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

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Shalom from Jerusalem!
Signs of the coming Spring are evident throughout Israel, as the end of the winter season nears. We have been blessed with good winter rains and snowfall this year but now the Almond trees are blossoming and rare Gilboa Orchids are blooming next to wild red Anemones.
I hope that you enjoy the latest edition of our newsletter, please feel free to share this with your family and friends.

God Bless,
Samuel Smadja


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What's New In Israel
2014 in Numbers 
Text courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism

Approximately 3.25 million visitors came to Israel in 2014. Of these, 2.9 million came as tourists, the remainder as day visitors. Tourists arriving by air totaled 2.5 million and just under 400,000 arrived overland. 88,000 day visitors came by cruise ship, 138,000 via border crossings and 98,000 by air.

 Temple Period vineyards

Story courtesy of Rest Magazine

Bar-Ilan University researchers have recently planted a vineyard of native Israeli vines. Over 150 different species of wild vines were collected from throughout the country and analyzed by experts in order to verify their origin. It has been decided that 70 of these vines tested produce grapes which were suitable for wine. One of the aims of this research is to produce a wine that would have been drunk during the temple period- perhaps by King Solomon!





Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem "lauded as top international culinary destinations"


Story courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism  

American food and recipe magazine "Sauver" has named Tel Aviv an "outstanding culinary destination" according to the Israel Ministry of Tourism. The city also received "outstanding" in the Best Markets and Shops category and EL AL's diverse range of wines earned Tel Aviv the best in-flight wine category. Jerusalem meanwhile, thanks to its unique cultural diversity and the range of food that is available, was named by Yahoo! Travel as "one of the nine most Underrated Food Cities." Next time you are in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, make sure that you check out one of these previously unknown corner eateries. Who knows if you won't find yourself in one of the yet undiscovered or underrated top restaurants in the world!!!



Yad Vashem Museum and Holocaust Memorial


 Photo courtesy of Yad Vashem 

The Yad Vashem Museum and Holocaust Memorial has been ranked 10th best museum in the world for 2014 by TripAdvisor as a result of comments and international reviews (Courtesy of Israel Travel News). Our staff at Sar-El were privileged to have a guided tour of the museum recently and we thoroughly recommend to our groups that they visit Yad Vashem during their time here in Israel. Lectures by Holocaust Survivors can also be arranged. Since the number of eye witnesses to this terrible time in history is getting smaller, it is a very meaningful and emotional experience to hear a firsthand testimony from someone who survived the Nazi era. If you are interested in making arrangements for your group to meet a Holocaust Survivor, please advise your Agent who is working with us on your tour.       




International Mediterranean Tourism Market


The annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market held in Tel Aviv

Story courtesy of Ynet News 

February 10th-11th attracted over 30 countries including Croatia, Greece, India, Spain, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Japan and Slovenia. Arranged and run by the

ORTRA company, Israel Travel News and the Ministry of Tourism, the fair draws domestic and incoming tourism bodies as well as tourism officials from within Israel and abroad.






Points of Interest

The Red South Festival



From the end of January to the end of February, the Negev turns a beautiful shade of crimson red. Wild anemones bloom in abundance and Israeli families and friends pack up their picnic baskets and head to the South. The normally sandy and yellow landscape of the desert is transformed into a vast sea of color of the red flowers which fill the fields and hillsides. Local musicians, farmers markets and craft stalls line the local streets and family activities such as guided walking tours, and puppet shows ensure there is plenty for all the family to enjoy. This year there are new cycling trails opened for the "expert cyclist" varying in duration from a short half an hour to longer routes. For those of us who like to take a more sedate ride through the countryside there are many less challenging options available where you enjoy a slower pace in and out of shady hollows and sunny tracks of crimson.





