Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

The war against the Christians – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Persecution of Christians continues in certain parts of the world, mostly in the Middle East and throughout South and Southeast Asia, but it rarely gets much attention even in the Western media. Even many churchmen in the West turn a blind eye.

Pope Francis, who like many Protestant clerics in the West is more concerned about the social issues of the left, has spoken out only occasionally against discrimination, which sometimes includes imprisonment and worse. In April the pope visited as a token of solidarity the leader of Egypts indigenous Christian Coptic Church, whose parish includes 20 million Egyptian Christians. But Protestant churchmen in the West, preoccupied with social issues to the neglect of articles of the faith they espouse, have largely left opposition to oppression to the Western democratic governments, led by the United States.

The persecution statistics are horrific: More than 300 people are murdered monthly throughout the world because of their Christian faith. Two hundred houses of worship are destroyed monthly. Almost 800 incidents of violence are committed monthly. These are truly hate crimes, though rarely prosecuted as that.

The Pew Center, an American secular research organization, estimates more than 75 percent of the worlds population lives in areas of rampant religious persecution, mostly against Christians.

The State Department keeps an accounting of more than 60 countries where religious discrimination is practiced and encouraged. In many of these places, Islam is the dominant and sometimes official religion, and affiliated Muslim organizations persecute religious minorities, sometimes Jews and particularly Christians.

The Middle East, the cradle of the three great religions, has the highest toll of martyrs. On Palm Sunday, preceding Easter by a week, two suicide bombings by Muslim fanatics killed 45 persons and injured many more in two Egyptian Coptic churches. Egypt, with the largest Christian minority in the region, counts the largest number of victims.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends, estimates that in the decade ending last year thousands of Christians were killed annually. This does not include statistics from North Korea and large areas of Iraq and Syria.

Persecution of Christians is part of a general pattern of repression in many of these areas, but it takes on a peculiar character because to oppose repression is sometimes inhibited by a lack of understanding of the nature of Islam. Islam is one of the Abrahamic religions and it has borrowed from both Judaism and Christianity. But unlike those two religious faiths, it has not broken its ties to secular power and has endowed those ties with the authority of the state. Indonesia, for example, briefly tried a break with secular power after independence in 1945, but is now beset with radical Islamic groups attempting to establish Islam as state-imposed belief.

This conflict besets most majority-Muslim societies, even though they have borrowed lightly from European legal codes from their colonial past. This conflict will likely intensify if present trends continue.

Indeed, in much of the Islamic world the concept of faith as understood in the West is not something voluntarily held in the human heart, not to be imposed by the state by birth or by law, but a political ideology. Therein lies the fundamental conflict between Judaism and Christianity in the West, and Islam elsewhere. Short of an Islamic reformation, like the reformation that transformed both the Jewish and the Christian faiths, there is probably scant hope for authentic reconciliation.

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The war against the Christians – Washington Times

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

BDS ban: Five Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders denied entry to Israel for supporting Palestinian human rights – Mondoweiss

This press release was sent out by Jewish Voice for Peace today.

Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israels travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS).

Rabbi Alissa Wise: We were told at check-in that the airline has a letter from the Israeli government saying we are not allowed to fly to Israel. I wasnt even able to get as far as checking my bag.

WASHINGTON DC (July 24, 2017) Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli governments policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparentlysingled outfor their public support of the Palestinian call forBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)on the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board.

The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA.

Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though Im Jewish and a rabbi,saidRabbi Alissa Wise. Im heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians.

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed abillin March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israels BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of thelongstanding practicesof racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel.

As a person of faith, Israels denial of my right to visit the Holy Land doesnt dampen, but rather, emboldens my pursuit of justice and peace for Palestinians and long overdue freedom for Palestine,saidShakeel Syed, a human rights activist & national Board Member, American Muslims for Palestine.Despite that I had my boarding pass to Tel Aviv in hand, the Lufthansa representative informed me that they had a direct order from Israeli immigration authorities to not allow us to board the plane. Furthermore, they refused to even show us the Israeli order.

The BDS travel ban is part of a broader crackdown on support for these nonviolent tactics to hold Israel accountable to international law. The United States Congress is currently considering the draconianIsrael Anti-Boycott Billthat would penalize people and companies that boycott business with Israel or Israeli settlements with penalties of up to 20 years in jail and $1 million in fines.

At a time of heightened violence in the region, when Palestinians are praying outside the Al-Aqsa compound and on the streets, protesting Israeli restrictions on worship there, a small group of faith leaders and activists have been barred from even witnessing and lending an interfaith voice for peace. Israels ban refuses the interfaith leaders entry to Israel and the Occupied Palestinians Territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, under Israeli control.

I am part of a Jewish, Muslim and Christian delegation of committed, nonviolent peacemakers whose plan is to meet with those in both Israel and Palestine who are working every day for a Just Peace in the Holy Lands,Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly, PC(USA) and member of the Activist Council of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.At this time when tension and violence are rising once again, the work we are doing to build trust and work for a viable peace is more important than ever, and I stand ready to go the moment the State of Israel gives us permission to fly.

The other 18 participants on the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine (INJIP)* delegation arrived in Israel this morning, and were allowed to enter after several hours of detention and questioning that particularly focused on Muslim members of the delegation. The delegation plans to meet with dozens of faith-based organizations, grassroots activists and human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Now the remaining delegates will continue this work, without five of their members, with the intention to learn, witness and co-resist Israeli occupation, displacement and siege with Palestinian and Israeli partners on the ground.

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BDS ban: Five Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders denied entry to Israel for supporting Palestinian human rights – Mondoweiss

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Opinion: Jews everywhere should be helping Egypt’s Christians … – The Jewish Standard

During Israels Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, I had dinner with a Christian pastor and his family in North Carolina. I was stunned and impressed that each time a rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel, the familys Code Red app blared on their cellphones and they stopped whatever they were doing to pray for Israelis in danger.

And they didnt just pray. Their sincere concern for the wellbeing of Israel manifested itself in action. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to build bomb shelters all across Israel to help protect us. It is our honor to use our money to provide protection to Israelis from terrorist rocket fire. Buying a new car, renovating my kitchen or doing anything else for myself wouldnt give me nearly as much joy and fulfillment, the pastor told me.

I left his house feeling awed and inspired. I hope that my people would help Christians in their time of need, as they have done for us, I thought.

Truth be told, on the whole, we as a people have done an excellent job in raising awareness among our children and our communities about the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world), of reaching out and supporting worthy causes beyond those that directly affect Jews. At almost every rally and peaceful protest, you can see an Israeli flag, the Star of David or another identifier of Jewish presence. We are helping Syrian refugees, standing up for womens rights and volunteering in the worlds poorest countries, just to name a few causes we champion. Helping others who suffer from persecution, injustice or discrimination is a hallmark of the Jewish community, and I am proud of that.

But at the same time, there are cries that have gone unheard, such as those of the Christians being systematically persecutedand slaughteredacross the Middle East. Coptic Christians, an indigenous population of Egypt dating back to the 1st century A.D., hundreds of years before Muslims even came on the scene, have been especially targeted. They represent almost 10 percent of Egypts population and are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists.

At least 28 Coptic Christians, including many children, were ambushed and murdered May 26 as they traveled by bus to a monastery. Two terror attacks hit crowded Coptic churches April 10, killing at least 44 people. Since January 2017, more than 100 Copts have been targeted, murdered and systematically threatened.

In response to this horrific campaign of terror, I am astounded that the Jewish community has remained virtually silent.

The Jewish community and Israel currently enjoy unprecedented, historic support from the Christian community. Christians are our loudest defenders in the political arena, our most vocal supporters on social media and our greatest contributors when it comes to charitable causes. The annual budget of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is $150 million, which is distributed to 1.4 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. These funds are sacrificially donated by hundreds of thousands of Christian donors in the U.S. and worldwide. Moreover, Christians make up more than half of the tourists who come to Israel annually, significantly bolstering the the Jewish states economy and morale.

