November 30 – 2011

Caspari Center Media Review – November 30, 2011

During the week covered by this review, we received 20 articles on the following subjects:

Messianic Jews
Anti-missionary activities
Christian Zionism
Christian sites
Christians in Israel
Christians in the Holocaust



This week’s review was a miscellany of various items.

Anti-missionary Activities

Tzafon 1, November 25; HaMevaser, November 25, 27; Sha’ah Tova, November 24; BeKehila, November 24; HaShavua BeHolon, November 24; Kol HaIr – Bnei Brak, November 24; Mishpacha, November 24; HaModia, November 27, 2011

Mishpacha (November 24), HaModia (November 27), HaMevaser (November 25, 27), Sha’ah Tova (November 24), BeKehila (November 24), HaShavua BeHolon (November 24), and Kol HaIr – Bnei Brak (November 24) all carried last week’s story of the “baptisms of Jews to Christianity” carried out by Jehovah’s Witnesses on the “holy Sabbath” in Holon, Ra’anana, and Tel Aviv.

Nahariya residents were similarly up in arms over the distribution by “Hope of Israel,” based in Jerusalem, of 6,000 tracts entitled “Important Information for Every Israeli Citizen: What Will Happen in the Near Future and the Good News” (Tzafon 1, November 25). According to the city’s chief Rabbi, “the missionaries’ activity began generations earlier” when Christians converted and/or refused to return Jewish children hidden during the Holocaust. Under the subtitle “Clear prophecies from the Tanakh,” Andrew Lewis of “Hope of Israel” responded: “‘Many different streams of Judaism exist in Israel today: secular, traditional, and religious. Some Jews don’t believe in God at all and call themselves “atheists.” Others believe that in order to find favor in God’s eyes they have to believe in their “Rebbe.” Some Jews are into various forms of eastern mysticism. Messianic Jews like us believe in the Tanakh and the New Testament and that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel. Why does R. Isaiah Meitels [the chief rabbi of Nahariya] object to the Bible studies recently distributed in the city? Many rabbis with whom I’ve had contact with forbid such material but refuse to respond to the clear verses which deal with the subject. I encourage the public to take the booklet to their spiritual leaders and ask them to prove – from the Tanakh alone, not from human logic – any error in what is written. The tracts recently disseminated in Nahariya contain clear prophecies from the Tanakh which prove that a great time of trouble which has never been seen since the creation of the world is about to begin in Israel, amongst us. The booklets were distributed in Nahariya out of love and concern for its residents, to give every family the opportunity to know what the Bible clearly says about the near future of the modern State of Israel and its inhabitants. Many Jews in Israel – like me – have understood that Yeshua is our Messiah and that without faith in him, his death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf, we can’t receive forgiveness for our sins and will rather be forever removed from God’s presence and suffer eternal punishment.’”

Christian Zionism

Zman Mevaseret, November 10; Jerusalem Post, November 23, 2011

Pastors Mario Bramnick, Guillermo Maldonado, and Frank J. Amedia visited Jerusalem this week and met with the Knesset Speaker, Ruby Rivlin (Jerusalem Post, November 23). “The pastors called themselves ‘Christian Zionists,’ and said they are involved in pro-Israel activity. The three also told Rivlin that they are well-known and influential in many Latin American countries.”

Zman Mevaseret (November 10) noted the visit of the Harley-Davidson Christian Zionist bikers (see previous Reviews).

Christians in Israel

Haaretz, November 23, 2011

“Last Friday, a group of Jewish public figures and intellectuals paid a visit to the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem with one simple goal in mind, asking for forgiveness. The group took the step following a report in Haaretz about two weeks ago describing the practice of some ultra-Orthodox Jewish young people of spitting when passing church clergy on the street. One member of the delegation, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who is general secretary of Rabbis for Human Rights, noted that on Yom Kippur, Jews traditionally atone for transgressions between themselves and God, but wrongs committed between people cannot be atoned for, even by God, until the wrongdoer asks forgiveness. Ascherman added that in contacts with Christian and Muslim clergy, his group of rabbis condemns the acts of spitting. The delegation met in the Old City of Jerusalem with the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Theophilos III, who spoke of the spitting phenomenon that he and his church colleagues have been confronting, but said in Christianity, it was considered a good deed to show restraint under such circumstances. In that spirit, he added, he also directed his colleagues to exercise restraint. He said the spitting was a reflection of ignorance on the part of people who don’t really understand the significance of religion and faith. Among the members of the Jewish delegation were Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yosef (‘Pepe’) Alalu of the Meretz faction and Meretz city council members Laura Wharton and Meir Margalit. ‘Since we love this city, we felt that anything that happens here affects us,’ Margalit said. ‘We came to apologize despite the fact that we had no part in the spitting, because we believe in mutual responsibility.’ Margalit noted that almost all of the members of the delegation who visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarch were born abroad. ‘We fervently believe that what the ultra-Orthodox Jews are doing to Christians here, Christians do to Jews in the Diaspora. We know what they are feeling and we have vowed that in the Jewish state such things will not reoccur.’ Next week, a similar delegation is due to visit with representatives of the Armenian Orthodox Church, whose clergy have also experienced the spitting phenomenon.”

