The Jerusalem Assembly House of Redemption has been working tirelessly since the outbreak of the war to supply basic needs for evacuated Israelis, congregation members in need and Israeli soldiers.
ALL ISRAEL NEWS caught up with its pastor, Meno Kalisher, to talk about these efforts and discuss the current situation.
Kalisher was teaching in a church in Italy on Oct. 7. He said he woke up that morning and read the news.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just wanted to go home, and I called my kids right away.”
Two out of Meno’s four children were called up into IDF military reserve duty within an hour of the attack.
Kalisher's daughter is an Israeli officer in the military police in the north, and his son is a paratrooper who was sent to the south to fight the Hamas terrorists and civilian accomplices in the Israeli kibbutzim
He was supposed to leave Italy in another two days, but the flights were canceled. Most other flights were already full, with Israelis rushing home to join the reserves, so he needed to wait until the following Friday before he could return. Despite this, he immediately began arranging for the congregation to provide help where needed, significant efforts which continued after he returned home.
“Our two congregations together have 33 people serving in the army at the moment, and they’re our responsibility. During the first few days and weeks, we focused all our efforts on helping them and their troops. Because when the army calls up 300,000 people at once, there’s bound to be issues with the logistics.”
“My son’s troop in the south barely had time to sleep, and after they were done, they were sent to the north to guard against the Hezbollah. They were lacking socks, underwear, aspirins, talc powder, and off-the-shelf medicines,” Kalisher explained. “It’s not that the army couldn’t provide all that; it’s just that they were too busy. So we turned to all the soldiers in our congregations – not just to my kids – and asked: ‘What do you need?’
The congregation arranged to bring boxes of medicines and clothes to the troops. In one case, they purchased 120 military coverall snowsuits for troops in the cold northern region.
“Again, it’s not that the army didn’t have them, but that specific troop wasn’t at their highest priority at that moment. So we turned to the factory that makes them for the army and just purchased them directly,” Kalisher said.
Kalisher explained that partnering with other Messianic congregations and ministries in Israel was essential in order to meet the various needs of the soldiers. There were many times that Jerusalem Assembly was able to turn to another Messianic Jewish congregation located near a particular troop and give them instructions about what needed to be bought and where it needed to be delivered. He emphasized the importance of cooperation during a war, especially when the needs are time-sensitive.
“Just buy what we say and don’t ask questions. We will reimburse right away,” Kalisher recalled. “That cooperation was such a blessing, we should never take that for granted.”
“One of our congregation members serves in Jenin, which is not that different from Gaza. I asked him what he needed. He said, ‘Nothing, everything is fine.’ So I asked him again and he finally opened up about the soles of his tactical shoes, but then said: ‘No, don’t get that. It’s very expensive. It’s almost 1,000 shekels a pair.’ I told him: ‘Find another four soldiers who also need it, and we’ll arrange it.’”
Kalisher explained that husbands and fathers had been called up for reserves, leaving young mothers alone with little children. In some cases, the mothers didn’t want to leave their homes out of fear there would be a rocket alarm, he said.
“We gathered their names and we’re cooking for them, bringing it to their door,” Kalisher said. “Volunteers do the shopping and bring them groceries. I also asked these mothers: ‘If you need help with fixing anything at home, don’t bother your husbands. Call us. We’ll come and take care of it. Let your husbands focus on what they’re doing.’” Kalisher said.
He said they have students in the congregation that they care for, helping them search for scholarships and other things they might need.
“We have also purchased a large amount of food vouchers that we’re giving to other congregations who have members in need, including Arab churches,” Kalisher said.
Kalisher’s congregation also works with an Arab congregation, Home of Jesus the King Church in Nazareth, some of whose congregants were helping families evacuate from their homes in the southern communities near the border with Gaza and the northern region bordering Lebanon, where Israel has been in skirmishes with the Hezbollah terror organization.
“I called the pastor and asked how to help, and he told me he was already taking care of evacuated Israelis. So we are taking part in that and also helping people with needs in his congregation and a few other Arab churches.”
“As of now, there are about 120,000 displaced Israelis, some from the communities next to the Gaza border, others from the northern communities that have been attacked by Hezbollah. Many of them are staying in hotels, including in Jerusalem,” Kalisher explained.
“We have a big professional kitchen, so we have volunteers here – mothers from the congregation, who come here and cook huge meals every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The food goes to our youth groups, too, but we are making much more and bringing it to the evacuated families. And not just some pasta and sauce, we’re making quality food, really, from our hearts,” he said.
Kalisher noted that people in Israel, in general, have been more open to the Gospel since Oct. 7.
“And it’s not just because death makes you think more about the afterlife, but it’s also that many people now have seen that the army and human strength have failed us.”
When people ask Kalisher’s ministry why they are doing what they do to help and where the donations come from, he tells them: “We are Messianic Jews and we love God and we love our people, and this is the least we can do to express our love.”
During the interview with ALL ISRAEL NEWS, Kalisher admitted that the Jerusalem Assembly congregation does not have a lot of funds to do the things it is doing now during the war, but God always provides.
