Caspari Center Media Review… September, 2003 #2
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 62 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:
- 14 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes
- 6 were Film Reviews
- 3 dealt with Jewish Christians Relations
- 7 dealt with Status of Non-Jews
- 7 dealt with Christian Sites
- 3 dealt with Terrorism
- 2 dealt with Tourism
- 3 dealt with Christian support of Israel
The remaining 17 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.
Anti Missionary Attitudes
(Yediot Haifa Sept. 19, 2003) (Hamodia Sept. 14, 2003; Sept. 19, 2003) (Mishapaha Sept. 04, 2003; Sept. 11, 2003) (Sha’a Tova Sept. 12, 2003) (Bekehila Sept. 18, 2003 – two articles) (Yated Ne’eman English Edition Sept. 12, 2003 – two articles) (Yated Ne’eman Sept. 18, 2003) (Hashavua Beyerushalayim Sept. 04, 2003; Sept. 18, 2003)
Sha’a Tova (Sept. 12, 2003) and Hamodia (Sept. 14, 2003), both religious papers, reported that a council was set up in the city of B’nei Brak consisting of Hassidic teachers and rabbis who will meet regularly to discuss matters concerning the ultra orthodox community. In the council’s first meeting, the subjects of foreign workes and giving preference to Jews over non-Jews for employment were raised. Rabbi Dov Lipshitz, founder of Yad L’achim, presented statistics and cases of the missionary situation in Israel. Ways to decrease such activity were discussed.
Missionary activity at Haifa’s International Convention Center was the focus of articles in Mishpaha (Sept. 04, 2003) and Bakehila (Sept. 18, 2003). The matter of six Jews “being baptized into Christianity” was addressed. Yad L’achim reached an understanding with the Center’s management who assured the organization that, from this time, no missionary activity would be permitted at the center.
Yad L’achim met with Jerusalem mayor, Uri Lupolianski, who agreed not to allow activities that involved religious conversions to take place in Jerusalem’s Convention Center, Binyanei Hauma. On Sept. 18, 2003 Bakehila, Yated Ne’eman and Hashavua Beyerushalayim all stated that the mayor “blessed this understanding with the anti-missionary organization.”
Yediot Haifa (Sept. 19, 2003) ran a piece about a Jehovah Witnesses conference during the Jewish New Year festival, Rosh Hashana. The item outlined the events of the gathering and the controversy about it at Haifa’s Convention Center.
In Nazareth, a woman who had been a part of the religious community in the city for fifteen years was discovered to be a missionary “attempting to catch in her net innocent Jews and draw them to join a missionary cult.” The religious paper, Hamodia, on Sept. 19 2003 described the way the woman was “exposed.”
Missionary activity abroad was reported on as follows:
- Toronto (Mishpaha Sept. 11, 2003) – Jewish organizations have had to fight against “vitriolic” missionary propaganda by Jews for Jesus who are distributing literature in the city’s Jewish neighborhoods.
- Ukraine (Yated Ne’eman English Edition Sept. 12, 2003) – An organization known as Magen, led by the director of Jews for Judaism, called a news conference protesting a festival planned for the city of Lvov, by a group affiliated with the Hear O Israel ministry. Mark Powers, the anti-missionary organization’s director, described the ministry as “Christian fundamentalists masquerading as Jews.”
- Cleveland (Yated Ne’eman English Edition Sept. 12, 2003) – Missionary efforts in the city’s college campuses by Jews for Jesus have not sparked any interest.
“Soul Hunters” was the title of an extensive article that appeared in Hashavua Beyerushalayim (Sept. 04, 2003). The piece raised questions such as, “How can a pure Yeshiva (Talmudic College) student be swept to the Christian faith and convert his own?” “How can we fight against hundreds of ‘cults led by insane leaders’?” among others. The journalist attempts to uncover missionary tactics and describes Lev L’Achim’s, one of the anti missionary organizations, ways to “war” against them.
