November 20, 2003 Media Review
During the period of time covered by this review, we received 47 articles as
3 dealt with Messianic Jews and anti-missionary organizations
5 dealt with Christian solidarity with Israel
3 dealt with the status of non-Jews
2 dealt with matters of business and finance
3 dealt with Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion”
2 dealt with Messianic Jewish issues abroad
6 dealt with Interfaith dialogue
4 dealt with the status of Israeli Christian soldiers
3 dealt with politics
2 dealt with Jewish Christian dialogue
1 dealt with secular versus religious Jews
2 dealt with the Bnei Noah Community
1 dealt with Ethiopian Jewry
The remaining ten articles dealt with domestic Israeli and Christian or Jewish
affairs on their own merit.
Yad L’Achim’s Anti-Missionary Department
(Mishpaha, Nov. 6, 2003; HaModia, Nav. 7, 2003; HaTzofeh, Oct. 24, 2003;
Shavuon, Nov. 7, 2003)
During the yearly cultural festivals held in the northern city of Acco, Messianic
Jews who were sharing and speaking to people were harassed by Yad L’Achim
activists who photographed and heckled them. This resulted in the “missionaries”
departing the festival area.
Due to Yad L’Achim’s efforts to jeopardize and stop any form of expression by
Messianic Jews, this year the “missionaries” were banned by the Municipality of
Jerusalem from participating in the Jerusalem March and carrying banners. This
came about after Yad L’Achim’s advisor to Jerusalem mayor Rabbi Uri Lupolianski
lobbied for this decision.
Yad L’Achim “suggested” that Ramat Rachel hotel in Jerusalem stop allowing any
sort of Messianic activity to take place on the premises. This was done with the
cooperation of Rabbi Harel, the regional rabbi of Mateh Yehuda, who issues the
hotel’s kashrut license.
Yoav, an Israeli “missionary,” was pursued by Yad L’Achim’s anti-missionary unit.
This happened after the intelligence unit of the anti-missionary department
provided information that Yoav was continually seen sharing his faith in public
gatherings. He was then asked to meet with Rabbi Alex Artovski, director of the
anti-missionary department. Yoav consequently participated in two seminars held
by Yad L’Achim. This resulted in Yoav deciding to terminate his relationship with
the “missionary cults” (Shavuon, Nov. 7, 2003). He was then helped to move to a
different city and begin a new job; both of these changes were organized by Yad
L’Achim. He is claimed to have returned to “the way of keeping the Laws and
learning the Torah” (Shavuon, Nov. 7, 2003).
Christian Solidarity with Israel/Tourism
(The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 31, 2003; The Jerusalem Post weekly, Oct. 31, 2003;
Tourist Guide, Oct, 23, 2003; Tourist Guide, Oct. 10, 2003; Ma Nishma, Oct. 31,
The IFCJ (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) held a second annual
day of prayer and solidarity with Israel. Approximately 20,000 services were held
around the world in which millions of Christians prayed and sought to find practical
ways to bless Israel. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the IFCJ, said that they
“are trying to take Christian support for Israel from just praying with our mouth to
praying with your hands and your feet” (The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 31, 2003).
The IFCJ granted funding for Ethiopian Jewish students for further assistance in
their studies. The grant of 95,000 NIS was also intended to aid integration into
Israeli society, through academic as well as professional achievements.
Due to low tourism in Israel, Rafi Ben Hur of the Ministry of Tourism planned a
business-oriented strategy to resolve this problem: first, negotiating with the
Interior Ministry to issue more entry visas; and second, strengthening the bond with
large groups visiting Israel-Christians who love Israel. Ben Hur spoke to Christian
groups together with Minister of Tourism Benny Alon. Alon also met with tour
leaders and organizers from more than 70 nations and granted them licenses to
become ambassadors on behalf of tourism in Israel.
A brief account given by a Israeli Jew in a letter to The Jerusalem Post weekly
(Oct. 31, 2003) described his first hand experience of the recent Feast of
Tabernacles Celebration. This event was attended by some 3000 evangelical
Christian Zionists who came to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to observe
this feast. He said that “the evangelical Christian Zionists do not want us to
become Christians; my impression is that they want to become somewhat Jewish,
each in his own way.”
