January 2 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – January 2, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we received 27 articles on the subjects of attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity, anti-missionary activity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, and the Pope and the Vatican. Of these:

10 dealt with attitudes towards Christianity
3 dealt with anti-missionary activities
1 dealt with Christian Zionism
7 dealt with Christians in Israel
2 dealt with the Pope and the Vatican
4 were book reviews
This week’s Review primarily focused on attitudes towards Christianity related to Christmas, as well as numerous book reviews, including that of Tsvi Sadan’s, recently published Flesh of our Flesh: Jesus in Zionist Thought.
Attitudes towards Jesus and Christianity
Globes, December 25; Ma’ariv, December 23, 25, 26; Jerusalem Post, December 23, 25, pp. 13, 14; Calcalist, December 24; Haaretz, December 25; Makor Rishon, December 26, 2008

In a piece apparently addressed to its Christian readers, the Jerusalem Post (December 25) reviewed aspects of the holiday and its celebration in Israel, including Messianic Jews in its purview: “Today is Christmas throughout most of the Christian world. For the faithful, the holiday marks the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago. Christian tradition teaches that Jesus was divine as well as the messiah, being sent to fulfil biblical prophecies. He was, of course, a Jew – and the Jews’ rejection of him, and of the Trinity, led to centuries of anti-Semitic persecution and contempt for Judaism … some mainline US and UK churches have redefined their Christian faith, making political activism their raison d’être and, foremost, championing the Palestinian Arab cause at the expense of the Zionist enterprise. Some have even joined British campaigners who are exploiting Christian themes as propaganda tools against Israel. Sovereign in their own land, some Jews have, disappointingly, not always shown tolerance toward their Christian brethren. The most disgraceful recent presumed manifestation of such bigotry is the still unsolved April bombing at the home of a Christan pastor in Ariel that left his 16-year-old son seriously wounded. In June, Orthodox fanatics in Or Yehuda burned copies of the New Testament; in a number of towns extremists regularly harass tiny congregations of Jewish converts to Christianity who call themselves Messianic Jews.”
The piece concluded with a greeting: “The Christian world shares many values and concerns with the Jewish people. As we wish Christians everywhere Merry Christmas, we hope for ever stronger ties and increased mutual respect.”
In a review of the music festival “Music on the Mountains” entitled “Again will be heard in the mountains of Judah” (a play on the verse, “Again will be heard in the cities of Judah”), Omer Shomroni listed some of the places to go, including Yad HaShemonah, Abu Ghosh, and the monastery at Latrun (Globes, December 25): “The period of Hanukka, Christmas, and the civil New Year brings a bustling tourist spirit to Jerusalem … The moshav [Yad HaShemonah] was built in 1971 by a group of Finnish volunteers who came to the Land as believers in the fulfilment of biblical prophecy.”
In a piece under the headline “In his footsteps” in Ma’ariv (December 23), Dubi Zakkai followed the “Jesus trail,” pointing out some of its salient features: “The ‘Jesus trail’ site offers an opportunity to follow every step and foot-tread which Yeshu took in the north of the country. Although we’re talking about something like four days’ walking, the view is worth the effort – even for Jews … the beauty [of the countryside and view] was also manifest to Yeshu when he arrived here from the high mountains of Nazareth. Maybe he even stood at this very spot on his way to the Sea of Galilee, the intoxicating view clouding his senses as well. If you hum notes from the musical (and the film) ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ here, there’s a chance that you might be ready to accept Christmas. Of all the places where his foot trod in the Land, this site has become special in the trail in search of holiness … in the footsteps of the messiah … From Nazareth, the trail descends to ancient Tzippori [Sepphoris]. There, on the outskirts of the settlement, is the birthplace of Yeshu’s mother, Miriam … On the way, you pass through colorful Kfar Kana [Cana]. Here, the miracle of the wine took place. Yeshu was at that point still a youth and went to the wedding with his mother. When he saw that there wasn’t sufficient wine, he turned the water barrels of the poor family into red wine … Migdal, which is also on the Jesus Trail, was the home of Miriam, also called the Magdalene, one of the women whom Yeshu healed … Ahead, is the impressive site of Kfar Nahum [Capernaum] – a Jewish fishing village in which his followers believed that Yeshu was the holy redeemer. From here, Yeshu gathered his strength and thoughts, and here the twelve apostles were chosen from among the innocent fishermen who were close to him. Here, too, was the home of Peter, one of the first disciples … The most striking point on Jesus’ long trail is Mount Tabor. Amongst other things, there stands there a beautiful church, decorated with pictures which depict the most important event in the history of Christianity – the Sermon on the Mount … at this beautiful spot, Yeshu chose to gather his followers and from here he sent out the twelve apostles.”
