[Charles Gardner, CMJ Communications Director in the UK, posted this reflection on the recently completed Olympics and those who stood for Jesus and took home gold -- from a view from England and reminiscing on the famous 1924 Paris Olympics win by Eric Liddell when he honored the Sabbath by refusing to run a heat that day...]
Olympic athletes give praise where it is really due
By Charles Gardner
As the Olympic Games show increasing signs of returning to its pagan roots, the humility amid personal brilliance of a few outstanding Christian competitors shines out like stars in a darkened universe.
And its promotion as a showpiece for world peace and unity was tarnished by the hostility shown to the 47-member Israeli delegation –- 44 years after eleven Israeli athletes were massacred at the Munich Olympics by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September.
For Britain, bursting with pride after collecting a staggering 67 medals and finishing second in the table to the United States at Rio, it was an event to savour after some of our politicians had downplayed patriotism in favour of staying within the European Union.
It seems the British bulldog spirit has instead received a belated boost. But the prowess of our athletes isn’t enough; what the human body can achieve should not be an opportunity for self-congratulation, but for giving honour where it is really due as in the case of South African athlete Wayde van Niekerk, who gave glory to God just moments after his spectacular win in the 400 metres –- echoing the gold medal won in the same event at the 1924 Paris Olympics by legendary Scottish athlete Eric Liddell, who went on to be a missionary in China.
Here's a surprise find by our board member Theresa Newell, from the Sunday magazine of her local newspaper (in Lancaster County, PA)... "Louisiana Shrimp Shakshuka" by an Israeli chef associated with a famous restaurant in New Orleans! Dr. Newell remembers the first time she tasted shakshuka in Jerusalem. She assumed it was a Latin American dish (it reminded her of huevos rancheros), only to find out it is a Mediterranean dish.
Another surprise is Chef Alon's addition of shrimp and okra (he IS in New Orleans, after all). It may not be kosher, but Theresa says it is delicious. (She recommends substituting a few red pepper flake for the hot sauce, if you're from the North.)
Read more and find the recipe at http://communitytable.parade.com/501286/alisonashton/louisiana-shrimp-shakshuka/
Inside Jaffa Gate: Christ Church Jerusalem is numbered among other treasures near the Jaffa Gate in a Times of Israel travel article, entitled "Inside Jaffa Gate: remembering the Caliph who revered the Temple Mount" [click here to read the article]. Christ Church is located directly across the street from the Citadel, also noted in the article.
[Image: CMJ's "Christ Church, also home to the Christian Heritage Center, a 2,000-year-old water reservoir, and a guesthouse." (Shmuel Bar-Am)]
This is the title of a story by Silvia Donati in the March 30, 2016 edition of Italy magazine, marking the date March 29, 1516, when the Senate of the republic of Venice (Italy) signed a decree mandating that all Jews residing in the city live together in a monitored and gated area, separated from the Christians. So the Jews of Venice were relocated to a small island encircled by walls, where a foundry used to stand. The word in Italian/Venetian dialect was getto—and thus was born the name of this first established Jewish ghetto in Europe. The name stuck and took on a general meaning of a confined space for a specified group of people which separated the group from the general population for whatever reason.
Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497, Jewish refugees began to show up in cities across the Mediterranean basin and ultimately as far away as the coasts of North and South America. Over 5,000 of these Sephardic Jews ended up in Venice. An agitation began for their expulsion once again and culminated in 1516 in the decision by the state to confine the entire community of Jews to the area of the former cannon foundry, the ghetto nuovo—in the area furthest removed from the Piazza San Marco, which was the symbol of Christianity in Venice.
Special taxes were levied against the Jews of the ghetto, and security to keep them inside the walls of the ghetto at night was set up. As the Jewish community grew larger, new areas were added to the enclosed space. Stories were added to the existing buildings to accommodate the new arrivals – which is why the buildings in the ghetto are among the highest in Venice, up to six to eight floors.
