During the week covered by this review, we received 21 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
Conversion to Judaism
The Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, May 19, 20, 21; Globes, May 21, 2015
These articles continue the analysis of the Vatican’s recognition of a Palestinian state (“a phantom entity”). The reactions have been mixed, with some calling it “the latest salvo in its 2000-year-old struggle to disenfranchise the Jewish people,” saying that “doing as the Vatican has done is akin to suggesting that the Palestinians have replaced Israel as rightful owners of the land” and that “Israel needs to respond to this affront forcefully.” Others, however, have responded by saying that the move in the Vatican was unclear, and that the two now-canonized 19th-century Palestinian nuns are called so simply because the land was then sometimes called Palestine, and although they certainly spoke Arabic, so did many Jews in Jerusalem and Tiberias at that time.
Marshall Breger of the Catholic University of America’s School of Law has said that “this is a minor event and should not interfere with Jewish-Catholic relations.” Others have said as well that the statement is “concerning” and “important,” but mostly because it is yet another political entity recognizing Palestinian statehood.
Sha’a Tova; BeSheva, May 14; Yated Ne’eman, May 22, 2015
A conference recently held at Jerusalem’s Arena hall has caused extreme displeasure among the religious community, particularly as one of the subjects was “making witnessing in Israel more efficient.” The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim had taken action by sending an urgent letter to religious leaders such as the chief rabbis of Israel, religious Knesset members, and the Jerusalem municipality, as well as publishing the names of Avi Mizrachi, Avner Bursky, Shira Sorko-Ram of Tiferet Yeshua and Maoz Israel, Kobi Ferguson of Yeshua Israel, Morris Cerullo of Evangelization International, Dennis Lindsey of Messiah for the Nations, and Wayne and Anne Hilsden and Veikko Nuoraho of King of Kings as heads of “Messianic cults” who were present. In addition to all this, Yad L’Achim clarified that if these steps bore no fruit, they would consider a public protest.
Some of the religious figures written to, such as Rabbi Avigdor Liventzel, rabbi of the Old City, and Daniel Asor, a former Christian, have joined the fight as well, calling the Christian move a modern “crusade” and a “Final Solution” for people’s souls, and wanting to awaken the public to the “hate beneath the love.”
The Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2015
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem’s annual Jerusalem Day dinner was held at the ICEJ and hosted by its executive director, Dr. Jürgen Bühler. Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Bühler’s predecessor, was present as well, as were Mike Evans, Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, Josh Reinstein of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, Robert Ilatov of KCAC, Rabbi Shmuel Bowman of Operation Life Shield, Shaya Ben-Yehuda of Yad VaShem, and Dr. Billy Wilson of Oral Roberts University and Empowered21.
BaMachane, May 14, 2015
This article tells the story of Sergeant Hananiah Naftali, Lieutenant Yotam Fong, and Sergeant Liel Khouri, all Messianic believers currently serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The article begins with an in-depth survey of Messianic Judaism, including an interview with Meno Kalisher of Beit HaGeula in Jerusalem. Additionally, the article mentions how Messianic Judaism is not recognized by the State of Israel, and how all three interviewees see themselves as part of Judaism, rather than Christianity, and “have no interest in propagating their faith.” Lieutenant Fong stated as well that being a Messianic believer “helped him to not be worn down during Operation Pillar of Cloud,” to “understand each soldier in the best way,” and “to not only be a better commander, but to see the army as an educating tool.”
HaModi’a, May 22, 2015
This article is puzzled by the fact that BaMachane, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) publication, published a boasting, four-page article about the 300 Messianic Jews serving in the army (see above under ‘Messianic Judaism’) on the same weekend that a Christian conference was planned to be held at the Jerusalem Arena hall, and in which one of the Messianic interviewees said that “being Messianic helps one be a better officer.”
The Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2015
In this article, Ron Jontof-Hutter states that Europe “has never truly discarded Augustine’s ‘eternal witness’” principle, according to which the Jews were “destined to be dispersed to serve as ‘eternal witnesses’ due to their ‘folly’ of rejecting Jesus as Messiah.” Accordingly, “the emergence of the thriving, OECD member Jewish State of Israel has turned Augustine’s dictum on its head,” resulting in “resentment and envy by the European countries”—as seen in such incidents as Europe’s rare support of Israel in the UN, the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) “vilifications of Israel,” Pope Paul VI’s animosity during his 1964 visit, Europe’s “abandonment” of Israel during the Six Day War in 1967, German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s refusal to allow US aid planes to land in Germany in 1973, and more recently US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande’s refusals to address the Knesset (President Hollande’s refusal was later retracted).