Zakkai also noted the various organized tours offered during the Christmas season. These included the “Christmas tours” of “The Sound of Bells” in Jerusalem – which included visits to several churches and a Christmas service in the Old City – and “In Search of Christmas,” also in Jerusalem, which visited Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, psalms and bells. In Nazareth, you could join the “Christmas Procession,” during which you could participate in the “traditional procession” to the Church of the Annunciation and the Christmas mass in the Basilica – or the “Yeshua the infant” tour, which proceeded from the Mensa Christi Church, made its way down to the Basilica, and concluded with prayers in the “Churches of the Annunciation and the Basilica.”
According to an article in the Jerusalem Post (December 23), “Santa Clauses, Christmas trees and reindeer are nowhere near as ubiquitous as Hanukka candles here during this holiday season, but they are definitely making inroads … Christmas symbols are no longer relegated solely to Arab Christian cities such as Nazareth and Bethlehem or to the Russian-language press and television. Nor are the country’s foreign workers … the only target. Perhaps the most blatant example is a major fair slated to begin Tuesday in Tel Aviv’s Nahalat Binyamin neighborhood … A mishmash of Jewish and Christian symbols – Judah Macabee and Santa Claus, Christmas trees and hanukkiot – will greet shoppers. ‘The idea is to start a tradition here in Israel like Europe and America,’ said Na’ama Salomon, who is producing the event. ‘As the nights get longer you find among cultures of the world a holiday of lights. We Israelis can decide to ignore the world or we can embrace other cultures along with our own … But not everyone is happy with the proliferation of Christmas paraphernalia on the streets of Israel. ‘It is a symptom of galutiut [exile] mentality,’ said Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi Ya’acov Ariel … This is part of a wider phenomenon that includes the rise in popularity of American-style TV shows like Big Brother and the adoption of Christian morality that teaches turning the other cheek in Sderot and Ashkelon … There is something masochistic about Jews celebrating Christmas, a day singled out by Christians for pograms,’ Ariel said.” According to the Marzipan Museum, in the Lower Galilee, “there has been a sharp rise in demand from Jewish Israelis for marzipan in Christmas shapes, such as Santa Claus … ‘So far we have not gotten any orders to make marzipan crosses. But maybe that will happen, too … Celebrating only Hanukka sets us apart, makes us different. People don’t want to feel that way. They want to be part of the world.’”
The Calcalist (December 24) conducted its own survey of “the colors and smells of Christmas” in the “places holy to Christianity.” Although Israelis cannot get to Bethlehem to participate in the festivities, “there are a plethora of other colorful events which you can experience in the Land as a curious bystander. If we ignore for a moment the issues of religion and faith, what we’re talking about is a rich historical story, legends and miracles, and a colorful festal atmosphere which prevails throughout the Christian populace ten days before the Catholic Christmas … Yeshu spent most of his life in Nazareth, primarily along the Nazareth-Sea of Galilee axis; he only reached Jerusalem in the last week before his death … you arrive at the Church of the Synagogue, a small ascetic church to which is attributed the ‘sermon in the synagogue.’ According to the Christian faith, Yeshu here fervently denounced the turning of the Temple into a commercial center, and following this sermon the local residents ran to throw him off an abyss. He therefore jumped off and disappeared, but the site of Mount Precipice is not certain … [At] the Church of the Twelve Apostles, the place attributed to the home of the Apostle Peter, Yeshu chose the Twelve Apostles who would disseminate his teaching, and went up to Jerusalem.”
