November 15 – 2002

Caspari Center Media Review…………November, 2002 #1

In the period of time covered by this review, we received 50 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


  • 9 articles dealt with Church related issues.
  • 11 dealt with Christian support of Israel.
  • 6 dealt with Missionary activity.
  • 1 on the subject of Messianic Jews
  • 10 dealt with archeological and historical issues


The remaining 10 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Archeological discovery  (Ma’ariv 23.10.02) (International Herald Tribune 22.10.02) Jerusalem Post 22.10.02, 23.10.02, 25.10.02) (HaAretz 22.10.02, 23.10.02, English edition, 27.10.02) (Yidiot Achronot 23.10.02)

All of the major secular Hebrew and English daily papers carried articles covering the lively debate surrounding the discovery of a first century limestone burial box bearing the inscription “James, son of Joseph brother of Jesus.” The box itself was discovered nearly 15 years ago near Jerusalem, but belonged to a private collector and had never been officially studied.


The study, conducted by paleographer Andre Lemaire of the Sorbonne University, was published in the latest edition of ‘Biblical Archeology Review,’ and examined different characteristics of the casket including language, script, incision and the probability that it might belong to another by the same name. According to editor Herschel Shanks the casket “confirms the Jewishness of both James and Jesus.” It is considered an important discovery and even what some archeologists claim to be “the first physical evidence that corroborates with biblical references to Jesus.”


The HaAretz articles (both English and Hebrew editions) devote a half page to this discovery and give much background Jesus as he appears in both the New Testament documents and other historical sources, including Josephus and the Talmud.


The Jerusalem Post (25.10.02) features an interview with Herschel Shanks, founder and editor of Biblical Archaeological Review.  In answer to the question “Is there a Jewish angle to this story?” Shanks replies: “It illustrates for the Christian world that Jesus was not incidentally Jewish; he was fundamentally Jewish. If you want to understand Jesus, you have to understand the Jewish world in which he live; his vernacular was Aramaic. His brother was buried according to Jewish practice. He was born a Jew and he died a Jew.”


Anti Missionary Activity  (HaModia 29.10.02) (Yom HaShishi 18.10.02) (Yom L’Yom 24.10.02)

The anti-missionary department of ‘Yad L’achim reported that ‘missionaries’ from the U.S were planning to open a law firm in Israel. They said that a Messianic Jewish lawyer, Jay Sekelow, had founded a firm in the United States in order to provide legal services for believers, and planned to do the same in Israel. “The purpose of the firm is to give legal protection to missionaries and especially to cults of Messianic Jews… Yad L’achim will use all legitimate measures to prevent the founding of this Missionary law firm,” said Rabbi Dov Liphshitz head of Yad L’achim. (HaModia, 29.10.02)


Two different articles warned of the dangerous relationship between right wing Israeli leaders and Christian Zionists. They criticized people like Beni Elon (head of ‘Moledet’ party) and Ehud Olmert (Mayor of Jerusalem) for overlooking ulterior motives that are ‘hidden’ behind Christian support. “All support and contribution is nothing other than an inseparable part of their faith in which they believe that when a majority of Jews return to the Land, it will bring about a revelation of that man (Jesus).” (HaYom HaShishi).


Also mentioned were  ‘Bet El Industries’ that belong to a community of German Christians from Zichron Ya’akov. ‘Bet El’ produces kits for protection against biological and chemical warfare and sells them at low prices in order to allow families to buy their products. The community is also very supportive of the population in Judea and Samaria. Although they have a strict policy against missionary work among Jews and provide an extremely important product, Yad L’achim announced that it was doing everything in its power to minimize the number of visas that members would be eligible to receive.


Interview on Army Radio (Galei Tsahal, Ma Boer, 17.10.02)

On the morning current events program ‘Ma Boer’ (‘What’s Burning’), Razi Barkai interviewed Israeli Messianic Jew Moshe Shui after a group of Messianic believers handed out fliers on Jesus and salvation at the Bar Ilan University Campus.


The flier that was given to students spoke of the dismal situation in Israel, life in the midst terror attacks and an unstable economy and pointed out that Rabbinical Judaism had given no answers. It went on to explain that only a true change of heart could alter the situation, and spoke of hope in Jesus the Messiah.


Barkai asked Shui different questions about his background and faith, and Shui also spoke about the growing Messianic community in Israel.


Christian Support of Israel in Debate (Jerusalem Post 30.10.02, 31.01.02) (International Herald Tribune 22.10.02)

Yechiel Eckstien, (founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) wrote an article for the Jerusalem Post (‘Friends in Deed’ 30.10.02) in response to the skepticism many have voiced in concern of motives behind Evangelical Christians’ support of Israel. He recognized the traditional fear that motivation to support Israel was rooted in a hope that it would “usher in Jesus’ second coming and conversion of Jews to Christianity” but he also examines a new poll, which shows differently. Of evangelicals who have shown support for Israel, half cite as reasons non-theological factors like Israel’s democracy and the history of the Jewish people. Among those who did mention religious motives, over 54% spoke of biblical promises given to Israel and only 30% mentioned the second coming.


Eckstien stresses the need to recognize the importance and strength of this ally, and adds that “…it’s time to bury old fears and suspicions…I do not mean to suggest that we gloss over our theological differences, but American Jews must realize that we share a common moral inheritance with our Christian friends- an inheritance that like their support for Israel, is rooted in God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis.”


Vatican Opens Archives (HaAretz, 30.10.02)

The Vatican has announced that it will open some of the secret archives from the pre-World War II period. In addition, the Vatican plans to publish a series of six CD-ROMs with all the letters sent to the Vatican with requests for information about missing persons and prisoners of war between 1940-1946.


The reason behind the opening of the archives is that the Vatican is responding to accusations that Pope Pius XII was silent and did far too little during the period of the Holocaust. The secret archives from 1940-1946 are not being opened and these are the documents that most interest the Jewish community.