Unrest Continues in ‘Season of Rejoicing’

We are in Sukkot, which ends this coming Sunday, October 7. This festival is sometimes known as Zman Simchateinu—or the “Season of Rejoicing”—and is quite a contrast to the most solemn of days, Yom Kippur, which was just over a week ago.

I pray that you are living in a Season of Rejoicing! God intends for you to live in His joy, which is far deeper than happiness. So often people base their emotions on their circumstances rather than God’s Word. God does indeed have a plan for each of us, and His plan for you and me is that we live in His blessing. In fact, His Word declares in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

On the international scene, through purely ‘natural eyes,’ there is seemingly not much to rejoice about. Unrest in the Middle East continues as democracy is put into the hands of people whose values are based on an entirely different system than the Word of God. Giving rule to the majority when they don’t value life and liberty produces some very bad outcomes. (more…)


Sukkot,The Feast of Tabernacles, Celebrated This Week

A sukkah, or booth, used during the Jewish holiday known as Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles.

By Jonathan Bernis,
CEO and President of Jewish Voice Ministries International

Otherwise known as the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Ingathering, or the Feast of Booths, Sukkot begins just five days after Yom Kippur. (This year Sukkot started on September 30 and goes through October 7, 2012.) It is a seven-day period when the Jewish People recall God’s faithfulness and provision through their forty-year period of wandering in the wilderness.

They remember God’s provision of food, water, shelter, clothing, guidance, light, and heat during the wilderness years. During this week, each Jewish family lives in a small temporary dwelling (or booth) made of branches. At night, they look up at the stars and recall God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. (more…)

Day of Atonement, Day of Outrage


tallit or prayer shawl

Tomorrow evening, Jewish People around the world will pause to observe Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement. This is the most holy day of the year on the Jewish calendar. And to those of us who are Believers in Yeshua, it is a powerful reminder of the price that was paid to purchase our salvation.

Yet, the bitter enemy of the Jewish People, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on this sacred day. This is not a coincidence or an accident. For this man who has called for the destruction of Israel to speak to the General Assembly on Yom Kippur is an intentional and outrageous action that is being heralded in Muslim nations as a “victory over the Zionists” for this man. Israel has many enemies and few friends.

This is just one more reminder of the vital importance of our support for Israel and the Jewish People. Jewish Voice is not just a voice to the Jewish People telling them that Yeshua is the Messiah. We are also a voice for the Jewish People, telling the world that they need our help and support right now. Events are moving rapidly in the Middle East and our prayers for the peace of Jerusalem are crucial.

Jewish Voice Ministries International

Remembering Yom Kippur 2011

Celebrate Yom Kippur 2011From several minutes before sunset on October 7, until just after nightfall on October 8, the Day of Atonement, known as Yom Kippur in Hebrew, is observed by the Jewish People around the world. The holiest and most somber day on the biblical calendar, even non-religious Jews often attend synagogue services and consider the meaning of Yom Kippur. The more observant will fast to fulfill the commandment to “deny himself.”

Yom Kippur is the climax of the Yamim Noraim, the ten Days of Awe that began with Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets. These days are considered a time for introspection and teshuvah—repentance, turning from sin, and making restitution—preparation for the Day of Atonement.

The Jewish People seek forgiveness from God for their sins and to have their names written in the Book of Life for another year on Yom Kippur. Some Orthodox Jews, understanding that according to Leviticus 17:11, a blood sacrifice is needed for atonement, add a kaparot service, in which a chicken is sacrificed while asking forgiveness. This is similar to the biblical Scapegoat: “on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins” (Leviticus 16:30).

In the days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the High Priest would pronounce the Divine Name of God, which was otherwise never heard, and the people would prostrate themselves. He would then enter the Holy of Holies. This was the only day when the High Priest could enter this most sacred place to offer sacrifice for the entire community of Israel.

Although Messianic Jews have received the eternal atonement through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, and we know our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, we generally fast along with all Israel and find this to be an extremely important time of intercession. Jewish hearts are turned toward God, seeking and contrite during this day as no other time during the year.

This is a very pivotal and critical year for Israel. There is much unrest within—anti-government demonstrations, strikes, and civil division. Threats from without surround Israel also. Both the final status of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and Israel’s right to defensible borders are being challenged by nearly all world powers. Israel has lost nearly all key allies in the Middle East as radical Islamic regimes take hold and virulent anti-Semitism rises throughout the world.

Yom Kippur is a very vulnerable time for Israel as the entire country shuts down for a high Sabbath. On Yom Kippur in 1973, Egypt and Syria led a massive surprise attack on Israel, nearly devastating this tiny nation. Israel is once again surrounded by hostile enemies during this holiest of Sabbaths.

How You Can Pray During Yom Kippur:

  • Pray for God to draw Jewish hearts to Himself during Yom Kippur, and to reveal Himself to those who are seeking Him. The Bible promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13) and “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
  • Pray for Jewish People to develop a “divine discontent”—to cry out to God for more than a yearly covering of sin, that He would grant true atonement that only Messiah can bring.
  • Pray for opportunities to share the Messiah with Jewish People who are hurting or have open hearts during this time.
  • Pray for divine protection over Israel through Yom Kippur.
  • Pray for Israel’s leaders to stand strong against world pressure to divide Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

A Rabbi Looks at Yom Kippur

By Jonathan Bernis,
CEO of Jewish Voice

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis

The holiest day of the Jewish Year is Yom Kippur—a solemn time of acknowledging sins and seeking God’s forgiveness and mercy. In Hebrew, the word Yom means “day” and Kippur means “covering or atonement.”

Also known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur was the one time of the year when the High Priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place of the Temple to atone for sin—his own as well as those of his family and the entire Nation. Further, he was required to sacrifice both a bull and a goat and then sprinkle the blood of these animals on the mercy seat. Next, a scapegoat was brought to the leaders of Israel. They were to lay hands on the animal, symbolically placing the sins of the Nation on it, and then drive it into the wilderness, where it carried the Nation’s sins. (more…)

Ma Tovu: Hebrew Chant for Yom Kippur

Rabbi Jack Zimmerman of Jewish Voice explains more about the Ma Tovu, which is a Hebrew word that means “O How Good” or “How Goodly.” It is chanted or sung on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”). After the brief explanation, Rabbi Jack sings the Ma Tovu in Hebrew.

Traditional Hebrew Prayer: How Goodly [are your Tents]

Hebrew text

מה טבו אהליך יעקב, משכנותיך ישראל (Numbers 24:5)
ואני ברב חסדך אבוא ביתך אשתחוה אל היכל קדשך ביראתך (Psalm 5:7)
ה׳ אהבתי מעון ביתך, ומקום משכן כבודך (Psalm 26:8)
ואני אשתחוה ואכרעה, אברכה לפני ה׳ עשי (Psalm 95:6, adapted)
ואני, תפלתי לך ה׳, עת רצון, אלהים ברב חסדך, ענני באמת ישעך (Psalm 69:14) (more…)

Ritual Chicken Sacrifice on Yom Kippur?

Messianic Rabbi Jack Zimmerman of Jewish Voice tells the story of how some Bedouin tribes in Israel practice kapparot, a Jewish custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl on Yom Kippur. In this case, the ritual sacrifice is of a chicken, and Rabbi Jack explains how anti-biblical this practice is.