David Norman of Rehovot wrote to the Jerusalem Post (December 25) to say that “I too was happy to escape the enormous Xmas hype in the US (‘Vive la difference,’ Letters, December 23). However, Christianity isn’t an ‘alien culture.’ It also grew up here (heard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Nazareth, Bethlehem?). Not all Israelis are Jewish, the Bahai are centered on Haifa and – gasp – Christians really do live here. Ignoring Christmas doesn’t just separate us from ‘the rest of the world,’ it separates us from many of our own citizens.”

The opposite, negative, perspective on Christmas was held – and vigorously promoted – by Chabad during Hanukka, when its “missionary” arm in Israel,“Young Chabad,” opened a campaign to dissuade and distance Russian immigrants from celebrating Christmas trees and Sylvester by distributing hanukkiot (Ma’ariv, December 25). In the words of one Rabbi, “‘The Christmas tree is a symbol of the worship of idolatry, and so we endeavor to keep as far away from it as possible. Thank God we have the hanukkia.’”
According to Rubik Rozenthal in Ma’ariv (December 26), the Hebrew name for Christmas, “Chag haMolad” [literally, ‘Festival of the Birth’], comes from the Yiddish “Nittel Nacht” – the night of the birth. “Although in English it is known as Christmas, the ceremony of prayer to Yeshu, the birth occurs in different languages such as Italian, Spanish, and others … [the Hebrew word] ‘molad’ in fact comes from the Talmud, in the expression ‘molad haYareach’ [the ‘birth of the moon’] – its appearance at the beginning of the month. During the renaissance of the Hebrew language, Yeshu’s birth day was known as the ‘Festival of the Birth,’ ‘Chag haMolad’ being employed as a reference to the personal annual event of every individual: their birthday.”
In non-Christmas related attitudes, Bibi Netanyah’s nemesis, Moshe Feiglin, wrote in a contribution to Makor Rishon (December 26) entitled “Between Sederot and Marks and Spencers,” that “we have taken upon ourselves the scale of values of the British academy – i.e., Western/Christian culture. The weak person is the one who is right (exactly like their crucified messiah)., and we are only allowed to respond out of weakness – i.e., self-defence.”
One of the most interesting pieces – and one which very much characterizes the times – was a lengthy article by Naomi Darom in Haaretz (December 25) entitled “Death only did them good.” Its subtitle ran: “Yeshu was perhaps amongst the first, but he certainly isn’t the only person to have developed a successful career after his death. For a handful of anonymous people, their death was merely the beginning. Writers, entertainers, scientists, and messiahs have all garnered celebrity status only following their death. The delebs industry – dead celebreties – is alive and kicking.” The thesis of the article is that the careers of people like Marilyn Monroe, Kafka, and Einstein (as well as some burgeoning Israeli possibilities) only took off after they had died.
As the “first” example, Jesus gets a fair slice of attention: “We don’t have to introduce Yeshu of Nazareth. Today, the son of a poor carpenter is found in the hearts of more than a billion of his followers, for whom he is the Son of God. Christianity is one of the largest and most prominent religions in the world … But while he was alive, Yeshu was no more than a local preacher with several apostles and a group of Jewish followers. ‘Yeshu became the Son of God a generation after his death,’ says Prof. David Satran, head of the Comparative Religion Department and the Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. ‘We don’t know what he thought about himself, but he certainly didn’t think of himself as God.’ The scholar Rodney Stock has attempted to estimate the success after Yeshu’s death: in 100 C.E., two generations following his death, he estimates there to have been around 7,500 Christians in the Roman Empire – about 0.01% of the total population in the Empire. At the end of the second century, there were already a quarter of a million, and by the fourth century, six million – about 10% of the population of the Empire … In the case of Yeshu, his death, which was accompanied by stories of his miraculous resurrection, reinforced in significant fashion the myth surrounding him. ‘During his lifetime, the core of the stories focused upon his person, his teaching, and his works: miracles, healings, and prophecy,’ says Satran. ‘In the following generations, the emphasis was transferred to his death – the death of a person who was also God, and who atoned in it for the sins of humanity.’ His career exemplifies one of the central elements necessary for a successful postmortem career: even if you are the Son of God, first of all you need a good agent. Someone who believes in you, who will disseminate your teaching, and knows how to package you attractively – your personality, life, and death – as a brand name which will easily slip down people’s throats. Yeshu had a particularly good agent: John Paul [sic]. Although Paul hadn’t met Yeshu when he was alive, he devoted himself to disseminating his teaching in the Near East. He was a genius at marketing, understanding that in order to disseminate Yeshu’s teaching he had, first of all, to make it more accessible to the public. ‘Up until this point, if you wanted to become one of Yeshu’s followers, you had to convert to Judaism and only after that take on yourself the faith,’ explains Satran. ‘It was a complicated process, and Paul understood that it was preventing people from joining.’ So Paul demanded only one thing: a declaration of faith in Yeshu. He baptized those who joined and thus added them to the community. Without commandments, without conversion, without any fuss and bother. Within two generations the number of non-Jewish believers was several times greater than that of the Jewish believers.” In his “profile,” Jesus was presented as: “Age: 33. In his life: A Jewish preacher. After his death: Son of God, founder of Christianity.”

