November 26 – 2005

Caspari Center Media Review… November 2005 # 4

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 102 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


   24 dealt with Jewish-Christian Relations

   3 dealt with Archaeology

   11 dealt with Anti-Missionary Attitudes

   9 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

   1 dealt with Christian Support of Israel

   7 were Book Review

   1 dealt with Messianic Jews

   4 dealt with Tourism

   5 dealt with Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus


The remaining 37 articles dealt with different matters of Jewish or Christian interest.


Messianic Jews

Ratsui U’Matsui Nov. 18, 2005


A three-page feature in Ratsui U’Matsui (Nov. 18) covers the story of Messianic Jew, Ze’ev Bern who was fired from his job at the Petach Tikvah council “after Yad L’Achim informed the council that he was a Messianic Jew.” The paper says “the courts decision determining that his firing was not in accordance with the law, set a precedent.” The article follows Ze’ev a few months after this episode and says, “Ze’ev and his friends from the Messianic congregation are still scared.” Ze’ev is quoted widely throughout the article. In relation to Yad L’Achim he says; “I am not euphoric because I do not know what will happen in the future…Yad’ L’Achim is capable of scheming all kinds of plots against you without any sense of shame.” The article says that Baruch Maoz “the leader of the Messianic congregation Grace and Truth, helped Ze’ev contend in a legal manner” and “in court they witnessed about their lifestyle…but said that they have no intention of sharing the Gospel.” There is a short account as to how Ze’ev came into contact with the Rishon congregation. Grace and Truth is described as “one of around 150 congregations operating throughout the country.” It is noted, “numbers swelled with the Russian aliya, and a lot of the members are not Jewish according to the Halacha.” In response to Ze’ev’s dismissal Maoz is quoted; “one of our main principles is not to exploit the weak in order to promote our own issues. Ze’ev was fired for one reason only, and that is because he is a ‘Meshichi’ (believer).” The article concludes by summarising “there are thousands of people in Israel who belong to Messianic congregations.” It notes, “despite the different denominations such as Lutherans, Baptist etc…all the congregations are established by donations and volunteers.” According to the article “twice a year they all meet together in such places as the Negev or Galilee for corporate activities.”


Anti-Missionary Attitudes

Makor Rishon Nov.11, 2005; BaKehila Nov. 10,17, 2005; HaModia Nov. 18, 2005; Kol Bo Nov. 11, 2005; Yated Ne’eman Nov. 25, 2005; HaTzofeh Nov. 22, 2005;


In a commentary on the weekly Torah portion, Rabbi Haim Navon speaks about the “spiritual isolation of Abraham” (Makor Rishon Nov. 11). He describes the times of the second temple as “people being thirsty for the spirituality that Abraham had to offer” but “then came Christianity, kidnapped Abraham’s world and spread it’s message throughout the nations.”


BaKehila (Nov. 11) runs a continuation of a fiction story. In it the main character of the story, Elikim, wakes up to hear a man shouting outside his window “waving the priestly garments and gold cross that were found at Elikim’s home.” The man is shouting out to the neighbours “Elikim is a missionary, Elikim is a Christian!!” The next sentence says “there was a stench of a lynch in the air…”


In a feature about the history of the Jerusalem hospital Bikur Holim, HaModia (Nov. 18) claims that the “London based missionary organisation ‘The Society for the propagation of Christianity among the Jews,’ stepped into a medical vacuum and supplied the residents with medical supplies.” The missionaries “were not content with just a clinic and wanted to open a hospital.”


In an article debating the ethics of compulsory Torah lessons in Israeli state schools (Kol Bo Nov. 11), the author contends, “Christians abroad have to learn about ‘Yeshu’ from different sources (outside of the educational system).” He describes the “wisdom” in separating religion from state and says “American Jewry suffered greatly from anti Semitism that trickled into the education system via the New Testament.”


