During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust (International Holocaust Memorial Day)
Christians and the Holocaust
Yisrael HaYom, February 8, 2013
The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) has once again received high praise for the work it is doing among Holocaust survivors in Haifa (see fourth Media Review for January). In this two-page article, Shimon Sabag, the director of a small Israeli non-profit organization, relates how ICEJ became involved with his project to build a home (assisted living) for elderly Holocaust survivors. He began by writing a letter to the Embassy asking for financial aid. The Embassy was quick to respond, and Executive Director Jurgen Buhler set up a meeting with Sabag. “Four days later,” the article recounts, “Buhler came back [to Sabag] with a check of 100,000 ILS – the amount that Sabag needed to complete construction of the ground floor of the humble home he was running.” Not long after, Buhler asked Sabag, “What is your dream?” and Sabag answered, “to buy the whole building.” Within a week, ICEJ raised enough funds to make the purchase. Then Buhler asked Sabag once again, “What is your dream?” And Sabag answered (ruefully), “To buy the whole street.” But Buhler took Sabag’s dream seriously and bought all of Kesel Street (which will shortly be renamed The Christian Embassy Street).
Yehudit Satz, who oversees ICEJ’s relief work, tells the paper that most of the monies contributed to the project came from German Christians. “They really wanted to help Holocaust survivors . . . The Germans are very aware of the Holocaust and maybe it is their guilt feelings that prompted them to support this project.” The Haifa House currently houses 72 survivors, but that number is set to grow to 120. “It is the first of its kind [in Israel] providing care for Holocaust survivors from all over the country. Every resident has his or her own spacious apartment and receives good meals as well as other benefits, including psychiatric care, which is provided by an expert on Holocaust survivors.” There is a waiting list of over 1200 survivors hoping to get into the House.
The second half of the article interviews some of ICEJ’s volunteers (“I came to Israel because I want to be close to the heart of God,” says one volunteer), while also recounting the survival stories of a few of the home’s elderly residents.
Hadashot Haifa veHaZafon, January 29, 2013
Representatives of the Christian Embassy attended a service marking the International Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th of January. The service, which was organized by local non-profit Yad Ezer LaChaver, was attended by many high profile personages, including Israel’s Chief Rabbi and several Knesset Members. The article notes that ICEJ donates millions of shekels to Holocaust survivors annually, and also mentions how the father of the Embassy’s current Executive Director, Jurgen Buhler, is known to have saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
LaIsha, February 4, 2013
In this moving article, Holocaust survivor Juri Zinger recounts how he survived the Holocaust and asks for information on two of his friends whom he hasn’t seen since 1944. When the Nazis arrived in Budapest in 1944, Juri was hidden away in a monastery where he was given a Christian name and told to forget that he is Jewish. “It was terrible for me to have to cross myself and pray,” writes Zinger. “But we had to keep our Jewishness a secret.” While at the monastery, Zinger befriended two other Jewish boys, Latzi and Katanchick, and it is these two he is trying to reconnect with or find out what became of them in the final year of the war.
Yisrael HaYom, February 8, 2013
Yochi Barneda discusses the biblical roots of abortion in her editorial piece, explaining how Judaism has adopted its stance on abortion from Christianity, which took its cue from the Hellenistic worldview. “Ancient Jewish tradition believed that up until the seventh week of pregnancy the fetus is only water, and after that he becomes part of the mother’s body. The fetus only becomes a person after he or she is born.” Quoting from the book of Judges, Barneda explains how the original words of the Hebrew text make it clear that the death of a fetus is not a terrible thing (as opposed to the death of a person). The Septuagint translation of the Bible changed the wording of said verse to suit the Greek worldview (which believed that a fetus was a person). After that, the Jewish tradition on abortion developed alongside the Christian one: “the nation of Israel had to adopt severe laws against abortion just so that the Christians wouldn’t be the more righteous ones,” writes Barneda. When the Catholic Church decided, in the 19th century, that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception, many rabbis followed suit. Today, most rabbis hold that abortion is murder, though there are a few exceptions to this general rule.
Calcalist [X2], February 7, 2013
This two-page article outlines plans to build an expansive resort on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, just outside the small village of Migdal, in an effort to capitalize on the thousands of Christian pilgrims who visit the area on an annual basis.
A short inset article presents some interesting facts released by the Ministry of Tourism. According to the Ministry, a third of all Christian tourists to Israel visit the Sea of Galilee. In 2012, more than one million pilgrims toured Israel, spending on average $1300/per person over a nine-day period, generating a revenue of 845 million dollars a year in the tourist industry. The Gospel Trail passes through Migdal, making it a prime spot for capitalizing on the Christian tourism industry. Construction of the resort will begin in March.
Makor Rishon, February 4, 2013
This article reported on the large number of pastors associated with Christians United For Israel (CUFI) who met with members of the US Senate to lobby against the appointment of Chuck Hagel as the secretary of defence in President Obama’s new government (see first Media Review for February).