Celebrating 70 Years
United Israel World Union 1944-2014


The 71st Annual Meeting of United Israel will be held over the weekend of April 25-27, 2014 in Charlotte, NC at the Doubletree Suites Hotel in South Park. The program will run from 5pm on Friday, April 25th through 5pm Sunday, April 27th. Our program, speakers, and topics are below.


Registration is now open at the drop down link here. The modest registration fee of $20 per person/$30 for couple or family, can be paid when one registers or at the event. When you fill out the registration form you will be given the choice to pay now or later.

Please register now if you are coming so we can begin to do our final space planning.

UI 71th Program 2014



January 1 on the Gregorian calendar is universally celebrated now as the New Year in most countries of the world. In addition the Chinese have their New Year, as do the Muslims, and of course the Jewish “New Year” of Rosh HaShanah, that falls in September or October–the 7th lunar month–is well known.Almost entirely overlooked is the original Biblical New Year–the 1st day of the 1st month of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. In the book of Exodus Moses tells the Israelites:

This month shall mark for you the beginning of the month; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you. Exodus 12:2

Today is Nisan 1st, the first day of the lunar month, which is always they month that leads up to Passover. Even though the focus on the 1st day of the 7th month is dominant in Judaism today has been picked up even in our culture as “Rosh HaShanah,” the Jewish “New Year,” in biblical times such was not the case. This is indeed the beginning of the “Sacred” year, not the civil year, and the return of the cycle of Sabbaths, New Moons, and Festivals. There is a lot in the Bible about this New Year’s Day and this season. The ancient Hebrews began their year in the Spring–a time of New Beginnings, not in the dead of Winter or in the Fall as everything was dying. There is a lot in the Bible about this day and this season.


The terms “first day of the first month” in the Hebrew Bible, marking the ,”New Year” signal a new beginning, or renewal of life, including here in this text in the time of Moses at the Exodus. It is also called the turning of the year, and has to do with the sprouting of the barely, and with what we call “Spring”–at least in the northern hemisphere!

According to the Torah Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Gen 17:17).  A year earlier, when Abraham was 99, we have an important set of references to what was ahead.  Three “men” appeared to Abraham, one of whom is subsequently revealed to be an “epiphany” of Yahweh. The Yahweh figure tells Abraham explicitly twice:

I will certainly return to you when the season comes around, and lo, Sarah your wife shall have a son (Gen 18:10).

Is anything too hard for Yahweh?  At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes around, and Sarah shall have a son (Gen 18:14).

Two precise Hebrew expressions are used here, lending strong emphasis to the precise timing of the birth of Isaac.  There is great meaning in all this.  The first phrase, “when the season comes around,” is literally, “at the time (or season) of life.”  It is a reference to the new year in the Spring, in the month of Abib or Nisan (see Exodus 12:2).  It is worth noting that in the traditional reading of the Torah portions this section is paired with a reading from the Prophets, from 2 Kings 4.  There we read of another extraordinary birth, that of the son of the Shunammite woman during the time of Elisha (2 Kings 4:16).  Truly this month of Nisan is a month of miracles and “new birth” as we shall see.  The second phrase, “at the set time,” stresses the exactitude of the timing of this important event.  It will come at a precise time or season.  These are not merely superfluous passing references.  Three chapters later we read:

And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him (Gen 21:2).

What we learn here is that Isaac was born in the Spring of the year, likely in the month of Nisan, at a “set time.” In the book of Exodus we read of another “Spring” birth–this time the birth of the nation of Israel. Whether the author intended to link the two ideas or not is difficult to say:

Israel is My son, My first-born,
and I have said unto you: Let My son go (Exodus 4:22).

When Israel was a child I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son (Hosea 11:1).

Exodus 12:40-41 explicitly states that this “birth” of a nation taking place at this precise time:

Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.  And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the very day [i.e., Passover], it came to pass that all the host of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt.

The reference to the very day is to the 15th of Nisan, the evening of the Passover Seder.  But what about this intriguing reference to 430 years?  Scholars have disputed over the meaning of this chronological note.  It should be noted that the verse, when properly translated, does not say that Israel was in the land of Egypt for 430 years, but rather the that the time of their “sojourning” was 430 years.  What event happened, 430 years earlier, “to the day,” from Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, based on the chronological records now preserved in the traditional Hebrew “Masoretic” text.

Some have suggested plotting this 430 year period of “sojourn” with the Call of Abraham in Genesis 12.  Others have counted the 430 years from the circumcision covenant with Abraham, when he was 99 years old (Gen 17).  Still others have begun the 430 years with the birth of Isaac in Genesis 21.  The Rabbinic source Seder ‘Olam preserves a traditional solution to this question.

