During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
HaShabbat BeNetanya, October 4, 2013
Lev L’Achim has said that it is OK to throw away or recycle missionary material that was distributed to people’s mailboxes in Netanya some weeks ago. They reassured the public that the material is not sacred, even if it bears the name of God in it. According to the anti-missionary organization, the Messianic Jewish cult is very active in Netanya: “They have a very strong infrastructure and there’s a congregation in one of the neighborhoods. It’s best to just ignore them.”
Haaretz, October 27; Yediot Ahronot, The Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2013
Two snippets mentioned the Bible exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum that opened last week (see the October 20 & 28, 2013, Media Reviews).
The Jerusalem Post ran a longer article on the exhibition, explaining how this is an “exclusive” exhibit that “juxtaposes Jewish and Christian biblical texts from thousands of years ago” in an effort to showcase “the connections between Judaism and Christianity.” The director of the Bible Lands Museum, Amanda Weiss, explained that this link has never been explored in this kind of exhibition before: “We see a very powerful narrative that is not often told [in Israel]” since “most people are very sensitive to showing anything Christian in Jerusalem.” However, Weiss told the audience gathered for the grand opening that the “Book of Books” exhibit is “uniting us [Jews and Christians] under a book we all love [the Bible].”
The museum curator, Filip Vukosovavic, told the paper that it is important to remember that “Christianity and Judaism are so interconnected they cannot be separated. … They share a theological source and come from the same geographical point, which is the land of Israel.” The juxtaposition of the two religions in the exhibition is “very deliberate,” says Vukosovavic, because it “looks at Judaism as the roots of Christianity and how they coexisted at different points.”
Weiss told the paper that “it was a challenge to come up with a narrative that was a balance between Jewish history and early Christianity.” She encourages everyone to go see the exhibition, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Makor Rishon, Yisrael HaYom, November 1, 2013
Makor Rishon printed an article praising the archeological and architectural achievements of Conrad Schick, a Christian from Germany who was sent as a missionary to Jerusalem in 1846. Since the mission organization didn’t pay Schick enough to live on, he began dabbling in other trades, and eventually resumed his former occupation as an architect, designing and building some of the city’s best-known structures, many of which are still standing today. These include the old Sha’arei Tzedek hospital, the Talitha Kumi monument just outside the old Mashbir, Mea Shearim, and many more. Schick also discovered the Siloam Inscription, which is still “one of the most important historical inscriptions from Bible times to be found in Israel.” Schick worked together with everyone – building for Jews and Muslims as well as Christians. He is buried in the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion.
Yisrael HaYom also mentioned Conrad Schick in an article dedicated to those Christians buried in the Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion who were scholars of the land of Israel. The Protestant cemetery holds about 1040 graves and is something of a “mini-Pantheon of Bible land scholars” from the 19th century. Indeed, very few people have been buried in that cemetery since 1948. “The names on the gravestones are written in different languages: English, German, Arabic, and even Hebrew – the majority of [the Hebrew graves] belonging to converted Jews … although there are a few Jews who died while being taken care of at the mission hospital in Jerusalem and the Jewish community refused to ‘receive’ them into a Jewish cemetery.”
Famous Christians buried in this cemetery include Charles Trott Drake, who attempted to reconstruct the journey of the Children of Israel through the Sinai desert to the Promised Land; James Edward Hanauer, who wrote the famous Walks about Jerusalem; Dallas Young, who founded the American Institute of Holy Land Studies; and Conrad Schick.
Etrog, September 30, 2013
This four-page article focuses on the life-story of controversial archeology filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici. Among other things, Jacobovici is known for the documentary he produced on an ossuary he claims belongs to James, the brother of Jesus. These claims were extremely controversial and landed Jacobovici in court on suspicion of fraud. But the court ruled that the ossuary is not fake. Jacobovici continued to stir up the academic world by producing another documentary in 2007 which claimed that a burial plot found in the Armon HaNatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem contains Jesus’ tomb.
