During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the following subjects:
Iton Shacharit, September 18, 2018
This article described a group of “missionary Subbotniks” (Judaizing Christians) who attempt to convert Jews living in and around the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. Anti-missionary organization Or L’Achim claims these missionaries use a façade of love and mercy, when in fact they use deception, pretend to be Jews, and trick their way into the country. Or L’Achim calls them “Subbutniks” because the missionaries decide to Judaize of their own accord, without rabbinical guidance, and they are therefore not Halakhic Jews.
The Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2018
This opinion piece was written by Faydra Shapiro, Director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, who also researches Messianic Jews and Jewish Catholics. The author recounted being invited to observe a get-together of about 50 Jewish Christians in Dallas, Texas. The gathering included Messianic Jews, Anglican Jews, Catholic Jews, Presbyterian Jews, and Eastern Orthodox Jews. Vegetarian food was served in order to be sensitive to the Kashrut observers, and Hebrew and Yiddish were spoken, in addition to English. The group celebrated Catholic mass in Hebrew in the mornings, and prayed the Messianic Jewish “mincha-maariv” in the evenings. The priests, pastors, theologians and ministers had gathered together in order to ask how they could ensure Jewish survival. Shapiro wrote, “Undoubtedly these are pretty out-of-the-ordinary Jews. But they are most certainly Jews: Jews whose lives would in fact be much easier if they were to assimilate; Jews who have suffered for their Judaism.” When the author told the priest sitting next to her during the meal that she keeps kosher (and therefore could only eat a salad), he responds: “Good! May you always do so!” Nobody in the group attempted to convert her. Instead, they made her feel welcome. She concluded: “At a time when the mainstream Jewish community finds it so challenging to get Jews to live active and committed Jewish lives, this gathering was an unexpected inspiration.”
The Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2018
A Messianic Jewish Congregation in Ashdod has suffered a vandalism attack. Senior pastor of Beit Hallel, Israel Pochtar, uploaded a picture to Facebook of two ultra-Orthodox men spray painting such slogans as “the mission is a national disaster” on the congregation’s new building. Pochtar called the incident an “act of hatred against Messianic Jews,” and made an official complaint with the police. Pochtar said, however, that in the past the police have not taken the safety of the Messianic community in Ashdod seriously enough. The police have opened up an official investigation. Beit Hallel has about 300 congregants, who have faced, according to Pochtar, systematic “harassment, bullying, shaming and threats from ultra-Orthodox residents of the city.” Beit Hallel continues to be an active part of the Ashdod community, distributing weekly meals to 1,200 needy families with the help of about 100 volunteers from the congregation. The author of the article noted that “Messianic Jews are continuously ostracized both by mainstream world Jewry and by Israel with an almost blanket rejection of Messianic Jews, or Jews who believe in Jesus.”
Yedioth Ahronoth, September 17, 2018
A group of Evangelical Christian medical volunteers arrived from all over the world in order to treat war victims in Syria. The group, Frontier Alliance International (FAI), partnered up with the humanitarian branch of the IDF (“Operation Good Neighbor”) in order to enter into Syria by way of the Israeli border. The goal was to provide medical aid under the sponsorship of Israel. The FAI team, headed by Dalton Thomas, set up clinics, delivered babies, operated on injured patients in the killing fields, and took care of children who sustained serious wounds. Thomas established the presence of FAI in the Middle East in 2011 in response to the revolution in Syria. Initially, the group worked in countries around Syria – Turkey, Northern Iraq, Jordan, etc. In 2016, Thomas heard of the IDF’s Operation Good Neighbor (OGN) and reached out with the intention of cooperating together. OGN had already supplied infrastructure, water pipes, generators and basics such as food, clothing, baby food, and medical equipment to Syrians. OGN was interested in the partnership, and thus a “Christian team” arrived in a “Muslim country, through a Jewish border.” Thomas said: “It was hardest to see the children. Small children, horribly injured, losing arms and legs, with head injuries. These are the things that are engraved in our memories… I have four children at home, and in every injured or dead child, I saw my own children. It felt like I was saving my children.” One of the volunteers, Nicola Walsh from New Zealand, recounted crossing the border and being taken to a refugee camp without electricity, having limited food and lots of mice. She recalled that, in addition to war wounds, many people suffered from untreated chronic illnesses such as diabetes, anxiety, or high blood pressure. The Christian Embassy of Jerusalem helped to fund the purchase of medical equipment and in addition, drafted its own volunteers. Representatives from FAI will participate in the Embassy’s Feast of Tabernacles in order to speak about the medical mission. Thomas concluded, “Many of the patients we treated had never met Christians or Jews and had been inculcated to hate us, but Christians and Jews saved them.”
Correction: In last week’s Media Review, under “Anti-Missionary Activity”, missionary activity had been reported as taking place around “HaOman” St. in Jerusalem, whereas the location for the alleged missionary activity was Uman (Ukraine).