During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
Political Issues/Jewish-Christian Relations
Conversion to Judaism
Political Issues/Jewish-Christian Relations
Maariv, May 12, 2013, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2013
The Church of Scotland has agreed to reword the controversial report posted on their website that claims the Jews have no scriptural basis to the land of Israel. The Church will add “a new introduction to set the context of the report and give clarity about some of the language used.” The decision was made following talks with Jewish leaders. According to The Jerusalem Post, “the report sparked furious reactions from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, the Anti-Defamation League and the Israeli Embassy to Britain.” In Israel, the Army Radio accused the Church of Scotland of anti-Semitism. The report will be debated and voted on “by 723 general assembly commissioners . . . from across Scotland” this coming Saturday.
The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2013
The Churches of Jerusalem have condemned police brutality during the Holy Fire Rite which took place in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on May 4th. The incident involved Egyptian clerics and diplomats. According to The Jerusalem Post, “it is unclear why police removed the Egyptians.” Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister issued an apology, while a police spokesman said that they “are looking into the apparent incident and are working in coordination with representatives from the Church.”
Haaretz, May 13, 2013
Yizhak Laor chooses to mark the third anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident (Operation Cast Lead) by quoting bits and pieces of an article written at that time by Yair Lapid. Of interest is Lapid’s brief mention of the fact that former MK Yuli Edelstein’s father was a priest.
Makor Rishon, May 17, 2013
In this two-page article, Moti Karpel examines the roots of the West’s current anti-Semitic attitude towards Israel – what he dubs “postmodern anti-Semitism.” He links this anti-Semitism to two originally Jewish ideas that were adopted by the Christian West, namely the idea of a single God, and the idea of a religious people group turning into a nation-state. This adoption, writes Karpel, which took the Jewish concepts out of their original context, distorted them. As a result, the West turned on the Jews with the desire to obliterate them, because they got in the way of the West’s perception of itself as the ‘new Israel.’ The distortions, which “suppress life instead of making it flourish,” eventually caused “generations of Christianity . . . to develop a culture of permanency, oppression of the human spirit and a hate for life.”
In postmodern Europe, this attitude has shifted from a religious manifestation to a nationalist one, although the roots are the same: “Christian religiosity, which became a caricature of faith, turned European nationalism from a blessing into a terrible curse.” This is because, “just as Christianity’s imitation of Judaism – which saw itself as the ‘new Israel’ – engendered a hate for the original,” so also the European imitation of Jewish nationalism gave birth to a jealousy and hate of the original (Jewish) source of nationalism. The point, according to Karpel, is that in today’s Western worldview, the combination of these factors results in a de-legitimization of the State of Israel. He writes that “just as the reality of Israel during the reign of Christianity was a theological problem for the Church, so also the national resurrection and the growing power of Israel in our day . . . is an ideological and psychological problem for the West.”
Conversion to Judaism
Yediot Modiin, Yediot Netanya, May 10, 2013
Two papers ran the same story of Andrea and Marcel Razenda’s conversion to Judaism from Christianity. The couple, originally from Brazil, were both born and raised in non-Jewish homes and attended church regularly. Marcel’s parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses, while Andrea’s were Catholic. Neither one of them felt connected to Christianity, however, and both stopped attending church when they were married. Until that time, recounts Marcel, both he and Andrea had never met any Jews. It was only after they moved to a different city that they began to encounter the Jewish community. The rest of the five-page article details the couple’s gradual embrace of and conversion to Judaism, as well as their decision to make aliya and establish themselves permanently in Israel.
Bakehila, May 9, 2013
This five-page article tells the story of rabbi Aharon Menachem Mendel Kaldron who began his life as Josto Jose Kaldron. Kaldron was born in Argentina to a nominal Christian family. In high school, he decided to dedicate himself to Christianity, and joined the local clergy on their various mission trips to the indigenous Indian communities. “Contrary to what people in Israel think,” says Kaldron, “the missionaries were wanting to save souls, but not necessarily Jewish souls.” He explains that the missionaries were messengers of God: “we went [to the Indians] to help them, to try to teach them a language, to educate them.” Kaldron admits that he enjoyed this missionary activity. “There was something exciting in this work. We would come to people who had never heard about God, explain to them about Christianity, and try to draw them near.” But something was missing, says Kaldron. “I felt like a social worker. The religious aspect was absent.”