The Friends of Zion Heritage Center


Text and image courtesy of FOZHC 
The Friends of Zion Heritage Center is the newest state of the art museum in Jerusalem. The Center highlights the contribution of Christian Zionists to the State of Israel and recognizes the Christian heroes who have created an everlasting bond between the Jewish and Christian peoples. The Center is a four floor multimedia experience boasting the latest technology and effects to create a once in a lifetime experience. The 7 exhibits are presented in over 10 languages for the one hour self-guided presentation. "The Friends of Zion Heritage Center is not a typical museum, instead, it is a highly interactive, multimedia experience that brings the stories of Christian love and heroism to life. We have contracted with an internationally known Israeli company to create the music, sound, lighting and displays that will make this a never-to-be-forgotten experience." (FOZHC) 


Entrance is complimentary for 2015. If you would like to visit the Center during your next tour here with us, please have your local travel agent contact our office. A promotional video is available here.  


Join Us in Jerusalem!
Next Year in Jerusalem! Empowered 21 Global Congress 20-25 May 2015

As we have shared in  previous updates, Sar-El has been selected as the preferred provider for Empowered 21's Jerusalem Global Congress which will take place between  Wednesday 20th to Sunday 25th May, 2015.


 We are now less than 3 months away! We encourage you to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime event here in Jerusalem. A detailed itinerary of the Congress itself is available on E21's website: We invite you to take this opportunity to celebrate with us and thousands of Christians from around the world for this momentous occasion that coincides with the celebration of Pentecost, the Jewish Biblical Feast of Shavout. 


Time is moving quickly and we will soon be entering the month of March. If you intend to celebrate Pentecost 2015 in Jerusalem, please have your local Travel Agent or Pastor contact us at our dedicated email address to discuss pre and post tour options in addition to the Congress itself. 





A Word from Samuel


Dear Friends,

As many of you will know, my father Victor Smadja passed away on December 25. I would like to share with you part of his last sermon that he prepared based on Genesis 22:1-19 and asked my nephew to translate into English. I know that this is long but it is worth reading!   


"Dear brothers and sisters,

It is known that Abraham was the friend of the LORD, chosen by Him to be the head of a great and mighty nation. Through him, blessing and salvation would come to the Jews and Gentiles who have chosen to be God's servants. In this great chapter of Genesis, we read about an unbelievable trust, an unconditional and immediate obedience which is difficult to comprehend. Actually, it's a picture of God Himself, who not only gave His Son, but through His Son wore flesh and blood and was sacrificed on the cross for our sake.

 Abraham was called (Gen. 22:2) to sacrifice his son as a "burnt offering" (
עולה, "Olah" in Hebrew). This kind of offering was an animal that would be consumed completely by fire, 100-percent given to God. By asking this of His friend, God had chosen to share a glimpse of His future plan to Abraham.

When God asked for Abraham's firstborn, He had already sacrificed His own Firstborn, Jesus; as it is written, "His works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Heb.4:3) The prophecy of Zechariah 12 also says that Israel will recognize this relationship: "They will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."


Nothing in our life catches God by surprise. He planned it all before the foundation of the world, and He is fulfilling it step by step right now. Paying closer attention to our trials unveils the fact that God has already passed through any trial He allows us to go through. We must also bear in mind that when God allows us to go through trials and tribulations, the solution is already there - it is waiting to unfold in the timing He chooses. Each and every one of these troubles has a very specific role in His plan. Every morning in which we wake up was precisely planned down to the smallest detail. God has no need to change His plans, for they are perfect; He does not patch his plans, for they are complete. So we can securely follow His path, knowing that this is exactly what He wants for us.


Furthermore, as we learn from the prophet Isaiah, God is afflicted in all of our affliction (Isaiah 63:9). He is not a stranger to us in our sufferings, and we are not bearing them alone. On the other hand, we were not created to live according to our own worldly, shortsighted desires and passion. Jesus has certainly freed us, but freedom from sin does not mean freedom from serving. God has freed us from sin in order to be His slaves and servants. God's will is good and perfect, not corrupted by sin as our will is. We are to live our lives according to His plan, serving Him as He purifies and refines us, as it is written in Malachi chapter 3.

