June 23 – 2006

Caspari Center Media Review… June 2006 #2

During the period of time covered by this review, we received 35 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity and the Mission. Of these:


7 dealt with anti-missionary attitudes

4 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians

1 dealt with Christian support of Israel

1 dealt with Messianic Jews

1 was a book/film/exhibition reviews

5 dealt with Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Jesus

6 dealt with Jewish/Christian relations


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


Anti-missionary attitudes

BaKehila, May 11, 2006; HaTzvi Arad, May 25, 2006


The religious BaKehila (May 11) publishes a “desperate” letter to the editor from an anonymous  “secular father.” According to the letter the man “allowed his fourteen year-old son to travel alone to the Bombemella festival” (New Age festival during Passover) yet “to the father’s distress the son returned with an abundance of tracts, books and tapes about Christianity.” The father writes, “The festival managers who were fully protected by the police did nothing to stop missionary activity that took place among minors… even though it is against the law.” In response, columnist Abraham Mann quotes Yad L’Achim chairman Dov Lipshitz, “this is a growing phenomenon, missionaries are not just ignoring their conscience but they are also ignoring Israeli law which forbids missionary activity among minors.”


The weekend Arad magazine HaTzvi Arad (May 25) reports about the Sepharadi Chief Rabbi’s visit to Arad. According to the paper Rabbi Amar’s visit was made with the objective of “strengthening those who study Torah and calling upon the town council to fight the mission.” The Rabbi visited a religious school and in his speech said “he was delighted to see so many Torah-conscious students even though the mission is sticking its teeth into the town of Arad.” 



Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Jesus

Megiddon, May 1, 2006; Misgav, May 1, 2006


The Megiddon journal (May 1) reports about the future development of “Yeshua the Christian’s” synagogue at Megiddo junction. The short article says, “The project will be done in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, the IAA, the Prime Minster’s office and the National Parks.”


In the same journal there is a report about Arab Christian leaders who met at the archaeological site at the Megiddo prison. Archbishop Elias Shakur “blessed the occasion” and asked to “correct two mistakes.” The article quotes Shakur, “firstly, it is correct to say ‘Yeshua’ and not ‘Yeshu,’ secondly, the right terminology for the site is ‘a synagogue in honour of Yeshua the Nazarene/Christian.’”  (Hebrew = Bet Knesset lichvod Yeshua HaNotzri)


The philatelic department of Israel’s postal service “will issue first day covers of the archeological site at Megiddo jail” (Misgav May 1). The article explains that part of the mosaic uncovered at the Megiddo prison was the symbol of a fish “an ancient Christian symbol whereby the words ‘Yeshua Christos Son of God and Saviour’ spelled the word ‘fish’ in Greek.”




Israeli/Jewish attitudes about Christians

Jerusalem Post, June 16, 2006; HaAretz, June 15, 2006


In a column in the Jerusalem Post (Jun. 16) author Reuven Hammer, the head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement and Rabbinical Assembly of Israel observes, “Jews and Christians are divided by a common heritage – our Bible – that we call the Tanach and they call the Old Testament.” Rabbi Hammer also notes that the Bible is important to Christians, because it serves as “validity of their claims concerning Jesus’ messiahship.” Concerning the land of Israel Rabbi Hammer says “Christianity has always had a tendency to spiritualize the Bible and that includes the land… there is also a discontinuity between ancient and modern Israel as if the Jews are not a continuation of the people of Israel talked about in the Bible.” 


HaAretz contains a one-page biography about Mother Angelica, a nun who established the Catholic TV channel EWTN (Jun. 15). The article notes “Mother Angelica has been in a coma since 2001” and seeks to determine the future of the station “when she passes away.” HaAretz reports “the channel started in the same year and month as MTV” and “with a budget of only $200.” In describing various types of material that the channel broadcasts “one program urged viewers not to go and see the movie The Da Vinci Code.” One viewer is quoted “(because of the movie) the New Testament is under tangible attack.”



Book review

HaAretz, June 13, 2006


“Caught in the thicket: Chapters of crisis and discontent in the history of Hasidism.” Professor David Assaf, publishers; Zalman Shazar Centre for Jewish History.

A review of David Assaf’s book claims that the author “has found documentation of the infamous conversion to Christianity of a famous (Chabad) Rabbi’s son.” The review says, “The biggest scoop of the book is the conversion to Christianity of Moshe, the youngest son of the founder of Chabad, Shneor Zalman of Ladi.” According to Assaf, “Professor Stampfer of the Hebrew University found two files of documentation relating to the affair in the National Archive of Belarus.” The review names these files as “a letter from Moshe to his priest which requested conversion, the baptism certificate that was prepared for him” and the other document file contains “letters from his brothers in the Russian Orthodox Church in which they state that their brother is mentally ill” and in light of this “ask to revoke the conversion to Christianity.”



Messianic Jews

Zeman Netanya, June 9, 2006


Zeman Netanya (Jun. 9) reports about a clash that “took place on the streets of Netanya between converts to Christianity and Lev L’Achim Jews who keep the commandments.” The article says that the clash was “mainly verbal” but “in the end Lev L’Achim filed a police complaint police against the Messianic Jews.” Moshe Lachover who heads up Lev L’Achim is quoted “we are talking about 50 people with Yakov Damkani as their leader… the cult’s centre is in Tel Aviv.” Lachover says, “the problem with Damkani is that he comes in all smiles and that’s precisely the danger, people don’t realise that we are talking about a missionary, because they just look like nice citizens who sing and play guitars.” The paper prints a response from Yakov Damkani; “the conflict was only verbal… we are not violent, we know how to bless our enemies as God commanded us to do.” When asked if the Messianic Jews were distributing “missionary material” to minors Damkani says, “nonsense, no under age person received anything of the sort.” He also says that the objective of the march was to “encourage the people of Israel and say ‘God is with you’” and “to express sorrow for what Christianity has done to you.” Damkani is quoted as saying that it turned into a scuffle because “Lev L’Achim sees themselves as the guardians of Judaism… and they haven’t yet grasped that our God is also God of the gentiles.” There is a photo of the march with people holding guitars and waving banners. The caption is “they come in all smiles, singing and playing and that is exactly the danger.”



Different matters of Jewish or Christian interest

Makor Rishon, June 9, 2006


Makor Rishon (June 9) has an article that explores “how religions educate zealous young people to love death and go against the lust of life that is inherent in every soul” (June 9). The author notes that the monotheistic religions “use differently the images of heaven and hell…Christianity generally uses a very negative conditioning with threats of eternal suffering and hell that awaits heretics.” In contrast the author says “Islam uses a more positive conditioning with promises of pleasures in paradise for Shaheedim” (Islamic martyrs).