Eitan Shishkoff

Executive Director
Tents of Mercy Network
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"This remarkably friendly man ... was reaching out to us - enabling us to share in a history, geography, and agriculture that are all essential to our own heritage."

We thought it would be cool to film in an old olive grove in the Galilee. The gnarled trunks and endless rows of trees took us back in time. It was only when we met Moussa that we realized just how far back in time the olives had taken us.

Author with Moussa
Moussa (Arabic for Moses) noticed our activity in his olive grove. He greeted us without a trace of suspicion, and asked about our identity and subject matter. When we explained our fascination with his ancient trees he said "You haven't seen anything yet. Come with me." Chaim and I followed the 70-something Arab Israeli, who was clearly comfortable with the Hebrew language and with us as Jewish Israelis.

He unlocked a tall sliding metal door, revealing a sizeable warehouse, adjacent to the road and to the vast olive grove. "This is just a hobby," Moussa explained with a smile, proceeding to introduce us to an impressive array of sophisticated machines designed to extract oil from olives. Frankly, I felt like a little kid being shown for the first time how an airplane works. There were mounds of "olive cakes," the dried dregs from decades of olives being turned into rich oil. On the far wall, our host pointed up toward the ceiling. To our astonishment four huge earthenware containers were displayed, having long been retired from use.

"These vessels represent generation after generation of my family harvesting and processing olives," Moussa pointed out, with warm, unboastful pride. We stared, trying to absorb the implications of what we were seeing. Here was the peaceful caretaker of olive trees with a history stretching back many centuries. Moussa pointed out that the name of his town, Rama, is similar to the Judean village Ramot referred to in I Samuel 8:4. This remarkably friendly man, as if grown from the very soil of his olive grove, was reaching out to us - enabling us to share in a history, geography, and agriculture that are all essential to our own heritage.

If ever one doubted the possibility of Jews and Arabs living in harmony, sharing a heritage that stretches back centuries and centuries, our time with Moussa dispelled such skepticism. I'm not saying that all of our Arab cousins are like Moussa. Nor am I negating the covenantal promises to the descendants of Jacob. But the Scriptures are also clear that we are to treat with respect the "ger" - the non-Jewish dweller in our land. "The stranger (ger) who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:34).

I'm looking forward to visiting Moussa again. In a heart-warming way he connected me at a deeper level with this unique land and its people.

By Eitan Shishkoff
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20:16 03May17 Diana Rumboll -
Delighted to know these wonderful story tellers, the olives can bring hearts together, as witnesses of the Scripture's richness, teaching us something fresh each day.

22:19 03May17 Paul -
There is some research that you might want to look into: Olive trees get pruned ... the branches are layed on the ground around that olive tree,... wild olive branches are grafted in ... after 3 1/2 years you drill a hole next to or near the wild branches that were grafted in and graft The Original branches back in ... this provokes them to produce more fruits because they are jealous of the wild branches.

02:05 04May17 Jens Kaldewey -
A wonderful story, it drove tears into my eyes. I don't know why. There was a Sense of also being connected with the new and the old Israel, a strong moving feeling. This I am writing as a Swiss Gentile.

17:07 06May17 Ameria Heldt -
I find this article interesting and helpful when praying for the nation of Israel, the land, and its people.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Asher Intrater: Three Priesthoods
Daniel Juster: Evangelism and Envisioning and Revival
Michael Zeitler: Prison Miracles
Leon Mazin: Open for Prayer
Humanitarian Aid
Ariel Blumenthal: What are Jewish/Hebrew Roots?
Motti Cohen: More Tel Aviv Testimonies