As a result, Kaldron decided to join a Trappist monastery and dedicate his life to being a monk. Though Kaldron enjoyed his time at the monastery and felt that he was drawing ever closer to God, he still struggled with certain theological difficulties, the most significant of them being the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This, says Kaldron, clearly contradicts the biblical mandate that “you shall have no other gods before me.” But in Christianity, there are three gods. “This was a very difficult contradiction for me, and I was never able to come to terms with it.” But the biggest turning point for Kaldron was when he came across a Passover Hagadah and realized that the Jewish people were still a living religious community. “Up until that day,” Kaldron recalls, “we had been taught – and I believed – that the Jews were an ancient people with a magnificent past, who would never be again. They gave up their existence, and most certainly have no future. We were taught that we are the present and the future. I just never believed that the Jews still live, that they exist, that they still dream to return to Jerusalem . . . We were convinced that there were no Jews who still maintained the traditions.”
This discovery sparked a severe psychological crisis, and Kaldron asked for permission to leave the monastery to travel. When permission was granted, the first thing he did was go in search of Jews. Kaldron attached himself to the Jewish community in Buenos Aries where he gradually came to a new understanding of his faith and theirs – realizing that he must become a Jew. From there it became evident to him that he needs to move to Israel “in order to get to know the Jewish faith up close and personal.” Says Kaldron: “The Jews are the past-present-future. God, blessed be he, made a covenant with his people for all eternity. I decided I need to be part of this covenant – the relationship between men and the creator of the universe.” Kaldron moved to Israel twelve years ago where he officially converted to Judaism.
Haaretz, May 12, 2013
Zvi Bar’el writes an extensive report on the plight of the Christian community in Syria. He explains that the lives of Syrian Christians in rebel strongholds “remain doubly in danger.” If they choose to join the rebel forces in some capacity or another, they will become “an enemy in the eyes of the establishment,” which would mean almost certain death if the regime regains control of those areas. But “the deeper anxiety . . . is about the Islamist organizations among the rebels that view the Christians as worthy of death, or at least wish to cleanse Syria of their presence.” Further complicating matters is “the injunction of the Greek Catholic Church or Greek Orthodox Church not to join the ranks of the rebels and preserve neutrality.” Though 300,000 Christians have already fled Syria (mostly to Lebanon and Egypt), those who remain (ca. two million) face a difficult dilemma: adhere to the Church’s prohibition, “or succumb to the pressure of Sunni locals and the Free Syrian Army to take an active part in the rebellion.”
In response to this growing tension, Syrian Christians, headed by Christian intellectual Michel Kilo, formed an organization by the name of Syrian Christians for Justice and Freedom with the intention “to close the gap between the Christians who continue to support the Syrian regime on the one hand and the Syrian revolution on the other.” But this initiative, writes Bar’el, “places the Christians in another bind,” since it automatically labels “hesitating” Christians with “betrayal or stupidity” causing a growing split “in the tight ranks of the Christians.” And, to make matters worse, “the Western powers – those that in the distant past used the excuse of protecting the Christian communities to intervene in the policy of Ottoman sultans – are keeping mum in the face of the massacre. Christian blood is still only Syrian blood.”
The Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2013
Haim Katz and Sam Katz, both real estate lawyers, explain the complexities of land ownership in Israel with a focus on land that is owned by a church. They write that “more than 90 percent of the property in Israel is managed by the Israel Lands Authority,” but that “significant areas in the country are actually owned by various churches” so that “homes in these areas are leased from the churches themselves, not from the ILA.” The questions they are addressing are, “what happens . . . when the lease term comes to an end? Is the church obligated to renew the lease?” And can the church take away these homes? The answer, it turns out, is that the church, as a private body not bound by public policy, can refuse to renew a lease, meaning that they can indeed turn people out of their homes. The rest of the article explains the situation in detail and also gives legal advice regarding ways to fight against the termination of a lease for homes situated on church property.
Haaretz, May 12, 2013
Ruth Eshel reviews the ballet Passione in Due which is currently showing at the Suzan Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. The musical dance focuses on the Passion of Christ. Writes Eshel: “Passione in Due is an intriguing and experimental production, richly layered and full of symbols. But the production will not succeed unless the audience has some foreknowledge of the story of the Passion.”
HaIr Tzomet HaSharon, May 10, 2013
Two recommended day trips for the upcoming holidays: one to the Templar community site in Jerusalem’s Emek Refaim neighborhood and one to the Qasr al-Yahud baptismal site on the Jordan river.
Hadashuti Modiin, May 10, 2013
This article reports 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).
Hadashuti Modiin, May 10, 2013
This article reports on the archeological find at Tel Shiloh of one of the oldest churches in Israel. The church dates back to the 4th century CE and includes three rooms and several well-preserved mosaics (see fourth Media Review for April).