During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christian Holidays (Easter)
Haaretz, March 25, 2013
Haaretz noted how Christians in Jerusalem and Bethlehem celebrated the beginning of Holy Week with the traditional Palm Sunday processionals at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity. The paper adds that most of those gathered in Bethlehem were Palestinians, explaining that “there are some 50,000 Palestinian Christians, a tiny minority among a mostly Muslim society. They must obtain military permission to enter Jerusalem, and a Palestinian official said most applicants had their requests rejected.” A military spokesman said that “they had issued 20,000 permits so far.”
The Jerusalem Post, March 29, 2013
Thousands of Christian pilgrims attended the Holy Thursday mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. “In attendance at the mass were many local Palestinian Christians as well as pilgrims from around the world.”
Maariv, March 28, 2013
Over 150 people – Jews and Catholics alike – gathered together in Krakow on Monday to celebrate the Passover Seder meal. One Catholic woman, married to an Israeli Jew, told reporter Nissan Zur: “What attracted my attention the most is the fact that there are many similarities between Passover and Easter. … The story of the Exodus – the journey from slavery to freedom – also appears in the Christian Old Testament, and for us, the story of Easter is also about the journey from slavery to freedom, since according to our faith Jesus died to atone for our sins.”
Bamachane, March 21, 2013
This six-page article explores the growing tourism industry in the Palestinian Territories, including the restoration and renovation of a variety of pilgrimage sites. Abuna Christo, a monk at the monastery of Dir Hajale on the way to Jericho, tells the paper how he arrived there in 1976 and worked hard to make the desolate and forgotten site accessible to the public. “According to the Christian tradition, this place was one of several where Mary, Joseph, and their son Jesus stopped to rest on their way to Egypt. Today, the Greek-Orthodox monk’s avid renovations bring much more than three visitors: every day, he says, about twelve bus-loads of tourists arrive at the monastery.”
The same boost in the tourism industry can be felt all across the West Bank, with Bethlehem claiming the title of the most-visited place. A recent report indicated that more than 1.8 million tourists visited the West Bank in 2012 – an increase of 9.5% over the previous year. The majority of these are Christian pilgrims.
Zman Tel Aviv, March 29, 2013
Yaron Avitov takes a look at the medically recognized phenomenon called “Jerusalem Syndrome,” in which tourists (mostly Christian) are overwhelmed by the intensity of their religious experience in the city and lose their sanity for a short time. Avitov writes that “the city’s charm is indeed alluring, often hypnotizing people and driving them crazy. The messianic fervor of the tourists, the city’s religious tension, and the gap that these people experience between reality and their biblical vision (with which they deeply identify) cause them to have an emotional breakdown exactly on the day that their dream of visiting the holy city is realized. The combination of the past and the present, religiosity and spirituality, mystery and history, ancient architecture and a labyrinth of narrow and winding alleyways blend together in a feverish concoction that causes strange behavior, even to the point of pathology. Jerusalem Syndrome is a religious psychosis.” This psychosis is, more often than not, expressed in a conviction that one is the Messiah, or the Virgin Mary, or any one of the biblical characters associated with the city.
Sgula, March 19, 2013
This short biographical piece focuses on the life of Benjamin Disraeli, beginning with the statement that “although he was baptized as a Christian, Disraeli was extremely proud of his Jewish heritage; he saw in the Jews a chosen race and worked to promote the rights of Jews across the British Empire.” An example of this was Disraeli’s efforts to change the law which required Members of Parliament to swear allegiance to the Christian faith in order to take their seat. The article notes, however, that “next to his pride in being Jewish, the worldview he inherited from his father led him to believe that Judaism and Christianity are very similar faiths and that Christianity completes Judaism. This is, perhaps, the reason he remained a devout Christian and did not return to Judaism.” The point is well illustrated in a conversation Disraeli reportedly had with Queen Victoria, who asked him what his true religion was. Disraeli replied: “In printed editions of the Holy Scriptures there is a blank page dividing the Old Testament and New Testament. I am that blank page.”
HaShavua BeNetanya, March 14, 2013
This two-page article details how the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Eckstein, has generously provided for many charitable projects in Netanya. Of interest is a short sentence that explains that most of IFCJ’s funds are donated by Israel-loving Christians from abroad.
Mishpaha, March 21, 2013
In this nine-page article, Aharon Granot describes his trip to Spain to meet with a group of Marrano Jews, whose families were forced convert to Christianity during the time of the Inquisition and who are in the process of rediscovering their Jewish heritage. Of interest is a short sentence at the beginning of the article, where Granot explains how this group’s visit to one of the main castles where Jews were tortured and killed “gave a historical sense of spitting in the face of the church.” Otherwise, the article does not refer directly to Christianity but focuses, rather, on how these Spanish Jews rediscovered their roots and are embracing Judaism once again.