What’s New in the (Jewish) New Year?
About the Jewish New Year
If you think it is a bit early to be celebrating 2019, I agree! I am inviting you to join me in celebrating the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew) on the Jewish calendar. In the Bible this day is called Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets.
The new year, 5779, begins at sundown on September 9. Many Jewish people will observe this day in the synagogue. Holiday worship services include blowing the shofar or ram’s horn, in keeping with the biblical command, which also calls for “a solemn assembly.” The liturgy and homily focus on spiritual reflection and introspection to prepare us for the Day of Atonement.
For most Jewish people, Rosh Hashanah is a time to celebrate and enjoy life. We send one another New Year cards and greet each other with exclamations of “shana tova” (loosely translated Happy New Year). We eat honey cakes along with apples dipped in honey to symbolize our hopes for a sweet year. Now would be a great time for you to wish your Jewish friends a happy New Year, and even send a greeting card in the post or via email.
What’s new in the “big picture” of Jews for Jesus
I also invite you to join us Jews for Jesus in celebrating this New Year. We have so much to thank God for in this unique season of our ministry. Some who have been following our newsletter know that we have recently developed a brand-new mission statement, core values, approach and strategic anchors for Jews for Jesus that are really propelling us forward. This year will also see our new leadership teams providing fresh ideas and energy as mentioned in last month’s newsletter.
What’s new since May
But of course we are still celebrating and building on the successful completion in June of Operation Behold Your God, our 18-year project to hold saturation evangelistic outreaches in every city with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more; 77 cities in all! The 77th city outreach was held last May in Jerusalem, and we are still celebrating all that God did during that month! We engaged in one-on-one gospel conversations with more than 5,000 Israelis, received over 1,700 contacts from people who wanted further information about Jesus, and prayed with 63 Jewish people to receive the Lord.
As a result, we are establishing a new work of Jews for Jesus in Jerusalem, our 26th city. So much of what we learned during the Jerusalem outreach is moving us forward in Jews for Jesus around the world. (For photos and stories, use the link at the bottom of this page to download your entire 8-page September quarterly.)
Three phrases capture what Jews for Jesus is doing, both new and not-so-new
Let me share three phrases that capture the dynamics of our Jews for Jesus ministry as we move forward in this New Year. They are, “Go and Tell,” “Come and See” and “Love and Serve.”
Go and Tell
“Go and Tell” describes what Jews for Jesus is best known for—the model I hope you have come to love and appreciate. I’m referring to our direct gospel proclamation on the streets, on college campuses, in meeting one-on-one with Jewish people to share the gospel. We will continue to further develop the very kinds of ministry you have come to expect from Jews for Jesus. But we are also developing our other approaches to Jewish evangelism.
Come and See
“Come and See” describes big and little events we create for Jewish people to investigate so they can experience a community of Jewish people who love Jesus. We have always done this through our branch Bible studies, Jewish holiday events and, more recently, Shabbat dinners. We have been intentionally expanding this approach, especially with the Moishe Rosen Center in Tel Aviv, where we regularly have hundreds of Israelis joining us for art galleries, concerts and special coffee and food events. The welcoming environment of our Rosen Center enables our staff to interact in an informal and relaxed way, sharing the gospel in an intimate and more relational context.
This month we are launching a similar “Come and See” ministry in Los Angeles, at our center right across the street from the campus of UCLA. We also hope to develop more “Come and See” ministry in New York City before long. Stay tuned for more about our “Come and See” model in the coming months!
Love and Serve
“Love and Serve” captures some of the more recent strategic developments coming out of the Jerusalem campaign. God commands us to love and serve Him, in part by loving and serving one another and our neighbor as ourselves. We have been pursuing fresh ways to love and serve our communities, and these efforts to demonstrate the gospel in action have opened up remarkable and wonderful gospel conversations. For example, in the Florentin neighborhood where the Rosen Center is located we have been spearheading an effort to create a greener environment. We’ve created “pipe gardens” by capturing the moisture and condensation from air conditioners, and channeling that water into new planters on the streets and in the windows of apartments in the neighborhood. The municipality has been so excited they have even provided resources to help make this happen on a larger scale. As we do this, we have opportunities to meet many more of our neighbors and get to know them. They naturally appreciate the new plants in the neighborhood and often ask us what is motivating our efforts. We love telling them.
For the Jerusalem campaign we invited Christians to show their love for Jewish people by coming to Israel and volunteering with Jewish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in very practical ways. We had a total of four weeks of service projects in which 167 Christians from eleven different churches took part. They all had opportunities to share their faith. Many had such amazing experiences they want to return next year to do it again.
We also heard many words of appreciation from the Israelis who observed these Christians loving and serving. The leader of one NGO exclaimed, “Many Christians come to Israel and tell us they love the Jewish people. These Christians came and proved their love by serving. They are the best volunteers we’ve ever had!”
An invitation to celebrate
I hope you can sense my excitement and celebration over the new things God is doing in Jews for Jesus in this New Year. Most of all I want to invite you to celebrate with us the goodness of God. He loves you and me and His whole family in Messiah so much. He wants us to remember that in Jesus He has demonstrated His love, not just one time through salvation, but each and every day by His grace. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).
Download the entire September edition, including artwork, photos and stories from our Jerusalem Behold Your God Jerusalem campaign, a timely article on the importance of studying the Old Testament, prayer prompters and more!