Israel My Glory in Depth with Steve Herzig, “No Place Like Home”
We have two exciting guest segments this week! First, we’ll speak with Steve Herzig as he details his Israel My Glory article “No Place Like Home.” If you’ve never heard the term “Aliyah” before, Steve will teach you all about it on the program! From the first biblical Aliyah to modern-day pilgrimages to the prophetic return to the land of Israel in the future, Aliyah is a cornerstone of the Jewish faith that believers should know about.
Check out Steve Herzig’s recent article, “No Place Like Home.”
You can also read Chris Katulka’s article, “The Continual Jewish Presence.”
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover, with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. It's Easter weekend, and before the program, Chris and I were talking about some of our favorite passages regarding the resurrection. Chris, what are some of yours?
Chris Katulka: First, Happy Resurrection Day, Steve. I was thinking, some of my favorite resurrection passages, my number one is definitely Romans 6:4. It says, "Therefore, we have been buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, so we too may live a new life or walk in newness of life."
The reason I love this passage is because the idea is that, in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, as believers, we identify into that. I love what Paul writes here. He says, "At the very glory of the Father that reached into raise Christ from the dead, to raise Jesus from the dead, is the very same glory that rests in us today through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and that is what should cause us to walk in newness of life."
And I love that passage because it actually isn't demanding us to walk in newness of life, it's actually saying that now that the spirit is dwelling in you, you have the capacity to walk in newness of life if you yield to the work of the spirit. And so, I love that. The other one is I Corinthians 15:20, "But now Christ has been raised from the dead. The firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."
I love that passage because it's a reminder that Jesus resurrected from the dead, and that it's a hope that I have as a believer. Jesus is just the first fruits of the resurrection, there's a whole harvest coming. That's the picture, and there's a day coming that we're all going to resurrect and see our God face-to-face.
Steve Conover: That's beautiful. One that came to my mind was Luke 24:6-7, "He is not here, he has risen. Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee? The son of man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day, be raised again." The other is also from the author, Luke, in Acts 3:15, "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead." What an amazing reality.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, definitely. That's amazing. Actually, today on the program as we're talking about resurrection and we're thinking about the resurrection of Jesus, I wanted to also think about the fact that God promised the nation of Israel a resurrection. Ezekiel 37. The dry bones coming back to life, the resurrection of the nation of Israel.
We're going to be looking at our most recent issue of Israel My Glory. In that Israel My Glory, there's an article that Steve Herzig wrote that's all about this amazing thing that Israel has called aliyah; this immigration process of Jewish people returning to their land.
And so we're going to be speaking with Steve Herzig about that. And then also we're going to be inviting two friends of Israel reps Fred and Eva Schweig, they are with the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. They made aliyah, they immigrated to Israel. They're going to share about that experience. It's going to be a great show. Steve, great to have you in studio.
Steve Herzig: Great to be here, Chris.
Chris Katulka: Steve, it's resurrection weekend. We're thinking of the resurrection of Jesus Christ all weekend. And during this episode as we're looking at our most current issue of Israel My Glory, you wrote an article in there called “No Place Like Home.” And you write about another type of resurrection, the resurrection of the nation of Israel in some way through this process called aliyah. So before our listeners go and turn off the radio or turn off the podcast because of this Hebrew word, aliyah, would you describe for our listeners? What is aliyah to the Jewish person?
Steve Herzig: I'd be happy to Chris. Aliyah is simply to ascend. It's the kind of thing I did in synagogue when I was bar mitzvahed, there's a bimah, a place where you read the scroll and anywhere in the synagogue, when the reader comes up, he makes aliyah, he ascends to the platform. And as it relates to Aliyah Day, aliyah is going back, going up, going to Israel. We've always think of the holy capital of Israel, Jerusalem, but it's ascending, to go up.
Chris Katulka: So Aliyah means to go up, but it's taken on a different, like an actual technical term in Israeli culture today. It doesn't just necessarily mean to go up. I know Jesus made aliyah, he went up to Jerusalem. The aliyah psalms, the ascending psalms. But today it actually has more of a political term to it, or it's tied to Israeli culture. What does it mean today?
Steve Herzig: Well, that's why I titled the article, “No Place Like Home.” It's very common for the diaspora, for Jewish people scattered all around. You might hear in a synagogue, a person says I'm making aliyah. Making aliyah? You're leaving. If you live in Canada, the United States, France, England, Western culture, you're making aliyah, you're giving up this to go to Israel. And most of the time when you ask them “why?” And that's always the question, the answer in some way, shape or form, Chris, always is this there's something in my heart. There's something pulling me. I want to go home.
Chris Katulka: And going home aliyah, to a Jewish person is immigration to Israel.
