Caspari Center Media Review……………..April 2001, #1
In the period covered by this media review, 66 articles appeared on the subjects covered by the review- Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 5 articles dealt with Christian tourism
- 6 articles dealt with matters related to the Greek Orthodox community
- 5 articles dealt with Messianic Jews
- 3 articles dealt with missionary activity
- 7 articles were book reviews
- 3 articles dealt with the burials of non-Jews
- 6 articles dealt with Jewish Christian relations
The remaining 35 articles dealt with Christian or Jewish matters on their own merit.
Messianic Jews Called Missionaries (Israel Today, March 2001)
This monthly journal reports on the publication of a brochure by the anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim. The Hebrew language brochure warns against the danger of missionaries in Israel and particularly highlights two groups- Messianic Jews and Jehovah Witnesses as being especially active and dangerous. The writer of the article points out that the two groups are “erroneously lumped together,” for the purpose of discrediting the Messianic Jews.
The brochure states that there are 9,000 Messianic Jews in Israel who worship in over 90 congregations. Messianic Jews are dangerous because they “no longer look like priests, but can be Jews who dress normally, live in Israel and don’t display Christian symbols.”
Orthodox Jews Beat Missionaries (Kan Darom, 23/03/01)
The local Ashdod weekly paper reports on a group of ultra-orthodox Jews who attacked and beat ‘missionary activists’ as they were distributing invitations to receive copies of the Jesus video in mailboxes in Kiriat Gat. The orthodox Jews called the telephone number that appeared on the invitation and asked for a meeting with the distributors of the film. The callers said they wanted to help distribute and asked for a number of copies of the film. When the ‘missionaries’ arrived, the ultra-orthodox attacked and began to beat them.
Religious elements in the city issued the following statement: “ We will not allow the missionary activists to set foot in the city. We will act in every way available to us to eliminate the missionary plague and any intention of the mission to operate in Kiriat Gat.”
A New View of Jesus (HaAretz, 28/03/01, Yidiot Achronot, 28/03/01)
These two wide circulation Hebrew daily papers report on a BBC television series that is soon to be aired entitled “The Son of God.” Both papers feature a computer generated picture of Jesus as he is imagined to have looked. This picture is based on a forensic reconstruction of a skull from the first century that was recently found in Jerusalem. The series deals with new historic and scientific evidence that relates to the New Testament with a particular focus on the life and death of Jesus.
Easter Peace Plea (Jerusalem Post, 29/03/01, 13/04/01)
The leaders of 13 churches in Jerusalem signed a plea asking for forgiveness and reconciliation on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The leaders included the patriarchs from the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Latin church. Others who signed the document were the Lutheran and Anglican bishops and the Franciscan custos. The president of the International Council of Christians and Jews, Rabbi David Rosen, called the statement balanced and sensible.
In another statement issued by the heads of local Christian communities, the leaders called for peace based on mutual reconciliation. They also called for an end to the Israeli blockades and curfews that cause so much suffering to the Palestinian population. “In no way can this peace be imposed by sheer force; it is nurtured by an honest application of justice and mercy in line with internationally accepted legitimate resolutions for the benefit of the weaker part.”
Mission Survivors (HaModia 04/04/01)
This religious daily paper reports on a group of ten families from the Sharon area who have been “saved from the jaws of the mission.” For the first time these families, most of them from former Soviet countries, will be celebrating a kosher Passover celebration. One of the ‘mission survivors’ is reported to have said “This time we will celebrate a second exodus from Egypt, the exodus from the darkness of the corrupt mission to the light of the torah and Judaism that is refined for us from generation to generation.”
Co-existence in the Kindergarten (Hed Hagan, Tel Aviv Quarterly)
This feature article reports on a kindergarten in the city of Lod that has both Arab and Jewish children. The Arab children are Christian and the kindergarten class provides much opportunity for the children to learn about one another’s customs and religion. The parents have also been involved in the meeting of the two cultures. Jewish families were hosted by an Arab Christian family at Christmas celebrations. Their response was overwhelmingly positive. The Jewish parents expressed that they had learned much and they were very moved by the warmth of the hospitality they experienced.
Jesus and Easter (HaShikma, Holon, 04/04/01)
This weekly local paper carries an article with a lead line “everything you wanted to know about the festival of Easter that’s celebrated at Passover.” The article tells the story of the life, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus in clear and simple terms. The author calls Easter the most important day of the year for Christians. She also draws attention to the parallels between Easter and Passover and places Jesus in a thoroughly Jewish context. She also relates to the symbols of Easter, particularly light.
“ On the holiday it is customary to pray outside in the sunlight. Light has a very important role to play on this holiday since the coming of Jesus to the world and his resurrection are compared to a great light that has illuminated the darkness. Because of this, churches are lit with special candles throughout Easter week.”
International Repentance Conference (Jerusalem Post, 05/04/01, 13/04/01)
One of the articles in this paper is a lengthy article featuring an interview with Sister Pista of the German Protestant Christian organization, The Sisters of Mary. This organization is hosting an international repentance conference in Jerusalem beginning on April 17. The time of the conference was chosen so that the participants would be in Israel for Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 19. Over 700 people from over 22 countries, including German mayors and some 40 German government officials are expected to attend this conference. The paper points out that in spite of the recent decline in tourism, none of the registered participants (700) have cancelled.
The conference is entitled “Changing the Future by Confronting the Past.” The purpose of the conference is “to reflect, to repent, to get right with God and our elder brother Israel, writing a new page in Christian history.”
The conference is the result of the ongoing concern of the Sisters of Mary (founded in 1947) that Christians should take responsibility and do penance for the sins of the holocaust. Sister Pista says, “We and our forefathers have sinned! Christian anti-Semitism has become so entrenched that it has shaped the attitudes of ordinary people throughout the world, regardless of Christian tradition or political persuasion.”
As she tells her own story, she was a teenager during the second world war, she says. “Six million Jews perished because of thousands of Bible believing Christians like me who had been deceived and went along with the flow.”
The highlight of the conference will be a special repentance service on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, April 19, at Yad v’Shem.
Strange Journey from Jerusalem to Poland (Kol HaEir, 13/04/01)
This Jerusalem weekly paper features a two page article relating the unusual story of an Israeli born psychotherapist who accompanied a group of Catholic clergy on a visit to the concentration camps of Poland. Dina Vardi is herself a child of holocaust survivors who works extensively with other children of holocaust survivors helping them to deal with the issues of the second generation. She has published two books on issues that relate to the psychological legacy of the holocaust.
In connection with her work in the organization Amcha, that offers psychological services to holocaust survivors and their children, Vardi has led support groups that meet at the convent of the Sisters of Zion in Ein Karem. As a result of the contact with nuns, she was asked by the Mother Superior of the Order of the Sisters of Zion to take part in a 10 day conference on the theme of “Persecution, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.” The conference was to conclude with a four day visit to Auschwitz and the participants were nuns and monks of the associate order. This took place in 1994 but only now is Vardi’s book chronicling her journey being published.
The article tells Vardi’s personal story. Her father was sheltered and saved by an Italian Catholic priest in World War II and so for Dina Vardi to travel with Italian nuns and priests was the completion of an unfinished chapter in her life. Especially moving for her was to experience Auschwitz with two nuns who were Jewish. Dina Vardi’s book that tells the story of her journey is “The Gate of Dialogue” and it was published in the beginning of April 2001 by Kibbutz HaMeuchad Press.