Status of Non-Jews, Visa Issues, and Policies
(Ha’‘Aretz, English edition, Nov. 3, 2003; Ha’Aretz, Nov. 3, 2003; The Jerusalem
Post Weekly, Nov. 7, 2003)
Tantur Ecumenical Institute, the Vatican’s center for interfaith relations programs in
Jerusalem, has maintained the hope of keeping their doors open, despite the
radical decrease in students due to terrorism. Michael McGarry, rector of the
Institute, mentioned the difficulty of obtaining visas for students from third-world
countries, due to the government’s insensitivity and recent security concerns, as
an additional factor in the decline.
Due to the strict policies of the Immigration Administration, which threaten
deportation of foreign workers-some of whom are Catholics-“a wave of
cancellations” came from potential participants in the annual pilgrimage to the holy
sites (Ha’Aretz, Nov. 3, 2003). This was especially true for prospective pilgrims
who were told that they were required to bring their passports with them.
Christian Investors’ Quest
(Hadashot Ha’ir, Oct. 16, 2003)
Christian investors from England recently requested a special license for fishing in
the Dead Sea, based on their belief that the prophesy in Ezekiel 47-that fish will be
found in the Ein Gedi area-will soon be fulfilled.
Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”
(HaTzofeh, Oct. 28, 2003; The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 26, 2003; Ha’Aretz, Oct. 27,
The controversy over this film continues. The latest development is that the highly
controversial film is scheduled to be distributed by a private US company, New
Messianic congregation in Philadelphia
(Ha’Aretz, Oct. 23, 2003; HaModia, Nov. 4, 2003)
A new congregation, Avodat Yisrael in Philadelphia, Pa., which combines Christian
worship with Jewish traditions is arousing concern in the American Jewish
Controversy has arisen over Presbyterian support of the new Messianic
Congregation Avodat Yisrael. Apparently the support was given in the
understanding that this congregation would not focus on the conversion of Jews to
Christianity, but would be a place where mixed couples and secular Jews could go.
Andrew Sparks, the congregational leader, sees the congregation functioning in a
way similar to the gatherings of first-century Jewish believers in Jesus.
(HaTzofeh, Oct. 28, 2003)
The Economic Attach: in New York has predicted growth in the market for Israeli
food products. The reason behind this projected growth is explained in increased
purchasing of Israeli products by the Jewish Community and more significantly by
Christian supporters of Israel in the US.
The Bnei Noah Community
(Shavuon, Oct. 30, 2003)
Two decades ago a number of individuals from gentile Christian backgrounds
came to the realization that they are descendants of Noah. Davis Davis, Jack
Sanders, Dr. Yakob Tavour, Wendel Jones-all one-time Christian ministers and
leaders from different denominations-belong to a group by the name of Bnei Noah.
“The basis of their belief comes from an understanding, as stated by Davis Davis,
that “the New Testament is filled with perverse facts about “Yeshu” (Jesus) and
that the Jewish people are the chosen people” (Shavuon, Oct. 30, 2003). Their
belief states that they (Bnei Noah) are to fulfill the “seven Noahide laws.” This Year
the Bnei Noah held meetings in Texas, with honored rabbis from Israel as guests.
Rabbi Eliyahu Naot, one of the guests, spoke words of blessing to the participants.
(Ma‘ariv, Oct. 6, 2003)
Some 24,000 Ethiopian Jewish converts to Christianity-the “Falashmurah”-are still
waiting to immigrate to Israel. The Minister of the Interior, Avraham Poraz, stated
recently in a cabinet committee meeting that Israel is not ready yet to receive these
Ethiopian Jews. This statement came after a government decision had been made
to bring all of the remaining Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.
Israeli Christian soldiers’ status
(Shavuon, Oct. 24, 2003; Shavuon Musaf Ma’ariv, Oct. 31, 2003; Shavuon, Oct.
A controversial debate is underway in the military Rabbinate over Christian soldiers
in the Israeli Defense Forces. After Private Felix Nikoliachok was killed in a terrorist
attack near an army camp, his family requested that a Christian priest officiate at
the burial service. This request gave rise to a debate about how to deal with deaths
of soldiers whose background is Christian.
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