During the week covered by this review, we received 18 articles on the following subjects:
Christians and the Holocaust
Conversion to Judaism
Ashdod BaKotarot, November 18, 2015
The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim warns against missionary volunteers who have been clandestinely distributing material to Ashdod mailboxes in the middle of the night, and recently in Jewish orthodox neighborhoods. Yad L’Achim has asked citizens in the area to notify them if any such material is found, and to destroy it at once. Rabbi Binyamin Volkan, director of field activities in Yad L’Achim’s department for fighting missionary activity, has stated as well that in his opinion the rare fact of material distribution in orthodox neighborhoods is “an intentional provocation and an act of revenge against the sectors of the city which are preventing them [the missionary factions] from increasing their influence.”
HaMevaser, December 4, 2015
Residents of Jerusalem neighborhoods have called the Movement for Jerusalem and Its Inhabitants hotline regarding missionary material distributed from Jerusalem’s Clal Building in the form of material in mailboxes and road signs. The head of the movement, Rabbi Chaim Miller, has turned to the party heads in the Jerusalem municipality and demanded that they act to remove “the abomination advertisements.”
Maariv; Haaretz, November 29, 2015
Coptic Pope Tawadros II recently made a highly controversial visit to Israel—breaking a pilgrimage ban imposed by his predecessor, the late Shenouda III—in order to attend the funeral of Coptic Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East, Father Anba Abraham, who passed away at age 72 after a long illness. Although some Coptic officials and Egyptian party members saw the unofficial visit as a “political sin,” the pope has stressed that his visit was not official but “a necessary human duty, meant to honor a man who dedicated his whole life to the church and to the homeland.” Father Abraham’s funeral took place on Saturday, November 28, at a Church of the Holy Sepulcher compound “where the Coptic Church has maintained a presence since early Christianity.”
Tawadros II was chosen as the 118th Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of all Africa on November 4, 2012.
Maariv, November 29; The Jerusalem Post, December 3, 2015
Dr. Jürgen Bühler, executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, addressed a European Union parliament symposium in Brussels on December 2, calling upon them to find an alternative approach to the labeling of Israeli settlement products. “This is a double standard,” said Bühler, as the same approach is not used in the case of other disputed territories such as northern Cyprus or the Western Sahara. Additionally, Bühler stated that “as the Oslo accords state that final borders will be determined by mutual negotiation and agreement between the two sides, the European Union is in effect stating that ‘there is nothing to negotiate, and this is the area of the Palestinian state.’”
Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest and “activist for Christian Arab integration into Israeli society,” also addressed the symposium. He declared that Israel—as the Holy Land and “cradle of Christianity,” and the only state in the Middle East where Christians enjoy freedom of religion and worship—should be protected, but instead the EU decision to label settlement products “goes against Christian values and is part of a de-Christianization of Europe.” Naddaf further called the decision “racist, anti-Semitic, stupid,” and said that it would affect all minorities in Israel, not just Jews.
Christians and the Holocaust
Haaretz, December 3, 2015
US Army Master-Sergeant Roddie Edmonds of Tennessee will be the first American serviceman to be declared a Righteous Gentile by Yad VaShem in a ceremony next year. Taken prisoner in 1944, Edmonds was incarcerated at Ziegenhain in Germany and put in charge of some of the POW barracks. When the German camp commander ordered the Jewish prisoners to report the following morning, Edmonds ordered all the American prisoners to appear, which in fact took place. Upon being questioned by the commander, Edmonds said, “We are all Jews here,” adding that according to the Geneva Convention a prisoner of war is required to give is his name, rank, and serial number only. Edmonds refused to change his statement even when the commander held a pistol to his head, and told him, “If you shoot me you’ll have to shoot us all, since we know who you are, and when the war ends you’ll be declared a war criminal.” This caused the commander to back down, and the Jewish prisoners were saved.
The story remained unknown until Edmonds’ son Chris, who was searching the Internet for something entirely different, found a newspaper article in which one of the Jewish prisoners at the camp mentioned it in passing. Chris Edmonds, now in Israel and studying at Yad VaShem, will receive the honor in his father’s place next year, as Edmonds himself passed away in 1985.
