One of the first pioneer Messianic Jewish musical groups since Israel’s modern rebirth: Israel’s Hope with Rene Bloch, Paul Wilbur and Marc Chopinsky
Exactly forty years after David Ben Gurion declared Israel’s independence, a group of Messianic Jewish pioneers organized a conference in Jerusalem over the Shavuot (Pentecost holiday) weekend of May 20-22, 1988.
The 40th anniversary of Israel’s independence had been celebrated a week earlier, and it seemed like this was certainly a historic moment to celebrate God’s incredible power and faithfulness to recreate the State of Israel after 1900 years.
Ari and I put our heads together with Sid Roth, now host of It’s Supernatural, and he organized a tour for 476 Messianic Jews and Christians who loved Israel. It would turn out to be the largest tour group in all Israel at that time. The first Intifada had begun five months earlier and was now in full fury. The violence was so great that even most Jewish tourists stayed away from the country—even though it was Israel’s 40th birthday!
In those days we did not yet have Internet. So, our Maoz staff scoured the country for every Messianic Jew and Christian living in Israel that we could think of, inviting them to the conference.
WHERE’S THE HOTEL?
Meanwhile, we were searching for a suitable hotel that could accommodate up to 1000 people. We went from hotel to hotel, but we came up against an incredible wall. Not a single hotel was interested in a conference of Messianic Jews. Besides, they told us, it was against the law for any hotel in Israel to use electrical equipment—like microphones and loudspeakers—on Biblical holidays. And certainly, there could be no singing (worship) with musical instruments.
May 20 was Erev Shabbat (the evening of the Sabbath, as holidays begin the evening before), May 21 was the Sabbath, and May 22 was the Biblical holiday of Shavuot. There would be no conference at any hotel. We prayed.
Someone suggested the Diplomat Hotel in the most eastern section of Jerusalem. We talked to the owner of the hotel, and he told us, “You can have all the music you want! All the speakers you want! You can do whatever you want! I don’t care what the authorities say!”
We were shocked! We soon learned that the hotel had filed for bankruptcy, and therefore the owner had enough lawsuits on his hands that, as he said, he couldn’t care less what anyone did. What’s more, the hotel had 500 rooms!
WE ACTUALLY TURNED PEOPLE AWAY!
On May 20, the hotel was full. Sadly, we had to turn some away who arrived at the last moment. And then we received news that a group of 50 Hondurans had arrived to take part in our conference! We couldn’t believe our eyes! But they said they felt they were to come and join us in this first International Messianic Jewish Conference in 1900 years!
We found a boutique hotel called the Eden Hotel, just down the street, and, if memory serves, the Hondurans were some of the overflow tourists we booked into the Eden Hotel.
Among the 472 people on Sid Roth’s tour was a group of leaders who came from the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, and yet another group from the Union of Messianic Congregations. At that time, there was quite a divide between these two largest Messianic organizations in the U.S., but we in Israel were close friends with both groups. So we were overjoyed when leaders from both organizations decided to attend.
We had an amazing variety of speakers from both the United States and Israel. Sid Roth, who is one of the most incredible witnesses to every person he meets wherever he is, inspired us with a spirit of boldness to witness to our lost people.
THE NIGHT I REMEMBER
What stands out in my mind most of all was Saturday night—the beginning of Shavuot—when Dr. Michael Brown preached a passionate message about this being the time for revival. He said that as the fire of God’s Spirit fell on the Jewish people on Pentecost in Acts 2, now again it is time for another historic Pentecost—exactly forty years after the physical rebirth of Israel.
We all began to pray, really crying out to God, many praying in tongues. Then one local leader stood up and began to shout about tongues being no longer for this age, and left with a number of others. A hush came over the people, and then an oppressive atmosphere. Obviously, we were not in unity.
But again, we began to pray—hour after hour—until 3:30 in the morning! Hundreds of us. Clearly, a powerful anointing fell on those who stayed and were pushing through in the Spirit. But, to be truthful, there was not any notable physical sign that night. Nevertheless, we who stayed felt we had somehow touched heaven. Seriously.
After the conference, one brother who basically tended to be critical—especially when it came to gifts of the Spirit—said to me, “You know what the best thing about this conference was?” I said, “What?” He said, “That it happened.”
