During the week covered by this review, we received 6 articles on the following subjects:
Arab Believing Communities
The Jerusalem Report, April 12, 2019
This was the last interview given by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a day before he passed away. In the interview, Eckstein stated that the purpose of his organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), was to build bridges between Christians and Jews, specifically those Christians who had not participated in inter-religious dialogue in the ’60s and ’70s – Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Fundamentalists. In the interview, Eckstein referred to Romans 9, where Paul wrote that Christians have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel by grace. This passage, said Eckstein, provides impetus for Christians to be involved in work that supports Israel and the Jewish people. IFCJ has 1.6 million Christian donors, and has raised 1.4 billion dollars, mainly from Christians. Eckstein said he had faced opposition both from the Haredi community, as well as Messianic Jews, who feel “they should be the ones to lead this movement of bridging Christians and Jews. And here we are, the largest organization with the biggest budget, and headed by a rabbi, even though most of our donors are Christians and we teach at Christian seminaries all over America.”
Hamodia, April 16, 2019; Iton Shacharit, April 17, 2019
These were two identical articles in separate publications, reporting that Or L’Achim is intensifying its activities to counter missionaries in the cities of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Bat Yam, and Ashdod. As part of the new initiative, anti-missionary theology books, written by Daniel Asor, will be distributed, and a series of lectures will be given around the country.
Arab Believing Communities
Haaretz, April 17, 2019
In the past, the Israeli Government has issued permits for Palestinian Christians living in the Gaza Strip to visit Jerusalem and worship in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Easter. This year, however, 200 permits were issued for Christian Palestinians over the age of 55 to leave Gaza and visit Jordan. The local church sees this has a hardening of conditions. One interviewee said it is unclear why Christians would choose to go to Jordan for Easter, especially the elderly.
The Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2019
This piece was about St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, where a team from Greece is engaged in a project aiming to digitize thousands of fragile manuscripts, including some of the earliest copies of the gospels. The project has taken on a sense of urgency, it is reported, due to the fact that Islamist militants have been more active in Sinai, and the Christian community in Egypt has become a target in recent years. The digitizing project could take more than a decade. The library at St. Catherine’s is known especially for its Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th century Greek manuscript of the Bible, which contains the oldest surviving complete version of the New Testament.
Christian Holy Sites
Adrichalut Nof, March 31, 2019
This article featured the Garden Tomb – how it was constructed, and how it became a place of worship for Protestants, in particular. According to the article, if Protestants have a “holy” site in Israel, the Garden Tomb is the closest thing to it, because Protestant ideology aims to identify the holy with natural and “unobstructed” beauty, that is, places which demonstrate that faith does not require institutional mediation. In its inception, it was meant to provide a visual illustration of a tomb, but over the years it has also become a place of prayer and worship. It has also been a space for rare reconciliatory meetings – such as Catholic masses taking places alongside Protestant communions, or Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs celebrating Easter together.