If we can stand up for the sake of other peoples who suffer and for different just causes, how can we not act on behalf of our greatest allies? With all of the issues we are taking on, how is this not at the forefront of our agenda?

For the last few years, Egypts Coptic Christians have been the target of a calculated, cruel terror campaign. Men, women and children (and sometimes intentionally women and children) have been murdered in cold blood. Their places of worship and holy books have been blown up and burned. Their homes and shops have been attacked and looted. Sound familiar? We know all too well this pattern in history and we have vowed never to let it happen again.

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Opinion: Jews everywhere should be helping Egypt’s Christians … – The Jewish Standard

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July 24, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

ISIS Destroyed Jonah’s Tomb, but Not Its Message – The Atlantic

As we saw the first images of Jonahs Tomb destroyed in Mosul on July 24, 2014, we felt shocked and deeply uneasy. We had been following news from Iraq obsessively over the previous weeks, distressed by the Islamic States actions in a country we still thought of as home, even though all three of us now live in North America. Every bit of ISIS destruction had been terrible to witness, but somehow the image of this ruined tomb was uniquely jarring. Three years later, with Mosul liberated, we understand why.

The tomb, one of Iraqs iconic monuments, was revered by Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. It was believed to be the final resting place of the biblical prophet Jonah, who got swallowed by a whale and who warned inhabitants of the Assyrian city of Nineveh (now Mosul) that God would destroy them if they did not repent for their sins. Jonahs story appears in the Bible as well as the Koran. His tomb is perched on a high mound containing many layers of history: an ancient Assyrian temple and palace, a site of devotion for Jews, a Christian church, and a 12th century mosque. In 1924, a grand minaret was added by a Turkish architect who described the glow of the site as Gods gift to Mosul. Renovated in the 1990s under Saddam Hussein, it was a popular draw for pilgrims.

Who Gets to Own Iraqs Religious Heritage?

But the tomb was much more than a tourist destination; it was a constant, potent symbol. Overlooking the city, it reminded all Maslawis of the interconnectedness of Iraqs diverse religious populations. It was the antithesis of sectarianism. As such, ISISs decision to blow it up read as an attempt to erase the shared history of the many religious populations that Mosul housed, and to erase the very notion that such populations can share anything at all. But now that Mosul has been liberated from ISIS, wethree Iraqis from different religious backgroundshope all our communities will have a hand in rebuilding the city and its holy sites.

Sara, of Armenian and Arab descent, was born and raised in Mosul. As a child, she was enchanted by the Nabi Yunus mosque, as the site is locally known. Its yellowish stones reflected sunlight as she and her brother chased each other up and down its seemingly endless stairs, climbed onto its zigguratesque terraces, and zigzagged through its palm trees. She grew up hearing that the site houses the tooth of the whale that swallowed Jonah. She was also keenly aware that Mosuls Yazidi community identified with the area as well, particularly because an ancient shrine is located near Nabi Yunus.

Atoor grew up as part of the indigenous Assyrian Christian community in Iraq. She yearns for many quintessential elements of her childhood skyline, but none is more painfully absent now than Jonahs Tomb. The Eastern churches commemorate the repentance of the biblical Ninevites with a three-day fast each year, an important tradition for the Assyrian community. Beyond this religious connection to Jonah, and beyond simple nostalgia, what makes the loss of the tomb painful is a principle that was inculcated in her: Assimilating prior cultural traditions and sources of knowledge has always been a source of strength for Near Eastern civilizations, from antiquity to the modern period. The destruction of Jonahs Tomb signals that this source of strength is under threat.

Sigal was raised in a family of Iraqi Jews, but has never been able to visit Iraq. Desperate to escape the persecution that followed the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, her grandfather fled Iraq, along with almost the entire Jewish population. Despite never having seen Jonahs Tomb, she felt it was a constitutive part of her history and personal identity. She grew up hearing the Book of Jonah read in synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The tomb was a visible reminder that Jews had flourished in Iraq for centuries: Mosul was once home to many synagogues, although they are now reportedly used as garbage dumps, and to trailblazing luminaries like 17th-century yeshiva director Asnat Barzani, although she is now mostly forgotten.

Jonahs Tomb is only one example of Iraqs interfaith cooperation. In the city of Al Qosh, an ancient synagogues crumbling walls still bear visible Hebrew inscriptions. Inside is the tomb of Nahum, another Hebrew prophet who predicted the fall of Nineveh. It has been guarded by the same family of Assyrian Christians for generations. When the last Jewish people in Al Qosh left, they asked my grandfather to watch over the tomb, to keep it safe, the caretaker explained in 2015. Nahum is not our prophet, but he is a prophet, so we must respect that.

Stories like these prompt us to ask: Where would Iraqs Jews, Christians, and Muslims be without their connection to each other and to their ancient past through sites like the tombs of Jonah and Nahum? What does the story of Iraq amount to without the shared history of its Jews, Christians, and Muslims? And will these questions guide any future efforts to rebuild the tombs?

Earlier this year, archeologists documenting the destruction at Jonahs Tomb discovered a 2,600-year-old Assyrian palace, which had never before been excavated. After blowing up the mosque, ISIS had dug tunnels deep underneath, likely plundering many artifacts for sale on the black market. They left behind marble cuneiform inscriptions, stone sculptures of a demi-goddess, and carved reliefs. The British Institute for the Study of Iraq and various international teams rushed forward with bids to help professionals on the ground secure the site and study the remaining treasures. At a UNESCO meeting in Paris, foreign experts and Iraqi officials agreed to work together on the restoration.

Amid this flurry of activity, it may be easy to forget that the rebuilding of Jonahs Tomb is not only a matter of concern for local residents and experts of the Near East, but also for Christians, Muslims, and Jews with a connection to Iraq. These various religious groups, along with Yazidis, have a stake in what happens to the site, and any just decision-making process will include representatives from each.

Today, three years after seeing the image of Jonahs Tomb destroyed, we recall these words from his story in the KoranIf only there had been a city that believed and profited by its belief as did the people of Jonah!and are hopeful that all people working to rebuild Mosul can muster the strength to believe in the power of its connected cultures and shared history.

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ISIS Destroyed Jonah’s Tomb, but Not Its Message – The Atlantic

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July 24, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Why Jews Everywhere Should Be Helping Egypt’s Christians … – Algemeiner

And they didnt just pray. Their sincere concern for the well-being of Israel manifested itself in action. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to build bomb shelters all across Israel. It is our honor to use our money to provide protection to Israelis from terrorist rocket fire. Buying a new car, renovating my kitchen or doing anything else for myself wouldnt give me nearly as much joy and fulfillment, the pastor told me.

I left his house feeling awed and inspired. I hope that my people would help Christians in their time of need, as they have done for us, I thought.

July 26, 2017 10:41 am

Truth be told, on the whole, we as a people have done an excellent job in raising awareness among our children and our communities about the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world)of reaching out and supporting worthy causes beyond those that directly affect Jews. At almost every rally and peaceful protest, you can see an Israeli flag, the Star of David or another identifier of Jewish presence. We are helping Syrian refugees, standing up for womens rights and volunteering in the worlds poorest countriesjust to name a few causes we champion. Helping others who suffer from persecution, injustice or discrimination is a hallmark of the Jewish community, and I am proud of that.

But at the same time, there are cries that have gone unheard, such as those of the Christians being systematically persecutedand slaughteredacross the Middle East. Coptic Christians, an indigenous population inEgypt dating back to the 1st century AD, have been especially targeted. They represent almost 10 percent of Egypts population, and are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists.