BaKehila (Nov. 17) reports that Jerusalem Council member Mina Penton, claims, “Students from the Dekel Vilanai school in Ma’ale Adumim were taken to see the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ) musical “The Covenant.” The paper says that educational minister Limor Livnat “understands the dangers of exposing children to this musical.” It says “not everyone understands this though” and reports about how students from Herzliya “were taken to see the musical.” According to the article “a representative of the ‘embassy’ encouraged the teachers to get the students to write their impressions.” The teacher Edna Bar claims, “the students did this and some even left their addresses and details.” Mrs. Penton says “most performances were intended for students.” The paper reports that “according to an inside journal of the ICEJ many students write how happy they are to have discovered Christianity, and one of the ICEJ reps even says how happy he is for relationships to be built with schools and with the IDF!” The conclusion of the article is that “the Christians are never satisfied and are not silent for even a moment, they never rest from soul hunting.”


In Yated Ne’eman (Nov. 25) there is a long feature in response to a letter published in the Jewish Observer by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein chairman of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The author says that “evangelicals are trying to buy control and possession in the land of Israel” and “much to their disgrace many Jewish institutions have bought into this.” It also says that “the evangelicals are trying – and with some success – to receive legitimacy for strengthening those who believe in the religious rituals of ‘that man’ (Jesus).” The article reports about a video recorded by Eckstein a few years ago “whereby he turns to the camera standing by the Western Wall and says ‘at this point many hundreds of Jews have marched through history.” Eckstein notes that Jesus walked there on His way to the temple. Yated Ne’eman says, “’that man’ – may His name be blotted out from our memories – also marched there.”  In other places in the article where it refers to Jesus, He is referred to as “that man.” Although Eckstein is quoted as saying “I do not aid missionaries” Yated Ne’eman contests his opinion and suggests “the ultimate goal of all evangelicals is to convert Jews to Christianity.”


The religious HaTzofeh (Nov. 22) reports on the Bnei Menashe tribe in India who are described as “flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone.” When reporting the struggles facing “this Jewish community” one person said, “once in class the teacher forced me and my brother to put up our hand in answer to the question ‘who here is a Christian?’”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Christians

Iton Yerushalayim Nov. 4, 2005; Ma’ariv Nov. 24, 27, 2005; National Geographic Nov/Dec 2005


National Geographic (Nov-Dec) runs a feature about tribal villages in Papua New Guinea. The author visits several villages, one of which is “more civilised.” The article says “most in that village are Christians as a result of some very successful mission work which advanced all aspects of life in the village.” It also says “Christianity succeeded here because the missionaries allowed the locals to continue with their own particular customs and traditions.”


Ma’ariv (Nov. 27) reports on a survey that was conducted in 1897. According to the paper this “international survey” found that “devout Catholics die later than Protestants who were not so devout.”


The weekly Iton Yerushalayim (Nov. 4) reports about a church in Zamanhoff Street, Rehavia (Jerusalem) that, according to the neighbours, “broke the law by carrying out building work during the High Holy Days.” The paper says, “usually it’s the Jews who exploit the festivals but the Christians have learned the ropes well.” The paper says, “The neighbours filed the complaint.” There is a photo of a church but it is unnamed. The Jerusalem Municipality has responded, “permission has not been given for the building work, if however there has been illegal work carried out then we shall issue an order for it to stop immediately.”


In light of the imminent release of the movie “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” Ma’ariv (Nov. 24) runs a biography about C.S Lewis. Lewis is described as “a very bright theologian” who “the   academic Christian world labelled a shining star, when he wrote ‘The Problem of Pain.’” His achievements with the British media during the Second World War are noted as “bringing him celebrity status.” Ma’ariv says “Lewis had the tremendous ability of communicating complex theories to the man on the street.” His well-known relationship with “The Inklings” is reported to be “a subject worthy on its own accord of much discussion.”


