During the week covered by this review, we received 5 articles on the following subjects:
Messianic Jews (Individuals)
Haaretz, April 21, 2017
A group of Jewish and Palestinian families is planning to found an outpost near Adam, in order to provide themselves with affordable housing. Assaf Maman, one of the founders, has asked some Christian Arab families to join as well, and plans to open a bilingual school. However, some Adam residents are less than pleased with the fact that the new outpost is opening close to Adam’s entrance, one even calling it an “eyesore.” Apparently, the outpost’s approved building master plan, along with its geographical placement, means that it is in no danger of eviction from the Civil Administration, but can be changed only via approval from the Binyamin Regional Council. Although some consider this to be unlikely, sources within the council have stated that they are working to evacuate the settlement.
Mishpacha, April 6, 2017
This article is an interview with Rabbi Moshe Parush, who managed the Jerusalem branch of the anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim for 16 years. It covers the history of the organization, which has dual goals of strengthening Judaism and combatting missionary work. When Parush was asked why he believed people are drawn to Christianity, he said they were “…dropouts who had had no home base or close connection to their family”. He was also asked whether the methods the organization used to counter missionary work are what they have been reported to be, Parush replied he is a man who follows the rules, and doesn’t encourage “terrorism” in the work of the organization. Parush stated the law regarding mission work in Israel is too vague: “Until we have circumstantial evidence that the conversion was done because of the mission work that preceded it as well as proselytizing, it is hard to come to a legal case.”
Also present at the interview were Rabbi Shmuel Lifschitz, one of the heads of the organization, and Rabbi Hanoch Gechtman, the department head tasked with combatting missionary work. Both are of the opinion that Christian Protestants and Evangelicals are the biggest concern to Yad L’Achim in terms of their missionary efforts. Lifschitz describes how a former missionary told him his organization invested millions in campaigns for conversions, and that two Jews converted, adding, “the millions were worth it even for those two.” Gechtman describes how home visits, cultural events, trips and a magazine are used to “save converted Jews” from the lure of the missionaries. The article claims there are seventeen “active missionary centers” in Jerusalem’s Clal Building, including what appears to be a neutral events hall. The article included a call to the owners of the building “…to consult with the department for combatting missionary work regarding the ones to whom they are giving their ancestors’ inheritance.”
The Jerusalem Post, April 20, 21, 2017
On Wednesday, April 19th, President Reuven Rivlin met with Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Latin Patriarchate and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III to celebrate Easter. During the event Rivlin mentioned the recent attacks against Christians in Egypt, and said that Israel would continue to protect its Christian population, adding, “…the Jewish people ‘know better than any what it means to pray in fear and suffer from terrorism’.” Pizzaballa noted in response that Israel has suffered anti-Christian attacks as well, citing the example of the arson at the church at Tabgha, and stating that Christians were a critical presence in the country. Theophilos agreed, calling Jerusalem, “…a place that embraces a multi-religious and multi-ethnic mosaic.”
At the meeting, Rivlin was presented with a Hebrew translation of Nostra Aetate to mark the 52nd anniversary of the declaration. Nostra Aetate marks an essential doctrinal shift in religious history because it states, “Jews as a people are no longer held responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion; that the Church accepts Jews as the chosen people; and that the Vatican denounces anti-Semitism.” The Hebrew edition was published due to the efforts of Prof. Dina Porat, head of the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry; Pizzaballa; and Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee, among others. Rivlin stated his regret that the revolution represented by the declaration remains largely unknown, and recommended every home in Israel read the book.
Messianic Jews (Individuals)
Gal-Gefen Yavne, April 20, 2017
The Rishon L’Tzion magistrate’s court has recently ruled in favor of a Messianic Jewish couple in their suit against an event hall in the city after their request to book the hall for their wedding was rejected due to their desire to read New Testament verses during the ceremony. The owners of the hall stated to the court that the rejection was given by a new, inexperienced employee who followed incorrect procedure because of a misunderstanding. They apologized to the plaintiffs and wished to settle the matter out of court, but the plaintiffs decided to pursue a formal suit. Judge Karmit Ben-Eliezer ruled that the defendants are to pay the plaintiffs ILS 10,000, as well as ILS 2,500 to cover the costs of the trial.