Friday, September 19, 2008
During the week covered by this review, we received 20 articles on the subjects of anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, the Pope and the Vatican, and interfaith activities. Of these:
7 dealt with anti-missionary activity 5 dealt with Christian Zionism 2 dealt with Christian tourism 2 dealt with Christians in Israel 2 dealt with the Pope and the Vatican 2 dealt with interfaith activities
This week's Review was a mixed bag of articles relating to anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, and the Pope and Vatican.
HaShavua BiYerushalayim, September 11; Kol Ha'Ir - Bnei Brak, September 3; BeKehila, September 11; HaModia, September 9, 11 (pp. 3, 4), 12, 2008
HaModia (September 11, p. 4) printed a brief report of Jewish objections to the "Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism Today" issued by the World Evangelical Alliance (see September 9, 2008 Review).
HaModia (September 9) and Kol Ha'Ir - Bnei Brak (September 3) repeated the piece run in Yom L'Yom (September 4) regarding the legal action taken by Yad L'Achim following the investigative report published in Yediot Ahronot concerning the Messianic community in Israel (see September 9, 2008 Review).
The same paper (HaModia, September 11, p. 3) noted the report in Ma'ariv (September 2) concerning Dula ben Yehuda's burial (see September 9, 2008 Review). The author objected to the fact that Dula had been chosen to carry one of the torches lit on Independence Day - "for the glory of the State of Israel." The historian who discovered the facts concerning Dula's burial stated that he took pains not to publish them widely in order to prevent further attacks on Eliezer ben Yehuda by the Orthodox. This religious paper correspondingly lamented the fact that both Herzl and ben Yehuda - neither of whose secular Zionist endeavors endeared them to the Orthodox community - had "sacrificed their children to Christianity" because of their work. This was also true, he claimed, of many other Zionist leaders, who also failed to leave any Jewish offspring.
BeKehila (September 11), HaShavua BiYerushalayim (September 11), and HaModia (September 12) all carried a report concerning the attempt of a "missionary" to convert. The man, a "learned doctor, lecturer in international law . . . whose appearance broadcast complete seriousness . . . dressed in religious garb, including hat and suit, who displayed great Torah knowledge and expressed a convincing desire to take upon himself the yoke of the Torah and commandments, and not one item about him gave away the fact that was not kosher" was discovered by Yad L'Achim to be an "out and out missionary." When his efforts to convert were consequently stymied in Geneva, the man attempted to immigrate to Israel, making a "false declaration" to the Rabbinate about his true intentions. Here, too, he was turned away. "In characteristic missionary stubbornness, the missionary doctor [then] decided to turn to Rome . . . as refuge." Here, too, however, "the long arm of Yad L'Achim reached," and his request to convert was rejected in Italy as well. In consequence of this case, Yad L'Achim's director, Shalom Dov Lipshitz, has apparently appealed to batei din (conversion courts) worldwide with a suggestion for a "detailed and specific declarative formula which all those seeking to convert would be asked to sign . . . clarifying that without any shadow of a doubt they have shaken off all traces of the Christian faith and everything connected to it - a declaration utterly forbidden to Christian adherents. 'Even if this does not entail any absolute guarantee that there won't be any cases of deception, it will form a wall against the missionaries who are seeking to use the fact that they have converted, and the Israeli citizenship they receive as a result, in order to get their missionary activity accepted,' said Lipshitz."
Haaretz, September 9, 12 (Hebrew and English editions); Ma'ariv, September 15 (pp. 17, 18), 2008
According to a report in Haaretz (September 12, Hebrew and English editions), a group of 450 "members of tribal peoples" are "currently visiting Israel for a conference at the Nof Ginosar hotel. They come from countries as varied as the United States, New Zealand, Finland, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Canada, and several African nations. Most of them belong to evangelical churches and have a high regard for Judaism. They are seeking to maintain their evangelical faith while also trying to preserve their native heritage and culture, which European colonizers largely destroyed." As part of their visit - and apparently also their heritage - the group "held a special purification ceremony at Ginosar, in which they placed hot rocks inside a special cleansing tent and then entered the tent to purify their bodies through perspiration."
