Katholisch Leben!

The Jesus Brothers

Psalm 137,5

"Wenn ich dich je vergesse, Jerusalem, dann soll mir die rechte Hand verdorren."
(Einheitsübersetzung)

 

Jewish Testimonies

Judentum

Vorab: Ich sehe mich sehr dem jüdischen Volk wie dem Staat Israel verbunden. Teils lässt sich dies auf meinen christlichen Glauben zurückführen, teils auf meine persönliche Geschichte, die für einige Jahre sehr damit verbunden war.

Nun gibt es einen Punkt, an dem sich Juden und Christen trennen: Während für Christen Neuevangelisation und Missionierung Teil unseres Glaubens ist, uns sogar von Jesus aufgetragen wurde, machen Juden dies grundsätzlich nicht und reagieren oft auch sehr empfindlich auf christliche Missionierungen an Juden. Zum einen, weil damit sehr unselige Erinnerungen an Zwangsmissionierungen und Gewalttaten der Vergangenheit verbunden sind, zum anderen, weil die Bewahrung der jüdischen Tradition etwas ist, was sich die Juden über Jahrtausende bewahrt haben und was sie über die schlimmen Zeiten der Verfolgung hinweg gerettet und ihre Identität bewahrt haben.

Nicht umsonst heißt es im berühmten Musical "Anatevka" (Fiddler on the Roof), dass man ohne Tradition so wackelig da steht wie ein Geigenfiedler auf dem Dach.

Und zweifellos haben wir gegenüber unseren "älteren" Brüdern und Schwester eine besondere Verpflichtung. Gerade wir als Deutsche sind hier schwer in der Verantwortung, vergangenes Leid anzuprangern und wenn irgend möglich zu lindern und ebenso gegenwärtiger Verfolgung und Diskriminierung vorzubeugen bzw. sie zu bekämpfen, wo auch immer wir sie sehen. Judenverfolgungen und Diskriminierungen von Juden darf es nie wieder geben.

Gleichwohl sind wir als Christinnen und Christen gerufen, die Gute Nachricht in alle Welt zu tragen - was unter anderem auchbedeutet, Juden unseren Glauben nahe zu bringen. Nicht mit Gewalt, Zwang oder Hochmut, sondern mit Demut und Liebe und durch unser eigenes Glaubenszeugnis.

Das ist sowohl unser Recht und unsere Pflicht als Christinnen und Christen wie auch ein demokratisches Grundrecht der Meinungsfreiheit.

Und soviel Freiheit muss man uns schon zugestehen.

(in Vorbereitung)

 

Warum missionieren Christen? Und noch dazu unter Juden!

Mt 28,19-20: "Darum geht zu allen Völkern und macht alle Menschen zu meinen Jüngern; tauft sie auf den Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes, und lehrt sie, alles zu befolgen, was ich euch geboten habe. Seid gewiss: Ich bin bei euch alle Tage bis zum Ende der Welt." (Einheitsübersetzung)

Es scheint ja heutzutage auch und gerade unter Theologen "politisch unkorrekt" zu sein, anderen Menschen - egal welcher Rasse, Hautfarbe, Religion (oder nicht vorhandenen Religion) und sonstigem Hintergrund - von Jesus zu erzählen und sie für Ihn begeistern zu wollen.

Es ist aber genau das, was Jesus uns aufgetragen hat!

Was wir nicht dürfen, ist, anderen unseren Glauben aufzwingen. Ob man das Gnadengeschenk des Glaubens annimmt oder nicht, liegt immer noch im freien Entscheidungsbereich des Einzelnen. Auch dürfen wir nicht mit Hochmut, Arroganz und Besserwisserei auftreten, sondern müssen in Demut und Liebe durch unser eigenes Leben Zeugnis von diesem Jesu geben.

Gerade der Papst wurde - auch von katholischen Theologen! - stark wegen des Karfreitagsgebets kritisiert. Worte wie "Wahn" oder "Absolutheitsanspruch der Kirche" fielen hier. Man greift die "ewig Gestrigen" an, die nicht die "moderne" Theologie annehmen wollen.

Es ist aber absolut nichts Schändliches dabei, zu beten, dass auch Juden zu Jesus finden. Ganz im Gegenteil - man darf nachfragen, warum ein Christ dies nicht tun will!

Vergessen scheint auch, dass es Apostel wie der hl. Paulus und andere waren - und natürlich Jesus selbst! - die in Synagogen gepredigt haben!

Manchmal hört man gar das "Argument", das Evangelium bzw. das Neue Testament enthielte antisemitische Verse. Derartiges sogar von Christen zu hören, ist fast unglaublich. Das würde bedeuten, Gott selbst des Antisemitismus zu beschuldigen!

Im Neuen Testament aber sind es nicht die Juden als Menschen, die angegriffen werden, sondern die Tatsache, dass sie Jesus nicht als Messias anerkennen. Und selbst dann - selbst als Jesus Christus ans Kreuz geschlagen wurde - hat Er, der selbst Jude war, denjenigen, die dies zu verantworten hatten vergeben!

Wie kann das Neue Testament antisemitisch sein, wenn Jesus und die meisten Seiner Jünger und Apostel (allen voran Paulus, der Schüler des größten Rabbis aller Zeiten!) selbst Juden waren?

Im Zuge einer falsch verstandenen "Toleranz" heisst es aber oft, man dürfe nicht Angehörige anderer Religionen missionieren. In jeder Religion sei Wahrheit enthalten. Gott hätte die Wahrehit auf die Erde geworfen und jede Religion sehe sie wie durch ein Glasspektrum anders. Niemand hätte die völlige Wahrheit - alle seien wir vielmehr auf der Suche nach der Wahrheit.

Das klingt natürlich alles sehr schön. Was sagt Jesus selbst dazu?

Joh 14,6: "Jesus sagte zu ihm: Ich bin der Weg und die Wahrheit und das Leben; niemand kommt zum Vater außer durch mich." (Einheitsübersetzung).