In light of this, “Europe’s future and purported symbiotic relationships with its Jews and the Jewish State will continue to be in doubt” unless “theological anti-Semitism is resolved theologically” by “formally repudiating Augustine’s ‘eternal witness’ and reassessing education and historical revisionism.”
Conversion to Judaism
Israel Hayom, May 20, 2015
The McJenkin family “particularly loves the Shavuot holiday” as it was at this point last year that they converted to Judaism, after living as devout Christians, then Mormons, and then Amish. The parents of the family, now called Shalom and Nechama, were remarried in a Jewish ceremony, and have made aliyah on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight with other families. They intend to make their home in Yavni’el.
Beit Mashiach, May 21, 2015
This article details the life and search of Benjamin Lassange, now Benjamin Kluger, who after growing up as a Catholic turned to Protestantism, Islam, and at the last to Lubavitcher Chassidic Judaism (Chabad). After meeting a Christian missionary he joined the anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim, and he now works in the organization’s branch for fighting missionaries and cults.
The Jerusalem Post, May 22, 2015
In this article, The Jerusalem Post interviews Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat, who has recently appeared in the news both for tackling a terrorist on his way to work and for his meeting with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on their recent visit to the city.
Barkat stated that he “wants to make the city more accessible and a richer experience for those coming here” and that he “would like to see Jerusalem be the center of national and international events.” When asked about Jerusalem being “the epicenter of how Jews do and don’t get along,” Barkat said that “we need a deep understanding that Jerusalem was not divided into tribes and there’s room for all. … Ideologically, Jerusalem has to be a united and uniting common denominator city, otherwise it will never function.” Instead, the gap between Jews and Arabs in the city is bridged by “treating everyone honestly and fairly.” When officials from other countries come to Jerusalem and talk about “strained ties between Israel and the US,” “you have to stick to the right strategy and not stutter—and convey the unity of the city of Jerusalem.”
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, May 15, 2015
This list of museum exhibitions mentions the Resurrection Garden in Jerusalem’s Old City, commemorating the Jews’ return to the Jewish Quarter “after the separation from ancient Jerusalem”; the Broad Wall (from Hezekiah’s time); the Nea Church; the Bible Lands Museum, particularly the By the Rivers of Babylon exhibition; the Bloomfield Science Museum; Yad VaShem; the Israel Museum exhibitions, particularly those commemorating the museum’s jubilee, such as And then there was Nano, Holy Land Maps, and the museum’s first exhibition from 1965; the Tower of David Museum; and the Time Elevator.
BeSheva, May 21, 2015
This article reviews The Temple and Solomon’s Palace: A New Look in Light of Archaeology by Yosef Garfinkel and Madeleine Momtzogalo, recently published by Magid and Megalim, which covers the discoveries at Khirbet Kayafa near the Elah Valley, particularly “the surprising discovery of the stone describing the temple facade and its importance, and the architectural connection between Solomon’s palace and the temple built near to it.”
The book is divided into six chapters and includes photographs, diagrams, and maps.
Chaim Acherim, May 15, 2015
This article details the life of David son of Jesse, king of Israel, from his youth in Bethlehem to his meeting with Goliath, coronation, and reign. Written by a tour guide, the article details as well that the sites connected with his life may be found both in Bethlehem—through the Christian Church of the Annunciation—and especially in Jerusalem’s City of David.
Yediot HaSharon Herzeliya; Yediot HaSharon Kfar Saba, May 15, 2015
Pierre Bassnino, former president of the European Jewish Congress and born in Tunis, became a businessman in France. After succeeding in business he decided to dedicate 10 years to philanthropy, and now, at the end of them, he, has purchased the rights to the Burger King chain and made aliyah with his wife.
Bassnino’s activity as president of the European Jewish Congress has consisted mostly of Israel advocacy and encouraging aliyah. When asked, he stated that “we are in a third world war, and the Jews are on the front line.”
Haaretz, May 18, 2015
Former President Shimon Peres has begun to serve as president of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center, which is backed by a Christian organization led by the noted evangelist and writer Mike Evans. This move is opposed by the Samaria Settlers Council, which has stated that “it is an injury to the good name of the State of Israel” that its former president should serve as “the chairman of a Christian organization in Israel.” Both the Peres Center for Peace and the heritage center have stated in response that Peres receives no payment for his work, that there is no connection to evangelistic persons or organizations, and that the museum itself has no evangelistic element in its activity.
Makor Rishon, May 22, 2015
This article describes the stone model found by Garfinkel and Momtzogalo’s dig at Khirbet Kayafa (see above under Book Reviews). It particularly describes the model’s architectural details (such as the recessed facade) and how the similarity between these, the first temple, and Solomon’s palace are not only an added support to Solomon’s temple having been built in the manner described in the Bible, but 2 Kings having been written contemporaneously to the building.