During the week covered by this review, we received 15 articles on the following subjects:
Christian / Jewish Holidays
Interfaith Relations / Dialogue
Christian / Jewish Holidays
Yedioth Ahronoth, December 13, 2021; Yedioth Ahronoth, December 19, 2021
These two articles detailed the Christmas events for 2021 in light of the Covid pandemic, and the inability to travel abroad for the holidays. Jaffa, Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Western Galilee, Haifa and Timna Park all offer a variety of events, from Midnight Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, to Christmas markets with giant, ornate fir trees, Santa Claus walking among the crowd, stalls selling roasted chestnuts and mulled wine and an atmosphere of joy after two very challenging years. The events, some of which have started already, will continue until the end of the month.
A second 2,000-year-old synagogue was discovered in the ancient Jewish settlement of Migdal, also known as Magdala, in the Galilee. The location is prominently featured both in the writings of Jewish-Roman historian Josephus Flavius, and in the Gospels, where it is known as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. The first synagogue was uncovered in Migdal in 2009, when an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed Jewish ritual baths, streets, a marketplace and industrial facilities. A unique artifact stood in the middle of the synagogue’s main hall: a large stone portraying the Second Temple of Jerusalem, with a carved seven-branched menorah on one of its sides. It represented a crucial discovery because the depiction was engraved in the stone when the temple was still standing. The newly discovered synagogue was shaped as a square and built in basalt and limestone. It featured a main hall and two other rooms. The main hall was coated in white plaster and featured a stone bench along the walls, also coated in plaster. One of the smaller rooms presented a stone shelf. According to the experts, it might have been used to store Torah scrolls.
Hamodia, December 13, 2021; Shacharit, December 13, 2021; Yated Ne’eman, December 14, 2021
As reported in the previous review, the Knesset Finance Committee, led by Orthodox MK Yinon Azulai, decided to refuse tax-deductible donation status to a Messianic organization, despite a previous ruling by the Supreme Court against such actions. According to Azulai, “The Mission is the destruction and ruin of Israel. This is what they did to us in the Holocaust, and this is what they want to do to us today. We must not give these people a foothold anywhere near us, and certainly not give them government support.”
Yedioth Ahronoth, December 15, 2021
President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog visited the city of Nazareth and met the leaders of the Christian churches in Israel at the Basilica of the Annunciation. The President and the church leaders were photographed in front of the church’s Christmas tree, the largest in the Middle East, and the President spoke in Hebrew and Arabic. “I call on all our brothers and sisters of faith around the world, and especially in the Middle East,” said Herzog, “May we always remember that we all pray to the same God and that we all want lives of peace and partnership based on understanding and fraternity.”
Maariv, December 17, 2021
This was a special feature written by Father Francesco Patton, the Catholic Church’s Guardian of the Christian Holy Places. “In early December, the Jewish people celebrated the eight days of Hanukkah, and on the 25th of the month, Christians will celebrate Christmas. Both of these holidays use the symbol of light to express deep meaning,” he wrote. “We need to create hope for everyone, from children to the elderly, to people of all nations, languages and religions. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. With a strong belief that we can share hope when family and friends gather around the light of the Hanukkah menorah or Christmas tree. It reminds us all that we have always known how to overcome obstacles and difficult times, because even a small light is stronger than the deepest darkness.”
Kol Hair Bnei Brak, December 15, 2021, Matsav Haruach, December 17, 2021
As reported in the previous Media Review, international aerial photographer Israel Bardugo is currently facing a lawsuit after demanding compensation and the removal of his photograph from the publications of the Bible Society, “an organization that promotes Christianity”. Bardugo approached the Bible Society, demanding compensation for the use of his photograph. After not receiving a response, he filed a lawsuit in the amount of NIS 80,000 as compensation for infringement of his copyright, which he claimed harms his livelihood. In response to the lawsuit, the Bible Society countersued, alleging that Bardugo does not approve of the use of his photographs for a number of purposes including violence, pornography and missionary activity. In so doing, it is argued, he is discriminating against the Bible Society. The countersuit is for NIS 50,000.