Steve Herzig: Absolutely.
Chris Katulka: This is what it is. Today, when you talk about aliyah, you're talking about the fact that you're immigrating as a Jewish person, whether you live in North America, Europe, wherever, you are leaving everything behind, and you are moving to your ancestral homeland, Israel.
Steve Herzig: And you don't have to apply for citizenship because every Jewish person in the diaspora is automatically a citizen.
Chris Katulka: That's right. The Law of Return, 1950 or so, any Jewish person can come and they get automatic citizenship, it's automatic. There's a day actually called that's what your articles about, There's No Place Like Home, is that there's an actual day for aliyah. What is that all about?
Steve Herzig: You know Chris, this was a wonderful thing for me to check out. Of course, I knew about aliyah. Most of us at Friends of Israel know about it and people making aliyah. I didn't know they had a national day. And as I researched it, I found out they had two days. They actually take, and it was March 22nd when the actual day was which corresponds to Joshua chapter four, where they're talking about coming from the promised land when Joshua leads them into Gilgal. So, that's aliyah.
And so it's supposed to take place somewhere around March, April, depending on the calendar. We're solar, Israel's calendar's lunar, so it never always lines up. But then I found out that even though that corresponds to the Bible, that's not when they celebrate it, even though that's what they say they do.
Chris Katulka: We know the day he marched into the land, made the first aliyah, and they're like, "No, we're not going to go with that date."
Steve Herzig: You're right. The reason is because that's usually when the kids are off for what we would call spring break, they call it for Passover break and they want to teach the next generation about it. So they moved it to Cheshvan, which is a Hebrew month. This year it's going to be October 13th. And so then they teach about Aliyah Day in October and talk about the month of Nisan, which is in March, April.
Chris Katulka: Classic Israelis.
Steve Herzig: Classic.
Chris Katulka: That is as classic as it gets. Now, it's interesting, so we learned about the first aliyah, which is Joshua coming and there's an actual date. There's a day that the Israelis today honor their immigration, the Jewish people returning home. But there's always been, I think it's so important for us to remember... And you mentioned this in your article. There has always been a continual presence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Explain that.
Steve Herzig: Well, it's really funny, Chris, when you asked me to do this, you had prepared me ahead of time and said, "I might be asking you a question about proving that there is a presence." And we know there has, it's a key thing that we use when we talk to people to say, yes, the Jewish people were kicked out 586 by the Babylonians, 70 AD the Romans, but there's always been a Jewish presence.
In 212 AD, you talked about the Roman Empire granting citizenship to those who are Jewish who are citizens of Rome. In order to be so, they had to have a home country. This is 212 after 70 AD. Then you go back to Tiberius during a time where you say that in the seventh century, the Jewish population in Jerusalem had grown to 20,000 in Jerusalem. And you talk about that.
You also talk about the mass Heretic texts, which took place in the seventh century under a Muslim rule. Then you talk about the crusades. And during the crusades, when they were killing Jewish people, that there was Jewish people to be killed. Not only that, during when Christopher Columbus went to sail in Spain, 200,000 people had to get out. Many of them came to Safed, which grew to by the 16th century, 21 synagogues and 18 Jewish houses of study.
I'm only telling you that and reading it because what's critical in thinking about Israel today is that yes, in 70 AD, they were kicked out. They had a Jewish presence before then, two temples. But every year since then, even through persecution, we can verify, we can look it up and Google it and get documentation that the Jewish people as a people, have never left that land.
Chris Katulka: They were coming in and out all the time, there was always a presence. They were even making aliyah before it was a technical term used by the state of Israel. They were constantly moving into Israel, Jewish presence was always there. But there's also a prophetic aliyah. And you and I just wrapped up celebrating Passover online. If you go to foi.org/passover, you'll see all the materials there. That's got some prophetic elements to aliyah as well. Talk about that, Steve.
Steve Herzig: Chris, that is a critical statement to make. Jewish people had been celebrating Passover since the very first Passover. And over the years, which is 3,000 years, I know you're laughing, but over 3,000 years. So I can tell you that at the end of the seder service and what we did when we did our seder is we say, “next year in Jerusalem.” There's always this prophetic hope that the Jewish people all will regather and come back to the land.
Chris Katulka: This is such an important part of Jewish culture, Jewish faith. Jerusalem is the center of it, but the idea of returning to Jerusalem to me is the idea of the Jewish people returning to the land that the Messiah has come. So even that's in the heart of the Jewish people, even to this very day looking forward. So as we think about aliyah, it's also a reminder that God had promised in Ezekiel chapter 37 that the dry bones would come back, and that there would be a resurrection of the nation of Israel, something so important.
