During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:
Pope and the Vatican
Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2013
In this piece, Baruch Tenenbaum, who is the founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, honors the legacy of Pope John XXIII on the 50th anniversary of his passing (which will be marked on June 3rd). Tenenbaum systematically lists the many ways in which the former pope (also known as Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) “was one of the greatest friends of the Jewish people,” beginning in the 1940s, when Roncalli “spared no efforts to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi extermination.” Later on, in 1947, Roncalli used his influence at the Vatican to arrange a meeting between Dr. Moshe Sneh and the then-secretary of the state of the Vatican in a bid to sway the Latin American vote in the “upcoming UN General Assembly that was about to address the partition plan.” The crucial meeting proved to be successful, as “most Latin American countries voted in favor of the motion.” After he became pope, Roncalli “established a respectful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Jews, as set out in the ‘Decree on Jews,’ which was drafted for the Second Vatican Council in 1962. The draft openly mentions the ‘wrongs done to the Jews in the past or in our time. Whoever despises or persecutes this people does injury to the Catholic Church.” Furthermore, it was Pope John XXIII who ordered the removal of the “derogative sentence” from the Good Friday Prayer that “portrayed Jews as ‘perfidious.’”
Tenenbaum then reflects on the election of the latest pope, Argentinean Jorge Mario Bergoglio, saying that he has “a comforting sense of déjà vu. A strong feeling that Pope Francis will follow the path set by Blessed Pope John XXIII.” Tenenbaum explains that he knows the new Pope personally, and that “he is a humble man with a great heart.” The article ends with Tenenbaum’s assertion that “personally, as a Jew, I feel the necessity of being grateful, of recognizing goodness (hakarat hatov), which is one of the pillars of Judaism. Therefore, we should cherish the blessed memory of . . . all those who stood up against evil and made a difference.”
Kol HaShchuna, April 22, 2013
“I heard,” writes Rabbi Moshe Haim Har-Noi, “that there are Law-abiding Jews who do not celebrate Independence Day and Jerusalem Day.” Har-Noi goes on to explain the all-too important theological connection between being a Law-abiding Jew and celebrating the State of Israel, namely that it is a slap in the face of Christian theology that claims that God “removed from the people of Israel their right to the land of Israel and that all the promises concerning Zion and Jerusalem now allegorically relate to Christianity and the Christian church.” These claims, however, were proved false by the establishment of the State of Israel. “For centuries,” writes Har-Noi, “leaders of the Christian church developed a theology that claims they are the chosen people because God had had enough of Israel on account of their sins. They based their theory on verses from the ‘Old Testament’ and on a ‘reality that proved’ that Israel [i.e. the Jewish people] is disappearing from the earth . . . The Holocaust came, and a third of our people were annihilated . . . For the Christians, that was proof enough that the previous chosen nation would never rise again. And then the State of Israel was established!” This is why, says Har-Noi, the State of Israel is also of theological import, denoting “a deeply spiritual victory.” Har-Noi concludes by saying: “I do not believe that there is a single Jew who does not say praise on Independence Day and does not celebrate this holy day,” adding that “those who were so pleased with our misfortune over the years will now have to invent new explanations for their believing audience.”
Maariv, April 22, 2013
This article describes how the ski resort on Mount Hermon has turned into a Christian pilgrimage site thanks to Evangelical Bishop Macedo who is the head of the Universal Church in Brazil. The manager of the ski resort, Shaul Ohana, explains to Maariv the reason behind this new development: “The New Testament tells a very important story in the life of Jesus. It is known as the Transfiguration [whereby] Jesus was changed at the top of a high mountain . . . and his clothes turned white. The story describes how Jesus went up a very high mountain, but it doesn’t say which. From Crusader times onward, Mount Tabor was thought to be that mountain . . . but in recent years most Evangelical Christians claim it is somewhere else. Mount Hermon is a very high and impressive mountain . . . And there are those who claim that Jesus’ clothes turned white because of the snow.”
Macedo recently obtained permission to hold a televised prayer session on the top of Mount Hermon, which will be broadcast in 182 countries to 15 million viewers. Says Ohana: “We hope that the broadcast will bring pilgrims to our resort. Even if the Bishop’s broadcast brings only a fraction of his viewers, we’ll be set.”
The Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2013
The First International Jerusalem Symposium on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage took place in Jerusalem this week. In this article, Sharon Udasin focuses her report on the village of Azariya, “where Jesus was said to have brought Lazarus back to life,” and the plans to green “its prime pilgrimage route,” which lies between Jericho and Jerusalem and boasts “the tomb of Saint Lazarus.” Udasin explains that “because part of the village’s sewage flows down exposed street gutters and the rest is buried in backyard pits,” there is a need to establish “sewage treatment mechanisms in the village for its vitality both as a home to residents and as an attractive spiritual pilgrimage site.” Jerusalem Deputy Mayor, Naomi Tsur, explain that cities are “dynamic nodes of activity” that “generate huge amounts of waste.” This is why “in both pilgrimage cities and normal, thriving municipalities alike, building going forward needs to be ecologically restorative, based on more sustainable and resilient designs that promote nature conservation.”
Haaretz, April 24, 2013
In this article, Izzi Liebler criticizes New York’s Yeshiva University for bestowing an International Advocate for Peace Award on Jimmy Carter, who is a “dedicated enemy of the Jewish people.” Of interest is Liebler’s brief mention of Christianity in connection with Carter’s anti-Semitism. Says Liebler: “Former president Carter holds on to anti-Semitic views that preserve the loathing associated with deicide. In the past he has declared that the Jews hate Christians because they are ‘dirty and uncircumcised,’ and that they see them as ‘dogs.’”
Yisrael HaYom, April 21, 2013
One of the oldest churches in Israel, dating back to the 4th century CE, has been uncovered in Tel Shiloh. The church includes three rooms and several well-preserved mosaics.
Shofar, April 19, 2013, Yom LeYom, April 25, 2013
Two articles reported on the rare mikveh (a bath for ritual immersion) from the Second Temple period which was discovered at an archeological dig in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Menachem (see second Media Review for April).
Maariv, April 26, 2013
Maariv printed the entire first chapter of Paulo Coelho’s new book, Manuscript Found in Accra, which will soon be released in Hebrew. The story is set in Jerusalem in July 1099, on the eve of the Crusader invasion (and destruction) of the city, and is told from the perspective of a young Christian boy whose best friend is his Jewish neighbor, Jacob.
Yahadut BaSharon, April 17, 2013, BeSheva, April 18, 2013, HaMahane HaHaredi, April 19, 2013
Three articles reported on the missionary material which was distributed directly into the mailboxes of residents of Bnei Brak (see third Media Review for April).