An Extraordinary Purim Testimony by Sandra Tepliinsky

Based on the book of Esther, the holiday of Purim is always a meaningful time for observant Jews, especially here in Israel. This year, however, it proved to be extraordinary–at least for some of us followers of Messiah. Allow me to share a very personal testimony.

Visiting the Massacre Memorial


Two days before Purim, we helped lead prayer at the site of the Supernova Festival, where Hamas executed its barbaric massacre of October 7, 2023. The Nova Festival was a new age type of music and dance, outdoor party attended by hundreds of young Israelis.


At the site a heavy, palpable grief still hangs in the air, a death-like shroud over a large, desert field. Row upon row of metal poles have been placed in the ground, similar to grave markers, one for each of the 400-plus young people murdered or kidnapped on October 7. Each pole displays an Israeli flag, photo and short bio of a victim. Candles, flowers, handwritten notes and memorial stones surround the poles. It is impossible not to imagine the horror these young people endured in the final moments of their lives. Their blood cries out from the ground. Their screams echo in the wind.


Ear piercing explosions and gunfire sounded throughout our visit, the realities of war a mere three miles away in Gaza. I wondered if any of the hostages who might still be alive had any idea how hard we were trying to rescue them; how fervently they were being prayed for; and how, in their ingloriousness, the hostages were shaping global events.


It is not widely known that a large, monstrous looking image of an otherworldly creature had been perched high on stage at the Nova Festival. Young people were singing and dancing around it when Hamas broke into the revelry. The day was Simchat Torah, the very day on which observant Jews celebrate the gift of God’s Word. I was reminded of our ancestors’ tragic merrymaking over a golden calf thousands of years ago—on the day they were to receive and celebrate the gift of God’s Word. (Exodus 32:19) O God, forgive!


Our group of intercessors confessed our sins as a nation, weeping and pleading with God for mercy. We prayed healing upon Israel’s collective soul, even over the ground on which we stood. We proclaimed promises of redemption from Scripture, blessing the covenant destiny of our land and people. We prayed for the soldiers, hostages, and Gazans, all so near to us at the moment, yet so far. We partook of the Table of the Lord (Communion). We exalted Him as our only Savior and King. In a corporate renunciation of idolatry, we recited the cornerstone prayer of Judaism, the Shema, over and over again.


The Shema is a proclamation of the supremacy and singularity of YHVH: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) The Shema declares we have no other god but YHVH.


The previous evening, millions of Jewish people from all streams of Judaism had come together to pray the Shema, at the exact same time, throughout Israel and around the world. It was an unprecedented, history-making event, reflecting the desperation of our hearts. Many Christians, including perhaps some of you, graciously joined us.


Head rabbis in Israel led the worldwide Shema from the Western Wall (Kotel). For me, the occasion was breathtaking, almost mind numbing to behold. As the gathering ended, I sensed joy explode in heavenly realms, a smile on God’s shining face. Finally, a beginning step toward His people’s future, national turning to Him.


Purim Day Reversal and My Personal Past


We were honored to be asked to participate, on Purim, in a prayer initiative led by a small team of Israeli Arab Christians, together with a few other Messianic Jewish leaders. We were to request a very specific type of turnaround decree from heaven, similar to that which Esther requested and received millennia ago. By God’s grace, we believed this would be a Purim reversal of a certain pernicious edict that has impacted the State of Israel since her inception.


It is not widely known that during World War II, a strategic Nazi-Palestinian alliance was established to incite the murder of Jews in what would soon become Israel. The goal was our total annihilation throughout the Middle East. To this end, Adolf Hitler formed a personal friendship and pact with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Al-Husseini’s jurisdiction extended across Palestine and much of the Middle East.


Hitler trained and equipped Palestinian armies, as an official Nazi brigade, to slaughter Jews. Building on the Koran’s anti-Jewish ideology, they taught the Arabs strategies and doctrines of Jewish hate propaganda. They broadcast to Palestinian masses the same outrageous lies about Jews broadcast throughout their European Third Reich.*


This Nazi-Palestinian alliance has never been formally cancelled or revoked. This explains why Israeli soldiers in Gaza say they find copies of Hitler’s biography in almost every home. The book, it turns out, has long been required reading in children’s schools throughout Gaza. Swastikas and other Nazi symbols, some soldiers say, are also commonly seen. Sadly, the Nazi connection still thrives not only in Gaza, but also in the Palestinian Authority. When Hitler’s regime eventually fell and Israel was reestablished as a state, Palestinian Arabs assured their German friends that they would “finish the job” in wiping Jews off the earth.


To help you understand what impact this history has had on us, and what still resides in the DNA of some Jewish people, I’d like to share a bit of my personal story with you. This I have not done in 25 years of writing newsletters.


I grew up in Chicago in a non-Jewish, blue-collar working class community. American Nazi headquarters were located three miles from our home and profoundly influenced the attitude of many of our Gentile neighbors. Any day I could find myself surrounded by a gang of physically violent, Jew hating bullies. As a result, I learned to fight at a very young age. I didn’t have much choice. Punched and pounded for being a “dirty Jew” and “Christ killer,” if I didn’t fight back, I’d land on the ground, bleeding.


