Chaim Malespin and his team restoring a building to house new Jewish immigrants
Chaim Malespin’s parents were the hippest of hippies.
At 16 years old, his mother, Tehila, ran away from her abusive home in Canada and decided to try her luck in the bright lights of Hollywood. The hippie movement was in full bloom, and she was right there in the midst of it, protesting Vietnam and embracing the “virtues” of free love and world peace. She did well for herself and was attending a party one evening when time froze, and she saw a figure in white walk through the crowd toward her. He told her, “The way you are going leads unto death, but follow me, and I will make you holy.” Stunned, she immediately left the party and that lifestyle. She continued, however, in her gift of songwriting, and would often take to the streets with her guitar and sing her worship songs.
Chaim’s father, Reuven, grew up in a religious Jewish home and spent much of his childhood studying in a Yeshiva (religious school for Jews). Finding the rabbinical explanations of the scriptures meaningful but not entirely satisfying, he hit the streets in search of truth. Reuven found comaraderie there as it was a time when many were on the streets in search of answers and the meaning of life.
One day Reuven was strolling the streets and saw a girl singing on a street corner. Her songs intrigued him, and they became friends. Soon after, as the Jesus movement exploded on the scene, Reuven realized the “Jesus” all these people were talking about was the Jewish Yeshua who had come to reunite the Jews with their God. Reuven would go on to marry that girl. He gave her a bent coke bottle cap as a wedding ring. But due to his new-found faith, his Jewish family disowned him.
The times were radical, and so as radically as Reuven and Tehila had embraced the hippie life, they now embraced the idea of living for God—entirely separate from the world. For years the couple was nomadic, living entirely off the grid with other like-minded believers. Each time they settled in a new place, Reuven would search for Jews in the area to tell them about their Messiah Yeshua. A second child, Chaim, was born to their growing family. When their third child was born they decided it was time to find a more permanent place to raise their children. A friend recommended they settle in an Amish community.
“I Will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.” (Jeremiah 3:14)
The Amish were kind to them, but the absolute disconnect from society became a struggle as the years went on. They eventually branched off with other families and formed a community that was quite conservative but still allowed such things as cars and electricity. As they began to have more contact with the outside world, Reuven’s passion for the lost sheep of the house of Israel burned brighter than ever.
However, his burden wasn’t just a passion for Jews. It was also a passion for his Jewish homeland. A realization kept pushing itself to the forefront of Reuven and Tehila’s hearts and the restoration of the Jewish people to God and to their homeland was connected. They had returned to God in heaven—now they themselves needed to return to the land of their forefathers.
Still, moving to a foreign land with now six kids in tow would be no small feat. So they asked God for a sign to confirm that He, in fact, wanted them to return to the Land of Israel. While they waited, they filled their spirits with more than 700 scriptures where God spoke of His promise to restore the Jews to their land.
One night, while attending a local community center, a man with a long white beard and hair walked into the service. He said, “My name is Zebulun. I’m just passing through this town, and I understand there’s a family here who has asked God for a sign to make Aliyah [the Hebrew word for immigrating to Israel] to the land of your inheritance. I have brought you a sign.”
He proceeded to hand Reuven a satchel of solid gold coins.
It was then that the Malespins understood one of the verses they had been reading and praying in Isaiah 49:22: Thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.”
The sign not only confirmed they should return, it was a fulfillment of scripture that the Gentiles would send them.
Immediately, the Malespins sold everything and purchased eight one-way tickets to Israel.
THE BUMPY ROAD TO PARADISE
Sometimes God does a miracle, and that is the breakthrough, and sometimes He does a miracle so you will have the confidence to hold on for the long ride until you get to the breakthrough.
The Malespins had a hard time when they arrived. The coins kept them clothed and fed, but the bureaucracy, the culture, the language—that was a whole different story. They had no close family in the land, and there was no absorption program available to them. They knew, however, that God had called them back to Israel and so to them, every closed door simply meant they needed to search for the next one to open.
It was Chaim, his older brother Ephraim and younger brother Moshe who would bring the breakthrough as they realized all three were of army age—and they were ready to serve.
With his strong work ethic, enthusi- asm for his homeland and never fading smile, Chaim was immediately recruited to Israel’s elite forces division called, “Yahalom” (Diamond). The brothers served for three years and still continue in the reserves to this day.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?
After the army, Chaim became a suc- cessful carpenter in Tel Aviv with an en- tire team of construction workers under him. Surrounded by Israelis, he assumed he would never need to speak English again. However, Chaim began hearing stories and realizing just how many oth- er people were struggling like his own family had upon arriving in Israel.