The ICFJ was in the news once again this week, again controversially. According to a piece in Ma'ariv (September 15, p. 18), the fact that a youth film project is being funded by the ICFJ may explain why one of the films, about the trials and tribulations of a young boy growing up in Ramleh, was constructed "as a Christian ethical classic: if you suffer, redemption will come." A further report on the same day (September 15, p. 17) alleged that while the organization has been accused of seeking to deepen its ties with "Christian missionary activity in Israel," "proof" of such support has now been provided "for the first time." The tax report which the IFCJ recently delivered to the IRS indicates that the organization donated $10,000 to "a Christian missionary organization by the name of 'King of Kings,' located in Jerusalem, which works to draw Jews to it in order to reveal Yeshu's teaching [torah] to them." The second missionary organization which received funds from the IFCJ was the "controversial American Christian sect 'Yeshu's Congregation' [kehilat Yeshu]," located in New Orleans. This group has been accused in the past of mental/emotional abuse of its members. According to Yechiel Eckstein, the IFCJ director, the connection with King of Kings was made solely in order to channel funds to a church in Bethlehem which had requested assistance to buy food and other basic necessities in the run-up to Christmas.
Likewise, an article published in the same paper on September 9, which examines the way in which charitable organizations formulate principles according to which they accept or reject contributions, included the IFCJ as a possible example of a case in which "red lights are lit" regarding the potential of "massive conversion to Christianity on the Day of Judgment." Despite such misgivings, the organization has "become an influential and sizable factor" in its charitable scope.
Haaretz, September 9 (Hebrew and English editions), 2008
The three million tourists expected to visit Israel next year will have access to a new "Pilgrim's Route" leading from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. "Along the way, they will be able to visit the site where the New Testament story of the Good Samaritan took place, the Qumran caves, and the site where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist baptized Jesus . . . The Good Samaritan site is just off the highway leading from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. During the Byzantine era, a church was built at that spot . . . Archaeologists recently reconstructed the entire mosaic floor of the church. The baptismal site [Qasr al-Yehud], located near Jericho, is considered the third most important site for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, and is especially popular at Christmas and Easter. The site also has significance in Jewish tradition. It is thought to be the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan . . ."
Christians in Israel
Calcalist, September 15; Ma'ariv, September 12, 2008
An article in the Calcalist (September 15), a paper devoted to economics, examined the flight of Christians from the country - a phenomenon to which Pope Paul VI already drew attention during his visit in 1964. At the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Christian communities constituted 13% of the local residents. This percentage now lies at 1.5% of the Palestinian population in the territories (including East Jerusalem). The current Christian flight is due to the present plight of the community. While Muslims suffer some of the same difficulties, Christians appear to find it easier to migrate since "every family, without exception, has relatives abroad, and many also have passports belonging to foreign states. They speak foreign languages and work in sought-after professions." The major reason for their flight given by those leaving is the sense of a lack of freedom: "If in the past the Christians in the country and rest of the region were Arab nationalist pioneers, today, when nationalism is fading and being replaced by Muslim religious fanaticism, they feel unwanted." Unlike Muslim emigrants, many of whom return once they have made some money, most of the Christians who leave do not return. Nor do they retain close ties with those left behind.
Yehonatan Gefen visited the Scottish church and hospice in Tiberias this week, and reported on the place and his stay (Ma'ariv, September 12). The premises were established by Dr. David Watt Torrance, a "vigorous Scottish doctor full of Christian vision." Despite the "serial opposition" he experienced from the Orthodox residents of the city, the good doctor stood his ground and remained with his cholera patients in 1902 when all the Orthodox fled the pestilence; he lost two wives and four children to such plagues. His only "missionary" activity was to show slides of holy places, although "in order to justify his Christian mission he sometimes gave brief sermons in the mornings; even these he kept short because the lines of patients outside the door were long." Gefen ended his musings on the hospice with the note that, "Today, 2008 years after the birth of Yeshu our brother, the waters of the Sea of Galilee are so shallow that even I could walk on the water and be pronounced a holy man. I won't do so because the last thing this view needs is a new religion. What we need is more love, and lots, lots more water."
The Pope and the Vatican
Jerusalem Post, September 12, 14, 2008
During a meeting with representatives of French Jewry, Benedict XVI "slammed anti-Semitism as theologically unjustifiable and tantamount to being 'anti-Christian'" according to a report in the Jerusalem Post (September 14). Benedict was quoted as saying: "'The Church is opposed to every form of anti-Semitism, which can never be theologically justified . . . to be anti-Semitic also signifies being anti-Christian . . . I feel the duty to pay heartfelt recognition to those who have died unjustly, and to those that have dedicated themselves to assure [sic] that the names of these victims may always be remembered. God does not forget.'" The Pope also met with French cultural leaders and leaders of the French Muslim community. According to a report in the same paper (September 12), the visit "grew out of the pope's desire to visit the Lourdes shrine."