At least 28 Coptic Christians, including many children, were ambushed and murdered on May 26 as they traveled by bus to a monastery. In April, two terror attacks hit crowded Coptic churches killing at least 44 people. Since January 2017, hundreds ofCopts have been targeted, murdered and systematically threatened.

In response to this horrific campaign of terror, I am astounded that the Jewish community has remained virtually silent.

The Jewish community and Israel currently enjoy unprecedented, historic support from the Christian community. Christians are our loudest defenders in the political arena, our most vocal supporters on social media and our greatest contributors when it comes to charitable causes. The annual budget of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (the Fellowship) is $150 million, which is distributed to 1.4 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. These funds are sacrificially donated by hundreds of thousands of Christian donors in the US and worldwide. Moreover, Christians make up more than half of the tourists who come to Israel annually, significantly bolstering the Jewish states economy and morale.

If we can stand up for the sake of other peoples who suffer, how can we not act on behalf of our greatest allies? With all of the issues that we are taking on, how is this not at the forefront of our agenda?

For the last few years, Egypts Coptic Christians have been the target of a calculated, cruel terror campaign. Men, women and children (sometimes intentionally women and children) have been murdered in cold blood. Their places of worship and holy books have been blown up and burned. Their homes and shops have been attacked and looted. Sound familiar? We know all too well this pattern in history, and we have vowed never to let it happen again.

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Why Jews Everywhere Should Be Helping Egypt’s Christians … – Algemeiner

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Jewish mother, Christian father and Muslim daughters under one roof in Egypt – StepFeed

The Muslim-majority country’s once-vibrant Jewish community has shrunk to a handful of people.

While there is no officialcount of the number of Jews living in Egypt today,it was reported to stand at 13 Jews in 2014, according to Egypt Independent.

In July 2016, Haroun mentioned that there are only six Jewish women in the country.

In the mid-1940s, Egypt’s Jewish community peaked at over 80,000 people, according to Time magazine. Since then, after the establishment of Israel, and former Egyptian presidentGamal Abdel Nasser’smass expulsion of Egyptian Jews, a majority of the latter fled toEurope, Israel, and the United States.

Haroun’s family was among those who chose to stay in the country. Haroun attended university in Cairo and eventually took on the family business, an intellectual property firm.

“I’m sick of it,” Haroun said about the diminishing community.

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning and Im crying because I dont know what will happen.

Its very hard to explain. Its very heavy. Its very sad. Its very frightening.”

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Jewish mother, Christian father and Muslim daughters under one roof in Egypt – StepFeed

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July 21, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Why Jews everywhere should be helping Egypt’s Christians – JNS.org

By Yael Eckstein/JNS.org

During Israels Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, I had dinner with a Christian pastor and his family in North Carolina. I was stunned and impressed that each time a rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel, the familys Code Red app blared on their cellphones and they stopped whatever they were doing to pray for Israelis in danger.

And they didnt just pray. Their sincere concern for the wellbeing of Israel manifested itself in action. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to build bomb shelters all across Israel to help protect us. It is our honor to use our money to provide protection to Israelis from terrorist rocket fire. Buying a new car, renovating my kitchen or doing anything else for myself wouldnt give me nearly as much joy and fulfillment, the pastor told me.

I left his house feeling awed and inspired. I hope that my people would help Christians in their time of need, as they have done for us, I thought.

Truth be told, on the whole, we as a people have done an excellent job in raising awareness among our children and our communities about the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world), of reaching out and supporting worthy causes beyond those that directly affect Jews. At almost every rally and peaceful protest, you can see an Israeli flag, the Star of David or another identifier of Jewish presence. We are helping Syrian refugees, standing up for womens rights and volunteering in the worlds poorest countries, just to name a few causes we champion. Helping others who suffer from persecution, injustice or discrimination is a hallmark of the Jewish community, and I am proud of that.

But at the same time, there are cries that have gone unheard, such as those of the Christians being systematically persecutedand slaughteredacross the Middle East. Coptic Christians, an indigenous population of Egypt dating back to the 1st century A.D., hundreds of years before Muslims even came on the scene, have been especially targeted. They represent almost 10 percent of Egypts population and are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists.

At least 28 Coptic Christians, including many children, were ambushed and murdered May 26 as they traveled by bus to a monastery. Two terror attacks hit crowded Coptic churches April 10, killing at least 44 people. Since January 2017, more than 100 Copts have been targeted, murdered and systematically threatened.

In response to this horrific campaign of terror, I am astounded that the Jewish community has remained virtually silent.

The Jewish community and Israel currently enjoy unprecedented, historic support from the Christian community. Christians are our loudest defenders in the political arena, our most vocal supporters on social media and our greatest contributors when it comes to charitable causes. The annual budget of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is $150 million, which is distributed to 1.4 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. These funds are sacrificially donated by hundreds of thousands of Christian donors in the U.S. and worldwide. Moreover, Christians make up more than half of the tourists who come to Israel annually, significantly bolstering the the Jewish states economy and morale.

If we can stand up for the sake of other peoples who suffer and for different just causes, how can we not act on behalf of our greatest allies? With all of the issues we are taking on, how is this not at the forefront of our agenda?

For the last few years, Egypts Coptic Christians have been the target of a calculated, cruel terror campaign. Men, women and children (and sometimes intentionally women and children) have been murdered in cold blood. Their places of worship and holy books have been blown up and burned. Their homes and shops have been attacked and looted. Sound familiar? We know all too well this pattern in history and we have vowed never to let it happen again.

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Why Jews everywhere should be helping Egypt’s Christians – JNS.org

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christianity was founded by an observant Jew – Catholic Star Herald

Pope John Paul II greets Rabbi Elio Toaff at Romes main synagogue April 13, 1986. The meeting marked the beginning of a new era in Catholic-Jewish relations. It was the first time a pope had entered the Rome synagogue. CNS photo/Arturo Mari, LOsservatore Romano

I imagine we older Catholics could be forgiven if we presumed Jesus was a Catholic like us. After all, he started us off by giving Peter a new identity as Rock, or Cephas in Aramaic, when he said, You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my church. (Mt 16: 18). The fact is, he was a good observant Jew, practiced in reading the Hebrew Scriptures and attending shabat synagogue. Nazareths was where he preached such a fiery sermon early in his career that his own neighbors were infuriated enough to seize him and take him to the brow of a hill to throw him to his death. Today, bishops assign newly ordained priests away from their home parishes, especially if they have the courage to preach social justice homilies.

Mary and Joseph had taught him well, aware that parents are the first and best teachers in the ways of the faith who dont wait for later educators. Their Jewish loyalty saw to his being initiated into Judaism eight days after birth. It continued well past his visit to the Jerusalem temple at 12, when he discussed the Law with the amazed rabbis there, doing his Fathers business, even if his mother scolded him for getting lost for three days.

At one point his disciples, or students, asked him how to pray. The Lords Prayer was his answer, and it reveals his Jewishness on a couple of counts. Take the familiar Jewish dependence on God as provider of everything: Give me neither poverty nor riches. Provide me only with the food I need, lest being full, I deny you saying, Who is the Lord? Or being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God (Prv 30f).

Jesus called on his Jewish disciples familiarity with Sirachs Forgive your neighbors injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven (28: 2). Sirach and he made their own forgiveness of others to be the kind they could expect of the all-merciful God, who is not impressed with mere words when the deeds are absent. With the terrible burning of the Temple and Jerusalem with it by the Romans in July of 70 A.D. and the flight of the people from the city, the canon or official list of Old Testament books excluded Sirach because it originated outside Israel, in Egypt. Thus Jews and therefore Protestants do not consider Sirach, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Baruch and 1 and 2 Maccabees to be canonical, but they revere these as noteworthy. This makes the Catholic Bible seven books longer than those of our Jewish and Protestant friends. We formed our canon at the 1545-63 Council of Trent.