In truth, I would agree that the fact it actually happened is a miracle. And perhaps most meaningful to the future of the Messianic Jewish movement was that it was a meeting place for the start of reconciliation between some important groups and individuals, and ultimately, organizations.
It is also true many observed a change in the openness to the Good News in Israel, as Sid Roth’s tour group witnessed wherever they went. And for months after the conference, there were people receiving salvation in every single service of our own congregation in our town of Ramat HaSharon. I remember a large U.S. ministry sent someone to our congregation to see if what we were saying was actually true! And they sent back word—it was true. Israelis were coming to faith in every service.
“Shavuot 88” conference with 1200 attendees. Dr. Michael Brown speaks on the Holy Spirit.
But I must admit, I haven’t thought about that conference in a long time. A lot has happened in these thirty years. Now there is a whole new generation of strong, talented and committed young Israeli believers. So why write about this now? I am so glad you asked!
In May of this year, all of Israel’s media concentrated on the new U.S. Embassy that was going to be moved to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the 70th year of Israel’s independence. As the TV news covered the story about a small attractive building that would become a temporary Jerusalem embassy, the reporter went on to say that the U.S. administration had purchased a couple of buildings nearby for added space. The camera scanned over to a large building a few hundred feet away. It was the old Diplomat Hotel that the U.S. had purchased! We were more than stunned!
The explanation was that they would use that building—for now—as an extension of the embassy. They are considering in the future tearing down the Diplomat Hotel and building a large modern structure in its place. (Incidentally, the Diplomat Hotel was built exactly on the 1949 Armistice line, and the Palestinians are saying that the land belongs to them, even though Israel has been using it since 1949. They are being ignored.)
But that’s not all!!
THE EDEN HOTEL
The Israeli reporters continued by saying that the U.S. had purchased a little boutique hotel by the name of the Eden Hotel, down the street. If my memory serves me, we put the overflow crowd including some of the Hondurans in that hotel! And guess who is the third country which is moving their embassy to Jerusalem—Honduras!
Could our prayers have had anything to do with God’s purposes to restore the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the United States? Could God have placed the Hondurans in that hotel? Just so you know, Hondurans know how to pray! I, for one, believe God orchestrated that entire conference—in spite of all the weaknesses and tiny size of the Messianic movement in 1988.
One more observation: Is this a political statement I am making? Absolutely not. God Himself promised the land of Israel to His Jewish people—hundreds of times. He promised Jerusalem would be the city where the King of the Jews dwells when He returns to earth. Over 200 times, God calls Himself the God of Israel. Throughout the Bible it is He who says that in the last days He would bring his people back to the Land of Israel and to the God of Israel.
Seventy years ago on May 14, President Harry Truman recognized Israel as the Jewish state. This year on May 14, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of this Jewish state. It’s in the Bible!
Left: Welcome banner at entrance of Diplomat Hotel. Right: Diplomat hotel today, purchased by President Trump’s administration as part of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.
DO YOU KNOW THESE GREAT PIONEERS OF THE MESSIANIC MOVEMENT?
Those of you who are involved in the Messianic Jewish movement will recognize many of the real giants of the faith in this movement who attended the 1988 Shavuot conference. Just some from the MJAA: David and Joel Chernoff, Manny and Sandra Brotman, Paul Liberman, Jonathan Bernis, Dotti Solomon, and the first Messianic musical group Lamb, all of whom pioneered the establishment of the Messianic Jewish movement in the twentieth century.
Likewise from the Union came luminaries like Dan Juster, Rich Nichols, Eitan Shishkoff with daughter Hannah (who first met other young believing Israelis, and soon decided to make aliyah with her parents), the marvelous Israel’s Hope with Paul Wilbur, Marc Chopinsky and Rene Bloch. Some from both organizations have gone on to be with the Lord, while the rest are still highly respected “movers and shakers” in the Messianic movement.
In Israel, we, too, had our own pioneers in attendance. Just about every Messianic Jewish leader and lay person in the country was there, along with Arab Israeli Christian pastors. Several hundred Christians living and serving God in Israel also attended.
