web analytics
August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘church’

Oren Opens AIPAC with Appeal to Non-Jews for Pro-Israel Outreach

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, opened the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC)annual policy conference with an appeal for pro-Israel outreach to African Americans, Latinos and Muslims and others.

“Reach out to the churches in your community, to the African Americans, the Latinos, to the mosques,” Oren said Sunday after he was asked what his main message was to the 13,000 activists drawn to the annual conference.

Oren, in an interview with Frank Sesno, a former CNN anchor, said Israel was looking forward to President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel later this month and addressed three challenges facing the allies: Getting Iran to suspend its suspected nuclear weapons program, securing Israel from the turmoil in Syria, and renewing peace talks with the Palestinians.

On Iran, Oren said there was a small window for diplomacy to work.

“Imagine if Iran had that nuclear weapon, what is the price of inaction?” Oren asked.

Syria must be kept from transferring weapons to Hizbullah, and the Palestinian Authority must take risks, as Israel has, Oren said.

The ambassador sounded a tough note on the prospect of any reconciliation between P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

“We see that very much as a game blocker,” he said.

Also scheduled to address the conference, which runs through Tuesday, are Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the conference by video.

Activists will lobby Congress to sharpen Iran sanctions, to call on the president to support Israel should it be “compelled” to strike Iran, and to establish a new category, “major strategic ally,” to describe the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Goodbye to a Good Pope

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The big news yesterday was that due to issues with his health Pope Benedict is resigning as Pope effective February 28th… in just a couple of weeks.

Why should an Orthodox Jew care what goes on in the Catholic Church? Well… when a religion boasts membership in the billions, what happens there definitely affects us. Not in any theological way. But most certainly in a sociological one.

The fact that The Catholic Church is the direct and unbroken chain of Christianity going back to the 2nd Temple era… and that their religion stems from Jewish roots add to that importance. So too does the fact that the Jewish people and the Church have been intimately intertwined over the two millennia since Christianity’s founding – mostly not for the better. I need not go into all the pogroms and other anti Semitic acts perpetrated against the Jewish people in the name of their religion. Suffice it to say that it was responsible for much carnage toward our people.

That of course all changed with Vatican II. Although many Jews are still suspect about the motives of the Church and believe it to be just a new ploy in trying to convert us, I believe that the change in their attitude was sincere. They no longer consider us ‘Christ killers.’ They no longer say that Judaism has lost its legitimacy and has been replaced by Christianity. They now consider us their ‘older brother’ religion and quite legitimate.

Since Vatican II there has been great progress between the Catholic church and the Jewish people. Our relationship has never been better. And the current Pope deserves credit for that. No one said it better than this:

“During his period (as pope) there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue,” “I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” “(I wish the Pope) good health and long days.

These are the words of Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel. I could not have said better myself. I hope that the next Pope will be no worse… and that relations continue to improve.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Preserving Baltimore’s First Synagogue (Part I)

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from “The Lloyd Street Synagogue of Baltimore: A National Shrine” by Israel Tabak, American Jewish Historical Quarterly (1961-1978); Sept. 1971-June 1972; 61, 1-4; AJHS Journal page 343. The article is available at www.ajhs.org/scholarship/adaje.cfm.

While it is not known precisely when Jews first settled in Baltimore, we do know that five Jewish men and their families settled there during the 1770s. However, it was not until the autumn of 1829 that Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, whose Hebrew name was Nidchei Yisroel (Dispersed of Israel), was founded. This was the only Jewish congregation in the state of Maryland at the time, and it was referred to by many as the “Stadt Shul.”

The original 29 members of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation met in a room over a grocery store located on Bond and Fleet Streets (now Eastern Avenue). By 1835 the congregation occupied a one-story building on High Street and membership had increased to 55. In 1837 the congregation acquired a three-story building on Harrison Street near Etna Lane where it worshipped until 1845 when it built its new synagogue on Lloyd Street.

Rabbi Abraham Rice

Readers of this column likely are familiar with the life of Rabbi Abraham Rice from the articles “Abraham Rice: First Rabbi in America” (November 6, 2009) and “The First Rabbi in America, Part II,” December 4, 2009. Rabbi Rice, the first ordained Orthodox rabbi to settle permanently in America, became the spiritual leader of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in 1840.

Rabbi Rice was known for his piety and upright character and for a number of years he was probably the only person in America qualified to pasken sheilas. He became one of Orthodoxy’s foremost spokesmen at a time when it was under attack from the Reform movement.

