February 15 – 2003

Caspari Center Media Review……February, 2003 #1

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 40 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


  • 9 dealt with Anti-Missionary attitudes
  • 8 dealt with Jewish/Christian Relations
  • 5 dealt with Christian support of Israel
  • 5 dealt with Christian Sites
  • 2 dealt with the Holocaust
  • 1 dealt with Early Christianity
  • 1 dealt with Christian Festivals


The remaining 9 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Anti Missionary Attitudes

(Yom Hashishi Jan. 24, 2003, Jan. 31, 2003) (Hashavua Ba Hadashot Jan. 24, 2003, Jan. 31, 2003) (Hamodia Jan. 31, 2003) (Arim Jan. 31, 2003) (Iton Yerushalayim Jan. 31, 2003) (Arutz 7 Feb. 04, 2003) (Index Yerushalayim Jan. 30, 2003)

Information reached the C.E.O. of Rishon le Zion’s Municipality, Gadi Lidor, that missionary activity is being carried out in the city’s main mall. Six months ago, the Shield of Faith organization approached the mall owners, requesting to rent a spot in the building for the purpose of “social activities.” As soon as news reached the landlords that the activity in question was related to missions, they cancelled their contract with the group within 24 hours.


One of the landlords said, “The truth is that it has not been proven that they are missionaries. They were good and nice people, but I am a man of tradition and I am not prepared for missionary activity to occur in a place that I own. Even if it is only a suspicion or a rumor – it does not agree with me.”


Four articles (Yom Hashishi Jan. 24, 2003, Hashavua Ba Hadashot Jan. 24, 2003, Iton Yerushalayim Jan. 31, 2003, Arutz 7 Jan. 31, 2003) exposed a villa run by missionaries in Jerusalem, being utilized as a youth hostel for “religious youth that went astray.” The journalists explain that “Saving Heart”, the missionary project, promises a warm home to those who are escapees from the religious education framework, as well as a sum of 1,500 shekels per month.


A resident of the villa told Yad L’achim, “I receive money from ‘Saving Heart’, so what difference does it make to me to be baptized into Christianity and convert my religion?” Rabbi Yisrael Lipshitz of Yad L’achim claims that the purpose of the missionaries involved with the project is to approach international donators of missions in Israel, and point to their new success of converting religious Jews.


David Stern, a “converted Jew from the U.S.A.” is the leader of the project, and is mentioned as belonging to the “Messianic Cult group, Netivya,” active in the Rehavia suburb of Jerusalem. He is also referred to as representing the Messianic Jewish “cult” in the past to the High Court, attempting to prove that it is a legitimate part of Judaism and that the Law of Return applies to its members.


The following details are also stated:

  • In the past the Messianic Organization endeavored to obtain an official working permit from the Jerusalem Municipality for the purpose of caring for religious youth in distress.
  • The above mentioned request was performed “while hiding the true intentions of the organization”, and the permit was not granted due to “the suspicious nature of the petition.”
  • Those residing in the villa attend a “Baptist Church” in Narkis Street, Jerusalem.
  • David Stern refused to comment regarding the issue.


“Yad L’achim: ‘Jehovah Witness’ Cult Comes To Act In Netanya” was the title of four articles (Hamodia Jan. 31, 2003, Index Yerushalayim Jan. 30, 2003, Hashavua Ba Hadashot Jan. 31, 2003, Yom Hashishi Jan. 31, 2003) informing that the missionaries took over Monte Crista, a restaurant in the city, where they carry out regular classes, in exchange for pay. According to the journalists, the classes are dedicated to preaching and conversion. The articles outline Yad L’achim’s success over the past two years in eliminating missionary activity in the city, and that in this current case, they have sent out warning notices to all the synagogues in Netanya, cautioning them that “the missionaries are out to hunt for their souls.”


Christian Support for Israel

(Kol Zichron Jan. 17, 2003) (Emtza Hedera Jan. 17, 2003) (Bamakom Jan. 17, 2003) (Ayalon Jan. 17, 2003) (Kol Ha Emek ve Ha Galil Jan. 17, 2003)

Four articles (Emtza Hedera Jan. 17, 2003, Bamakom Jan. 17, 2003, Ayalon Jan. 17, 2003, Kol Ha Emek ve Ha Galil Jan. 17, 2003) featured The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ donation of coats distributed to needy children in the cities of Hedera, Rishon le Zion, Lod, and Nazareth Elite.