My Sabbath school class at the synagogue my family attended encouraged us kids to fight. Starting in kindergarten, we were shown unedited video footage taken by the Nazis of their “achievements” in the Holocaust. I recall looking in horror at grotesquely disfigured victims of so-called medical experiments; at dump trucks unloading hundreds or thousands of Jewish corpses into mass graves; and at scarcely breathing, starving skeletons of Jews in concentration camps, their sunken eyes staring vacuously into space. I was five years old.


Our teachers made the point clear.  “Children,” they said, “you must learn to fight the Christian world. If you don’t, they will do to you what they did to these six million who perished. Never forget–and do what you must do.” And so I vowed, right then and there, to fight to survive. I would battle our enemies: Christians and their Christ, along with Arabs. (Of course, I had no idea who this Christ really was.)


My parents, however, cautioned me otherwise. “Don’t make a fuss over the kids attacking you,” they said, “or it could lead to something worse.”


Turned out they were right.


When I told my teachers and principal about the physical attacks on school grounds, they ended up blaming me. “Stop making trouble,” they scolded. “The fighting is your fault; it’s your problem, not ours!”**


And so I hated Christians even more.


My story does have a happy ending, thanks and praise be to God. Because of the anti-Semitism I’d faced, I eventually decided to read the New Testament, cover to cover—solely to disprove it. To my utter surprise, however, the words I read felt absolutely alive with supernatural love. Moreover, the content felt entirely Jewish! By the time I finished Matthew’s gospel, I was convinced Jesus was in fact the Messiah. A year later, a dear Gentile Christian led me in a prayer of repentance, surrender and consecration to Him. And almost fifty years later, I still marvel at His magnificent mercy and grace.


Returning now to our Purim prayer gathering in Jerusalem, I thought I’d forgiven those who’d assaulted me and my people through history. Shortly after I had surrendered to Yeshua, the Holy Spirit began dealing with that painful past. He’d tenderly but firmly replaced fear and hate with love and forgiveness. So I did not expect the reaction I experienced that day.


At first the prayers were straightforward. We worshiped YHVH together as Jewish, Arab, and European believers. Scriptures were authoritatively declared. Our Arab family in faith read a prepared, formal statement of repentance for the Nazi-Palestinian alliance, appealing to heaven for its revocation in spiritual realms. It was a sober, holy moment.


But then, unexpectedly, an Arab brother fell to the ground and pleaded with us to forgive His people for their embrace of anti-Semitic Nazi ideology. He wept and wailed at a deep-down gut level rarely seen of a grown man. Tears flooding his face, his voice muffled by sobs, he locked eyes with me for a few seconds. And instantly, something inside my innermost core being cracked opened.


From then on, every tear shed that day by our non-Jewish brothers and sisters was as a drop of healing balm poured into a wound I’d carried not just from my own life, but, it seemed, the lives of multiple generations before me. This was not a sentimental, soulishly emotional, or staged event. This was a Purim Day move of God’s Spirit.


Next a Christian from Germany knelt and asked (actually, begged) us to forgive her nation for the atrocities committed against Jews. I cannot tell you, however, what exactly she said. Her unscripted tears and contrition of spirit once more pierced my soul, her repentant love accessing that long-forgotten place in me, “deep calling unto deep.” (Psalm 42:7)


Lastly, a British believer knelt to confess the sins of betrayal committed against Jews by Great Britain. {After World War I, Britain was charged with a mandate to oversee establishment of a Jewish state. In the process, however, it enacted several anti-Jewish policies in order to appease the Arabs. These policies included the appointing of Al-Husseini as Grand Mufti and the giving away of 78 percent of the land allotted to the Jews—specifically for the creation of a Palestinian state now known as Jordan.)


The British sister could barely speak. But her tears before God and man, dripping and soaking into the ground, communicated more than words.


I have been to many reconciliation meetings. But the genuine grief, weeping and lamentation taking place this Purim was of a nature I’d never witnessed. It caused me to see, confess and repent to my Arab, German and British family in Messiah that, while I thought I’d sincerely forgiven them all, I’d nevertheless cursed them many times, even recently, in my heart. The temptation would arise when I read the news, or I learned of another terror attack, or heard that another soldier was killed defending our country, or saw more and more nations align against Israel as never before. I’m not proud of these past sins. But I am profoundly thankful for God’s grace to “go and sin no more.”


In these days of hate and deception enshrouding entire people groups, I think I am not the only believer challenged to not curse the darkness, but to shine Light, meaning Jesus Himself, into it. His promise that Light will always overtake darkness is but one takeaway for me personally from Purim 2024. And, I hope, for you.


Together, we can pray light and life over Israelis, Palestinians and your own beloved nation. God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what we can imagine!


A blessed Resurrection Day as you celebrate the One and Only who defeated darkness and death with light and life,


Sandra Teplinsky


* Ephraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010), 62-65.


** Sixty years later, it seems I hear the same refrain by nations collectively condemning Israel for defending herself, this time against Hamas. In essence, they scold, “Stop making trouble; the fighting and the problem is your own fault.”