While Carmela was a bookkeeper, employed by the city in which they lived, Meir started a business cleaning the area in front of people’s homes. The business took off, and Meir appeared to be set. However a corrupt general decided he wanted to be Meir’s “business partner.” He demanded that Meir pay him twenty percent of his profits in exchange for “protection.” Meir knew this was wrong and chose not be a victim of intimidation. So, instead of simply paying the mafia-type payments, he shut down his business.
This was very hard on his family, resulting in Meir being unemployed for two years. During this time, he did a lot of soul searching. He asked himself, “Did he really want to raise his children in the midst of such corruption? Where could he take his family where they would be safe?” He decided that Israel, the Jewish Homeland, was the only place where he could raise his children in peace and safety.
Most people think of our tiny Middle Eastern country as anything but safe, but for those who live here, it is the one place in the world where Jews do not suffer discrimination for being Jewish. Despite the threat from our Arab neighbors, at least we know that this is our house. It is far worse when you are living as a guest inside of the home of someone who wants to harm you. Israel was reborn as European Jews, who were tired of being persecuted, ostracized, and even murdered for being Jewish, realized that the only way they would be safe would be to have a country of their own. Meir was now set to join their ranks.
Meir had a wonderful family, but he had one issue; he drank his way through life. In fact, from the time that he was in the army, he had spent his days drinking beer from morning to night, maybe 20-25 bottles a day. A friend invited Meir to a meeting where for the first time he heard about Yeshua the Messiah. He listened to the music as the congregation worshiped God. Before he heard a single sermon, he asked God to cleanse his heart through Yeshua. His family quickly followed suit. From that point on, everything would be different. “My life was suddenly heading in a new direction. I looked at everything differently,” Meir told us. “Some changes were instant, while other things changed over time.”
When Meir came to Yeshua, he had no job and no place for his family to live. They had been moving from place to place and staying with friends wherever they could. When he accepted the atoning sacrifice, that night, he was instantly delivered from many things, but he continued to drink. Yet God did not forsake him. Within forty-eight hours, he obtained a permanent job and was given a place to live - rent free until he could get his feet on the ground.
“As I learned more of God’s Word, God began to cleanse me from my old life,” and he told this story to illustrate his walk with God: One day his little girl, Aviv swallowed a piece of a plastic bag and it was lodged in such a way that, although she was rushed to the hospital, the doctors did not know if she would live. Meir went outside the hospital to a little garden. He began to weep and cry out to God. He made a promise to the Lord that if He would let his daughter live, he would never touch alcohol again. Two hours later, the doctors came out of the operating room saying they could find nothing! Meir has never touched a drop of alcohol from time to this day now more than 10 years!
After a short time he started his own business. He always loved to cook, especially Italian style, and he developed a mouthwatering recipe for pizza. Within a short time, he had two partners and two pizza restaurants in Jerusalem. Everybody was eating Meir’s pizza. At the height of their success, Carmela became pregnant with their fifth child. Carmela then trained one of their workers to make the pizza so she could be at home. When the partners realized that this fellow now had the recipe they had no need for Meir and got rid of him. Meir didn’t have a written contract and was left with nothing. Disheartened, they decided to move to Tel Aviv where there were more opportunities for work.
A friend of his invited him to a wedding at Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv, and immediately they felt like they had finally found a spiritual home. Meir met an entrepreneur in the congregation who wanted to open a restaurant - but who needed a chef! Together they opened an Italian restaurant in the greater Tel Aviv area and this restaurant venture is very successful. Meir has trained his children to be chefs as well, and all three of the older sons can run the kitchen. Maor, his second son, served as the head waiter before beginning his mandatory army service a few months ago. Carmela is in charge of the pizzas, and customers rave about them. God has given them rest in their souls and success and happiness in their work.
You would expect the children of a poor family, who have had to work since they were in their early teens to be bitter and complaining. Not so! I have spent time with their older sons, and I have never met kinder, more respectful young men in my life. Despite working long hours they have all excelled in their studies. They love Yeshua and are all active in their congregation, Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv.
Why is Meir Smiling?
Not long ago, both Meir and Carmela were in need of massive dental work. Finances had been very tight for them during the past several years, raising seven children, and dental treatment was a luxury that they just could not afford. In fact, for Carmela, she had developed a condition that, if left untreated, would have cost her all her teeth, as well as severely damage her gums and jaw. The cost would be 40,000 shekels ($9,000) to take care of both of them. They were able to pay for half of this, and the dentist started the treatment. However, when Meir could not come up with the other half, the dentist refused to continue treatment until he was paid in full. In this situation, they would have not only have lost their teeth, but also the $4,500 that they had already invested.