Ja, in jeder Religion ist ein Teil der ganzen Wahrheit enthalten. Heisst das nun, dass es egal ist, welcher Religion oder Konfession man angehört? Nein! Auch in jeder Irrlehre ist ein Kern Wahrheit enthalten - das macht sie ja gerade so gefährlich (wobei ich hiermit keineswegs sagen will, das Judentum sei eine Irrlehre. Ich möchte nur auf die Probleme hinweisen, die solche Argumente unweigerlich mit sich bringen)! Jesus war in dieser Beziehung sehr eindeutig - warum nicht auch wir?

Toleranz heisst nicht, dass jeder irgendwie recht hat, wir nicht über Differenzen reden dürfen und alles mit rosa Watte umhüllen. Toleranz heisst, den anderen zu respektieren, aber auch die Unterschiede und differenzen klar auf den Tisch zu bringen! Als Christen haben wir dies in Demut und Liebe zu tun - daran sollen uns andere erkennen.

 

Es ist doch aber unangebracht, für die "uneinsichtigen Juden" zu beten!

Ist es das? Zugegeben, dieser Ausdruck klingt auf den ersten Blick etwas seltsam. Wenn man ihn aber näher betrachtet, heisst das ja nichts anderes, als dass die Juden weder seinerzeit noch heute Jesus als ihren Messias anerkannt haben - und wir dafür beten (und unseren Anteil daran leisten!) -, dass sie Ihn heute erkennen. Und sei es "nur" durch unser eigenes Lebens- und Glaubenszeugnis.

 

Die Bibel sagt doch, dass nach der vollständigen Missionierung der Nichtjuden die Juden von selbst zu Jesus finden werden!

Deshalb brachen wir also keine Missionierung unter Juden betreiben, weil sich das irgendwann von selbst erledigt?

Warum haben Jesus und die Apostel dann überhaupt unter Juden und in Synagogen gepredigt, wenn man sich allein auf Nichtjuden konzentrieren sollte?

Warum wurde Paulus überhaupt ausgewählt?

Um unter Nichtjuden zu predigen, werden manche antworten. Stimmt auch, aber warum er?

Nun, er war der Schüler des größten Rabbis aller Zeiten. Wenn er überzeugt wurde, an Jesus zu glauben, musste dies eine ungeheure Signalwirkung auf seine jüdischen Mitbrüder haben. Noch dazu, wenn er sein ungeheures Wissen unter den Heiden verbreitet, anstatt als Rabbi unter den Juden zu wirken! Gerade um den Effekt auf Juden zu verstärken, trug er dasEvangeliumin die gesamte damals bekannte Welt - ansonsten wäre das Christentum eine jüdische Sekte geblieben.

Im Neuen Bund gibt es weder Juden noch Nichtjuden, weder schwarz noch weiß. Es gibt nur mehr Menschen, die an Jesus glauben, wenngleich das Verständnis um den jüdischen Hintergrund des christlichen Glaubens unerlässlich für jeden Christen ist.

Es gibt bereits jetzt eine beträchtliche Anzahl von Juden, die zum Christentum konvertiert sind bzw. Jesus als den Messias angenommen haben. Sollte das alles umsonst sein, weil erst in der fernen Zukunft die Juden zu Jesus finden werden? Wohl kaum. Das jüdische Volk als ganzes mag erst in der Endzeit Jesus als den Messias akzeptieren, gleichwohl bin ich froh und dankbar für jeden Menschen - auch für jeden jüdischen Menschen - der zu Jesus findet und dem ich vielleicht ein klein wenig dabei behilflich sein kann, Hindernisse aus dem Weg zu räumen.

Selbstverständlich hat es hier in der Vergangenheit Missbräuche gegeben - in jeder Religion und zu allen Zeiten. Das ändert aber nichts an der Notwendigkeit, den Menschen von Jesus zu erzählen.

Ein Vergleich aus der Politik: Bill Clinton hat sich sexuell schwer etwas zu schulden kommen lassen, als er amerikanischer Präsident war. Würde nun irgendjemand deshalb auf die Idee kommen, am Amt des amerikanischen Präsidenten an sich zu zweifeln? Wohl kaum.

 

Angesichts der Geschichte ist es aber doch unglaublich, dass man Juden immer noch den christlichen Glauben aufzwingen will!

Es hat in der Geschichte mit Sicherheit viele negative Beispiele für die Missionierung gegeben. Juden - und anderen Menschen! - ist von katholischer Seite aus bestimmt viel Unrecht getan worden. Ebenso wie Katholiken Unrecht getan wurde.

All das rüttelt aber nicht an der Sache an sich. Glaube ist ein Gnadengeschenk Gottes, dass vom Menschen in freier Entscheidung angenommen oder zurückgewiesen wird. Außerdem ist Gott schon bei den Menschen - wir müssen Ihn also nicht mehr dorthin bringen (bzw. die Menschen zu Ihm). Was wir aber tun können - und auch müssen! - ist, ihnen (sofern sie dies möchten!) ein klein wenig dabei zu helfen, Jesus zu finden und zu erkennen (und sei es nur, indem sie uns ansehen. Die Art und Weise, wie wir leben, reden oder mit anderen umgehen. Daran sollen uns die Menschen erkennen).

Ich wehre mich dagegen, Juden grundsätzlich von der Missionierung auszunehmen, nur aufgrund der Tatsache, dass sie Juden sind. Auch Jesus und die Apostel haben unter Juden missioniert und in Synagogen gepredigt!

In Israel ist die Missionierung von Juden meines Wissens nach verboten. Auch hier darf man nachfragen, warum. Wenn ich in meinem Glauben stabil bin und in ihm ruhe, muss ich keine Angst davor haben. Der Antisemitismus-Vorwurf ist jedenfalls an dieser Stelle völlig unangebracht - ebenso Argumente wie das, dass das Neue Testament streckenweise antisemitisch ist (sihe hierzu auch "Links International").

Mission ist ein Mittel, den christlichen Glauben zu verbreiten. Wichtig ist in diesem Zusammenhang vor allem, dass in unseren Mitteln auch unser Ziel und unser Gott erkennbar sein muss. Ein Mittel, dass dem widerspricht (also etwa Gewalt anwendet, diskriminiert, beleidigt oder die persönliche Freiheit verletzt) entspricht nicht diesen Vorgaben und ist deshalb abzulehnen.

