May 31 – 2002

Caspari Center Media Review………………….…… May 2002, #1


In the period of time covered by this review, we received 88 articles on the subject of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the mission. Of these:


  • 42 articles dealt with the Church of nativity in Bethlehem
  • 11 articles dealt with Christian support of Israel
  • 10 articles dealt with anti-missionary activity in the country
  • 8 articles dealt with the Catholic Church and the Vatican
  • 5 articles dealt with Greek Orthodox Church


The remaining 12 articles were single articles dealing with matters of Jewish or Christian interest on their own merit.


Conference in Jerusalem attacked (7/05/2002, HaModia, 8/05/2002, HaModia)

In this religious paper two articles appeared warning against a conference that is to take place in the Binyanei Hauma (National Convention Center) in Jerusalem. The criticism was offered by the ultra-Orthodox group Yad LeAchim. They stated that the organizers of the conference are trying to convert “innocent” Jews to Christianity. They also said that the alleged missionaries promised financial and medical aid to suffering families.


These claims were brought up in the Knesset by the religious parties together with a demand to stop the conference.


Support for Israel made public (26/05/2002, Ma’ariv, 26/05/2002, The Jerusalem Post)

The organization of “Arbeitsgemeinschaft CHRISTIAN FUR ISRAEL International” posted a statement in two prominent Israeli daily papers. In this statement, the organization blesses Israel and pledges their solidarity, friendship, and love. They also speak out against the terrible terrorist attacks and the growing censure of Israel in the international press.


Yad LeAchim complain of missionary activity in Bnei Brak (HaModia, 01/05/2002, Yom Hashishi, 03/05/2002)

The anti missionary group Yad LeAchim is now attacking Messianic Jews from the religious city of Bnei Brak and accusing them of missionary activity and trying to convert “innocent souls”. The group has put up posters warning against the missionaries, and according to Rabbi Alex Artovski, this is the first step in a public war against the phenomena.


Thousands of non-Jewish soldiers in the Israeli army (Yediot Acharonot, 02/05/2002, Ma’ariv, 02/05/02, HaTsofe, 02/05/2002)

There are, as of now, 6,700 soldiers in the Israeli army who are not Jewish. In these three articles, it was also stated that hundreds of the soldiers pledge their allegiance to the military on the New Testament instead of on the Tenach as is the usual procedure. These facts were brought up in a Knesset meeting regarding the status of non-Jewish soldiers. The main issue in this matter is the burial of the fallen non-Jewish soldiers, who, due to religious reasons, are not buried in the same part of the cemetery as the Jewish soldiers are. This action runs the risk of seeming disrespectful to the soldiers, as well as their families, who gave their life for the country.


The matter is being resolved by assigning a special section for the fallen non-Jewish soldiers within the cemetery instead of outside the gates.


Follow-up to the Messianic Passover conference (April 2002, Zoh Iri, Tel Aviv monthly magazine)

This brief report gives a follow up report on the Messianic conference held during the interim days of Passover at Kfar Maccabia (covered in the April editions of the Media Review). The efforts of the anti-missionary groups were unsuccessful in canceling the conference. The management of Kfar Maccabia “understand the seriousness of the incident and have agreed to commit themselves, before the rabbinical authorities, that they will not, in the future, permit such conferences.”


Missionary trap at the Jaffa Gate (24.04.02 Yeted Ne’eman, 24.04.02 Hamodia)

These two articles in the religious press report on the opening of a new coffee shop at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. As is usual in articles of this type the rhetoric is strong “A church belonging to the mission…has opened a new coffee house… with the purpose of deceiving innocent Jews to enter (the church) and to attempt to bring them into the captivity of the mission.”


The article reports that on the premises there is a large bookstore, an inexpensive hotel, and a prayer room that is in imitation of a synagogue with the scriptures in the Hebrew language only. According to the article, groups of ‘angry Jewish residents’ of the Old City of Jerusalem have asked the anti-missionary organization Lev L’Achim to act against the missionary group who are trying to “catch innocent Jews in their net while they are on the way to the Western Wall.”


Two new books about the Jewish Jesus (03.05.02, The Jerusalem Post)

This major English language daily paper favorably reviews two books recently published books about Jesus, “Brother Jesus: The Nazarene Through Jewish Eyes,” by Schalom Ben-Chorin and “A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 3, Companions and Competitors,” by John P. Meier.


John Meier is a Catholic priest and professor of New Testament at Notre Dame and his book is the third volume of a four volume scholarly compendium on the life and teachings of Jesus. “Volume three systematically, indeed exhaustively, surveys Jesus’ relations with his disciples, the crowds he attracted and his Jewish adversaries –  the Pharisees, Sadducces and Essenes.”


Schalom Ben-Chorin’s book has been translated from the German and follows the view of Martin Buber who stated “From my youth onwards I have found in Jesus my  great brother.”  The reviewer states that “despite its evident merits, this book may not sit well with some Jewish readers for whom Jesus remains off-limits.”


Both books try to present a clear view of what Jesus actually did and said according to the Gospel accounts and in this attempt they remove what they consider to be the later kerygmatic layers of the text, “…differentiating between what is probably, historically genuine from the eschatological, often self-serving editorializing of the four Gospel chroniclers.”