July 2 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – July 2, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we covered 7 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, Christianity, and music.

5 dealt with Messianic Jews
1 dealt with Christianity
1 dealt with music
This week’s Review primarily related to issues connected with Messianic Jews.
Messianic Jews
Jerusalem Post, June 22, 25, 30, July 1; Haaretz, June 30 (Hebrew and English editions), 2009

Two of the national papers, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post (June 30) reported on the Supreme Court decision this week in favor of Pnina Comporati/Conforty. The latter, whose kashrut license for two bakeries in Gan Yavneh and Ashdod was denied by the local rabbinate on the grounds that, as a Messianic Jew, Pnina could not be trusted to ensure the proper level of kashrut, won her case in the Supreme Court on Monday. According to the Jerusalem Post, “A Jew for Jesus who demanded kashrut supervision from the Chief Rabbinate won a Supreme Court decision on Monday likely to spark another confrontation between the nation’s highest legal arbiter and the Orthodox rabbinical establishment. In its verdict, based on a precedent that found belly-dancing to be unrelated to kosher food, the court ruled that an Ashdod baker’s belief that Jesus was the messiah did not make baked goods unkosher.” As part of its contention that the Supreme Court knows nothing about kashrut, the rabbinate official who refused the license stated that, “according to his understanding of Halacha, an apostate Jew could not be trusted to adhere to the laws of kashrut.” Justice Eliezer Rivlin, on the other hand, “accepted the distinction made in the Raskin [belly-dancing] case between ‘core’ kashrut issues and considerations that were not directly pertinent.” According to Haaretz, “Comporati petitioned the High Court in 2007, arguing that the rabbinate had no right to set special conditions just because of her religious faith. That, she said, violated both her freedom of occupation and her freedom of religion. The rabbinate, backed by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, argued that the conditions it set were legitimate. But the court rejected this claim, saying the only considerations the rabbinate may consider in granting kashrut certificates are those directly related to kashrut. As long as the applicant’s personal beliefs do not affect the kashrut of the food, the rabbinate has no right to discriminate on account of these beliefs, it ruled.” The Hebrew edition of this article included a sidebar relating some of the other recent attacks on Messianic Jews – whose “base is in the States” and “believe in Yeshu and celebrate a Christianized version of the Jewish holidays. Their celebration of the Passover Seder, for example, includes Christian elements and history. They bar mitzvah their sons, in a ceremony at which they latter declare their love of Yeshu.”
Under the headline, “Court hears Messianic Jews’ suit against Beersheba chief Rabbi,” the Jerusalem Post (June 22) reported on the recent suit “filed by the Nachalat Yeshua Messianic congregation against Beersheba Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary organization.” According to the piece, “The Nachlat Yeshua Messianic congregation is one of about seven such Christian congregations in the city. According to the suit, hundreds of Orthodox Jews held a demonstration without a permit, broke into the church compound, attacked worshipers, broke furniture and held their own prayer service. The protesters allegedly remained in the compound for three hours before police evicted them. Members of the congregation also alleged that the demonstrators punched worshipers and surrounded a Korean man, kicked him in the ankles and said to him, ‘Go back to Thailand, you dirty Thai worker.’ Deri allegedly called the demonstrators to the church after being informed by Yad L’Achim that 10 bus loads of Jewish children were about to be taken there to be baptized, Pastor Howard Bass said in 2007. This claim, he said, was wildly exaggerated. ‘Only two people were supposed to be baptized on that day. Both were over 18 and were exercising their rights under Israeli law.’ Three of the demonstrators were arrested that night, but no charges were brought against them. The congregation has sued Deri and the Yad L’Achim organization on various counts, including harming religious feelings, imprisonment without cause, trespassing and causing damage to the compound. According to one of the congregation’s lawyers, Kevork Nalbandian, Deri organized the assault on the compound.”
The same paper also published an article written by Howard Bass, pastor of the Beersheva congregation (June 25), in which Bass addressed the issues behind the trial: “Should we, or should we not go to court? That was the question facing us as believers – both Jews and gentiles – in Yeshua/Jesus. Our congregation in Beersheba had just experienced a second violent demonstration, which its participants called a “prayer gathering.” It turned into a full-scale riot that lasted some three hours – and ended only after dozens of police were called to the scene, including the riot squad … [W]e decided to sue the Sephardi chief rabbi of Beersheba and the anti-Messianic organization Yad L’Achim, which includes within its organization a department called the ‘Struggle Against the Mission.’ We have what we believe to be sufficient evidence to link them together in calling for an illegal protest against the lawful right to express our faith in Beersheba and in the rest of Israel … Our nation was reestablished on the ashes of people killed simply because they were Jewish. We, who believe that the writings of Moses and the prophets point to Jesus being the promised messiah, are being targeted for our belief. Our services have been viciously disrupted, a development that is the result of years of insult and contempt. Will this now lead to pogroms and worse? … In our experience with Yad L’Achim and with the Sephardi chief rabbi of Beersheva, they have stated their objective to get rid of us. Have we returned to the land of our forefathers just to turn it over to a band of jihadists? … I want to stress that this lawsuit is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not intended to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. We love our nation and our people, and are committed to her uniqueness among the nations. Whether you consider us as good citizens or only as strangers among you, we are for you and with you … By filing this lawsuit and asking for compensatory damages we are trying to capture the public’s attention (is anybody noticing or even interested?) to the fact that laws are being violated. If a riot by Jews against those who believe differently is allowed to take place without any legal accountability for taking the law into their own hands, then we are not truly a nation under law, but one that opens a door for lawlessness … Freedom of religion, including the right to change one’s faith, are essential for a truly free society, necessitating tolerance of differences and disagreements, both in politics and in religion. Pray, protest, demonstrate, even believe, but let’s do so lawfully, in love for our neighbor as for ourselves.”
Ma’ariv, July 1, 2009