 

kathpedia.com: Kabbala

Die Kabbala ist die Mystik des Judentums. Das Christentum adaptierte diese Mystik später in eine spezielle christliche Kabbala.

Die Kabbala kennt die Seelenwanderung "Gilgul Neschamot".

(Quelle: http://www.kathpedia.com/index.php/Kabbala)

 

kathpedia.com - Israel

Israel (hebräisch "Der mit Gott kämpft", "Gottesstreiter", Gott ist stark) ist der Patriarch Jakob (Gen 35, 10.20f), der nach dem Kampf mit dem Unbekannten an der Furt "Israel" genannt wird. Im Judentum kommte dem Namen eine besondere Bedeutung zu, ein Name ist immer sozusagen "programmatisch" und drückt das Wesen einer Person aus.

Der Begriff Israel meint aber ebenso das Volk des Bundes Gottes oder ein Staat.

 

Die Person Israel


Jakob ist der Sohn des Isaak und der Enkel des Abraham. Abraham, Isaak und Jakob werden die drei Erzväter Israels genannt. Jakob ist gegenüber seinem Zwillingsbruder Esau der zweitgeborene Sohn des Isaak. Um den Preis eines Linsengerichtes "verkauft" Esau sein Erstgeburtsrecht (das Recht auf den besonderen väterlichen Segen und das reichere Erbteil) an Jakob. Als der Segen dann gegeben werden sollte, half die Mutter mit, den blinden Isaak zu betrügen, sodass dieser wirklich dem Jakob den Segen gab. Jakob musste vor der Wut des Esau flüchten und verbrachte viele Jahre bei seinem Schwiegervater Laban, dessen zwei Töchter, Lea und Rachel, er heiratete. Mit Lea und Rachel und deren beiden Mägden hatte er insgesamt 12 Kinder - von ihnen stammen die 12 Stämme Israels.

Durch eine Intrige unter den Söhnen wurde einer, Joseph, an nomadische Sklavenhändler verkauft, und gelangte schließlich nach Ägypten. Diese entsetzliche Tat der Brüder wandelte Gott aber zum Segen: Joseph deutete die Träume des Pharao richtig, in denen Gott eine kommende Hungersnot vorhersagte. Das ermöglichte die Anlage von Vorräten. So konnten auch Josephs Geschwister dann kommen,um Getreide in Ägypten zu kaufen. Joseph erlaubte ihnen, sich mit Vater Israel und dem ganzen Clan im Land Gosen anzusiedeln.

Interessant ist, dass nicht nur bei Esau und Jakob der Zweitgeborene den Segen erhielt, sondern bereits eine Generation vorher ebenfalls: der Erstgeborene (und nach damaligem Recht legitime) Ismael wird zugunsten des Isaak, dem Sohn der Verheißung, zurückgestellt. Die Ordnung Gottes ist nicht immer die gleiche wie die Ordnung der Welt - so wie das (großteils) Nichtannehmen Jesu durch die Juden den Weg eröffnete, dass "das unedle Reis auf den edlen Ölbaum aufgepfropft" wurde; der Heilsweg für die Heidenvölker begann. Sie nennt man das "neue Israel" oder auch das "geistliche Israel".

Das Volk des Bundes


Der Ursprung des Volkes Israel liegt an der Schwelle zur historischen Periode - als der Nomadenfürst Abraham auf den Ruf Gottes hin von Ur in Chaldäa loszog und schlussendlich ins Land Kanaan geführt wurde. Zahlenmäßig war es ein Familienclan. Während einer Hungersnot fand das Volk Israel in Ägypten Zuflucht. In dieser Zeit wuchs der Familienclan zu einer mächtigen Volksgruppe heran, die bei den Ägyptern Argwohn erregte. Unter Führung des Propheten Moses konnte Gott das Volk aus der Knechtschaft der Ägypter befreien. Allerdings bewährte sich das Volk beim Zug durch die Wüste nicht, sondern wurde immer wieder schwach und glaubte nicht an die Macht Gottes. Daher führte Gott Israel vierzig Jahre lang durch die Wüste - eine Bild-Zahl, die ein ganzes menschliches Leben symbolisieren soll.

Dieser Auszug aus Ägypten, der "Exodus", war ein weiteres formendes Element für das Volk und DAS geistliche Ereignis, das bis heute nachwirkt (siehe auch: Pascha

Essentiell für Israel als Volk war dann auch besonders die Zeit des babylonischen Exils, in dem das Volk (mangels Tempelkult) sich um die Thora zu scharen begann, die Synagoge der geistliche Mittelpunkt wurde, und Talmud, Mischna und Haggada aufgezeichnet wurden.

geistliche Bedeutung


Der Sündenfall des Menschen hat eine Kluft zwischen Gott und den Menschen aufgerissen. Es ist nun Gottes Streben, diese Kluft zu überbrücken, denn der Mensch ist aus Eigenem dazu nicht in der Lage.

Zu diesem Vorhaben möchte sich Gott ein Volk berufen, das auf Ihn "hinzeigt". Er beginnt damit, einen Einzelnen - Abraham - zu rufen. Der Gehorsam Abrahams macht ihn zum "Vater des Glaubens", und Gott begründet aus ihm "Sein Volk", das Ihm ganz besonders geweiht ist. Er zeichnet das Volk durch das Geschehen des Exodus und durch die Übergabe der 10 Gebote aus.

Allerdings ist die Geschichte Gottes mit Seinem Volk von Abfall, Versagen, Bekehrung und neuerlichen Rückfällen geprägt - bis hin zu der lebendigen Messias-Erwartung zur Zeit Jesu, und der jungen Frau aus Israel, die ein vollkommenes "ja" sprechen konnte.

Anstelle des historischen Israel tritt nun im Neuen Testament das "Neue Israel", das Christentum, als neues Gottesvolk. Allerdings hat Gott "Sein Volk" weder verstoßen noch vergessen, sondern auch Israel wird Ihn einmal als den Wahren Gott erkennen. Soweit die Prophetie dazu.

