During the week covered by this review, we received 12 articles on the following subjects:
The Pope and the Vatican
Maariv, July 24, 2016
Wishing “to inform the public of things Facebook hasn’t seen fit to,” this article tells about two conferences recently held in support of Israel, one a Judeo-Christian conference in Buenos Aires against anti-Semitism, organized, among others, by Hispanic Leadership for Israel; and the other the summit conference of Christians United for Israel in Washington. It is of particular note that the CUFI conference provided a children’s program as well, where children “participated in interactive study and activities that taught them to bless Israel.”
HaShikma L’Mehadrin; HaShikma Rishon L’Tzion, July 20; HaShavua B’Holon Bat Yam, July 21, 2016
Rabbinical authorities and activists of the anti-missionary organization Yad L’Achim are planning a demonstration in Rishon L’Tzion to protest the rental of the city’s performing arts hall for a three-day missionary event. The municipality has stated in response that “no such event is planned,” and that “sometimes a quiet action brings more results than populistic declarations.”
Yesha Shelanu, July 15, 2016
In this article Oded Ravivi, mayor of Efrat, reviews the recent conference held by the Yesha Council of Judea and Samaria and the reestablishment of the council’s international desk for Israel advocacy. As the desk’s goal is to communicate with the entire spectrum of opinion, its strategies include meetings with both foreign media and foreign diplomats. In all these contacts, one of Ravivi’s foundational principles is to “confuse them with facts,” and he brings his article for Ynet and the Times of Israel on the “blood libel” issue from June, the truth regarding the Palestinian water supply, and the resulting fruitful Internet dialogue with readers as examples of correcting misconceptions.
HaMevaser, July 26, 2016
The proposed law regarding mikvehs has passed the second and third readings in the Knesset (see last week’s Review). The law states that “the use of mikvehs in public ownership shall be done according to halacha and chief rabbinate rules only.” MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, the initiator of the proposal, stated in preliminary discussions that this “does not consist of a change in the status quo” and that “it is meant to prevent religious and municipal councils from being obligated to rent a mikveh to anyone.”
The Supreme Court ruled recently that Conservative and Reform mikveh use for conversion is to be allowed.
The Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2016
Avi Weiss, “feeling that Christian houses of worship do not belong in what is, in effect, the largest Jewish cemetery in the world,” has been campaigning for the removal of all Christian presence from the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. This is in accordance with the agreement made between four European cardinals and European Jewish leaders in 1987, which states that “there will be no permanent Catholic place of worship on the site of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.” In 1989, Weiss, along with seven others, protested a Carmelite convent established on the site in 1984. The convent was subsequently shut down in 1993 by order of Pope John Paul II. In 1995, Weiss and others protested the church that remains in Birkenau, and the whole group was arrested and held for several hours.
In view of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the site this week, Weiss called upon the pope to remove the church, as “a church has no place at Auschwitz II” and “its very existence at this sacred Jewish space is inappropriate, misleading and a violation of Shoah memory.”
Olam Katan, July 15, 2016
This article is a collection of facts on the Sea of Galilee, from geological data to the sea’s place in Hebrew poetry. Of particular interest is that the sea is the lowest sweet-water inland sea in the world; that it provides a quarter of the country’s water; the sea’s place in history, from Assyrian times to the modern day; and how Josephus Flavius reports the waters being red with blood after the Jewish rebels were defeated during the Great Revolt in 70 CE.
Sha’a Tova, July 21, 2016
The National Museum in Cairo has begun exhibiting a papyrus document containing a journal entry written by Marar, overseer of work for the Great Pyramid attributed to Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops). The entry, written in the 27th year of Khufu’s reign, describes the laying of the outer layer of limestone on the pyramid. The limestone had been quarried in the vicinity of today’s Cairo, and brought by Nile river boats to a canal that led to the building site. The entry also reveals that Marar was supervised by Khufu’s brother, who was chief builder.
It is interesting to note that there are 2.3 million blocks made of limestone in the pyramid, the weight of each being some 2.5 tons.
Maariv; Haaretz, July 26, 2016
The lower portion of a 4,000-year-old life size Egyptian statue has been found in excavations at Tel Hazor. The hieroglyph inscription on the base has not been deciphered completely, but it is known that the crossed feet on the statue are those of an official, and that the figure stood either at the official’s grave or in a temple, apparently to Phtha. This is the largest private statue found in the Levant from the second millennium BCE.
It is intriguing to note that over the last 30 years of excavations at Hazor, the shards of some 18 different Egyptian statues have been found, including a sphinx of King Mikrinos, who ruled Egypt around 2,500 BCE. As this is the largest Egyptian royal statue found thus far in the Levant, these two finds together “testify not only of the structure’s importance, but the importance of the entire site.”
Yated Ne’eman, July 28, 2016
A 1,600-year-old pottery workshop has been found at Shlomi, in the western Galilee, in a dig being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The workshop is unique in that a water system, storage compartments, and a kiln have all been found at the site. Archaeologists are particularly intrigued by the kiln, as it is complete, having been hewn in the rock, unlike other furnaces of the period found so far, which were built of stones, earth, and mud. However, Anastasia Shapiro, an IAA geologist working on the dig, states that it is logical for the kiln to have been hewn in the rock, as it is chalk, which is at once durable and easy to carve. Yupa Khushkar, head of the dig, states as well that the remains found are evidence that some of the vessels produced on the site were urns for dry goods intended as land freight, and others were amphorae for wine or oil and intended for sea freight.
Remains of a state building, apparently from the end of the Roman period, and house walls, apparently Byzantine, have been found on the site as well.