Christians and the Holocaust 

Jerusalem Post, November 23, 2011

“Thanks to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, Jewish Holocaust survivor Mary Katz Ehrlich, 83, will be reunited on Wednesday afternoon – after 66 years apart – with Egle and Aurimas Ruzgys, two Lithuanian Catholics in their 80s who helped rescue her from the Nazis as children.” When her father escaped from a mass shooting of Jews, he asked a local Catholic farmer named Leokadija Ruzgys, for help. “Ruzgys and her children hid him, his wife and his daughter. Ehrlich recalls the family’s kindness and the tremendous risk they seemed willing to take on her own family’s behalf – even the three Ruzgys children (one of whom, Miele, has since died), who were risking their lives … They hid with the Ruzgys family for three years. ‘The kids were very careful,’ she recalled. ‘They even watched their mother that she shouldn’t let anyone know that we were there. They were very careful and good. I was like one of them – we were very close’ … Miele Ruzgys … lied to the soldiers, telling them no Jews were there and that their mother had gone from the house … The police caught and sent Leokadija Ruzgys and the Katz family to prison. However, Egle and Aurimas Ruzgys helped keep their mother and the Jewish family alive by selling the goods they had to corrupt prison officials. The family was liberated by the Russians shortly afterward. Upon their liberation, they went back to the Ruzgys house, walking miles, and stayed with them overnight before walking back to their hometown. To show their appreciation, Ehrlich said, her family gave her grandparents’ house to the Ruzgys family. ‘But it was not enough gratitude, not enough,’ she said. ‘I’m so thrilled.’ Her daughter in New York will host a Thanksgiving dinner this year, at which the Ruzgys siblings will be the guests of honor.”

Interfaith Activity

Makor Rishon, November 25; Jerusalem Post, November 27, 2011

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post (November 27), “This week, while protesters in the Arab world were demanding democracy and civil rights, Catholics and Muslims met along the Jordan River for frank and friendly talks about their differences and how to get beyond their misunderstandings. The Catholic-Muslim Forum, which grew out of the tensions following Benedict’s speech in the German city of Regensburg, was overshadowed by events in Egypt, Yemen and Syria. The lack of any dramatic news here reflected the progress the two sides have made since 2006 … The 24 Catholic and 24 Muslim religious leaders, scholars and educators meeting here debated how each religion uses reason to strengthen insight into its beliefs. Roman Catholicism has long argued that faith without reason can breed superstition while nihilism can emerge from reason without faith … Three years after the introductory session, the second Forum on Nov 21-23 focused on the relationship between faith and reason … Strains emerged at some of the closed-door talks, especially on the issue of whether Muslims can convert to Christianity. One Catholic noted the Church could not accept any converts in the Gulf countries but Christian foreign workers there who switched to Islam got a warm public welcome to their new faith. Another asked why Muslims would not respect the choice made by people who sincerely wanted to convert despite all the problems they knew would come. In response, a Muslim said Islamic countries remained wary because too many conversions were forced in the past.”

Makor Rishon (November 25) noted that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin initiated a meeting last month in Jerusalem between Sheikh Abu-Khader Ja’abari of Hebron and Pastor John Hagee during which the three clergymen spoke for two hours about the need to reject violence and develop greater tolerance between religious communities. The encounter was coordinated by Riskin’s “Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation” and the Interfaith Encounter Association directed by Yehuda Stolov. The meeting was also attended by Dr. Ashraf Ja’abari and Noam Arnon, spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron.


