Continuous Jewish Presence

Please pray for the continued perseverance of the Jews living in the land of Israel despite the continuous persecution they face from the rest of the world and even from many Arabs in the region.

A little known fact about Israel is that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the Land, even since the Romans exiled the Jews from Jerusalem following the Bar Kochba Revolt. At the time of the Muslim conquest, some 43 Jewish communities still existed in the land that the Romans had renamed “Syria-Palestina”. These Jews were known as “the Palestinians”. No-one but them carried this ethnic title.

At the time of the Christian Crusades (the Christian effort to retake the Holy Land that included many massacres and other tragic acts in contradiction to the instructions of our Messiah), some 50 Jewish communities are known. Among them: Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.

Some thirty Jewish communities were known at the beginning of the Ottoman Empire some 500 years ago. These communities included: Haifa, Sh’chem, Hebron, Ramleh, Jaffa, Gaza, Jerusalem, and many in the north. The largest community was in Tzefat.

The Muslims, though having allowed the Jews to live openly as Jews in their homeland, also oppressed them heavily for their refusal to convert to Islam. This led some to convert to Islam to escape persecution (perhaps the reason why some Arabs in the area say that through the generations, they were “Palestinian”. It could be that the Jews who converted to Islam maintained their Jewish identity to some extent and so identified as “Palestinian” since that had originally referred to the Jews of the Land). Even under the intense oppression in the Land under Muslim rule, historical sources show that even the Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land expressed pity for their plight and surprise at their refusal to leave the Land.

Through all of this, the Jews of the Land produced some of the most distinctly Jewish prayers, commentaries on Scripture and discussions on how Judaism should be walked out. By the time of WWI, despite all of the persecution of the previous centuries, not only did the Jewish communities grow, new communities formed and the Jews once again outnumbered any other ethnic group in Israel. The Jews of Israel have always persevered, even under great persecution and we pray that God will continue to prosper the Jewish people in the Promised Land despite the ongoing efforts to delegitimize their presence in the land.

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