During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Pope and the Vatican
Yediot Haifa, January 29, 2016
In response to the Yediot Haifa article on the recently distributed book containing the Psalms and the New Testament (see previous Review), Rabbi Avi Weitzmann, head of the Haifa Religious Council, is offering books of the Psalms free of charge to all. He has stated in addition that this missionary activity is against Christian principles, as the pope himself has stated that Christianity’s relationship to Jews must be changed.
Christians in Israel
Israel Hayom; The Jerusalem Post, February 1, 2016
Three minors have recently been indicted in the Jerusalem district court for youth in reference to the latest vandalizing of the Dormition Abbey (see previous Reviews), charged specifically with “destroying property based on hostile religious motives,” and with “harming religious sensitivities.” The Anti-Defamation League stated, in reference to this attack and the others before it, that while they “acknowledge Israel’s efforts to combat this extremism,” they “share the feeling expressed by many in the Christian community that enough is enough.”
Yediot Ahronot; Merkaz Ha’Inyanim Yerushalayim, January 31, 2016
The Israeli government has approved a plan to add another “pluralistic and equal” prayer court at the Western Wall, south of the current prayer court, in order “to give appropriate expression to the religious pluralism in Judaism, and provide for prayer and ritual for the different streams in it.” This new “Court of Israel,” near Robinson’s Arch, is to be built in a way that will preserve the important archaeological remains on display there. Authority over the court will be given to a council headed by the CEO of the prime minister’s office and consisting of Conservative, Reform, “Women of the Wall,” government, and Jewish Agency representatives.
Orthodox prayer in the northern court will continue to take place in accordance with chief rabbinate guidelines.
The Pope and the Vatican
Maariv, February 3, 2016
Pope Francis will play himself in a children’s film on the New Testament, reports this article in Maariv. Profits from the film will be dedicated to two charities in Argentina that work with at-risk children. The studio making the film stated, “There are no words to express our excitement and gratitude to Pope Francis for his participation in this film.” However, the Vatican has emphasized that “the Pope is not an actor.”
Yom L’Yom, January 28, 2016
This article says that Rabbi David Azulay, Israel’s minister of religion services, was invited by the Jewish community in Rome to attend Pope Francis’ recent visit to Rome’s Great Synagogue. Additionally, Azulay was present at the meeting between Pope Francis and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and asked the pope “to make clear statements against terror” as well as that “anyone possessing Judaica items that had belonged to Jews killed in the Holocaust should return them.” During a later meeting with Cardinal Kurt Koch, Vatican representative for Jewish-Christian relations, Azulay strongly denounced attacks against Christian sites, and “expressed his concern over missionary activity in Israel.” Additionally, in a visit to the Vatican library and museum, Azulay relayed the Israel National Library’s request that 900 Hebrew manuscripts in the Vatican’s possession “be placed where Jews will have direct access to them.”
The Jerusalem Post, February 1, 2016
This article states that the United Methodists (see previous Reviews) and “other like-minded churches” are speaking “in defiance of historical record” when they declare that Israel belongs to the Palestinians and not to the Jews, as there were no Arabs or Palestinians in Israel at the time, and Jesus’ presence there shows an ancient Jewish connection to the land. While “reasonable people can debate the future disposition” of Israeli lands, “there is nothing reasonable about churches discarding their own history and branding as pariahs those whose only crime is to live in the same territories where Jesus lived.”
Haaretz, January 29, 2016
In this article, Father David Neuhaus reviews In This Time: Documents and Research on the Catholic Church and the Jews in View of the Holocaust and as a Result of It, by Dina Porat, Karma Ben-Yochanan, and Rut Baraude (Tel-Aviv University).
While calling the book “an important step in the dialogue between Jews and Christians” as “too few Israelis are aware of the size and importance of Nostra Aetate as a revolution,” and admitting that the book’s editors have included the most important documents on the subject, Neuhaus nevertheless thinks that the book is lacking both in the documents included and in the academic articles accompanying them. To his mind, the document collection should have included Pope John Paul II’s 1997 speech on the correct way to understand Jesus’ Jewish identity, as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s speech to the Jewish community in Paris, which was the first time a pope quoted from the Talmud. Neuhaus further states that although most of the academic articles in the book relate to the time of the Holocaust, an additional volume “should have been devoted to this revolution in dialogue in the broader spectrum.”