During the week covered by this review, we received 12 articles on the following subjects:
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism
Mishpacha, September 3, 2013
This article focuses on a number of Jewish men from Russia who are currently studying the Gemara. Of interest is the story of Yizhak Yegorov, who was a Christian monk before he converted to Judaism and found his passion in the Gemara. Yegorov was born in the Soviet Union in 1964 to Christian parents. Although his mother died in childbirth and his father put him in an orphanage, Yegorov maintained his Christian faith. His childhood experience, however, made him feel that he wasn’t important to anyone, and he spent much of his life looking for a place he could feel connected to and supported by. He initially found this within the church framework, when he joined the church choir. Not long after, when Yegorov began to attend university, he found his niche within the university framework, and became very involved with the student movement, which was communist at the time.
The vast majority of this four-page article focuses on the political upheavals that eventually brought an end to the Soviet Union and the way these turbulent times affected Yegorov. When Communism finally fell, Yegorov was devastated. “I went in search of myself,” he says. “All of my political activity ceased and I tried to find other occupations. I heard that a new Christian monastery had been opened … and the idea of becoming a monk charmed me. I left my home, took my rucksack, and headed to the monastery.”
In the years that followed, Yegorov found that he was increasingly drawn to the study of the Old Testament over the New Testament. But no matter how much he defended Christianity, he began to question the New Testament, concluding that it was written by man, while the Old Testament was written by God. “Of course this is very clear to me today,” says Yegorov, “as it must be to every Jew. But for me it was a real shock. I realized that the whole basis of Christianity was written by man and I began to ask myself where God is. I knew that he exists, I could feel him, but I didn’t know how I needed to act and how I could come into relationship with the creator of the universe.”
Yegorov traveled to Moscow for an answer, and there he met a rabbi who set him on the path that eventually led him to convert to Judaism. The rest of the article details Yegorov’s growing interest in and study of the Gemara.
Yisrael HaYom, Maariv [X2], Haaretz, Makor Rishon, The Jerusalem Post, September 10; HaModia, September 12, 2013
Every leading paper ran a story on the discovery of gold artifacts in an archeological dig near the Temple Mount. The treasure included 36 coins and a medallion, all dating back to around 614 CE. “Hanging from a gold chain, the remarkably well-kept and glittering 10 cm medallion is engraved with a seven-branched menora, a shofar, and a Torah,” The Jerusalem Post reports. Archeologist Eilat Mazar, of the Hebrew University, told the press that “this is one of the most important excavations in the institute’s 45 year history.” She added that she considers this find to be “so important as it relates to King David and shows the biblical story is more than anyone ever believed.” Archeologists believe that that the medallion was used to adorn a Torah scroll. The treasure was probably abandoned during the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE.
The Jerusalem Post, August 30, 2013
Professor Shmulik Marco, of the Tel Aviv University, revealed that his team has found “a third century BCE mound of stones out in the Sea of Galilee,” which might explain how Jesus was able to walk on water. The mound, which is about 70 meters in length, “may have provided the platform” for Jesus to walk on when he surprised his disciples as they were crossing the lake by boat. The mound of stones is man-made, but other than that Marco and his team have not been able to date it or find out how it ended up in the Sea of Galilee. One theory is that the rock cluster fell into the sea as a result of an earthquake. The big question, for Marco, is whether this happened before or after the time of Jesus. According to the article, “if Marco were able to date … it to a past earthquake or abrupt tectonic shift after the time of Jesus, he would be able to say with confidence that Jesus did not walk on water at that site.”
HaHaim HaTovim, September 10, 2013
Dr. Adam Akerman writes about the Garden Tomb, where “according to the Protestant tradition, the Christian Jesus’ tomb is found.” Akerman explains how the Protestants base their claim on a verse in John 19, which states that Jesus was buried in a garden. The garden belonged to Joseph of Aramathea, “the man who took Jesus off the cross on Golgotha and laid him to rest. … He was a member of the Sanhedrin and one of Jesus’ secret followers.” There are several things, says Akerman, that strengthen the claim that the Garden Tomb is where Jesus was buried. “In the New Testament it is told that Joseph of Aramathea’s burial plot was near the place of crucifixion and that the tomb was hidden by a large stone that is, indeed, still at the entrance to tomb.” Furthermore, according to what is written, there was a place for purifying the body as well as a cistern within the garden – both of which can be found in the Garden Tomb. Akerman writes that a walk in the Garden is enjoyable not just for those who believe, but also for those who “love peace and gardening.”
Haaretz, September 13, 2013
Simon Sebag Montefiore, whose book Jerusalem: the Biography has just been published in Hebrew, talks about his work with Maya Sela. Of interest is one short sentence where he reveals that he has received many angry letters from Christian fanatics who are outraged that he wrote that Jesus was probably crucified naked.
The Jerusalem Post, September 8, 2013
A painting by 15th century artist Sandro Boticelli depicting a scene from the New Testament “involving the virgin Mary and the Archangel Gabriel” will not be moved from Florence to Jerusalem due to the volatile situation with Syria. “The Italian Culture Ministry cited geopolitical considerations as the reason for the delay.”