The owner of the restaurant encouraged Meir to approach istandwithisrael.com for help. They filled out the forms and the Maoz board unanimously approved it. They were able to pay the dentist the balance and Meir and Carmela received the rest of their treatments. Their teeth were saved and Carmela’s condition reversed.
And now you know why Meir is smiling.
Ron Cantor is founder of Messiah Mandate International and a member of Congregation Tiferet Yeshua.
In His Words…
I love my family, my congregation and of course my country. In the twelfth grade I traveled to Poland where we visited one of the tragic concentration camps that killed so many of my people, and this trip brought me closer to my Jewishness and strengthened the desire in me to serve in the military. Our family attends congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. It is a great congregation full of Israelis who have embraced Yeshua.
|I am serving in the Israeli Air Force, having prepared for the Air Force since the tenth grade. I entered the Armed Forces two years late because I was studying to be an electrical engineer.
From the tenth grade through my high school graduation I attended a special school that is part of the Israeli Air Force. I really loved it and they always gave me wonderful assignments to do. I also love being in the military; I love the uniform and am very proud of my country.
Because we were poor I have had to work since I was twelve years old. I worked with my father in both the pizzerias and restaurants.
Even though it was hard, my father always made it fun. My brothers also worked with me much of the time. Despite the fact that I had to work, I have been able to excel in school.
I have six brothers and sisters. Ronen is twenty two and is also serving in the Air Force. He presently is in an officer’s course. He studied in the same Air Force-related high school that I did and like me, he loves the army. Ben is nineteen and he is working towards his degree in management. He works a lot in the restaurant with mom and dad because Ronen and I are in the military. On weekends we help out as well in the restaurant.
Last summer Ben traveled with many young people from the congregation to America. The trip was sponsored by Maoz Israel. They visited congregations, attended a massive Messianic Jewish Alliance conference in Pennsylvania and shared the good news of Yeshua on the streets of New York City.
Mirit is thirteen and the first of two girls. She is in sixth grade and does excellent in school. Her teacher’s love her and she has lots of friends. She is just starting to help out in the restaurant. Aviv, her sister is ten and
Elad and Nadav are nine years old and twins.
All my brother and sisters are very happy and we love our parents and friends and love Yeshua.
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Yeshua Came to Me on the Sabbath
I was born to a Jewish family in Iran where I lived for the first 10 years of my life. My father had always wanted to move to Israel, but my mother heard from some neighbors that had immigrated to Israel and then returned to Iran, (or Persia as we called it) that Iran was a better place to live. Finally, father won out and made the decision to leave Persia and take our family to live in our ancient homeland.
Rivka and Her Son Harel
My father had two wives, as was the custom then, and each wife had seven children. Our two mothers got along really well. So all 14 of us children, the two wives and father made aliyah (immigrated) in 1958. We moved to the very poor town of Kiryat Shmonah on the Lebanese border where father worked in building construction.
My father had a terrible temper and would beat us children mercilessly, and I have memories of hiding sometimes through the night under the foundation of our house that was raised about three feet above the ground, to avoid being beaten again.
When I celebrated my fourteenth birthday, my brother had a 24 year-old friend, Haim, who took a liking to me. His parents were also Persian. His mother came and visited my mother, and the next thing I knew, I was told I would be marrying him. No one asked my opinion at all although in the Bible, four thousand years ago, my namesake Rivka (Rebecca) was asked by her family if she wanted to marry Isaac!
For the first four years of our marriage, I had a child every 12 months, and by the time I was 24 years old, I had seven children. I had my hands full with three children at a time in diapers. We cooked everything daily from scratch (which I still do) and washed everything by hand. (There were no Huggies in those days!)
The worst thing, though, was that my husband beat me much harder than my father did. I was black and blue much of the time. And Haim would beat the children until I thought my heart would break.
KATUYSHAS REIGNED DOWN FROM LEBANON
The Palestinian terrorist gangs were continually shooting katuysha rockets from Lebanon into Kiryat Shmonah, usually in the evening, and we would have to dash with our kids into the communal bomb shelter, 100 meters away whenever the sirens went off. Haim and I would round up the children, and I would pick up the baby with his tea and mush and run for the shelter. The katuyshas fell on many homes, killing our citizens on a regular basis.
One night, we all rushed to the shelter as many katuyshas fell, and then horror of horrors, we realized that we had left Ora, one of our girls, back in the house. We heard katuyshas falling close by, and Haim tried to run out of the shelter to get Ora, but the neighbors held him back by force.
