Gidon Ariel and Pastor Alan Latta, October 30, 2023
Gidon and Alan, discussing their faith, shared stories and worked on a project to light up a church in remembrance of Kristallnacht. They also debated the war, with Gidon sharing his experiences giving lectures about it on TV stations. The financial practices of their organization were also discussed, clarifying their status as a registered incorporated church with the State of Texas and as a nonprofit entity, but not a 501 c. 3. The concept of free will and predestination in Jewish and Christian theology was a topic of their discussion, with Gidon emphasizing Jewish belief in free choice and Alan acknowledging God’s capacity to provide warnings or wake-up calls.
Gidon mentioned his volunteering efforts in Israel due to the war situation, where he and his wife helped pick fruit from trees as the farmers were mobilized for reserve duty. Despite initial difficulties finding a suitable volunteering place, they eventually managed to contribute their time at a fruit farm.
Pomegranate Orchard Volunteering Experience
Gidon and Alan discussed Gidon’s recent experience picking pomegranates at an orchard near Beach Shemesh. Gidon shared that there were about 50 volunteers working alongside him and his wife, and they managed to pick four to five trees in two hours. He also mentioned that the orchard was enormous, estimating there could have been up to 10,000 trees or more. The pomegranates were picked and placed in baskets, which were then transferred into larger baskets by forklifts. Gidon estimated that each large basket could hold around 50 pomegranates. This was the second day of the volunteering, and the hope was to finish the entire orchard within a week with volunteers.
Pomegranate Eating Traditions
Gidon and Alan had a discussion about pomegranates, the Jews’ tradition of eating them during Rosh Hashana, and how to properly eat a pomegranate. Gidon explained his method of cutting the pomegranate in half, peeling it, and then eating the seeds with a spoon. Alan expressed his intent to try pomegranates again. Towards the end, Gidon shared an anecdote about bringing home a large pomegranate and starting to eat its seeds before realizing they hadn’t tithed the fruit yet.
Tithing Fruit Requirements in Israel
Gidon informed Alan about the requirements of tithing fruit in the land of Israel. He explained that the fruit must be prepared before Shabbat and cannot be tithed on Shabbat. Gidon also clarified that there are different types of tithes, including one that goes to a Levite or priest, one that goes to the poor, and one that is eaten in Jerusalem. He admitted his uncertainty about the specifics of this practice, especially regarding fruits grown outside of Israel.
Tithing Practices in Christian Denominations
Alan and Gidon discussed the concept of tithing in Christian denominations. Alan shared a humorous anecdote about three preachers and their differing approaches to tithing and offerings. Alan clarified that while some Christians may tithe to individual ministries or charities, his church encourages tithing to the church as a form of recognition of God’s ownership over everything. Alan also mentioned that they often pass the plate for special occasions, such as for a recent donation to Israel, and that the people responded generously. Gidon summarized that tithing in Alan’s church is primarily directed towards the operational expenses of the church.
Tithing Discussion in Alan’s Church
Gidon and Alan discussed the concept of tithing within the context of Alan’s church. They touched on the fact that not all churchgoers tithe, but those who do often give a significant percentage of their income. The average percentage of income given by Americans was also discussed, with Gidon suggesting that he would like to see a survey or poll conducted on the matter. Alan mentioned that their church operates on the basis of what was given in the previous year, rather than setting a budget based on expected growth, which he suggested could lead to trouble. He also mentioned that they try to give beyond their own tithing, and if the total giving falls below the tithe, they become concerned that they are not being generous enough.
Religious Activities and Interests
Gidon and Alan had a discussion about their respective religious activities. Gidon mentioned his habit of attending synagogue and spending Shabbat with an orthodox Jewish family when he is in Dallas. Alan shared about the various activities at Generations church, including Women’s and Men’s Bible study, and Sunday Bible studies. Gidon expressed his interest in participating in a Bible study with a family or group of people, which might replace his usual Shabbat activities. He also committed to visiting Alan’s church on Sunday morning, if he would spend Shabbat teaching Torah in the Granbury area.
Jewish Faith and Kristallnacht Remembrance Project
Gidon and Alan discussed LightUpTheChurch.org, a project in memory of Kristallnacht. Gidon suggested that Alan could participate in this project by having the church lights always on, which Alan agreed to consider. Additionally, Gidon shared a story about a friend who found a creative solution to technical or logistical problems by placing electric candles in the church windows and making a sign. Alan expressed interest in this idea and asked Gidon to provide his friend’s contact information for further discussion.
Churches, Event, Lectures, Bible, Menorah, Berlin, Burning Bush
Gidon and Alan discussed the involvement of churches in the annual Light Up The Church event, with Gidon expressing optimism about reaching a hundred participants this year. They also discussed the war, with Gidon sharing that he has been giving lectures about it on TV stations in the States. Gidon showed willingness to give lectures in Alan’s church if interested. The men also shared memories of a synagogue trip in Berlin and had a Bible-related discussion, with Alan admitting his struggles with reading the Bible and a new insight about the Burning Bush experience.
Free Will vs Predestination in Jewish and Christian Theology
Gidon and Alan delved into the concepts of free will and predestination within Jewish and Christian theology. Alan concurred with the idea of free choice but acknowledged God’s capacity to provide warnings or wake-up calls. They also discussed predestination, with Alan arguing that Christianity sometimes places too much emphasis on it, partly due to replacement theology.