 Who is the messenger sent to Abraham in Genesis 22? In verses 11 and 15 we read of "the Angel of the LORD". Who is this Angel who has sworn in the name of God (v.16)? Which angel could speak for the LORD in such a manner as in verse 12 ("you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me"), other than the LORD Himself? He is the "messenger" Malachi said we would seek, the One who prepares the way before the LORD. He is not coming to listen to our self-praise: "I said, I did, I prayed, I gave...." Malachi 3:2 tells us that He intends to refine us in a "refiner's fire" and purify us with "fuller's soap" (a strong whitening agent used in ancient times).


"And He shall sit..." (Malachi 3:3). The LORD does not rush through His refining process like we would often want Him to. We want it all now, right now - we can't wait, we have no endurance. But the LORD takes His time to purify His servants. For what reason? Verse 3 continues: " that they may offer to the Lord offerings (מנחה

, "Mincha" in Hebrew) in righteousness."  



A Mincha was one of five kinds of sacrifices made to God. Unlike the Olah, it was without an animal or blood. The LORD has sacrificed the ultimate Olah, His Son, on the Cross. His blood is covering and forgiving our sins for eternity. In spite of that, we are still being refined and purified in order to bring an acceptable Mincha offering. What is its spiritual parallel? The LORD is rightfully the center of our life. He is the reason we live, and for Him we exist. What is really the center of your life? Is it the LORD - or your health, your money? Is it the LORD, or your plans?  


Whenever life is harsh or difficult, we Israelis say in response, "The main thing is health." This is a lie! The "main thing" is the LORD - and more than ever when we are not healthy. Our motto should be: "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21)

The story in Genesis 22 tells us that the LORD commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, and how did he react? Verse 3: "Abraham rose early." Isn't this unconditional and immediate obedience an unbelievable demonstration of trust? Abraham does not question God's plan, he does not look back. He does not even pause. Would we rise in obedience and give our son to God so quickly?


After marching for three days, Abraham and Isaac arrived. The father stretched out his hand and took the knife to slit the throat of his son. When the Angel of the LORD stopped him, Abraham looked up (v.13) to see a ram that will be sacrificed instead of his son. This ram is a clear picture of Jesus, who was sacrificed for each and every one of us.


What about Abraham's descendents? God has made His love for Israel known in Jeremiah 31:3, which says: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." God's love is not like ours, fading and changing. The LORD Himself IS Love, everlasting and unchanging. We must not question the love of God towards Israel and her people that would mean questioning the same love extended to each and every one of us. It is an everlasting love - even when we are rebellious, walking in a way that is not good, according to our own thoughts (Isaiah 65:2).


God's commands are clear, but we turn our backs to Him. We do not feel like serving Him right now... it does not sit well with our Ego. Being servants does not feed our pride. But I promise you: His hand is reaching out to us, even then.  


I tell you the truth: Sin will not separate you from the promise to sit at the right hand of our Lord. If it could, then none of us would make it: we are all sinners! Paul said (1 Timothy 1:15) that he was the biggest sinner of them all. He wrote it not as something in the past ("I was") but in the present tense ("I am"). Was he a liar? Was he a braggart showing a false humility?

No one will go to Hell because of his sins.


You will tell me, "Victor, you have lost your mind - this is not according to the word of God!" I answer: Yes, it is according to the word of God! While God is reaching out His hand to us, each and every one of us has the opportunity to receive God's everlasting love and be saved! A day will come when those who refuse God's saving hand will suffer the consequence of their sins. But for as long as God's hand is reaching towards us, we can still be saved. We will not be saved by saying the right words, or by entering the water in baptism. Nor will taking the bread and wine of communion save us. Do not judge others' salvation by what they did or didn't do. The LORD commanded us to sacrifice ourselves on the altar for Him, not to slaughter others on it.


Gen.22:6 and 8: "The two of them went together." Isaac followed his father closely, without knowing what was to come. "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3) We are called to unite with the LORD, to follow His lead on His path, to walk in agreement with His decisions. Do we place conditions on that walk? Must we know why or where we are going? Must we know when or how we will get there? Isaac trusted and went with his father, simply because he knew him.

Will you follow your Father the same way? Trust our LORD, knowing that what He is doing with you is all Love."



With blessings from Jerusalem,






Samuel Smadja

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