Makor Rishon, September 12; Israel HaYom, September 10, 2008
In an unusual interview with two representatives from the International Council of Christians and Jews - one Jewish, one Christian - Elitzur Segal also examined the history of Jewish-Christian dialogue (Makor Rishon, September 12). "Jewish-Christian relations are unique and cannot be compared to any other relationship between 'partner' religions - not even to Islam, the other religion which grew out of Judaism. Christianity acknowledges the Hebrew Bible and the Oral Law as it has been handed down. On top of this recognition, however, it has also claimed for hundreds of years that since the appearance of the gospel of their messiah, Christianity has become the true Judaism - the 'Israel in the Spirit' - whereas Judaism itself is nothing but a ghost from the past, the 'Israel of the flesh.' This has formed Christianity's strong impetus over generations to convince Jews of the truth of Christianity, because as long as Judaism exists, it is a thorn in the side of the Christian daughter, who seeks to inherit." The "dialogues" of the Medieval Ages were forced conversations which ceased when the Jews no longer had to participate in them - i.e., when the State was established and Israel/Judaism became an independent, sovereign entity. The sea change occurred with Vatican II and the appointments of Paul VI and John XXIII, the latter being known for his positive role during the Holocaust. The ground-breaking Nostre Aetate document enabled "free dialogue between Jews and Christians because Christianity no longer saw Judaism as a target for conversion but as an equal partner with equal rights in the biblical (OT) covenant." To the question whether the ICCJ contains "missionary elements," its current President, Devora Weisman, replied: "'The organization is open to everyone. It must be understood, however, that, overall, the institutional Christian churches have given up missionizing amongst the Jews. They generally acknowledge the special covenant which we have with God. The people who are actively involved in mission today and cause problems are such groups as Jews for Jesus, certain evangelical groups, and other peripheral sects, which are marginalized within Christianity itself.'" With regard to the possibility or need of including Muslims in the Jewish-Christian dialogue, Weisman responded: "'It's still not clear. It looks as though there's still plenty of work to be done between Jews and Christians. Maybe in the area of Jewish-Muslim relations another organization needs to be created, and maybe an organization needs to be established to deal with dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims.'" Asked whether Jews should be doing more to stop the flight of Christians from the region, Weisman suggested that the best thing to be done in this respect is to improve Israeli's attitude towards minorities.
Religious cooperation towards the release of Gilad Shalit unfortunately failed to come to fruition (Israel HaYom, September 10). The attempts of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders to formulate a letter to be sent to the kidnapped soldier on his birthday failed to overcome the barriers between the three religions. A former Foreign Ministry official initiated the endeavor, turning to the Christian Patriarchate in Europe, a well-known Muslim cleric, and the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, Jonah Metzger. Their communications towards the composition of the joint letter were foiled by the cleric's demand that a sentence be inserted calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners in jail in Israel. The purpose of the letter - which was designed to reach the hands of the head of the political division of Hamas - was "to exert pressure on Mashal and to demand that a Red Cross representative meet with Shalit."
Copyright 2008, Caspari Center.
Material reproduced from the Media Review must specify it as the source and that the copyright remains with Caspari Center.
Yad L'achim News
Big Brother Is Watching
Three missionaries tried to deceitfully convert to Judaism in religious courts around the world, only to be foiled by Yad L'Achim .
A few weeks ago, a distinguished-looking professor of international law showed up at Chabad house of Geneva headed by Rabbi Mendel Pewzner asking to convert to Judaism.
He made an excellent impression, dressed in a suit and hat and displaying broad knowledge of Judaism. Most importantly, he appeared very sincere in his desire to accept upon himself the yoke of Torah and mitzvos.
As the man began making inroads into the kehillah, attending services and being invited into homes, Rabbi Pewzner got an urgent message from Yad L'Achim in Israel: The newcomer was a missionary. Yad L'Achim backed up its charge with evidence that the man was a Mormon and active in missionary activity around the world.
Moreover, Yad L'Achim presented eye-witness testimony that during the very time that the man was in shul, in his religious Jewish garb, he was trying to convince tourists visiting the place to convert out of Judaism.
