January 4 – 2011

Caspari Center Media Review – January 4, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the subjects of Messianic Jews, attitudes towards Christianity, Christian Zionism, Christians in Israel, and Christian tourism. Of these:

1 dealt with Messianic Jews

2 dealt with attitudes towards Christianity

1 dealt with Christian Zionism

1 dealt with Christians in Israel

1 dealt with Christian tourism


This week’s Review continued to report on Kay Wilson – as well as on Christmas in Israel.

Correction: The sentence “Kay, who is still recovering in hospital in Ein Karem, has repeated to friends that she is in doubt that this was a nationalistic act” quoted from Haaretz 21.12.10 should have read: “Kay, who is still recovering in hospital in Ein Karem, has repeated to friends that she is in no doubt that this was a nationalistic act.” Our sincere apologies for the error.

Messianic Jews

Haaretz, December 31, 2011

“Last Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve, over 100 people gathered at Christ Church, an Anglican church in the capital’s Old City, for a memorial service in honor of Luken, an American evangelical Christian who frequently visited Israel and used to worship with the community. The next evening, the congregants gathered for Christmas Eve service as they do every year, surrounded by the usual throngs of curious Israeli-born onlookers, but made no mention of the attack that briefly thrust Israel’s Anglican and Jewish-messianic communities into a media whirlwind … Located across from the Tower of David, near Jaffa Gate, the Christ Church officially belongs to the Anglican Church in Israel but is also affiliated with CMJ. Headquartered in Nottingham in the U.K., the Ministry among Jewish People seeks to ‘encourage Jewish people to come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah,’ according to its website … Wilson, a Messianic Jew who immigrated to Israel at age 16, is the main educator for Shoresh Study Tours, which guides Christian pilgrims in Israel … Pileggi said Wilson, who lives in Givat Ze’ev, is one of the best educators he has seen because she ‘gets the message across to Christian groups about the Jewishness of Jesus and our need to understand Jesus within a Jewish context’ … Frustrated by some press coverage following the attack, which church leaders say was sensationalist and often incorrect, several senior staff and members of the Anglican and messianic communities declined to be interviewed for this article. ‘We got burned,” [David] Pileggi [minister of Christ Church] said, referring to articles in Israel’s press that speculated whether Wilson’s account of the event was true … ‘What was difficult for us was that nobody took the story at face value,’ he explained. ‘Having known Kay Wilson for many years, I know that she is extremely straight. I understand the police have to investigate every angle, but why the press had to try to look for some kind of scandalous angle here – where there really is none – is beyond me’ … Pileggi, 54, says that Christ Church is an independent legal entity from Church’s Ministry among Jewish People although the two are affiliated with each other. He acknowledges there were cases in the past where individuals working for Christ Church did engage in missionary work, but he strongly denies that his community has a policy of proselytizing Jews. ‘We live as a community in the context of a renewed and reborn state of Israel and we also live as a minority within a very large number of Jewish communities,’ Pileggi told Anglo File, sitting on a bench in his church, where a Christmas tree stands next to menorah and inscriptions in Hebrew can be seen on the stained glass and the wooden altar. ‘I’m not sure we would talk or act necessarily in the same way as they would in the U.K. or the U.S. We have a different set of priorities and understanding of how we live out our faith here’ … There are also a few Christian Arabs and ‘one or two’ messianic Jews who attend the services, which are held in English. Every Saturday, a community of 100 Hebrew-speaking messianic Jews gathers in the recently renovated church to worship … Pileggi said Israelis have an image of church members sneaking around and converting Jews. ‘I have absolutely no interest in any Jew becoming an Anglican, God forbid,’ said Pileggi with a laugh. ‘There is no outreach program, people come here and ask questions. If they don’t ask questions, I don’t answer.’ However, if Jews approach the community interested in learning about Jesus, it will not turn them away, as evangelical tradition obligates them to be ‘witnesses’ of the Gospel, added Pileggi, a Florida native who moved to Jerusalem 30 years ago because he ‘felt an overwhelming sense that I had to go to Israel.’ Despite hostile comments by Internet talkbackers and bloggers – some of whom hoped ‘all the soul-snatchers out there share [Luken’s] fate’ – Pileggi said he and his community personally encountered little malevolence. ‘If there is hostility, it’s generally just for being a Christian, not for being a part of CMJ,’ he said. ‘We feel some hostility, but on the whole Israeli society is either tolerant of Christians or indifferent. We’re certainly not a persecuted minority.’”