The time his family had spent cling- ing to God’s promises and reading through the many verses on Israel’s restoration solidified in Chaim the im- portance of Aliyah. However, when he looked around, he only saw organizations who were helping Jewish people get to Israel to make Aliyah. A staggering percentage of these people would leave within the first year or two because no one was helping them once they got here.
One day in Tel Aviv, Chaim met a lovely girl at a worship service who told him of her dad in Canada who had been helping Jews return to Israel for 30 years. When Chaim shared his heart of wanting to help Jews after they ar- rived as well, her dad was all in. Chaim moved to the Galilee area to begin building this dream and even got to keep the girl. They were married and now have two children.
Chaim found an abandoned board- ing school campus near the shores of the sea of Galilee and with permission took on the ambitious project of restoring and turning each building into a tempo- rary home for new Jewish immigrants. It would be called the Aliyah Return Center. Volunteers would come from all over the world and help Chaim restore each building at a fraction of the cost and with ten times the heart.
“And I will rejoice over them to do them good,
and I will faithfully plant them in this land
with all My heart and with all My soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41)
IT’S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO GET THEM HERE
One of the first endeavors my parents, Ari & Shira, ever took on at Maoz Israel when they founded it in 1976 was helping people get established in the land. We built a home big enough to plant a congregation and house Jews who were in the process of immigrating. There was always someone staying in our house for a week, a month and even a year until they could stand on their own two feet.
However, everything is now moving faster, and the numbers are greater. Hundreds of immigrants have been helped through Chaim’s work, and many more are on the way. Immigration laws are difficult to navigate; the language and culture are complex, and the cost of liv- ing is staggeringly high. It is not uncom- mon to see engineers or business own- ers who were highly paid in their home country working as school guards or cashiers. Skilled workers must be properly absorbed into the culture in order to transfer their wealth of knowledge into their new environment.
God is drawing His people back to the land, and Chaim is standing at the gate ready to walk with them and help them with everything from finding a home, to opening a business, to learning Hebrew, etc.
It’s not enough just to send Jews to Israel. If families are not able to get established here in Israel, they often return to their land of exile. The dream is lost, and another generation could pass before the family will attempt to fulfill the call to return.
God is calling us in Israel to prepare the way for the return of His people—and He is calling the nations to get involved.
God says, ‟Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so My people can return from captivity.”
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
And declare it in the isles afar off and say,
‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.'”
Dear Maoz Partner,
This new generation of young Messianic Jews is succeeding in so many areas of influence in Israel. Our community now has Messianic believers serving as lawyers, dentists, licensed counselors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and many who work in the hi-tech industry.
Furthermore, an amazing circle of young leaders who are in full-time ministry are doing astonishing things—not for believers only, but impacting Israelis of all walks of life.
Chaim Malespin is one of these extraordinary servants of the Lord to the nation of Israel. He and his wife Deanna, themselves immigrants, know exactly how difficult it is to come to a new country with a new language, new customs and no friends.
The government of Israel and other private organizations work endlessly to help Jewish people immigrate to Israel. But there are almost no organizations assisting these brand new immigrants once their feet touch the ground. They are “lost souls” in the truest sense of the word. They don’t know the language. They don’t know how to get the basics like their utilities working. They don’t know the school system. They need HELP!
And, that’s where the Malespins come in!
One of the most important acts of kindness to new immigrants is to show them friendship. Someone who cares about them in this, their most fragile and vulnerable time, can make all the difference in the world in their lives—and can be the difference between staying in the Land, or giving up and going back to where they came from.
The love of Yeshua shines through Chaim, Deanna and their wonderful team of volunteers who help these immigrants assimilate into their new life. They house and feed immigrants as they come off the plane—sometimes for weeks, or even some months—making sure they get a solid start.
They take them by the hand and walk them through the processes of getting their citizenship in order, and knowing what special benefits are available to them.
They personally go with them to sign up for language school, open a bank account, find a permanent place to live and even help them start their own business.
Chaim and Deanna’s goal is to get each individual or immigrant family planted in a community. And for those who just aren’t sure where to start, Chaim also has a six-month agriculture program to train them in farming.
We know you have a heart to see God’s promises fulfilled in our day, before our very eyes. Just as Ben Yehuda and his family dedicated their lives to seeing the land and the language of the Jewish people come to life, we have an opportunity to participate in fulfilling prophecy—restoring the scattered Jewish people to their homeland—Israel! Lord, let it be!
For Zion’s sake!