In Genesis 23:4 Abraham tells the children of Heth, from whom he purchases the burial cave of Machpelah in Kiriatharba or Hebron, “I am a stranger and a sojourner” with you.   Abraham refers to himself as a ger (stranger) and a toshav (sojourner), even though the Land of Canaan had been promised to him. Abraham never received the Land of Promise in his lifetime; he remained a “sojourner” until the day of his death.  The same is true for Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and their 70 descendants who went down to Egypt.  The question is, precisely when did this “sojourning” of the people of Israel begin?  According to Seder ‘Olam it begins not in Genesis 12, with the Call of Abram to leave his father Terah’s house in Haran, but five years earlier, when he left the city of Ur in Babylon.  Note carefully, when Abram leaves Haran he is 75 years old (Gen 12:4).  But according to Genesis 11:31 “they went forth . . . from Ur of the Chaldees” some years earlier.  This is the actual beginning of their wandering or sojourning.  There is a significant reference in this regard in Genesis 15:7:

And He said to him: “I am Yahweh that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it.”

One might have expected, on the basis of Genesis 12:1-3, for the text to read “who brought you out of your father’s house,” i.e., from Haran.  But in the Genesis tradition, picked up on by the Rabbis, the initial “Call” of Abram was out of Ur in Babylon, not from Haran in the land of Canaan.  In other words, the wandering, or “sojourning” of Abram begins before his call from Haran at age 75.  Also, the Hebrew word here is crucial.  The phrase here translated “brought you out” is from the verb yatz’ah, the same word used in Exodus 20:2 introducing the Ten Words at Mt Sinai:

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

That would mean that according to the Masoretic chronology Abram left Ur, which was his own personal “Exodus” from idolatry and paganism, on the very same night, Nisan 15th, which later becomes the Passover.

The precise chronology of the Masoretic Hebrew text confirms this.  Note the following references and numbers (the years are given as AM, “after Man (i.e., Adam),” which correspond to the traditional numbering of Jewish years since Creation):

Abram leaves Ur    Abram 70    Year    2018 AM (Gen 11:31)

Abram leaves Haran    Abram 75    Year 2023 AM     (Gen 12:4)

Birth of Isaac    Abram 100    Year 2048 AM    (Gen 17:17)

Birth of Jacob    Isaac 60    Year 2108 AM (Gen 25:20)

Israel to Egypt    Jacob 130    Year 2238 AM (Gen 47:9)

Exodus    210 yrs later    Year 2448 AM (Ex 12:40)

The total years from Abram leaving Haran at age 75 (2023 AM) until Jacob going down to Egypt (2238 AM) are 215.  To this we add the 210 years of Egyptian slavery for a total of 425 years: from Abram leaving Haran, until the Exodus in the year 2448 AM.  Since Exodus 12:40-41 designates 430 years rather than 425 the conclusion becomes obvious. The five additional years are by default the time Abram spent in Haran.  Accordingly, he must have left Ur at age 70.  Thus, the total years of “sojourning of the children of Israel,” is precisely 430 years, from the Abram’s “going out from Ur” at age 70 (2018 AM), until Israel’s “going out of Egypt” in the year 2448 AM.

One important additional note here.  Why would Exodus 12:40 speak of the sojourn of the “children of Israel” as 430 years when this period begins with Abram?  The answer is that Abram stands for the whole people.  The term “Israel” is both a name and a title which includes Abraham and his entire line through Isaac and Jacob.  The Covenant with the Jewish people begins with Abraham.  The Rabbis love to play with letters and point out that the name ISRAEL in Hebrew is spelled Yod, Shin, Resh, Alef, Lamed.  These five Hebrews letters are the first letters of the names of the Patriarchs and their wives, namely Yod=Yitzak (Isaac) and Yaakov (Jacob); Shin=Sarah; Resh=Rebecca and Rachel; Lamed=Leah!

Isaac is born at a “set time,” when the “season of life” comes around.  We have already seen that this is a reference to the beginning of Spring, or the month of Nisan.  In Jewish tradition Isaac, as a miraculous child of promise, was born on Nisan 15th or Passover.  In fact Genesis hints at the festivals and holy days of Israel, later set forth in the Torah, as known in various ways in much earlier times (Gen 1:14; 8:13).  For example, there is a reference to Lot preparing “unleavened bread” or matzos, for the heavenly guests prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:3)!  Why matzos?  In the previous chapter Abraham has been told that Isaac will be born “at this season next year” (18:14).  So, in the text of Genesis we know we are in the time of Nisan, when Abram is 99, a year before Isaac’s birth.  Does Genesis imply that God rescued and removed Lot and his family from Sodom around, or even on, the very night of Passover? The text contains several Passover motifs.  The angels keep urging Lot and his family to leave, to hurry, and not to delay.  In a similar way the Israelites make haste to leave Egypt, not even allowing their bread to rise.

healing-300x223In this week’s class Ross teaches on the subject of miracles and healing, but from the perspective of the Hebrew Bible. Working from the book of Leviticus he shows that the role of the priests was not to heal the various ailments described, but rather to describe how to identify and diagnose states of “impurity.” He then works carefully through various examples of healing and miracles in the Hebrew Scriptures to show some of the common misconceptions that are presently taught in the name of faith. Is it true that one must possess faith to receive a miracle? Are sickness and poverty always the result of sin? What role did the prophets play in the miraculous? Focusing primarily on the life and works of Elisha, he answers these and many more questions related to the miraculous and in so doing challenges modern examples of the same. You will not want to miss this teaching.

