During the week covered by this review, we received 9 articles on the following subjects:
The Holocaust (& Interfaith Relations)
Messianic Judaism (& Anti-Missionary Attitudes)
Bituach VeFinansim, April 4, 2018
This short piece, written by a Christian, explains the meaning of Easter and its parallels with the celebration of the Passover. Easter is described as the most important holiday within the Christian calendar, as it symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus on Golgotha – now found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Just as the Passover is a celebration of God’s taking Israel out of slavery and into freedom, so too do Christians celebrate being freed from sin. During the holiday, Christians make special cookies in the shape of crowns, to symbolize the crown of thorns worn on Jesus’ head. Christians call Jesus “Yeshua” and not “Yeshu,” as the latter is actually a shorthand way, in Hebrew, of saying “may his name and memory be crushed” when referring to Jesus. “We make sure to call him Yeshua because that was his real name,” says the author of this piece.
Haaretz, April 12, 2018; Israel Hayom, April 12, 2018; Maariv, April 12, 2018
In a report on anti-Semitism issued by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center, it is stated that in 2017, violent anti-Semitic incidents fell by 9%. However, there has been an increase in other forms of anti-Semitic activity worldwide. 65% of incidents were connected to property destruction, 20% to threats, and the rest to violent use of weapons and fire. The greatest increase is found in hostile attitudes within schools and on social networks. In France, with the largest Jewish population in Europe, tens of thousands of Jews have moved houses on account of experiencing anti-Semitism. This phenomenon is dubbed “internal exodus.” French Jewish kids have started to attend Catholic schools, as the environment in public schools is considered unwelcoming to them. The word “Jew” is even used as an insult. In the US, after Donald Trump announced the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, there was a 57% spike in anti-Semitic incidents. The US is also the country with the highest number of reported violent incidents worldwide. Dr. Chaim Freiberg, of the Kantor Institute, explains that anti-Semitism takes different forms in different regions. Eastern European anti-Semitism is associated with nationalism and exhibits the markers of classical Christian anti-Semitism. In Western Europe, however, it is associated both with Islamification, on the one hand, and with leftist anti-Israeli attitudes, on the other.
Holocaust (& Interfaith Relations)
Israel Hayom, April 12, 2018
Albania, a Muslim country, was the only European nation that had a greater number of Jews at the end of World War II than it did before the war. The Muslim community acted on the principle of “Besa,” the Muslim-Albanian honor code meaning “keeping one’s promise.” Under this ethic, Albanian Muslims protected Jews and thus saved them from Nazi destruction. To learn about this history, the Ministry of Education sent a group of about 20 Muslim students from Israel to travel to different relevant sites in Albania. Students met with witnesses who told students how they helped Jews escape. This historic episode has not received much attention in comparison to those stories of Christians who saved Jews in Western Europe. After Germany occupied Albania in 1943, Albanians refused to deliver Jews who lived within the borders of the country. Furthermore, Albanian actually took in Jewish refugees, and helped them to assimilate into Albanian culture so as to hide them better. A history teacher who attended the trip said that “the fact that the rescue happened at the hands of Muslims is what makes this event reverberate within the Jewish-Muslim context of Israel. Albania’s story, which is extraordinary, helps Muslim students share in an experience that is so significant to their Jewish friends.”
The Jerusalem Post, April 12, 2018
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (ICFJ) is calling for action. Every day about 40 Holocaust survivors die in Israel, and one in four is living in poverty. Vice President of ICFJ, Yael Eckstein, says “it’s not enough to remember… we need to act to make sure that those who survived are living with dignity.” Eckstein goes on to say that during the Holocaust Jews were alone, and even American Jews did not do enough to help. Today, it is Christians who provide the biggest source of support: 96% of ICFJ donations comes from Christians. “This is an especially potent message that inspires these survivors in a deep and profound way,” says Eckstein; “they are no longer alone, but the Christian community is standing strong with them.” Eckstein says that when 1 in 4 Israeli Holocaust survivors need help to make ends meet, it is not good enough to simply say “we remember.” She asks: “If we are remembering the Holocaust and we forget the survivors, how much do we really remember?”
