Caspari Center Media Review……..October 2001, #1 and #2
In the period of time covered by this review, we received 84 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 11 articles dealt with Palestinian Christians and security issues in the country
- 10 articles dealt with missionary activities
- 9 articles dealt with special events in the country (Jerusalem march, Feast of tabernacles, annual love parade)
- 9 articles dealt with tourism in Israel
- 7 articles dealt with Christian support (of Israel, peace and reconciliation)
- 6 articles dealt with matters concerned with the Greek Orthodox Church
- 6 articles dealt with book, theatre and television reviews
- 6 articles dealt with the terrorist attacks on the United States
- 3 articles dealt with matters concerning land disputes in Israel
- 3 articles dealt with matters concerning interfaith marriages and Jewish citizenship
- 2 articles dealt with the visit of Rev. Sharpton in Israel
The remaining 12 articles were single articles dealing with matters of Jewish or Christian interest on their own merit.
Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews of America 1880-2000 (17/10/01 Ha’aretz, English edition)
This two-page book review shows a broad view of mission motives and methods throughout the last century. The author poses an interesting perspective, pointing out that although Christian motives and ideology regarding missionary activity have not changed much, the Jewish response has.
He gives the example that in the past, most Jewish converts were not turning to Christianity because of the truth of its doctrines, but more for the reason of changing their stigmatic status as Jews. Whereas now, and here he makes reference to the Messianic movement as well, the Jewish converts are not escaping their Judaism, on the contrary, they turn to Christianity because thy reject the secular, unaffiliated, ritual free Jewish houses and instead celebrate their Jewish roots, rather than trying to obscure them.
‘Jesus’ On Simchat Torah (4/10/01, Pnai Plus; 18/10/01, Pnai Plus; 5/10/01, The Jerusalem Post)
With no apparent reason, the Israeli family channel (channel 3) decided to screen the mini-series ‘Jesus’ on the eve of Simchat Torah of all times. This decision caused a very large response, varying from cynical humor to full blown rage from some circles.
The well-budgeted series showcases a variety of well-known actors and has been reviewed and rated very positively. In any case, it created quite a lot of noise in the country.
New Messianic Magazines (September, 2001, Israel Today)
In this short article, the publication of two new Messianic magazines is publicized. The new magazines are called “Me’et Le’et” and “Mashehu Acher”. The editor Eitan Kashtan said he received very positive feedback about both. This now brings the number of Messianic magazines up to five.
Center’s of Anti-missionary Activity (30/09/01, Bama’avak)
In this weekly orthodox paper, the activities of the anti-missionary organization Yad L’achim are reported on. A number of the centers of missionary activity and their leaders are listed. Among those listed are: Dugit Gallery in Tel Aviv, Adonai Roi congregation on Yitzak Sadeh Street in Tel Aviv headed by Avi Mizrachi, Congregation Tiferet Israel in Tel Aviv, Beit Immanuel in Jaffa headed by David Lazarus, Congregation Beit Sar Hashalom headed by Michael Zin, an unnamed congregation headed by Leonid Odaski, Brit Olam congregation headed by Yakov Damkani (described by the article as one of the ‘chief missionaries in the country’) and helped by Oren Shalom.
Yad L’achim Take Local Authorities to Court (26/10/01 Shisha Yamim; 30/09/01, Bama’avak; 26/10/01, Hamodia; 19/10/01, Bakehila)Following a long history of harassment, the Ultra Orthodox anti-mission group Yad L’Achim has now turned to a form of legal harassment against the congregation of Hesed Ve’emet. They began causing trouble for the congregation quite a while ago, when the congregation began a building project, consisting of a church and a center for the congregations’ activities. Yad L’Achim claim that the congregation should be seen as a threat due to the missionary nature of their work, and they have decided to sue the local authorities with the claim that the congregation’s true motives for building were hidden.
In addition, in the weekly Jerusalem magazine, Bakehila, an article appeared stating that there was supposed to be a discussion in the interior committee of the Knesset on the subject of ‘The Building of Mission Centers.’ The participants were to be representatives of the Religion and Justice Office, police officials responsible for the subject, representatives from the Ministry of Interior, activists from the two extreme anti mission groups Yad L’Achim and Lev L’Achim, as well as, interestingly enough, representatives from the Messianic community headed by Baruch Maoz, referred to in the article as “the well-known missionary”. But due to the assassination of the Minister of Tourism, the committee’s work was halted.
Jews, Christians and Arabs Together for Peace (11/10/01, Zman Mevaseret)In this article there is a description of the festivities held during Succot, which also marked a year to the events troubling our country. A group of people in Abu-Gosh decided to mark the events in quite a unique way. On Succot eve, they opened a Peace Succa for all three religions. The guest of honor was the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Mr. Matan Vilnai who was said to have been very touched by the event. The guideline throughout the event was a call to put an end to the violence and return to the negotiating table in order to once again try and resolve our issues without force.
The atmosphere at the event was one of pleasant neighborly relations. In watching the event it was obvious that if the negotiating were in the hands of these people, peace would have been achieved long ago.
At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden (19/10/01, The Jerusalem Post)This article in the major daily English paper, reports the publication of a new book: “At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden- A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land” by Yosi Klein Halevi.
Halevi, formerly a self-described ‘Jewish Extremist,’ grew up in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community, as the son of a Holocaust survivor and hence was raised with a great distrust of all non-Jew’s intentions towards Jews, especially in religious matters. The two events that completely changed his views were first of all his marriage to an Episcopalian born convert to Judaism and secondly, his relocation to Israel. Whereas his marriage brought him to the realization that a Jewish-Christian relationship was possible based on love and mutual respect, his move to Israel helped him see himself as no longer a part of the minority that the Jewish Diaspora is in the States, but instead as part of a sovereign majority in Israel, responsible for Arab and Christian minorities.
Through this new viewpoint he felt a need to set out on a mission “to learn in what ways believing Jews can benefit from followers of the two faiths that Judaism spawned.” In this work he attempted to “overcome history, theology, politics, psychological taboos and at times concern for my own safety- a confrontation with my own limitations and fears.”
Although Halevi didn’t quite make it to the Garden of Eden where all three religions worship together in peace in the Holy Land, he at least offers moments of shared transcendence, even in this troubled land.