During the week covered by this review, we received 4 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, January 18, 2019
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is planning to build a new headquarters in Jerusalem, symbolically situated near to the American Embassy. The new building is designed by one of Israel’s leading architectural firms. It will be seven stories high and will cost an estimated $60 million to build. The Fellowship’s leadership believe the new headquarters will provide a “spiritual home” for Christian visitors – a means for pilgrims to connect to their spiritual roots and become goodwill ambassadors for Israel. In addition, the Fellowship plans to bring in seminarians and students from Christian colleges in order to educate them, as well as to provide them with volunteer opportunities. The new headquarters are expected to open in 2022.
Ha’Eda, January 18, 2019; Hamodia, January 24, 2019
The first article reported that Yad L’Achim recently debated whether a Jewish organization could partner with an American missionary organization in order to translate the Bible into Hebrew sign language. The unnamed American missionary organization had offered to donate $1.5 million over the course of five years towards the project. They agreed that they would refrain from providing any commentary and in addition, would remain unnamed on the final product. Yad L’Achim took the question of the partnership to an authority within the rabbinical community, who ruled that such a partnership was clearly forbidden. So, the funding and partnership has now been rejected.
The second article reported that Yad L’Achim has been publishing a magazine called “Mechapsim” (Hebrew for “seekers”), in which it reported about Jews who have left Messianic Judaism to return to Orthodox Judaism. One account was apparently of a high-ranking Messianic leader. In response to this “threat,” Messianic Jews started publishing “Motzim” (Hebrew for “finders”), which tried to address some of the questions raised by those who left the Messianic movement. The article argued that “Motzim” has failed, and that it only further demonstrated the effectiveness of “Mechapsim.”
Christians in Israel
Haaretz, January 25, 2019
Rachel Drazek, also known as Sister Paula, was a Polish Holocaust survivor who converted to Christianity and became a Catholic nun. Recently she passed away, and during the mass offered at her funeral at the Benedictine monastery at the Mount of Olives, the Hebrew Kadish prayer was prayed over her. The author commented: “In death as in life, her two inseparable identities remained together.” As a child Rachel was forced to move into the ghetto with her mother-in-law and her brother (both her biological parents had passed away). She managed to escape the ghetto on her second attempt, and while roaming the countryside, on the Feast of Epiphany, her and a friend came upon a chapel with a cross on it. In order not to raise suspicions, Rachel and her friend genuflected before the cross. Rachel considered that moment miraculous for her: “I saw someone suffering on the cross, just as I was. ‘You’re Jewish,’ I said. ‘You’re suffering and so are we.’” After hiding in a potato cellar for some months, Rachel was adopted by a German family as a “Polish orphan.” She attended church with the family, and although she experienced guilt about this, she decided that if she ever were to convert to Christianity, she would dedicate her life to praying for the Jewish people. After the war she joined a Benedictine monastery. Some family members tried to force her to leave her newfound faith, but she refused. In the 1970s, Rachel, now Sister Paula, traveled to Israel to meet with Brother Daniel, another Polish Holocaust survivor who had become a monk. She remained in Israel and learned Hebrew, celebrated the Shabbat, and made good on her commitment to pray for the Jewish people. She said: “This is my place. I don’t think I missed anything by becoming Christian. On the contrary. I found much more: Jesus was Jewish. His mother was a believing Jew. We Christians come from Israel and will return there.” The choice to have the Kadish prayed at her funeral mass was taken after Sister Paula heard that the same had been done at Cardinal Lustiger’s funeral – another famous Polish Holocaust survivor and convert.