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. These are exciting times! We know from the Scriptures that when the children of Israel return home, God will reveal Himself to them. Be a part of God’s restoration with your gifts and prayers today!
FATHER OF THE MODERN HEBREW LANGUAGE: PART 6ELIEZER BEN YEHUDA'S DESTINYTWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK
Eliezer Ben Yehuda foresaw the need for a committee which would oversee the nascent modern Hebrew language, as thousands of words would constantly be added to the limited vocabulary of the early 1900’s. Also this committee would have to determine correct pronunciation, as the few thousands Hebrew-speaking Jews of Palestine came from different countries and therefore many different accents. Ben Yehuda established “The Hebrew Language Council” in 1912, which became the Academy of Hebrew Language in 1953, and is today the supreme institution for scholarship on the Hebrew Language.
When Theodore Herzl, considered the Father of Modern Israel, died in 1904, Eliezer Ben Yehuda went into deep mourning. Although Ben Yehuda had dreamed and worked for a Jewish state nearly 25 years before Herzl appeared on the Zionist horizon, Herzl was his leader—the man who could lead the Jewish people back to their homeland.
Yes, in 1878, Eliezer had written his first passionate appeal “A Burning Question,” calling the Jewish people in the diaspora to come home. But not only were the Jews dispersed; in many ways they were hardly a people group. They spoke countless languages and dialects, were scattered around the world, and many Jewish leaders of the 19th century strongly advocated that all Jews simply assimilate where they lived to avoid more persecution.
It was Herzl who made the clarion call in 1896 that resounded around the world. He warned there was no other solution to prevent the extinction of his people except to return to their ancient homeland. But even Herzl laughed off Ben Yehuda’s burning passion to resurrect the Hebrew language as a catalyst to help create a new nation. For Herzl, resurrecting a dead language was simply so far off the radar of possibility that he was convinced the best language for a new Jewish state would be German.
As Eliezer reflected upon the death of Herzl, he pondered his own situation. He realized that in the last quarter of a century, he had actually accomplished very little, except that he and his second wife and six of his 11 children were alive. They did all speak fluent Hebrew. But the truth was, there were only a few hundred fluent Hebrew speakers in all the land of Israel.
HE KNEW HE HAD FAILED
Eliezer lost all hope. His wife Hemda actually caught him preparing to burn up the entire manuscript for the first volume of his Hebrew Dictionary! She screamed and he dropped the box of matches.
Today we would call it a nervous breakdown. He told Hemda, “I know now I have made a mistake ever trying to do it [resurrect Hebrew]. If it were not a mistake, the opposition would not have been so great.” He wanted to die.
“But what about the great heritage you would be leaving in creating the first Hebrew dictionary in the world? What about the work you have been doing since you came to Israel?” Hemda shouted.
“What is life worth if I cannot serve my people?” he responded. “They refuse to be served! What is the Hebrew language for if no one wants it? What is a dictionary for? Who will use it?”
And, besides all the disappointments of so few people understanding the existential necessity for the Hebrew language to unite his people, the Ben Yehuda family was deeply in debt, with no foreseeable way to pay their anxious creditors.
HEMDA GOES ITINERATING
Out of that conversation, Hemda decided to leave for Europe and search for benefactors to sponsor the publishing of Volume One of the Ben Yehuda dictionary. She had very little money, and she was quite aware that interest in the Hebrew language becoming a spoken tongue in Israel was minuscule. But the woman was brilliant. First she visited Budapest where she met with a famed Orientalist scholar with whom Eliezer had been in correspondence.
The professor and three of his colleagues spent a week looking over the manuscript. Their verdict? “Ben Yehuda was making the most important contribution of his generation to the science of languages.” Now she had a perspective that no one had considered—scientific value.
With those recommendations, she landed an appointment in Berlin with the famed Langenscheidtsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, a long-established house specializing in publishing dictionaries. This prominent house agreed that if Ben Yehuda would provide the typesetting, they would take on the project. (Famed though they were, they obviously didn’t have a Hebrew typesetter.)
However, Hemda would have to raise the money for publication. She traversed Europe, knocking on doors of wealthy Jewish professors and businessmen. She was an attractive lady, in her mid-30’s. Even more so, she was convincing and determined. After four and a half months, she succeeded in raising the equivalent of $2,000—enough for Volume One.
HIS PASSION RENEWED
When Ben Yehuda received a telegram of success from Hemda, he sent back this reply: “Is this reality, or shall I awaken to find that I have been dreaming?” On his fiftieth birthday, he began typesetting Volume One of his dictionary. And now he worked with renewed fire in his soul.
