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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘church’

Major 1,500-Year-Old Church and Mosaic Discovered

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Archaeologists digging where a new housing development is to be built have uncovered a 1,500-year-old church and magnificent mosaic with five inscriptions at Moshav Aluma, located between Be’er Sheva and Rehovot.

“An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site, 22 meters long and 12 meters wide,” said Dr. Daniel Varga, who directied the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The building consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. At the front of the building is a wide open courtyard (atrium) paved with a white mosaic floor, and with a cistern,” he explained. “Leading off the courtyard is a rectangular transverse hall (narthex) with a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs; at its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic’s construction.”

The main hall (the nave) has a colored mosaic floor adorned with vine tendrils to form forty medallions. The medallions contain depictions of different animals, including a zebra, leopard, turtle, wild boar, various winged birds and botanical and geometric designs.

Three medallions contain dedicatory inscriptions in Greek commemorating senior church dignitaries, Demetrios and Herakles, who were heads of the local regional church.  On both sides of the central nave are two narrow halls, or side aisles, which also have colored mosaic floors depicting botanical and geometric designs, as well as Christian symbols.

A pottery workshop, mainly for the production of jars, was also uncovered during the excavations and yielded numerous finds, including: amphorae, cooking pots, kraters, bowls and different kinds of oil lamps. Glass vessels typical of the Byzantine period were also discovered at the site. The finds indicate a rich and flourishing local culture.

This church is part of a large and important Byzantine settlement that existed in the region. The settlement was located next to the main road running between Ashkelon on the sea coast to the west, and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem to the east. Excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority along this road have revealed other communities from the same period, but no churches have been found in them.

The recently uncovered church may have served as a center for Christian worship for all the surrounding communities. Wine presses and pottery workshops found in the region attest to the economy of the local residents during the Byzantine period, who made ​​their living from the production and exportation of wine via the coast to the entire Mediterranean region.

The site will be open to the public Thursday and Friday, Later, it will be covered and preserves for future generations. The magnificent mosaic that has come to light will be conserved, removed from the site and displayed to the public at a museum or visitors’ center.

Pope Will Enjoy Netanyahu’s Gift If He Has Guilty Conscience

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presented  Pope Francis Monday with a copy of the book “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain,” a Tel Aviv scholarly publication of some of the worst things the Catholic Church has done to Jews.

The book was written by the Prime Minister’s late father Benzion, who wrote of the Spanish Inquisition, when the church persecuted, and often executed, masses of Jewish converts to Catholicism who were accused of secretly practicing Judaism.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and the pope met for approximately 30 minutes, and Sarah Netanyahu encouraged him to fulfill his promise to visit Israel.

Council of Jews in Germany Awards Pastor Who Defends Circumcision

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

A German pastor who defended Jews’ rights to ritual circumcision will receive the highest award of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in ceremonies in Berlin Thursday evening.

The awarding of the Leo Baeck Prize will honor Nikolaus Schneider, 66, president of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany – the country’s main Protestant body – for his support for Jewish life in Germany, his dedication to Israel and his “unconditional solidarity in the circumcision debate” that embroiled the country in 2012.

Schneider defended the right of Jewish circumcision during last year’s attempt by activists to bar ritual circumcision, helped by a May 2012 ruling that criminalized non-medical circumcision in Cologne.

Schneider decried the Cologne ruling as criminalization of an age-old religious practice and said that this “attack on Jewish identity” upset him “greatly, given history, and our German history with Jewry.”

Last December, Germany passed of a law affirming the right to religious circumcision of boys and setting medical standards to be met by mohels.

Tea Party Preacher’s ‘False Religion’ Remark Upsets Jews

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

E.W. Jackson, the Republican Tea Party candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia, has labeled all non-Christians as having a “false religion” but when confronted by Jews, he said they are an exception to the rule.

“I’m a Christian. I’m a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “Of course, like every Christian, I believe that he’s the only way. But we understand that Christianity came out of Judaism. We have deep and profound respect for Judaism. We do not view Judaism as a false religion. I can’t say that about everything. But that is true of Judaism.”

Amen, brother. Hallelujah!

But his generous acceptance that Judaism is not a false religion did not satisfy the crowd at the Simon Family Jewish Community Center.

The moderator, Joel Rubin, asked Jackson, “Is Islam a false religion?” the Virginian-Pilot reported.

The Muslims didn’t get off the hook as well as the Jews, and Jackson didn’t directly answer the question. Instead, he asserted, “Look, I’m running for lieutenant governor. I’m not running to be theologian of Virginia. I am a preacher. That means I’ve got to serve people who are atheists and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and Mormons and of every background. So I don’t want to try to get into a theological analysis of what I think of various religions.”