Issues Regarding Non-Jews
(Ha’Aretz Sept. 11, 2003 – two articles) (Yediot Sept. 11, 2003) (Maariv Sept. 11, 2003, Sept. 23, 2003) (Makor Rishon Sept. 19, 2003) (Y-net Sept. 12, 2003)
Articles about Felix Nikolaichik, an immigrant from the Ukraine who was killed in a Jerusalem terrorist attack appeared on Sept. 11, 2003 in all of Israel’s major, secular papers (Ha’Aretz, Yediot, Maariv). The issue of his family’s decision to have him buried in a Christian, military cemetery, due to his Christian background was reported on. The refusal of the Ministry of the Interior to grant Nikolaichik’s request for citizenship was also covered. Nikolaichik’s father said, “Felix’s only dream was to be an Israeli.”
Four years ago a Jewish baby was handed to a Christian family because of the biological mother’s economic distress. During the past year, the mother has struggled in court to have the baby returned to her. Maariv (Sept. 23, 2003) reported that the court’s decision was to return the baby to his Jewish mother.
Eben Ezer, a Christian organization devoted to bringing new immigrants to Israel, was the focus of a brief piece in Makor Rishon (Sept. 19, 2003). The article outlined the history and vision of the organization. The religious paper’s journalist states that the group also brings immigrants into Israek who have no connection to Judaism other than that one of their grandparents is Jewish. An agreement between Eben Ezer and anti-missionary organizations is mentioned and highlights Eben Ezer’s consent not to evangelize the immigrants on their way to Israel.
An article about conversion statistics published by the Central Statistics Bureau detailed various kinds of conversions. The figure of 300,000 conversions to Judaism by non-Jewish immigrants is given in this year’s general report. (Ha’aretz Sept. 11, 2003).
A survey among American Jews showed that assimilation levels are rising, the number of Jews is decreasing, and the number of children being raised in a home where one of the parents is non-Jewish and are not connected to Judaism and its customs is increasing.
Following are statistics published in USA Today, found on Y-net (internet site), on Sept. 12, 2003:
- 47% of Jews who married since 1996 married non-Jewish spouses.
- Among all currently married Jews, 31% have a non-Jewish spouse.
(Ha’Aretz Sept. 14, 2003) (Ha’aretz English Edition Sept. 14, 2003) (International Herald Tribune Sept. 21, 2003) (Jerusalem Post Sept. 16, 2003)
Articles about Mel Gibson’s controversial film, “The Passion,” continue to flood the media. The latest articles deal with the praise of the film by a senior Vatican official (Ha’Aretz Sept. 14, 2003, Ha’aretz English Edition Sept. 14, 2003; Jerusalem Post Sept. 16, 2003). In addition, an article in The International Herald Tribune (Sept. 21, 2003) printed a cartoon like picture of a wall with a drawing of the cross and a Star of David side by side. In between the two symbols, a hand holding a dagger is shown engraving a line, separating the two images.
(Iton Yerushalayim Sept. 19, 2003) (Index Yerushalayim Sept. 17, 2003) (Kol Hadarom Sept. 12, 2003) (Kol Ha’Ir Sept. 12, 2003) (Kol Hazman Sept. 12, 2003 – two articles)
Iton Yerushalayim (Sept. 19, 2003) reported that a Jerusalem court ordered a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City be demolished. The monks were also required to pay a fine totaling 170,000 shekels. The judgement was given because the monastery’s management built additional rooms without a permit. The monks claim that they were unaware that the construction was illegal.
The Municipality of Ashdod approved the allocation of land for building a hall in the city. Ultra orthodox Jews immediately expressed concern that the project involves funds from Christian supporters, and fears that the hall will be used for missionary programs. (Kol Hadarom Sept. 12, 2003)
In Jerusalem (Sept. 14, 2003) claimed that according to Christian tradition, thousands of years before the crucifixion, God ordered Abraham’s nephew, Lot, to plant the tree that would provide the wood for the “Holy Cross.” The Monastery of the Holy Cross marks the spot on which the mythical tree was planted, and is located in the Valley of the Cross. The feature traces the monastery’s history, through the archeological discoveries, up to the present day.