All of which should cause us Catholics and other Christians to respect our Jewish ancestors in the faith. As Pope John said, We all are spiritual Semites, he who did so much to rescue thousands of Jews from the Holocaust while serving in Turkey. We need reminders like this. As Swiss theologian Hans Kung said, anti-Semitism is the churchs longest-standing sin. By the end of the first century, the tail was wagging the dog. Gentile converts to Christianity were multiplying despite the emperors persecutions while Jewish membership fell off. Someone got the idea that it would be good religion to harass both Jewish Christians and Jewish non-Christians. How God was supposed to be pleased with this attack on Gods Chosen People, a designation never retracted, still mystifies.

The Holocaust it means wholly burnt sacrificial offering did not just start in 20th century Nazism. Economic explanations have been offered. A people uninterested in evangelizing because blood lines established membership, thus uninterested in getting new Gentile members, pulled together and made themselves stronger against the pogroms, becoming a formidable force in banking, the only field some countries left to them because money handling was considered beneath Christian dignity. Yet Christians did not hesitate to borrow from Jewish bankers.

In Venice, Jews were consigned to an island of their own after centuries of living well with Christians there. The Yiddish word for divorce then was ghet, Italianized to ghetto. Jews were divorced from mainstream society, required to live in Jewish compounds. Into the 20th century the city of Romes law forbade the entrance of a synagogue being placed on a main street. A 20th century pope was the first successor of Jewish Peter to visit a synagogue.

Hard to imagine Jewish Jesus approving much of this.

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Christianity was founded by an observant Jew – Catholic Star Herald

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

From Religions to Terrorism, African American Students Take In All Sides of Israel – The Jewish News

I write this article at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Soon I will be boarding a plane home after a 12-day trip throughout Israel. But the trip is hardly the typical trip American Jews take to Israel. I have been part of the faculty for 80 African American college students who went to Israel to build bridges of understanding between the U.S. and Israel as well as to connect with their Christian biblical roots.

The group is sponsored by Passages Israel, sometimes referred to as Birthright for Christians. They send more than 1,000 students a year to Israel. In their mission statement, they proudly proclaim that Israel is a force of good in the region and the world.

I was invited to join the faculty because of my involvement with AIPACs African American Outreach division. With Passages, my job was to get to know the students and then, when I return, help the organization develop curriculum so the students can stay connected to Israel and Judaism. A tall order, yes, but a privilege and an honor to undertake.

Im a firm believer that Jews must reach out to non-Jews. There are only 15 million of us in a world of 7 billion people, so we had better foster good relations outside of our tiny community. And a strong alliance with African Americans a people also victimized by unspeakable crimes and injustices throughout history makes perfect sense. Its a natural, and Im proud to do my part.

The students are very bright, inquisitive and kind. Each was hand-picked by their pastor as someone likely to be a future leader a pastor, professional, lawmaker, entrepreneur. Our Israeli guide, Tal Mageed from Jerusalem, and I are the only Jews on the bus. At first, I admit, that was an odd feeling, but that quickly dissipated as I came to know and appreciate each student.

A New Impression

Their initial knowledge of Israel (rather, lack of it) reflects the sparse, half-truth bias that often makes its way into America:that Israel is a big, bad, apartheid state with a tenuous claim to its own land. Yes, many believe, Israel has its biblical roots, but its modern-day goodness and right to even exist is debatable.

Israels brand if were really being honest is badly tarnished, perhaps irrevocably to many non-Jews.

So, visits to Israel, exposure to the facts on the ground, face-to-face relationships and constant education are the only ways to address this challenge. Passages, under the brilliant leadership of Scott Phillips, a former Christian AIPAC staff member who led Christian Outreach there, has carefully crafted a very strategic itinerary.

It was heavily Christian at first (Nazareth, Galilee, Stations of the Cross, baptisms in the Jordan River) and then a shift to Jewish experiences (a kibbutz outside of the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, Shabbat dinner at the home of an Orthodox family, the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and ending with the singing of Hatikvah at Independence Hall, in the very room where Ben-Gurion declared Israels statehood).

Interspersed throughout the trip was an impressive flow of dynamic speakers: an Israeli peace negotiator, an Orthodox scholar, a Palestinian journalist, an Ethiopian Israeli woman who served in the Knesset, a panel of IDF officers, a startup entrepreneur and a representative of a clinic that treats PTSD.

Tal and I are constantly telling the students things they had never heard before and are stunned to learn that there are Palestinian schools named after suicide bombers, that terror tunnels from Gaza continue to be dug, that when enemy rockets are launched Israelis have between 10 and 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter, that Hamas Charter calls for Israels destruction, that Hezbollah in Lebanon is now thought to have more than 100,000 rockets threatening Israel, etc.

The Israeli Reality

And just as the students are taking all of this in, something terrible happens. While we are in the Old City, there is a fatal stabbing, just minutes from us. A female police officer, just 23, was attacked by three terrorists who were all quickly shot dead. Some in our group even heard the shots. I look up her name and face and see the photo of a beautiful, youthful girl named Hadas Malka.

The sadness among the students is palpable; the school lesson is now all too real. We had been noticing young uniformed girls all day, just like Hadas. Some cry over the loss of her young life. For me, its like a death in the family. My heart is now officially broken.

At the Western Wall, I peel away from the group for some alone time. Anyone whos been there knows the power of that place and, of course, I am deeply moved. But when I return to the group I see something I never expected many of the kids are crying, some hysterically. They see me and we tearfully and silently hold onto long hugs. No words are necessary.

There were plenty of moments of joy for us on the trip. But it seemed joyful moments were constantly followed by tearful and sad moments, which I guess is the story of Israel.

The group sang, along with an Orthodox family at Shabbat dinner, and then sobbed at Yad Vashem. They explored the markets and laughed with people on the streets, and then cried when a kibbutz mother explained that she can only carry two of her children to the bomb shelters when the sirens go off.Joy, and then tears, and then joy, and then tears. The emotional roller coaster of this place is just on a constant loop.

As we depart, each person describes what especially touched them. Many mentioned the Ethiopian Jewish woman who described her incredible life experience, from abject poverty in Ethiopia to the Israeli Knesset. She said when she first came to Israel as a child she was shocked to see there was such a thing as white Jews. What claim do THEY have to Judaism? she thought.

The students have now experienced the real Israel, not the narrative of the media. Firsthand knowledge has replaced preconceived or misconceived notions. They each say they are forever changed, and I believe them. Once again, the Promised Land has delivered.

For me, I am happy and sad. I so love this place and get such joy out of seeing first-timers especially these kids experience it for themselves. But yet I also experience waves of great sadness when Im here.

Israel lives under an ominous cloud. Its enemies are everywhere; their weapons are getting more sophisticated; anti-Semitism is on the rise; and world support for Israel is waning. We Jews put on a brave face and embrace the future with faith and determination, but who can deny that we face increasingly daunting odds?

I see the Israeli kids on the beach in Tel Aviv joyfully playing volleyball. Around them, music is blaring, people are skateboarding, laughing in the cafes, couples are strolling along the waterside, watching a spectacular Mediterranean sunset, seemingly without a care in the world. I think: This is exactly the picture of what this place is supposed to look like.

David Ben-Gurion, Israels first prime minister, once said: In Israel, in order to be a realist one must believe in miracles.

I will take his lead. I am a realist and so I, too, must believe in miracles.

