In the wake of the ongoing conflict along the Gaza border, a heartening alliance between Jewish and Christian organizations is blossoming to provide solace and refuge for Israelis forced to flee their homes. Since October 7th, the Genesis 123 Foundation, founded by Jonathan Feldstein as a bridge between Jews and Christians in Israel, has been at the forefront of this collaborative effort.
Feldstein, acknowledging the lasting trauma inflicted upon evacuees, emphasizes the importance of collective support. "This is a trauma that is going to exist for the rest of their lives, and their children's lives, and their grandchildren's lives," he shares.
To alleviate the burdens of this traumatic experience, Christian and Jewish groups are working hand in hand, covering hotel costs for evacuees and organizing projects, particularly for the children. Feldstein notes, "We've been putting them up in this hotel, and tonight we're doing a beautiful BBQ for them along with a workshop where the kids are making floral arrangements to go into Shabbat."
Feldstein explains how children have been traumatized, “If you're in a community that's 15 seconds notice any time rockets have been fired, and there've been thousands, they the kids weren't able to leave their houses.”
The collaborative efforts extend beyond borders, with representatives like John Enarson with Cry for Zion expressing the significance of Christians standing in solidarity with the Jewish community affected by the conflict.
“What we're doing now, what Christians do now, makes a big difference. Giving of their livelihood to support the Jewish people who now had to flee their homes from the Hamas attacks in the south, and live in hotels with their families who've been in bomb shelters for days on end. And so we are pitching in in any way that we can. I represent all the Christians who have donated through Cry for Zion to help refugees from the rockets down south”, Enarson explains.
As evacuees, many of whom traveled from rural areas near Gaza, find refuge in Jerusalem, they experience the warmth of a partnership between Jews and Christians that transcends geographical boundaries. Feldstein shares, "For most of them coming here to Jerusalem is the first time they've actually met Christians. They are so overwhelmed at the love that is coming from Christians all over the world." Feldstein expresses, “It makes me emotional just thinking about it because I get to be the orthodox Jewish partner bringing all of this together.”
While signs of healing are evident in the smiles and dancing of the children, the stark reality of terror persists for those still near the Gaza border. “It's overwhelming because, as much as I have my faith, I'm still a 58-year-old man with a son in the army and a son-in-law in the army, and 3 little grandchildren who are under 5. We need our Christian friends all over the world to stand with us. This is the opportunity since the worst horror before us until now, the Holocaust; Christians didn't speak up then by and large.
Feldstein reflects on the urgency of global unity, saying, "I just pray that we'll come out of this stronger, and I say unified, I don't mean only Jews. Jews and Christians together."