And Steve, in your article, you actually give a taste of what it was like for two Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus who left American culture to immigrate, make aliyah to Israel. And when we come back, we're going to talk to Fred and Eva Schweig about their experience. Steve, thanks for being with us.
Steve Herzig: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.
Chris Katulka: We've been talking with Steve Herzig about his article in our most current issue of Israel My Glory. The issue that we're looking into is called How Shall We Then Live? It actually is answers from 1 Peter 4:7-11. And I want you to get your hands on this copy of Israel My Glory. It's so important for us to go through these important biblical passages, and also to look at articles like what Steve is talking about, making aliyah, the importance of aliyah for Israel and the Jewish people.
Now, if you're not already a subscriber to Israel My Glory, we want to offer you a free one year subscription that's six issues of our award-winning Christian magazine, Israel My Glory, you can sign up and you will get the next six issues available to you for free. It's a fantastic way to connect with our ministry, the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, and it's also a great way to learn more about Israel and the Jewish people from a biblical worldview.
If you want to know what's happening in the Middle East, if you want to know what's happening currently in Israel, and you want more in-depth understanding about the circumstances over there, then you'll want to get Israel My Glory. So I want you to be sure to get your copy of Israel My Glory. Steve, how can our listeners get their free one-year subscription.
Steve Conover: To subscribe to Israel My Glory magazine, visit us at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org, or you can call our listener line, and that number is (888) 343-6940. Someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. In Canada, call (888) 664-2584. Again, in Canada, that's (888) 664-2584.
Chris Katulka: I am very happy to have Fred and Eva Schweig on the program with us. Fred and Eva, their names were mentioned in Steve Herzig's article on going home, the idea of Aliyah, returning home. And it's a fantastic little section that they have about Fred and Eva's step of faith to make aliyah, to immigrate to Israel from America. Fred, I'm interested to know, great to have you on the program. What compelled you and your wife, Eva, to pack up everything in America and make aliyah to Israel?
Fred Schweig: Looking back now, I don't even know how we did that. We're both 40 years old already, so we're young people. But basically I think that the first thing was the Word of God, Chris. God's word was clear to us that God had established Israel as a home with Jewish people, and Eva and I are both ethnic Jews, we're both Jewish people, and we just had more of a desire every day about Israel. Talking about it, and looking at pictures and just reading the scriptures about Israel. And then we realized that what happened 70 AD with the judgment and the temple being destroyed and the diaspora that the blessings of God were in the land in many ways. So anyway, the Bible I would say will be our first way. We just felt really excited and just really motivated to just leave everything and move to Israel.
Chris Katulka: Fred, you and Eva, were you believers in Jesus at that point?
Fred Schweig: Yeah, we're both believers in Jesus and yes, we both were, and we were both teaching public school in South Florida and involved in the congregation and every time we prayed and we kept thinking, it was just something that God put up on our heart through scripture, and we were just so excited.
So what happened was they allow you to take a pilot tour to Israel, Chris. So we made plans in the summer of 1988 to go over to Israel and spy the land out in a sense. Actually, that was my first flight in 14 years, June 9th, 1974 was my last flight. I had a horrific fear of flying, and there was no way I would fly anywhere. And all of a sudden, God is giving us the grace to go to Israel. That was my first flight, Chris, I'm telling you. There is a God, I'm telling you that.
So I was fine. It was peaceful, it was fine, we made it there. And when we were there, we ended up in Tel Aviv for about a week. Second week was in Jerusalem. Our very first night at the Jerusalem Gate Hotel, our son Yossi was two years old. Eva was pregnant with Adi, she was five months pregnant. And the weather was cool and chilly, we weren't used to that anymore being from Florida.
And Eva didn't feel well. She didn't feel well, she was laying in bed. Our son, Yossi was coughing, big cough. I just remember being really gripped with fear at that moment, Chris. And it was nighttime, so I went to the bathroom, I remember that, in the hotel on my knees, I just began to cry out to God really. I can tell you I'm a Biblicist, I believe that the Word of God knows me, not what I experience, or what I feel or what I see, but it was as if God met me there. I can't explain it more than that.
I didn't see God, I didn't hear God, but it was something inside just told me that it all will be okay. And when I got up, it was a sense of just peace and confidence in God, and just something was telling me to turn to Psalm 55. And I read it, the very last verse is cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee. I prayed about Yossi feeling better, Eva feeling better, and about Israel. And I felt like that night, Chris, it was settled.
In the morning, my son would be fine, Eva would be fine, and God will sustain us in Israel if we came. And that to me was the defining moment, and we just decided we're going to go back home, put our house for sale and come live in the land of promise.
