During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust
Yediot Netanya, Yediot HaSharon, Yediot Hadera, Yediot Kfar Saba, November 9, 2012
The same interview with David Loden appeared in four local papers following his latest Liturgi-Kal production of Brahms’ Requiem. The article focuses much of its attention on Loden’s Messianic background, stating that “for much of his life, David Loden has walked the road that connects the Messianic faith with classical music.” Loden is portrayed as “one of the strongest voices in the Messianic Jewish community in Israel.” This community, according to the article, includes more than 100 congregations, with Loden presiding over one of the largest ones – Beit Asaf in Netanya – which boasts more than 200 members. The article gives a brief description of Messianic Jewish faith, explaining that its followers believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel who was sent to suffer and die for the sins of the world so that all those who believe in him can receive atonement for their sins and live eternally in Heaven. “Messianics believe that Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was crucified and now sits beside God waiting for the hour when he will reign again over the world and his people Israel.”
Loden’s life ambition has been to find a way to bring his Messianic identity together with his love of classical music. The Liturgi-Kal choir is the manifestation of this vision: the choir performs well-known classical pieces (like Handel’s Messiah), but in Hebrew. “Those who have heard [our performances] understand the value of translating these works into our language and into the reality in which we live,” says Loden. “I feel that this is true pioneer work, connected to the Messianic faith . . . but is also trying to bring out the spiritual essence of these musical themes to touch the hearts of all people.” Brahms’ Requiem begins with the words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” which Loden feels is incredibly relevant to Israeli society today: “The message is right, because the nation is hurting. We live from one struggle to the next, without a break. Israel is a nation that is constantly in struggle or in mourning. The general feeling is of national and ethnic uncertainty. We believe that there is a unique message of comfort, love, and security in these words, and that [the Requiem] is especially relevant to us and the place in which we live.”
Sa’a Tova, Mishpaha, November 8, 2012, Ha’Eda, November 9, 2012
These articles angrily report on the latest “low” that the missionaries in Israel have succumbed to, “surprising even themselves.” According to information distributed by Yad L’Achim, the Messianic Jews have begun “a new and aggressive campaign, spearheaded by the infamously depraved missionary Yaacov Damkani,” suggesting that one of Judaism’s most venerated rabbis, Rabbi Yizhak Kaduri, called on his people to believe in “that man.” “This lie, which is at the center of a missionary campaign lately flooding internet, tells of a so-called note that Rabbi Kaduri purposely left behind to be read after his death where he writes that in the final year of his life the Messiah appeared to him and that he was none other than that man.” Though the religious-Jewish community knows that these claims are false, Yad L’Achim fears for the naïve and erring Jews “who do not know how to distinguish between truth and error,” and who might be led astray by such information. For this reason, Yad L’Achim has launched a counter-campaign, flooding the internet with a power-point presentation that irrevocably refutes Damkani’s claim. “In addition, Yad L’Achim’s legal department is considering the criminal aspects of the incident, including suing for defamation.”
Makor Rishon, November 16, 2012
Professor David Berger explores the question of whether or not it is right to engage in theological dialogue with Christians by examining the writings Rabbi Soloveitchik and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. Both rabbis engage with this question by first asking if it is right to teach Christians Torah. According to Riskin, the Rambam himself said that even though Judaism is not a missionary faith, “Jews are obligated to teach the gentiles – and even force upon them – the seven laws of the sons of Noah.” This is all the more pertinent where Christians are concerned, since they “recognize the validity of the traditional biblical text,” meaning that “we might succeed in opening their eyes and bringing them back to the right path.” Berger disagrees with Riskin, however, saying that the rabbi is on shaky ground. He says: “One of the demands that Jews make when engaging with Christians in theological dialogue is that they will not try to use it to convert the Jews to Christianity.” And yet, says Berger, Riskin clearly states that his purpose in engaging in this dialogue is to convert the Christians to Judaism. Furthermore, it is more optimistic than realistic to believe that Christians will not aim to convert the Jews through interfaith dialogue. On the other end of the spectrum is Rabbi Soloveitchik, who believed that the “full and deep religious experience, which is unique to each individual . . . remains within the individual sphere,” meaning that one can learn about the faith of another only in a very limited context. This is contrary to the goal of interfaith dialogue, which seeks “to build a deep mutual understanding between different ‘faith communities’ as well as find some middle ground on essential issues.” Rabbi Soloveitchik believes that these goals cannot be met on the deepest theological levels, and might foster animosity rather than mutuality if any such attempts are made.
Christians and the Holocaust
Hamahane Haharedi, November 15, 2012
This four-page article follows the work of Father Patrick Debois, a French Catholic priest who has taken it upon himself to uncover as many unknown mass Jewish graves in Ukraine still remaining from the time of the Holocaust. “According to estimates made by experts [in the field], a million and a half Jews were murdered” in unknown areas just outside of hundreds of villages across Europe, their bodies dumped into mass graves which have remained unmarked for more than seventy years. Says Debois: “It is virtually inconceivable that [the villagers] will disclose the secret [of the location of these mass graves] to anyone at all, and specifically not to Jews. But when the one who is challenging them is a priest, they will answer, even if it is uncomfortable and even if they are not inclined to do so. I am well aware of my position as a priest, and I see it as my vocation: to uncover what those who have gone before me have not been able to, and cannot, uncover.” The article makes clear that this is the first time anything of this caliber has been attempted. “Patrick and his team have thus far uncovered 500 mass Jewish graves. They still have at least 1000 more to find (and some even put it at 1500), and no one knows where these graves are.” Father Patrick says he will carry on until he has uncovered as many graves as he can.
Haaretz, November 13, 2012
The paper featured a photograph of Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, placing a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.
Makor Rishon, November 16, 2012
In this three-page article, Professor Yisrael Koren joins the debate on whether or not Rudolf Steiner, who postulated the philosophy of Anthroposophy, was anti-Jewish and even anti-Semitic, and how – if at all – this comes to bear on Anthroposophy as it is practiced in Israel. Through a meticulous examination of a variety of Steiner’s writings, professor Koren comes to the conclusion that “Steiner was an anti-Jewish visionary who held that the Jewish phenomenon must be removed from the realm of history.” Of interest is the way Koren links Steiner’s anti-Jewish ethos to Paul’s writings in the New Testament. He claims that Steiner, among other things, was influenced by his Christian background, which “distinguished one-sided and anachronistic Judaism from Christian thought.” The New Testament positions “Judaism on a lesser scale than Christianity,” because in Paul’s writings, according to Koren, “Judaism is identified with the law and the flesh, whereas Christianity is identified with internal assurance (as opposed to the law) and with the spirit. Judaism is presented as separatist, as prejudiced, and as an enemy of humanity, as opposed to Christianity’s spirit of universality and comradeship.” Thus Steiner’s anti-Semitism, says Koren, is essentially of a theological nature. (It is interesting to note that Yad L’Achim has been working to curb the spread of Anthroposophy in Israel because of Steiner’s Christian and anti-Semitic ethos.)
Hadashuti, November 9, 2012
This article reported on the recent discovery of an ancient wine press from the First Temple period as well as a few bronze coins from the Second Temple period (see first Media Review for November).