Ma’ariv (July 1) reported on Pope Benedict’s announcement of the discovery of the bones of St. Paul – according to the headline, “The closest person to Yeshu” and further described as “perhaps the most important of the twelve Apostles, Yeshu’s disciples, and the disseminators of Christianity” in St. Paul’s Church in Rome. According to the article, “St. Paul – his Hebrew name being Saul of Tarsus – was on of Yeshu’s two most important disciples. Like St. Peter, he served as a prominent missionary of the Christian religion throughout the Roman Empire, finally being executed by beheading during the persecution of what was considered to be ‘a Jewish sect.’ Paul was the Apostle who focused on the conversion of the Gentiles; in contrast to the majority of the Apostles, who initially worked principally within the Jewish communities in the Roman Empire. He is therefore known in Christian tradition as ‘the Apostle to the Gentiles.’ According to the New Testament, he repented and become a disciple of Yeshu during a journey to Damascus. Afterwards, he spent his time visiting Hellenistic Jewish cities throughout Asia Minor, the place from which he originated, preaching Christianity. He is also the Apostle the most of whose writings have been preserved.” The article further noted that the discovery takes place a short while after that of the earliest known painting of Paul, from the fourth century, in a catacomb in Rome.
Haaretz, June 17, 2009

The American-Jewish musician John Zorn has recently teamed up with an Israeli ensemble by the name of Pisuk Rachav, whose latest album carries the verse “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets” (Num. 11:29), which “hints at the freedom that its creators have arrogated to themselves, but doesn’t shut off its character. Composed as relatively audience-friendly free jazz, ‘The Holy Land’ contains some of the most provocative texts written or sung in recent years in Israel. Jeremy Fogel, Pisuk Rachav’s principal creator, looks simultaneously like a prophet and a prostitute, a Rabbi and a Christian preacher, a Buddhist monk and a homosexual, narcomanic bit poet. ‘Yeshua of Nazareth runs through the streets of Tel Aviv shouting Alla hu akhbar [God is great], holy, holy, holy,’ for example.”