Jacobs and some students from Detroit at the Knesset menorah

Mark Jacobs with some of the students on the trip

View post:
From Religions to Terrorism, African American Students Take In All Sides of Israel – The Jewish News

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July 19, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

The war against the Christians – Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION: Persecution of Christians continues in certain parts of the world, mostly in the Middle East and throughout South and Southeast Asia, but it rarely gets much attention even in the Western media. Even many churchmen in the West turn a blind eye. Pope Francis, who like many Protestant clerics in the West is more concerned about the social issues of the left, has spoken out only occasionally against discrimination, which sometimes includes imprisonment and worse. In April the pope visited as a token of solidarity the leader of Egypts indigenous Christian Coptic Church, whose parish includes 20 million Egyptian Christians. But Protestant churchmen in the West, preoccupied with social issues to the neglect of articles of the faith they espouse, have largely left opposition to oppression to the Western democratic governments, led by the United States. The persecution statistics are horrific: More than 300 people are murdered monthly throughout the world because of their Christian faith. Two hundred houses of worship are destroyed monthly. Almost 800 incidents of violence are committed monthly. These are truly hate crimes, though rarely prosecuted as that. The Pew Center, an American secular research organization, estimates more than 75 percent of the worlds population lives in areas of rampant religious persecution, mostly against Christians. The State Department keeps an accounting of more than 60 countries where religious discrimination is practiced and encouraged. In many of these places, Islam is the dominant and sometimes official religion, and affiliated Muslim organizations persecute religious minorities, sometimes Jews and particularly Christians. The Middle East, the cradle of the three great religions, has the highest toll of martyrs. On Palm Sunday, preceding Easter by a week, two suicide bombings by Muslim fanatics killed 45 persons and injured many more in two Egyptian Coptic churches. Egypt, with the largest Christian minority in the region, counts the largest number of victims. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity, an academic research center that monitors worldwide demographic trends, estimates that in the decade ending last year thousands of Christians were killed annually. This does not include statistics from North Korea and large areas of Iraq and Syria. Persecution of Christians is part of a general pattern of repression in many of these areas, but it takes on a peculiar character because to oppose repression is sometimes inhibited by a lack of understanding of the nature of Islam. Islam is one of the Abrahamic religions and it has borrowed from both Judaism and Christianity. But unlike those two religious faiths, it has not broken its ties to secular power and has endowed those ties with the authority of the state. Indonesia, for example, briefly tried a break with secular power after independence in 1945, but is now beset with radical Islamic groups attempting to establish Islam as state-imposed belief. This conflict besets most majority-Muslim societies, even though they have borrowed lightly from European legal codes from their colonial past. This conflict will likely intensify if present trends continue. Indeed, in much of the Islamic world the concept of faith as understood in the West is not something voluntarily held in the human heart, not to be imposed by the state by birth or by law, but a political ideology. Therein lies the fundamental conflict between Judaism and Christianity in the West, and Islam elsewhere. Short of an Islamic reformation, like the reformation that transformed both the Jewish and the Christian faiths, there is probably scant hope for authentic reconciliation.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

BDS ban: Five Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders denied entry to Israel for supporting Palestinian human rights – Mondoweiss

This press release was sent out by Jewish Voice for Peace today. Five leaders on an interfaith delegation to Israel/Palestine were refused permission to board their plane in the United States, in what appears to be an implementation of Israels travel ban on supporters of Palestinian rights and Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS). Rabbi Alissa Wise: We were told at check-in that the airline has a letter from the Israeli government saying we are not allowed to fly to Israel. I wasnt even able to get as far as checking my bag. WASHINGTON DC (July 24, 2017) Five members of an interfaith delegation were prevented from boarding their flight to Israel because of their public criticism of the Israeli governments policies towards Palestinians. The group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders were apparentlysingled outfor their public support of the Palestinian call forBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)on the state of Israel. Upon arrival at the Lufthansa check-in counter at Dulles International Airport, an airline employee informed the group that the Israeli government had told the airline not to let them board. The five people prohibited from flying are Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) deputy director, Philadelphia, PA; Alana Krivo-Kaufman, Brooklyn, NY and Noah Habeeb, Virginia, both also of JVP; Rick Ufford Chase, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Rockland County, NY; and Shakeel Syed, a national board member with American Muslims for Palestine, Los Angeles, CA. Israel denied me the ability to travel there because of my work for justice for Palestinians, even though Im Jewish and a rabbi,saidRabbi Alissa Wise. Im heartbroken and outraged. This is yet another demonstration that democracy and tolerance in Israel only extends to those who fall in line with its increasingly repressive policies against Palestinians. The Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed abillin March banning entry to those who support boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel until Palestinians have full equal rights. Israels BDS ban includes those who have endorsed boycotts of products from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and longstanding official U.S. policy. It is believed that this is the first time that the policy has been enforced before people even board their flight. It is also the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their political positions. This new political litmus test for entry into the country is an extension of thelongstanding practicesof racial, religious and ethnic profiling of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visitors to Israel. As a person of faith, Israels denial of my right to visit the Holy Land doesnt dampen, but rather, emboldens my pursuit of justice and peace for Palestinians and long overdue freedom for Palestine,saidShakeel Syed, a human rights activist & national Board Member, American Muslims for Palestine.Despite that I had my boarding pass to Tel Aviv in hand, the Lufthansa representative informed me that they had a direct order from Israeli immigration authorities to not allow us to board the plane. Furthermore, they refused to even show us the Israeli order. The BDS travel ban is part of a broader crackdown on support for these nonviolent tactics to hold Israel accountable to international law. The United States Congress is currently considering the draconianIsrael Anti-Boycott Billthat would penalize people and companies that boycott business with Israel or Israeli settlements with penalties of up to 20 years in jail and $1 million in fines. At a time of heightened violence in the region, when Palestinians are praying outside the Al-Aqsa compound and on the streets, protesting Israeli restrictions on worship there, a small group of faith leaders and activists have been barred from even witnessing and lending an interfaith voice for peace. Israels ban refuses the interfaith leaders entry to Israel and the Occupied Palestinians Territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, under Israeli control. I am part of a Jewish, Muslim and Christian delegation of committed, nonviolent peacemakers whose plan is to meet with those in both Israel and Palestine who are working every day for a Just Peace in the Holy Lands,Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly, PC(USA) and member of the Activist Council of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.At this time when tension and violence are rising once again, the work we are doing to build trust and work for a viable peace is more important than ever, and I stand ready to go the moment the State of Israel gives us permission to fly. The other 18 participants on the Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine (INJIP)* delegation arrived in Israel this morning, and were allowed to enter after several hours of detention and questioning that particularly focused on Muslim members of the delegation. The delegation plans to meet with dozens of faith-based organizations, grassroots activists and human rights groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Now the remaining delegates will continue this work, without five of their members, with the intention to learn, witness and co-resist Israeli occupation, displacement and siege with Palestinian and Israeli partners on the ground.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Opinion: Jews everywhere should be helping Egypt’s Christians … – The Jewish Standard

