During the week covered by this review, we received 3 articles on the following subjects:
Ha’Eda, June 28, 2019
This article reported on the accusations against Levinsky College in Israel, of legitimizing missionary activity by allowing a group of Messianic Jews to host an event at the college. Yad L’Achim sent activists to sabotage the event and give attending students information about the “cult” of the Messianic Jews. Yad L’Achim said they had good responses from those students, who did not know the event was promoting “Christianity in disguise”. Yad L’Achim sent a letter to the head of school to complain of the event, arguing that it is not a matter of religious freedom, but “the freedom to lie”.
Haaretz, June 28, 2019
This article discusses Talmudic scholar Daniel Boyarin’s new book on the ambiguous meaning of the term “Judaism”. Boyarin, a professor at the University of Berkeley in California, argues in his book, Judaism: The Genealogy of a Modern Notion, that “Judaism” is a modern Christian invention. A few hundred years ago there was “no such thing as ‘Judaism’”. It was not a term used in the Bible, the Mishna, or the Talmud, and not originally a Jewish term. Instead, Jews used such terms as “Israel, Hebrew, Israelites”, etc. The genealogy of our current use of the term, which denotes a voluntary religion, originated in the 16th century after the Reformation. It was then that religion came to be seen as a freely chosen association, “something of the heart”. Not until the modern period, with the development of Orthodox Judaism, did the Jewish tradition begin more and more to resemble the Christian tradition. This was especially evident when, with Jewish emancipation, “‘Judaism’ officially became the ‘religion of the Jews’”.
Makor Rishon, July 5, 2019
This was a piece about Qasr al-Yahud, Jesus’ traditional baptismal site on the Jordan River. The author visited the site under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense. The site was recently cleared of some 3,000 mines, making accessible not only the baptismal site, but also several ancient, as well as newer, Christian monasteries. The area was declared a closed military zone after the Six Day War, when Israel boobytrapped the area to prevent guerilla forces from entering through Jordan. At the time, Palestinian rings passed through the area in order to attack, but would stop for the night, hiding in the monasteries. Monks who refused to cooperate were murdered. After Israel evicted the monks and closed down the area, a new baptismal site was opened further North at the Yardenit for pilgrims to visit, instead. Decades later, churches gathered to hire a mine-clearing company, footing half the bill, with the Israeli Government footing the other half. Now that the area has been cleared, Church representatives will gather to plan their return. A 94-year-old monk was recently allowed to visit his old monastery which he was forced to lock up 51 years ago. The event was very emotional. It is expected that the new site will draw in 3-4 million tourists per year. The article discussed the multi-layered significance of the area, which is not only Jesus’ baptismal site, but also the traditional site of Joshua’s crossing into Israel, as well as the ascension of Elijah into heaven. In Christianity, it is argued, Joshua’s story prefigures the baptism of Jesus.