In 1589, Jews were officially authorized by the Republic to build synagogues. The ghetto’s gates were opened in 1797, when Napoleon conquered Venice. The heart of Venice’s Jewish ghetto is Campo del Ghetto Nuovo, a quiet square not far from the train station, in the district of Cannaregio.
Consider joining a CMJ Shoresh Tour to Israel. . .
Read more in the tour brochures:
What is Shoresh?
Shoresh is Hebrew for "root." Our study tours are designed to help you grasp the Jewish roots of the New Testament faith and to give you "new ears" to hear biblical teachings in their original context.
Is it safe to travel in Israel?
Starting your Trip from outside the US?
By Dr. Theresa Newell, CMJ USA Board Member
Recently newspapers carried an Associated Press story titled, “Methodist pension board bars investment in 5 Israeli banks” (AP, January 12, 2016; retrieved from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d2484fb8e654438791caaf0213c93de0/methodist-pension-board-bars-investment-5-israeli-banks).
In my previous article called “What is BDS?” I wrote that several liberal Protestant churches as well as several liberal Jewish groups in the USA have voted to boycott, divest and sanction Israeli products, businesses, and even academics. The AP story noted that “Last year, the United Church of Christ voted to divest from companies with business in the Israeli-occupied territories. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) took a similar vote in 2014.”
Let’s examine now how the BDS movement began.
How did it all begin?
In December 2009, a group of Christians and Jews from South Africa, the United States, Europe, and Asia met in Bethlehem to give their blessing to a document written by Palestinian Christian leaders from Jerusalem and the West Bank. The text of the document—which has come to be called the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD)—calls on Christians throughout the world to target Israel with boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions, i.e., BDS. A global movement against Israel rapidly emerged in response to this call. Three major companies who did business with Israel were initially targeted: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions.
An article in Jewish Political Studies Review in 2012 stated: “The document’s [KPD's] stated goal is to bring a word of truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict to the world, but a close reading of the text reveals many of the tropes Arab Christians often use to indict Israel. The conflict is all Israel’s fault; the Palestinians are innocent. Israelis sin; Palestinians make mistakes. Palestinian violence is justified; Israeli self-defense is not. . . .The document also affirms a fantasy that Christian peacemakers have long embraced—that the fighting will miraculously come to an end once Israel ends the occupation.”
John Lomperis, Director of UMAction program of the Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD) in Washington, DC, testified before the United Methodist Church’s pension board in Chicago on November 12, 2015. He ended his statement with these words: “The push to divest from companies doing business with Israel is fundamentally unjust, factually misinformed, morally inconsistent, and out of touch with much of our [UMC] grassroots membership and our North American mission field” (Faith & Freedom, December 2015, p 13).
By Dr. Theresa Newell, CMJ USA Board Member
BDS is popular shorthand for “Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions” against Israel. BDS has become a movement advocated by anti-Israel US college student groups, European governments, some church denominations and even liberal American Jewish groups. It is a campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel in the world’s eyes and to bring economic pressure against the country.
More broadly, BDS is another manifestation of anti-Semitism which is again raising its head against Jewish people. It is widely understood that anti-Zionism (attitudes of hatred toward the State of Israel) is the new form of anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, once again, not many churches, even evangelical ones, are paying close attention to this build up of worldwide animosity against Jewish people. Few have spoken out against the mounting campaign. However, some say, “It is 1938 all over again.” We at CMJ USA want to make our readers aware of this pernicious movement.
Some BDS advocates claim they are only attempting to pressure Israelis to soften their policies toward the West Bank and Gaza or call for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 cease-fire lines following the Six Day War. But a professor at California State University, As’ad AbuKhalil, has said: “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel . . . Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” (“Resisting the longest hatred” by Clifford D. May, May 27, 2015, The Washington Times, B2).
