Yesterday, Lynn and I spent an hour meeting with Oded Revivi, the Mayor of the Israeli city of Efrat, located next to Bethlehem, and two of his advisors.
Afterwards, we spent about 90 minutes with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin — the Chief Rabbi of Efrat and one of the community’s founders — and David Nekrutman, the executive director of the Center for Jewish Christian Understanding. (The city is mentioned in the Book of Micah chapter 5 as “Bethlehem Ephratah.”)
We were deeply grateful to Mayor, Rabbi and the others for their hospitality and outreach to Evangelicals.
Just a few hours after Lynn and I left Efrat, however, a terrible tragedy happened right near Efrat, in an area known as Gush Etzion.
“The body of a yeshiva student who had been stabbed to death was discovered outside a settlement in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank in the predawn hours of Thursday morning, prompting a massive manhunt for the killer,” reported the Times of Israel.
“The victim, who was later identified Dvir Sore….was studying at the Machanayim religious seminary in (a nearby) settlement, and had joined the military while continuing his studies, in a program known in Hebrew as hesder. Though formally a soldier, he was unarmed and not in uniform at the time of the attack, nor had he undergone military training.” He will be buried at 8pm tonight, Israel time.
I ask Christians all over the world to pray for the family and friends of this young man and for all the people of Efrat and the neighboring communities — that the Lord would comfort all who are grieving. “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble,” we are promised in Psalm 9:9.
Please also pray for peace between Jewish and Arab villages south of Jerusalem and throughout the Land, and wisdom for Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This is just the kind of incident that could rapidly escalate into worsening violence in the heat of summer and as we head into national elections in Israel in September 17. Please share this with others and encourage them to pray, as well. Thank you.