During the week covered by this review, we received 11 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
Christians and the Holocaust
Maariv, November 26, 2013
The area surrounding King David’s tomb on Mount Zion has become a conflict zone between Christians and Jews, reports Ari Galhar. The monks from Dormition Abbey, which is adjacent to the tomb, claim that the Jews who frequent the place “spit on priests and nuns, spray-paint graffiti on the walls, stand in front of the church and curse the Christians, calling out ‘Death to Christians and Jesus is a monkey,’ and hold events on Saturday evenings with loud music.” The Jews, on the other hand, claim that a secretary and priest from the Abbey, both from Germany, “harass the Jews in that place for anti-Semitic reasons, especially because of the priest’s German background.” They also claim that Christians removed two mezuzot from the entrance to the tomb and also removed prayers books, which they then threw away “in order to hurt us.”
An effort has been made to mediate between the two sides in recent weeks. One mediator explains that much of the blame can be placed on both Jewish and Christian delinquent youth who have been stirring up trouble on purpose. The church held a special meeting on Monday with representatives from the president’s office, the mayor’s office, the Ministry of Interior, and the police, where they expressed their grievances. According to the mayor’s office, the next step will be to hold a similar meeting with the Jews who frequent the tomb.
Hadashot Haifa veHaZafon, November 20, 2013
This article focuses on Hulda Gurevich, winner of Israel’s Prize for Life, who has made it her lifelong mission to build good relationships with Christians visiting Israel, especially those coming from Scandinavian countries. She speaks to groups about various issues relating to Israel, trying to give them a more positive picture of the country than what they are used to hearing. The tourists are usually “thirsty for her words, very moved by the Jewish people’s suffering while in exile and during the Holocaust, and are excited by [Israel’s] reception of immigrants who have nothing … and by the IDF soldiers’ courage and the sacrifices they make to protect the nation and its citizens…”
The Pope and the Vatican
Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, November 29, 2013
Earlier this week the Vatican released a 224-page document entitled “Evangelii Gudium” in which the pope wrote that “dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. … The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians.” Pope Francis further stated that the church holds “the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked.”
In addition, both papers report that Pope Francis will probably visit Israel on the 25th and 26th of May, though the Vatican has not yet confirmed this. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will extend a formal invitation to the pope when he meets with him on Monday morning in Rome. According to Israeli officials, this is a significant meeting as it is the first time the Israeli Prime Minister will be meeting the new pope. The Jerusalem Post reports that “in addition to the plight of Christian communities throughout the region, the two are also expected to address the so-called price-tag attacks against some Christian sites in Israel.”
Christians and the Holocaust
Maariv, November 25 & 27, 2013
Zvika Klein reports that a group of 31 Anabaptists, including Mennonites and Amish, arrived in Israel this week to “reconnect with the Jewish people” and apologize for Christian harassment of Jews throughout the centuries. “We have come to change this attitude,” said the group’s leader, “and to express our love for and blessing over the Jewish people and the Jewish state.” The group is especially keen to express its remorse over the Holocaust. “I am sorry to say that during the Holocaust we were silent, we didn’t stand by the Jewish people in their time of trouble, and we are ashamed,” said the group’s representative. “Our first task is to apologize to the survivors for not standing with them, to tell them we are sorry.”
In a second article, Klein explains that the group strongly believes in restoring relationships between Christians and Jews. Some of these Amish, however, have been banished from their communities for their support of Israel. When asked why he has come to Israel, one participant said: “Our heart is here in Israel. To come and connect with the Jewish people is a blessing. When we leave and go home we will be better people and closer to God.”
Haaretz, November 29, 2013
This three-page article focuses on Aharon Kedar, an Israeli sculptor living in Spain. Of interest is his reference to a sculpture of Jesus he was commissioned to make by one of the local priests. Says Kedar: “When they chose me to sculpt the figure of Jesus there was a group of people from the church who heard about it and was opposed to it. ‘Why should a Jew sculpt Jesus? Aren’t there enough sculptors in the world who are not Jews?’ they asked. On the other hand, smarter people asked, ‘But wasn’t Jesus Jewish? What’s the problem?’” Kedar describes how anxious he was over this sculpture, as it needed to be approved by the Vatican before it could be displayed in the church. But once he was finished, the local priest told him he “loves it very much.”
Yisrael HaYom, November 27, 2013
Israel-loving Christians in Holland will be lighting the biggest hanukkiyah (Hanukkah menorah) in Europe on the eve of Hanukah. The hanukkiyah is 11 meters high and weighs 5,000 kilograms.
Maariv, November 24, 2013
The oldest wine cellar has in the world has been uncovered in the Western Galilee archeological site of Tel Kabri. The cellar dates back to the Canaanite period and is estimated to be 3,700-4,000 years old. A large number of pottery shards were also discovered, all of them containing residue of sweet red wine. The cellar was probably situated near a large banquet hall that catered to the Canaanite elite.
Ma Nishma, November 15, 2013
Members of the Jewish Council toured the country, also visiting sites connected with the life of Jesus. The group made a stop on Mount Precipice in Nazareth, which is where, “according to Christian tradition, the people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus to his death, but he jumped and fled from them.” They also visited the Church of the Annunciation, “where Christian tradition holds that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to give birth to Jesus.”
Haaretz, November 28, 2013
Amnon Gofer recommends places to stay in the Lower Galilee for those who are interested in visiting the area during the holidays. Of interest is his mention of the Lavie Hotel in Kibbutz Lavie, which is located near the Jesus Trail. Gofer writs that he feared that “a religious kibbutz wouldn’t be welcoming towards those who are marching on Jesus’ trail,” but his fears were allayed when he realized that not only does the kibbutz receive such visitors, it also transports their luggage to the next lodging stop along the trail.