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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘christian’

Greek Church’s ‘Eye or an Eye’ Blocks Jerusalem Festival

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem said Tuesday that it will not allow Jerusalem to use church property in the Old City for a festival because of alleged police action against Christians, according to WAFA, the official website of the Palestinian Authority.

Patriarch Theophilos III add that the festival “does not reflect in any way the true identity of Jerusalem,” according to his spokesman Issa Musleh.

Police allegedly attacked worshippers and clerics during Christian holidays, and WAFA told its readers that “Israeli fanatics attack churches, cemeteries and religious people.”

“It would not be sensible that anyone should expect any cooperation to make successful festivities not related to us or Jerusalem,” Musleh added.

Fundamentalist Exhibit of Noah’s Ark Awash in Red Ink

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

A Kentucky museum’s attempt to build a  replica of Noah’s Ark, along with the Tower of Babel, Abraham and the 10 Plagues, is going to need a modern miracle to come to life as money runs out.

Fundamentalist Christians are trying to teach the Bible to the world in the Kentucky city of Hebron, without the Cave of the Patriarchs, which would have been a much more logical project but not Christian enough.

The park’s design director Patrick Marsh told Reuters, “We’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was.”

The Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg was opened six years ago  and was supposed to be the source of funds for the Noah’s Ark project, but it got hit by the recession. Since then, visitors have been staying away in droves, denying the proposed new park the funds that wren supposed to finance the project that will cost nearly $150 million. If the Noah’s Ark project is not completed by next May, it will forfeit tax incentives and leave a further gaping financial hole.

The backers are a part of the same Bible thumping ministry that built the Creation Museum, which sticks to a literal view of the Creation.  It is headed by Ken Ham, who is at war with Darwin and scientists who claim the world is older than almost 6,000 years.

Building Noah’s Ark has raised some interesting questions, such as what is the “gopher wood” that is mentioned in the Biblical description of the building of the ark.

If the 160-acre project ever is completed, it will include a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, and a first-century village, along with a theme ride that will take visitors through the 10 plagues of Egypt, according to the Christian Post.

The ride is not a thrill ride, it’s a seven to 11 minute ride through the nation of Israel, where visitors will see the plagues portrayed,” “Mike Zovath, senior vice president and co-founder of the Ark Encounter, told the publication.

God, of course, is part of the project, and the newspaper wrote that Zovath “feels like God is part of their plan and their effort to teach the biblical position.”

But God has not come up with the money.

The Noah’s Ark project has come up with a way to raise funds by encouraging people to buy a plank or a beam.

Why didn’t Noah think of that?

‘Jesus Prayers’ in Legislature Upset Florida’s Jewish Delegates

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Jewish legislators in Florida are seeking an end to prayers that often open the daily legislative session with references to Jesus Christ. They want prayers to be “all-inclusive.”

Rep. Jim Waldman told House Speaker Will Weatherford on Friday the “J.C” moment offends them, but Weatherford’s initial reply was that every cleric, whether Jewish, Christian or other, can pray as he wish. Nevertheless, he will consider the request.

A one-page guide to all clerics suggests that they refrain from “preaching or testifying” and that she should “be especially sensitive to expressions that may be unsuitable to members of some faiths.”

Statements about the “father, son and holy spirit” are too much for Waldman, who said that Jewish colleague Rep. Kevin Rader usually enters the legislature only after the prayer is completed in order to avoid a “JC moment.”

“It’s just not non-denominational. I don’t care that it’s optional. That shouldn’t be the limit test. It should be inclusive. And it’s not inclusive,” he told the Palm Beach Post.

The issue has come up before in the Florida legislature, most blatantly in 1997 when an evangelist took the opportunity in his benediction to attack divorce and abortion and cite Jesus as “the true God, the only God.”

Rep. Waldman said, “This year more so than others, every time the prayer comes up, it’s in Jesus’ name. This is my seventh year talking about it, and it’s getting to be too much. It would be nice to have an inclusive prayer.”

Christian News quoted the Speaker as saying, “Every member, Republican and Democrat, has an opportunity to pick a person to come on their behalf. We had a rabbi last week who didn’t pray in Jesus’ name. …We don’t choose the prayers for them…. I hear your concern but I can’t tell someone how to pray.”