Im Buch Hosea wird Israel als eine Braut dargestellt, die allein Jahwe gehört.

 

Der Staat


Der Staat Israel wurde im Jahr 1948 als Folge des 2. Weltkriegs gegründet.

(Quelle: http://www.kathpedia.com/index.php/Israel)

 

Hatikva (Nationalhymne Israels)

כל עוד בלבב פנימה
נפש יהודי הומיה,
ולפאתי מזרח קדימה
עין לציון צופיה -

עוד לא אבדה תקותנו,
התקוה בת שנות אלפים,
להיות עם חופשי בארצנו
ארץ ציון וירושלים.
 
Kol od ba-lewaw p'nima -
Nefesch jehudi homija
U'l fate mizrach kadima
ajin le tzijon tzofija.

Od lo awda tikwatenu
HaTikwa bat schnot alpajim:
Lihjot am chofschi beArtzenu -
Eretz Tzion wJiruschalajim.

Solang noch im Herzen
eine jüdische Seele wohnt
und nach Osten hin, vorwärts,
das Auge nach Zion blickt,

solange ist unsere Hoffnung nicht verloren,
die Hoffnung, zweitausend Jahre alt,
zu sein ein freies Volk, in unserem Land,
im Lande Zion und in Jerusalem!

(Quelle: Wikipedia)

 

Shma Israel

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל - Shma Israel (Glaubensbekenntnis des Judentums):

Höre, Israel, der Herr ist unser Gott, der Herr ist einzig (Dtn 6,4)


Gepriesen sei Gottes ruhmreiche Herrschaft immer und ewig! (mJoma 6,2)


Darum sollst du den Ewigen, deinen Gott, lieben mit ganzem Herzen, mit ganzer Seele und mit ganzer Kraft.
Diese Worte, auf die ich dich heute verpflichte, sollen auf deinem Herzen geschrieben stehen. Du sollst sie deinen Kindern erzählen. Du sollst von ihnen reden, wenn du zu Hause sitzt und wenn du auf der Straße gehst, wenn du dich schlafen legst und wenn du aufstehst. Du sollst sie als Zeichen um dein Handgelenk binden. Sie sollen als Merkzeichen auf deiner Stirn sein. Du sollst sie auf die Türpfosten deines Hauses und in deine Tore schreiben. (Dtn 6,5-9)

(Quelle: Wikipedia)
 

Der Lebensbaum

Ausgezeichneter Artikel über den Lebensbaum von Susanne T.: klicke hier

 

Links National

Links International

Vatikan: Gemeinsame Erklärung der Delegationen des Hl. Stuhls für de religiösen Beziehungen zum Judentum und des Oberrabbinats Israels für die Beziehungen mit der Katholischen Kirche

Vatikan: Treffen der bilateralen Kommission der Delegationen der Kommission des Hl. Stuhlsfür die religiösen Beziehungen zum Judentum und des Großrabbinats von Israel für die Beziehungen zur katholischen Kirche - Abschlußerklärung

Vatikan: Gemeinsame katholisch-jüdische Erklärung der Delegation des Großrabbinat von Israel und der Kommission des Hl. Stuhls für die religiösen Beziehungen zum Judentum

Vatikan: Nostra Aetate

Radio Vatikan: Papst: Gegen Antisemitismus und Diskriminierung

Original Catholic Encyclopedia: Jews and Judaism

New Advent: Judaism

New Advent: Jewish Calendar

New Advent: History of the Jews

Catholics for Israel

Christians in Israel (Links)

Hebrew Catholics and Catholic Jews (Links)

Jewish-Christian Relations (Links)

Hebrew and Jewish Roots of Christianity (Links)

Christian Zionism (Links)

Messianic Judaism (Links)

Judaism (Links)

Israel (Links)

Center for Judaic-Christian Studies

Israel Today: Judaism Lexikon

JewishEncyclopedia.com

aish.com: Kaballa 101

Catholic Answers: Are the Gospels Anti-Semitic?

The Catholic Legate: How to Speak to a Jew

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

International Council of Christians and Jews

Second Exodus - Jewish Roots of Catholicism

Remnant of Israel - Outreach to Jews

Association of Hebrew Catholics

Simon Wiesenthal Center

Shalom Hartman Institute

Dave Armstrong: Jews, Judaism, & the Old Testament

Jerusalem World News

Salvation is from the Jews

The Holy City Prayer Society

Steve Ray's Blog: Israel & Middle East

Steve Ray's Blog: Jews & Judaism

http://www.feeljerusalem.com/index.html

phatmass: Judaism

Israel Heute

Israel Today

The Jerusalem Conference

Beit Ben Yehuda - International Meeting Center in Jerusalem

kath.net: Vatikan: 'Jahwe' nicht mehr in der Liturgie

ZENIT: Jewish Leader Wants Honor for John Paul XXIII

ZENIT: Catholic-Jewish Panel Inspires Youth Dialogue

Benjamin Netanyahu's Blog (Hebrew)

Virtual Jersualem

Frontpage Jerusalem (Christian Radio)

kath.net: Wer hatte ein Interesse daran, den Ruf des Papstes zu beschmutzen?

Jerusalem World News: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly

ZENIT: Statement of Catholic-Jewish Commission

Pat Robertson: Why Evangelical Christians Support Israel

Was ist die “Ersatz-Theologie”?

Ersatz-Theologie bezeichnet die Vorstellung, dass die christliche Kirche Israel (oder das jüdische Volk) in Gottes Erlösungsplan als Sein erwähltes Volk “ersetzt” hat. In ihrer einfachsten Ausdrucksform könnte die Ersatz-Theologie wie folgt dargestellt werden:

Die Juden haben Christus verworfen, deshalb hat Gott die Juden verworfen und die Kirche ist jetzt das “neue Israel”.