“Abraham Rice’s place in the history of American Judaism is secure. The courage and dauntlessness with which he defended the principles of historic Judaism give him a unique place among the pioneers of Orthodoxy in America. His consistent and uncompromising stand in matters of Jewish theology was the strongest factor in stemming the tide of Reform. His devotion to the study of Torah and his depth of talmudic learning made it possible for [halachic] Judaism to gain a foothold on American soil, where for centuries Jewish life was spiritually barren and Torahless. His dedication to Jewish education and his personal instruction of many a youth in this community were responsible for a new generation of enlightened laymen to be raised up who changed the entire physiognomy and religious climate of the Jewish community of Baltimore.” (“Rabbi Abraham Rice of Baltimore, Pioneer of Orthodox Judaism in America” by Israel Tabak, Tradition, 7, 1965, page 119.)

The Lloyd Street Synagogue

Within a few years of Rabbi Rice’s arrival the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation was able to build the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the first Jewish house of worship to be built in Maryland and the third oldest surviving synagogue in the United States.

“There is no doubt that Rabbi Rice was the prime factor in the growth and consolidation of the congregation. It was under his guidance that the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation was able to build its own sanctuary befitting a Jewish community of stature and dignity. The architect commissioned to design the new synagogue was Robert Carey Long, Jr., who achieved renown for the several houses of worship he built in Baltimore at the time. In 1842, Long built the Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church; in 1843, St. Peter’s Catholic Church; and the following year, Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church and the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church. The Jewish community was sufficiently affluent to afford the services of such an eminent architect, and the Lloyd Street Synagogue was completed and dedicated in 1845.”

The synagogue building was built of brick and was sixty feet wide by seventy-five feet deep. It cost about $20,000.

The synagogue contained what was then a most innovative feature – a “Shield of David” that was conspicuously set in the main window of the synagogue above the Holy Ark, in the eastern wall, which everyone faced in prayer.

Isaac Lesser, chazzan of Congregation Mikve Israel of Philadelphia, wrote the following description of the synagogue after attending the dedication ceremonies on Shabbos Parshas Vayelech (September 26-27, 1845):

Last Orthodox Shul in Fall River, Massachusetts Becomes Church

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Congregation Adas Israel, the last of several orthodox synagogues that once served the Jews of Fall River, Massachusetts – will be handing the keys over to a new group of worshippers – congregants of The Word of Life Community Church.

For the first time since it opened its doors in 1959, Adas Israel did not hold Shabbat services at the house of prayer, having sold the building to evangelical Christians for $400,000 through a real estate agent who was also a congregant at the synagogue, according to a regional newspaper, the Herald News.

The pastor of the church, Donat Boucher, moved his followers to the new building after renting several locations since starting his own church out of his dining room in 2007.

Though the 248 seats used to be too few to hold the throngs attending Shabbat and holiday services, young Jews have moved away, until less than two dozen active members passed regularly through the mezuzah-studded doors.

Temple Beth-El, a conservative synagogue, will provide room for Adas Israel’s Orthodox congregants to perform their own prayer services, and will now be the only Jewish house of worship in Fall River.

According to the Herald News, most of the Jewish symbols and plaques have been removed from the chapel, except for some “distinctive Hebrew words affixed to a wall, near a large wooden cross recently installed behind the podium,” reading “Know before whom you stand.”

Ethnic Cleansing of Christians in the Sinai

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

In events being ignored not only by the Egyptian authorities, but also by the mainstream media and human rights organizations in the West, Muslim terrorists have in recent weeks attacked Christian families and forced them out of their homes and businesses in the Sinai town of Rafah. The terrorists have threatened to pursue their jihad against Christians until all of them leave the Sinai.

According to reports from the Sinai, all the Christians who used to live in Rafah have already fled their homes after being targeted by Muslim terrorists.

Christians said that before the Egyptian “revolution,” they enjoyed good relations with their Muslim neighbors and felt safer. But under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, the Christians in the Sinai were being left alone to confront Muslim gangs by themselves.

Egyptian security forces finally began operating against the terrorists only after 16 border guards were killed several weeks ago, apparently by Muslim jihadis in Sinai. But these forces have not been able to protect the Christian families in Sinai, whose lives been turned into hell ever since the ‘Arab Spring’ arrived in Egypt.

The Egyptian newspaper Al-Yom Al-Sabe (The Seventh Day) revealed that the Christian families were forced to leave Rafah after Muslim terrorists torched the local church. It wrote that the terrorists sprayed graffiti on the walls of the destroyed church calling on Christians to leave Rafah immediately.

