During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Christians in Israel
Kolbo, Yediot Haifa, April 4, 2014
Greek Catholic archbishop Elias Shakor recently finished his term of office in Haifa, after having served for eight years. His farewell took place in an official municipality ceremony, in which he received an award of appreciation from Mayor Yona Yahav. His term was marked by dedication to the residents of Haifa, particularly during the Second Lebanon War when he stayed in the city and called others to do the same, and during the Carmel fire when he offered accommodation to those evacuated from their homes.
Haaretz, April 10, 2014
Palestinian Christians petitioned the High Court of Justice in February to drop the customary roadblocks and entrance screening on Holy Saturday and bar armed personnel from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, saying that such restrictions prevented people from even attempting to access the Old City for the celebrations. This police policy has been in place since 2006, despite a slight easing in 2011 and 2012. The state responded to the petition saying that the High Court of Justice has no reason to interfere in police policy, as long as it is not overly stringent, but the court decided to hear the petition on April 13 nevertheless. The police responded as well, saying that the roadblocks and entrance screening will be in place as usual, to secure worshippers’ safety.
The Jerusalem Post, April 8, 2014
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein received the Jerusalem Post Award on New York on Sunday, April 6, for his dedicated work in interfaith dialogue as founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Among other things, the fellowship is known for having raised millions in support of Jewish aliyah from all over the world. In addition to his public service work, Eckstein also hosts two international radio programs about Judaism and about the Jewish roots of Christianity.
The Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2014
The Hungarian Jewish community is concerned about the rise of the radical nationalist Jobbik party, now the third largest party in Hungary as of the country’s most recent elections on April 6, having garnered more than 20% of the votes. The Jewish community sees a direct connection between Jobbik’s rise in power and the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the country. The current government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has attempted to counter Jobbik by portraying itself as a “champion of the popular national interest,” and has even initiated a stricter policy regarding hate speech, but actual legal actions in hate speech cases remain few.
Makor Rishon, April 4, 2014
In this four-page article, Yoav Sorek analyzes the dialogue in Jewish circles regarding sexual permissiveness. In spite of the fact that this dialogue is of long standing, new issues such as exposure to pornography and same-sex tendencies require a rephrasing of the Jewish standpoint.
The article begins by stating definitions, and analyzing the fact that although permissiveness appears not to pose a threat to the family (leaving some rules in place to protect the individual), this is not in fact the case, as can be seen in popular theater and literature, where “adultery is seen as a form of self realization.”
Sorek describes the Jewish standpoint as seeing sexuality as essentially positive, even in very conservative circles, as seen in the command to “be fruitful and multiply” and that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” The commands given in the Torah are meant to prevent sexual relations within a family, since these relations bear a responsibility and therefore desecrate a family if unlawfully carried out; they violate the “be fruitful” command, turning them into a “sterile action.” Sorek states that in the Torah a marriage ceremony is not essential for sexual relations, which result in a family.
Catholic Christianity, while also seeing the close connection between sexuality and family, sees sexuality as the prime impulse connected with the world that must be put off. The Jewish covenant, passed down biologically through the generations, is the old Israel, while the higher thing is to aspire to the covenant of the spiritual Israel, which has nothing to do with biology. The Holy Family shows its holiness by being completely devoid of a sexual element. Sexual relations are the result of the necessity for someone to fulfill the “be fruitful” command.
The article goes on to describe permissiveness as a revolt, as described by Stefan Zweig. According to Zweig, this revolt came about “mostly because of women’s liberation, Freudian psychoanalysis, athletic glorification of the human body and the independence of youth.” However, in retrospect one can see that Zweig is of the opinion – which was common in his time – that “sexuality will lose its power if the unreasonable limitations on it are lifted.” So also, to certain degree, thought Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead.
The article concludes by calling for an original Israeli perspective – one that will “stand strongly against the culture of adultery but still relate to sexuality in a natural, positive way,” one that will “withstand permitting pornography, but still keep itself from seeing sensuality as the mother of all evil.”
Yediot Ahronot, April 7, 2014
Linda Hillel, a former landscape gardener from California, has been living in Nazareth for the last four and a half years, after deciding to stay on during a visit. She now leads day tours (free of charge although tips are welcome), leaving from the “Fauzi Azer” guesthouse. Of particular interest on the tour is the guesthouse itself, a 184-year-old stone structure built by Habib Azer; the old city market (including both a 127-year-old spice shop and a 3-month-old designer clothing store); the Holy Land galabiyyeh shop; and the Abu-Salem Coffee House.
Index HaEmek VeHaGalil, March 28, 2014
Ali Salem, the first Muslim mayor of Nazareth, intends to fly to Rome to invite Pope Francis to visit the city.
Makor Rishon, April 4, 2014
Magnes has recently published a book in Hebrew called In the Beginning Was the Word. In this book, Yair Zakovitz and Serge Roser discuss issues such as “Jesus’ Messianic biography, conceptual suspicion, Jewish traditions reflected in Christianity,” and others.
Makor Rishon, April 11, 2014
This article is a review of the recent Polish thriller Kernel of Truth, by Zygmunt Miloszewski. In the story a police prosecutor moves from the city to a village in the country, and is immediately confronted by a series of murders, with clues aimed at framing the Jewish community using the notorious blood libel. In a recent interview, Miloszewski stated that “crime novels are no longer whodunits; readers now expect an accurate portrait of a community.” The question of anti-Semitism in Poland, according to Miloszewski, is a question of Polish identity, and whether this identity will be based on sweeping hard chapters of Polish history, such as its relation to Jews, under the carpet. As the mystery progresses in the novel and villagers wonder if in fact the clues indicate a certain guilt, the prosecutor wonders if they are correct and that this is the correct avenue to investigate, or if everything he sees is a front. The article ends by stating that this novel presents an up-to-date picture of Poland, “where anti-Semitism is still alive and well as a cultural and folklore element.”
Haaretz, Israel Hayom, April 10, 2014
Excavations in the north of Israel have recently revealed a magnificent Egyptian-style tomb, dated to the 13th century BCE, the time the Pharaohs ruled Israel. The tomb includes an Egyptian-style coffin, as well as ritual objects, clay amphorae, a bronze dagger and a gold scarab seal ring. The seal itself bears the uraeus (winged cobra) with Pharaoh Seti’s name underneath it. Seti was the father of Ramses II, who is considered by some to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Archaeologists presume that the tomb belonged to a Canaanite official or local magnate, rather than an Egyptian, because of the size and style of the tomb and the fact that all the artifacts buried in the tomb are of local materials. They hope to be able to carry out DNA tests to verify this.
Makor Rishon, April 11, 2014
A relief tablet, currently exhibited at the Bible Lands Museum, depicts a ceremony in which the heart of a deceased person is weighed and compared to a feather, the symbol of the goddess of justice. Ancient Egyptians believed that a person’s sins were gathered in his heart, and if his heart was found to weigh more than a feather after his death, it was then given to a monster to devour. The museum’s curators surmise that the scriptural description of Pharaoh’s heart becoming hard [in Hebrew, “heavy”] was written with this belief in mind, although they are unable to prove the connection.