Haaretz, November 25 (Hebrew and English editions), 2011

Tom Segev related to the “book of kings” in a “History lesson” in Haaretz (November 25) this week: “James Charles Stuart … won eternal glory by commissioning the biggest best seller in history: The King James Bible, one volume containing the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and several of the Apocrypha – 788,258 words in all. Four hundred years later, it is still considered the most authoritative English version of the holy book. Festivities are under way to mark the anniversary; Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to participate. Christian fundamentalist organizations in America, too, are investing a sizable effort in publicizing the occasion. Over the past 400 years, an estimated 1 billion copies of the book have been sold … Over the years, other English translations have appeared, not only in response to the book’s commercial success but also in order to adapt the English text to various communities’ religious outlook. Some versions were created by English-speaking Jews, for example, who started producing their own translations in the 18th century. The first Jewish translation of the entire Hebrew Bible into English is attributed to Abraham Benisch, who was the editor of The Jewish Chronicle; it was published in 1851. In recent years, new translations have come out in the United States. Most have not drawn much attention in Israel, in part because they are popular mainly among Reform and Conservative congregations. One version available is a Jewish Publication Society translation called Tanakh. Its second edition uses punctuation that does not appear in the Hebrew original, including quotation marks, brackets, question marks and numerals. The book’s publishers pride themselves on its having been recognized as the official translation for the World Bible Quiz. In contrast to the King James Version, the books are ordered in keeping with the original, but the translation differs greatly not only from the ‘authorized’ King James Version but also from the Hebrew original, as can be seen in the very first sentence. Instead of ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’ is ‘When God began to create heaven and earth – the earth being unformed and void – with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water – God said, “let there be light”; and there was light.’ King James’ scholars did it better; the Hebrew original did it best of all.”


Jerusalem Post, November 25, 2011

“Ken Jebsen, a [German] radio host who claimed the Holocaust was manufactured, was sacked by publicly funded radio station RBB on Wednesday. Jebsen sent an e-mail to a listener in early November saying, ‘I know who invented the Holocaust as PR.’ He also appeared to blame European Jewry for the Holocaust and stoked wild anti-American conspiracy theories … The Jewish community’s statement praised the decision as in the spirit of the station’s campaign against right-wing radicalism and anti-Semitism. RBB is the parent company of Fritz Radio, a youth music program, where Jebsen hosted a Sunday talk and music show (KenFM) for 10 years. RBB also dismissed Stefan Warbeck, the Fritz program director. Warbeck will take over a new assignment at RBB … Jebsen’s mix of right-wing and left-wing anti-Semitic views is a common feature of a cross-over form of modern anti-Semitism in Germany. The Simon Wiesenthal Center had called for Jebsen’s program to be defunded and said the use of the word ‘invent’ in connection with the Holocaust is a classic expression of denying the Shoah.”


Jerusalem Post, November 24; Haaretz, November 24, 2011

According to these two articles, “Excavations discover that Herod started the Temple, but his grandson finished the job” (Jerusalem Post, November 24): “It turns out that the Western Wall of the ancient Second Temple Mount wasn’t built during the reign of King Herod after all and that the place was a building site even when Jesus visited it. Archeologists have uncovered what they say is evidence that the massive retaining wall of the ancient Temple Mount wasn’t even started until at least 20 years after Herod died in 4 B.C. The new findings challenge the perception that the enormous edifice, the largest construction endeavor in the ancient Holy Land, had been solely the work of the ancient king, known as Herod the Builder … Excavations revealed a rock-hewn ritual bath under a foundation stone that had been filled with debris. This allowed archeologists for the first time to examine directly underneath the wall where they found 17 simple bronze coins and three oil lamps from the first century A.D. That bewildered them. ‘Four of the latest coins were minted under the Roman governor of Jerusalem, named Valerius Gratus in 15/16 C.E. This is 20 years after Herod’s death so at least the western wall, or this segment of the western wall, was constructed long after Herod passed away,’ archeologist Ronny Reich told The Media Line. ‘It took generations to build, not a few years. It adds something to history of construction of the largest edifice ever built in this country,’ he said. “The project is Herod’s. We will not take it away from him. He foresaw it. He planned it. He provided the means for 18 years of construction. But he didn’t see its completion.’ Reich said Herod had apparently been motivated to take on the massive complex because Jerusalem was growing and more room was needed for the tens of thousands of pilgrims who would converge on the city with thousands of animals to sacrifice … Until now, archeologists have only had the written record of Jewish-Roman historian Josephus, who said the construction of the Temple project was only completed during the reign of King Agrippa II, Herod’s great-grandson, in the 50s A.D., meaning the whole project took over 70 years. ‘Josephus and his figures are controversial among scholars. So here we have an independent archeological datum telling us that indeed it took a long time,’ Reich said. The excitement among the archeologists is still apparent because the greatness of this discovery wasn’t a treasure, but knowledge. It was always assumed that the construction was a running project for generations, and their find finally proved it’ … Reich said the evidence also indicated, in his eyes, that construction probably began on the eastern side, followed by the southern and northern walls built, and ending with the western wall. Their excavations were directly underneath the Robinson Arch, which served as a major entryway into the Temple Mount, meaning that it too must have dated from well after 15 C.E. The findings even indicate that during the time of Jesus, the Temple Mount was a construction site. Reich said that the Gospel of John even indicated that it took a long time to build. ‘Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” (John 2:19).’ ‘I don’t know if this figure is accurate but it does corroborate our findings. It took more than the days of Herod, more than twice the time to construct. The archeological evidence now corroborates these texts,’ Reich said.”