July 28 – 2009

Caspari Center Media Review – July 28, 2009

During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, anti-missionary activities, and the theater.

1 dealt with Messianic Jews
4 dealt with anti-missionary activities
1 dealt with the theater
This week’s Review featured on article on Nestor, an Israeli Messianic Jewish premilitary program.
Messianic Jews
Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2009
Under the headline, “Serving in the IDF, ‘for the sake of God and Jesus,’” Matthew Wagner reported in the Jerusalem Post (July 24) on how “Messianic Jews enlist in pre-army program: “Jesus supports the IDF and he wants his believers to be the best soldiers they can be. That was the message conveyed by members of the local Messianic Jewish community via sacred texts, prayer and talks, to a group of 18-year-olds who took part this week in a premilitary program called Netsor … Some 150 highly motivated believers will join the IDF this year. Many of them will serve in combat units. Some of them have been through Netsor’s week of mental and spiritual preparation offered by the Messianic community. Netsor is a Hebrew word that means ‘to guard’ or ‘to stand vigilant.’ The return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel with the establishment of the State of Israel brought with it a small but growing group of Messianic Jews, numbering today between 10,000 and 15,000. These Christians celebrate their own version of Jewish holidays such as Pesach and Succot and set aside Friday night and Saturday as a day of rest. But they also believe that Jesus is the messiah and that he is the only path to redemption. Messianic Jews, who distance themselves from the more in-your-face proselytizing tactics of Jews for Jesus, are nevertheless very open about their beliefs, including their conviction that traditional Jewish faith is not sufficient for redemption.  … For Messianic Jews, military service in the IDF is not only a mandatory civil duty, it is a religious obligation. Lacking an exegetical tradition but serious about the sacredness and relevance of the biblical text, ‘believers’ learn this obligation to serve in the army right out of the New Testament. Romans (13:1-7) warns not to resist political authority, because it is ‘the ordinance of God.’ Colossians (3:22,23) teaches that one must excel as a faithful servant of one’s superiors, not for personal aggrandizement but to serve God. The group’s interpretation of these texts, combined with a strong religious faith, transform them into soldiers of God determined to do his will during their stint in the army of the Jewish state … Many Messianic Jews see their obligation to serve in the IDF as no different from the obligation of other Christians in the US, Britain or even Jordan and Egypt to serve their respective countries. “If I lived in Jordan I would have the same feelings for the Jordanian army,” said Tzvi. But for some, serving in the IDF has special theological meaning. Yoel, who was an officer in an IDF combat unit, believes the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is part of God’s plans. ‘The IDF is an instrument in the hands of God because it facilitates his plan,’ said Yoel. ‘But I would not call it a holy army or the army of God.’ The Netsor program, which began three years ago, has quadrupled the number of students from seven in 2007 to 28 this year. Yoel, one of Netsor’s founders, hopes one day to create a premilitary academy for Messianic Jews modeled after existing academies for religious and secular Israelis. ‘We pray that sometime in the future we will succeed in establishing a full-fledged premilitary academy that will offer a one-year program; with God’s help.’”

Anti-missionary Activities
BeKehila, July 23; HaMachaneh HeCharedi, July 23; Sha’ah Tova BeChadashot, July 16; HaModia, July 23, 2009

According to a report in HaModia (July 23), “Orthodox Ashdod is up in arms in the wake of the scandalous ruling of the Supreme Court imposed on the city’s Chief Rabbi, R. Sheinin, who, it will be recalled, withdrew the kashrut license from the ‘Pnina Pie’ bakery following Yad L’Achim’s exposure of the fact that it is owned by a declared missionary and member of the missionary group ‘Messianic Jews’ who win souls on behalf of the mission and in its service. This week, Yad L’Achim distributed flyers throughout Ashdod which stated, ‘The one who keeps his soul will refrain from buying any product whatsoever from the place owned by the missionary, whose kashrut license was granted as a result of the imposition of a court order on the rabbinate. The kashrut in this shop is from the Supreme Court and not from the Chief Rabbinate … Can a Jew who understands the gravity of the danger of missionary activity purchase any product whatsoever from a place belonging to a missionary…!’” In protesting this “imposition,” Yad L’Achim director, Shalom Dov Lipshitz noted its serious consequences – including “‘severe damage to the status of the rabbinate and the Rabbis when they are forced to grant a kashrut license under compulsion, severe damage to the kashrut system when missionaries are allowed to enjoy a kashrut license … and dangerous and potentially disastrous encouragement to the missionaries, in Israel and the diaspora, engaged in this awful work of apostasy …’” (The same story ran also in BeKehila, July 23 and HaMachaneh HeCharedi, July 23.)
Yad L’Achim was also active this week in protesting against the renewed aliyah of the “Bnei Menashe” (Sha’ah Tova BeChadashot, July 16). On the basis of a report in the Jerusalem Post, the organization claims that “thousands of people in tribes spread across northern India have begun in the last decades to adopt Jewish practices and customs in the hope of formally converting and immigrating to Israel” but in reality are practicing Christians: “The Kuki tribe are devout Christians and love Israel because they’ve been told that this is the birthplace of ‘that man.’” According to Yad L’Achim, the immigration to Israel would constitute “‘foolishness and physical and spiritual danger.’”
Haaretz, July 23, 2009

According to a report in Haaretz (July 23), “The performances of Amos Kenan’s play ‘Friends Talk about Jesus,’ scheduled for next week at the Arab-Hebrew Theater of Jaffa, have been canceled due to opposition from Jaffa residents … Kenan’s satirical play deals with the nature of being Israeli and with the occupation. In it, Jesus dies, returns to life and dies again, and is shown in various ways: as a child whose home is destroyed by the army, as a young man who is concerned about the security situation and as a reserve duty soldier who is sent to war. After the play was banned by the censor it was also banned by the High Court of Justice … Igal Ezrati, one of the Arab-Hebrew Theater’s two artistic directors, related that when the news of the play’s production became public, it set off protests, and he was asked not to stage it … Some Christian Arabs living in Jaffa claim the play portrays Jesus in a negative light, as well as depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a prostitute.”