The final evidence, which left no doubt as to the man's intentions, was a statement attributed to him that he wanted to become a Jew because it would be easier for him to operate among Jews, since he could pass himself off as one of them.
While the kehillah, armed with this critical information, banished the man from its midst, the story doesn't end here. The jurist moved on to Israel and appeared before a beis din for conversion declaring his "sincere" desire to become a Jew. Yad L'Achim, which kept the impostor on its radar, was quick to present the members of the beis din with its evidence.
With a persistence that is characteristic of missionaries, the man moved on to Rome, where he turned to a local beis din for assistance. Yad L'Achim tripped him up again, presenting Rabbi Gad Eldad, a member of the conversion court in Rome, with the facts.
The learned law professor is not the first missionary to try to convert to Judaism to be able to infiltrate the Jewish community. Nor is he the first whose efforts were stymied by Yad L'Achim. A couple from Frankfurt, Germany, members of a missionary cult, recently began the process of conversion with the Rabbinical Council of America. But the council's beis din rejected their application after receiving incriminating information from Yad L'Achim.
Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz, chairman of Yad L'Achim, revealed that he recently sent an urgent appeal to conversion courts around the world asking that applicants sign a statement disavowing their belief in Christianity before their application will be considered.
"It isn't foolproof, but it will put up a barrier because their religious beliefs forbid them from making such a declaration," he said. "We have to understand that there are missionaries who are seeking to convert to Judaism – and receive Israeli citizenship as a result – as a means of advancing their missionary efforts. Every step must be taken to stop them."
Friday, September 12, 2008
The sons of Ephraim (B'nai Ephraim), being in exile among the nations, do hereby proclaim our desire to be recognized as members of the common-wealth of Israel. Having served our punishment, wherein we were not a people, we now humbly repent of our sins and the sins of our forefathers. Through our personal relationship with the God of Israel, we seek the full restoration of all things spoken by the prophets of the Holy Scriptures. We choose to honor, hear, and obey the God of Israel and the principles of life that He has established. We choose to walk in righteousness and to embrace the covenants of Israel. We reach out to our brothers, the sons of Judah, and affirm our love and support for them as we seek to join together and become the fully unified House of Israel. We pray that all Israel might stand together as members of her commonwealth, and that her full restoration might come swiftly by the Hand of the Almighty. Proclaimed and witnessed on this day of new beginnings, August 8, 2008, in St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
[Signed: Hale Harris, John Conrad, Scott Diffenderfer]
If you are unfamiliar with Ephraimites, it is worthwhile to read "Introduction to Ephraimite theology" on the right side bar.
September 9, 2008
During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the subjects of anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, Jewish-Christian relations, interfaith activities, and archaeology.
Of these:3 dealt with anti-missionary activity 2 dealt with Christian Zionism 5 dealt with Christians in Israel 1 dealt with Jewish-Christian relations 1 dealt with interfaith activities 1 dealt with archaeology 1 was a book review. The articles in this week's Review focused primarily on various aspects related to Christian life in Israel.
Yom L'Yom, September 4; BeKehila, September 4; HaModia, August 29, 2008
HaModia (August 29) reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry and other official bodies" were due to participate in an event celebrating the sixty-year anniversary of the State of Israel organized by NCMI and other organizations, including the Jewish community in Norway.A Norwegian Jewish organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism protested to Yad L'Achim over the fact, adding that MK Michael Melchior had also agreed to serve as the event's main speaker. Melchior responded that this is the 'central event held by Christian Friends of Israel organizations, in which Jewish bodies also participate. I therefore complied with the request to appear as the main speaker on this evening of salute to Israel.'"
A piece in Yom L'Yom (September 4) related to the recent investigative article by Techya Barak in Yediot Ahronot (see previous Reviews) noting surprise - and approval - that while her report could have appeared in a piece by Yad L'Achim, it was actually printed in a national paper. Naturally, however, Yad L'Achim took the opportunity following its publication to protest to the Attorney General, claiming that it contained proof that the "missionaries" had violated the law prohibiting the offering of benefits to induce someone to convert, including an appeal to minors, together with that of illegally entering prohibited military areas.
