Israelis read a lot, more than most nations, and this week it’s “Shavua Hasefer,” the national book week where tables and displays are put out in every town, village and city square across the country for an entire week, attracting massive numbers of Jewish bookworms waiting to dive into the latest yarn.
On the tables across the country we can find a new Messianic publication in Hebrew which translates, “Animals Do Their Thing.” Written and published by the Messianic Jewish publishing house Hachotam, located on a kibbutz in the south of the country, this is the first time a Messianic publication has broken into the mainstream of the Israeli Hebrew language book world, as far as I know.
The hardcover, colorful book teaches children, “That God is alive and well, and that he loves our world,” says Eitan Kashtan, Chief Editor of the non-profit Messianic publishing house. “We want Israeli kids to see God’s love in his care for the animals. God covers their bodies with furs, and made each one with unique qualities to be able to perform their special jobs.” The book covers the lives and unique activities of fifty different animals, as God made them.
Kashtan says that they are concerned about the strong emphasis put on evolution being taught to our children in Israeli schools. He wants to present an alternative so children canto understand that it is God who created the world. But getting Messianic literature into Israel’s mainstream has not been easy. “For 15 years we have been offering a variety of titles to the Israeli markets. A book we published about Noah was initially marketed, but when the distributors found out we are Messianic, they sent the books back,” Kashtan says.
The team at Hachotam are encouraged, but also surprised, that their new children’s book has broken through, and is now being sold in major book stores across the country. “Sales are going really well. I just received an order for even more copies,” Kasthan says. Just in time for the national book week.
Orit Kashtan, Eithan’s wife, authored the new book, and the artwork was produced by the design team at Hachotam. The non-for-profit Messianic publishing house has so far published fifty books, mostly for use by local Messianic believers. Kashtan says that the heart of their work, the publications really making a difference, are their magazines.
“Somethin Else" is a magazine they produce for teenagers. It includes articles on Faith and Science, a Question and Answer segment dealing with troubling questions a teen might have, and articles about studying the Bible. "Yaldei-Ya" (God’s kids) is a magazine for children, with quizzes that encourage children to increase their knowledge of the Bible, important biblical facts, and short articles about nature that demonstrate God’s wisdom. "What’s Going On" is a new magazine written by youth for youth that reports on daily issues and news from the Messianic believes in Israel. There are personal stories and testimonies, as well answers to "hard to understand" questions from the Bible.
“The exciting thing is that we have the privilege to serve the youth, but also to train and equip young people to serve, think and write Christian material in Hebrew,” Kashtan writes on their web page. “We pray and hope that God will raise from these youngsters the next generation of Christian publishers in Israel.”
Each of these magazines are published quarterly and distributed free of charge to the Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregations across Israel.