During the week covered by this review, we received 19 articles on the following subjects:
- Anti-Missionary Activity
- Christian Zionism
- Jewish–Christian Relations
- Israeli/Jewish Attitudes Concerning Jesus
- Early Christianity
- Christian Tourism
HaShavua HaChadash, November 27, 2014
During this past week, the Lehava Organization for the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land was able to prevent an evangelism campaign and distribution of the New Testament in Dimona. The activists, called to the site, explained to passersby that the distributed material is not Jewish. Upon seeing the missionaries attempting again to distribute material in the nearby mall, the Lehava activists called the police, and the missionaries left the city.
Yom L’Yom; Sha’a Tova; BaKehila, December 4, 2014
These articles reiterate the recent story reported by the anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim regarding Messianic Jewish missionaries who “invaded” the approach to the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv and attempted to preach to passersby. Yad L’Achim, having been alerted, sent activists to inform those present that the activity was missionary in nature. The missionaries, in turn, called the police, but when the police arrived they told the missionaries that “in a democratic country there is no problem with Yad L’Achim’s activity” and that “they should not call the police needlessly.”
Yom L’Yom, December 4, 2014
Efraim Gilad interviews Adv. Rabbi Uzi Aharon, who has been serving as deputy mayor in Or Yehuda for the past 26 years. Having grown up in a secular atmosphere, Aharon is familiar with the need for tolerance and love, but at the same time he has used his civic position to the utmost to preserve Or Yehuda’s conservative, traditional atmosphere. When asked about the burning of New Testaments in the city some years ago, Aharon emphasized that although he has campaigned against missionary activity, it has been through public relations, and that the fire had already been started by the time he arrived on the scene.
Shishi BaGolan, November 28, 2014
The annual tulip mission from Christian Friends of Israel–Holland, headed by Countess Henriette Heuvelman-Beelaerts van Blokland, recently arrived in Israel. The mission tries to reach new places each year, but in addition brings bulbs to Jerusalem and to the Golan Heights every year; this year they brought 12,000 bulbs.
The group visited places such as Ortal, Ein Zivan, the outlook over Kuneitra valley, and especially Old Katzrin; they were impressed and intrigued by the ancient history of the area as well as the modern-day atmosphere.
Yediot Ahronot, December 10, 2014
Adam Livvix has been indicted by Israel for “planning a series of terrorist attacks against Muslim holy sites.” Livvix arrived in Israel from the USA at the beginning of 2013; he was wanted by the FBI for drug crimes at the time, and the police were alerted to his whereabouts by one of his friends after Livvix declared his intentions.
Livvix stated during the investigation that he loves Israel and Judaism, and that this is the reason he intended to attack Muslim sites. He is being detained until the end of the proceedings, and has been sent for psychiatric evaluation, although “an answer has not yet been received as to his sanity.”
The police have stated, “If this man had succeeded in carrying out his conspiracy, the Middle East is likely to have gone up in flames.”
The Jerusalem Report, December 10, 2014
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) in 1983 in order to “build bridges of cooperation and understanding.” The IFCJ raises some $140 million for Israel annually from among the evangelical community, and Eckstein is one of the Jewish figures best known among them.
Eckstein first became involved in interfaith issues some 30 years ago. However, he stated that “we have not touched the tip of the iceberg” in the “rallying” of Christian support for Israel. One of the reasons this support is growing is that Protestant Christianity has been growing stronger in places where it previously had not been; if the Christian community can be recruited in countries where the Jewish community is not very big, then “an important step will have been taken,” concludes Eckstein.
Israeli/Jewish Attitudes Concerning Jesus
Haaretz, December 12, 2014
In this article, Eli Yassif analyzes Toledot Yeshu (“The History of Jesus”), a Jewish polemic written to deride central events and characteristics of Jesus’ life, such as his birth, his ability to perform miracles, his “charismatic leadership ability,” his betrayal by Judas Iscariot, his trial before the Sanhedrin, his death, and his resurrection. Although the earliest manuscripts of the polemic have been dated to the 8th century CE, its place of origin remains contested, and the number of manuscripts and the variations between them testify to its popularity and place in Jewish folklore.
