May 15 – 2000

CASPARI CENTER MEDIA REVIEW………………………………………….MAY, 2000 #1


The total number of articles found in the Israeli media’s coverage of matters related to Messianic Jews, the Mission and other Christian matters came to a total of 63.  Of these, 15 articles had to do with the Pope’s visit, 7 articles dealt with Christian-Jewish relations, 4 articles dealt with missionary and anti-missionary activity, 4 articles dealt with tourism and archeology, and three articles dealt with the status of non Jew, or half Jews. The remaining 30 articles dealt with Christian, Arab or Jewish matters on their own merit.


Book Review: Jesus the Jew and Rebel (MB- Monthly Journal of Central European Immigrants,  March-April, 2000)


Yehudah Eldar, the author of ‘Jesus – Jude und Rebell’, gives a short summary of his work. He tells that his book deals with Jesus in two different aspects: as a rebel against the Roman Empire, and as a Torah observant Jew.


As an example of Jesus’ rebellious plots against the Roman Empire, Eldar quotes different New Testament passages such as Matthew 10:34-36, which reads “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter in law against her mother in law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”


To demonstrate Jesus as a ‘true Jew’ Eldar quotes other passages in which Jesus clearly states his respect for the law and all that is written.


“In order to answer the question ‘who are you, Jesus,’” says Eldar, “we must analyze his life and death as an historical figure not connected to Christian mysticism, and

without the prejudices which have infiltrated Jewish thinking.”


Yad L’achim Against Mission (Be’ir Haifa, 31/03/00)


This article gives a short background about the activities of the anti-mission group “Yad L’achim.” The article was published in a weekly edition of a leading secular paper, which perhaps explains the need to “introduce” this well based religious group.


The article tells of Yad L’achim’s struggle against the Mission and missionaries, who are constantly taking advantage of the poor and forgotten immigrants in Israel. “Missionaries even go from door to door in order to spread their beliefs, and are not content with mere lectures.” (editor’s note: the missionaries mentioned are probably Jehovah’s Witnesses who are known for this particular type of missionary activity. Most Jews, however, do not know the difference between them and Messianic Jews).


Missionaries are accused of deceit in order to make the whole world Christian. “We only want everyone to keep their own religion” says one anti-missionary activist.


Jewish Papers Print Messianic Ad Accidentally (Yated Ne’eman, 07/04/00)


Recently an advertisement for a film called “The Rabbi” was printed in most Jewish newspapers across the United States. The advertisement gave every reason to believe the content of the film was ‘strictly Jewish,’ when in fact it depicts a messianic Jew “who gradually convinces his Orthodox family that he did not abandon Judaism when he took J. into his heart.”


The man behind this ‘deception’ is a Christian missionary, Morris Cerullo, from San Diego. The writer of this article makes it perfectly clear that “Jewish newspapers do not promote ‘messianic Jewish’ activities or print advertisements for them” turning this situation into nothing but deceit.


New Visa Rules Hindering Christian Volunteers (Yated Ne’eman, 07/04/00)


Recently new regulations preventing farmers from bringing in foreign workers was introduced by the Ministry of Interior. These regulations have been causing problems for many Christian organizations since, as a result of these new regulations, they are not able to legally receive Christian volunteers. These Christian organizations are dependent on volunteers, and are in danger of closing down if the regulations are not changed.


“Rev. Ray Lockhart, director of the Israel Trust of the Anglican Church said that the Interior Ministry had recently rejected all 12 of its applications for work permits for foreign workers, the first time that such a thing had happened.”


Rabbis Put End to Cross Making at Rehabilitation Center (Yom L’yom, 13/04/00, Chadashot Mishpacha, 13/04/00)


Rabbis in Tiberias recently discovered that a rehabilitation center in the city was making crosses through the occupational therapy program. The rabbis were alerted by some worried parents.


After some discussion and several phone calls, the rabbis were able to stop the cross making, which was replaced by charm making. So far the youths have made thousands of charms, and seem to be quite happy with their new “occupation.”


Jewish Greek Orthodox Nuns and Priests ( Jerusalem Post, 19/04/00, Ha’Aretz, 25/04/00)


In their Passover supplements, these two leading daily papers, one Hebrew and one English, published three and four page feature articles that focused on some of the residents of a small Greek Orthodox convent in Greece.


The tone of the articles was exceptionally positive and open minded and emphasized the matter of freedom of choice. Several stories are told of both nuns and priests who had been born into Jewish families in various parts of the world. It is of interest that the interviews were conducted in Hebrew. A number of those who had become Greek Orthodox had, at one time in their lives, been new immigrants in Israel.


In several of the stories, the reading of the New Testament was significant factor in the decision to become Christians. “She bought a copy of the New Testament in Russian for the first time. ‘I believed every word,’ she says. ”  “Once during a trip to Jerusalem with his mother, they met a priest from the Russian Compound. He gave George a copy of the New Testament and the boy found ‘answers to existential questions’ which had been troubling him.”


The testimony of all those interviewed was that they had found the answers to life and their true place. Sister Nazarene, previously Marina Rosen, said, “ Choosing to become a nun is the greatest love story there is.”


Behind Convent Walls (Ma’Ariv, 19/04/00)


This major circulation Hebrew daily published a quarter page feature article about the convents of the Sisters of Zion in the Old City and in Ein Kerem. The history of the convents, founded by Jews (the Ratisbone brothers) who had become Catholics and who had a vision to establish the convents in Jerusalem, was related.


The author of the article was conducted through the convent in the old city by a Jewish nun. The headline of the article reads, “What is so attractive about convents, the bubblelike lifestyle that draws you far from the noise of the world. Long hours with the nun Regine, who once was a kosher Jew.” The tone of the article was favorable and it concluded with the telephone number of the convent in Ein Karem.


Born Jewish, Christian Singer in Jerusalem (HaAretz (21/04/00)


The American, Jewish born singer, Paul Wilber will be in Jerusalem in June to do a concert and record a CD. Wilber sings songs in Hebrew with texts from the Bible.


Leading Scholar of Jewish-Christian Relations Interviewed (Jewish Chronicle, London, 28/04/00)


This London Jewish weekly paper published an interview with one of the world’s leading authorities on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewishness of Jesus. Geza Vermes was born to Jewish parents in Hungary, who later converted to Christianity. They  perished, nevertheless, in the Nazi concentration camps. Vermes himself was spared since, by then, he was a practicing priest. After the war, Vermes returned to his Jewish roots, and began writing.


His goal over the years has been to make people aware of Jesus “as a first-century Jew, rather than a divine figure.” When asked if a scholar who is either Christian or Jewish can write a truly objective historical account of Jesus, he says: “It can be a problem. If the author is a traditional Jew, he will have inherited a great deal of secret animosity to Jesus without even knowing it. If he comes from a traditional Christian background, he will have inherited 2,000 years of Christian understanding of the New Testament and doctrinal development, which takes him pretty far away from that man who walked on the dust in parts of the rural Galilee 2,000 years ago.”


The article goes on to explain how Vermes decided to study this topic, and lists the books he’s written over the years. At one point he says “quite frankly, the question of whether Jesus existed is no longer on the agenda. Very few people doubt that there was somebody, a man by the name of Yoshua… who lived in the Galilee in the first century and who died during the governorship of Pontius Pilate, on a Roman cross around 30 CE… these issues are no longer under debate. Furthermore, Jesus was famous as a wise man and as a performer of astonishing deeds.”