For other aspects, see under “Christians in Israel” and the Book Reviews below.
Missionary and Anti-missionary Activity
BeKehila, December 25; Mishpacha, December 25, pp. 16, 20, 2008

In the wake of a Mormon attempt to proselytize, the church issued a declaration to Yad L’Achim stating that the action was taken by a private individual with no authorization or sanction from the church. It related to a “problematic person” with whom the church was in the process of taking steps to deal. The church spokesman reiterated the Mormon commitment not to proselytize in Israel, made in 1986 (Mishpacha, December 25, p. 20; BeKehila, December 25).
Yad L’Achim’s director, Shalom Dov Lipshitz, published a statement in Mishpacha (December 25, p. 16) which declared that, in his opinion, the current financial crisis can be traced to the Jewish antipathy in the face of an “unprecedented, destructive, and terrible campaign of apostasy” – “the missionary dance of demons.” At the same time, he indicated that Yad L’Achim was itself not suffering from the crisis because its funds derive from “the masses of the people, each one according to his possibility and worth.”
Christian Zionism
Makor Rishon, December 25, 2008

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (ICFJ) recently issued a statement declaring its intention to supply assistance to non-profit organizations in Israel directly hit by the Madoff scandal. According to Yechiel Eckstein, IFCJ director, “‘the time has come for the Jewish world to accept the genuine intentions of the Christian community, which has recently announced a program to help fill the gap in Jewish philanthropy … I very much hope that now those who were opposed to me will be able to value the 800,000 Christians who consistently support the Jewish people, most of them through small donations but from their savings.’” In contrast to the regular religious press, this article displayed no antagonism towards the IFCJ for associating with Christians, or opposition to receiving funds from the latter.
Christians in Israel
TimeOut, December 25; Makor Rishon, December 26, 28; Kol HaZman, December 26; Israel HaYom, December 24, pp. 11, 31; Yediot Ahronot, December 24, 2008

In another rather surprising piece in Makor Rishon (December 28), Meir Uziel looked at “The banished – the Bethlehem version.” Examining the plight of the Christian community of the city, Uziel commented that its size was understandable given that, “this is the place in which a Jewish child was born who underwent afflictions and ultimately led to the Torah in fact going out from Zion, if in slightly different form, and the Word of the Lord, in a completely distorted form from that which its Creator intended, from Jerusalem. His gospel, and primarily that of one of his disciples, became the Christian religion, and by virtue of this fact Bethlehem, Jerusalem, the Galilee, and all of our Land became holy to the whole world. In effect, Islam also suckled from the same Tanakh and, in its wake, the New Testament, adding this heritage, which as we have said, came out of Jerusalem, to its own story. And now the whole Christian world is celebrating the birth of this same Jewish child, and even his circumcision. But in Bethlehem, far fewer Christians are celebrating there than used to in the past. Today, the Christian community in Bethlehem only constitutes 20% of the population. From a primarily Christian city, Bethlehem has become, in a very few years, a Muslim city with a small Christian minority … A person does not need to jump out of his skin in order to stand by the side of the Palestinian Christians … Palestinian Christians have been among those who have preached violence towards us. Despite this, however, we should at times peek at the inner relations between the Palestinians themselves, and especially at the attitude of the Palestinian Muslims towards the others who live in their proximity.” Nor is the situation any better in Gaza. According to Uziel, Palestinian Christians in the city informed a member of the Italian parliament on a visit to the Strip that “the Hamas government, despite its wish to present itself to the world as living harmoniously with the Christians, especially over the Christian Christmas and New Year period, and officially declaring equal rights for Christians, is in fact a fanatical Muslim government. This means that its priority is Islam-enforced Christianity or the life of Christians as second class citizens.” Uziel’s conclusion is quite striking: “Due to all the violence directed against us, we find it difficult to be excited by an article about kassam rockets or terror attacks. We no longer have any strength to illuminate, time and again, the dangers that left-wing Israeli journalists prepare as the seeds of threats. Consequently, perhaps if we look for a moment at the example of the systematic oppression by Islam of Christians to an inferior status, battered and banished, the dangers we are inclined to dismiss lightly might be illuminated in a new red light.”