“Congregations abroad who have been in contact with us for many years, contacted us and asked, ‘How can we help?’ It was such a blessing,” Kalisher said. “The body of Christ, both the local and the worldwide, has really learned to work together. It’s amazing to see how congregations that are genuine friends of Israel apply the word of God practically – ‘I will bless those who bless you.’ It’s really exciting, joyful, blissful, and humbling to see that, and we really pray God will bless them abundantly.”
Kalisher believes that even though the immediate needs are being met during these early stages of the war, it is only the beginning.
“Once things start to calm down, there will be unemployed people to help. Not just people directly affected, but also the indirect effects of the war. For example, anyone who works in the tourism business will not have a job for the foreseeable future,” he noted.
He wants readers to know that the current situation of the war between Israel and Hamas is complex and difficult.
“Also, make sure to let your readers know that we’re not dancing on the blood of our enemies,” Kalisher said. “We know there are believers in Gaza, and we pray God will keep them and protect them. Psalm 91: ‘A thousand on your side and 10,000 on your right side,’ is for anyone who fears the Lord, not just Jews, and God’s sovereignty can do it,” he said. “So we pray that God in his sovereignty will protect his chosen ones, and they are on both sides of the aisle.”
Kalisher shared personally about what the Lord is showing him during this time.
“In 2014, a general named Ofer Winter sent his troops into Gaza with a biblical blessing, and it drew a lot of criticism from many politicians. ‘How dare he involve God in the military?’” Kalisher said.
“But on Oct. 7, the Israeli army proved how ‘worthless’ it is; I’m not talking about the individual soldiers, but the system, the intelligence and the politicians: They all failed us. It was a total bankruptcy because of arrogance and overconfidence, and they paid for it dearly. The people of Israel understand we can’t trust the army or the government,” he continued.
“And now TikTok and YouTube are filled with officers and commanders dancing and singing biblical songs with their troops before entering the war. I’m not saying they believe in Jesus, but they do understand that they have to rely on the God of Israel.”
Kalisher explained: “It’s the exact picture we see in Jeremiah 9:23-24, where God says: ‘You rely on your wisdom, your strength, your riches – I will take away all three.’ That’s exactly what happened to us. God allowed this to happen, and I really hope we can turn this lemon into lemonade and learn to unite. Not just as a people, but also as congregations, we can do so much good that way.”
Kalisher said he finds it heartbreaking to see how many congregations in the world who claim to be Christian adopt the lies of CNN, BBC, and other networks.
“How can they believe the lies of a terror organization more than the IDF spokesperson? As it turns out, a big majority of these congregations hold to replacement theology. And that’s a theology that has gone bankrupt. It rose up based on the idea that the people of Israel abandoned Jesus and because of that, God threw them into diaspora,” Kalisher explained, referring to the world’s Jewish population being scattered throughout the nations.
“During the diaspora of 2,000 years, it was convenient to say, ‘Alright, God threw you into diaspora so he must have replaced you with the church.’ But in 1948, this theology was proven wrong. The people of Israel came back. They didn’t come back to Jesus yet, but they came back to their country. It means that the prophecies of the Old Testament were true all along, and replacement theology has never been correct,” Kalisher explained.
Kalisher said these congregations never repented because theology was never the true reason.
“It was antisemitism all along. And we see this today. The congregations who understand God and know the Bible are standing by our side, praying for us, and doing everything to learn how they can help us, even with just a few cents. And congregations who picked the other side, prefer living in a lie,” he said.
“I personally believe that among them will be the ones God will judge when he comes, according to Matthew 25: ‘Why didn’t you care for me when I was hungry, or needy?’ And they will say, ‘What? But we did all these things in your name.’ And he will say, ‘But you didn’t care for the little ones.’”
“And these are the people who are covering themselves in an outward expression of righteousness and obedience, but inside there is no salvation,” Kalisher explained.
“It’s sad, but we can see today how hatred of Israel has become a measure that may point to a problem with your salvation – and I say this as my personal opinion. I’m not saying that replacement theology necessarily means that a person isn’t saved. Some have just grown up with it and know nothing else, by no fault of their own. But those who really harbor hatred for us, wishing for the annihilation of Israel, who have taken a strong theological stand that God is done with Israel, I am very doubtful about their salvation.”
Kalisher is grateful for Evangelical Christians who stand by Israel and pray for the nation of Israel
“Please pray that we will always put the gospel first. That we will remember that God is sovereign, he doesn’t make mistakes, and that we may use our time for his glory.”
“We recently celebrated Thanksgiving, and we give thanks no matter the circumstances, whether things go well around us or not. Thanksgiving is about God’s faithfulness, and his anchor for our lives. He doesn’t change, and we give thanks because of who He is, not because of what happens around us,” he added.
Kalisher said those who have it in their hearts to help the people of Israel during this time are welcome to make a donation.
Click here to learn more about Jerusalem Assembly House of Redemption.
[Full disclosure: I am a member of Jerusalem Assembly.]
Tuvia is a Jewish history nerd who lives in Jerusalem and believes in Jesus. He writes articles and stories about Jewish and Christian history. His website is www.tuviapollack.com