In response to a question put to the Minister of Internal Security regarding a similar "missionary" violation of the law, Avi Dichter replied in the following words: "'On May 1, 2008 the Information Organizer visited the soup kitchen at 4 HaKovshim St., Tel Aviv. There were 60 people there, the majority of them homeless persons, drug addicts, and the impoverished. Likewise, there were 12 workers from the organization, the majority of them young and/or recovered addicts who volunteer there. One of the workers sang a song of welcome in the name (of that man, Yeshu), after which a free meal was distributed. It was discerned that the place serves as a house of abomination (prayer, in the original) on Shabbat, both for the workers and for some of the population which uses it, primarily the homeless. At the same time, no activity was discerned which indicated any violation of the law - merely charitable work conducted by a faithful organization to aid and assist the needy. Moreover, from a questionnaire distributed by the Organizer it is clear that the workers do not promise any financial or material benefits to any of those who come in order to induce them to convert. No criminal activity is therefore involved.'" [Editor's note: the additions in parentheses appear in the original source.]
Israel Post, August 26;
Yediot Ahronot, August 31, 2008
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has announced a new series of projects in the run-up to the Jewish holidays (Israel Post, August 26). According it its director, Yechiel Eckstein, the organization is to provide 12,500 children with school equipment for the new year and a further 2,500 with furniture. Likewise, it is contributing over 2 million shekels' worth of food packages to 14,000 people and 10 million shekels to help heat the homes of 42,000 elderly. Immediately following the holidays, the IFCJ is due to initiate a project designed to donate 1,500 shekels each to 10,750 Holocaust survivors in Israel and the diaspora.
A moving article in Yediot Ahronot (August 31) described the effect of the IFCJ's programs on children in Israel, depicting how the mere existence of a table on which to do homework is absent in many homes of families who live below the poverty line. "'Now I can't wait until the end of the vacation. I want to go back to school already and do my homework in my new room,'" said one of the recipients, an eight-year-old girl from the south of the country. One of the primary aims of the project was to afford children greater privacy. In some cases, the bill for the furniture was written on the child's own name, to avoid the possibility that it would be forfeited confiscated), minors not being liable to such action.
Christians in Israel
Yediot Ramat-Gan, September 5; Kol Ha'Ir, September 5; Haaretz, September 4; Ma'ariv, September 2; Yediot Ahronot, September 1, 2008
In a column entitled "The City by Number," Kol Ha'Ir (September 5) reported on the demographic statistics of "Christians in Jerusalem." According to these, the Christian community in the city numbers around 15,000 persons and constitutes 2% of the city's population. This has fallen from 31,000 (19%) in 1946 due to the series of wars and the effects of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Christian population's birth rate is lower than that of both the Jewish and Muslim communities, standing at 2.14 in contrast to 2.75 amongst the Jewish population and four children per Muslim family on average. The Christian community in Israel in general is split between Arab and non-Arab Christians, the latter composed of nuns, priests, foreign administrative workers and foreign workers in general, and Christian immigrants from the former Soviet Union. In Jerusalem, the Arab-Christian community is the more sizable one, numbering around 12,500 (83% of the city's Christian populace), the non-Arab community numbering only 2,600. 44% of the Christian population of Jerusalem lives within the walls of the Old City, the next largest concentration being in Beit Hanina (2,300 persons). Around 26% of the community is scattered throughout the remainder of the city's neighborhoods. The Arab-Christian population of the city is characterized by its age - older on average than the rest of the populace.
According to a second report, in Yediot Ramat-Gan (September 5), the Christian populace is also well-represented among the growing number of homeless in Israel. However, the percentage of the Christian populace among the poor in the State of Israel was reported in Yediot Ahronot(September 1) as 32% in 2007, the third lowest of all the communities in the country after secular Israelis and post-1990-immigrants, the highest being the Beduin resident in unrecognized locations. The reason for the poverty levels was attributed to the lack of infrastructure - education, roads, electricity, water, etc.
On the other hand, Haaretz (September 4) noted that while the Christian community receives the least State support, it reaches the greatest accomplishments. The school in Abilene, for example, is about to become the first Arab academic campus in Israel. Currently, the village has 1,300 students studying in its various facilities. According to the report, although the Mar Elias educational system is Catholic, a large part of its staff is in fact Jewish, while 60% of the students are Muslim. Its academic framework is linked to the University of Indianapolis and its curriculum includes computer studies, environmental studies, and communications. In recent years, the Christian school system has risen to the top of the ladder in Israel, recording both the highest levels of excellence in matriculation exams and the highest number of qualifiers to take the latter - together with the lowest number of drop-outs. The success of the school system is attributed to "'investment in the essence of education -a devoted administration, teachers with a sense of responsibility and commission
- rather than in the surrounding politics.'"