So much for the Buddhist and Muslim vote.

If Jackson does not want to discuss his views on other religions, one would think the ordained minister would button his lip a bit more.

So far in the campaign, Jackson has denounced Planned Parenthood for killing more blacks than the Ku Klux Klan.

So it looks like he has lost the KKK vote, too.

His previous comments from the pulpit and elsewhere are likely to cost him a lot more votes. He has said that parents’ sins cause birth defects and that yoga leads to Satanism.

But, no, no, that is not what he believes come campaign time.

“I do not believe that birth defects are caused by parents’ sin unless, of course, there’s a direct scientific connection between the parents’ behavior and the disabilities of the child, such as a child who might develop birth defects if his or her mother was addicted to heroin,” he has said in self-defense during the current campaign.

“I do not believe that yoga leads to Satanism. One of my ministers is a yoga instructor. What I said was that Christian meditation does not involve emptying oneself but filling oneself … with the spirit of God. That is classic Biblical Christianity,” he explained.

So maybe he will win back the yoga vote.

Homosexuals are not exactly crazy about Jackson, who has declared that “homosexuality poisons culture,” but he argues his comment was taken out of context.

“What I really said was that the gay rights movement, so called, the homosexual activists, engage in some behavior that is absolutely horrendous, and that’s true, everybody knows that; from going into Catholic churches and desecrating the Sacraments to engaging in all kinds of demonstrative behavior to try to call attention to what they view as their plight,” he said.

Homosexuals need not worry because Jackson added, “I respect every human being, I don’t believe that there’s any second-class citizens in Virginia, I don’t treat anybody any differently because of their sexual orientation.”

Jackson wants voters to think that he can separate his views as a preacher from his functioning as Lieutenant Governor.

“I’m not going to spend the campaign talking about these issues, so let’s get it out of the way now,” he told a gathering in the Virginia suburb of Manassas, outside of Washington, D.C.

Time will tell if telling the Jews they aren’t so bad after all will win him the Jewish vote.

For the time being, the polls show that the voters are not thrilled with either Jackson or the Democratic party candidate, State Sen. Ralph Northam.

A new poll published on Wednesday shows that with election day two weeks away, 12 percent have a favorable view of Jackson, compared with 9 percent for Northam. However, a hefty 20 percent of the respondents have an unfavorable view of Jackson, compared with 5 percent who do not like Northam.

Nearly One-Third of Syria’s Christians Have Fled Their Homes

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Nearly one-third of Syria’s native Christians have fled their homes during the Syrian civil war, according to Syrian Christian leader Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham.

He said that more than 450,000 Christians out of an estimated 1.75 million have been displaced or have left the country since the Syrian civil war began in early 2011.

Patriarch Gregorios, who has been criticized for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the international community needs to do more to block the flow of weapons into Syria. “We have to have campaign together—no more weapons, no more violence, go together to a better new vision of life,” he said.

Many Christians support President Bashar al-Assad out of fear that if he is overthrown and replaced by Islamists, they will face greater persecution, especially from the Al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra terrorist organization.

Council of Europe Says Ritual Circumcision Won’t Be Banned

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Council of Europe has assured President Shimon Peres that Europe will not ban religious circumcision despite last week’s non-binding resolution of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly that cited circumcision of males as a violation of human rights and equated it with female genital mutilation.

President Peres wrote on Monday to Thorbjorn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to protest the resolution. Although it has no legal significance, the Council is very influential on decisions by the European Union.

Jangland said male circumcision did not violate human rights, and Daniel Holtgen, the Director of Communications at the Council of Europe, sent a tweet quoting Jagland as saying, “Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not.”

The resolution angered Muslims as well as Jews. It called for European states to “promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks of some of these procedures,” which the assembly lists as the circumcision of boys, early childhood interventions in the case of intersexual children and the coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Marlene Rupprecht, the rapporteur behind the resolution, claimed the text did not aim to “stigmatize any religious community or its practices” but simply called for public debate “aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity.”

While Jagland’s statements were good news for Jews and also for Muslims, it is scary that we are so susceptible to the threat of a ban on circumcision that we have to be grateful to someone deciding to suspend what would be a death sentence to Judaism.

Jews have died rather than accept decrees against circumcision, but today’s trend to use “human rights”  and “animal rights” to disguise campaigns that deprive Jewish rights is more subtle and devious than the open anti-Semitism of the past.

A judge in a German province earlier this year banned circumcision, leading to an uproar that prompted the national parliament to make it clear that ritual circumcision is legal.

The anti-circumcision movement is increasingly popular in Scandinavia, where the influx of Muslims also is a factor behind the campaign to prohibit the religious rite.

