Prayer Letter — July 2021

The biggest news in Israel is our new government. Naftali Bennett became Israel's 13th Prime Minister, effectively ending Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure. While Israelis are divided about the change, the government is already taking positive steps to actively address the most pressing needs within the country. Israel recently had a surge of Coronavirus cases after the entry of the Delta variant to the country infected many school children. This came after the country had single-digit infection rates for the whole month of May, and the mandatory mask mandate expired in mid-June. The mask mandate for enclosed spaces has returned, but considering the tapering off of new cases, the government announced that, at least for now, no further restrictions will be implemented.


Israel's New Government
Last month, Israel inaugurated its 36th Knesset. It is a new era for Israeli politics as Israel's most diverse government ever was established. While the country is still relatively divided politically, especially considering Benjamin Netanyahu's party, Likud, received the popular vote. Yet, he was unable to form a government and so his political rival, Yair Lapid, was tasked with forming the government - and he succeeded. PM Bennett has already faced some tough situations, and more are headed his way, especially with the controversial ruling on the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood evictions set to be made in the coming weeks. To read more about Israel's new government, click here. Please pray for our new government and Prime Minister Bennett. Please pray for wisdom, humility, and a heart that seeks after God. Please also pray for extra grace in this season of transition, and for peace between Israelis despite our differences.

Summer Vacation
All Israeli children are officially on summer vacation. This year, due to the fact that many youth missed material due to distance learning, the Ministry of Education is offering an optional three-week summer school session. This will also help families who need child care during the summer to have a good place for their children. Israelis tend to enjoy traveling abroad, but due to the COVID situation in many countries still raging, it looks like many families are opting to stay in Israel again this summer.  Please pray that we will have a quiet summer and get the rest and refreshment so many of us desire! Please also pray for those who will be traveling, for safety all around, and for protection from hostilities abroad. Lastly, please pray that university students will finish this academic year as strongly as possible this month as they take exams and submit final papers.

Tensions Along Israel's Borders & Within
After Israel's military campaign against Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip in May, tensions remain high along Israel's borders. Iranian proxy groups, notably Hezbollah in Lebanon, and other groups in Syria, are of particular concern. In Israel, tensions in East Jerusalem are still quite high. The anticipated ruling in the Sheikh Jarrah eviction case that has drawn international attention as well as demolition of homes in other East Jerusalem neighborhoods is raising already high tensions. These homes were built illegally, without permits, and it should be noted that there are also Jewish-owned homes that will also be demolished. Please pray that Israel will not be torn apart from within, especially along ethnic identities. Please pray that the northern border will remain quiet, and that Israel will not be drawn into another military conflict with Lebanon. Please pray for a revival in these areas, that the Spirit of the Lord will move powerfully among the people there! Please also pray for safety for Israel's citizens who live in communities bordering Lebanon and Syria. Lastly, please pray that the plans of Israel's enemies will be absolutely frustrated and that all will see the mighty hand of God move to defend Israel, the apple of His eye!

Coronavirus in Israel
Israel is experiencing another surge in Coronavirus infections. This time, the so-called delta variant is responsible. The initial outbreak occurred in two elementary schools in the central part of the country, due to children from two families who returned from abroad that broke the required quarantine. Israel now reports over 300 new cases per day after two months of single-digit infections. The good news, however, is that there is no jump in serious cases and hospitals are not experiencing a surge of patients. There is also not a rise in morbidity. The country still grapples with the economic fallout from the pandemic, however. The country remains closed to tourists, which is disappointing on many levels, and many who work in tourism continue to struggle financially. Please continue to pray for Israel to emerge from the grip of the pandemic. Please also pray for all who are sick to fully recover. Lastly, please pray for all who are struggling financially

Rising Cost of Living
Israel is ranked as the 8th most expensive country in the world in which to live. The high cost of rent, food, natural gas, fuel, electricity, and leisure such as eating out, puts Israel above Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.K., France, and the United States. The cost of food reportedly rose 20% during the pandemic, which is unthinkable, especially with so many people out of work. In addition, Israelis pay 17% sales tax on all goods! This is partly because there are many government-subsidized programs on which a large number of the population depends. Thousands of families fell under the poverty line during the pandemic, and are struggling to recover. Please pray for supernatural provision for all who are struggling to meet basic needs. Please also pray that the new government will take decisive measures to lower the cost of living and encourage more free-market economic growth.  Lastly, please pray that those who have much will freely give to those who have less, and for a generous spirit to bless all in need.


