During the week covered by this review, we received 14 articles on the following subjects:
Political Issues / Christian Sites
Political Issues / Christian Sites
Haaretz, December 6, 2020; Maariv, December 6, 2020
A 49-year-old Jewish resident of Jerusalem was arrested for attempted arson at the Church of all Nations next to the Garden of Gethsemane. The man was caught by a guard after he poured flammable fluid and lit a bench on fire, causing damage to the bench and to the mosaic floor of the church. The fire brigade managed to put out the flames, but said the fire caused a lot of smoke in the church. The arrested man has attempted arson before.
Five articles reported again about an IDF first aid course that spoke positively about Jesus and Christianity, subjecting Jewish soldiers to “missionary preaching”. Or L’Achim has logged a complaint with the Israeli political leadership.
Three articles reported that Yad L’Achim has discovered faulty mezuzot for sale. The mezuzot were empty inside and contained a Messianic Jewish symbol on them. Yad L’Achim believes this is evidence that Messianic Jews tried to use mezuzot to distance Jews from their Jewish faith by preventing them from being joined to God’s holiness through the mezuzah.
One article reported that the company for the Rehabilitation of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem has a “sinister plan” to restore a certain area of the Old City that includes a Christian church. The article stated that this is an “unforgivable crime”, as the church will turn into a symbolic place, foundational for the spread of Christianity.
The final article was a story about a boy named Yochanan, who grew up in a Haredi family in Jerusalem. After experiencing abuse from a family member, Yochanan decided to leave Israel and went traveling in Italy, where he decided he would become a Christian. He joined a monastery and started studying Christian theology. After a year, Yochanan returned to Israel with the purpose of being baptized in the Jordan River. He let his mother know his plans, and she contacted Yad L’Achim, who in turn dispatched an expert in theology to talk to Yochanan. The expert and Yochanan talked through the night, and after the meeting, Yochanan decided not to get baptized. Yad L’Achim then provided him with psychological assistance. Yochanan decided to return to his family and to his faith.
Kan Darom, December 4, 2020; The Jerusalem Post Lite, December 9, 2020
The first article was a survey done amongst a number of residents from Ashdod, asking them if they were for or against putting up a decorated pine tree in a shopping center in Ashdod. Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union tend to welcome the civil New Year by using similar decorations to Christmas decorations, celebrating what is known as “Novy God”. One respondent said he was for it and that everyone should be allowed to celebrate their traditions. He said he didn’t understand why Jews should feel threatened by a tree. Another respondent said that the tree was clearly a Christian symbol, and Jews are right to feel upset by its presence in a public space.
The second article listed some facts about Christmas, explaining that the holiday is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, who was Jewish and who was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Christmas lasts 12 days and includes traditions like exchanging presents and hanging stockings. Twinkle lights represent the belief that Jesus is the light of the world. Finally, the song Jingle Bells was originally written for Thanksgiving and not for Christmas.