Waldman disagrees and says clerics can be told how to pray. “It’s supposed to be non-denominational. I mean, that’s the law actually, it’s supposed to be non-denominational, not proselytizing, and it’s just not been….For Jewish members, it’s an insult.”

One possible way of settling the issue might be for a rabbi to open a legislative session by blowing the shofar. It would be interesting to see how many Christians would stand solemn with their heads bowed during 30 blasts of the shofar, ending with a long “Tekiah Gedolah.”

Is there a Muslim in the crowd?

Happy New Year…But….

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

But I celebrated the beginning of my new year three months ago. I took stock of what I had done the year before, what I should have done, what I didn’t do. I thought about those I had hurt and those who had hurt me. I tried to let go of the anger I felt towards some, knowing it was just pulling me down and I did an accounting of all that God has given to me so that I could thank Him for each blessing, each child, each bit of love in my life.

I listened to the cleansing call of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which reaches deep into your soul and reminds you of the beauty of life. I closed out the world for more than 48 hours to accomplish this, to focus on my world, my family, my country, my life, me. This is the Jewish new year; this is what Jews celebrate, anticipate, acknowledge and adhere to.

And when all was said and done, back those three months ago, I began a new year with hopes and dreams and a belief that all would be well. I still believe in those dreams and hopes, despite that little detour a while back which took my country to the edge of war and my son into a shower of incoming rockets.

Many of my Christian friends wished me a happy new year and I thanked them as I celebrated my new year, the start of a new cycle, a new calendar. My year is charted by the moon and incredibly tied to the land of Israel. In many ways, you can’t imagine the deepest meaning of the days and weeks and months of the Jewish calendar that pass without understanding how Israel is tied to the year’s passing. The rains come, almost always after Sukkot; and end, almost always before Passover.

In America, we celebrated Tu B’Shevat and are told it is the “new year of the trees.” So we put money in a blue box labeled “Jewish National Fund” or paid to plant a tree in Israel in memory of someone, got a certificate, and called it a day. But you have to be here in Israel to see the truest meaning of the day. We see the forests planted by all those blue boxes but even more incredible. Did you know the flowers of the almond trees bloom – they really do – on the 15th day of the month of Shevat – isn’t that incredible? Oh, not everywhere and not every tree – but many of them.

On Chanuka in America, we light our menorah in a window as our children marvel at the colorful lights brightening the homes and trees of our neighbors for a celebration that is often weeks away. Our modest little candles that burn at night are for some ancient victory in a far away land. In Israel – almost every window has those shining lights; they are on street corners and roofs of buildings. And as we drive, we pass the graves of those who fought the battle to end tyranny in our land and rekindle the lights in the Holy Temple. This is where that battle was fought. In America, children play with the dreidal, a spinning top with four letters representing the words, “a great miracle happened THERE.” And here in Israel, our children play with a different dreidel that says, “a great miracle happened HERE.” Here, not there. Ours, not theirs.

And so we get to the point of this post. Two nights ago, it was December 31 – the end of the calendar year, the solar year. We live in a world that runs by the sun, and yet it is the moon the reminds my people of where we are, who we are, and where we are going. December 31 does end a year – a solar year, a fiscal year.

A year…but not my year, not my calendar. All over Facebook, over emails and the Internet, everyone is wishing each other a happy new year but a part of me stands back. I wish them all a happy new year. I hope that it will be a year of hope and health, love and laughter. But when someone wishes me the same, it feels strange. It isn’t mine, I want to say. It is part of a culture I left behind  - chose to leave behind. My not accepting it, not making it special, not partying or whatever is not a rejection of you. It is a rejection FOR ME.

I worked yesterday; as I worked the day before and as I work today. I have wished friends and clients in America, India and Europe a happy new year – their year. For centuries, Jews were forced to live separately – in many places – England, France, Sweden (where Jews were not allowed to live until late in the 18th century), Spain, Poland…Jews were not allowed to own land. In Gibraltar today, legally, Jews are still not allowed to live there despite the current Jewish community’s existence.