Just a few of the Israeli pioneers in attendance I can remember are Peter Tsukahira and wife Rita, who have taught throughout Asia God’s purposes for Israel; David and Martha Stern of the ground-breaking Complete Jewish Bible. There was David Loden, the father of Israel’s Messianic music, and his wife Lisa; Israel Harel, who together with Arab brothers, travels in Arab countries preaching the Gospel to Muslims; Arieh Bar David from one of the very first Messianic families in Israel’s modern history. So many more—Rami and Gabriela Danieli, Tom Hess, the opera singer Etti Horesh—all born with a purpose to breathe life into the people of Israel.
Danny Yahav, an IDF major (now in the reserve) and leader of one of the largest congregations in the country; Barry and Batya Segal, of the Millennium Center in Modi’in who spoke about making aliya (immigration) to Israel, and for years after that, immigrants told how that conference set their faces towards Zion. Each one of these local Israelis has done spectacular works of God, in obedience to their own callings.
There were still other “giants” at the conference: Lance Lambert, a great prophetic voice; Yacov Damkani, Israel’s evangelist; Ray and Sharon Sanders of Christian Friends of Israel and Halvor Ronnig, the world-renowned scholar of the Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators. There is not enough space to mention each of the great pioneers who were there!
It is all these who began with a tiny flickering light to NOW see a multitude of Jewish believers around the world laying the foundation for God’s second part of His promise after Israel’s return to her Land. That promise—“All Israel Shall Be Saved!”
Lamb concert with Joel Chernoff (right) and Rick Coghill
A NOTE FROM DR. MICHAEL BROWN
A conflict arose at the conference when Michael Brown preached that this 40th anniversary was the time for another Acts 2 outpouring of God’s Spirit. While many experienced a deep spiritual revitalization, others viewed the evening from a conservative theological background. Dr. Brown sent us a letter recounting his personal experiences from the conference.
A Note from Dr. Michael Brown
Months before the conference, God spoke to me that I would be bringing one of the keynote messages, which seemed highly unlikely at that point, given that other, more senior speakers would be there. Then, He called me to a 21-day fast—water only. I was desperate to see God’s glory in the Land!
The Saturday night I spoke, about 700 believers stayed until 3:30 A.M. praying for the fire to fall, and many had deep encounters with God. (Over the years, I met people who were there that night, and they told me what happened to them personally.)
Ari said it was the greatest outpouring in the modern history of Israel—and many testified to the spiritual atmosphere being changed on the streets when they were sharing their faith the next day. The Lord met us!
But He also used that time to purge me deeply, revealing pride and flesh in my life. He told me that, like Yeshua, I would die in Jerusalem at the age of 33, which happened in a profound spiritual way—and so I can attest firsthand that the fire of God fell that night. It certainly fell on me!
You, Ari and Shira were a great help to me at that time as we talked through the events of the conference and my message.
Banner created by Martha Stern for the “Shavuot 88” Messianic Jewish Conference in Jerusalem
In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem. (Daniel 9:2)
And you shall consecrate the 50th year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants… In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. (Leviticus 25:10,13)
50 YEARS (the Year of Jubilee)
1897 Theodore Herzl, Father of modern Israel, holds 1st Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland
1947 The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution for the creation of the State of Israel
1897 1st Zionist Congress for the Creation of a Jewish State (Herzl)
1967 Jerusalem is in Jewish hands in the Six Day War
70 YEARS (and 7 days)
1947 UN Votes for a Jewish State (and an Arab State) on November 29, 1947
2017 President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Jewish Capital, December 6, 2017
1967 Jerusalem liberated by Israel in Six Day War
2017 U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
70 YEARS (to the day)
1948, May 14 Israel declares her Independence
2018, May 14 U.S. declares Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
(40) 1948-1988 + (30) 1988-2018
70 YEARS (to the day)
1948 May Israel declares her Independence
1988 May 1st Messianic Jewish Conference in Jerusalem (in 1900 years) for the salvation of Israel in Diplomat Hotel on 40th Anniversary of Independence
2018 May United States moves its Embassy to Jerusalem the capital of Israel, having purchased the Diplomat Hotel as part of the location for the U.S. Embassy. Guatemala and Honduras follow on 70th Anniversary of Independence.