Moran & Family
Moran has enjoyed being able to invest his time and energy into the staff. Moran continues to seek wisdom from the Lord about the ever-changing nature of the ministry in these times. He still faces challenging decisions regarding the tour operations, so please keep praying for wisdom, discernment, peace, and patience for him! Please also pray for his family, for health, patience, flexibility, and grace over the summer vacation. Please especially pray for protection over their children's health and for a safe, enjoyable summer.

HFI Board
Please pray for wisdom for the board as they continue to make important decisions that affect the future of the ministry. Please pray for protection over all of HFI’s board members and their families, that the Lord would shield them from illness and spiritual warfare. Please also pray for healing for several of the board members’ spouses from various diseases and for strength during these difficult health challenges.

HFI Staff
We said goodbye to three staff members at the end of June, and welcomed two new staff members at the same time. Please pray for our outgoing staff, for grace and joy as they continue their journey, and for our new staff as they join the ministry. Please continue to pray for a smooth transition period during the next month. Please also keep our staff and their families covered in prayer, especially in the coming summer months.

NerYah Youth Group
Ro'i and Emunah are our new coordinators and we are really excited to welcome them to the staff. The team prepared an amazing end-of-year party for the youth at the end of June. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to our graduating seniors, but we know they are going in His grace and will continue to keep in touch through the soldiers' group. The coordinators are now working on summer activities for the youth, as well as for the coming academic year. Please continue to pray that the youth will be hungry for God's word, and continue to participate in meetings and ask questions. Please also continue to pray for Tigist, Emunah, & Ro'i, that they will receive wisdom, encouragement, and clear direction, and for unity among the team. Please pray for young adult volunteers to join the youth group leadership. Lastly, please continue to pray for health for the youth and protection from infection from the surging coronavirus.

Believing Soldiers Groups
We were excited to host our first in-person meeting for believing soldiers last month! This is such an important part of our work, so we are grateful for the opportunity. There are many youth from the NerYah group who are enlisting in the next few months. Please pray for our new young soldiers to enter this phase of their lives with confidence in the Lord and strength to withstand the challenges they will inevitably face. Please continue to pray for the believing soldiers with whom our team is working, for emotional and physical health, and for those newly released, for wisdom for their next steps. Pray that they will seek excellence in their service and be a strong witness of Yeshua to their peers, not just in word, but also in deed. Please also pray for more young adult volunteers to join in the coming year. Lastly, please continue to pray that our  will be a constant encouragement and reminder that God is in control, and that He cares for them!

University Students
Students will take exams and submit final papers this month. Please continue to pray for the believing students who receive financial & mentorship support from us, that they would be able to focus on their studies and achieve excellence. Please pray for Tigist as she leads this specific program and mentors the students in various areas. Please also pray for wisdom, patience, peace, and clear guidance as she also manages the staff who work with the students. Please pray for her as she plans a summer program as well as next year's activities, that the workshops and meetings will be helpful and a blessing to the students. Lastly, please continue to pray for an abundant financial provision for us to continue to award scholarships that will impact Israel's believing students for years to come.

Beyond the Headlines Project
Over three years ago, we initiated a project advocating for Israel, its importance in the Middle East, and to show how Israel blesses the world through innovation. We were very active in responding to the plethora of lies and misinformation that circulated during this last war with Hamas. We also realized how crucial it is for people to know the facts of Israel's history, the complexity of the situation, and to help others answer those who spread lies about Israel. We are working on new videos and articles that advocate for Israel, while accurately portraying Israel's complex history, and declaring that God is NOT DONE WITH ISRAEL. This project is incredibly important in these times! Please pray for the entire process of writing, filming, editing, and distributing the videos. Please also pray for a fruitful distribution of the videos and a wide reception of them. Lastly, please pray for the necessary funds in order to keep this project going strong! To watch our latest video, please click here.

Ministry Finances
We ask for prayer that God will continue to bless the ministry’s finances so that we can continue to pay our staff salaries, our bills, and most importantly, to bless as many people as possible, especially in this season of economic recovery from the pandemic. Please pray that, as much as possible, we will have a financial blessing to continue with our current projects to bless the people of Israel, and really help those in need in this season.

We are still hopeful to resume tour operations in 2021, but things continue to change daily and it is very difficult to plan anything with any kind of certainty. Please join us in praying for wisdom for Moran as he continues to make tough decisions regarding the tour operations. Please pray for Judi & BJ for wisdom and flexibility in working with all those involved in rescheduling tours from 2020. There are still many details "up in the air" due to ever-changing local rules and global regulations, not only specific to sites in Israel, but also individual to the airlines, hotels and other players.

Thank you for joining us in prayer for these things! May the LORD bless you!

In His Service,

The Hope for Israel Prayer Team

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