April 22 – 2015

During the week covered by this review, we received 19 articles on the following subjects:

The Pope and the Vatican
Interfaith Dialogue
Christians in Israel
Christian Tourism


Yediot Ahronot, April 15, 2015

This article gives a list of the events taking place on Holocaust Memorial Day, April 16, as well as a short biography of the Holocaust survivors who will light the six memorial torches at Yad VaShem’s ceremony this year.

The day will commence with a state ceremony on Wednesday evening, April 15, at 20:00 at Yad VaShem, attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as Holocaust survivors and their families. An additional ceremony will take place at the Masu’a Institute for Holocaust Studies at Tel-Yitzhak. A two-minute memorial siren will sound at 10:00 on Thursday morning, April 16, and at 10:30 the “Every Man Has A Name” ceremony will take place, in which the public is invited to read out the names of the victims. An additional name-reading ceremony will take place in the Chagall Hall at the Knesset, and the main memorial ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the Remember Hall of Yad VaShem.

The six torch lighters were born in Poland, Belarus, Hungary, and Macedonia. The youngest is 80 and the oldest is 96. Although their Holocaust experiences are all different, their victories are the same; they are featured in the article with their grandchildren, and one even with his great-grandson, all of whom are unanimous in their admiration of their grandparents’ courage.

Israel Hayom, April 15, 2015

Thirty-five Torah scrolls that survived the Holocaust have recently been discovered in a monastery in a village in Poland. Having heard about the find, Johnny Daniels, head of the From the Depths non-profit organization for remembering the Holocaust, was able to pinpoint their location and eventually to see them; most of the scrolls can still be used. As yet there is no sign of the Polish church releasing the scrolls, although the NPO, assisted by volunteer Polish lawyers, is determined to complete the task. “These scrolls are like Holocaust survivors,” says Daniels. “Every Shabbat, when one of these scrolls is brought out in a synagogue, everyone will know that they survived the Holocaust.”

The Pope and the Vatican

Yediot Ahronot, April 13; HaModia, April 15, 2015

On Sunday, April 12, Pope Francis held a Mass marking 100 years since the Armenian genocide, during which he referred to the slaughter of 1-1.5 million Armenians in 1915-1918 as “genocide.” This caused severe displeasure in Ankara: the Vatican ambassador was reproved, and the Turkish ambassador to the Vatican was recalled for “consultations.”

Pope Francis’ statement was based upon Pope John Paul II’s use of the term “genocide” in 2000 (although the term has not been used since), and further on in his statement the pope also compared the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust of the European Jews, Stalin’s purges, and the slaughters in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Bosnia. He stated as well that “the horrors perpetrated in the 21st century and the apathy accompanying them could be considered a third world war and an additional genocide.”

In a letter on the subject, Menachem Klugman praises Pope Francis for his courageous statement, but calls it hypocritical for the pope to criticize Turkey while failing to mention the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the blood libels, the Vatican’s silence during World War II, and so on.

Israel Hayom, April 15, 2015

Pope Francis sent a special blessing to the organizers of the March of the Living, which took place at Auschwitz-Birkenau on Holocaust Memorial Day, April 16. “Every effort done for the sake of life is worthy of praise,” said the pope, who also thanked the organizers for what they are doing. The chairman of the march, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, said the pope’s message matched that of the march: “Not to leave with a desire for vengeance, but to repair the world. I would like to see the pope standing here next year and saying, ‘Enough!’”

Some 11,000 people took part in the march, which was led by Rabbi Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yafo, himself a Holocaust survivor. Also present were Keith Harper, US representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, Austria’s minister of education.

Interfaith Dialogue

Maariv, April 13, 2015

On Wednesday, April 15, an interfaith meeting will take place in Kfar Yassif on “Where are we headed?” Jewish and Muslims authors, poets and other thinkers will be present. The meeting is the initiative of Prof. Naim Araidi’s non-profit organization Hope, which attempts “to build social and cultural bridges between Jews and Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs from the area.”

Christians in Israel

Index HaEmek VeHaGalil-Nazareth Ilit, April 3, 2015

Father Gabriel Naddaf of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum is planning a demonstration before the Attorney-General and State Attorney buildings, demanding “that the Christians in Israel not be abandoned.” This follows an attack on the wife of a Christian officer in the border police. “The time has come to make order,” said Naddaf.