In den Worten von Origen von Alexandrien (185-254 n. Chr.):

“Wir dürfen somit in völligem Vertrauen behaupten, dass die Juden nicht zu ihrer früheren Situation zurückkehren werden, denn sie haben das schrecklichste aller Verbrechen begangen, indem sie diese Verschwörung gegen den Retter der menschlichen Rasse gebildet haben…deshalb wurde die Stadt, in der Jesus gelitten hat, notwendigerweise zerstört, die jüdische Nation wurde aus ihrem Land vertrieben und ein anderes Volk wurde von Gott zur gesegneten Auswahl berufen.”

Oder wie uns einmal jemand geschrieben hat:

Wir Katholiken SIND das neue Israel. Christi Kirche erfüllt all die Prophezeiungen und führt dazu, dass die Fortsetzung des alten Israel historisch überholt ist. Die Kirche IST das Königreich Gottes. Juden sind das tragischste Volk der Welt, da “sie die Zeit ihrer Heimsuchung verpassten”.

Somit stellt sich die Ersatz-Theologie folgendermaßen dar:

Die Juden waren früher – zur Zeit des Alten Testaments - Gottes auserwähltes Volk bis zum Kommen Christi, weil sie aber Jesus nicht als den Messias Israels annahmen, wies sie Gott ab und bildete an ihrer Stelle ein neues Volk – die Kirche.

Juden sind deshalb nicht länger das auserwählte Volk und Gott hat keinen Zukunftsplan und keine Berufung für das Volk Israel. Die einzige Rolle, die für das jüdische Volk übrig ist, ist die der Konvertierung zum Christentum und die Eingliederung in die Kirche.

Die Verheißungen, Bünde und Segnungen, die Israel in der Bibel zugeschrieben werden, wurden den Juden weggenommen und der Kirche gegeben, die sie abgelöst hat. Jedoch unterliegen die Juden als Folge ihrer Zurückweisung Christi immer noch den Flüchen, die in der Bibel zu finden sind. Als Folge hiervon werden die Prophezeiungen in der Heiligen Schrift hinsichtlich der Segnung und Wiederherstellung Israels zum Gelobten Land “vergeistigt” oder “allegorisiert” zu den Verheißungen von Gottes Segen für die Kirche.

Wir haben anderswo die biblische Grundlage für Gottes Erwählung und Bund mit Israel diskutiert. Der vorliegende Artikel beschränkt sich auf die Frage, ob Gottes Erwählung Israels als Sein auserwähltes Volk heute noch Gültigkeit hat oder vom Neuen Testament außer Kraft gesetzt wurde. Denke bitte daran, dass wir hier nicht darüber reden, ob der mosaische Bund und die Beachtung der Tora noch verbindlich für Juden sind (siehe auch den Abschnitt über die Tora und das Evangelium) oder ob heutige Juden sich in einem Bund mit Gott befinden, der als heilsbringend angesehen werden kann (siehe: Was ist die Theologie der zwei Bünde?). Hier behandeln wir nur die Frage von Israels Erwählung und seiner fortwährenden Rolle in Gottes Heilsplan.

Welche Schriftstellen werden für gewöhnlich zitiert, um die Ersatz-Theologie zu begründen?

Anhänger der Ersatz-Theologie präsentieren oft die folgenden Schriftstellen, um zu argumentieren, dass Gott Seinen Bund mit den Juden beendet hat:

Das Volk Israel war nur die Saat der zukünftigen Kirche, die sich erheben und Menschen aller Nationen umfassen würde (Mal 1,11): “Denn vom Aufgang der Sonne bis zu ihrem Untergang steht mein Name groß da bei den Völkern und an jedem Ort wird meinem Namen ein Rauchopfer dargebracht und eine reine Opfergabe; ja, mein Name steht groß da bei den Völkern, spricht der Herr der Heere.”

Gegenargument: Das zeigt, dass das jüdische Volk und Israel eine ihrer Berufungen erfüllten, nämlich ein Licht für die Völker zu sein, sodass Gottes Wort um die Welt gegangen ist. Aber es deutet keineswegs darauf hin, dass Gott nichts mehr mit Israel zu tun hat, weil ja nun Sein Name um die ganze Welt geht.


Jesus lehrte, dass die Juden ihre geistigen Privilegien verlieren und von einem anderen Volk ersetzt werden: “Das Reich Gottes wird euch weggenommen und einem Volk gegeben werden, das die erwarteten Früchte bringt.” (Mt 21,43).

Gegenargument: In diesem Kapitel sprach Jesus über die Priester und Pharisäer, die als Führer ihres Volkes versagt hatten, Dieses Kapitel spricht nicht über das jüdische Volk oder die Nation Israel.


Ein wahrer Jude ist jeder, der aus dem Heiligen Geist geboren ist, ob er nun Heide oder Jude ist: “Jude ist nicht, wer es nach außen hin ist, und Beschneidung ist nicht, was sichtbar am Fleisch geschieht, sondern Jude ist, wer es im Verborgenen ist, und Beschneidung ist, was am Herzen durch den Geist, nicht durch den Buchstaben geschieht. Der Ruhm eines solchen Juden kommt nicht von Menschen, sondern von Gott.” (Röm 2,28-29).

Gegenargument: Dieses Argument stützt nicht die Auffassung, die Kirche hätte Israel ersetzt. Es verstärkt nur, was in allen hebräischen Schriften (also dem Alten Testament) gesagt wurde, nämlich dass die äußere Beschneidung nicht genügt, um vor Gott gerechtfertigt zu sein, sondern dass auch die Beschneidung des Herzens nötig ist.



Die Verheißung des Landes Kanaan für Abraham war nur der Anfang. Das wirkliche gelobte Land ist die ganze Welt, die die Kirche erben wird. “Denn Abraham und seine Nachkommen erhielten nicht aufgrund des Gesetzes die Verheißung, Erben der Welt zu sein, sondern aufgrund der Glaubensgerechtigkeit.” (Röm 4,13).

Gegenargument: Wo schließt dieser Vers Abraham und seine natürliche Nachkommenschaft, die Juden, aus? Er sagt ganz einfach, dass sie nicht durch das Gesetz die Welt erben würden, sondern dass dies durch den Glauben erreicht würde. Das gilt auch für die Kirche.