Banners created by Martha Stern for the “Shavuot 88” Messianic Jewish Conference in Jerusalem
One of the goals of IstandwithIsrael.com is to help raise the standard of living of Israel’s Messianic Jews and Arab Christians so that these believers will be strong, skilled witnesses of the God of Israel and our Messiah Yeshua. Here are five applications among a total of 40 requests currently in our offices—21 of them for education.
Total amount needed for these five: $28,832.
GOAL: TO IMPROVE MY COPYWRITING
for our online outreach to Israelis—reaching millions
I am 33 years old, a Sabra (native Israeli) Jewish believer in Yeshua.
I came to faith in Yeshua back in 2009. Then, by the grace of God, I received a bachelor’s degree in Systematic Theology from Israel College of the Bible. As part of my ministry with One For Israel Ministries, I started writing scripts, commercials, and teaching the Bible.
My ministry involved online evangelistic videos that have been watched in Israel over 10 million times!
Two years ago, God put it on my heart to study writing. My purpose was to improve the way I write scripts and commercials about our Savior.
My choice for learning is a well-known school for writing professionals. It is a 10-month course; intensive, but worth it. I am studying how to write basic commercials, scripts, editing articles and much more—all of which are so important to improve my media writing.
We are here to share the Good News with Israelis, and this is a crucial step for excellence in our outreach. We are watching Israelis come to faith through the work we do online.
Thanking you in advance, I look forward to receiving your help for a scholarship needed for my studies, and through your donations the Gospel can reach clearly to the Jewish people worldwide—on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
GOAL: TO STUDY ECONOMIC SCIENCES
and provide assistance for the fast-growing number of new congregations with legal and ethical advices
I work as a full-time security guard at a bank, and my wife works in the post office. I am 24 years old. We are actively involved in our congregation and help with ministry for kids and youth. We have a great interest in studying the Word of God and are investing time, energy, finances, and all possible resources to help the Body of Messiah in Israel grow and develop.
I want to study economic sciences, as I see a great need to help congregations with quality administration.
I was born into a family of believers, but during the army I strayed from God until my last year, when I began to take my relationship with God seriously. I started dating Mira, whom I had known in the army, and invited her to visit our Friday services at “Light of the World” Congregation. Mira had many questions, and my pastor devoted much time to answering them. By the grace of God, Mira came to faith, and from that moment she became a devoted disciple of our Lord and Messiah Yeshua. We have been married just over a year.
GOAL: TO COMPLETE THE 3RD YEAR OF MY B.A.
plus two more years for becoming a registered nurse
My family made aliyah from Ukraine in 2001, when I was thirteen years old. My husband, Leonid, made aliyah from Russia when he was ten years old. We both come from believing families and have been serving God since we were children.
Leonid is a fitness coach, specializing in CrossFit. We met about three years ago at the gym and married about a year later.
I have always wanted to work within the health care system, with a goal of earning a degree in management. I started my B.A. studies in Healthcare Systems Management in 2014. This is my third year of studies. Once completed, I’ll be able to work in management positions at any clinic or hospital.
While studying I also worked at a credit company until the dramatic, premature birth of our baby in November 2017. My pregnancy was perfect and seamless until suddenly one evening I was rushed to a hospital, and the baby was born by caesarean section in critical condition. Our baby was kept in the children’s emergency ward for six weeks.
Naturally, from this point forward I was unable to continue my studies or to work. Now we are so thankful to our Messiah that the baby’s health has stabilized, and life is back to normal.
I have started the third and last year of my B.A. studies, which will be completed next summer. Your help for a scholarship will allow me to finish my education and be a fruitful member of the Messianic believers here in Israel.
GOAL: TO BECOME A SOUND TECHNICIAN
to raise the standard of beautiful worship in Hebrew
I was born in the United States to an American mother and a Japanese father whose family immigrated to California five generations ago. My parents raised me in a family devoted to God and His Son.
While I was completing an M.A. in English education, my parents began to attend a Messianic Jewish congregation in Fresno and I went along. I went to work as an English teacher, praying that God would show me the direction for my life’s work. Through a series of events, I went to Israel to seek the Lord about my future.
I met Shani, a Sabra, who was working as the CFO of the ministry, Revive, and fell in love with her almost immediately. Through Shani, God showed me I was to give my life to her, and to her people—the people of Israel.