There is no insult intended in our remaining separate in this tradition. Please celebrate your new year and pray for peace – peace for the world and peace for Jerusalem and Israel.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

The Atrocity of Ignorance and Fanaticism

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

First let me state the obvious. I am not a Christian. I do not believe in Christian theology. I am a Torah-observant Jew with a Torah-observant theology. So the idea of a Trinity is anathema to me and I certainly do not believe in the divinity of Jesus.

That said, I am absolutely appalled at what has happened to a church in Israel recently. The expression of hatred towards Christian beliefs and institutions rivals that of pre-Holocuast Germany of the mid 30s. Anti-Christian graffiti on the walls of a church and the recent public tearing up of the Christian bible by a Knesset member [MK Michal Ben-Ari -Ed.] are acts reminiscent of the anti-Semitic graffiti seen on the walls synagogues and Jewish owned businesses in Germany.

Unfortunately, I can all too well understand why this is happening. It is a culture of hatred of the goy (non-Jew) that permeates certain circles. And a history of anti-Semitism perpetrated against our parents, grandparents and great grandparents going back for centuries in Europe – pre-dating the Reformation.

The Church had always had it in for the Jews back then. Persecutions were often sourced in what the Church saw as heresy on our part for denying the divinity of Jesus. They either wanted to convert us or destroy us. That finally came to a head during the Holocaust where Christian Germany with centuries of hatred imbedded in their souls – ingrained in them by previous generations underpinned the Nazi determination to annihilate us. Even though the expressed hatred was entirely racial, not religious.

So it is not a surprise that certain Jews react reflexively to non-Jews by hating them. Nor is it surprising why that hatred produced this kind of activity. When hatred is ingrained in this historical way we cannot expect tolerance. I am reminded of a tape I once heard by a Chasidic Rav saying that even though we must have good relations with gentiles, we must hate them!

That is incorrect. There is no mitzvah to hate non-Jews. There is a mitzvah to treat all of humankind with the dignity they deserve as God’s creations, created in His image! There is instead a mitzvah to enlighten the nations with the morality, values, and ethics of the Torah. In fact according to one source I saw, the reason for our lengthy exile is precisely for that purpose – to get the rest of the world to believe in God and to appreciate the truth of the Torah.

Why doesn’t the segment that fosters the kind of hatred displayed in the above mentioned acts abide by any of this? In certain cases historical experiences combined with an insular lifestyle and lack of education prevents them from seeing reality.

In other cases, it is simple fanaticism as seems to be the case here. Some of the graffiti indicates that this was done by fanatic settlers of Ramat Migron and Maoz Esther as a ‘price tag’ operation for the police closing down two structures in Migron.

This is an outrage! No matter how justified these illegal settlers feel they are in building illegal settlements, and no matter how angry they are at the Israeli government for doing it, they have no right to retaliate. Certainly not against innocent Christians!

They probably think this is a Mitzvah. But they are wrong. This is a completely immoral act that is inexcusable!

The Christian world of today does not hate us. Many of them, such as the Evangelical community embrace us. And since Vatican Two, Catholics no longer believe in the doctrine that blames us for the crucifixion. We are now considered their ‘older brother’ religion. These new attitudes are clearly and constantly expressed in tangible ways. Relations have never been better. While there still may be pockets of Christian anti Semitism – they are relatively few in number and in any case non violent. (With the obvious exceptions of fringe groups like the neo-Nazis and the KKK.)

But the people who do this kind of thing either don’t know any of that, or don’t care. They will say that all this ‘love’ is false. Or that is it just a ruse to convert us. Most of them will not however be stupid enough to act on it – especially as an act of revenge against the government! But you only need a few who do. And that is what seems to have happened here.

Hebrew Inscription Provides Oldest Archaeological Evidence of Jews in Iberia

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/hebrew-inscription-provides-oldest-archaeological-evidence-of-jews-in-iberia/

The recent discovery of a marble plate bearing the Hebrew inscription “Yehiel” in Portugal serves as the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia. Dated sometime before 390 C.E., the two-foot-wide marble plate appears to be a tomb slab. Discovered in a Roman-era excavation near the city of Silves, Portugal by archaeologists from the German Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the discovery predates the previous oldest evidence of Jews in Iberia by nearly a century.

