We are right in the middle of Israel’s Fall High Holy Day season, and the grapes are abundant and ripe! We have already harvested 131.6 tons!
Last week, we celebrated the Biblical Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23) with the blowing of shofars, Hebrew Torah reading, and prayers. This weekend will be observing the Day of Atonement.
Right now, our first hardworking group of 3-week volunteers is heading out, and the next group of reinforcements is coming in. These special outgoing volunteers had the privilege of being the first ever HaYovel team to harvest in the Golan Heights. On the way home, they were rewarded with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee!
We are looking forward to seeing what the Lord does with this next group of 6-week folks, which includes many international harvesters from Australia, England, and South Africa!
Before taking off, the 3-week group was able to “go up” for a beautiful day touring “. . . Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there” (I Kings 14:21).
During their tour, they had a special treat when Moshe Kempinski, our friend from the Shoreshim shop in the Old City, took them to a magnificent viewpoint atop the Aish HaTorah building, overlooking the Temple Mount and Mount of Olives.
After a full day in the city at the center of the world, including the Old City, Mount of Olives and Ben Yehuda Street, the group went back to Psagot Winery for a big going away party, where they enjoyed lots of good food, wine tasting, and several Israeli speakers and vineyard owners coming forward to sincerely thank them for their efforts in the vineyards!
Toward the end of the week and after Family Week was officially over, I got at least a half dozen comments like, “This has definitely been the best Family Week ever!” I have to say that I would agree.
This Family Week was extraordinary. Having so many people come from different places and backgrounds to worship the King and focus on His Kingdom was VERY powerful. Looking back, I think the overall message was a serious charge to be accountable. We were challenged in submission on several levels: 1) to honor our parents, 2) to have an accountability partner that would keep us on track individually, 3) to submit to (and not rebuke) our elders, and 4) to respect and serve our Jewish brethren.
I think people left Family Week inspired to take on the challenge of submitting to authority. The fruit of that has the potential to produce healthy, productive individuals, families and communities equipped to take their part in the restoration of all things.
The guests gathered, the friends of the bride and bridegroom encircled them, and we waited. The first night passed uninterrupted. In the morning, people scurried about here and there, making last minute preparations. In the distance, we heard a faint cry. As we perked our ears, it became clearer… it was the shofars!! The bridegroom was coming today!! Right now! We had 1 hour! Glory!!
Oh my, we thought we were ready, but now we had to get everybody dressed and fix hair and head coverings. We made it up the hill within minutes of the 10 o’clock hour. Everyone was buzzing around, beautifully attired for the wedding – hugging, greeting and smiling. No sorrows today; the bridegroom is coming!!!
Katie was escorted from the Hilton suburban by her distinguished father and mother, her sisters and all our girls, having talked and laughed long into the night. Her linen dress was beautifully adorned with a hand-stitched belt with grapes and vines embroidered all in white. The sisters sang in excited anticipation, “Ode Yeshama” (A Song Shall Be Heard), from Jeremiah 33:11 and many other familiar songs.
A gasp went up as we saw a white stallion in full gait through the leafless trees. Nate was on the move and couldn’t get there fast enough. Katie broke away from the crowd and advanced toward her bridegroom. Nate jumped off the horse and grabbed up his waiting bride!! The moment was locked in time… all the discipline, self-control, and trust was worth it! The two were now together forever.
A wagon load of musicians followed the bride and groom, celebrating the parade to the chuppah. The couple stopped under Nate’s tallit, draped atop four saplings held up by his brothers. In the chilly morning breeze, Tommy and Brayden welcomed the couple and guests and taught about radical faith that requires our whole heart – and gains great reward. We cannot hope to obtain the prize without the fight.
The final jewel on the day took everyone by surprise. Nate moved to the mic and began to sing acapella, “I Pour My Love On You.” The tenderness of his love, with his bride securely in his arms, was overwhelming. Katie softly sang with him. We were all undone. Thank you, Father, for such innocent, untainted love.
