During the week covered by this review, we received 17 articles on the following subjects:
Yom L’Yom; HaShavua B’Holon–Bat Yam, October 29, 2015
The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim reports many calls regarding missionaries using the recent unrest as an opportunity to preach Christianity (see previous review). In response, Yad L’Achim has begun a campaign to raise the awareness of the public concerning this issue, and has renewed their requests to orthodox members of the Knesset “to do all in their power to pass the anti-missionizing law.”
The Jerusalem Post, November 2, 2015
On October 26, The Jerusalem Post reprinted an article by Ross Douthat from The New York Times, on the subject of “controversies within the Catholic Church.” Douthat stated the opinion that Pope Francis is “in favor of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without their first marriage being declared null,” and explored whether the pope may be determining the membership in and attempting to influence the statements of the synods in order to reach a doctrinal change in this matter.
“Dozens of academic names” objected to the October 26 article speedily and vehemently in a letter to Douthat’s editors on the Daily Theology website. This letter stated that Douthat was making “unfounded accusations of heresy” and that Douthat’s lack of theological credentials made him “unqualified to opine on debates within the Catholic Church.”
In response, Douthat states his views on this controversy in more detail. Beginning by explaining the columnist’s task “to explain and to provoke,” he goes on to dismiss claims that allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without their first marriage being nullified would be “a pastoral change and not a doctrinal one,” as this permission would nullify Catholicism’s doctrine that marriage is indissoluble, however any official position might be phrased. In response to his lack of academic credentials, Douthat stresses that “Catholicism is not supposed to be an esoteric religion, accessible only to academic adepts.” Thirdly, Douthat states that “development of doctrine is supposed to deepen church teaching, rather than reverse or contradict it,” and that “developing doctrine to keep up with history, no matter how much of the New Testament is left behind” “sounds like heresy, by any reasonable definition of the term.”
Yediot Ahronot, November 4, 2015
This article is an interview with Krzystof Charamsa, a 43-year-old Catholic priest from Poland, who declared a month ago that “he is homosexual and has a partner.” His declaration caused a furor and he was immediately dismissed from all his positions. He left Rome after 17 years, and has gone to live with his Spanish partner in Catalonia. As for much of his life “he felt ashamed, as though he had an illness,” he has decided to come out in the open “in order to stop the language of homophobia and hatred.” When asked about his position on family, Charamsa stated that he wants to raise a family of his own, and that the church should not forbid priests to marry, but leave the decision up to them. When asked how his views and position line up with the Bible, Charamsa stated that “the church says ‘this is what the Bible says,’ and I object to this,” and that “what is written is regarding a particular time period, and cannot be interpreted in a unilateral fashion.” He finds a close connection between homophobia and anti-Semitism, and is of the opinion that “gays have become the new enemies of Catholics.”
Maariv, November 6, 2015
This article is an interview with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, head of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), known for raising some 150 million dollars annually for various projects in Israel. Particularly notable among the subjects covered was the fact that the average contributor is someone who gives a miniscule monthly amount, simply because they believe in blessing Israel. Eckstein also emphasized that although it appears that his work is allowing the government to remain inactive, in reality there is a vacuum caused by insufficient funds allocated to welfare, the frequent changing of the welfare minister, and the inherently slow movement of bureaucracy. “The person with urgent needs does not care about this,” says Eckstein, “so we say, ‘we will do good, and give hope.’”
Meida 8, October 16, 2015
Mount Hermon has recently seen an increase in pilgrim visitors, who, contrary to many other Christians, believe that Jesus’ transfiguration took place there, and not on Mount Tabor. Some, such as Bishop Paul Gmaranche from Mexico, have even done a live broadcast to their congregants in their home countries from the mountain’s peak.
Gefen HaMoshava, October 30, 2015
This article reviews Underneath the Surface: The Interaction between Archaeology and Politics in Israel, by Shuka Dorfman, published posthumously with the assistance of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Dorfman’s many research projects. In this book, Dorfman, having been head of the IAA for 14 years, gives a view from behind the scenes of “conflicts, ideologies and power struggles as they are reflected in the work of the IAA.” He devotes particular attention to the way in which “archaeology has provided answers for the national justifications of the Jewish people over their land,” how archaeology can be “a tool for dialogue or fuel for the fire,” and how archaeology “decides who the sovereign was in the past and gives legitimacy for politics in the present,” particularly as regards Jerusalem.
Yediot Ramat Gan, October 30, 2015
A delegation from the German embassy to Israel recently visited the Jewish orthodox Holocaust memorial archive. During their visit, the delegation heard explanations on the way the orthodox community deals with the Nazi government period. The delegation was particularly interested in the way Jewish customs were carried out under the regime, and in the story of a Jewish boy transported out of Germany who wrote letters to his parents, but to no avail. The delegation stated at the end of their visit that they would like to return and spend more time in the archive, as well as send other delegations to visit in the future.
Maariv, November 2, 2015
Oxford University, deciding “to follow Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code,” has appointed a team of experts to investigate famous Christian relics, with the intention of “separating the history from the myth.” The team, headed by Professor Tom Higham, includes experts in dating, genetics, chemistry, osteology, geography, archaeology, ancient Hebrew, ancient Greek, history of Christianity, Byzantine studies, and theology.
Haaretz, November 2, 2015
A 3,000-year-old seal has been found by ten-year old Matthew Tcepliaev of Russia, during a volunteering session at the Temple Mount Sifting Project (headed by Gabriel Barkay and Tzachi Dvira). The seal, which depicts animals, is unique in that it is made of limestone. Only one other seal of this style has been found in Jerusalem (and only four altogether), in the Ophel, between the City of David and the Temple Mount, by archaeologist Eilat Mazar. This rare seal “adds to finds showing that Jerusalem in the early Iron Age II was an important city and not a mere village,” say archaeologists.
Israel Hayom x2; Maariv; HaMevaser; Yediot Ahronot; Haaretz, November 4; BeKehila, November 5, 2015
Archaeologists digging in the Givati parking lot by Jerusalem’s City of David are convinced that they have found the Hasmonean-era Acra fortress, built in 167 BCE by Seleucid emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Hanukkah fame, which enabled Greek control of the temple and of the rest of Jerusalem. Among the remains found were a massive wall, the base of a tower, arrowheads, ballista stones, remains of thousands of wine amphorae, and coins dating from the years between Antiochus IV and Antiochus VII Sidetes.
The fortress, mentioned by Josephus Flavius, was conquered by Simon Maccabaeus in 141 BCE after a siege.