Following this past week’s wildfire devastation throughout Israel, some of which were set by terror arsonists, many Jewish organizations are reporting record donations to help rebuild the Holy Land. Perhaps lesser known but equally impressive is the immediate outpouring of love and generosity from Christian Zionists around the world.
Breaking Israel News and Israel365, two leading websites with strong connections to Christian evangelicals, joined forces and immediately asked their readers for help during this crisis. “Our readers love Israel and the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz, publisher of Breaking Israel News and founder of Israel365. “As followers of God’s Bible, they were drawn to donate to rebuilding the lives and the land which have been so tragically decimated.”
On the first day of the appeal, tens of thousands of dollars came pouring in along with blessings from hundreds of donors even in countries as far-flung and unexpected as Turkey, Japan, and India. “The outpouring of love and help from Bible-reading Christians around the world reflects their love for God’s people and God’s land,” shared Rabbi Weisz. “We immediately began distributing these donations to people whose homes have been burned.”
Israeli officials estimate that the fires have damaged approximately 2,000 homes, totally destroyed 569 homes and burned nearly 32,000 acres of forest and urban land, making this one of the largest fire disasters in Israel’s history.
Rabbi Weisz and staff went Monday to see the destruction in Beit Meir, a neighborhood about 10 minutes outside of Jerusalem. “The stories from this tragedy are both heart-wrenching and miraculous,” said Rabbi Weisz. “Seeing homes burned to the ground and knowing that people have lost their lives’ possessions is very painful. Yet, nobody was killed.”
Walking through Beit Meir, Rabbi Weisz was visibly moved as he spoke with the artist Yoram Raanan, whose studio was burned to the ground. Raanan explained that he had arrived exactly 40 years ago to Israel with nothing and today, once again, he is back to nothing as potential millions of dollars of his original paintings were lost in the fire.
“We were devastated to see the ruins of Yoram Raanan’s art studio,” shared Rabbi Weisz. “The stench of the embers in Beit Meir was overwhelming and we had to wear face masks to protect us from the asbestos in the air.”
Hearing Raanan’s story, Rabbi Weisz immediately wrote a check from the donations to the artist, explaining that Christians and Jews from around the world have sent their prayers and blessings to him and all who have suffered through these fires.
Raanan emotionally replied with tears in his eyes, “I have always been the one to give charity, I have never had to take it.” He then expressed his deepest gratitude to all who have given so generously of their love, prayers and resources.
Weisz then spoke with Elimelech Halperin. The roof of the Halperin family home collapsed from the fires, leveling the entire upper floor and leaving a pile of burnt rubble where his sister was living with her two young children. “She and the children lost everything,” explained Halperin to Rabbi Weisz as they stood next to the burned and destroyed stairwell which lead to the upper floor. Rabbi Weisz immediately arranged for the family to be taken shopping to replenish their wardrobe and any other pressing needs of the family.
On the wall next to the blackened staircase of the Halperin home hangs intact a handwritten Hebrew morning supplication prayer that this sister had previously placed there which states in part, “Guardian of Israel, guard the remnant of Israel, and let not Israel perish…Our Father, our King, be gracious to us and answer us, though we have no worthy deeds; act with us in charity and loving-kindness and save us.”
Rabbi Weisz shared some of the blessings received with donations from around the world.
Florence Ho from Sydney, Australia wrote, “I pray for The Lord to bring healing and restoration to the many who are affected by the fire. I pray and ask The Lord to send His Host and angels to destroy the work of the enemy and its platform for terror.”
Sandra Sheets from Douglasville, Georgia, USA wrote, “‘Be not afraid, only believe’, thankful there has been no loss of life. Arise and build!”
Selvim Enoch from Karnataka, India wrote, “I pray to God to start pouring rain on Israel to stop permanently these arson attacks and shame them further. As I believe God will hear my prayer and answer surely, blessings to Israel.”
“Clearly, God acted with charity and so do thousands of people around the world,” Rabbi Weisz continued. “I speak for the recipients of their goodwill who are extremely moved by the generosity and assistance they have received in their hour of need. These contributions have already made a difference and built bridges between the Jewish people in the Land of Israel and Christians and Jews worldwide.”