When we finally were able to get out, we found our daughter sound asleep in bed, covered with glass from the explosion, but she had slept right through it!
Finally, after years of katuyshas falling around us as part of our daily life, my husband and I decided that enough was enough. In 1976, we sold our house for a few thousand dollars and moved further south to Netanya. Upon our arrival, we found that housing was three times more expensive, so, in addition to raising seven children, I went to work cleaning houses to help pay for the mortgage.
For thirteen years, I cleaned houses, most of the time on two five-hour shifts, while Haim found work in a meat factory. But the most unbearable part was that my husband constantly and severely beat me and our children. As he became more and more violent, he began chasing us with a knife and threatening to kill us.
Once, I ran out of the house with blood coming from my eyes and face, and my son Harel called the police. They put my husband in jail for two days and then released him. When Haim realized that the police would do nothing, he became even brazen with his violence, until I began to despair of life. One day I looked out the window and prayed from the bottom of my heart, “God, help me. I and my children are being beaten.” Suddenly I saw in the sky a clear vision of the Ten Commandments, and I believed that God had heard me.
I asked my husband for a divorce, but he said I would leave only in a casket. The children, some of whom were now grown and in the army, finally demanded of my father that he let us go. The Rabbinate, in a very unusual move, granted me a divorce in 1986, and I, along with the children moved away from him to Tel Aviv, literally with the clothes on our backs. We rented a completely bare apartment without even as much as a teaspoon for coffee. Three years later, Haim died.
In Tel Aviv, where the cost of living was even higher, I continued to work two cleaning shifts in order to pay for rent, utilities and raising the younger children.
I ALWAYS LOVED GOD
As far as my religious beliefs were concerned, my family always respected and loved God, in a traditional way. We always said the Kiddush (Blessing) on Shabbat, and, to this day, I light candles to welcome in the Sabbath. Back in Iran we spent each Shabbat going to the synagogue and visiting our extended family of aunts and uncles, and so I have happy memories of my traditional religious upbringing. I always loved and believed in God and prayed to Him from my heart since I was a child.
I continued working five hours in the morning and five hours in the evening, cleaning houses and public buildings. I would ride to work on the bus and I would see some of the same people every day. One day, a foreign worker spoke to me about Yeshua and gave me a New Testament. I took it from him, but I didn’t read it as I never learned to read Hebrew very well.
I had a rather sparse education in Persia since my parents had to pay tuition for schooling, and I was often told to leave class when my family couldn’t pay. Once I arrived in Israel, I was only able to go to school until age 12. After that, my parents sent me and two brothers out to work in agricultural fields to pick cotton and oranges and weed the fields.
I FIND HAREL BELIEVES IN YESHUA
Six months after the foreign worker spoke to me about Yeshua, my son Harel invited me to, what he said, was his congregation. This was in 1998. I came with him and heard music worshipping and praising the name of Yeshua. I was shocked as Harel had not told me anything at all about where we were going or what he believed. I said to him, «Harel, have you become a Christian? (“Notzri” in Hebrew translates “Nazarite,” and means a “Gentile Christian.”)
Harel said, “No, Mother. I am a Jew who believes that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah.” What he said went deep into my heart. I didn’t tell Harel at the time, but I began to believe too. Harel gave me a film called “Yeshua” by the Genesis Project. I saw that film, and I felt so sad that God’s only Son, the Son He loved so much had to suffer so terribly. I just couldn’t get over the fact that God lost His Son. He gave His Son, the best He had and He gave Him to us. It went into the core of my being.
But during that time, I was unable to attend Shabbat services with Harel because I was working so many hours and was simply too exhausted to attend. But I watched the movie over and over again.
I WAS ALONE ON THE SABBATH
When my husband, Haim, died in 1989, I was tortured by continuing nightmares for 13 long years. I would see my husband running after me to beat me or I would hear him tell me that he was going to murder me. One Sabbath evening, I was sitting on the couch. I don’t know if I had dozed off or if I was awake, but I suddenly saw myself running out of the bedroom as Haim chased me with a knife. As I ran into the living room, I looked to the side and there I saw a figure in a white robe, with a crown on his head, and his face was shining with light. I was stunned.
I said to him, “Are you Yeshua? Everyone is telling me you are Yeshua. Are you Yeshua? Help me! Help me!”
He answered me, “Yes I am Yeshua. And I will guard you.”
This is the last time I ever dreamed about my deceased husband. When I told Harel about the dream, he read to me from Revelation 1 and Daniel 7. I was amazed. I knew with certainty that Yeshua is the true Messiah of Israel, and I came and told Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram that I had had a vision of Yeshua and I knew He was my Savior.