Since Jacobovici is a conservative Jew, “some see his preoccupation with Jesus as strange.” Jacobovici defends himself by saying that “the history of early Christianity is the history of the Jewish people. Christians don’t want to admit this, and Jews are afraid of the Christian response. But I say there is no reason to be afraid since we are living in our own country. As far as I’m concerned it’s part of the history of the Jewish people, and this is the history that I research.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 25, 2013
This article reports on the long-standing feud between Simcha Jacobovici and anthropologist Joe Zias. Zias “has been an outspoken critic of Jacobovici. He terms some of his documentary movies and books ‘archeoporn’ and disparages his work as ‘press conference archeology.’” Zias is most critical of Jacobovici’s claims “that two Second Temple period tombs in East Talpiot may contain the ossuaries (bone boxes) of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and other members of the family and close circle of the Christian messiah, including Joseph of Arimathea.” Jacobovici has filed a libel lawsuit against Zias, seeking NIS 3.5 million in damages.
The paper calls Jacobovici an iconoclast, especially in issues relating to the origins of Christianity. Jacobovici says he has seen the difference “between reality and propaganda when it comes to an archeological artifact that touches on people’s theology,” which is why he is interested in challenging what is accepted without question in the academic world of archeology. “Christian theology has oppressed us for so many millennia that we don’t know how to deal with the birth of Christianity,” says Jacobovici. “References to Jesus were excised from the Talmud. It was dangerous to talk about it. There’s no free spirit of intellectual debate. We’ve created a blank hole in archeological and historical space.” Jacobovici adds that “there’s a strategy to discredit archeology that doesn’t fit with [Christian] theology. The professors who are in that game have so muddied the waters that others are afraid to speak. … It’s time that we were able to discuss archeology related to the birth of Christianity in a civilized atmosphere. It’s time that the inquisitional tactics stop.”
Kol Ha’Ir, November 1, 2013
The Benedictine monastery in Abu Ghosh celebrated the opening of a new garden which is dedicated to Jean-Marie Lustiger, the former Archbishop of Paris, who promoted Jewish-Christian relations. The ceremony was attended by about 150 visitors from France as well as the Mayor of Abu Ghosh. The mayor told the paper that the event was “amazing … an example of the cooperation between all the religions – Jews, Muslims, and Christians – and also a demonstration of the good relations Abu Ghosh has with the Benedictine monastery and our Jewish neighbors.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2013
The paper printed a photograph of the Minister of Tourism, Uzi Landau, together with the Cardinal of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, who arrived in Israel for a short visit. According to the caption, the visit “is designed to boost interfaith ties and promote French Christian pilgrimage.” Landau said that it is “of great importance to maintain warm relations between Christian and Jewish communities.”
Haaretz, November 1, 2013
This snippet recommends a weekend outing to Ir Ovot in the Arava, where there are remains of a Jewish settlement from the First Temple period. The snippet mentions that the place is maintained by evangelical volunteers and that “three additional families live nearby: the Perlmutters – a Messianic Jewish family from Miami, a Danish family … and the Kobi family.”
Hadashot Haifa veHaZafon, October 21, 2013
Jamie and Neil Lash, Christian Zionists who have donated to the Bnei Zion hospital, were given a tour of the facility by the director, in keeping with the tradition they started five years ago.
Hed HaKrayot, October 25, 2013
A new art exhibition is opening in Haifa showcasing the paintings of Jamesena Waller, an English tourist who travelled through the Holy Land in 1882 together with her husband, sister, and brother-in-law, painting the various landscapes they passed through. She belonged to a tradition of Christian painters who wished to use landscapes from the Holy Land as backdrops for paintings of scenes from the life of Jesus. But Waller “fell in love” with the land and began to paint it for its own beauty. She lived in Haifa for a number of years before returning to England.
Ma’ariv, October 27, 2013
This three-page article tells the story of journalist Patrick Reilly, who walked around Malmø, Sweden, dressed as a Jew, in order to see what manifestations of anti-Semitism he would encounter. Of interest is a short paragraph mentioning that those who support the Jews in Sweden are usually Israel-loving Christians.
Ma’ariv, October 29, 2013
Asaf Golan writes a very negative op-ed piece about the release of Palestinian prisoners this week. Of interest is his mention of the Jews’ guilt in murdering Jesus, which, he says, is just another item on a long list of reasons the world-at-large hates Israelis. “One way or the other,” writes Golan (sarcastically), “we’re always blamed for our lack of morality.”
The Pope and the Vatican
Merkaz Ha’Inyanim, October 21; Kol Ha’Ir Bnei Brak, October 23, 2013
These two articles reported on Rabbi Miller’s efforts to stop the government from handing over a number of holy sites to the jurisdiction of the Vatican (see the October 20, 2013, Media Review).