Segula, April 14, 2015

This ten-page article is an in-depth survey of the history of the German Templar movement, the Tempelgesellschaft, in Israel.

The Tempelgesellschaft was founded in Germany in 1861, and called for life according to the original values of Christianity, rather than those of the church of the time, which they considered “had grown fat.” Such life could only be possible in God’s land—Israel—where God would prepare his people for the Messiah’s return. As persecution of the movement grew in Germany the members put more effort into moving to Israel, and in 1868 the two leaders landed in Haifa, which later became home to the first Templar colony (some of the original buildings still stand).

As the years passed, the Templars imported many agricultural and technological innovations into the country, such as using carriages for freight, building modern hotels, and using modern agricultural techniques. The numbers grew and new colonies were formed, such as the one in Jaffa and Sharona, in today’s Tel Aviv, which became known for its oil press and vineyard. The colony in Jerusalem was founded in 1873, and the spiritual center of the community was relocated there.

As Jewish immigration increased, early Zionists such as Yoel Moshe Salomon, Zalman David Levontin, and Yechiel Michal Pines found inspiration from the Templars. However, the Templars had preserved a remarkably German lifestyle, and found fewer opportunities for expansion as Jewish settlement increased.

By World War I, the Templars in Israel numbered 1,750. Many joined the German army, and others were exiled by the British, who feared espionage. They were eventually permitted to return to their lands and reconstruct their industry. However, the additional agricultural and technological developments that had taken place, as well as the younger generation’s relative disinterest in the founders’ ideas, led to the movement’s significant loss of influence. The Jewish inhabitants accused them of assisting the Arab revolt and of German espionage during World War II. After the war it became clear that it would no longer be practicable for them to remain in Israel, and they were evacuated by the British to Cyprus, and from there either returned to Germany or emigrated to Australia, where they gradually rebuilt their lives, in part assisted by reparation monies paid to them by the Sate of Israel in return for the possessions they were forced to leave behind.

Christian Tourism

The Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2015

The Ministry of Tourism has reported that the number of tourists during the peak season of Passover and Easter far exceeded expectations, greatly assisting the industry to recover after the slump caused by Operation Protective Edge. Hotels in popular sites such as the Golan and the Dead Sea reported nearly 100% occupancy. Official numbers will be released later this month, but Ahuva Zaken, deputy director general of the ministry, reported that approximately 1 million local and foreign visitors visited Jerusalem’s Old City “during Holy Week alone.” “We are hoping that 2015 will be a record year, attracting more than 4 million people. That would be very good for Israel,” said Zaken.

The Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2015

On Tuesday, April 14, a ceremony took place at the Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park, celebrating the park’s addition to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The park, comprised of 5 square kilometers within the 100 square kilometer area known as “the land of a thousand caves,” boasts man-made cave systems built for a variety of purposes. Previous World Heritage Sites in Israel include Masada, the Old City of Acre, and the tels at Megiddo, Hatzor, and Beer-Sheba, among others.


Magazine HaBanka’ut HaPratit, April 13, 2015

The village El Pueblo de los Israelitas, near the Urubamba River’s exit from the Andes in southeastern Peru, is home to a group of native Peruvians who see themselves as “spiritual continuers of the people of Israel”—they keep the Shabbat, will not eat pork, and make a pilgrimage to their temple three times a year. Upon hearing that the writer and his group were from Israel, the locals corrected them and said, “You’re not from Israel, you’re from Palestine. God’s presence left Israel because of the sins, and found its resting place in the Urubamba River.”

The Jerusalem Post, April 14; Pnai Plus, April 15, 2015

On Monday, April 13, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West had their 22-month-old daughter North baptized in the Armenian Cathedral of Saint James in Jerusalem’s Old City. The couple were accompanied by Kardashian’s sister Khloe, and a Channel E! camera team. After the baptism, the couple shared a meal with Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat, who asked them to be ambassadors of Jerusalem, and “spread the message that Jerusalem is open and everyone is wanted here.”

The family began their journey with a visit to Armenia to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, and continued to Jordan on Tuesday, April 14.


