During the week covered by this review, we received 5 articles on the following subjects:
Bible / Biblical Scholarship
Haaretz, April 8, 2020
This was a piece about a current iteration of anti-Semitism which links Jews to the novel Coronavirus. The author began by saying that anti-Semitism has pre-Christian roots in Hellenic society, where cultural unity was facilitated through worship of common gods and rulers. Jews were hated on account of their social abdication. But anti-Semitism was deepened and spread by Christianity and Islam, and today is a feature of modern culture. The author argues that the rise in anti-Semitism today is also connected to demographic changes. Western populations are having fewer babies and require immigration in order to maintain economic growth and stability. With immigration there has also been a rise in rightwing nationalism and racism, accompanied by a rise in anti-Semitism. Modern anti-Semitism draws on an extensive history of hatred towards Jews. Recently, for example, a writer for a Jordanian paper accused Jews of spreading the new Coronavirus. The writer based this argument on an older argument that maintains that Jews started World War I, gaining for themselves the Balfour Declaration, and started World War II, which resulted in Jews gaining a state. Now, Jews are being accused of attempting to start World War III in order to attain global domination. Similar accusations were hurled at Jews during the bubonic plague of 1348. The author of this article went on to argue that anti-Semitism cannot be combatted by Jews alone, as there are only 13 million Jews worldwide. Jews need allies. Some current allies include Western governments, that work to prevent the spread of anti-Semitism through education, and the Catholic Church’s leadership. But it is important to start a campaign against anti-Semitism, on the internet specifically, by identifying online anti-Semitic activity and by showing that anti-Semitism is dangerous for humanity and not just for Jews. The Nazis, after all, were responsible for the deaths of 29 million people, and the ideology that caused so much destruction was anti-Semitism. Current campaigns against anti-Semitism that aim to show how nice Jews are, or how many Nobel prizes they have won, are ineffective, argued the author. A new campaign needs to be more aggressive and to argue that anti-Semitism is dangerous and harmful for everyone.
HaMevasser, April 8, 2020; Ashdod BaKoteret April 6, 2020
A Messianic Jewish “missionary church” in the city of Ashdod gathered on a couple of occasions to pray despite the current lockdown. Yad L’Achim notified the police once, but the police did not act quickly enough. Yad L’Achim notified the police a second time, who then showed up and dispersed those who had gathered to pray. Yad L’Achim sent a letter to the deputy mayor asking that the church be closed. Yad L’Achim vowed to continue fighting the missionaries.
Mishpacha, April 6, 2020
This was a piece about Jonathan Coleman, who came to Israel from the Netherlands with his missionary parents. They settled in Migdal and managed a missionary hostel there. Jonathan took interest in his Jewish neighbors, and decided to become Jewish one evening, after passing a synagogue and hearing the singing inside. He said he had never experienced anything like that and has not missed a Sabbath service since. Jonathan read many books after that experience and decided to go through the official process of becoming Jewish. His decision was not easy for his parents, but they supported him and did not stand in his way. He had to move out of his parents’ home because of kosher laws and other practical considerations. After some time, Jonathan’s dad also became more interested in Judaism, and left his Christian faith (though has not formally become Jewish yet). The article said there has been a similar trend amongst other Christians in Migdal.
Bible / Biblical Scholarship
The Jerusalem Report, April 1, 2020
A tour guide at the Western Wall Tunnels, Israel Rosenberg, has written a book entitled End Times and Messiah in Judaism. Rosenberg is Jewish, and his book deals with Jewish theology in Isaiah, but is addressed to Christians. Rosenberg notes that while Christians and Jews use similar terms, such as Messiah or redemption, they do not mean the same things by them. He decided to write a book that would explain to non-Jews how Jews understand these terms, and used Isaiah as the means to do so. He clarified that his intention is not to argue with Christians, noting that they have their own traditions of interpretation. Rather, he aims to broaden their understanding of how Isaiah is used and read amongst Jews.