During the week covered by this review, we received 8 articles on the following subjects:
Haaretz, February 7, 2020
This was a piece about the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem, which was built by Georgian Christians in the eleventh century and purchased by the Greek Orthodox Church in the seventeenth century. For hundreds of years, the monastery has been an important intellectual center where various manuscripts have been copied by hand. A special icon was made for the monastery in 1770 that can still be seen today. It is an artistic representation of the stretch of land between the Jordan River and Jaffa (from east to west), and from Nazareth to Bethlehem (from north to south). In the middle, it depicts the various important churches and sites of the Holy Land. The article also discussed other important pieces of art which can be found in the monastery.
Ashdod BaKoteret, February 12, 2020
This was an opinion piece about missionaries. The author wrote that missionaries use sweet talk, fake smiles, and shiny stories in order to entice Jewish new immigrants with difficult lives. Missionaries offer these immigrants “false promises of salvation”. The author wrote, “we know that every Jew, no matter how closely he observes the law, is a link in the golden chain” and that “every soul lost, destroyed, is missed”. The article concluded that the “contamination” must be stopped before it spreads.
Five hundred men attended an anti-missionary conference in Ashdod, during which it was decided that volunteers would gather for their own Shabbat service in front of the “missionary church”, Beit Hallel (“House of Worship”), in Ashdod. The Beit Hallel congregation holds Shabbat services every Friday in order to “lure in innocent Jews”. A group of twenty anti-missionary volunteers showed up minutes before the beginning of the Shabbat, and held their service in front of the “church”. They spoke to Jews who came to attend the congregation’s service about why they were mistaken, and distributed theological materials. In response, the missionaries called the police, who came to the scene but informed the church that the religious volunteers had done nothing wrong. Yad L’Achim said it plans to continue with these types of activities.
HaMevasser, February 19, 2020
Yad L’Achim reported that a new youth center targeting religious and Haredi youth in Jerusalem, called “Adolam”, is a “missionary trap”. Yad L’Achim says it was tipped off by an insider who is leaving the Messianic Jewish “cult”, but who has been giving Yad L’Achim important information. The center was reportedly started by Yariv Goldman. Yad L’Achim posted quotes from various American Christian pastors praising Goldman for his missionary work.
Hadashot Haifa VeHaTzafon, February 19, 2020; Yedioth Ahronoth, February 21, 2020
The first article reported that the mayor of Haifa, Dr. Einat Kalisch-Rotem, hosted the Vatican’s ambassador to Israel, the head of the Greek Catholic Church in Israel, and the head of the Maronite Church in Israel, amongst other Christian leaders, to discuss strengthening Christian tourism in the north of the country. Kalisch-Rotem introduced plans to develop an airport in Haifa that will connect the city to destinations in Europe, and aid in boosting Christian tourism to the North.
The second article was about the growth in Christian tourism over the past few years, and the stress it has caused on an industry that has not yet been able to accommodate this growth. The head of Sar-El Tours, David Katz, said there has been a dramatic increase in Christian tourism over the past two years. Decreased fears of terrorism combined with global economic growth have resulted in the boom. There has been a particular growth in pilgrims arriving from Asian countries, though most Christian tourists are still American. The strain on holy and touristic sites has been great, and there are not enough licensed tour guides to meet the demand (the law currently states that tour groups must travel with a licensed tour guide). The Ministry of Tourism has said that it is working on solutions, including building new hotels, building a cable car over the Old City of Jerusalem, and changing the law so as to allow certain groups to travel without tour guides. To meet the growing demand from places like China, the Ministry of Tourism is offering financial scholarships for guides who want to learn Mandarin.