Chris Katulka: Eva, I want to know as Fred just recounted that amazing story of the decision that you both made to make aliyah to Israel. I know from going over to Israel, even just as somebody who leads tours and does ministry trips over there, Israel is not an easy culture. In many ways you have to be tough as nails to make it in Israel. And I know you and Fred are tough as nails, but how did you two as Americans adapt to Israeli culture?
Eva Schweig: Well, I would say I started out as being a little tough. Fred was the soft touch in the family, but he learned very quickly that he has to speak up for himself. But as far as adapting to the culture, number one, God provided some friends for me right from the get go. When we were in Be'er Sheva, we went directly to an absorption center. We were the only Americans there. Everybody else was Russians and from Brazil.
I met one day in the park, a lady I could hear that she had an American accent. Anyway, these two people and their children were Americans. They had been in Israel several years, we became instant friends. That really was a Godsend, because we could relate to them. And then all along the way, the first congregation that we were a part of, we had friends there, either who could speak English or were originally Americans, so that was a big, big thing.
And as far as the outward things that were happening, we were there through the Gulf War, we were there for the Intifada, and we went through some really intense experiences. But it's like anything else, Chris. In the moment that things are happening, God gives you the grace.
We were living in Samaria, actually for one example that I'm going to give you, and this was during the first Intifada, the Palestinian Uprising, might've been the second one. And Fred was working nights at the university in Tel Aviv, there was one road coming in and out of the settlement where we were living. And he had to come back every night down that road with fire bombs being thrown on the road. So that was a matter for prayer, needless to say every night, every night. And obviously he lived to tell the tale.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, I'm sure that Psalm 55 passage wasn't just for the moment that you made the decision to move to Israel, but I'm sure it became something to cling to throughout your time in Israel as well.
Eva Schweig: Absolutely. There's many other examples like that, but that's just one.
Chris Katulka: Fred, can I ask you, we only have a few moments left, but can you share, what is it like being a Jewish believer in Israel? It's hard enough to make the transition to be an American living in Israel, but you had another added layer. You were a believer in Jesus. How did that play out, Fred?
Fred Schweig: Actually, it was fine because the more vocal you are, the more active you are in evangelizing, on the front line there. Actually that's when things really happen. I was not in that place, my Hebrew wasn't that great at the time. So I took more back seat, I was involved in the congregation, I taught in a secular University and there I had a chance to share my faith with specific students.
And of course there's rejection, there's pushback. There are groups in Israel that do go about oppressing the believers in many ways, but I wasn't really affected by it that much. I've heard of it, but personally being a Jewish believer was almost to me like being a Jewish believer here. We're still against the grain always, and people usually reject you. But the people were nice. The people would listen, people would be happy to listen to your say, but as far as making commitments, as far as coming to a congregation, that was something else. Thank God it wasn't that bad really for us.
Chris Katulka: Fred and Eva, I want to thank you so much for joining us for the program to share about your experience, making aliyah as believers in the Lord Jesus. Americans to make aliyah to immigrate to Israel. I know that you have two beautiful kids with families that are over there right now. And just for our listeners sake, Fred and Eva, they serve with The Friends of Israel now in Gainesville, Florida and they continue to do gospel ministry with the Friends of Israel, which we're very excited about. If you want to support Fred and Eva, you can go to foi.org/schweig, which is S-C-H-W-E-I-G and there you'll find information on ways to support them. Fred And Eva, thank you so much for sharing about your experience.
Eva Schweig: You're very welcome.
Fred Schweig: Thank you Chris, appreciate that. Blessings to you.
Steve Conover: Thank you for joining us for this week's program. A quick reminder, be sure to receive your free one year subscription to Israel My Glory magazine. If you've never subscribed before, you can do that by going to forradio.org. Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: We're reentering our King Series. We looked at King Asa, we looked at King Hezekiah and Josiah. Next week we're going to be looking at King Manasseh. My goal is to change the minds that people might have about King Manasseh, so you'll want to come back for that.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. And one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
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Interview: Fred & Eva Schweig
After the break we welcome Fred and Eva Schweig to the broadcast. As Jewish believers in Jesus who have made Aliyah, their insight is invaluable. Now serving with The Friends of Israel in Florida, their ministry and experiences living in Israel are inspirational examples of how the Lord works to reach His Chosen People.
To support the Schweig’s ministry, please visit foi.org/schweig.
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The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
Your gifts help us reach people all around the globe with our message of truth to bless the Jewish people. If the Lord leads you and you believe Christians need to hear the truth about Israel and the Jewish people, we ask that you prayerfully consider a gift so we can continue to bring these truths to you and others as well. Any amount is a blessing to our program and we are so thankful for your support.