Tamar Tzoigren, in Kol HaZman (December 26), painted a similar picture of Christmas in the Old City of Jerusalem. While “this is apparently the most widely celebrated and media-covered birthday in the world,” its evidence in the Old City was very sparse this year: “The city was expectant, but the guests didn’t bother coming. Exactly like the Summer of Aviya [an Israeli film of 1988, in which the protagonist, a ten-year-old girl, struggles to come to terms with her mother’s Holocaust trauma and her father’s absence] … The tourists aren’t coming, the locals are relatively apathetic, and the spirit of the holiday is virtually non-existent.”
In a parallel visit to Nazareth, Yael Lerner was perhaps more optimistic, revealing that more and more people in the city are exploiting the opportunities presented there by its historical sites (Israel HaYom, December 24).
In its series on “Christian Nazareth,” Yediot Ahronot (December 24) featured Nadim, Simon, and Mira, all of whom work at the Nazareth Village, a reconstruction of life in the city during the New Testament period. “All three were born and grew up in Nazareth, love the place, and see in it a bridge between the city’s past and future.”
Despite the low-key festivities, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority broadcast the Christmas mass from Bethlehem as usual: “‘The IBA and all its channels will air the ceremony as part of its understanding of its role as a public broadcasting service … The service will be broadcast concurrently on all IBA channels, Channel 33, the Voice of Israel in Arabic, and on the Internet,’ it was announced (Makor Rishon, December 26). “Spokeswoman Barr even took pains to provide an explanation for uneducated Jews: ‘Christmas eve is the day before Christians, which is celebrated by Catholics and Protestants throughout the world on December 24 every year … In the Midnight mass it is customary to reconstruct the holy meal (the ‘Last Supper’) by eating holy bread and drinking wine together. The service is officiated by a priest and includes texts from the Tanakh and the New Testament and various religious songs (sometimes even in Hebrew).”
Tel Aviv is imitating Haifa’s “Festival of Festivals” this year, and introducing a “Festival of the Three Religions” (TimeOut, December 25). In honor of the festival, a bilingual origami event will be held, focusing on symbols of the three religious holidays (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim), conducted by the Israel Origami Society, which employs Jewish and Arab teachers.
A short note in Israel HaYom (December 24) indicated that the immigration officials will not arrest illegal foreign workers over the Christmas and New Year period – “out of the will to enable them to celebrate the Christian holidays.”
The Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz, December 24, 29, 2008

A report in Haaretz (December 29) noted that “The planned trip by Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land should not be written off because of the escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Vatican’s chief spokesman told Reuters yesterday … Rev. Frederico Lombardi said that speculation in the Italian media that the Vatican was rethinking the trip because of the violence was ‘premature.’” According to an earlier report in the same paper (December 24), Lombardi has requested that the Israeli government refrain from destroying an access path to the church in the remains of Ikrit, paved by exiled villagers in preparation for the Christmas celebrations. The inhabitants of the village were expelled in 1948 and, despite a Supreme Court decision, have still not been allowed to return to their homes. The local council claimed that the path was built without planning permission. While the court froze the decision to destroy it, the path was razed despite the verdict.
