Sar-El Tours & Conferences - 'For the Lord your God brings you into a good land.' (Deut 8:7)

February 2013
Sar-El News Scroll
lions gate 
wild flowers 

deadsea rocks 

In This Issue

Quick Links


Shalom from Israel!

We trust you are well in the new year.  Please read on to see what's the latest in Israel and at Sar-El.  If you like what you see don't forget to forward our email to your church members, friends and family, and encourage them to also sign up to receive our news scroll.  We appreciate your support and are always open for ways that we can better improve the information we give you.

Many Blessings,
Samuel Smadja


Like us on Facebook

What's New In Israel
Photo Credit: Baz Ratner - Reuters 
Israeli Elections 2013: 
In January Israelis went to the election booths in record numbers with more than 67% of the eligible voting pubic casting their votes.  Important issues this election were the continued rise in the cost of living, the need for the ultra orthodox to take part in  National Service like their secular and religious counterparts and of course the need to find a solution to the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.  Another motivator for the higher turn out this year was the new faces in the political arena specifically that of Yair Lapid, the charismatic former journalist who leads the Center Right Party "Yesh Atid" (There is a Future), and high tech entrepreneur Naphtali Bennet, an equally fresh and attractive newcomer to politics.  Bennet and his party "Ha Bayit Yehudi" (The Jewish Home) represent a pluralistic religious secular right wing constituency. The 19th Knesset will have 27 women Knesset members; the highest number ever.  Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still turned out to be the biggest winner with 31 seats which is lower than had been expected and not enough to have a strong majority.  The important and difficult task ahead of the Prime Minister is now to form a coalition in order to lead the country. It is expected that he will seek a way to work with Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet and add other smaller parties in order to form a strong majority.  This expected coalition would share a center-right ideology in regards to the economy, social issues and security.

snowjlm Winter Weather: The winter of 2012-2013 will be one for the books! This is only the fifth time in modern-day Israeli history that the nation experienced 6-7 days straight of rainfall. Early January saw a downpour of constant rain and hail in the North, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Coastal areas. We prayed for rain and God more than answered, also bringing snow to the Jerusalem area and the North of the country! Israel, not used to all the rain and especially to snow, saw flooding, several road closures, and the shutdown schools and businesses due to the weather. Overall the Sea of Galilee - Israel's single fresh water source - rose by 78 centimeters (30.7 inches) over the course of the stormy weather.  This brings the water level to roughly 2.5 meters below its high water mark, a level that has not been reached for many years.   

Points of Interest
ICEJ Headquarters in the heart of Jerusalem
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Visit the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) to experience a unique Christian perspective on what God is doing in Israel and the Middle East Region. Located in the heart of Jerusalem for more than 30 years, the Christian Embassy has become a leading and recognized organization in Israel for Jewish Christian relations, and is known for its benevolent work among Jews and Arabs. The ICEJ today represents millions of Christians, churches and denominations that stand with the Nation of Israel.


All groups that come with Sar-El Tours are offered an exclusive one hour briefing on the political and spiritual situation in Israel and its neighboring countries. The lectures given by senior ICEJ staff will broaden your insight and understanding of the complex situation of the Middle East and help empower you to pray more effectively for Israel. Light refreshment will be offered to tour groups visiting the Embassy.  


Dr. Jurgen Buhler, Executive Director of the ICEJ, extends his personal welcome to Sar-El groups: "It is a privilege to welcome you and your group to the International Christian Embassy. It is our mission to empower you to stand more effectively with God's purposes for Israel in the Nations. I look forward to hosting you in our beautiful and historic residence in Jerusalem."


Jewish National Fund Tree Planting

A Sar-El group planting trees

Throughout the year visitors to Israel can plant trees through the Jewish National Fund as sign of solidarity with Israel. If your tour group wants to partner with the JNF and make a lasting impact in the Holy Land, our tour operators can arrange for you to plant a tree with your own hands in the land of Israel. JNF currently has two tree planting centers: one located in Nachshon Forest in the Judean Lowlands, and the second for those visiting the Galilee is located in the Lavi forest near Tiberias. Plant a tree and help a forest grow! In honor of this unique experience every planter receives a beautiful certificate and a copy of the Planter's Prayer. For more details and to arrange the event, please contact your local travel agent.


Heart to Heart

Here is another hands-on opportunity for visitors to incorporate into their Israel itinerary.  Visitors to Israel can contribute in a special way through Heart to Heart, a project of American Friends of Magen David Adom (Israel's Red Cross).  AFMDA is a nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to saving lives in Israel for more than seven decades. They ensure that Israel's national blood bank has a steady supply of blood to prepare for all emergency situations.  Tourists can have the opportunity of donating blood without any interruption to their Israel itinerary.  Heart to Heart  provides a Mobile Unit that can come to you at a convenient time and location or you can visit a nearby Blood Bank branch. Provide the biggest blessing to all who live in Israel by giving the gift of life!  For more information, please have your local travel agent contact our office. 


Sar-El News

madagascar pres. President of Madagascar: Sar-El Tours had the privilege of welcoming the President of Madagascar, Mr. Andry Rajoelina, and his family on their recent pilgrimage to Israel in January. President Rajoelina met with Israeli President Shimon Peres in efforts to strengthen solidarity and reinforce relations between the two nations. The President and his family also made a special visit to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem where he was received by His Beatitude Fouad Twal. Mr. Rajoelina also visited the Western Wall where he offered a prayer for his nation and its citizens.


Travel to India: Our Far East Department Manager Mr. Yinon Ben Hod, along with staff member Mr. Jonah Rikhi, spent two weeks on a preliminary marketing trip across India. They spent many hours networking and meeting numerous pastors and agents. It is our desire at Sar-El Tours to enable Christians from around the world the opportunity to experience Israel first-hand.  We look forward to serving the Christian church in India! 