This is a letter from a vineyard owner that HaYovel has helped for many years. Also a short video of this vineyard owner telling the story of how HaYovel first came to help him!
Dear Sherri and Tommy Waller and members of Hayovel,
Peace and blessings from the Holy Land.
I walk around my wine cellar and look at the barrels full of dark and wonderful wine. I taste some wine and thank the Creator of the universe for the wonderful wine he has given to me. Together with the scent of the grapes, the soil, and the vineyard, I sense an additional meaningful component – the human being. I immediately see in my mind’s eye a picture of the grape harvest. Men and women, girls and boys, stand at either side of the row, the pruning shears in their hands, as the cartons in front of them fill up. Some work in silence, others chat, and yet others sing, alone or in groups in a chorus. They are harvesting grapes for me and other grape growers.
I asked myself many times: “Is it possible? Strangers come from a distant land to help the people of Israel?”
At the beginning of our acquaintance I asked myself many times: “Is it possible? Strangers come from a distant land to help the people of Israel?” I found the answer to this question in Holy Scripture where it is written that the entire nation, and I, Avigdor, among them, will return to the land of our ancestors from which God had exiled us and in His grace, returned us. As it is written in Isaiah 61:5, “And aliens shall be your plowmen and vinedressers.” I approach them more closely and see the sweat on their brows and the light of joy in their eyes, and on their faces, the expression, “I am doing the will of God.”
I approach them more closely and see the sweat on their brows and the light of joy in their eyes, and on their faces, the expression, “I am doing the will of God.”
It is known that every people has its mission and God has given a task to every person. No two people have the same mission. God separated the People of Israel from all the nations and gave them the Torah and required them to perform the commandments. When they did His will, He was good to them and when they left the way of the Torah, He exiled them. Now, before the full redemption, God has returned us to our historic homeland, which He promised to our ancestors, and we experience in Psalm 126:1, ” A song of ascents, when the Lord brought those who returned to Zion, we were like dreamers”. Thus, too, the prophecy of Isaiah 61:5, “And aliens shall be your plowmen and vinedressers” is not only a promise to us, but it places an obligation on other nations. The feeling of destiny that inspires you is very moving to me and my heart fills with joy that I am connected to people for whom the will of God is the basis of their lives. There, in the vineyard, when half the globe of the sun has set and the other half lights up with a rosy glow, we set the earth aquiver with the stamping of our feet as we dance and the hills respond with the echo of our song.
My heart fills with joy that I am connected to people for whom the will of God is the basis of their lives.
It is now winter in Israel. The vineyards are denuded of their leaves, and the best of your people are pruning the vines. And you, my dear friends, there in the United States, are preparing a delegation of members of Hayovel for summer’s end and fall, to provide us with help we need so badly for the harvest. But your contribution to the people of Israel is not only in agriculture. There is another aspect. First of all the knowledge that our people, whose neighbors wish to destroy us, have friends who are pure in heart and rich in deed encourages us. Knowing that you are working for the people and the State of Israel and that you form connecting links with all levels of society, from the ordinary populace to members of the government and media where you live, as well as in other countries, encourages us to live in hope that better times will come and that Good will conquer Evil.
You bear unbiased witness while you dwell among us.
And you who come and see that our intentions are pure sense intuitively who is the attacker and who is attacked. You bear unbiased witness while you dwell among us and when you return to your homes.
I again look at the wine, breathe in its aroma, and taste it. The wine sings and tells me in which vineyard the grapes grew, about the wind that caressed them, about the rays of the sun that ripened its clusters, and the dew drops that sweetened the juicy fruit. So too, it sings about the day of harvest, about the harvesters who come at dawn and faithfully fill the cartons with joy and feelings of satisfaction at responding to the challenge that God has placed before them. And the wine tastes good; there is nothing like it!
I feel that God has given me the unique privilege of knowing you.
