During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, August 15, 2014
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ program “With Honor and Fellowship” was founded in 2013 in order to meet the needs of the elderly who live below the poverty line. This year’s program is expected to use some 30 million shekels in contributions from Christians who love Israel towards these needs.
The workers meet with some 100 people every month, many of whom are relatively new immigrants with no immediate family nearby or no family at all, and “who must often choose between food, services, and medication,” says Inda Flint, the Ashdod coordinator of the program. “Our job in the familiar, cruel equation is to give some hope and ease the daily desperation and suffering.” The program also provides house visits by volunteers.
The Pope and the Vatican
Yad VaShem Yerushalayim, August 5, 2014
Pope Francis visited Yad VaShem on May 26, 2014. During the memorial service the pontiff rekindled the eternal flame and lay a wreath, assisted by two Catholic students living in Israel. His speech underscored the degree to which “some many people lost their humanity” and called “for a world to be built without anti-Semitism, in all its forms, and without acts of hostility, discrimination and intolerance.” Yad VaShem “places great importance on this visit, hoping the pope will increase awareness of the Holocaust all over the world.”
Israel Hayom, August 21, 2014
This article details yet another interesting collection of sites to be seen near the Sea of Galilee in the summer. The first site is Iyov Falls, a four-meter waterfall whose source is the Iyov Spring, which, according to legend, is the place Job came to in order to be healed of boils. The falls are surrounded by lush greenery, and one can swim in basalt pools at their base. Continuing on, one arrives at Capernaum, where one can enjoy a breathtaking view from the Greek Orthodox Church of the Twelve Apostles, as well as see a Byzantine synagogue with lush decorations. Continuing onwards one comes to Bethsaida, noted both for having been a fishing village some 3,000 years ago as well as for the 15 brooks flowing nearby. At the end of the day one can enjoy a meal at the Magdalena restaurant, located in the shopping center in Migdal, near Tiberias.
Makor Rishon, August 22, 2014
This article, taken from The Washington Post, details the dire situation of the Aramaic language, once a lingua franca throughout the Hellenistic world and then reduced to being spoken only in remote mountain communities due to the advance of Arabic. Many Aramaic dialects had already been lost in southeastern Turkey during World War I, but now, as a result of the advancing Islamic State (IS), Aramaic has become an endangered language since most of the Aramaic speaking communities are located in northern Iraq. The article also mentions the fact that some central Aramaic dialects have been lost due to the assimilation of Kurdish Jews into Israeli society, but emphasizes that the intentional destruction of a language is an entirely different matter.
Haaretz, August 21, 2014
Yaed Biran reviews Israel in Medieval Arabic Sources (634-1517), a collection of translations by Uri Tal from Arabic journey and geography books written in the Muslim period preceding the Mamelukes. Texts include descriptions of the country’s agricultural richness in great detail; the sacred traditions to do with the Temple Mount; descriptions of other sacred sites such as Ramle, Tiberias, Safed, and Jerusalem; and also a geological/mythological description of the Dead Sea. Most of all, however, the book reflects “continuity rather than exile, a collection of scientific knowledge and an attempt to combine the religions.” Uri Tal states in his introduction that the texts were chosen for their “geographical-popular” bent; Biran is convinced, however, that this purpose has not been achieved as some of what is stated is not factual, and that without a context for the texts it is “hard to understand the author.” However, Biran as still convinced that it is revealing to read the continuity of the “local narrative,” which has withstood “cultural and religious rivalry.”
Haaretz, August 21, 2014
This article, taken from Der Spiegel, tells of Haikomos Ali, 55, who recently founded the Association for the Preservation of Syrian Archaeology, dedicated to “reducing the cultural disaster” currently going on in Syria as much as possible by documenting the events and preventing as much of the looting and smuggling as possible. The association employs 24 journalists in Syria, Turkey, and France, some of whom infiltrate Syria to rescue antiquities in various ways.
“Some of the smugglers are motivated by desperation, since this is their only way to make a living,” says Ali, “others are motivated by greed. It is certain that some of the smuggling profits go to IS coffers.” Turkey, as a supporter of the rebels, confiscates Syrian antiquities whenever they are found, intending to return them when the situation stabilizes. Others, such as Lebanon, occasionally comply with the Assad government’s demands.
The activists are risking their lives for this work, but are determined to continue, because “if we don’t, there will be nothing left in Syria,” says Worad Porati, another activist.