After two years, I became fluent in Hebrew and was leading worship teams on my own. I began writing worship songs in Hebrew and sharing them with the community. Because of the consistent need for sound technicians, I had many opportunities to practice and grow in my skills. My love for music (worship music in particular), and sound engineering grew to the point where I knew it was time for me to study to become a professional sound technician, so I could be a source of even greater support, and a resource for the growing body of believing musicians in Israel—Jews, Arabs, and Christians alike.
I have decided to make it my life’s work to raise the level of professionalism of Israeli believers in Israel as a testimony to the country, both in the body of believers and in the secular marketplace. I also hope to be an example for a new generation of musicians and aspiring sound technicians dedicated to using their gifts to bring glory to Yeshua through both engineering and art.
I will be starting my second and final year of sound school in Tel Aviv, taking classes five nights a week. I have already begun working only part-time to fit everything into my schedule. Finances are very tight, but we believe He is and has been leading us and will continue to be faithful to us as we respond to Him in faith.
Little Hearts Preschool
GOAL: TO PROVIDE MONTESSORI METHOD CERTIFICATES
for five teachers and one administrator
Little Hearts Preschool is in the heart of Jerusalem, a unique and diverse city that is home to many nationalities and cultures. The 62 children who attend our preschool reflect this diversity. Here, within the walls of our preschool, we work, play, and learn together based on our mutual faith in Yeshua. We use a Montessori-inspired curriculum that sets the tone of our preschool as a creative, curious, calm, and peaceful environment.
Our staff is a wonderful blend of Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian teachers working together to provide a multilingual, quality education, as we foster an environment of unity.
Using the Montessori curriculum, our goal is to cultivate a community within this school of peaceful co-existence among teachers, students, and families who would otherwise never have the opportunity to interact with each other on any level. And here, they not only interact, they learn to love and respect each other!
We hope this year to train our five teachers and one administrator in the Montessori method to provide a setting that embodies principles mirroring our faith and mission. It would be an amazing help to our preschool to have teachers who are professionally trained to teach in an excellent way to serve God and our local community!
Dear Maoz partner,
Do you know why Israel is such a spectacularly successful land with all the dangers, challenges and obstacles facing this tiny country? Only one reason—the God of Israel who never slumbers or sleeps always keeps His promises!
But what earthly methods has God given to the Jewish people to obtain such outstanding success in so many fields? The answer is education!
The Jewish people know that education is the key for increase and advancement in any area known to man—whether it is medicine, high-tech, art, law, politics, or a world of other professions.
Before there was a state of Israel, the early Zionists founded the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Local Jews established a high school in 1905 in Jaffa, and when 60 Jewish families inaugurated the new “city” of Tel Aviv in 1909, that same year they built the high school where many of Israel’s most famous early leaders studied and graduated. Just 60 families!
In short, education is also a foundational stone for bringing the Good News to Israelis!
When we first came to Israel, there were very few believing Israelis in the whole land. And most of those we did meet seemed to be very poor, living on handouts. As a result, as far as we know, there was not a single self-sustaining congregation of believers in the country. The local believers could not themselves maintain a place to meet and grow a congregation outside of their tiny living rooms.
Today, great changes have taken place.
The current generation of Messianic Jews are bold believers. They want to make an impact for the Kingdom of God and understand they must work hard to gain respect for both their abilities and their testimony of faith.
We at Maoz clearly see we must invest all we can to help this generation of young people excel to their fullest potential. Going to an institute of learning will make a huge difference in their ability to impact their world.
We’ve listed five different young couples in our Maoz Israel Report this month who have given their lives and their abilities to Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel. They want to see Israelis come to faith, and they plan to be a part of what God is doing. The total amount we need to help them is $28,832. (€21,915, £24,76, CAN38,034)
We have simply listed 5, but continually we receive many applications from our young adults to attend college or study specific career courses to help them fulfill God’s calling on their lives. We have another 40 applications waiting—21 of them for education!
Israel still needs your help. These young people, making far lower salaries than their peers in western countries, while struggling with a much higher cost of living than almost any other comparable country—they need your help.
Together, we will see the Body of Believers rise up and make their testimonies known to this nation while they provide for their families and their congregation.
All Israel shall be saved,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. Our Israeli young people are a GREAT investment! Help us today to make their dreams come true!