It Is Completed!
We are all familiar with the feeling of accomplishing a big task. Often we can feel the pressure almost physically in our muscles and bodies. But then one day we can say it is done, we tick it off and feel the relief. That is how we felt at HaGefen when the fifth and final volume of the Children’s Illustrated Bible arrived from the printer!
What a joy! An almost twenty year project had come to an end, and now Hebrew readers have the privilege of not just reading the Scriptures in their original language but also of being able to understand them.
Shoshy, the project translator, and Diana, our illustrator, have worked on it from the very beginning. They have both dedicated much of their time to this project which began with the vision of my predecessor, Baruch Maoz. When I took the helm of HaGefen the project was already in its fourteenth year. The pilot and two volumes had been published and the third was almost ready. In the last five years we have printed the third volume, the later Prophets, and also the two volumes of all the Writings.
Over the years many children and teenagers have been involved in the project, helping us to make sure that the translation was understandable and the level of the language suitable. Other adults have helped in the proof reading of the final drafts. All in all some forty or so people have been involved in the project at different stages.
On Sunday 14 July around seventy people gathered for a celebration at Yad Hashmona, near Jerusalem. This was where we celebrated the completion of the first volume so it was symbolic to celebrate the final volume of the Old Testament in the same place. Yulia organized the evening with speeches, movies and interviews with Shoshy and Diana. There was a Bible quiz and a corner for children to copy drawings from the final volume. We individually thanked all those who had helped us in this marathon effort and gave each a gift.
We are excited that in the last few years more and more of the Jewish community have been purchasing these books, mostly for their children and their school exams. Bible is a mandatory subject in our public schools, although too often it is taught from a very secular and liberal perspective. Parents who are keen to see their children succeed in their Bible classes are eager to purchase the books.
One late afternoon a man called and asked whether we were the HaGefen that published the Edut, saying that he wanted to purchase two of the volumes. I explained that I was in the office but that we were closed. He insisted on coming as his son had a Bible exam two days later. Within ten minutes he arrived and I showed him the four volumes that we had then. He called his wife who told him to buy the whole set so I told him the price was 300 NIS (about £50). He wanted to pay by credit card but no one was in the office and I wasn’t able to charge the card. He didn’t have cash or a cheque so I told him to come back the next day and pay. He asked whether I wanted his details but I told him it wasn’t necessary.
The next day I was in the north for meetings and told Christina that someone might come in to pay for the books. He arrived and, after paying for the books, he asked her: ‘Te1l me who you people are. . . I have never been in a place that they gave me merchandise without asking for a deposit!’ For the next twenty minutes she was able to share the gospel with him.
After long discussions with the staff and the Amuta, we decided to continue on with the New Testament as well. The need for the New Testament translation is not as vital as the Old because of the language but we did not want to communicate to our people that the Old can stand by itself without the New. Also we want the young people who read the Old Testament in Edut to recognize the many quotations from it that are in the New Testament. We have already translated the first three Gospels and hope to have the project completed within three years.
Please pray for us as we are in the process of getting the Edut translation into Bible Works software and of publishing a parallel Old Testament with the Masoretic text without the pictures. We have also started trying to get the completed work into secular bookstores. We attempted this some years ago but failed because of pressure from the Orthodox community. We hope, by the Lord’s grace, to succeed this time.
Again, thanks for your prayers and support for our work in bringing the gospel to our Jewish people. A special thanks to those of you who have supported this particular project and we hope that you are encouraged by its completion.
Taken with permission from the Herald, the magazine of Christian Witness to Israel, September-November 2013
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