When every new volume was ready, crisscrossing Europe, supplicating and imploring for financial aid became their routine. Hemda had to leave the children with her mother-in-law for months at a time. Sometimes, she traveled alone. Sometimes with Eliezer, who settled in at the closest library for more Hebrew roots in dusty archives while Hemda hunted for contributors. Truthfully, she grew weary of this need of being a one-woman, self-perpetuating fundraising organization. But she accepted it as her role in life.
Very slowly, a few settlements in central Israel began to earnestly teach Hebrew in their local schools. With great satisfaction, Ben Yehuda watched a number of pioneer families painstakingly train their children in the Hebrew language. But then, to his consternation, they would send them off to college in Europe. Sure enough, few young natives of Palestine ever returned.
BEN ZION IS SENT TO EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY
Ben Yehuda took the chance with his own eldest son and sent him to a European university, convinced that his “first Hebrew child” was so deeply wedded to the language and land of Israel he would be back. And that is what happened. He returned at 25 years old a thoroughly experienced journalist and took over Ben Yehuda’s newspaper, developing it into a daily, called The Light. The journalism and the dictionary were the two strongest enterprises that gave Ben Yehuda the momentum to raise Hebrew from its 1800-year sleep.
CHANGES IN THE AIR
As we have mentioned, Theodore Herzl, who died in 1904, had no interest in the Hebrew language, to Ben Yehuda’s great sorrow. But seven years later, the new president of the World Zionist Congress was none other than Professor Otto Warburg, a very wealthy and brilliant scholar who financially made it possible for Ben Yehuda to publish Volume Three of his Hebrew Dictionary!
Secondly, in 1908, the Young Turks Revolution brought a new liberty to write freely about Zionism in Palestine. However, with this new freedom of speech, Hebrew newspapers were popping up everywhere, much to Ben Zion’s dismay! But Ben Yehuda told his son that every progressive step to help Jews in the Land of Israel speak and read Hebrew was definitely beneficial for the Jewish community.
Ben Yehuda didn’t have a jealous bone in his body—one of the most amazing characteristics of his genius. Every new effort by any Jew to promote any form of cultural or economic advancement towards creating a Jewish nation was backed and vigorously supported with every fiber of Eliezer’s being.
ART ARRIVES IN JERUSALEM
One day Boris Schatz, an attractive young man from Bulgaria, appeared at the Ben Yehuda home. Schatz was a sculptor; he and his friend Efraim Lilien came to open a school of arts and crafts in Jerusalem. They envisaged the creation of a national style of art blending classical Jewish/Middle Eastern and European traditions—to create a Jewish art. He had brought with him ten other enthusiastic young Jews from Europe. Up until these young men (and one woman) arrived, there was no such thing as art in Jerusalem—or any other place in Israel.
Boris laid out his vision in a bad mixture of Russian, French and German. But Ben Yehuda sat for six hours transfixed, discussing the project with him. Ben Yehuda agreed to give it his full cooperation—on one condition: that the school would be taught completely in Hebrew! Schatz was shocked and explained that not one of them knew a word of Hebrew. So Ben Yehuda brought Schatz into his home and for six months virtually “locked him up inside his house,” teaching him and his artist friend Hebrew. The ten students were lodged in a Jewish school, as this was summer vacation. They slept on mattresses, and a communal kitchen was arranged with a teacher of Hebrew conducting classes and cooking for them. Hemda became the first secretary for the art school.
The ultra-Orthodox were dismayed beyond measure for this invasion of such idolatry. On the other hand, the women of Jerusalem began buying pictures or needle work to place on the barren walls of their homes. Today, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is a world-renowned institution.
Ben Yehuda helped young Jewish immigrants find work to survive, to attend Hebrew classes, and acquire new occupations so they could become farmers or start small businesses. Above all, he demanded they learn Hebrew! Soon many of these young zealots moved into the new settlements, making sure their children learned Hebrew at their new schools.
THE WAR OF THE LANGUAGES
As the Hebrew language slowly became more prominent, the tension between which language—German or Hebrew—would become the national language of the Jews of Palestine came to a head in 1912. There was an intense scholastic war as wealthy German Jews prepared to create a magnificent university in Haifa on one condition: that all subjects would be taught only in German.
