Ian Norton will be the first to admit he never expected any this. When he began the gift shop venture in 2004 he wanted it to be a conduit for drawing support from Christians to Israel. Joe Korson came on board as a partner in 2013. Ian had been “called” from street life to pizza making to plan a gift shop all within eyesight of where the gift shop would be located. His wake-up call was not direct but gradual. Israel is a place for miracles and Ian usually says that is what The Jerusalem Gift Shop is all about.
The Jerusalem Gift Shop has a catalog of made in Israel art, clothing, Hanukkah and Pesach settings and gifts, works by noted Israeli artists and jewelry designers and music. They also have a news service that brings news about Israel from Israel reported by Israelis, on site and “virtual”. The core raison d’etre is to connect the traditional Christians of the world with Messianics and the Jewish people of Israel in a common ground relationship.
The Gift Shop has a Facebook audience of over 98,000 worldwide, a Google + and Twitter presence and its News from Jerusalem newsblog (for which I am privileged to write). The rising awareness of our relationship with Israel and the Jewish people is a fact of life today and providing accurate and truthful writing, opinion and reporting is critical to overcome and overwhelm the rise of anti-Semitism and the wave of Christian persecution worldwide. A house divided cannot stand and when the Temple fell in 70CE the collateral damage was severe. Although the followers of The Way had left before that, the division had begun and the replacement of the Hebrew Roots with assimilated Greek and Roman and even Pagan ideas and thinking began. Although “Christianized”, these non-Hebraic elements placed a distance from the Covenantal traditions that both shared. Today that distance is being eliminated through quiet study and teaching of Torah and renewal of the traditions of 3,500 years of faith.
Living and working alongside Israelis, Jewish, Arab and other groups which live in the only genuine democracy in the Middle East Messianics gain trust and friendship. Long ago a breach was made in the family. Today Ministries like The Jerusalem Gift Shop are filling in that divide with knowledge, messages of support and loyalty and education that renew the bonds of faith that are shared. By the way, Ian can still bake an impressive pizza.