During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Conversion to Judaism
Messianic Jews (Organizations)
Pope and the Vatican
Conversion to Judaism
Daroma, July 16, 2013
This three-page article details the conversion story of Ariel, a Protestant Christian born and raised in Holland and who chose to become Jewish and move to Israel after a long soul-searching journey. Ariel was born in Rotterdam in 1966. Though he was raised in a religious Christian family, he chose to believe in God only when he was older, partly on account of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. “For me,” he says, “that was undeniable proof that the Creator of Universe exists.” He decided to go to seminary and become a pastor, but it was there that he also began to ask some difficult questions about the Christian faith. When his pastor was reluctant to answer his questions, Ariel set off to find his own answers. He was joined by a number of like-minded Christians, and bit by bit they formed their own community. The more they studied Scripture, the more they realized that they should be adopting Jewish practices. They began by celebrating the Jewish holidays and denouncing the Christian ones that were later additions to the faith (like Christmas and Easter). They then moved their day of worship from Sunday to Saturday. And finally, after a lot of soul searching, Ariel decided to circumcise his newborn son, and himself.
In between all these changes, Ariel travelled to Israel several times, where he was increasingly drawn to the settlements and their inhabitants. He says, “every time I went into a settlement I felt the presence of the Creator more than in my church [back home in Holland].” It was during one of these visits that Ariel asked a local rabbi what he thought about Christianity, and the latter told him that there is no difference between worshipping a graven image and worshipping a human being. Christianity is, therefore, a form of idol worship. “His answer,” says Ariel, “stunned me. And the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that he was right.” After several sleepless nights, Ariel decided that he needs to convert to Judaism. He returned to Holland and informed his wife, who had a hard time accepting his new position. In spite of his loss of faith, Ariel continued to pastor his church for several months, until members of the congregation began to suspect that something was different. When Ariel confessed to them that he no longer believed in Jesus, they were shocked. But they agreed to let him guide them in a study of the Bible that proved Christianity is false. “After three months of study,” Ariel says, “there was not a single believing Christian left in the group.”
Ariel and his wife completed their conversion process in Holland, then moved with their family to Israel, to the settlement of Susya. Says Ariel: “I feel as though my soul has come home.”
HaPeles, July 25, 2013
This article expresses shock and outrage at the distribution of missionary material in distinctly religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem this past week. The material was distributed by a Christian missionary group, but was quickly gathered up and burned by “faithful Jews.” The greatest danger, however, does not lie within the religious neighborhoods where the material was distributed, but with those “weaker, non-law abiding Jews,” who might be “tempted (God forbid) in their ignorance to read this abomination.” The article reminds its readers that it is forbidden for Jews to read such material.
Messianic Jews (Organizations)
Passport, July 22, 2013
Guy Fishkin recommends things to do and places to stay in and around Jerusalem, which has just been declared Israel’s number one tourist city. Of interest is Fishkin’s visit to Yad HaShmona, a small village “that combines a unique Zionist-philanthropic story.” He gives a brief history of the place, explaining how the village was established in 1974 by “Israel-loving Finns who wished to commemorate the eight Jewish refugees who fled to Finland from the Nazis but were eventually handed over to the Gestapo in 1942.” Surprisingly, the Israeli government agreed to give a plot of land to these Finnish Christians, and that was how the village came into being. At first, there were only 20 Finnish Christians living on the moshav, but eventually they were joined by many more Israel-loving Christians from across the globe as well as Messianic Jewish families. “Today the village is comprised of mostly Messianic Jews, some of whom are even married to Finnish women.” Fishkin praises the pastoral beauty surrounding the Yad HaShmona hotel. He concludes by saying that “the hotel’s good qualities far outweigh its deficiencies, also providing a perfect opportunity to get to know the Messianic Jewish community while enjoying good food, a fabulous view, and cheap prices.”
The Jerusalem Post, August 1, 2013
A Kenyan lawyer has decided to take Israel to court over the death of Jesus. Dola Indidis has filed a petition with the International Court of Justice at the Hague after his first petition at the High Court in Nairobi was rejected. According to The Jerusalem Post, Indidis is also attempting “to sue Tiberius . . . Pontius Pilate, a selection of Jewish elders, King Herod, the Republic of Italy and the State of Israel.”
Indidis explains: “I filed the case because it’s my duty to uphold the dignity of Jesus and I have gone to the ICJ to seek justice for the man from Nazareth . . . His selective and malicious prosecution violated his human rights through judicial misconduct, abuse of office bias and prejudice.” Indidis adds that he believes that he has “a good case with a high probability of success.” The International Court of Justice, however, has said that it has “no jurisdiction for such a case” and that it is “not even theoretically possible for us to consider this case.”
Haaretz, August 2, 2013
This three-page article follows the musical output of a 90 year old Ethiopian nun who has been living in the Ethiopian monastery in Jerusalem for the past 30 years. Emahoy Tesgue-Maryam Guebrou has been composing music since the 1940s, but though she is a “musical genius,” she remains mostly unknown today. That is changing, however, as several Israeli music experts have begun to discover her work. What is remarkable, according to the article, is that Emahoy had been composing pieces for many years without the use of an instrument because the priests would not allow her to play the piano since it was not considered a religious enough instrument. “They didn’t understand,” says one Israeli composer, “that her music was also a prayer.” After years of obscurity, Amahoy has just released her own album as well as a book detailing her life story.
Pope and the Vatican
Index HaGalil, July 19, 2013
A short snippet describing Cardinal Canizares’ visit to Israel as a special guest of the Israel National Fund. The Cardinal visited many of the Christian sites around the country, but also spent some time at Yad VaShem in Jerusalem.
Shalom Toronto, July 18, 2013
The Anglican Church has finalized its statement calling on Israel to halt the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and to cease from the use of violent means against the Palestinian people. The Church also emphasized the need to “learn about the effect of the illegal settlements on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, know which products labeled ‘made in Israel’ are actually made in the illegal settlements, and deal with Christian Zionism that supports the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.”
Haaretz, July 29, 2013
In this editorial piece, Lee On-Hadar reflects on the political role of Israeli ambassadors to the United States. Of interest is a brief paragraph where she mentions that Christian Zionists are among the US Republican party’s greatest supporters – evangelicals “who are so crazy about Israel because it is a fulfillment of the New Testament vision.”