The reality that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is Jewish, that Jesus is Jewish and that the early church was Jewish has become better understood in recent years. CMJ regularly teaches on “the Jewish roots of the Christian faith,” however, both the Church’s and the synagogue’s errant views have blurred or obliterated this connection over the years.
Vittore Carpaccio, Marriage of the Virgin (Sposalizio della Vergine),
also called Miracle of the Flowering Staff (Miracolo della Verga Fiorita),
1502–05; Oil on canvas, 56 3/4 × 60 in.; Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Now an exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, through April 12, 2015, titled “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea,” has brought the discussion of Mary, the Jewish mother of Jesus to the fore. The article below appeared in The Forward (26 Dec 2014), the oldest Jewish newspaper in the USA. Pay particular attention to the painting by Italian painter Vittore Carpaccio (c. 1455 - c. 1525) showing Mary being married in the Temple in Jerusalem!
Please click below to access the article, “Picturing Mary: History's Best-Known Jewish Woman”:
by LC, CMJ Israel
Christ Church Jerusalem had a wonderful evening on Christmas Eve. The weather was perfect--cold and clear, but not freezing! Our guides spoke with innumerable groups of local people about the meaning of Christmas. The hospitality of our evening included gallons mulled wine, vegetable soup and thousands of Christmas cookies. Staff and volunteers sang Christmas Carols at the front gate all evening long inviting folks to come inside for more festivities. Everyone had meaningful conversations about the holiday and our motivation for what we do.
The church was packed from 6 pm onward. A worshipful atmosphere permeated the church with music all evening long, ending with a "Lessons and Carols" service at 10:30 pm. We all felt God’s presence and pleasure with us the whole evening.
Merry Christmas to all friends!
Each Christmas Eve, CMJ’s Christ Church, just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, throws a big birthday party for Jesus. It opens its gates and invites the entire city to come and celebrate. At the center of the celebration is a Christmas Eve service--a blend of traditional and contemporary music and readings from Scripture that tell the highlights of God’s work in the world. It’s a story that begins with the creation of the world, tells of the appointment of the Jewish people to be his representatives and concludes with the arrival of the Jewish Messiah. Each reading is accompanied by a carol or song. Most years more than 1,500 Israeli guests attend.
In addition to the service, the entire compound is open and filled with music and the special foods that make Christmas memorable. Our Heritage Center Museum is usually packed for a couple of hours as Jerusalem residents, Gentile and Jewish alike, accept our invitation for fellowship and friendship. The CMJ staff make Christmas cookies, prepare mulled cider and speak with guests in Hebrew, English, Russian and other languages. The Israel Bible Society supplies portions of the Gospels in Hebrew for free to those who would like copies.
It’s a wonderful celebration. Perhaps you should join us next year!
by Dr. Theresa Newell, Chairman of CMJ-USA Board of Directors
Did you know that Hanukkah is only mentioned in the New Testament and not in the Hebrew Scriptures? Where?
In John 10:22, 23 we read: "Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade." This was the Feast of Hanukkah, also referred to as the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Light. Hanukkah is an eight-day feast beginning on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar (December 17).
Why this name?
...because the Feast being celebrated was due to the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Seleucid rulers in the 2nd century BC. The rebellion against the pagan rulers was led by a Jewish priestly family who took the name Maccabee (meaning "the hammer" in Hebrew). Their ragged band of guerrilla warriors defeated the powerful occupying army and ruled Israel for about 100 years, ending with the conquest by Rome in 63 BC. It was the last time that Israel was under Jewish rule until AD 1948, when Israel declared statehood!
How is Hanukkah celebrated?
On each of the eight evenings of Hanukkah a menorah with nine arms (called a hanukiah), each bearing a candle, is lit--one on the first night, two on the second, etc. A traditional game is played with a four-sided spinning top, called a dreidel. On each side of the top is a Hebrew letter: N, G, H, S (standing for the Hebrew words, Nes gadol haya sham--meaning "A great miracle happened there," referring to the miracle story of the oil lamp in the re-dedicated Temple burning eight days when there was consecrated oil from only one day). Children spin the top and play for candy pieces.
Children are given gifts, traditionally gilt or gold pieces. The symbolic foods are all cooked in oil, pointing again to the story of the miracle of oil supplied from the Lord. Potato pancakes or latkes are cooked in oil and served with applesauce and sour cream.
As believers in Messiah Jesus (Yeshua), who walked in that same restored Temple in Jerusalem on the Feast of Dedication, we, too, can join in the celebration - perhaps with a Jewish friend or family member.
The great miracle of oil and light are wonderful symbols of the miracle of what Jesus came to accomplish on our behalf by his death, resurrection and ascension: He sent the Oil of the Spirit to be with us and His light to shine through us until he comes again. Paul wrote: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- Click on the "Happy Chanukah" card (right) to download a Hanukkah card.
- Mail in time to arrive on December 17th, the first evening of Hanukkah.