During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
She’arim, October 13, 2019
This was a piece about Mark Sanders, a former missionary from California who converted to Judaism. Sanders became religious in his early 20s and decided to join a church. The article stated that he rose quickly in the ranks, and after a ceremony was ordained as a pastor or priest, which qualified him to be a “senior missionary”. His teachers at the monastery in California decided to send him to a remote kibbutz in Israel, where he would teach English and be an “undercover missionary”. Sanders found that even secular Jews were attached to their Judaism and were not interested in converting to Christianity. He began to question what he was taught and to find inconsistencies in the Christian Bible. After his time in Israel, Sanders was sent to work as a teacher to the Saudi Arabian marines, but left after suspicions emerged that he was a spy. Eventually, Sanders decided to look for a synagogue and to convert to Judaism. Currently, he is a rabbi, and teaches Hebrew and Jewish history to young people.
BeSheva, October 24, 2019; Mishpacha, October 24, 2019
Yad L’Achim has received reports that there is a new Jehovah’s Witnesses missionary campaign in operation around the country, including in Jerusalem, Haifa, and Hadera. Groups of 6-10 missionaries have gone door to door, in pairs, in an effort to convert Jews.
Haaretz, October 22, 2019
Israeli archaeologists have concluded that an ancient street at the archaeological park in East Jerusalem was built by Pontius Pilate. Coins found beneath and above the street, which stretches between the Pool of Siloam to the southern side of the Temple, date to the time of Pilate’s governorship. Both ends of the walkway play a role in the New Testament. The walkway had formerly been associated with Herod the Great.
Haaretz, October 22, 2019; Israel Hayom, October 24, 2019; Maariv, October 24, 2019
All three articles reported that a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church built by the Emperor Justinian has been uncovered in Beit Shemesh. The church includes decorated mosaics and glass windows, and an inscription dedicating the church to the “glorious martyr”. The identity of the martyr remains unknown, though scholars are searching ancient pilgrimage accounts in order to find out. The dig took three years and included the recruitment of thousands of youths who took part in the excavation as part of an educational initiative. One of those teenagers was Netanel Romm, a religious student at a yeshiva, who began working on the excavation at the age of 16. Romm said: “Digging in a church doesn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, I didn’t know much about Christian culture before, so it is interesting for me to learn about it and about what has happened throughout history, in my own backyard.” The Bible Lands Museum will be hosting an exhibition of artifacts found at the dig.
Christians in Israel
Maariv, October 24, 2019
The Terra Sancta Organ Festival will be taking place in churches in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Marking the 800-year anniversary since his peace journey to the Middle East, the festival will celebrate the life of St. Francis. Admission is free of charge.