In addition, fifty thousand dollars were donated to Zichron Ya’akov’s municipality for a project focusing on the absorption of new immigrants from Argentina, as well as for aid to needy families in the city. (Kol Zichron Jan. 17, 2003)


Appointment of Irineos I Okayed

(Yated Ne’eman Jan. 03, 2003)

The Israeli security services informed Prime Minister Sharon that they no longer object to the appointment of Irineos I, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, to the position of patriarch. Irineos I was elected in August 2001, however, Israel did not issue its recognition of the election due to reports from the security services that Irineos has close ties with the Palestinian Authority, and its chairman, Yasser Arafat. (Yated Ne’eman Jan. 03, 2003)


Christian Sites

(Index Yerushalayim Jan. 23, 2003, Jan. 30, 2003) (Maariv le Yeladim Jan. 16, 2003) (Al Hatzafon Jan. 16, 2003)

A feature is printed in Index Yerushalayim (Jan. 23, 2003) of the Crucifixion Valley Monastery, one of the most ancient monasteries within the boundaries of Jerusalem. A brief history of the monastery is laid out, as well as a description of its internal design, dating back to the seventeenth century. In 1856 it was opened as the first museum in Israel.


The same magazine printed a feature regarding The Zion Sisters Monastery in Ein Karem (Jan. 30, 2003) which also has a section used as a guesthouse often visited by Israelis. Several of the fourteen nuns living in the abbey run the guesthouse, while the remainder are devoted to prayer. A history of the monastery is also presented.


A depiction of the lives of the twelve children living in Nes Amim, the settlement in Western Galilee belonging to Dutch, German and Swiss Christian families, is shared in a short article in Maariv le Yeladim (Jan. 16, 2003).


A tour of the “Domos Galilee Church” by Aharon Velensy, mayor of a city in Northern Israel, was carried by Al Hatzafon (Jan. 16, 2003). The tour was in correspondence with the visit of the Madrid Church leader to Israel, Kiko Arguello, and his request to present Velensy with the building progress on the site.


The Upper Galilee Choir performed the first in a series of three concerts of Handel’s “Messiah”, in the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes in Tabgha, on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The choir’s upcoming concerts in Abu Gosh and Acre are also mentioned. (Al Hatzafon Jan. 16, 2003)


Seventh Day Adventists

(Ha’Aretz English Edition Feb. 07, 2003) (Ha’Aretz Feb. 07, 2003)

The Hebrew and English editions of Ha’Aretz (Feb. 07, 2003) carried a feature concerning Seventh Day Adventists. A description of their beliefs and origins is noted, including their strict observance of the Sabbath, their dietary laws, and the structure of their congregations, also pointing out that the Adventists openly declare themselves to be missionaries. The article states that Seventh Day Adventism is practiced by some 1500 people in Israel, most of them being foreign workers and having arrived in the country during the past decade in search of work. An interview with Emil, a member of the movement, is conducted, in which he is asked how his life as an Adventist is different to that of others’ lives.


Before coming to Israel, many of the Adventists expected that the religious Zionist establishment would treat them better than it does “regular” Christians, because of their Sabbath observance. They discovered, however, that quite the opposite was true. The religious Jews with whom they came into contact treated them as imposters and a few even got angry, “You’re not Jewish. Why are you pretending to be a Jew? Shabbat is ours, not yours.”

Despite these accusations, the heads of the ultra Orthodox yeshivas (Rabbinical colleges) appreciate the Adventist’s unique virtues and gladly hire them for maintenance and cleaning work. Each of the more than ten men interviewed for the article testified that they had started out in Israel working in an ultra Orthodox yeshiva. The item thereafter concludes with the words, “Wondrous are God’s ways.”


Trip to Auschwitz

(Ha’Aretz Feb. 03, 2003, Feb. 05, 2003)

Two articles in Ha’Aretz (Feb. 03, 2003, Feb. 05, 2003) ran a story of an upcoming trip to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland by 120 Palestinians and 120 Israeli Jews, at the end of May 2003. The purpose of the visit is to more deeply understand the pain and anxiety of the Jews. The idea’s initiator is a priest and educator from Nazareth, Father Emil Shopani.