During Israels Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, I had dinner with a Christian pastor and his family in North Carolina. I was stunned and impressed that each time a rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel, the familys Code Red app blared on their cellphones and they stopped whatever they were doing to pray for Israelis in danger. And they didnt just pray. Their sincere concern for the wellbeing of Israel manifested itself in action. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to build bomb shelters all across Israel to help protect us. It is our honor to use our money to provide protection to Israelis from terrorist rocket fire. Buying a new car, renovating my kitchen or doing anything else for myself wouldnt give me nearly as much joy and fulfillment, the pastor told me. I left his house feeling awed and inspired. I hope that my people would help Christians in their time of need, as they have done for us, I thought. Truth be told, on the whole, we as a people have done an excellent job in raising awareness among our children and our communities about the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world), of reaching out and supporting worthy causes beyond those that directly affect Jews. At almost every rally and peaceful protest, you can see an Israeli flag, the Star of David or another identifier of Jewish presence. We are helping Syrian refugees, standing up for womens rights and volunteering in the worlds poorest countries, just to name a few causes we champion. Helping others who suffer from persecution, injustice or discrimination is a hallmark of the Jewish community, and I am proud of that. But at the same time, there are cries that have gone unheard, such as those of the Christians being systematically persecutedand slaughteredacross the Middle East. Coptic Christians, an indigenous population of Egypt dating back to the 1st century A.D., hundreds of years before Muslims even came on the scene, have been especially targeted. They represent almost 10 percent of Egypts population and are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists. At least 28 Coptic Christians, including many children, were ambushed and murdered May 26 as they traveled by bus to a monastery. Two terror attacks hit crowded Coptic churches April 10, killing at least 44 people. Since January 2017, more than 100 Copts have been targeted, murdered and systematically threatened. In response to this horrific campaign of terror, I am astounded that the Jewish community has remained virtually silent. The Jewish community and Israel currently enjoy unprecedented, historic support from the Christian community. Christians are our loudest defenders in the political arena, our most vocal supporters on social media and our greatest contributors when it comes to charitable causes. The annual budget of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is $150 million, which is distributed to 1.4 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. These funds are sacrificially donated by hundreds of thousands of Christian donors in the U.S. and worldwide. Moreover, Christians make up more than half of the tourists who come to Israel annually, significantly bolstering the the Jewish states economy and morale. If we can stand up for the sake of other peoples who suffer and for different just causes, how can we not act on behalf of our greatest allies? With all of the issues we are taking on, how is this not at the forefront of our agenda? For the last few years, Egypts Coptic Christians have been the target of a calculated, cruel terror campaign. Men, women and children (and sometimes intentionally women and children) have been murdered in cold blood. Their places of worship and holy books have been blown up and burned. Their homes and shops have been attacked and looted. Sound familiar? We know all too well this pattern in history and we have vowed never to let it happen again.

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July 24, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

ISIS Destroyed Jonah’s Tomb, but Not Its Message – The Atlantic

As we saw the first images of Jonahs Tomb destroyed in Mosul on July 24, 2014, we felt shocked and deeply uneasy. We had been following news from Iraq obsessively over the previous weeks, distressed by the Islamic States actions in a country we still thought of as home, even though all three of us now live in North America. Every bit of ISIS destruction had been terrible to witness, but somehow the image of this ruined tomb was uniquely jarring. Three years later, with Mosul liberated, we understand why. The tomb, one of Iraqs iconic monuments, was revered by Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike. It was believed to be the final resting place of the biblical prophet Jonah, who got swallowed by a whale and who warned inhabitants of the Assyrian city of Nineveh (now Mosul) that God would destroy them if they did not repent for their sins. Jonahs story appears in the Bible as well as the Koran. His tomb is perched on a high mound containing many layers of history: an ancient Assyrian temple and palace, a site of devotion for Jews, a Christian church, and a 12th century mosque. In 1924, a grand minaret was added by a Turkish architect who described the glow of the site as Gods gift to Mosul. Renovated in the 1990s under Saddam Hussein, it was a popular draw for pilgrims. Who Gets to Own Iraqs Religious Heritage? But the tomb was much more than a tourist destination; it was a constant, potent symbol. Overlooking the city, it reminded all Maslawis of the interconnectedness of Iraqs diverse religious populations. It was the antithesis of sectarianism. As such, ISISs decision to blow it up read as an attempt to erase the shared history of the many religious populations that Mosul housed, and to erase the very notion that such populations can share anything at all. But now that Mosul has been liberated from ISIS, wethree Iraqis from different religious backgroundshope all our communities will have a hand in rebuilding the city and its holy sites. Sara, of Armenian and Arab descent, was born and raised in Mosul. As a child, she was enchanted by the Nabi Yunus mosque, as the site is locally known. Its yellowish stones reflected sunlight as she and her brother chased each other up and down its seemingly endless stairs, climbed onto its zigguratesque terraces, and zigzagged through its palm trees. She grew up hearing that the site houses the tooth of the whale that swallowed Jonah. She was also keenly aware that Mosuls Yazidi community identified with the area as well, particularly because an ancient shrine is located near Nabi Yunus. Atoor grew up as part of the indigenous Assyrian Christian community in Iraq. She yearns for many quintessential elements of her childhood skyline, but none is more painfully absent now than Jonahs Tomb. The Eastern churches commemorate the repentance of the biblical Ninevites with a three-day fast each year, an important tradition for the Assyrian community. Beyond this religious connection to Jonah, and beyond simple nostalgia, what makes the loss of the tomb painful is a principle that was inculcated in her: Assimilating prior cultural traditions and sources of knowledge has always been a source of strength for Near Eastern civilizations, from antiquity to the modern period. The destruction of Jonahs Tomb signals that this source of strength is under threat. Sigal was raised in a family of Iraqi Jews, but has never been able to visit Iraq. Desperate to escape the persecution that followed the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, her grandfather fled Iraq, along with almost the entire Jewish population. Despite never having seen Jonahs Tomb, she felt it was a constitutive part of her history and personal identity. She grew up hearing the Book of Jonah read in synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The tomb was a visible reminder that Jews had flourished in Iraq for centuries: Mosul was once home to many synagogues, although they are now reportedly used as garbage dumps, and to trailblazing luminaries like 17th-century yeshiva director Asnat Barzani, although she is now mostly forgotten. Jonahs Tomb is only one example of Iraqs interfaith cooperation. In the city of Al Qosh, an ancient synagogues crumbling walls still bear visible Hebrew inscriptions. Inside is the tomb of Nahum, another Hebrew prophet who predicted the fall of Nineveh. It has been guarded by the same family of Assyrian Christians for generations. When the last Jewish people in Al Qosh left, they asked my grandfather to watch over the tomb, to keep it safe, the caretaker explained in 2015. Nahum is not our prophet, but he is a prophet, so we must respect that. Stories like these prompt us to ask: Where would Iraqs Jews, Christians, and Muslims be without their connection to each other and to their ancient past through sites like the tombs of Jonah and Nahum? What does the story of Iraq amount to without the shared history of its Jews, Christians, and Muslims? And will these questions guide any future efforts to rebuild the tombs? Earlier this year, archeologists documenting the destruction at Jonahs Tomb discovered a 2,600-year-old Assyrian palace, which had never before been excavated. After blowing up the mosque, ISIS had dug tunnels deep underneath, likely plundering many artifacts for sale on the black market. They left behind marble cuneiform inscriptions, stone sculptures of a demi-goddess, and carved reliefs. The British Institute for the Study of Iraq and various international teams rushed forward with bids to help professionals on the ground secure the site and study the remaining treasures. At a UNESCO meeting in Paris, foreign experts and Iraqi officials agreed to work together on the restoration. Amid this flurry of activity, it may be easy to forget that the rebuilding of Jonahs Tomb is not only a matter of concern for local residents and experts of the Near East, but also for Christians, Muslims, and Jews with a connection to Iraq. These various religious groups, along with Yazidis, have a stake in what happens to the site, and any just decision-making process will include representatives from each. Today, three years after seeing the image of Jonahs Tomb destroyed, we recall these words from his story in the KoranIf only there had been a city that believed and profited by its belief as did the people of Jonah!and are hopeful that all people working to rebuild Mosul can muster the strength to believe in the power of its connected cultures and shared history.

