When a Book Becomes a Friend – Israeli Publishing in 2020

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If you could be anything during a pandemic, I’d say being a book publisher is not a bad choice! Even if not for the money but for the overall value, the publishing world has been our greatest ally in this season. 

Books have kept our minds occupied. They allowed us to travel and dream despite restrictions. We’ve been learning secrets about the world and our history. And hopefully, through the written word, we have also grown closer to God and people.

(By the way, here are some of our team’s favorite books, in case you need inspiration: FIRM staff’s favorite reading list)

The Fate of Publishing

For years the global market has been forecasting a slow decay of the publishing industry. And yet, it took a pandemic to show the world that readership is alive and well. The New York Times enthusiastically declared 2020 a really good year for publishers! Penguin Random House even called it “the best year in a long time”.

This is very inspiring news. But you may wonder, how are book publishers doing in Israel? Especially the ones representing the Kingdom of God? No need to worry – we went ahead and checked that for you! 

Book Publishers in Israel

Congregations and home groups continue to meet online in Israel. Large gatherings have been banned in the country for almost a year now, so “online fellowship” has been everyone’s lifeline, as far as community is considered.

Meanwhile, Israeli publishers have certainly risen to the occasion. With materials available in Hebrew, Russian, Amharic and Arabic, they equip Israeli believers in the best resources and deliver them straight to their doors.

As FIRM, we feel honored to support ministries like HaGefen Publishing, the Bible Society of Israel, and Medallion, to name a few. Without skipping a beat, they have been producing and distributing publications that bless entire families. What is more, they have all also invested their time and money to teach and train others in Biblical studies, and have shared resources for free!

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
 — Isaiah 52:7

Moving Up and Forward

Our friends at HaGefen Publishing continue to spread joy as they shared with us how exciting and encouraging the growth in their ministry has been. Naturally, they had to be more creative in their work, but with a heart ready to serve and bless, they have seen a boost in book orders in 2020. This year they are also in the process of relocating their offices to a more practical location.

What makes them different from other book publishers in Israel? Probably the fact that they give away many of their products for free! Sometimes by faith, other times thanks to specific sponsors. But always with a heart’s desire to share the Good News of the Messiah with all Israel. HaGefen has blessed many congregations and other ministries with helpful products for discipleship and for children.

And speaking of children – if you have kids in the family or in the congregation, you must know about Medallion! They are the leading publisher of Bible-based literature and resources for children in the Body of Messiah in Israel. 2020 has also kept them busy, but maybe in a different way that you’d expect.

Publishing More than Books

Although Medallion did not sell a great amount of literature in the past year, they have expanded greatly in their ministry. They offered much needed support and encouragement to teachers and caregivers around the country. They prayed with them and often shared much needed resources that can also be used online.

In some of the hardest months for families and congregations, the team at Medallion was motivated to offer support where needed most! They published podcasts, organized online seminars, and met with kids on Zoom for story time. In a season of isolation, they were bringing people together like never before.

Israel has about 200 congregations with a growing number of children who need culturally relevant educational materials to teach them the Word of God. That means that training is needed also for the teachers, counselors, parents, and other adults. It’s a good thing that Medallion is working hand in hand – but also right next door! – with the Caspari Center.

Book Publishers and Book Teachers

Most believers in Israel lack the time and resources needed to deepen their understanding and grow as effective disciples for Jesus. Caspari Center provides non-academic, practical training to Israeli believers. At the same time, they are committed to teaching the international Body about the land of the Bible.

What a blessing that we live in an era when our knowledge and resources can be shared online, across the whole world. The Body of Messiah in Israel has been very loving and generous with what they have. But they are able to bless, because they have been blessed themselves – by people like you!

Caspari Center teaches and equips, meanwhile the Bible Society of Israel is making the Word of God easily accessible. They are producing and distributing relevant Scriptural resources and tools that explain Salvation and faith in Jesus. Together, they are filling the gap created in 2020 – they are answering the people’s cry for connection.

This article originally appeared on FIRM, January 27, 2021, and reposted with permission.