A War of Ideas
History is changed by ideas which are propagated to the public––whether for good or for evil. Proponents of BDS have large budgets for propaganda to promote their programs worldwide. To read the inflammatory rhetoric of BDS proponents, one can simply check internet sites, which are easily accessible and influencing anti-Israel sentiment worldwide. Israel is called “brutal, a regime of occupation, colonialists, and apartheid.” Israel is likened to Nazi Germany and worse. The most recent accusation was that Israel has a plan to take over the Al Aqsa Mosque, which is situated on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. These claims are unfounded but have the desired effect of raising up resistance movements in major cities of the West, some of them leading to the death of many innocent people such as the attacks in Paris and London.
Before looking at the origins of the BDS movement, here are some of the USA groups which are grappling with how their organizations stand on the issue.
The question of how to fit the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures with the New Testament has been a matter of discussion for centuries by biblical scholars teaching in academic faculties as well as church leaders who are tasked with preparing weekly sermons. Here are two current books that touch on this subject from very different angles.
Richard B. Hays served as Dean of Duke Divinity School and George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament. In his recent book, Reading Backwards, Hays demonstrates that it was Israel’s Scripture that taught the Gospel writers how to understand Jesus as the embodied presence of God and how those Scriptures provided the literary witness to the Church from its earliest days. Dr. Rosa Lee Richards offers a brief review of this important book.
A Review by Dr. Rosa Lee Richards
In Reading Backwards, Richard Hays discusses the relationship between the Hebrew Bible (OT), and the Christian New Testament. In Christianity the OT is often neglected, when, Hays contends, the NT should clarify and be clarified by it. But how to read the two Testaments together? His answer: by reading metaphorically, or figurally, from back (the NT) to front (the OT).
How can the Bible be read backwards, with the NT elucidating the Hebrew Bible, without disrespecting Jewish understandings and without turning the NT into an unseemly bed of weedy outgrowths? This is done by looking at OT figures that presage, without prophesying, Christ and determining how Christ’s life resonates with the OT lives. This technique, according to Hays, was first used by the Gospel authors. Hays describes the way in which each Gospel reads backwards from Christ to the ancestral figures of the OT. By seeing how each figure is related to Christ, their significance is enhanced and clarified and made relevant to the believer today, while Christ is seen from Eden to Resurrection.
Richard B. Hays, Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Waco, Texas: Baylor University, 2014). ISBN 978-1-4813-0232-6.
A World Without Jews
A Review by Dr. Theresa Newell
A second recent book, A World Without Jews, analyzes why in Nazi Germany the Jewish Bibles and synagogues were burned to ashes. What was it in these sacred writings and space that brought out anger, disrespect and a desire to dishonor the Biblical narrative given to the Jewish people?
Author Alon Confino, Professor of History at the University of Virginia and at Ben Gurion University, Israel, contends that the ideas which led to the burning of the Old Testament scriptures “fit within a broader theological debates about separating Christianity from Judaism, especially among Protestant theologians . . . already from the late nineteenth century [by] several leading German liberal Protestants [who] called for a full separation of Christianity from Judaism” (p 130). The extreme of this chilling assessment was the claim among some of both Protestant and Catholic leaders of 1930s Germany that Jesus was Aryan and that German Christianity must be rebuilt entirely without Jewish roots. The burning of Jewish books led inevitably to the burning of Jewish bodies. This book is a devastating reminder that ideas which evolve into idealogies change history – for good or for evil.
Alon Confino, A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014). ISBN 978-0-300-21251-8 (pbk).
These books can be ordered by clicking on the AMAZON button on this home page. Thanks for supporting CMJ USA with all of your Amazon purchases!
By Dr. Theresa Newell, CMJ USA Board Member
Image: The Annunciation by Fra Angelico [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]
A young Jewish woman in a nothing town in Upper Galilee, newly settled by religious Jewish families from Judea, was shocked by an angelic visitor named Gabriel. At that time, Mary (Hebrew: Miriam) had much to look forward to: she was engaged to a godly man from the house of King David named Joseph.
One Bible translation describes young Mary as "confused and disturbed" when Gabriel appears to her. Understandably so! The message from God is even more amazing: "You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua)."