Attitudes towards Christianity 

Haaretz, December 29; Israel HaYom, December 29, 2010

According to Yehuda Safra in Israel HaYom (December 29), “While Yeshu walked on the water, our God managed to split it in two. But the relevant question is who will succeed in making alcohol run like water year after year? Correct, St. Sylvester, apparently the No. 1 master of parties in human history. A debate exists over the first pope’s attitude towards us Jews. A small number of people argue that he actually comes to meet us, while the vast majority say that he does so with lit and burning torches. This raises the question, why in a couple of days will multitudes from the house of Israel rush to celebrate the coming of the new Christian year (2011) with a plethora of parties whose source is worship of this same Sylvester? The first answer is the Kiddush. Some hours prior to the traditional kiss, the people dwelling in Zion will sit around the shabbat table and listen to their mothers say that they are very disappointed by the fact that they aren’t yet married and when exactly will she ever see grandchildren. True, there is good food, but something about the family dinner makes you immediately go out to get a shot of vodka and play insanely loud music. Another possibility for our over-affection for celebrating Sylvester is our culture of self-whipping. If all the time we’re trying to appease people, to apologize and stretch out a hand to our enemies – who merely want to destroy us – what can be bad about celebrating the day of the person who is considered to be the father of anti-Semitism? On the contrary, this is the greatness of our people – we’re not broken by any situation or under any threat … Despite all I’ve said so far, it seems to me that the only explanation for why the Christian new year has become such a huge attraction in Israel is because Sylvester is not an ordinary saint but one with the power of black magic. He has awesome powers, which 1,675 years after his ascension are still helping him to successfully abuse hundreds of thousands of helpless Jewish souls. Thus, hundreds of thousands of innocent sons of Abraham find themselves crowded and suffocating in halls and night clubs.”

Under the headline “Take to the streets, now” Haaretz (December 29) reported that: “Nazareth surprised itself on the afternoon before Christmas. Tens of thousands of excited parents and grandparents and their children and grandchildren gathered along the city’s main street leading to Spring Square anxiously waiting for Santa Claus, or ‘Baba Noel’ as he is known there, for the kings of Orient riding on camels, for the decorated carts and for the bagpipe players. The streets were packed. The police presence was barely noticeable, and a festive feeling prevailed throughout … Up to this point, things were pretty much as one would expect, other than one small fact. Along with the indistinguishable mix of Christians and Muslims, there were a huge numbers of Jews, secular people of every social background who came to soak up the atmosphere of the holiday … The Jewish Christmas visitors received a warm and friendly welcome spiced with a bit of irony. ‘The Christmas parade is really for you,’ said a Christian friend. ‘I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never happened to see it.’ And the Jews returned the friendship. It would never have occurred to any of them to castigate the controversial [MK Hanin] Zuabi with even a word the likes of which are directed her way in the Knesset, on the Jewish street or in Jewish households. After all, here Zuabi is the host and the Jews are the guests. Maybe that is why they weren’t horrified by the Friday sermons blasting from the large loudspeaker that was set up, as if intended to provoke, at the foot of the Church of the Annunciation. (This time the message was actually one of peace, saying that we are all descendents of Abraham and Moses, heaping praise on the ‘son of Mary.’) The visitors marveled at the Christmas trees and engaged the shopkeepers in lively conversation. Like the thousands of visitors who thronged to the Arab-Jewish Wadi Nisnas festival in Haifa over the weekend, the Jewish visitors to Nazareth were voting with their feet in support of living together and against racism and incitement. This was admittedly a limited and coincidental kind of shared experience, but there are a good number of places in Israel where this takes place on a widespread basis.”

Christian Zionism

Chafarferet, December 9, 2010

As has become traditional, the Dutch group “Christian for Israel” in association with the “Hineni – Anna Frank Organization” have donated 5000 tulips bulbs – this year to Ashdod in celebration of the city’s fifty-fourth birthday.