The slab was found in a rubble layer nearby antlers, which were carbon dated to 390 C.E. Excavation director Dr. Dennis Graen explains. “we have a so-called ‘terminus ante quem’ for the inscription, as it must have been created before it got mixed in with the rubble with the antlers.”

The history of Jews in Iberia is known from texts documenting interactions between relatively large populations of Jews and Christians around 300 C.E., but until now, there has not been archaeological evidence of the early population. At the time, Jews in Iberia (and across the Roman Empire) wrote in Latin script, making the the Hebrew inscription bearing the Biblical name “Yehiel” (and other still-to-be translated text) a unique find.

It is the first instance of a Hebrew inscription found in a Roman villa in the region.

A recent discovery at a Roman villa near Silves, Portugal stands out as the oldest evidence of Jews in Iberia.

Before the discovery, the oldest archaeological evidence of Jews in Iberia was a late 5th century C.E. tomb slab with a Latin inscription and an image of a menorah, and the oldest known Hebrew inscription appears centuries later. The discovery by the University of Jena archaeologists provides a fascinating look at a unique circumstance of Jewish and Roman populations living together in this period, and provides archaeological context for the history of Jews in Portugal. The site is still under examination, and the Biblical archaeology world eagerly anticipates a further study of the Hebrew inscription and a deeper investigation of the early population of Jews in Iberia.

Read the full press release from Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Counterpoint: Christian Zionists Are a Threat

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

This article was written in response to “Are Christian Zionists a Threat to Israel”, written by David Ha’Ivri on December 20, 2011.

 There is no question that there are many fine, upstanding Gentiles supporting Israel at this time. While certain strategic, moral and political alliances with the non-Jewish world are to be encouraged, it is both naïve and misleading to deny the serious costs involved in Israel’s unregulated relationship with impassioned evangelical Christians.

There is a wealth of information indicating that the vast majority of evangelical organizations supporting Israel on the political, economic and humanitarian fronts are directly or indirectly involved in supporting a growing Christian messianic restoration in Israel and in missionary efforts directed at the Jewish people. This existential spiritual threat is being overlooked by Jewish leadership in both Israel and the Diaspora.

These are the facts on the ground, as reported by the Baptist Press, seven months ago (unfortunately, these statistics coincide with reports from a number of Jewish and governmental sources):

“Now there are an estimated 150 Jewish [messianic] congregations around Israel meeting in different languages. The number of believers is estimated to be around 20,000, growing exponentially from 1948 when 12 Jews who believed in Jesus could be counted, to 1987 when there were 3,000 and 1997 where there were 5,000.”(Baptist Press, May 26, 2011)

Mr. Ha’ivri chose to diminish the concerns of those who are working in the counter-missionary field and to dismiss their investigative findings regarding growing Christian influence and infiltration in the Jewish state. A good number of the professionals and activists working in this field have, prior to returning or converting to Judaism themselves, spent years in church movements as active missionaries. These professionals now spend their days and nights bringing back Jews who have been lost to the churches or messianic Christian movements. The understanding by these professionals of the situation and of the personalities involved is hardly “shallow”, as Mr. Ha’ivri wishfully believes.

Certain Christian individuals and organizations with whom Mr. Ha’ivri chooses to work may not be aggressively proselytizing with a conversion agenda in the classical sense. However, they are on a religiously-driven mission with the intention to draw Jews close. They strive for a theological unification between Judaism and Christianity – a breaking down of barriers between faiths, as portrayed in Christian scripture. In addition, these parties are supportive of the messianic Christian sects in the Jewish state and aspire towards a Christian – not a Jewish – restoration in the Land of Israel. That makes them “missionaries” in every sense of the word.

The obvious point that evangelicals live to evangelize and that Israel has embarked on a “biblically-based” alliance with those who by definition, are missionaries, needs to be addressed in an honest fashion. Taking precautions to preserve the integrity of the Torah, the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael is simply off the radar screen of many of our leading activists who are preoccupied with garnering political, humanitarian and economic support for the Jewish state in desperate times.