According to a report in Ma'ariv (September 2), Dula ben Yehuda, one of the daughters of Eliezer ben Yehuda, "the reviver of the Hebrew language," died recently at the age of 104. Somewhat surprisingly, having donated her body to scientific research, she was buried in the "International Cemetery of the Apostolic Messianic Alliance" [i.e. the CM&A cemetery] on Emek Rephaim Street in Jerusalem - next to her husband, Max Whitman, who was a Christian. "Despite this, one of her grandsons said Kaddish at the graveside," noted historian Dr. Yossi Lang. According to the latter, this was the decision not of Dula herself but of her estate's executor. In an article devoted to the ben Yehuda family, Lang also revealed that Jemima, Eliezer's oldest daughter, married a Christian - a Scottish officer by the name of Philip Langstaff Orde Guy.
September 8, 2008
The World Evangelical Alliance, a Canadian-based international evangelical organization, recently issued a document known as the "Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism Today" which, according to Jewish protests, "called for the 'targeting' of European Jews 'for conversion.'" "'It is our prayer that the Berlin Declaration 2008 will prove to be equally useful in supporting the work of taking the Gospel to the Jew first,'" the theological commission's executive director, Dr. David Parker, stated. In response, ADL national director Abraham Foxman declared, "'Promoting a campaign to convert Jews away from their faith is a serious affront to the Jewish people and disrespectful to Judaism's own teachings.'" ADL director of interfaith policy Rabbi Eric Greenberg added, "'To issue this declaration from Berlin, where the Nazis directed their Final Solution to exterminate the Jewish people is the height of insensitivity.'" David Rosen was further quoted as saying, "'Evangelicals could be divided into three groups: those who believed they had an obligation to actively proselytize among Jews, those who thought that ultimately Jews will have to accept Christian belief, but that God will facilitate that in due course, and those who believe that since there is an original covenant between God and the Jewish people they should not be involved in proselytizing. Some of the groups that were most energetic for Israel tended to be the strongest believers in the need to convert Jews.'"
Va-ha-Emakim, August 29, 2008
A joint delegation of students from Nir HaEmek and Diburiyya returned this week from a week-long trip to Germany under the aegis of a "Jewish Christian" organization whose purpose is to promote knowledge of the other and co-existence between Jews and Arabs. Last year, Nir HaEmek hosted a German delegation. The "Israeli" group also visited Bergen Belsen.
Yediot Haifa, August 29, 2008
As part of its scheduled project to investigate the "world of Jesus," the Discovery Channel recently sponsored the CT-scanning of a collection of 2000-year-old skulls in the effort to reveal as much as possible concerning life in Israel in the first century C.E. It is hoped that the scanning will provide information about the internal structure and bodies of persons living during that period. The series will examine Jesus' life, and life in Israel in general, during the Second Temple period. British facial artists will then clothe the results with "skin and bones" in order to obtain a realistic picture of how people looked in that period. These reconstructions will then serve as the basis for the selection of actors to play various parts in the simulation.
Haaretz, September 5, 2008
Josh Nathan-Kazis reviewed Jeff Sharlet's book The Family in Haaretz (September 5), writing that "there is perhaps no more shocking revelation in The Family, Jeff Sharlet's new expose of Christian fundamentalism in America, than the one that implicates Senator Hillary Clinton, the could-have-been Democratic nominee for president, in what she might call a vast right-wing conspiracy." According to the review, the Family "is so secret that it lacks a formal name. Sometimes known the Fellowship, other times as the Family, the group has roots that run deep among Washington's power brokers . . . Its members believe that God effects his will through politicians and business leaders, and so they minister directly to the powerful, organizing prayer cells in government offices and boardrooms in Washington and beyond. The cells work quietly, through the system, to promote a Christian fundamentalist agenda. The long-term goal, says Sharlet, is to project America's power across the globe as a vehicle for Jesus." According to Nathan-Kazis, "The organization that would become the Family first came into being in the midst of the labor unrest that plagued the Western seaboard in the 1930s. Abraham Vereide, the Norwegian immigrant preacher who founded the group and led it through its early years, became convinced that Christianity could play a role in the normalization of labor relations . . . Writes Sharlet, 'Elite fundamentalists . . . did not care much about sin; they cared about salvation, a concept they understood in terms of nations, not souls, embodied by the rulers to whom God had given power.' This is Christianity stripped down to its barest, most brutal core. [Doug] Coe ["the Family's publicity-shy leader"] calls it 'Jesus plus nothing.'" As Nathan-Kazis noted, "There's a thin line between reverence for the organizational stratagems of Hitler and reverence for his purposes, of course. Sharlet argues that Coe & Co. cross this line with abandon. As he traces the Family's history from its founding in the 1930s to today, he shows how it has consistently operated toward anti-democratic ends with sympathies and rhetoric bordering on the fascistic."