Messianic Judaism (& Anti-Missionary Attitudes)
Kol Israel, March 29, 2018
This story, written by a rabbi, tells of a young Orthodox Jewish man who came to the rabbi for help. The young man had grown up in a very strict Jewish household, where keeping Torah and mitzvoth was imposed by way of threats and fear. One day, this young man went out for a ride on his bike, when he happens upon a table with free booklets under the title of “Happiness.” He recalls: “I don’t know what came over me. I took the booklet and kept biking.” The young man didn’t understand at first that this was a booklet produced by Messianic Jews who were “trying to convert Jews into Christians.” All the words in the book were “lovely” and the young man could not discern that they were “made of lies.” The book made him question his beliefs. His mother eventually found the booklet in his closet, and as a result both parents stopped talking to him. The rabbi goes on to say that “thanks be to God” the young man went back on the straight and narrow after he sent him to another famous rabbi who could answer all the young man’s questions. The famous rabbi was also able to show him a spirituality the young man had not seen before – to show him that God loves him, cares for him, and that one can keep mitzvoth out of joy rather than out of fear. The rabbi writing the article notes that “the human soul cannot only hear fears and threats.” He goes on to recommend that one should find the positive in keeping mitzvoth, as the means of getting close to God. He says: “I’ve talked to many young men who fell into great sin, and when they answered as to why they did, they said, ‘if I’m already going to burn in hell I might as well sin more’ and ‘God already doesn’t love me… so what do I have to lose?’ It’s a shame they didn’t know that God is with them in every circumstance.”
HaModia, April 12, 2018
A committee appointed by Naphtali Bennett has reported that there are 60 million people worldwide with a connection to Judaism or Israel, and that it should be examined as to whether individuals within these communities should be allowed to make aliyah. The list includes Jews who have converted, those who were forced to convert (in Spain, for example), Jewish decedents who are not eligible under the right of return, and those groups who claim to belong to the Jewish people (such as those from Ethiopia and India). The list also includes those who have a spiritual and ideological affinity to Israel. Yad L’Achim is fighting this report, as it says this will lead to a watered down Jewish identity, and that it will provide a platform for legitimizing conversion that is not recognized according to Halakha. Yad L’Achim states: “You cannot break the damn with regard to Halakha in order to artificially solve the demographic problem.” Yad L’Achim has also expressed dismay that the report has recommended recognizing converted Jews, since that would provide a way for Jews who operate as missionaries, such as Messianic Jews, to come to Israel. It is argued that even the high court has decided that Messianic Jews do not count as Jewish and cannot come to Israel under the right of return.
Kehilla Kadisha, March 30, 2018
This long piece is about a French man, Benjamin Kluger, who in his Protestant youth was interested in going to classes and reading books about Christianity. He was trained to spread his faith, and was eventually sent out as a missionary to Israel. Kluger, however, started to doubt what he had been taught and began to lose his Christian faith. Eventually he decided to convert to Judaism, when he realized that Christianity was based on lies. Kluger then joined Yad L’Achim in order to support their anti-missionary work. Kluger says: “The missionaries are everywhere, in every town in the country… Today there are more than 160 missionary congregations, but with the work of Yad L’Achim, we have managed to decrease their activities and hurt their missions. They try to get at Jews in every way possible, under disguise… with trickery. They are experts at falsifying Bible verses, and whoever is not well-versed enough loses.” Kluger says that Yad L’Achim was recently successful at closing down a aid mission in Nazareth: “They don’t help people, but seek to harm them,” he claims. Helping people, says Kluger, should be done for its own sake, not for the sake of conversion. Kluger also claims that missionaries have tried to complain to the police about Yad L’Achim with all sorts of false accusations. One missionary begged them to beat him up in front of the camera, because “they like to pretend to be victims, when they are the attackers.” Kluger also claims that Messianic Jews make money off of their missionary work.