During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the following subjects:
Kol Raanan, September 28, 2018; Israel Hayom, October 3, 2018
The first article reported that over 50 churches and Christian organizations from different traditions worldwide agreed to dedicate the 23rd of September to prayer for the return of the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. The two soldiers were killed and taken at the Gaza border a few years ago. The initiative, which was undertaken with the consent of the Goldin family, was intentionally planned in advance of the meeting of the UN General Assembly. The timing of the initiative was meant to highlight, amongst other things, Hamas’s violation of international humanitarian law. One church in Huston, Texas, dedicated two trees to the soldiers while a church in Germany prayed the Psalms in a dedicated prayer service. In Israel, Christians gathered to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as well as in other churches in the country.
The second article reported that a Jewish woman from a remote village in the country of Georgia, who has been herself baptized and has baptized her children (her husband is a Christian), turned to the rabbinical court to demand Jewish status and the right to return to Israel. The woman refused to go through the formal process of return to Judaism – expected of those who have converted but desire to be received back into the fold. Initially, the local rabbinical court rejected her request, saying that she could not be considered Jewish while married to a Christian and leading a Christian lifestyle. The woman appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court, which undertook the complex question of “how to define a woman born to a Jewish mother, but who in real life has lived as a Christian and who has married a Christian husband.” With a 46-page report referencing Halakhic law and history, the rabbis decided in her favor and instructed the Ministry of Interior to register the woman as Jewish. However, the rabbis warned: “We must demand that she not attend church, and that when she comes to Israel, she and her children will connect with Jews and not with Christians.”
The Jerusalem Post, October 2, 2018; The Jerusalem Post, October 4, 2018
The first article was written by Mike Evans, director of The Friends of Zion Museum (FOZ). Evans wrote that the Feast of Tabernacles drew in tens of thousands of Evangelical Zionists from all over the world. FOZ itself welcomed thousands of pilgrims daily and provided guided tours every 15 minutes to keep up with demand. “These pilgrims are unapologetically pro-Israel Christian Zionists,” said Evans, who went on to link this support with President Donald Trump, who was presented with the Friends of Zion award by Evans himself in 2017. Evans described how he welcomed Trump to Jerusalem by putting up 47 billboards dedicated to the President around the city. After Trump moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, FOZ launched “a massive campaign commemorating President Trump and the State of Israel, with 150 bus billboards.” Evans went on to note that FOZ has 28 million friends on Facebook. In addition, it runs a “Jerusalem prayer team” Facebook page, which boasts 50 million friends. FOZ, said Evans, aims to highlight the stories of the friends of Israel, to support the fight against antisemitism, and to stand against the BDS movement.
The second article reported that hundreds of young Evangelical leaders planned to come to Jerusalem in order to attend a massive prayer gathering. Eagles’ Wings, a nonprofit organization from New York, directed by Robert Stearns, has organized the event, which will be streamed to 90 million people worldwide. Stearns said he does not see young Evangelical skepticism towards Israel as a threat but an opportunity. Young Evangelicals are driven by concerns for social justice, said Stearns, and the problem is not “them turning away from Israel,” but “ignorance of the facts.” Stearns said he believes getting Evangelical millennials to the Holy Land would fix their perception of the situation. As part of the festivities, Evangelicals will also hold a prayer session in Bethlehem in order to show solidarity with “Arab Christian brothers and sisters.” Stearns concluded: “As representatives of God’s love, we want to build these bridges wherever we go.”