attempted assimilation of the Jewish People, and the anti-Semitic spirit set against them. It is a story of sin and corruption; oppression and persecution; liberty and—ultimately—victory.

The real story of Chanukah begins approximately 200 years before Yeshua, with the latest of Israel’s foreign dictators, Antiochus Epiphanes, slaughtering many of the people of Israel, plundering the city of Jerusalem, and taking women, children, and livestock captive. He then enforced the widespread adoption of his very own one-world religion that could seal the fate not only of Israel, but of all the surrounding nations.

With so many Jews having already willingly subjected themselves to Antiochus’ rule, the next step in securing Israeli acceptance of his religion was to make the keeping of Torah and the continuation of the Temple service crimes against the state. By the abolition or abrogation of anything related to the Torah and the Temple service, everything that defined and distinguished Israel from the nations would be eliminated. The king’s scheme was ingenious, the goal astonishingly self-evident: Cause the Jews to “forget” who they are, and one can rule the world. (more…)

What’s on TV in July?

Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis TV program

"Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis" TV program

Want to know what’s scheduled for July 2011 on our  Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis TV show? We have another great month ahead, filled with fantastic guests!

July 4-10

In a fascinating interview, author and educator Roy Schoeman traces the role of Judaism and the Jewish People in God’s plan for the salvation of mankind, from Abraham through the Second Coming of Yeshua (Jesus).

And Jonathan Bernis continues his remarkable teaching series on “The Power of Confessing the Hebrew Scriptures” as he gives specific examples of how the transliteration process enables you to claim the promises of God.

July 11-17

Larry Huch, senior pastor of New Beginnings Church in Irving, Texas, talks about the extraordinary revelation of hidden truths from God’s Word and the Torah, along with the impact of the feasts in the life of a Believer.  He also shares the impact of the Torah blessing in the Last Days and the relationship of Romans 11 to the salvation of the Jews.

And you’ll learn how to claim God’s promises for health and healing by praying them in the original Hebrew language as Jonathan Bernis continues his unique and fascinating series on  “The Power of Confessing the Hebrew Scriptures.” (more…)

Happy Shavuot!

The Jewish holiday of Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It begins at Sundown on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

It was there at Sinai that God created a nation set apart for Himself. He revealed Himself, and through the giving of the “law,” He taught us how to live as a redeemed community, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:6).

The presence of God on that day was attended with great supernatural events: “The mountain shook violently, the ram’s horn blew louder and louder, there were flashes of lightning, smoke rose upon the mountain and God spoke in the thunder” (Ex. 19:18,19).

Shavuot is one of the three “pilgrimage” festivals and a special Sabbath, a day of no work and holy assembly. The first fruits of the harvest were to be brought before the Lord as an offering, and all the men of Israel were to come to the Temple in Jerusalem.

As the Jewish People celebrate this feast year after year, they recount the awesome events that took place at the foot of Mt.Sinai. It was not by chance that God chose Shavuot, more commonly called Pentecost among Christians, for that miraculous event that happened seven weeks following Yeshua’s last Passover.

Jewish Voice Ministries International

Can I Eat This? Should You Eat That?

By Jonathan Bernis,
President and CEO of Jewish Voice

One viewer asked during the September 7, 2010 Jewish Voice webcast specifically about Torah dietary law and whether we should continue to follow those strict specifications as outline in the Old Testament. Jonathan Bernis explains that it’s less important that you follow the law, and much more important that if you choose to do so, you do it for the right reasons.

We assert strongly as Messianic Jews that we have the freedom to live as our people lived and as we were raised, to celebrate Shabbat, and to understand that Messiah is our salvation. We have the freedom to choose to keep the dietary laws, even to keep separate dishes for milk and meat. We have the freedom to be as strict as we feel called to be in order to be a light to those around us. (more…)

Why Believers Should Read the Entire Bible

John Garr on "Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis"

John Garr on "Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis"

During one segment of our weekly half-hour broadcast, Jewish Voice with Jonathan Bernis, guest John Garr got the chance to share the importance of having a whole-Bible mentality as a Believer. Both Jews and Christians need to recognize that the two halves of God’s Word are equally valuable.

Go to the end of this blog post to watch the YouTube segment. And be sure to share this with your friends by clicking the “share” button!

JOHN GARR: The reality is the Bible is a continuum; it’s one book. I sometimes tell my audience there is only one page in your Bible that is not inspired by God: That’s the page in-between Malachi and Matthew that says the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

JONATHAN BERNIS: That’s the wall for Jewish People and Christians. Jews stay on the left side of it, and Christians tend to stay on the right side of it. But it’s not the way God intended. (more…)

Paying Taxes to Caesar: Final Thoughts

By Rabbi Jack Zimmerman,
Staff Evangelist for
Jewish Voice

Rabbi Jack, in the final portion of his six-part series about paying taxes in biblical times, questions what most of us know about the often-quoted phrase “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Truly understanding what Yeshua (Jesus) meant by this phrase when confronting the teachers of the law will help us all to know that this message wasn’t a political one, but a spiritual one.

In Luke 20:24-25, Yeshua says to the spies sent by the teachers of the law, “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

That’s not the best rendering of what Yeshua said. The Greek more accurately says this: “Then give back the things of Caesar, and the things of God give to God.”

What does this statement really mean? I can tell you it does not mean what you were taught in church all these years. You were taught wrong.

You were taught to honor Caesar and honor God. You probably haven’t given that interpretation a second thought because, let’s face it, Romans 13:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

That means that if the authorities that exist are appointed by God, we don’t want to honor Caesar, but God put them there. You figure, let’s honor Caesar and give him what’s his, and let’s honor God and give Him what’s His.

But that’s not right. Honor Caesar and honor God, as if both are equally deserving of our honor? I don’t think so. But the bigger issue is that while you were supposed to honor the governing authorities, there was also a biblical principle that makes it OK to disobey your government if what they are asking you to do causes you to sin.

Let me give you an example. Remember the story of the book of Esther, when Haman is trying to convince the king to kill all the Jews? Esther finds out about it, and in Esther 4:16 she says to her eunuchs and her maids, “Go tell Mordecai to gather all the Jews present in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days and three nights. My maids and I will fast also. I will go to the king, which is against the law. If I die, I die.” If the government tells you to do something but it causes you to sin against your God, you don’t have to do it.

Caesar was forcing the Jewish People to go against Torah. They didn’t have to do it, but when Yeshua said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s,” he is dealing with an entirely different issue. It doesn’t have anything to do with church and state.

Even the church fathers were wrong on this. Martin Luther once said, “For in the New Testament, Moses matters nothing and counts for nothing. Rather, there stands our Master, Christ. He subjects us with body and property to Caesar and worldly law, which He says, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.’”

Sorry, Luther. You got that wrong. (more…)