During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Pope and the Vatican
Christians in Israel
Yediot Haifa, June 16, 2017
This article reports that some 140 Christian youth in Israel volunteered for military service in the last induction period. However, it appears that only 40 of them were received, a figure that seemed “strange” to Father Gabriel Naddaf of the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum, who suggested, “…radical elements would cause youths who are made to wait too long for their induction to change their minds.” At least two organizations act to promote recruitment in the Christian sector. Naddaf’s own recruitment forum has come up against bureaucratic problems, however, and he is considering closing it.
The IDF Spokesperson responded, “The army considers Christian recruitment to be very important and actively promotes it. The length of each volunteer’s process is different, but the military is willing to investigate any particular instance about which it is asked.”
The Pope and the Vatican
The Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2017
On June 13, Pope Francis appointed Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of Israel and Rabbi Fernando Szlajen of Argentina to the Pontifical Academy of Life, which was founded in 1994 by Pope John Paul II. The Academy of Life “…exists for the promotion and defense of human life, especially regarding bioethics as it regards Christian morality.”
Steinberg received the Israel Prize in 1999 for having written The Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics, and currently serves as the director of the Medical Ethics Unit of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, as well as the director of the Editorial Committee of the Talmudic Encyclopedia. Szlajen is the director of the Department of Culture for the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Buenos Aires. Steinberg and Szlajen are the first Jewish members of the Pontifical Academy of Life.
HaModia, June 19, HaMevaser, June 20, 2017
The anti-missionary activist organization Yad L’Achim has lodged a complaint with the police against HaGefen Publishing for operating a stall at the Rishon L’Tzion book fair, offering, among other items, a children’s Bible called The Testimony. Yad L’Achim stated the sale of this Bible “was in contravention of the law against proselytizing to minors.” Yad L’Achim also takes issue with HaGefen’s statement that the stories are a literal translation and do not contain any missionary exegesis, saying that HaGefen’s other publications state otherwise. As HaGefen is known as a missionary organization, its bookstall “…should have stated that it deals with missionizing and assimilation.” Yad L’Achim said the fact that it did not do so implies its intent to mislead.
The Jerusalem Post, June 23, 2017
This article is an interview with Dr. Debbie Weissman, a well-known activist in interfaith dialogue, to mark the publication of her book Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist. She told The Jerusalem Post that the message of her book is “…that one can be a great lover of Israel and still be critical, that one can be a religiously observant Jew and a feminist, and that one can balance Jewish particularism with a universal approach to human beings.” She sees religion as an important factor and says that even if people don’t practice it, they are influenced by a cultural tradition. Weissman noted that interfaith dialogue “…focuses on the common ground of theology, prayer, ritual, text interpretation and religious leadership as one of the ways to bring peace.” Weissman says that the humility religion often produces in adherents should help in interfaith relations.
Haaretz, June 23, 2017
Kirsten Pedersen (1932-2017), also known as Sister Abraham, was a unique figure in the interfaith scene in Jerusalem. “She was born in Denmark to a Lutheran family, became a Catholic nun in Sweden, joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, and spent her last years in a Benedictine convent on the Mount of Olives.” Pedersen arrived in Israel as part of a Franciscan pilgrimage group which traveled via Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. She joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church out of sympathy for the fact that Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1936, as well as her growing frustration with the trend toward secularism she saw in European monasticism.
Sister Abraham completed two degrees at Hebrew University, studying Bible, Hebrew literature and the Ethiopian Church in Israel. She spoke 15 languages. Her name “Abraham” was given to her when she became a “symbol of peace between the Abrahamic religions”.
Ze Ma Yesh, June 16, 2017
The Upper Galilee Hospice has recently received a new vehicle from the social-philanthropic organization International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, who receive contributions from Jews all over the world, from Israelis living in Israel, and from Israel-loving Christians.