Haaretz, November 29, 2015
This opinion piece states that the only way for the jihadists to be stopped is if the enlightened Islam, “which coexisted for hundreds of years with Christians, Jews and other religions,” stands against them and denounces them as heretics. Europe and the West, having ignored the warnings of people such as Italian author Oriana Fallaci, are now “unable to control them.”
Conversion to Judaism
Yated Ne’eman, December 4, 2015
Rabbi Aharon Waldman, who is ethnically Chinese, tells how he was dissatisfied and “felt empty” with what he could see and was taught during his childhood and university years in China. He began his search with Christianity, but after studying many different Bible translations, seeing the differences between them, and being disillusioned by the fact that many Christian ministers did not know Hebrew, he began to study biblical Hebrew on his own. Eventually, both in China and in Toronto, where he continued his university studies, he came in contact with Jewish rabbis, with whose help he completed his conversion process. Today, Waldman lives in Safed with his American Jewish wife and their young son.
Haaretz, December 4, 2015
This advertisement wishes to remind the public that the Bible Lands Museum’s By the Rivers of Babylon exhibition will be closing on May 15, 2016. It invites the public to view the collected finds, showing the Jewish exiles’ manner of life in Babylon and their eventual return to Israel.
Ha’Ir Kol Ha’Ir, November 27, 2015
Jerusalem’s YMCA inaugurated the Holiday Festival on Sunday, November 29. The festival’s events are meant to make the month of December a multi-cultural experience, and will highlight Judaism’s Hanukkah, Christianity’s Christmas, and Islam’s feast of the birth of Muhammad.
Israel Hayom, December 2, 2015
A 1,300-year-old oil press has recently been found at ancient Shiloh, and its size—along with another oil press found nearby in the past—has led archaeologists to conclude that it was public, and that Shiloh was the center for olive oil in the region during that time. A large number of charred olive pits, as well as potsherds and glass lamp fragments, have been found in the vicinity as well.
Israel Hayom; HaMevaser; Yediot Ahronot; Haaretz, December 3; Makor Rishon, December 4, 2015
A clay bulla with the impression “Of Hezekiah son of Ahaz, king of Judah” has been found in the Hebrew University dig at the Ophel, south of the Temple Mount. The bulla, which is 9.7×8.6 millimeters and depicts a winged sun and an ankh, was found in a state building that appears to have served as a food storehouse. Thirty-three other bullae, with other impressions, have been found on site as well. Dr. Eilat Mazar, who has been leading the dig, stated that although bullae with Hezekiah’s name have been found before, “this is the first time one has been found in a scientific dig.” Researchers, intrigued by the bulla’s depiction of the winged sun, a symbol of divine patronage, as well as by the ankh, conclude that the bulla is from the later period in Hezekiah’s reign, and take it as evidence “which strengthens the supposition that Hezekiah recovered from the boils which endangered his life.”
President Rivlin, who wished to see the bulla personally, stated that “this is an exciting and stirring find, which strengthens our sense of belonging to our people who lived here many years ago.”
The bulla itself was found during wet sifting at the Temple Mount Sifting Project facility in Emek Tzurim.
Makor Rishon, December 4, 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 (see previous reviews). Among the remains found were a massive wall, the base of a tower, a steep incline to preventing the approach of siege engines, arrowheads, ballista stones, remains of thousands of wine amphorae, and coins dating from the years between Antiochus IV and Antiochus VII Sidetes. According to Josephus Flavius, the fortress was conquered by Simon Maccabaeus in 141 BCE after a siege.
Others oppose this conclusion, saying that the structure found isn’t in fact the Acra fortress. This opinion is based mostly on the fact that Josephus Flavius states that Acra was higher than the Temple, and that the steep incline as a defense measure hasn’t been found in non-Hasmonean sites. They conclude, therefore, that the structure in the Givati parking lot is a Hasmonean-era governmental building.