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900px-Tissot_The_Two_Priests_Are_Destroyed-300x203In this week’s class Ross teaches his third in the Leviticus series. The class covers material found in Torah reading Shemini. He points out that in order to draw near to YHVH one must do so as commanded. The bible gives several examples of those who attempted to draw near apart from what is commanded. Ross focuses on two specific examples. The first example is the story of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu and the second is Uzzah. In both of these stories, people died because they failed to recognize the realm of holiness. What precisely is holiness? Can one truly be holy? Ross shows that, not only can people live a holy life, but that we are commanded to be holy. This class will challenge some of the popular views of holiness. You will not want to miss this class.

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Millais_Victory_O_Lord-215x300This class covers material related to Shabbat Zachor, a Sabbath to Remember. This special Sabbath falls every year on the Sabbath that immediately precedes the Festival of Purim. One of the special readings covered on this special Shabbat mentions the age-old enemy of Israel known as Amalek. Ross begins with the words of the prophet Jeremiah, assigned to the regular Torah reading Tzav and then begins to explore the special readings for Purim. He works through the story of Esther and shares some insights into the ultimate salvation of Israel.

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Kohen_Gadol_Bible_Card-83x300In this week’s class, Ross introduces the book popularly known as Leviticus. He presents the material from the start as an instructional manual for priests. Beginning with the original role of priests, Ross works through the first Torah portion of the Bible’s third book placing an emphasis on the subjects of atonement and forgiveness. He explains that the word translated as “forgive” appears 8 times in this reading. Ross also shows that this Torah reading contains references to “the Messiah” and then he challenges some long-held beliefs about the subject of atonement and forgiveness. Working through the fifth chapter of Leviticus, he takes a close look at the required steps for drawing near to YHVH. You will not want to miss this class on Atonement and Forgiveness.

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P10100031-300x225In this final teaching from the book of Exodus, Ross covers an important lesson that challenges some of the long-held beliefs of those who suggest that the keeping of the commandments given through Moses is contrary to a life “in the spirit.” After providing a brief overview of the main points from the Bible’s second book, Ross begins to explore an overlooked point related to the making of the Mishkan. He shows that the two primary craftsmen selected for the making of the tabernacle, aside from being filled with the Spirit of Elohim do everything as “YHVH commanded Moses.” Ross proposes that this should clear up the present confusion. Using Betzalel and Oholiab as examples, he demonstrates that those who are filled with the Spirit of God will do “as YHVH commanded Moses.” You will not want to miss this teaching on “the Spirit…as commanded.”

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700px-The_Ten_Commandments_Bible_Card-262x300In this week’s teaching Ross reflects back on some of the key points from the past few Torah readings. He expounds on the subject of building, creating and making a meeting place that is suitable for YHVH by carefully reading through and sharing insights from the final Torah readings of the book of Exodus. Ross covers much ground in this class. He covers the “roots of the Spirit,” defines the biblical term “stiff-necked people,” and shares the remarkable self-description of YHVH. It is a message that needs to be shared with all who seek to live their life according to the Hebrew Bible.

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Tabernacle_Schematic-300x165In this week’s teaching Ross begins to cover the subject of the Tabernacle. He points out that there is more on this subject than any subject in the Torah. Ross explores the essential teachings of the subject by focusing on what is referred to as the Tavnit, a Hebrew word that can mean a pattern or a model. He shows that the goal is to produce a MIKDASH. But what exactly is a MIKDASH? It is translated as a Holy Place and is used to describe both the Tent of Meeting as well as the later Temple. The class is meant to explain what is necessary to produce a place suitable for the dwelling presence of Yehovah. In the course of the teaching, Ross seeks to illustrate the deeper meaning of what we are to build and how we are to build it. What does the “pattern” point to? And what must we do to prepare a place for the dwelling presence of Yehovah in our midst? You will not want to miss this class.

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440px-Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_033-236x300In this week’s teaching Ross covers Torah portion Mishpatim. He begins by defining the term from a biblical perspective and then works through several texts related to the subject. In this class Ross associates knowing YHVH with following the Way of YHVH, and shows how they are mutually supportive. He covers some of the greatest passages in the Hebrew Bible as he answers some of the great religious questions of all time. What does God ask of us? What does God seek from us? Ross shares some of the mishpatim in this class that should challenge all of us. After all, who is our neighbor? Who is our enemy? Does the Torah suggest that we help even our enemies? You will not want to miss this teaching!

The painting is Rembrandt’s, Good Samaritan from 1630.

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