Jews and Muslims are constantly threatened with a ban on local slaughtering of animals according to Jewish and Muslim laws, which prohibit the method of stunning before using the knife. There are some leniencies in Muslim law.

The most recent controversy is in Poland, which banned ritual slaughter this year but where Jews now have to be thankful to the Catholic Church for supporting the rights of Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals according to religious laws.

The Polish parliament in July rejected a bill, sponsored by the government, to legalize kosher slaughter, but Pope Francis recently has voiced concern over the ban.

“Animal rights” supporters have successfully campaigned in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland to outlaw kosher slaughter.

The European Union’s official policy states, “European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter” generally requires stunning before slaughter, but allows member states to allow exemptions for religious slaughter.”

Holland two years nearly outlawed kosher slaughter after the Animal Rights Party managed to convince the Lower House of parliament to pass a bill, which was rejected by the Upper House, to ban the practice.

Israel is the only country that comes to mind where Jewish rights still are unquestionably more important than “animals’ rights.”

As for circumcision, the only argument might be over “Metzitzah b’peh.”

An IMAX Film of the Jerusalem You Never Have Seen Before (Video)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Five years in the making, the first IMAX film ever made about Jerusalem is as much a visual tour de force as a marvel of cultural diplomacy.

“Jerusalem,” which had its world premiere last week at Boston’s Museum of Science, uses cutting-edge cinematography to immerse the audience in the ancient city’s historic sites from rarely seen perspectives.

Over the course of 45 minutes, viewers are treated to rare aerial views of the Old City as Jews gather at the Western Wall for the priestly blessing, Christian pilgrims march down the Via Dolorosa and Muslims gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan.

Distributed by National Geographic Entertainment, the film, narrated by the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, will show on IMAX screens and in digital 3-D cinemas across the United States in the coming weeks.

Gaining access to some of the world’s most sensitive and contested locations was a test of devotion and artful negotiations that took the film’s three producers and a team of advisers years to accomplish. Preparations required dozens of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials, the Israeli army and the many clerics who control the city’s religious sites.

Filming from a low-altitude helicopter in the Old City of Jerusalem’s strict no-fly zone required a permit that had not been granted in more than 20 years, the filmmakers said, and acquiring the permit took eight months of negotiations.

In advance of the shooting, producers took out ads in the major Hebrew- and Arabic-language newspapers to notify residents about the helicopter filming.

“There was nothing that was not complicated,” Taran Davies, one of the film’s producers, said at the premiere.

Even the terrestrial shots were difficult to carry off. For the scene filmed at the Western Wall, an IMAX camera was mounted on a crane above the crowds.

The most challenging authorization by far was for the Temple Mount, known in Islam as the Muslim Noble Sanctuary, which required permission from the Islamic custodial body, the religious affairs ministry in Jordan and Israeli security forces.

A critical figure in helping the producers navigate the logistical maze was Ido Aharoni, now Israel’s consul general in New York. Aharoni first learned about the film six years ago when he directed Brand Israel, a project to promote Israel around the world.

He recognized the potential of portraying the country’s historical and cultural gems in such a visually powerful medium. IMAX films also typically screen in museums and can run for years.

“The whole purpose of the movie is to produce a visually awesome experience for the moviegoer who happens to be a museumgoer; it can’t be judged like any other movie,” Aharoni told JTA. “Realizing that, we told [the producers], ‘Whatever you need, we’ll help you.’ ”

The film’s mesmerizing visuals are woven into a narrative propelled by the voices of three teenage Jerusalemite women — Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Fluent in English, the women offer eloquent descriptions of the deep religious, cultural and family ties that bind them and their respective religions to their home city.

Though the film was carefully planned down to the last minute and camera angle, Daniel Ferguson, the film’s producer, writer and director, told JTA the teens’ words were their own.

“My goal is to promote understanding,” Ferguson told JTA. “The film will change assumptions and give a window into another point of view.”

The voices of the women are supplemented by that of Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, who guides viewers through an ancient tunnel and visits active excavation sites that continue to unearth the history of the land.

The filmmakers took great pains to balance the presentation of all three religions, according to George Duffield, another producer with longstanding ties to Israel. He and Ferguson say they were at times pressed to take a position on controversial or political issues, but insisted on neutrality.

“Everyone wanted the film to be about their own faith,” Duffield said. “That’s how they see the city.”

The producers hope the film can be used to promote tolerance and understanding. Profits will be donated to the Jerusalem Foundation and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to underwrite projects that benefit all residents of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in a still from the IMAX film “Jerusalem."

Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in a still from the IMAX film “Jerusalem.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/a-imax-film-of-the-jerusalem-you-never-have-seen-before/2013/10/03/

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