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July 24, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Why Jews Everywhere Should Be Helping Egypt’s Christians … – Algemeiner

And they didnt just pray. Their sincere concern for the well-being of Israel manifested itself in action. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to build bomb shelters all across Israel. It is our honor to use our money to provide protection to Israelis from terrorist rocket fire. Buying a new car, renovating my kitchen or doing anything else for myself wouldnt give me nearly as much joy and fulfillment, the pastor told me. I left his house feeling awed and inspired. I hope that my people would help Christians in their time of need, as they have done for us, I thought. July 26, 2017 10:41 am Truth be told, on the whole, we as a people have done an excellent job in raising awareness among our children and our communities about the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world)of reaching out and supporting worthy causes beyond those that directly affect Jews. At almost every rally and peaceful protest, you can see an Israeli flag, the Star of David or another identifier of Jewish presence. We are helping Syrian refugees, standing up for womens rights and volunteering in the worlds poorest countriesjust to name a few causes we champion. Helping others who suffer from persecution, injustice or discrimination is a hallmark of the Jewish community, and I am proud of that. But at the same time, there are cries that have gone unheard, such as those of the Christians being systematically persecutedand slaughteredacross the Middle East. Coptic Christians, an indigenous population inEgypt dating back to the 1st century AD, have been especially targeted. They represent almost 10 percent of Egypts population, and are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists. At least 28 Coptic Christians, including many children, were ambushed and murdered on May 26 as they traveled by bus to a monastery. In April, two terror attacks hit crowded Coptic churches killing at least 44 people. Since January 2017, hundreds ofCopts have been targeted, murdered and systematically threatened. In response to this horrific campaign of terror, I am astounded that the Jewish community has remained virtually silent. The Jewish community and Israel currently enjoy unprecedented, historic support from the Christian community. Christians are our loudest defenders in the political arena, our most vocal supporters on social media and our greatest contributors when it comes to charitable causes. The annual budget of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (the Fellowship) is $150 million, which is distributed to 1.4 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. These funds are sacrificially donated by hundreds of thousands of Christian donors in the US and worldwide. Moreover, Christians make up more than half of the tourists who come to Israel annually, significantly bolstering the Jewish states economy and morale. If we can stand up for the sake of other peoples who suffer, how can we not act on behalf of our greatest allies? With all of the issues that we are taking on, how is this not at the forefront of our agenda? For the last few years, Egypts Coptic Christians have been the target of a calculated, cruel terror campaign. Men, women and children (sometimes intentionally women and children) have been murdered in cold blood. Their places of worship and holy books have been blown up and burned. Their homes and shops have been attacked and looted. Sound familiar? We know all too well this pattern in history, and we have vowed never to let it happen again.

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Jewish mother, Christian father and Muslim daughters under one roof in Egypt – StepFeed

The Muslim-majority country’s once-vibrant Jewish community has shrunk to a handful of people. While there is no officialcount of the number of Jews living in Egypt today,it was reported to stand at 13 Jews in 2014, according to Egypt Independent. In July 2016, Haroun mentioned that there are only six Jewish women in the country. In the mid-1940s, Egypt’s Jewish community peaked at over 80,000 people, according to Time magazine. Since then, after the establishment of Israel, and former Egyptian presidentGamal Abdel Nasser’smass expulsion of Egyptian Jews, a majority of the latter fled toEurope, Israel, and the United States. Haroun’s family was among those who chose to stay in the country. Haroun attended university in Cairo and eventually took on the family business, an intellectual property firm. “I’m sick of it,” Haroun said about the diminishing community. “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and Im crying because I dont know what will happen. Its very hard to explain. Its very heavy. Its very sad. Its very frightening.”

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July 21, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Why Jews everywhere should be helping Egypt’s Christians – JNS.org

By Yael Eckstein/JNS.org During Israels Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, I had dinner with a Christian pastor and his family in North Carolina. I was stunned and impressed that each time a rocket was launched from Gaza into Israel, the familys Code Red app blared on their cellphones and they stopped whatever they were doing to pray for Israelis in danger. And they didnt just pray. Their sincere concern for the wellbeing of Israel manifested itself in action. They donated tens of thousands of dollars to build bomb shelters all across Israel to help protect us. It is our honor to use our money to provide protection to Israelis from terrorist rocket fire. Buying a new car, renovating my kitchen or doing anything else for myself wouldnt give me nearly as much joy and fulfillment, the pastor told me. I left his house feeling awed and inspired. I hope that my people would help Christians in their time of need, as they have done for us, I thought. Truth be told, on the whole, we as a people have done an excellent job in raising awareness among our children and our communities about the importance of tikkun olam (repairing the world), of reaching out and supporting worthy causes beyond those that directly affect Jews. At almost every rally and peaceful protest, you can see an Israeli flag, the Star of David or another identifier of Jewish presence. We are helping Syrian refugees, standing up for womens rights and volunteering in the worlds poorest countries, just to name a few causes we champion. Helping others who suffer from persecution, injustice or discrimination is a hallmark of the Jewish community, and I am proud of that. But at the same time, there are cries that have gone unheard, such as those of the Christians being systematically persecutedand slaughteredacross the Middle East. Coptic Christians, an indigenous population of Egypt dating back to the 1st century A.D., hundreds of years before Muslims even came on the scene, have been especially targeted. They represent almost 10 percent of Egypts population and are being persecuted by Islamic terrorists. At least 28 Coptic Christians, including many children, were ambushed and murdered May 26 as they traveled by bus to a monastery. Two terror attacks hit crowded Coptic churches April 10, killing at least 44 people. Since January 2017, more than 100 Copts have been targeted, murdered and systematically threatened. In response to this horrific campaign of terror, I am astounded that the Jewish community has remained virtually silent. The Jewish community and Israel currently enjoy unprecedented, historic support from the Christian community. Christians are our loudest defenders in the political arena, our most vocal supporters on social media and our greatest contributors when it comes to charitable causes. The annual budget of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is $150 million, which is distributed to 1.4 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. These funds are sacrificially donated by hundreds of thousands of Christian donors in the U.S. and worldwide. Moreover, Christians make up more than half of the tourists who come to Israel annually, significantly bolstering the the Jewish states economy and morale. If we can stand up for the sake of other peoples who suffer and for different just causes, how can we not act on behalf of our greatest allies? With all of the issues we are taking on, how is this not at the forefront of our agenda? For the last few years, Egypts Coptic Christians have been the target of a calculated, cruel terror campaign. Men, women and children (and sometimes intentionally women and children) have been murdered in cold blood. Their places of worship and holy books have been blown up and burned. Their homes and shops have been attacked and looted. Sound familiar? We know all too well this pattern in history and we have vowed never to let it happen again.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Christianity was founded by an observant Jew – Catholic Star Herald