The attack on the church was the latest in a series of assaults against Christian-owned homes and businesses.

Ehab Lewis, one of the Christians who fled Rafah, said that not a single Christian has remained in the town. Lewis, a former school teacher, said: “I was in Rafah with my family and we left out of fear for our lives. They threatened to torch my house. They attacked my neighbor’s shop and destroyed everything inside. He too was forced to run away.”

Lewis said that all the Christians in Rafah had received death threats before fleeing. “We were afraid to send our children to school,” he recounted. He and other Christians accused the Egyptian authorities of turning a blind eye to their plight. Instead of confronting the Muslim terrorists, the Egyptian authorities advised the Christian families to move to the town of Al-Arish in Sinai.

“This is not a solution,” said Father Kuzman, a local leader of the Christian community. “Why are we being asked to leave our holy land? The solution is for the authorities to impose law and order and protect their citizens. The government should not leave the border open to armed groups.”

Father Michael George said that the ethnic cleansing of Christians Sinai was taking place as the Egyptian authorities did nothing.

Christian families living in Sinai say they miss the good old days before the “Arab Spring,” when they were able to lead lives that were relatively normal.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

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.

Important Moments In Becoming A Ba’al Teshuvah (Conclusion)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Feeling more alone than at any time since arriving in New York, I looked inside myself for anything that could anchor me to bring me back to who I was, to move away from illusions of romance to my central sticking point. Suddenly and unexpectedly, being a Jew meant more to me than anything else in the world.

I said to Susan, “Do you have these parties to try to draw people to your church?”

“Oh, yes,” she said, happy with what she was doing and with the fact that I understood her actions.

“What if a person is not interested in the Church?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said, as if she had called up a mental checklist. “I think you want to talk with our social worker.”

Now we’re getting somewhere, I thought. A medical professional trained to help people realize their place in the world would obviously understand that this church isn’t for everybody.

Upon being introduced to the social worker, I was pleased to see that she looked like a level-headed person, someone I hoped would want to help people – particularly vulnerable people – get back on track.

After a little small talk, I got right to the point. “What happens when someone Jewish comes to your church, comes to you, and they’re lost, confused and looking for answers? Being a professional and a social worker, do you steer them to some Jewish organization that can help them?”

Smiling, she said, “No. Our church is equipped to help them with what they’re going through.”

A chill went down my spine. I thought of all the lonely and lost Jewish people who have come to these parties, people like me, who have been positively affected by all their kindnesses, leading them perhaps to give up thousands of years of connection to who they are. And the saddest part is that they wouldn’t even know what they were giving up.

“Can’t we just think of this as one big orchestra?” I asked her. “Each group has their own instrument to play. The Jews have their own instrument to play.”

She just looked at me and smiled, frustrating me more.

“At least let them find out what their own faith says about their issues before they would consider something else,” I implored.

Again she smiled and said, “You should really meet our priest. He’s Jewish, you know.”

This was one of those moments when you either laugh or cry.

“Sure, I’d like to meet him,” I said.

She left, and a minute later she was walking through the crowd with a 30ish man who was receiving all kinds of positive greetings from those in attendance. When introduced to the priest, I was struck by his calm, sweet demeanor.

He said to me, “I understand you have questions. Ask me anything you like.”

I blurted out, “How did you become the priest here?”

He smiled. “Good question,” he said, with eyes twinkling.

“Growing up Jewish,” he began, “at a certain point – my early 20s – I had a crisis of faith. I began to question whether there was a God in the world. I was deeply hurt by this.

“I had to do something. So I came upon the following idea: I would use Catholicism as a vehicle and an experiment to see if there was a God in the world.”

Now he was smiling broadly. He added, with enthusiasm, “And I do see Him now!”

A very obvious question came to mind and I blurted it out. “Couldn’t you have used Judaism as a vehicle to see if there was a God in the world?”

His blissful countenance was no more. He looked confused, as if he was trying to answer the question but couldn’t find the words.

No longer confused myself, I left the party and thought about what had transpired during my subway ride home.

I couldn’t get out of my mind how many fellows Jews we could be losing.

That Shabbos, at my once-a-month Beginner’s Service, I happily absorbed all that had happened. I felt like I had been deprived of water in the desert and had now come to an oasis. Perhaps it was the little I had learned at this service that helped me withstand Susan’s beauty and her friends’ warmth.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/important-moments-in-becoming-a-baal-teshuvah-conclusion/2012/07/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: