Update: End of the Jewish Year of 5781
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Dear Praying Friends and Supporters,
As many of you know, we celebrate three “New Years” in Israel. The religious year begins with Passover (as written in the Tenach), but the Jewish “civil” year begins in the month of Tishrei with “Rosh HaShannah” (Jewish New Year, referred to in the Torah as the Feast of Trumpets). Then, of course, there is the “secular” year, celebrated with the rest of the world on January 1.
It is with this in mind, that I am pleased to summarize the past Jewish year of 5781 and share with you our hopes for the coming year of 5782.
All of us, in every nation, have found the past year to be challenging. So first and foremost, I hope this update finds you healthy, well, and rejoicing in our Lord and Savior who has been with us through it all. Thank you for your prayers and support for us and Israel and your role in the future of a new generation here in Israel! As you read through this newsletter, please know that we are thankful for each of you who uphold us in prayer and who stand with us as we deal with life and death issues on a daily basis.
Note: Since this is a rather long newsletter, you may prefer to download it. Please feel free to share our newsletter with your friends, church, and family.
The Year in Overview
Every sector in Israel has been severely affected by COVID-19, either directly or indirectly. Israel’s educational system has been disrupted and both teachers and students have had to adapt to instruction and seminars during times of lockdown and quarantine via Zoom. The uncertainties regarding infection, impact on children and more continue to be a struggle for Israeli families. While the plan is to start the 2021-2022 school year with in-person classroom teaching, questions remain regarding protection from being contaminated by new strains and the potential for a new lockdown.
However, in the midst of all this, we remain mindful of the fact that our hope is not dependent on life’s circumstances, but is anchored in Yeshua the Messiah! He has and will continue to guide us through the eternal Word of Truth.
A Future and A Hope has continued all of its activities by adapting to change and taking advantage of new means of communication. For many of us, this represented a steep learning curve. Counseling was and is being provided to women by using different communication tools available to us, and we have seen many decisions for life throughout the course of the pandemic.
First Year of Life Program Update
The challenges of the pandemic led to our adding food assistance to the First Year of Life Program, which is aimed at helping relieve mothers and families of the financial burden associated with a newborn’s first year of life. We are thankful to each person who contributed to this program. As a result of amazing generosity and unexpected giving, A Future and A Hope continues to provide for each baby’s essential needs (crib, mattress, changing table, stroller, hand-carry, bath-tub for baby, clothing of all kinds, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, bibs, etc.), all of which are delivered to the mothers by the time they return home from the hospital with their newborns. We also remain able to supply diapers through the entire period of diaper training, as well as a monthly financial subsidy for one full year, which helps to supplement daily needs.
Educating Mothers in Emergency First Aid
Back in January, we shared with you a new initiative: encouraging those coming to us for counseling to sign up for an emergency first aid course that focuses on the care of children and infants. If you missed that post, click here. We remain open to opportunities like this.
Update on Zoom Lectures
We are thankful for the gift of technology. We have been able to use one platform, Zoom, to provide lecture series throughout Israel. When possible, we have also given frontal in-person lectures – but as you can imagine – the situation remains fluid. So we have had to be, and remain flexible. Nevertheless, regardless of the platform, seminars and lectures have been held all year and we already have our schedule full for the months ahead!
February was quite busy and included three lectures as part of a Parenthood Training course hosted by a school in Jerusalem. The topics covered:
- The dangers of social networks, bullying, and shaming (given by Hanni Kramer)
- How to talk to children and teenagers about sex and sexuality (given by Orit Kramer)
- Pornography among children and teenagers, including pedophilia in Israel and what to do in case of suspicion of sexual abuse or actual sexual assault (given by Orit Kramer)
Lord willing, another in-person workshop for youth counselors and congregational leaders is scheduled in Jerusalem after the high holy days. The lecture will focus on sexual harassment and injury. The need for such lectures reflects the sad reality of our times.
From April through June, Orit was a Guest Lecturer for another organization in Jerusalem and hosted three live/online lectures. The summer has also been filled with a number of local Zoom lectures.
In March of 2021, we shared with you our project of putting out a five-part series of books, in Hebrew, dealing with “Sex in the Plan of God.” The need for such materials has been reinforced by the responses of parents and leaders of congregations to our seminar/workshops.
The first two books have already been published and distributed to congregations, Bible teachers, and youth workers. They have been well-received and we are now getting ready to go forward with a second printing.
The third book in the series (110 pages) has been translated, proofed, and is now at the printer. It should be available by mid-September.
Apart from the above-mentioned series, we have added another booklet to our plans for translation into Hebrew and adaptation for use in Israel. It deals with the kinds of pictures that can help train a child to stay away from pornography. This book will offer important information for the attendees of our lectures on the topic. We are praying about getting this to the Believing community, hopefully, by the end of 2021 or early 2022.