As devoted and passionate as many of these Christian leaders are in their support of Israel, it pales in comparison to their zeal and commitment to spreading the Christian message. As Pastor John Hagee explained on the missionary Daystar TV network, when they announced programming plans for Israel:

It’s just all I can do to keep from getting up and dancing… it’s a joy and a dream come true. If we are able to preach the gospel [in Israel] without reservation … it’s a major breakthrough.” —-(Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 18, 2006)

Torah observant leaders and activists tout pro-Israel Christian personalities around Israel as saviors, but fail to take the responsibility to effectively communicate Jewish sensitivities and limitations to these parties that are reaching out to Jews. Perhaps had Glenn Beck been given clear and unequivocal guidelines by his Jewish hosts, he would not have invited Jews to participate in an “uber-Christian” event, nor would he have featured known missionary personalities, who explicitly target Jews, at his “Restoring Courage” event this past summer in Israel.

There is reluctance on the part of rabbinic and Jewish community leadership to draw red lines or issue guidelines to govern the interfaith relationship. At the same time, Israeli legislators evade drafting effective counter-missionary legislation. It seems that nobody wants to alienate “good friends” who are not aggressively proselytizing but rather are “sharing their faith” through “outreach projects” to a very vulnerable Israeli populace.  That David Ha’ivri minimizes the spiritual threat which these missionaries present in Israel is indicative of a certain detachment from his own people, many of whom are spiritually thirsty and lacking a proper Jewish education or the means to respond to evangelical overtures.

Unfortunately, there are significant voices within the national religious camp who are naively heralding a new era in interfaith relations. Some of these people are calling for revolutionary openness and leniency in the Jewish approach to Christianity. Slapping a Jewish prophetic spin on this Christian theological fervor reeks of denial and jeopardizes the entire Jewish nation. Those who are embracing what they deem to be a “new Christianity” should keep in mind that the old Christianity is very much alive and well and operating in Israel, while the new deceptively mimics Judaism in its quest for historical Jewish roots.

Our unique commitments as Jews, and our obligation to keep a separation between faith communities, remains constant, whether the era be philo-Semitic or anti-Semitic. For even had Christians had been kind to us for two millennia, their fundamental beliefs would remain no less forbidden to us. Judaism clearly demands us to remember that, certainly for the Jew, Christianity (the belief in Jesus as lord and savior) is an irrefutable form of idolatry. The Torah’s prohibition against and rejection of idolatry is at the very core of Judaism.

If Israel is charged with being “a light unto the nations”, our leaders should not be in the business of assisting Christian pastors and ministers in perpetuating their doctrine. As Jews, it is our job and responsibility not to compromise, adapt or reconcile our beliefs in a way that could, G-d forbid, lead to spiritual assimilation. We should not be providing devout Christians with the tools to carve a more refined and polished image of their false lord and savior. And yet a steady parade of high-profile rabbis and political and community leaders are now regularly gracing numerous messianic “Hebraic Roots” Christian churches and ministries which are dedicated to “demonstrating Jesus’ centrality to Judaism and his inclusion in the Torah”. Nor should Jewish rabbis and leaders be hosting activities with those believers in Jesus who consider themselves part of the 10 lost tribes of Israel, with entitlement to equal inheritance of the Holy Land.  It is a mistake to believe that we Jews can teach gentiles Torah in a messianic Christian setting. These congregations are absolutely christ-centered. Everything they garner from Judaism is used to solely enhance their own belief system.

David Ha’ivri’s appearance two weeks ago with Tommy Waller on the missionary God’s Learning Channel (GLC) TV network, which strives to “help you see Yeshua (Jesus) in the Torah”, pushed the envelope into forbidden territory.

Mr. Ha’ivri is a committed Jew and Zionist who works tirelessly for his land and people. We count on people like him to uphold the physical and spiritual integrity of Eretz Yisrael. If our leaders choose to work with devout Christians, then they should be honest enough to acknowledge the problems and wise enough to use foresight, seek guidance, and draw red lines in such relationships.

 If Jewish organizations and Jewish leadership in Israel and the Diaspora continue to reap the benefits of Christian support while turning a blind eye to the missionary activity directed at those sectors of the Jewish people who are most vulnerable, then something has gone terribly wrong.  It is a betrayal of everything we stand for.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/counterpoint-to-david-haivri/2011/12/27/

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