Caspari Center Media Review – June 2, 2010
During the week covered by this review, we received 3 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews and anti-missionary activity. Of these:
2 dealt with Messianic Jews
1 dealt with anti-missionary activity
This Review focused on reports of the death of Moishe Rosen, founder and director of Jews for Jesus.
Jerusalem Post, May 30; Globes, May 27, 2010
Both these papers covered the death of Moishe Rosen. While the Jerusalem Post (May 30) printed an obituary by Elaine Woo published in international papers – which included such statements as “Rosen appealed to potential converts with music, humor and street theater, an approach that resonated in the hippie culture that by the early 1970s was developing a strong spiritual component, with some youths turning to Eastern religions and others, like those in the ‘Jesus people’ movement, to forms of Christianity. Rosen saw himself as a kind of hybrid who did not regard a Jew who believed in Jesus as a contradiction. ‘I never made the decision that I wanted to leave the Jewish community,’ he told New York magazine in 1986. ‘We want to stay in and dissent—and we’ve been ostracized. We wouldn’t separate the two religions. We want a climate where all ideas can be accepted or rejected without previous indoctrination’”– Globes (May 27) carried a piece by Yoav Karni from Washington, under the headline “The Father, the Son, and Moishe Rosen”: “The need to convert Jews is a Christian theological obsession. There are so few Jews and so many Christians, but the climax of Christianity will not be complete as long as the original sin of the year 33 is wiped out – when the Jews sent Yeshu the Christ to the cross, or at least gave up on the opportunity to save his life … Christianity has been given a convincing answer to the question of how the Jews were capable of rejecting the Son of God. From time to time, we receive reminders of this obsession … Last week, a 78-year-old man died in San Francisco who called himself ‘Moishe Rosen.’ He was a Baptist minister, born to an Orthodox Jewish family. Up until his last day, he claimed that he had never converted. He remained a Jew – apart from the fact that he believed that Yeshu was in fact the Christ in (‘anointed’ in Greek; hence also ‘Messiah’). Jews loved hating Rosen because he was the founder of the organization Jews for Jesus. Rosen and his followers were slightly more dangerous adversaries than ordinary missionaries. ‘Slightly more’ because they never succeeding in converting masses of Jews. But ‘slightly more’ because their insistence that they never ceased being Jews allowed a certain number of Jews to cross the line. Rosen assimilated the Jewish roots of Christianity more than Christian theology is accustomed to doing. His followers claim that since 1973 they have celebrated around ‘Yeshu-style Seders’ in approximately 38,000 churches. Why not, in fact? Yeshu’s ‘Last Supper’ with his disciples was a Passover Seder. Perhaps. If there were in fact Passover Seders of this type in the year 33. One of the most prominent Jewish figures involved in interfaith dialogue, conservative Rabbi James Rodin, told the New York Times after Rosen’s death: ‘He had the right to do what he wanted. This is America …’ … The rousing call of the person who once held the opposite view has a certain force … ‘Jews for Yeshu’ are indeed people who were born Jews – and sometimes Jews by choice. At least some of them think that the historical chasm between Judaism and Christianity was not a historical necessity. The first Christians were Jews in every respect. They prayed in synagogues, kept kosher, and circumcised their children. In truth, in those days – the first century CE – no monolithic or recognized ‘Judaism’ even existed. There were, according to the prominent, if controversial, scholar Jacob Neusner, ‘many Judaisms,’ some even more eccentric than Christianity … Is it impossible to establish a theological cease-fire between Judaism and Christianity? Is it impossible to recognize the spiritual significance of Yeshu of Nazareth without embracing his deity? Islam recognizes him, transforming him into a prophet, even if it denies his crucifixion and resurrection. I confess, this is only a half-serious question. Christian Orthodox and Catholics are not capable of accepting one another – so how could Jews and Christians live together in one theological space? … Practical Judaism contains anti-Christian elements deriving from well-known sources: desperate self-defense against an aggressive Christianity in Europe for a thousand years; but these are no longer necessary. The areas of friction between Judaism and Christianity have been reduced to a minimum … Christian tourists have no need to wear crosses on the streets of Jerusalem. The Christian history of the Land of Israel can be included in school curricula. Susceptible students can be told that the Hebrew Bible has been the best-seller of all time – not because of Rabbis and yeshiva students but due to Christian bishops and missionaries. Faithful – and non-faithful – Jews usually reject the Christian boast of being the natural heir of Judaism, the ‘New Israel.’ This is reasonable. But there is no point in denying that Christianity was born out of the loins of Judaism, adopted its Scriptures, absorbed much of its wisdom, and adorned itself with many of its symbols. Were it possible to suggest conditions for the establishment of a theological cease-fire, one of them could be the foundation of ‘Christians for Hillel the Elder’: an act of recognition that Christianity adopted substantial parts of the Jewish ethical teaching that preceded Yeshu. Of course, it might be somewhat difficult to persuade the Israeli reader of the urgency of such an act. It is not urgent. But in another 23 years, it will be the 2000 year anniversary of the crucifixion of their Messiah. That might be the right time for a world festival of historical reconciliation on the soil of the patriarchs.”
Sha’ah Tova, May 27, 2010
In response to Jews for Jesus’ fifth campaign in Israel – which focuses this summer on Gush Dan and the Sharon area, with the use of “new gimmicks” – in the words of Yad L’Achim – such as “traffic reports” indicating that the punishment had been nulled and voided – Yad L’Achim members went out in force to counter the “dubious missionary activity” and explain to the “many hundreds” who encountered the literature that it came from “soul hunters” and was designed to convert them. Much of the article was devoted to the contents of an “internal document” gained by Yad L’Achim allegedly exposing the missionaries’ true intentions and their worries concerning the success of Yad L’Achim.