When a city stays open all night to celebrate the arts with galleries, parties and performances, you know something “magical” can happen. Laila Lavan, or White Night, takes place every year in Tel Aviv during the last week of June, and it’s one of the city’s biggest cultural events of the year. Our Israel team participated for the fourth time, throwing open the doors of our Moishe Rosen Center (MRC) for an all-night art show.
This year, our Center was included in the official city roster of participants. When one of the official art tours ended at the MRC (!) Eli Birnbaum—who leads our Israeli young adult ministry—enjoyed explaining to the group of 20 people that the Rosen Center is run by Jews for Jesus, and dedicated to promoting the truth about the Messiah. “This raised their curiosity and led them to ask my brother Chaim and me about our faith and what it means to be Jewish and believe in Jesus,” Eli said.
Another man came in, and when he realized he was at a Jews for Jesus center, he told Eli that his daughter was a Messianic Jew. He was confused about her beliefs. Eli realized that he knew this man’s daughter! He was able to explain the gospel, and later reflected, “The amazing thing was, he had no idea that he was coming to a Messianic place where we knew his daughter and could address his confusion.”
Shoshana and baby Birnbaum
As usual, many artists who provided their work for the gallery took note of the unique vibe at the Rosen Center. Eli reported that “A well-known street artist who has shown with us before told me that you can see that what we are doing is from the heart, and it shines in the gallery. Another well-known street artist told me he loves coming to our place because it has the best energy anywhere.”?
Our young adult staff along with this year’s Massah team really worked hard to prepare the space, advertise the event on social media, and put out posters and flyers around our Florentin neighborhood. But beyond that, our “We <3 Florentin” gallery was also mentioned on TV and online as something “to do” for Tel Aviv’s White Night and helped to draw more than 400 visitors. Twenty-one local artists showed their paintings, sketches, drawings and photography. A photo booth, a community art booth, and food and drinks, provided by a local coffee shop owner, kept people mingling and talking and enjoying themselves throughout the night.
Eli’s wife Shoshana summed up the vision for the outreach when she said, “It was not only artistically beautiful, but it also communicated the love of Jesus to our neighbors."
This is one of many stories of how the gospel is going out in Israel. If you haven’t already, check out this top story: The Great Artist Draws Israeli Couple to Himself.