Copyright 2008, Caspari Center.
The Media Review is an English-language synopsis of articles which were originally published in the Israeli press. The articles, most of which were written in Hebrew, focus on Messianic Jews and Christianity. The Media Review reports what was said in the press irrespective of its accuracy, and the information does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Caspari Center. On occasion the editor includes explanatory matter in brackets, preceeded by the words [Editor’s note:].
Material reproduced from the Media Review must specify it as the source and that the copyright remains with Caspari Center.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Caspari Center is a network of people: Jews and Gentiles throughout the world working together to raise awareness of Jewish believers in Jesus and support the growth of Israel’s congregations. Our passion is to support emerging leaders who will transform Israel by developing and leading mature, confident and visionary Messianic communities.
The Caspari Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies was founded in 1982 by the Norwegian Church Ministry to Israel (NCMI) to support Israel’s Jewish believers in Jesus through education and research.
In 2002, we added a North American office in Wheaton, Illinois, in order to develop strategic partnerships and resources for our work among Jewish people in Israel and abroad.
Our work in Israel operates under a local board of prominent members of the Messianic community. It is financed by institutional partners and individual contributors.
The Center has a mixed Israeli and international staff who work together with associate scholars.
The North American office is primarily responsible for worldwide awareness and fundraising. Caspari Center USA is a member of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), and is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Notice that this, along with most messianic outreach, is supported by the Evangelical Council. There is no difference between a messianic and an evangelical xian.
The Caspari center offers many programs including leadership training program for new Ethiopian immigrants, public lectures in Jerusalem and a quarterly magazine.
Caspari Center has been working with the Ethiopian Messianic congregations for over 6years. This small yet distinct subgroup of the larger Messianic community has chosen to retain its Ethiopian culture and traditions in daily life and in its expression of faith.
While the community is committed to retaining the Ethiopian culture, their children are rapidly assimilating into the dominant Israeli Hebrew-speaking secular culture. If this community is to keep their children in faith, they must begin using the Hebrew language to teach them.
In September 2005, Caspari Center adapted its “Hearts to Serve” program to serve Ethiopian congregations. We continue to offer special seminars for Shabbat School teachers from the Amharic speaking community.
They also send out the Caspari Media Review, which is an English summary of articles pertaining to xians, messianics, anti-missionary work and Jewish-xian relations in the Hebrew press. I hope to post this review each week because it is a comprehensive review of all xian issues in the press that most of us do not see and it gives a realistic view of how pervasive the xian problem in Israel really is.
This weeks media Review
August 29, 2008 Media Review
During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the subjects of Messianic Judaism, anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, and Christians in Israel. Of these:
1 dealt with Messianic Jews
2 dealt with anti-missionary activity
3 dealt with Christians in Israel
2 dealt with Christian Zionism
1 dealt with Christians in the Holocaust
This week's Review was a smorgasbord of different news items.
Yediot Ahronot, August 22, 2008
In a letter published in Yediot Ahronot (August 22) in response to its article on Ya'akov Damkani, Michael Itzkovitz took the side of Messianic Judaism, claiming that while some sects do exploit their members, "Messianic Jews are the opposite. They help Holocaust survivors, prostitutes, and the poor - which the State doesn't do. Does the Center for Terror Victims help these people? I don't think so. It is even more disgraceful to read that Orthodox families abandon their children simply because they begin to believe in Yeshu - and it is precisely Messianic Jews who accept them with open arms. So instead of hating Messianic Jews those haters should start accepting the 'other' without problems into their society."
Shavu'on, August 22; HaModia, August 19, 2008
HaModia (August 19) carried the story of how a woman in economic straits had fallen victim to a sect it identified as "People of the Cult."