“Wahre Israeliten” sind nicht die physischen Nachkommen Abrahams (“Kinder des Fleisches”), sondern vielmehr diejenigen, die an Christus glauben (“Kinder der Verheißung”). “Es ist aber keineswegs so, dass Gottes Wort hinfällig geworden ist. Denn nicht alle, die aus Israel stammen, sind Israel; auch sind nicht alle, weil sie Nachkommen Abrahams sind, deshalb schon seine Kinder, sondern es heißt: Nur die Nachkommen Isaaks werden deine Nachkommen heißen. Das bedeutet: Nicht die Kinder des Fleisches sind Kinder Gottes, sondern die Kinder der Verheißung werden als Nachkommen anerkannt” (Röm 9,6-8).

Gegenargument: Paulus überträgt die Bedeutung Israels in dem Sinne, dass er die Kirche damit meint oder einschlussweise meint, dass die Kirche Israel ersetzt. Er beschränkt lediglich den Gebrauch des Begriffs Israel auf die, die an die Verheißungen glauben. Mit anderen Worten: Es reicht nicht, ein leiblicher Nachkomme Abrahams zu sein, um als wahrer Israelit zu gelten; man muss auch Glauben an Gottes Verheißungen haben. Es stimmt, Paulus schreibt auch, dass andere (Heiden) ebenso Teil der Israel gegenüber ergangenen Verheißung sein können. (vgl. Röm 9,25-26).


Paulus schafft offensichtlich die Unterschiede zwischen Juden und Nichtjuden ab: “Denn ihr alle, die ihr auf Christus getauft seid, habt Christus (als Gewand) angelegt. Es gibt nicht mehr Juden und Griechen, nicht Sklaven und Freie, nicht Mann und Frau; denn ihr alle seid “einer” in Christus Jesus.” (Gal 3,27-28).

Wenn diese Passage wörtlich bedeuten soll, den Unterschied zwischen Juden und Griechen abzuschaffen, müsste sie auch den Unterschied zwischen Mann und Frau abschaffen. Die Passage spricht davon, dass wir alle als einander Gleiche vor Gott stehen, weil wir alle Sünder sind, die von Gottes Gnade und Christi österlichem Opfer errettet wurden. Aber es gibt immer noch einen Unterschied, was die Rollen von Juden und Heiden in Gottes Heilsplan angeht, ebenso wie es eindeutig unterschiedliche Rollen zwischen Männern und Frauen gibt, zwischen Ehegatten und ihren Frauen, Müttern und Vätern.

Ein wahrer Sohn Abrahams zu sein heißt nicht, zur Nation oder zum Volk Israels zu gehören, sondern an Jesus Christus zu glauben. Die Abstammung von Abraham wird nur in spirituellen, nicht aber in nationalen Begriffen gesehen: “Wenn ihr aber zu Christus gehört, dann seid ihr Abrahams Nachkommen, Erben kraft der Verheißung.” (Gal 3,29).

Gegenargument: Während dies eine wunderbare einschlussweise Verheißung für Heiden ist, schließt dieser Vers aber nicht das jüdische Volk von ihrem ursprünglichen Bund, der Verheißung und der Segnung als natürliche Nachkommen Abrahams aus. Dieser Vers fügt lediglich heidnische Christen zu dem hinzu, was Gott schon mit Israel begonnen hatte.


Die Kirche ist angeblich das “Israel Gottes”: “Friede und Erbarmen komme über alle, die sich von diesem Grundsatz leiten lassen, und über das Israel Gottes.” (Gal 6,16).
Einige Übersetzungen (z.B. RSV) lassen das griechische Wort kai (und) aus, das sich im ursprünglichen Text findet. Dieses Auslassen ist ein ernsthafter Vorgang, denn ohne das kai würde der Vers beinhalten, dass alle Christen, die “sich von diesem Grundsatz leiten lassen” also alle Christen, das Israel Gottes sind. Wenn das kai des ursprünglichen Textes aber beibehalten wird, beinhaltet der Vers, dass es einen Unterschied gibt zwischen denen, “die sich von diesem Grundsatz leiten lassen”, den Christen also und dem “Israel Gottes”, dem Rest des natürlichen Israel, die Gottes Verheißungen in Christus angenommen haben.


Das Problem mit der Ersatz-Theologie

Wenn Gott Israel als Sein auserwähltes Volk verworfen hat, würde dies ein wirkliches Versagen Seinerseits darstellen. Es würde bedeuten, dass Er ein Volk zu Seinem Zeugnis in der Welt auserwählt hat, aber letztlich nicht in der Lage war, sie dazu zu bringen, Seine Absichten zu erfüllen. Gott hat Israel geheiratet, aber sie hat sich als eine derart problematische Braut erwiesen, dass sie die Geduld ihres göttlichen Gatten bis zum Platzen strapazierte, bis Er sie schließlich nicht mehr ertragen konnte und sich von ihr scheiden ließ und so Sein eigenes Versprechen brach, sich ihr auf ewig anzutrauen: “Ich traue dich mir an auf ewig; ich traue dich mir an um den Brautpreis von Gerechtigkeit und Recht, von Liebe und Erbarmen, ich traue dich mir an um den Brautpreis meiner Treue: Dann wirst du den Herrn erkennen.” (Hos 2,21-22).

Der Prophet Jeremia vergleicht Gottes Bund mit Israel mit der kosmischen Ordnung und den immerwährenden natürlichen Gesetzen des Universums. Der Bund ist genauso beständig und unerschütterlich wie der Wechsel von Tag und Nacht und die Fundamente des Himmels und der Erde:

“So spricht der Herr, der die Sonne bestimmt zum Licht am Tag, der den Mond und die Sterne bestellt zum Licht in der Nacht, der das Meer aufwühlt, dass die Wogen brausen, - Herr der Heere ist sein Name: nur wenn jemals diese Ordnungen vor meinen Augen ins Wanken gerieten – Spruch des Herrn -, dann hörten auch Israels Nachkommen auf, für alle Zeit vor meinen Augen ein Volk zu sein. So spricht der Herr: Nur wenn die Himmel droben abgemessen und unten die Grundfesten der Erde erforscht werden können, dann verwürfe auch ich Israels ganze Nachkommenschaft zur Strafe für all das, was sie getan haben – Spruch des Herrn.” (Jer 31,35-37).