A site reported to be the fourth holiest site to Christians, where supposedly John the Baptist met Maria and “Yeshu” (Jesus) is in danger of being replaced by a hotel. Two articles in Kol Hazman (Sept. 12, 2003) and one in Kol Ha’Ir on the same day, detailed the struggle of Ein Kerem residents to keep the site, “Miriam’s Spring,” as it is.
(Jerusalem Post Sept. 12, 2003)
An interfaith memorial ceremony in commemoration of the lives lost on September 11th, 2001, included an address by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, in which he called for religion to play a bigger role in reconciliation, “Our shared religious heritage should become a force for broad coalitions.” The article in The Jerusalem Post (Sept. 12, 2003) concentrated on Kurtzer’s support of interfaith gatherings, also saying that Christians, Muslims and Jews can “translate creative projects into positive actions, and break down suspicions and distrust.”
Christian Support of Israel
(Maariv Sept. 10, 2003, Sept. 12, 2003) (Nativ April-May 2003)
Maariv (Sept. 10, 2003) mentioned that Salli Meridor, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, blessed Rabbi Yehiel Ekstein, founder of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and the rabbi in return presented him with a cheque in the amount of two million dollars for the agency’s use.
The same paper (Sept. 12, 2003) summarized eleven responses received concerning Protestant Evangelicals, and their support of Israel. The points included:
- Not all Israel-supporting Christians expect Jews to convert to Christianity.
- Support for Israel needs to be encouraged at all times, and especially during difficult periods.
- “Let them support us, and when the time comes, we will decide whether to convert or not.”
- Fear of “these” Christians indicates typical Jewish paranoia.
An article in Nativ (April-May 2003) outlines Evangelical Christians’ importance at the voting polls and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s influence on them.
Baptist Boy Killed in Accident
(Kol Hadarom Sept. 19, 2003)
“We Believe That Our Son Is Happy In Heaven,” was the title of a feature in Kol Hadarom (Sept. 19, 2003) that focused on the family’s coping with the tragic death of Gregory Grigoriadi, an eight year old son of Baptist parents, who was crushed to death under the wheels of a truck in Kiryat Gat. Ahilas Grigoriadi, Gregory’s father, was quoted as saying, “God wanted to take Gregory now and we know that He did what was best for him. We believe that our son is happy now in heaven. This does not mean that I am rejoicing that he is dead. We feel great pain, however, it is not a black pain that ends everything in my life.” His testimony of how he came to believe in “Yeshu,” (Jesus) from total atheism, is also provided.
Israel’s Image in Norway
(Nativ April-May, 2003)
Nativ (April-May, 2003) ran a piece about blatant anti-Semitism in Norway, including Norwegian support of the P.L.O., as expressed by funding the PLO’s educational systems. The Scandinavian country’s current and former prime ministers and church leaders, including Oslo’s Bishop, were said to be anti-Semitic. According to the journalist, Norwegian Jews are known to be actively against Israel, while the Christians are the ones to publicly support Israel.
Letters to the Editor
(The Jerusalem Report Sept. 22, 2003)
“Non-Missionary Missionaries” was the title of a letter written to the editor of The Jerusalem Report (Sept. 22, 2003) by Russel Resnik, the General Secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (U.M.J.C.) in the U.S.A. Resnik states that the U.M.J.C. is not related to either Jews for Jesus or Chosen People Ministries, “apart from a shared affirmation that Jesus is the Messiah.” He reacts to an article published in the paper on Aug. 11, 2003 entitled, “For the Love of Jesus” saying, “To portray the growth of Messianic Judaism in Israel as the result of religious deception or big money misses the real story. For many Jews, discovering Jesus as Messiah doesn’t represent a departure from Israel or from Jewish identity, but a homecoming.”
iI response to the same article, an additional letter written by an English Jew was quoted. The writer, Maurice Solovitz, expressed that Judaism’s greatest failure is its refusal to match the activities of its spiritual competitors. He said it was time to “stop talking and start copying the tactics of our adversaries, or there won’t be a Jewish people in the 22nd century.”