Catholic Integrated Community

(Jerusalem Post Feb. 07, 2003)

A piece regarding the Catholic Integrated Community (C.I.C.) was printed in The Jerusalem Post (Feb. 07, 2003). The C.I.C. is an association of secular and religious kibbutzniks (members of the kibbutzes) and German Catholics. Traudl Wallbrecher, one of the community’s founding members, had been a leader in the underground anti-Nazi Catholic Youth Federation. She, together with a few other Catholics, formed the nucleus of the group in the Balvarian Alps, having the guiding principle that “Christianity must return to its Jewish roots in the Old Testament, and to follow the example of the early Christians, who lived communally.”


Today, the C.I.C. has communities in five cities in Germany, two in Italy, two in Tanzania and one in Austria, with a total of about one thousand members. Communities run their own factories, businesses, clinics, schools and bank, and profits fund the activities of the community.
The connection between the community and kibbutzniks began in 1985, when Chaim Seeligmann, scholar from Kibbutz Brenner specializing in international communal movements, wrote about the C.I.C., “Their Catholic background motivated them to base their fellowship on the community principles of early Judeo-Christianity, inspired by the Sermon on the Mount, and other passages from the New Testament.” The first meeting held thirty kibbutzniks, thirty members of the C.I.C. and six members of an American Protestant group.


In the year 2000, with donations from German members, a house in Jerusalem was bought as a center for visits, discussions and mutual activities of the group.


Vatican Document

(In Jerusalem Feb. 07, 2003)

A short item regarding a visit to Yad Vashem by his Excellency Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishob Pietro Sambi to view a document “close to his heart” was carried by In Jerusalem (Feb. 07, 2003). Among the documents brought to Israel by Serge Klarsfeld from Budapest, was a certificate of protection accorded by the Vatican to Andor Kron.


Jewish-Catholic Reconciliation

(Jerusalem Post Feb. 09, 2003)

A review of an award-winning television documentary regarding Jewish-Catholic reconciliation was featured in The Jerusalem Post (Feb. 09, 2003). The production shows the new approach of teaching and learning of Catholic officials who acknowledge and regret Church teachings that historically demeaned Judaism and Jewish people. “I am Joseph, Your Brother,” also looks back at various periods of Jewish persecution and credits Pope John Paul II for initiating the first papal visit to a synagogue, changes in approach to doctrine, and establishing diplomatic relations with the State of Israel in 1994.


Mount Zion Building Program

(Hashavua Be Yerushalayim Jan. 23, 2003)

“Renewed Discussion Regarding Mount Zion Site Program, Supposed To Transfer Many Grounds To Christians” was the title of an article in Hashavua Be Yerushalayim (Jan. 23, 2003) dealing with the presentation of the final program of the construction to the city’s engineer. The plans are to set up a large tourist and pilgrimage center and to expand the Church ground on the mountain. There was opposition by all of Jerusalem’s Rabbi’s for the following reasons:

  • The Sabbath desecration and breach of modesty expected at the site due to Christian tourists visiting from around the world.
  • The fact that land next to the gravesite of King David will be given to the “impurity of Christian idolatry” cannot be tolerated by Judaism.
  • The plan to decrease the grounds of a “holy” Yeshiva (Rabbinical College) existing in the area for thirty years is unacceptable by the Religious.


Archeology – John the Baptist’s Body

(Ha’Aretz Feb. 03, 2003)

A skeleton found in Qumran diggings is generating an archeological storm, according to an article published in Ha’Aretz (Feb. 03, 2003). A recent edition of Time Magazine reported that the remains belong to the “Teacher of Justice”, who was the founder and leader of the Essenes “cult” living in the Qumran. Time Magazine assumes that this person was John the Baptist.
Archaeological arguments are portrayed regarding whether or not the skeleton is indeed whom Time Magazine claims.


Book Review

(Ha’Aretz Feb. 05, 2003)

“Russian Jews Once Again Responsible For Yeshua’s Crucifixion” was the title of a book review in Ha’Aretz (Feb. 05, 2003). In his new book, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Russian freedom fighter and Nobel Prize winner, deals with the relations of the Jews with the Russian nation in which they live. The journalist states that the author’s arguments are particularly relevant since Solzhenitsyn is himself a faithful member of the Orthodox Church, which has recently become the “almost-official” religion of the nation, and whose priests have returned to deal with the incitement of “traditional Anti-Semitism.”