Pope John Paul II greets Rabbi Elio Toaff at Romes main synagogue April 13, 1986. The meeting marked the beginning of a new era in Catholic-Jewish relations. It was the first time a pope had entered the Rome synagogue. CNS photo/Arturo Mari, LOsservatore Romano I imagine we older Catholics could be forgiven if we presumed Jesus was a Catholic like us. After all, he started us off by giving Peter a new identity as Rock, or Cephas in Aramaic, when he said, You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my church. (Mt 16: 18). The fact is, he was a good observant Jew, practiced in reading the Hebrew Scriptures and attending shabat synagogue. Nazareths was where he preached such a fiery sermon early in his career that his own neighbors were infuriated enough to seize him and take him to the brow of a hill to throw him to his death. Today, bishops assign newly ordained priests away from their home parishes, especially if they have the courage to preach social justice homilies. Mary and Joseph had taught him well, aware that parents are the first and best teachers in the ways of the faith who dont wait for later educators. Their Jewish loyalty saw to his being initiated into Judaism eight days after birth. It continued well past his visit to the Jerusalem temple at 12, when he discussed the Law with the amazed rabbis there, doing his Fathers business, even if his mother scolded him for getting lost for three days. At one point his disciples, or students, asked him how to pray. The Lords Prayer was his answer, and it reveals his Jewishness on a couple of counts. Take the familiar Jewish dependence on God as provider of everything: Give me neither poverty nor riches. Provide me only with the food I need, lest being full, I deny you saying, Who is the Lord? Or being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God (Prv 30f). Jesus called on his Jewish disciples familiarity with Sirachs Forgive your neighbors injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven (28: 2). Sirach and he made their own forgiveness of others to be the kind they could expect of the all-merciful God, who is not impressed with mere words when the deeds are absent. With the terrible burning of the Temple and Jerusalem with it by the Romans in July of 70 A.D. and the flight of the people from the city, the canon or official list of Old Testament books excluded Sirach because it originated outside Israel, in Egypt. Thus Jews and therefore Protestants do not consider Sirach, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Baruch and 1 and 2 Maccabees to be canonical, but they revere these as noteworthy. This makes the Catholic Bible seven books longer than those of our Jewish and Protestant friends. We formed our canon at the 1545-63 Council of Trent. All of which should cause us Catholics and other Christians to respect our Jewish ancestors in the faith. As Pope John said, We all are spiritual Semites, he who did so much to rescue thousands of Jews from the Holocaust while serving in Turkey. We need reminders like this. As Swiss theologian Hans Kung said, anti-Semitism is the churchs longest-standing sin. By the end of the first century, the tail was wagging the dog. Gentile converts to Christianity were multiplying despite the emperors persecutions while Jewish membership fell off. Someone got the idea that it would be good religion to harass both Jewish Christians and Jewish non-Christians. How God was supposed to be pleased with this attack on Gods Chosen People, a designation never retracted, still mystifies. The Holocaust it means wholly burnt sacrificial offering did not just start in 20th century Nazism. Economic explanations have been offered. A people uninterested in evangelizing because blood lines established membership, thus uninterested in getting new Gentile members, pulled together and made themselves stronger against the pogroms, becoming a formidable force in banking, the only field some countries left to them because money handling was considered beneath Christian dignity. Yet Christians did not hesitate to borrow from Jewish bankers. In Venice, Jews were consigned to an island of their own after centuries of living well with Christians there. The Yiddish word for divorce then was ghet, Italianized to ghetto. Jews were divorced from mainstream society, required to live in Jewish compounds. Into the 20th century the city of Romes law forbade the entrance of a synagogue being placed on a main street. A 20th century pope was the first successor of Jewish Peter to visit a synagogue. Hard to imagine Jewish Jesus approving much of this.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

From Religions to Terrorism, African American Students Take In All Sides of Israel – The Jewish News

I write this article at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Soon I will be boarding a plane home after a 12-day trip throughout Israel. But the trip is hardly the typical trip American Jews take to Israel. I have been part of the faculty for 80 African American college students who went to Israel to build bridges of understanding between the U.S. and Israel as well as to connect with their Christian biblical roots. The group is sponsored by Passages Israel, sometimes referred to as Birthright for Christians. They send more than 1,000 students a year to Israel. In their mission statement, they proudly proclaim that Israel is a force of good in the region and the world. I was invited to join the faculty because of my involvement with AIPACs African American Outreach division. With Passages, my job was to get to know the students and then, when I return, help the organization develop curriculum so the students can stay connected to Israel and Judaism. A tall order, yes, but a privilege and an honor to undertake. Im a firm believer that Jews must reach out to non-Jews. There are only 15 million of us in a world of 7 billion people, so we had better foster good relations outside of our tiny community. And a strong alliance with African Americans a people also victimized by unspeakable crimes and injustices throughout history makes perfect sense. Its a natural, and Im proud to do my part. The students are very bright, inquisitive and kind. Each was hand-picked by their pastor as someone likely to be a future leader a pastor, professional, lawmaker, entrepreneur. Our Israeli guide, Tal Mageed from Jerusalem, and I are the only Jews on the bus. At first, I admit, that was an odd feeling, but that quickly dissipated as I came to know and appreciate each student. A New Impression Their initial knowledge of Israel (rather, lack of it) reflects the sparse, half-truth bias that often makes its way into America:that Israel is a big, bad, apartheid state with a tenuous claim to its own land. Yes, many believe, Israel has its biblical roots, but its modern-day goodness and right to even exist is debatable. Israels brand if were really being honest is badly tarnished, perhaps irrevocably to many non-Jews. So, visits to Israel, exposure to the facts on the ground, face-to-face relationships and constant education are the only ways to address this challenge. Passages, under the brilliant leadership of Scott Phillips, a former Christian AIPAC staff member who led Christian Outreach there, has carefully crafted a very strategic itinerary. It was heavily Christian at first (Nazareth, Galilee, Stations of the Cross, baptisms in the Jordan River) and then a shift to Jewish experiences (a kibbutz outside of the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, Shabbat dinner at the home of an Orthodox family, the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and ending with the singing of Hatikvah at Independence Hall, in the very room where Ben-Gurion declared Israels statehood). Interspersed throughout the trip was an impressive flow of dynamic speakers: an Israeli peace negotiator, an Orthodox scholar, a Palestinian journalist, an Ethiopian Israeli woman who served in the Knesset, a panel of IDF officers, a startup entrepreneur and a representative of a clinic that treats PTSD. Tal and I are constantly telling the students things they had never heard before and are stunned to learn that there are Palestinian schools named after suicide bombers, that terror tunnels from Gaza continue to be dug, that when enemy rockets are launched Israelis have between 10 and 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter, that Hamas Charter calls for Israels destruction, that Hezbollah in Lebanon is now thought to have more than 100,000 rockets threatening Israel, etc. The Israeli Reality And just as the students are taking all of this in, something terrible happens. While we are in the Old City, there is a fatal stabbing, just minutes from us. A female police officer, just 23, was attacked by three terrorists who were all quickly shot dead. Some in our group even heard the shots. I look up her name and face and see the photo of a beautiful, youthful girl named Hadas Malka. The sadness among the students is palpable; the school lesson is now all too real. We had been noticing young uniformed girls all day, just like Hadas. Some cry over the loss of her young life. For me, its like a death in the family. My heart is now officially broken. At the Western Wall, I peel away from the group for some alone time. Anyone whos been there knows the power of that place and, of course, I am deeply moved. But when I return to the group I see something I never expected many of the kids are crying, some hysterically. They see me and we tearfully and silently hold onto long hugs. No words are necessary. There were plenty of moments of joy for us on the trip. But it seemed joyful moments were constantly followed by tearful and sad moments, which I guess is the story of Israel. The group sang, along with an Orthodox family at Shabbat dinner, and then sobbed at Yad Vashem. They explored the markets and laughed with people on the streets, and then cried when a kibbutz mother explained that she can only carry two of her children to the bomb shelters when the sirens go off.Joy, and then tears, and then joy, and then tears. The emotional roller coaster of this place is just on a constant loop. As we depart, each person describes what especially touched them. Many mentioned the Ethiopian Jewish woman who described her incredible life experience, from abject poverty in Ethiopia to the Israeli Knesset. She said when she first came to Israel as a child she was shocked to see there was such a thing as white Jews. What claim do THEY have to Judaism? she thought. The students have now experienced the real Israel, not the narrative of the media. Firsthand knowledge has replaced preconceived or misconceived notions. They each say they are forever changed, and I believe them. Once again, the Promised Land has delivered. For me, I am happy and sad. I so love this place and get such joy out of seeing first-timers especially these kids experience it for themselves. But yet I also experience waves of great sadness when Im here. Israel lives under an ominous cloud. Its enemies are everywhere; their weapons are getting more sophisticated; anti-Semitism is on the rise; and world support for Israel is waning. We Jews put on a brave face and embrace the future with faith and determination, but who can deny that we face increasingly daunting odds? I see the Israeli kids on the beach in Tel Aviv joyfully playing volleyball. Around them, music is blaring, people are skateboarding, laughing in the cafes, couples are strolling along the waterside, watching a spectacular Mediterranean sunset, seemingly without a care in the world. I think: This is exactly the picture of what this place is supposed to look like. David Ben-Gurion, Israels first prime minister, once said: In Israel, in order to be a realist one must believe in miracles. I will take his lead. I am a realist and so I, too, must believe in miracles. Jacobs and some students from Detroit at the Knesset menorah Mark Jacobs with some of the students on the trip

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July 19, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed


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