Rare Seal Found in Tiberius

HaAretz Nov. 18, 2005


HaAretz (Nov. 18) reports on the discovery of a rare seal uncovered in an archaeological dig in Tiberius. The short article reports that on one side of the seal is an image of a “Christian saint, probably ‘Yeshu’” and on the other side is a “cross with the an abbreviation of the word ‘Christos.’” Professor Izhar Hershfeld from the Hebrew University who is overseeing the digs is quoted as saying “the image is a senior church figure.”


Israeli/Jewish Attitudes about Jesus

HaAretz Nov. 15, 2005 Globes Nov. 18, 2005; Kol Ha’Ir Nov. 18, 2005


Globes (Nov. 18) carries a short cultural report on places to go to during the Christmas period. Commenting on the “Christkindlesmarket” in Nürnberg, Germany, the author says “you don’t have to embrace ‘Yeshu’ in order to enjoy all the food, drink and festivities that they have on offer.”


In a question and answers column in Kol Ha’Ir (Nov. 18) Mary Magdalene is described as “the second most important woman in Christian theology after Mary, ‘Yeshu’s’ mother.” The article says that she “is probably called Magdalene because she came from Migdal” and “she was present at ‘Yeshu’s’ crucifixion and also His resurrection.”


In a letter to the editor (HaAretz Nov. 15) the author contests the claim that “the use of the word ‘table’ as opposed to ‘altar’ on the artefacts discovered at Megiddo points specifically towards an early Christian ceremony around a table, such as ‘the Lord’s Supper.’” Dr. Michael Heutman points out that in many places in the Tanach (Old Testament) the word “table” is used during the First and Second Temple periods. He cites Ezekiel 41 and 22 as an example where the Bible calls the “altar of incense” a “table,” which is a “Jewish as opposed to Christian concept.”


 Jewish-Christian Relations

Jerusalem Post Nov. 11, 16, 18, 23, 2005; HaAretz Nov. 16, 17, 18, 2005; Ma’ariv Nov. 16, 18, 2005; Globes Nov. 17, 2005; HaTzofeh Nov. 18, 2005; Yediot Ahronot Nov. 15, 18, 2005;


Several daily papers devote extensive coverage to President Katsav’s visit to the Vatican. All of them note that it is the first official visit to the Vatican by an Israeli head of State. During the visit the President presented Pope Benedict XVI with “photos of the recently excavated church at Megiddo.” In return, the Pope presented the Israeli President with “a signed copy of the 1965 document ‘Nostra Aetate.’” Most papers also report that the Vatican is “seeking ways to lessen its tax burden as a significant land owner in the Holy Land” although “Israel continues to resist any special tax exemptions to the Vatican” because “they fear it will open the door for other churches and groups to seek similar loop holes.” In an opinion in HaAretz (Nov. 18) the author comments that Nimrod Barkan, the director of the World Jewish and Interreligious Affairs Bureau “does not believe that this dispute will have any effect on the good relations between the Vatican and Israel.”


The papers also covered the “boycott by Israel of the enthronement of the new Greek Orthodox Patriarch.” An article in the Jerusalem Post (Nov. 23) quotes MK Tzachi HaNegbi as saying “there is a High Court decision pending on the matter… the enthronement finalises the ousting of Irineos who Israel still recognises as the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church.”


Book Reviews

HaAretz Nov. 16, 23, 2005; Time Out Nov. 10, 2005;

In a book critique of “Moshe Mendleson” by Shmuel Feiner (Time Out Nov. 10) the author says that the biography is “to the point and doesn’t present the reader with unnecessary details.” Mendleson is noted to be a man who “criticized the Christian society he was living in, the attitudes of Christians to non-Christians and their strivings to convert Jews to Christianity.”


“The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate” by G. W. F Hegel, originally written in German, is reviewed in HaAretz (Nov. 16, 23). The book is described as being “a comprehensive and important work in which Hegel deals with Christian theology’s attitudes to the ethics of the reason of the enlightenment, through the means of a historical and philosophical schema which studies ‘Yeshu’s appearance as a revolutionary figure that sprung from within and against the spirit of Judaism.”