A New Beginning by AVI TEKLE AUGUST 31, 2020
“One who is gracious to the poor, lends to the LORD, and He will reward Him” (Proverbs 19:17).
“Shana Tova Umetuka” is the way Israelis greet each other on Rosh Hashana (the traditional Jewish New Year; literally, the head of the year). As we approach the fall season, families and friends wish one another “a good and sweet year.” On September 19th we will graduate from 5780 and move into the year 5781 by the traditional Jewish counting, since Creation.
Israel will embark on a new beginning. For us and for most of you, this year has been like an island surrounded by shoals and reefs. Many aspects of our lives have changed. Our community gatherings and worship services changed. Our summer camps and family plans changed. Even the way we walk down the street…changed.
Tashlich is a symbolic ritual performed on the second day of the Jewish New Year. On this day, it is customary to travel to a body of water and throw rocks into the water symbolizing casting away the previous year’s sins and unpleasant events. We do hope and pray that in the coming year a rescue boat will come across those waters, an ark that will sail us to the shores of health and prosperity.
Through it all, God remains the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Rock, the Ancient of Days, that we can depend upon always. And as an expression of His love, from year to year we reach out to the underprivileged communities of our city. In this ongoing global health crisis, Israel’s unemployment numbers are steadily rising―currently standing at 875,000, 21% of the overall workforce! “Needless” to say, this year the needs have grown dramatically.
The verse at the beginning of this article is one of my favorites, both because it promises that God will acknowledge our service to Him, and also because I love seeing the heart of God expressed. The Hebrew word used is “Honen” which means more than charity. It means adding value and favor. It implies that we are to regard the disadvantaged with honor and respect, seeing the potential beauty even in the midst of poverty. That’s how God views us and regards our outreach to the needy around us, as a loan to Him. So humbling!
In September it is our intent to distribute food baskets to 800 families who have been affected by the Coronavirus crisis. As we prepare, this verse is fresh in our minds. Even more than what we give, it matters how we give it. May God use us to add favor to the lives of those He has called us to reach in His love.
We kindly ask you to pray if the Lord would put it in your heart to partner with us to be His instruments for such a time as this.