Ein wesentliches praktisches Problem mit der Ersatz-Theologie ist das Weiterbestehen des jüdischen Volkes über die Jahrhunderte hinweg und besonders das Wiederaufleben des modernen Staates Israel. Wenn Israel tatsächlich von Gott verworfen und verurteilt wurde und es keine Zukunft für die jüdische Nation gibt, wie erklären wir dann das bemerkenswerte Überleben des jüdischen Volkes über die vergangenen 2.000 Jahre hinweg trotz der vielen Versuche, es zu zerstören? Wie erklären wir, warum Israel im 20. Jahrhundert als eine Nation wieder erschienen ist, nachdem es 1900 Jahre nicht existiert hatte? Kann die Rückkehr des jüdischen Volkes in das Land ihrer Vorväter in Übereinstimmung mit den Schriften vieler der Propheten ein reiner “Zufall der Geschichte” sein? Kann die wunderbare Wiedergeburt Israels, der Nation die im Mittelpunkt der Erlösungsgeschichte auf jeder Seite der Bibel steht, nur das Ergebnis eines cleveren menschlichen Unternehmens sein, das nichts mit Gottes Erlösungsplan zu tun hat?


Was sagen das Neue Testament und die Katholische Kirche über die Ersatz-Theologie?

Der Bund mit Israel wird tatsächlich im Neuen Bund erfüllt, aber das bedeutet nicht, dass der frühere abgeschafft oder aufgelöst wird. Die Kirche ist tatsächlich das “Neue Israel” (LG 9), aber das beinhaltet nicht, dass Israel “dem Fleische nach” seiner göttlichen Erwählungen und Verheißungen beraubt wurde. Das Neue Testament behauptet nie, dass Israels besondere Rolle ein Ende haben sollte nach Christi Ankunft. Im Gegenteil, es bekräftigt die fortwährende Gültigkeit seines Bundes mit Gott. Wir finden auch keine Verwirrung hinsichtlich der Identität zwischen Israel und der Kirche im Neuen Testament; die beiden bleiben unterschiedlich, wenn auch eng miteinander verbunden.

Im Neuen Testament wird 77 Mal auf Israel Bezug genommen und keine dieser Referenzen bezieht sich auf die Kirche. Versucht man, die Worte “die Kirche” dort einzusetzen, wo von Israel die Rede ist, wird die Passage unlesbar und unverständlich, z.B. in Röm 10,1: “ Liebe Freunde, ich sehne mich von Herzen danach und bete zu Gott, dass das jüdische Volk gerettet wird.” Setzt man hier “die Kirche” ein, wo das jüdische Volk erwähnt wird, wird das Ganze überflüssig. Die Kirche ist der Leib der geretteten Gläubigen, wie also könnte Paulus darum beten, dass die Kirche gerettet würde? Jesus selbst sagte, dass Er nicht gekommen ist, um die Tora und die Propheten abzuschaffen, die das Herz von Gottes Bund mit Israel sind:

“Denkt nicht, ich sei gekommen, um das Gesetz und die Propheten aufzuheben. Ich bin nicht gekommen, um aufzuheben, sondern um zu erfüllen. Amen, das sage ich euch: Bis Himmel und Erde vergehen, wird auch nicht der kleinste Buchstabe des Gesetzes vergehen, bevor nicht alles geschehen ist.” (Mt 5,17-18).

Mehr noch, die Kirche bekräftigt die fortwährende Gültigkeit der hebräischen Schriften (dem Alten Testament) als Quelle der göttlichen Offenbarung:

“Das Alte Testament ist ein unaufgebbarer Teil der Heiligen Schrift. Seine Bücher sind von Gott inspiriert und behalten einen dauernden Wert, denn der Alte Bund ist nie widerrufen worden.” (KKK 121).

“Die Christen verehren das Alte Testament als wahres Wort Gottes. Den Gedanken, das Alte Testament aufzugeben, weil das Neue es hinfällig gemacht habe (Markionismus), wies die Kirche stets entschieden zurück.” (KKK 123).

Das bedeutet, dass die Verheißungen und Endzeit-Prophezeiungen für Israel im Alten Testament, von denen viele nie erfüllt wurden, nicht einfach vergessen werden können. Besonders bemerkenswert sind die, die von der Rückkehr des Hauses Jakob in ihr Land (Israel) und seine Wiederherstellung sprechen, Worte, die weitgehend in Israel und dem jüdischen Volk im letzten Jahrhundert erfüllt wurden (vgl. Jes 11,11-12; 43,5-6; 49,22-23; Jes 60,9-11; Jer 16,14-16; Eze 35,1; 36; 37,1-14).

Die Dokumente des kirchlichen Lehramts seit dem Hl. Paulus bekräftigen, dass selbst nach der Menschwerdung Israel und das jüdische Volk irgendwie die Wurzel und Stütze der Kirche bleiben. Die Erklärung Nostra Aetate des II. Vatikanischen Konzils erklärt in Ahnlehnung an Kapitel 11 des Römerbriefes des Hl. Paulus, dass die Kirche “genährt wird von der Wurzel des guten Ölbaums, in den die Heiden als wilde Schösslinge eingepfropft sind.” Die Warnung des Paulus an die heidnische Kirche in der Darstellung des Ölbaums (Röm 11,17-24) ist bemerkenswert prophetisch: Obwohl natürliche Zweige (Juden) wegen ihres Unglaubens aus dem Baum Israels herausgebrochen wurden und wilde Zweige (Heiden) an ihrer Stelle eingepfropft wurden, warnt er die Heiden, nicht stolz oder arrogant ihren Wurzeln gegenüber zu werden, sonst würden auch sie abgebrochen:

“so erhebe dich nicht über die anderen Zweige. Wenn du es aber tust, sollst du wissen: Nicht du trägst die Wurzel, sondern die Wurzel trägt dich.” (Röm 11,18)