But by now, there were a few thousand local Jews and their children who were already fluent in Hebrew, and they were determined that all schools teach at least some subjects in Hebrew. A delegation from the World Zionist Congress, which by now had caught the vision of the Hebrew language, pleaded that Eliezer pick up his pen and stir up opinion against the use of the German language in Israel. Even though Eliezer knew that contributions of wealthy German Jews were still sorely needed to continue publishing more volumes of his dictionary, he drew a line in the sand against German becoming the foremost language in the Land of Israel.
A nationwide strike of schools erupted with students burning their German textbooks. Of course, Ben Yehuda was in the middle of the fight, threatening that blood would flow. In fact, his home became general headquarters. Councils of war were held late into the night. Finally teachers and students took to the streets in a general strike shouting in Hebrew, “Down with the Germans,” and “Hebrew must live.”
Sure enough, the Germans threatened to discontinue the publishing of more volumes of Ben Yehuda’s dictionary. But there was no stopping the man. He directed the opening of “emergency” schools across the country with all instruction in Hebrew. In some, wooden boxes had to be used for seats. Slowly, the agitation diminished. German schools were reopened, but Hebrew was not dropped from the curriculum. Ben Yehuda, strangely refreshed, picked up his pen and went back to work on his dictionary. Hebrew reigned.
RELIEF FROM CONSTANT DEBT
It was time for Hemda to head off to Europe once more to raise money for the next volume. Eliezer decided to go with her. Again, he headed for the national libraries in each place and buried himself in ancient tomes that would yield new secrets of the beginning and continuation through the ages of the Hebrew language.
After visiting London, Hemda had enough funds to publish the fifth volume. Eliezer was full of excitement over his finds in the library at Oxford. A friend gave them first class tickets on a ship back to Egypt—the first time ever in their lives to enjoy such luxury.
It was a serene period in Eliezer’s life. For at least two more years they would not have to set out for Europe, hat in hand, for the next volume. The children were thrilled their mother wouldn’t be gone for months this time. Eliezer had placed a motto in front of his desk for many years that read: “The day is so short; the work to be done so great.” Now he changed his sign to: “My day is long; my work is blessed.”
WORLD WAR I COMES TO PALESTINE
Eliezer and Hemda decided to take a real vacation. They sent the children to the Petach Tikvah settlement to stay with their close friends, and packed a trunk to take to Beirut. But as they arrived in Haifa to board the ship, they found the city in turmoil. Germany had just declared war on France, and England had declared war on Germany and Austria. Banks were closed. They had just enough cash to get back to Jerusalem.
Darkness settled over the Holy Land. The Jews of Palestine were isolated from the rest of the world. Ships stopped coming to her shores. Sugar, rice and kerosene could no longer be purchased. Turks were searching for anyone who could be accused of treason—meaning Zionist activists. It was rumored there was a warrant out for the arrest of their son Ben Zion, who was a known Hebrew-language journalist. They lost contact with their son Ehud who was studying in Germany. Again, Ben Yehuda felt his dream for a national home for his people that was just emerging, was threatened with annihilation. He had trouble concentrating on his research for his dictionary. Hemda was very worried for his health.
To be continued next month.
Fulfillment of Prophecy, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, by Eliezer Ben Yehuda (grandson) 2008; Tongue of the Prophets, The Life Story of Eliezer Ben Yehuda by Robert St. John 1952; https://goo.gl/MVmMUK; https://goo.gl/8r29uN
Israel Delegation invited to President’s Prayer Breakfast. From left: Ari Sorko-Ram from Ramat HaSharon, Israel, Terry Allen from Washington, D.C., Knesset Member Nava Boker, Josel Chernoff from Philadelphia, Dr. Eli Nacht, Deputy Mayor from Ashdod, Israel.
In the month of February I had the honor of attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., having been invited by the U.S. Congress as a representative from Israel. Also attending with us was a Member of the Israeli Knesset, Nava Booker, and the Deputy Mayor of Ashdod, Dr. Eli Nacht, who has also been a legal advisor in the Israeli Knesset for several years.
As it was last year, the Prayer Breakfast was very positive and encouraging to all of us who attended. All those who spoke, spoke on faith and the centrality of God. President Trump made it clear that America is founded on the Judeo-Christian ethics and that the way of America is to continue to be a Christian nation trusting in God.
We had the opportunity to discuss with multiple congressmen the relationship between Israel and the United States, and how we can improve conditions in the Middle East, specially relating to the Jewish and Arab communities. I also had the opportunity to meet with many international friends from China, South America and Europe who attended the breakfast.
It was very affirming to know that Israel still has many allies who firmly believe and support the Biblical narrative for the nation of Israel.
Our blessings go to all of Israel’s friends around the world. We are thankful for their support.