What else can I say to you, my dear friends? I feel that God has given me the unique privilege of knowing you and I await our meeting together in Kentucky with great expectation, and days of harvest with heightened feelings. May God bless you and us, and may we merit to experience many years of joint activities with love, joy and gratitude to the Creator of the universe.
12 Shevat 5773
January 23, 2013
Around 400 people attended last Thursday’s event at Nashville’s elegant Hermitage Ballroom at the Sheraton Music City Hotel! Thank you to all of you who helped us enthusiastically welcome Moshe and Leah!
For those of you who weren’t able to make it, thank you for your prayers. In the interest of spreading the impact of this evening to the rest of you, here’s the report…
The meeting began with melodic and beautiful shofar blasts by local pastor Lyndon Allen. This was followed by Darryl Hedding’s introduction of his father Malcolm Hedding, former director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). Darryl paid tribute to his father as “a true man of faith, one who had served God faithfully and singly for over 60 years.” Mr. Hedding then rose and reflected with us on the debt of gratitude we, as Christians owe to the Jewish people. He spoke of how Israel’s existence today is evidence that God exists.
Erick Stakelbeck described his own father’s faith as being not just in God, but specifically in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This stuck with him until at age 27, he opened the Bible to find this God Himself. Erick briefed us on security issues in Judea and Samaria, and offered proofs that the brave pioneers who live there deserve our support, even without the abundant proofs from the Bible. Erick’s expertise on the Middle East situation, and especially the issue of terrorism, brought sobering reality to the evening, and highlighted the idea that standing with Israel is not something we can afford to put off until we get around to it.
Mr. Stakelbeck then brought Moshe and Leah onstage and settled them both in comfortable chairs to interview them about their lives. Moshe humbly and gently shared his aliyah story, telling how he left Brooklyn 27 years ago. The Goldsmiths shared how they began their married life by moving to the “scary West Bank,” over the objections of friends and family.
As Erick approached the difficult discussion of the terrorists attacks and massacre, the Goldsmiths showed us their view of the events as a sign of the Redemption to come. Moshe was in the synagogue the day before the Fogels were attacked. He did a triple take when Udi Fogel, the father of the family, walked in – he saw radiant light around him. Moshe talked about the prayers of the Jewish people, which are prayed 3 times daily. One section of the prayers addresses the resurrection of the dead. “We have hope of the resurrection of our friends,” they said.
(We who have worked with them in Israel are witnesses of the way their single act of committing to the faith of their fathers has powerfully impacted the settlement of Itamar. They have faced mountainous hardship, but persevere through their faith in God’s eternal plan.)
The Goldsmiths’ living room curtains open toward the Mount of Cursing and the Mount of Blessing. Leah shared how in the toughest times, she throws open the curtains and asks, “Am I being cursed or blessed?” “I’m blessed.” is always the answer. So she closes the curtains and carries on. She encouraged us to always look to God and acknowledge His blessings and carry on. The blessings are always there, and to gain strength, we have to focus on them. Leah said, “God has given us the Land, but not on a silver platter. Did Abraham not have tests, and Isaac trials; did Jacob have one day of peace? How can we expect everything to be easy?”
Moshe shared that he won’t be running for Mayor this year, as the Goldsmiths feel called to devote their time to building a bridge with the nations through their organization, “Friends of Itamar.”
After the interview, we got to enjoy a slideshow of Heather Meyers’ jaw-dropping photos from the Land played, as a love offering was taken.
Tommy Waller closed the event by pointing out how we are involved in a Biblical battle that is close to the heart of our Father. He put forth a call for us all to get involved and bring our friends and neighbors with us. This call includes you, too, friends!
The Goldsmiths’ zeal, love and laughter enlarged our lives and faith, in the Buckle of the Bible belt. There were no walls – many ministries came together in unity for this event, and Jewish people and Christian people talked and listened to each other. Indeed, a new day has dawned!
COME JOIN US for the Harvest in 2013, and meet this beautiful, faithful orthodox Jewish family and others!