Expectant mothers within Israel’s believing community also face many challenges. We believe it is important to encourage them as well. To that end, we are praying about putting together a book targeted for their needs, that will provide reflections, contemplation, and spiritual encouragement for them.
Praise Our God for Decisions for Life
The rest of the summer has also been busy and is now drawing to an end. Indeed, despite the third lockdown at the beginning of this year until early June, and the present fourth coronavirus wave, our work at A Future and A Hope continues to be fruitful – in every sense of the word! We are in awe of how God is working in the lives of the women who come to us. Up until now, every single abortion-minded woman who has turned to us for counsel and advice since January of 2021 has made a decision not to abort.
Following are just a few of the stories of some of the women whom we are currently helping. Their choices to not abort are particularly special in light of the crises they have had to walk through. All names have been changed to protect their identities.
Mira, 19-years-old, was abandoned when she was 12. She was moved from one foster home to another and now resides in Haifa. Suffering from severe emotional problems, Mira was abortion-minded when she walked through our doors but changed her mind after counseling with us. She lives alone in a small apartment that was provided for her by local social services. We are thankful that Mira was not involved with prostitution. She gave birth only a few days ago and her joy is overflowing.
Nadia is 20 and from an ultra-religious Haredi background. She ran away from home at the age of 14 and has been living on the streets. All of Nadia’s meals have been leftovers handed out by restaurants at the end of the day. Her parents and family have disowned her and relate to her as though she is dead. Nadia is suffering from PTSD and was the victim of complex sexual abuse when she lived at home. Two years ago she underwent an abortion, which only added to her trauma. When Nadia came to us at the beginning of her pregnancy, she wanted to abort. However, by God’s grace, she finally decided to continue with the pregnancy and is due to give birth in September.
Patricia is a refugee from Libya. Hers is a difficult story of sexual abuse and prostitution. Furthermore, although she has lived in Israel for years, she has no status, and therefore, no rights here. Someone recommended that she contact us and we have been encouraging and helping her as much as possible. Patricia has made a decision for life and is also open to the Gospel.
Batya is in her 20’s. She immigrated to Israel at the age of 17, enlisted in the IDF, and served as a “Lone Soldier” (someone with no immediate family here). Her life in Russia had been very difficult, and now she is taking antidepressants. Batya came to us during her first trimester and decided to continue her pregnancy, despite being heavily in debt and with a very challenging economic situation before her. In July, Batya gave birth to a son. While still in the hospital, he began to suffer convulsions; it turned out that he had been badly affected by her medication. His condition was serious, but this past week, he is finally beginning to improve.
Sharon is 25 and from a Haredi family. She is currently a resident of Acco. She ran away from home after suffering severe abuse and moved from place to place, trying to survive. When Sharon came to us, she was pregnant, confused, and terribly insecure. She had absolutely no support from family members – they had utterly rejected her because she had turned away from orthodoxy. Sharon was originally planning to abort but changed her mind. Today she is receiving help from us as part of the First Year of Life Program. Although she is currently living with a friend, Social Services has promised to provide her with an apartment in the near future.
Two other women are keeping their pregnancies, even though their husbands are in prison, serving lengthy sentences. Although in the past we were threatened and harassed by such men, particularly when the women are from a Muslim background, we cannot and will not turn such women away. We are thankful to be able to be there for these women in their time of great need. Nevertheless, we would deeply appreciate your special prayers for God to work in the hearts of all involved, and for our safety in this regard.
All of the stories we’ve shared with you are difficult and challenging. Clearly, we have left much out. And yet, God is doing an amazing work in their lives. Each one who was or is now receiving counseling from us has decided to give life to their preborn children and to press on. As you pray for these women, remember to pray for all of their needs: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. Pray for their spiritual and physical protection, and most importantly, their salvation.
The women know that A Future and A Hope is a non-profit organization supported by people they have never met. Each one is deeply grateful for the help and encouragement they have found with us. Even the smallest assistance we give is a tremendous help in their eyes. Over the years, the First Year of Life Program, our food assistance, and monthly gift cards have proven to be major factors in helping women make decisions for life. That first year has helped them get on their feet and move ahead with their lives.
Thus Far the Lord Has Brought Us…
As 5781 comes to an end, we are so thankful for all that the Lord has accomplished through our labor, your prayers, and your gifts. To support this ministry, please see the information provided at the end of this newsletter, or visit our Donations page.
Ongoing Prayer Requests
- For the health of our staff and families, and for the families who look to us for assistance
- For the protection of our staff and the women and children we help from spiritual forces of wickedness and jealousy
- For continued open doors for effective service
- For financial provision to meet our expanding commitments to the new mothers
- For open hearts of the women seeking our help, for new decisions for life – physical and spiritual
- For special financing for our book projects
We would be happy to hear from you. If you have a comment about this Newsletter, please drop us a note (Prov. 15:23).
Bless, be blessed, and be a blessing.
Marvin S. Kramer (for us all)