During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the following subjects:
Messianic Jews /Anti-Missionary Activity
Messianic Jews / Anti-Missionary Activity
HaShavua BeAshdod, November 16, 2012
This article focused on the non-profit organization “Tikvat Ya’acov” which operates in Ashdod, distributing food and clothing to needy families. It is claimed that the organization is run by Messianic Jews as a means to missionize poor and needy Jews. The article gives a brief description of Messianic Judaism, explaining that it is based on “Evangelical-Christian components, the center of which is a belief in Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God.” Though Messianics define themselves as Jews, “the sect is not recognized as such within Judaism.” The article says that the phenomenon of Messianic Jews in Israel is growing, estimating that there are dozens of Messianic families living in Ashdod. The missionary activity in which these families are engaged is vehemently opposed by religious Orthodox factions. Says one of their representatives: “We know for certain that the whole purpose of this organization is to convince more and more poor Jews, who are not very lucky in life, to change their religion. We will stop this activity, no matter what the cost, and protect each Jew as though he or she were a world unto itself.”
The anti-missionary activity took a violent turn this week, when Tikvat Ya’acov’s windows were smashed and huge posters went up all over the neighborhood, warning everyone of the missionary activity. The posters featured pictures of Messianic leaders together with their home addresses. Tikvat Ya’acov lodged a complaint with the police. Speaking on behalf of the organization, Eitan Manfert, a Messianic Jew, denied that they are taking advantage of their position to proselytize. “We distribute food and clothing, and do not attempt to change anyone’s religion. We are in contact with Evangelical Christians who love Israel and who donate clothing and financial aid.” Manfert confirmed that as Messianics, they believe in Jesus, “but we don’t impose our faith on those who come to receive help. We have checked with the police, and have permission under the right of religious freedom in Israel, and we are not harming anyone.”
Index HaEmek veHaGalil, October 26, 2012
This snippet reports that a largely Ethiopian neighborhood in Nazareth Elite is now the target of missionary activity. “The ideology that spurs these missionaries on is the Ethiopian community’s weakness and financial difficulty, which is an easy target for the missionaries to prey upon.” The Ethiopian community has been warned of this devious activity, many of them choosing to throw away the New Testaments they received from the missionaries.
Yediot Yerushalayim, November 23, 2012
This article reported on the furor that has been unleashed by a supposed note left behind by one of Judaism’s most venerated rabbis, Rabbi Yizhak Kaduri, in which he called on his people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah (see third Media Review for November).
Eastern Mediterranean Tourism, November 13, 2012
The Yardenit Baptism Site, situated opposite the Sea of Galilee, is to undergo extensive development in the coming year. In order to improve the site, a fourth baptism station will be opened up, and “10 new ceramic wall hangings with the text from the Book of Mark 1, 9-11, which speaks of John baptizing Jesus, [will be] added to the 70 plaques” that constitute the “Wall of New Life.” A representative from the site says that “the guiding principle underlining Yardenit . . . is the fact that it is totally non-denominational, and pilgrims are welcome to perform their baptism rituals in accordance with their particular beliefs and traditions.”