A piece appeared in Shavu'on (August 22) decrying the "taking over" of the traditional Jerusalem March during Sukkot by Christian groups. The report suggested that such participation serves as an indication of the "strength" these groups are gaining in Israel - and is therefore to be banned. It also claimed that it has been "verified" that many of the bystanders who cheered the marchers had been "supported financially" by these Christians.
Christians in Israel
Ma'ariv, August 21; Yediot Ahronot, August 21; Haaretz, August 20, 2008
Alonei Abba, in the lower Galilee, is located on the site of a Templar settlement. In the center of the moshav is a Templar church. One of the veteran residents, who now acts as a guide, recalled her childhood memories of the place: "'As a child, I grew up thinking that every settlement in the country had a church at its center. The church lay at the heart of our childhood: we played in it, I celebrated my bat mitzvah in it, we ate the Passover Seder in it. It sounds strange, I know, but in those days it was very natural.'" Although the Templar church, built in 1916, is now in a state of disrepair, it is due to undergo renovations and be turned into a music center (Haaretz, August 20).
A legal battle has recently erupted between local Christians and a Jewish organization over the latter's ostensible use of the Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper) on Mount Zion. A Catholic group called Tankredi, whose aim is to preserve Crusader sites and traditional Catholic values amongst the local Catholic community, is claiming that a Jewish organization devoted to the study of the family and family laws is using part of the Cenacle, "one of the most important Christian sites in Israel." Tankredi is seeking the dissolution of the Jewish organization, which it charges is a front, disguising Jewish attempts to take control of premises in the Old City. It has further objected that the organization has begun structural work to prepare the way for the connection of the site to electric cables and sewage pipes without permission - activities which the Catholic organization claims put the building at risk and constitute an illegal "conversion" of the premises into Jewish hands. Following complaints to the police and the district archaeologist, the organization petitioned the Supreme Court, which has now issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Jewish organization from performing any further work - despite the fact that the Antiquities Authority has acknowledged that it gave post facto permission for the work to be carried out and affirmed that no damage has been caused (Ma'ariv, August 21).
In an interview with Nazareth Illit's mayor, who has served in his official capacity in the city for 42 years, the outgoing incumbent stated that over the years Nazareth Illit has become a "refuge" for Christian Arabs from the region, whose conflict with Muslim Arabs is at times very fierce - and "'greater than that between Jews and Muslims'" (Yediot Ahronot, August 21).
Yated Ne'eman, August 22; Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2008
In response to Ehud Olmert's controversial claim that he has given approval for the immigration of the Bnei Menashe tribe from northern India, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews stated in the Jerusalem Post (August 21) that "he was assured by the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday that Olmert had in fact made the decision to bring the Bnei Menashe to Israel. 'We're treating this as a fait accompli,' he said, noting that the IFCJ has taken out newspaper adverts for Thursday supporting the move and offering to contribute some $20-30 million over the next two years to facilitate the aliya."
Yated Ne'eman (August 22) devoted a lengthy article to an "exposי" of Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, garnering most of its information - and many of its quotes - from Mina Fenton, a fervent anti-missionary campaigner. Among her claims was that in one of his books, Eckstein asserts that he became a member of Jews for Jesus!
Christians in the Holocaust
Haaretz, August 24, 2008
Anna Reisen Flescher, born in Rhinefelden in Switzerland in 1915, died this week as one of the Righteous of the Nations. Flescher's mother died when she was three, her father when she was 14, and she was forced to leave school and start work as a salesperson in Geneva and then a housekeeper in London. In 1941, she moved to Rome to live with her twin sister, Carla. When Carla returned to Switzerland in 1942, Anna replaced her as the assistant to a successful psychoanalyst by the name of Dr. Yoachim (Chaim) Flescher. When the Nazis took over the city in 1943, Flescher went into hiding, and Anna supplied him with food. When she was nearly discovered, she came up with an even more daring plan: to hide him in his own house. Having secured Swiss protection over the premises, Yoachim slipped back into it on Christmas Eve 1943 and hid there for six months. At the end of the war, he became a successful psychoanalyst in the U.S., where Anna subsequently joined him as his wife. After he died, Anna immigrated to Israel, where one of their daughters lives. When the latter asked her why she had chosen to stay in Rome rather than returning to the safety of Switzerland, she answered, "'It was the right thing to do.'"
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