Boxer Manny Pacquiao: We were honored to host yet again world title boxing champion Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines on his Walk Through the Bible Tour! Pacquiao and those traveling with him enjoyed all the Biblical sites throughout the country, and were greeted with a special visit by Samuel Smadja (pictured left).






Networking in Spain: Mr. Ariel Rotstein, Deputy Manager - Director of Operations, along with representatives from our Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking departments, recently returned from the 33rd annual International Tourism Trade Fair held in Madrid, Spain. The fair is a global meeting point for tourism professionals from around the world to network, meet new agents and gain exposure in the tourism industry worldwide. We look forward to serving more Christians from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking communities from around the world.   

Spiritual Insights
jericho road Shopping on the Jericho Road     by Josa Bivin
Editor: David Bivin of


The Jericho Road is no more than a thirty-minute drive from where we live. Yet the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) can be as distant as the period of time in which it happened. Such a dramatic experience - passing up someone in dire need - would never happen to us! But how about someone who is not in such dire need? Let's consider someone who needs just a little help.


I do most of my weekly grocery shopping at a supermarket ten minutes from our house. I like to shop early in the morning so I can get home in case David needs the car to go to town. So there is always in the back of my mind the urgency of hurrying to go and return as quickly as possible.


On one recent shopping day as I was hurrying along the aisles with my cart, I noticed two ladies, apparently a mother and daughter, selecting their groceries carefully and making sure they had the right item before placing it in their cart. Russian immigrants, I thought, again regretting the lackadaisical way I studied Russian years ago.


They were ahead of me in the checkout line and by the time I reached the car with my load, I saw them standing across the street at the bus stop surrounded by their bags of groceries. A very strong thought entered my mind: "Offer these two ladies a lift."


However, I realized the whole of the back seat of our little European car was completely full with bulging shopping bags and boxes of food. No room for two ladies and their bags. But, the thought persisted: "Give them a lift. You can put some of your bags in the trunk."


"But the groceries are packed, I'm in the driver's seat and I've already started the motor," I argued.


As I started to drive away, the younger one of these two ladies, seeing I was going in their direction, approached my car and timidly indicated that they would like a ride. With true compassion and regret on my face, I pointed to the back seat so she could see my dilemma. Crestfallen, she stepped back. I offered to take the mother in the front seat, but no, they would go together. I apologized. I apologized again, honestly regretting I couldn't take them. I drove on.


Again the voice: "Turn around. Put some of your stuff in the back and take these ladies home."


I continued driving. "I have to get home," I argued. "David needs to leave immediately."


The voice said: "Turn around, turn around. It's not too late."


David wasn't waiting impatiently for me to return. In fact, he didn't leave for town for another half hour. To this day, I am haunted by my refusal to simply obey that inner voice and do what I could to help these dear ladies. It would only have taken a few extra minutes of my time. Resistance and rebellion are still very active in my life.


From that experience, I learned a very important lesson: the opportunity to help someone always comes at an inconvenient time. It interrupts our lives and interferes with our plans. Perhaps fearing the unknown, we resist and look the other way, very much like the two men who saw someone in desperate need along the Jericho road.

A Word from Samuel

Shalom and greetings from Jerusalem. As you are all aware Israel had elections in January. Please continue to pray for the forming government of Israel. Since it is not yet established we still do not know which direction it will go. There is no doubt with the so-called "Arab Spring" our neighborhood has drastically changed. I pray that the government will be united and strong, and lead Israel through this interesting time.


The prophet Isaiah reminds us in his famous Chapter 52 of God's faithfulness to Israel. He tells Zion in verses 1-2 to awake and put on the garment of splendor, and to rise up because of the hope we have in Him, that He will be the One who redeems Jerusalem and pays the price for us. In verse 3 he reminds Israel of the miracle of redeeming them from Egypt and Assyria (and today we can add that God has redeemed the people of the Holocaust from 105 different nations; this is probably the biggest miracle of our generation). God reminds the people of Israel that they cannot pay for the redemption God offers, rather God Himself will pay. Isaiah 52:13-53 gives us a clear picture of the payment that God paid through the Messiah.


The words of the prophet Isaiah are applicable today to the people of Israel. Isaiah's words in verse 7 are words that the church around the world should take upon itself as a goal: the role of proclaiming peace (I don't believe he refers here to political peace but rather to peace between the God of Israel and His people), bringing good tidings and declaring what he says in Isaiah 40:1-2 - "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins."  As we know feet are one of the most impure parts of the body. Since Nike didn't exist in Biblical times, feet were the first part of the body to get dirty. In verse 7 God tells us how He cherishes the feet of those who bring good tidings to Zion. There's no other task that a man can do that such a description was given to. He never said the same about the feet of a priest or a king; only the feet of those who bring good tidings to Zion are seen as so beautiful. Therefore this act is very important for God because it fulfills that which is closest to His heart: to bring redemption to Israel through the proclamation of God's love to mankind.  


Isaiah closes with a very encouraging word. In verse12 he says: "But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard."  This is not only applicable to Israel but to all of us. Once our life is ruled by the King of the Universe, we shouldn't do anything in haste but should understand that God goes before us leading our path and He should be the One who opens and closes doors in our lives. The big question is do we allow Him to do so, or do we try ourselves? God himself will also be our rear guard. We are reminded of the beautiful picture of the Exodus that God walked before the people of Israel in a pillar of fire and smoke.  According to Isaiah although the Middle East looks very shaky we should hold to the promise that the Lord of Israel walks in front of us and behind us and He does not slumber nor sleep.  



With Warm Regards,

Samuel Smadja
Sar-El Tours & Conferences

Copyright © 2011 Sar-El Tours & Conferences. All Rights Reserved.