During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Yediot Haifa, August 23, 2013
A group of young Messianic Jews took advantage of a public youth event in Haifa in order to preach their faith to the young people there. The group arrived together from Jerusalem in a bus and handed out books for free to anyone who was interested. The book, called Betrayed, tells the story of a father who feels betrayed when his daughter becomes a Messianic Jew, but also becomes a Messianic Jew after digging more deeply into his daughter’s faith.
A young Messianic Jew named Tony told the paper that “we give the book to anyone who is willing to receive it and of course we don’t force anyone. … I live a happy life with my family; my wife and children have also found great peace because of their Messianic faith, and I would like to offer this gift to as many young people as I can.” Tony added that those who would like more information can always call the number in the book.
The paper adds that even though there were security guards present, no one said anything about the missionary activity that was being carried out in broad daylight.
Makor Rishon, August 28, 2013
Mina Fenton writes a scathing critique of the Reform women who are fighting for equal prayer rights at the Western Wall. At the end of her article, she writes that giving in to the Reform Jews will set a dangerous precedent and allow other supposedly Jewish sects the right to pray at Judaism’s most sacred site. “It is a precedent that will be immediately taken advantage of by other groups,” she writes. “It is known that the Messianic Jewish group for Jesus is demanding to be recognized as the fourth stream in Judaism, after the Orthodox, Conservatives, and Reform Jews. They have their own demand to pray at the Wall to that man.” Fenton then adds that the Christians already set this precedent for themselves two years ago, when they received permission to hold a prayer vigil at the Wall. Fenton then sarcastically asks, “Why shouldn’t the Christians also be given their own prayer area, since the Wall is so important to them as well?”
The Jerusalem Post, August 23, 2013
The Jerusalem Post reprinted Charlotte Allen’s review of Reza Aslan’s latest book, Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which first appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Aslan is an Iranian-born Muslim who converted to Christianity and then returned to Islam, and who now teaches at the University of California. Aslan’s book, “which portrays Jesus as a Jewish-nationalist revolutionary with no divine self-conception, departs from the doctrine of both Islam and Christianity.” This, says Allen, reflects the beliefs of the Church of the Historical Jesus, whose aim it is “to peel away the Gospel stories” and “uncover the ‘real’ Jesus, a demythologized, strictly human figure who didn’t found Christianity and who stayed dead when he died.” As with other religions, this church also has its doctrines, including “assigning a late date to the composition of the Gospels,” which helps dispel the claim that the Gospels offer eye-witness accounts.
Since this notion has been around for several centuries (since the Enlightenment, in fact), Allen writes of Aslan’s book that the most remarkable thing about it is “how unoriginal it is.” Aslan presents Jesus as “a fanatic Jewish ideologue and would-be messiah whose ‘Kingdom of God’ was a ‘call to revolution’ against the occupying Romans, and who envisioned ‘blood-soaked streets’ once the revolution got under way.” Allen criticizes Aslan’s methodology, writing that he simply “scours New Testament scholarship for the most minimalist reading of Jesus he can find, and then presents his findings as historical fact.”
Allen concludes her article by saying that what it all comes down to is faith. “The Christian New Testament is a document of faith, and for better or worse, it is nearly the only lens we have for viewing the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth. It is understandable that people who don’t share that faith but are intrigued by Jesus might hope to detach him from the only context in which he exists. But that effort too involves an act of faith – faith that there was such a thing as the historical Jesus.”
Haaretz, August 30, 2013
The journal writings of Rasputin’s journey to the Holy Land will soon be published, giving a glimpse into what Christian pilgrimages to the Land were like nearly a hundred years ago. Rasputin was sent on pilgrimage by Tsar Nikolai II as penance for his sexual transgressions. Rasputin documented his journey, describing how he was greatly moved by such sacred sites as Golgotha and the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. He also wrote of the less sacred aspects of the city, detailing the many temptations lying in wait for young travelers. The journal is being prepared for publication by an American Jew of Russian descent.
Haikin, August 22, 2013
A museum commemorating Philistine culture has opened its doors after extensive renovations. The museum, which is situated in Ashdod, focuses on the relationship between that historical city and the Philistines, who lived and worshipped mostly in that area.
HaModia, August 23, 2013
This article reports on the rare discovery of a 2,700-year-old Hebrew inscription on a pottery shard at excavations in the City of David (see August 29, 2013, Media Review).
Ha’Ir Tzoment HaSharon, August 23, 2013
This snippet is an advertisement for a weekend day-trip to the Ella valley for a tour of the numerous monasteries in that area.
Christians in Israel
HaZman HaYarok, August 29, 2013
This article reports on the latest “price tag” attack, which targeted the Beit Jamal monastery just outside Jerusalem (see August 29, 2013, Media Review).