I wanted to be immersed in water to seal my faith in Yeshua, but I had developed a serious situation with both knees where I could no longer walk. The many years of hard labor and beatings had taken its toll on my body. I had an operation for one knee replacement with the best doctors we could find. However, despite the fact that the surgeon was considered the best in the country, and the percentage of complications with this type of operation is minimal, my operation was botched.
The pain became unbearable, but all they could do was give me morphine to relieve the pain. When I woke up and felt the pain, I would cry out, Mashiach, Ben David! Mashiach, Ben David! (Messiah, Son of David) I cried and prayed to God to take pity on me. Again, I saw a man in shining white clothes with his face glistening brightly come into my hospital room. He said to me, “Do not fear! You will again stand on your feet!” No one else was in my hospital room at that time. I prayed, “Shema Israel! Hear Oh Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One!”
Through a long series of events, I found another Israeli doctor who has a clinic in Italy who was able to give me chemical knee rehabilitation and help me to detox from the terrible drugs I had been given. I had to sell my house, which had a small amount of equity, and that, along with the money I had saved from cleaning, plus a bank loan of $18,000, enabled me to pay for the physical and drug rehabilitation. Slowly, I began to improve and was able to walk with a cane. [Editor’s note: istandwithisrael.com contributed $6,000 towards the reduction of her loan.]
As soon as I could walk, I told Ari that I wanted to go immediately to the Mediterranean Sea to follow my Messiah in immersion. I walked through the sand with the cane and went into the sea. When I came up out of the water, Ari asked me if I could walk without the cane. To my surprise, I found I could! I continue to improve and I go regularly to our Congregation Tiferet Yeshua. I am planning to give my testimony to the whole congregation.
Every day I thank my Messiah that He found me, and showed me that He is the one for which our Jewish nation has waited so long. And since he told me in the vision that I will again stand on my feet, (something that I am already doing) I know that He will heal me completely.
The names have been changed because of growing governmental persecution against Israel’s Messianic Jews. Many believers suspect (we included) that organizations such as Yad L’Achim, whose main purpose for existence is to persecute the Israeli Messianic Jews, is receiving funding from unsuspecting Christian donors who contribute through Orthodox or governmental charities. If you are donating to Israel through non-Messianic organizations, please check to see if there are Orthodox members on the boards of those charities.
Dear Maoz Partner,
In just a few days, the angels will close out the books for 2006!
When this year vanishes, everything we have done in the Name of Yeshua and for His Kingdom will be history. Our deeds will be written in books that cannot be destroyed or lost.
All that you have done through Maoz for the people of Israel--your acts of kindness, of service, your gifts and your words of encouragement have all been recorded.
Today, the world is full of the most unspeakable suffering. And the Jewish people have certainly had their share. There is so much poverty, violence and cruelty against the most vulnerable in Israel we are a nation of lost people.
The hardships of Meir and Carmela and Rivka are quite common in the Holy Land. That is why we who bring the Good News are so passionate--we are able to help people that are utterly helpless and hopeless. We have the answer!
Now the Bible says there are books in heaven, that one day they will be opened (Dan 7:10) and that the dead will be judged according to their works. (Rev. 20:12). Thank God for the Book of Life which records our names for eternal life, a gift completely unearned and undeserved.
But the Lord has also said that if any person’s work for the Kingdom of God is built on a good foundation «he shall receive a reward.» (I Cor. 3:14)
That means you have a part in the reward for bringing salvation to the home of Harel and his mother, Rivka. You have a part in the gift Rivka received to regain her health.
You have a part in blessing Meir and Carmela and in giving their seven children a congregation in Israel where they are fed with the Word of God.
You have a part recorded in God’s books for helping the believers in the very poor area of northern of Israel through the War Victims Fund. (Through your partnership, we have already helped more than 1,100 needy believers in the North, both Arab and Jew! And we are still receiving requests from pastors in the North.
And your gifts to istandwithisrael.com are appreciated beyond words by those in need, and, we are sure, have been recorded in the heavenlies.
What could be more wonderful? Our sins have been wiped out and our good deeds are being written down in the Everlasting Books!
In a few days a New Year will be upon us more time to build up treasure in heaven. More time to bless the peoples of the world and invest in their salvation. More time to know Him better!
For now, we bless you and thank you in the Name of our Father and our Messiah for all the work you have done this year through Maoz in His Land, the Land of Israel!
Your partners and co-laborers in Israel,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. What more do you want registered in the Heavenly Books for 2006? You still have a few more days!