Yassif, while recounting some of the issues—such as the polemic’s opinion that Jesus performed miracles by the power of the ineffable name of God, copied illicitly from the foundation stone in the temple and written on a piece of parchment implanted subcutaneously—is of the opinion that the polemic in fact contains a critique of the Jewish community of the time, which because of its corruption and “obsession with messianism” allowed itself to be deceived and brought the “catastrophe of Christianity” on itself.
Haaretz, December 12, 2014
In this article, Yaakov Shavit analyzes Leah and Rachel as they appear in Christian and Jewish symbolism.
Shavit begins by describing Christian appropriation of Jewish stories, such as the Maccabean Hanna and her seven sons who refused to bow down to idols, and whose martyrdom was eventually immortalized as Christian in the Basilica Maccabeorum in Antioch. He also describes Christian appropriations of Jewish synagogues as places of worship; how synagogue eventually became a term both for the building and for the worshippers in it; and how a common form of medieval anti-Jewish polemic was a debate between Synagoga, who by then was described as blind, and Ecclesia, symbolizing the church.
In 165 CE, Justin Martyr suggested an allegorical reading of Leah’s weak eyes in Genesis 29, taking Leah as symbolizing Synagoga and Rachel as symbolizing Ecclesia. The church fathers accepted this reading, and the two have been depicted—Synagoga with a blindfold and broken staff, and Ecclesia with a crown and standard—in prayer books since the 9th century, and on cathedral facades since the 12th century (Strasbourg, Metz, Rheims, Paris, Bomberg, Freiburg, Muenster, etc.).
Shavit closes by mentioning that the Jewish literature does not give undue attention to this issue, other than to occasionally mention that Leah’s eyes became weak from weeping, or that she was in fact the fruitful one, having born seven children while Rachel bore only two.
Yediot HaDarom; Yediot Ashkelon; Yediot Ashdod, December 5, 2014
These articles detail 25 sites in Ashdod and its vicinity where an enjoyable time is to be had without much expense. Of particular note is the old Ashdod citadel, dating from 713 BCE; the Black Arrow site, of Israeli Defense Force paratrooper fame, by Kibbutz Miflasim; Tel Yavne, with its 4000 BCE–era burial site; and Gamaliel’s tomb in Yavne.
Time Out Israel, December 8, 2014
This article lists a variety of holiday related activities that will be taking place during the month of December. Of particular interest is the Sounds of the Desert Festival in Ramat HaNegev, featuring original Israeli music; the “From Olive to Light” event at Neot Kedumim; guided tours of the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, including the newest discoveries recently opened to the public; a traditional Polish Christmas feast, to be held at the Colony Hotel in Haifa; and the annual Christmas Market in Nazareth.
Haaretz, December 10, 2014
This article is also a list of Christmas and Hanukkah related activities taking place during the month of December, such as the International Organ Festival at the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion; walking tours in the Christian quarter of the Old City; walking tours in the Jewish quarter of the Old City to see Hanukkah candelabras in the windows; a holiday market; and Santa Claus’ house in Haifa. A Hanukkah walking tour will take place in Bnei Brak as well.
The Jerusalem Post, December 10, 2014
The Jerusalem Nano Bible Company has recently been nominated for the Guinness Book of Records for developing the “World’s Smallest Bible”: a chip smaller than five by five millimeters containing the Textus Receptus manuscript of the New Testament. The company is planning the production of a chip containing the Old Testament as well.
Makor Rishon, December 12, 2014
The heritage center at Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem is currently holding an exhibition in memory of Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie, a British officer stationed in Israel who won the Jewish community’s gratitude for his role in halting the 1929 pogroms.
Born in Madras, Dobbie took part in the South African Boer War and served as governor of Malta, but he is particularly well known for having signed the cease-fire agreement that halted World War I. He was sent to Israel in 1928, and it was his activities for restoring order that won him the knighthood of the Bath. Dobbie passed away in 1964 and was buried beside the monument to his nephew Orde Wingate.
Israel Hayom; The Jerusalem Post, December 8, 2014
Six young people from the village of Si’ir, near Hebron, have been indicted in the magistrate’s court in Beer Sheva for attempted antiquities theft from the caves near the Dead Sea. The six had originally been identified by members of the Arad Rescue Unit, who were holding an exercise in the vicinity. Inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) placed the site under surveillance, and last week the six were arrested. Although plundered finds eventually reach the antiquities markets, “it has been decades since perpetrators were caught red-handed,” said the IAA.