Gilui Da’at, March 20, 2015

Burial caves have been found in the courtyard of the Begin Heritage Center, built on the side of the mountain leading to the Hinnom Valley. The burial style matches that of 2,500 years ago, with side caves and shelves for the deceased to lie upon, as well as ossuaries carved into the rock.

These caves were excavated in 1979 by Gavriel Barkay. They revealed the bones of some 95 persons, together with potsherds, silver and glass vessels, jewelry, weaving tools, ivory articles, and arrowheads, but particularly two tiny silver scrolls, with the earliest known version of the priestly blessing.

Zman, March 25, 2015

This eleven-page article is an in-depth account of the rediscovery of the Hittite empire, its language, its dynastic struggles, and its conflicts with Egypt, with particular emphasis on the battle at Kadesh and the peace treaty resulting from it.

Mentioned in ancient Egyptian texts written in Akkadian script, the Hittite empire was initially rediscovered due to texts found in the 19th century in Syria and Turkey, and written in hieroglyphs in an unknown language. Archaeologists surmised that this script belonged to the ancient Hittites due to the area in which they were found, and also that the capital may have been located in Boğazköy (Hattusa). By the late 1800s, an entire ancient city had indeed been discovered in Boğazköy, complete with a fortified castle, five temples, city gates, secret passageways, and huge empty storage vessels.

However, the most important discovery in the site was some 20,000 clay tablets, found in 1912. Although they were written in Akkadian script the language was unknown, and the only clue was a certain similarity with some of the glyphs found on tablets in El-Amarna. After linguistic analysis, the language was decoded and proven to be Indo-European, but not Semitic.

The article goes on to deal with the history of the Hittite empire, from its beginnings in the 17th century BCE, its conquests, and its dynastic struggles, paying particular attention to the intriguing story of an Egyptian queen who, left a widow and “scorning to marry a servitor,” offered herself in marriage to one of Hittite heirs. This alliance was short lived: In 1274 BCE, Egypt and the Hittites fought each other at Kadesh. This, the most documented battle of the time, has been estimated as the greatest chariot battle of the period (5,000-6,000 chariots). The Egyptians were victorious in the open battle, but were unable to take Kadesh despite a siege. The two sides opened a war of attrition against each other that lasted 15 years. This war ended, by mutual consent, in a peace treaty in 1258 BCE, with both sides promising to keep the borders and to be allied with each other in case of invasion.

By 1237 BCE, the Hittite empire was in decline, and by 1190 Hattusa had been attacked, looted, and burned. The article takes care to mention that the 500 years of its existence approximately match the time from the sacrifice of Isaac to the beginning of the Israelite settlment in Canaan. By Solomon’s time Hattusa had been conquered by Assyria, although Hittite city states remained.

HaMahane HaHaredi-Olamot, March 26, 2015

The sunken city of Herakleion (Thonis) in the Bay of Aboukir by Alexandria—long considered a myth—appears to have been one of the most significant of its time. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of some 64 sunken ships, gold coins, letters (some written on thin sheets of gold), stone tablets with Egyptian hieroglyphs, remains of markets, and particularly some 700 anchors. However, even though Herakleion sank some 1,200 years ago, archaeologists remain unable to say why such an important city sank into the depths. Herakleion was originally discovered by French maritime archaeologist Franck Goddio some 15 years ago.

BeSheva, April 16, 2015

This reader’s letter protests the expenditure on restoration of Roman and Christian Caesarea, Roman Beit She’an, and the building of a church in Capernaum, while the ancient synagogues at these sites, “remnants of the Jewish past,” suffer “ongoing neglect.”

BeSheva, April 16, 2015

Photos taken this week on the Temple Mount show the Muslim Wakf carrying out floor work and digging inside the Dome of the Rock structure. Construction Minister Uri Ariel sent an urgent letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the subject, demanding that the police be instructed to halt all work on the site until the appropriate permits are given.

Israeli, March 27, 2015

470,000 digital photos of all the Cairo Geniza documents and fragments in the world are now digitized and available to the public free of charge, courtesy of the Friedberg Project for Geniza Research, headed by Prof. Yaakov Shwika. This collection of documents was found some 115 years ago; the physical documents and fragments are currently to be found in 75 libraries all over the world.