Book Reviews
Israel HaYom, December 25; Yediot Ahronot, December 26; Haaretz, December 24; Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2008

Tsvi Sadan, who received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in 2006, recently saw the publication of his revised dissertation by Carmel under the title, Flesh of our Flesh: Jesus of Nazareth in Zionist Thought (Hebrew). According to the note in Haaretz (December 24), “Alongside the absolute Jewish rejection of Christianity, polemics arose at the end of the nineteenth century which attempted to find a place for Yeshua within the Zionist movement and sought to appropriate some of his teaching within it. The book reviews the views of such thinkers as Ahad Ha’am and Yosef Haim Brenner in regard to this subject.”
On another brief literary note, Ariel Oxhorn reviewed one of the books which has been “forgotten” – Haim Cohn’s The Trial and Death of Jesus of Nazareth (Dvir, 1968, 1990; translated under this title by Harper and Row, 1971) in Israel HaYom (December 25): “On the eve of Passover, Yeshu was brought for interrogation before the High Priest and the top- ranking priests. The High Priest asked Yeshu whether he was ‘the messiah, son of the Holy One’ and Yeshu replied ‘I am he.’ The High Priest was shocked, tearing his clothes and crying out, ‘He is a blasphemer.’ Yeshu was held overnight in the High Priest’s house and the next day delivered for trial before the Roman procurator. That same night began the events which changed the course of history. Haim Cohn, of blessed memory, a High Court judge and student of the Rav Kook Yeshiva, who left the religious world after the Holocaust, offers a different interpretation: in his opinion, the High Priest, unsuccessfully, sought to prevent a confrontation between Yeshu and the Romans. The tearing of his robes was an expression of his disappointment and sorrow. Cohn’s erudition and the clarity of his analysis of the events makes this legal-historical research a literary creation.”
In a lengthy article in Yediot Ahronot (December 26) discussing the life and work of Pinhas Sadeh, in particular his book Life as a Parable (translated into English and published by Bond in 1966), Asaf Weiss gave some of the background to the writer’s creativity: “When he was fifteen and a shepherd in the Jezreel Valley, Sadeh went out with his sheep one day and suddenly stumbled across an abandoned copy of the New Testament in the pasture. The youth was enchanted by his find and afterwards incorporated many of its elements into his book. For many years he conducted a complicated relationship with the Christian world. Towards the end of his life, however, he decided to simply throw his New Testament away – next to the rubbish bin, not in it, he used to say, because it also contained the Old Testament. Ehud Banai tells the story that Sadeh said that at the end of his life he understood that the Holy Spirit resided in Judaism, not Christianity.”
Ronda Robinson reviewed Benyamin Cohen’s book, My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith (HarperOne, 2008) in the Jerusalem Post (December 26): “Like Billy Crystal’s character in the 1991 movie City Slickers, Cohen was plagued by a crisis of sorts and went on a journey to find renewal and purpose. Only instead of traveling to the Wild West, the rabbi’s son tamed his curiosity in the Bible Belt … His mother died just after he came off the religious high of celebrating his bar mitzvah. And by the time his father, the principal of a Jewish high school in Atlanta, remarried a few years later, Cohen had grown into an angry teenager. For years he looked longingly at the church across the street … and tried to imagine what it would feel like to not be ‘strangled by the myriad rules of an Orthodox lifestyle’ … Cohen had the chance to find out years later. In the name of journalism, he spent a summer checking out several churches and writing a magazine article about the experience … The article grew into a book, for which Cohen immersed himself in Christianity for a year, praying with a host of churches, from Catholic to Pentecostal. An Orthodox Rabbi … blessed the endeavor under two conditions: Cohen had to wear a press pass so that everyone knew he was in church to observe and not to pray. And he had to have on a kippa so they knew he was Jewish … Cohen reveals in an interview that the only negative reaction to his book, ironically, was from some Jews for Jesus. ‘Why didn’t you come to us?’ they demanded. As he explains later, ‘It didn’t cross my mind. I don’t look at Jews for Jesus as a church’ … Still Jewish, still Orthodox, he found the proverbial pot of gold in his own backyard. ‘When I set out on this journey, I had been comparing our boring Yom Kippur service to the high energy of a gospel choir, but you can’t equate the two,’ Cohen writes. ‘What I should have been doing is looking beyond the synagogue’s walls. There’s more to being Jewish than what goes on in the confines of the sanctuary. And that’s true for any religion, not just my own.’”