Darüber hinaus hat Gott die Macht, die natürlichen Zweige Israels zurück in ihren eigenen Ölbaum zu pfropfen. Im Lichte der verächtlichen Art und Weise, wie die Kirche die Juden während des größten Teils der christlichen Geschichte behandelt hat, wurde die Warnung des Paulus nicht beachtet. Tatsächlich war seine Warnung prophetisch: Die Arroganz der christlichen Nationen gegenüber dem jüdischen Volk im Laufe der Jahrhunderte – in manchen Kreisen sogar fortlaufend bis zum heutigen Tag – zeigt, bis zu welchem Ausmaß sie die Wurzel, die dazu gedacht war, sie zu tragen, vergessen und verachtet hatten. Nostra Aetate erinnert uns auch an Paulus’ Worte über seine jüdischen Verwandten: “Sie sind Israeliten; damit haben sie die Sohnschaft, die Herrlichkeit, die Bundesordnungen, ihnen ist das Gesetz gegeben, der Gottesdienst und die Verheißungen, sie haben die Väter und dem Fleisch nach entstammt ihnen der Christus” (Röm 9,4).

Die Erklärung fährt fort:

“Wie die Schrift bezeugt, hat Jerusalem die Zeit seiner Heimsuchung nicht erkannt, und ein großer Teil der Juden hat das Evangelium nicht angenommen, ja nicht wenige haben sich seiner Ausbreitung widersetzt. Nichtsdestoweniger sind die Juden nach dem Zeugnis der Apostel immer noch von Gott geliebt um der Väter willen; sind doch seine Gnadengaben und seine Berufung unwiderruflich.” (NA 4; vgl. Röm 11,28-29).

Paulus hätte nicht deutlicher werden können: Trotz Israels Unglaubens, sind Gottes Gnadengaben und seine Berufung “unwiderruflich”. Die Erklärung widersetzt sich auch unmissverständlich der Schuldzuweisung an die Juden für den Tod Christi oder der Behauptung, dass Gott sie in irgendeiner Art und Weise verworfen hätte wegen ihrer Nicht-Annahme Jesu:

“Obgleich die jüdischen Obrigkeiten mit ihren Anhängern auf den Tod Christi gedrungen haben, kann man dennoch die Ereignisse seines Leidens weder allen damals lebenden Juden ohne Unterschied noch den heutigen Juden zur Last legen. Gewiss ist die Kirche das neue Volk Gottes, trotzdem darf man die Juden nicht als von Gott verworfen oder verflucht darstellen, als wäre dies aus der Heiligen Schrift zu folgern.” (NA 4)

Betrachten wir noch den wunderbaren Paragrafen des Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche, der bekräftigt, dass die Heiden Jesus, den Messias Israels “wenn sie sich an die Juden wenden”:

“Die Epiphanie ist die Offenbarung Jesu als Messias Israels, als Sohn Gottes und Erlöser der Welt bei seiner Taufe im Jordan, bei der Hochzeit von Kana und bei der Anbetung Jesu durch die “Sterndeuter aus dem Osten” (Mt 2,1). In diesen “Weisen”, den Vertretern der heidnischen Religionen der Umwelt, sieht das Evangelium die Erstlinge der Nationen, welche die frohe Botschaft vom Heilsereignis der Menschwerdung empfangen. Dass die Weisen nach Jerusalem kommen, “um [dem König der Juden] zu huldigen” (Mt 2,2), zeigt, dass sie im messianischen Licht des Davidsterns in Israel nach dem suchen, der König der Völker sein wird. Ihr Kommen bedeutet, dass die Heiden nur dann Jesus entdecken und ihn als Sohn Gottes und Heiland der Welt anbeten können, wenn sie sich an die Juden wenden und von ihnen die messianische Verheißung empfangen, wie sie im Alten Testament enthalten ist. Die Epiphanie bekundet, dass “alle Heiden in die Familie der Patriarchen eintreten” (Leo d. Gr., serm. 23) und die “Würde Israels” erhalten sollen.” (KKK 528).


Zusammenfassung

Letztlich ist die Ersatz-Theologie oder der Supersessionismus ein theologischer Irrtum, der keine Grundlage im Neuen Testament oder den Lehren der Kirche hat. Obwohl dieser Irrtum sich weit verbreitet hat und beginnend mit den Kirchenvätern von vielen einflussreichen Christen gelehrt wurde, war er doch nie eine offizielle Doktrin der Katholischen Kirche.

Auf der anderen Seite bedeutet die Tatsache, dass Gott Auserwählung Israels gültig bleibt, nicht, dass Sein Bund mit ihnen “heilsbringend” ist oder dass sie voll gerechtfertig vor Gott sein können, während sie gleichzeitig weiterhin das Evangelium verwerfen. Dieser entgegengesetzte Irrtum, genannt die Theologie des doppelten Bundes, wird in einem anderen Artikel behandelt.


Quellen:

Supercessionism (Wikipedia)

(www.israelcatholic.com)

www.mjaa.org: Messianic Jewish Alliance of America



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Catholics for Israel

Do you work to proselytize or evangelize Jews into becoming Christians?


This is a loaded question that deserves a careful reply. On the one hand, as Catholics we wish to remain faithful to the Church's mission of evangelization.  On the other hand, we also wish to be mindful of the difficult history of Jewish-Christian relations, and be respectful and appreciative of the Jewish faith.
The following response is not a "Catholics for Israel" position on Jewish evangelism, but rather the official position of the Catholic Church according to her authoritative magisterial documents.  Let us respond in seven points:
As Catholics we believe of course that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah that God promised to Israel and to the Jewish people through Moses and the prophets (see Messianic Prophecies*, The Messiah in the Tanakh and Who Do You Say I Am?*): 
Christ’s own mission was directed exclusively to the Jews.  He said "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Mt 15:24) 
The proclamation of the early Church was also exclusively directed to the Jews. (cf. Acts 2-4; 7)
The apostle Paul wrote: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom 1:16)
Although the Torah is God-given and good, the New Testament and the Church teach that Torah observance is not sufficient for salvation.  It is true that those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church but seek God with a sincere heart and try to do His will to the best of their ability can be saved; nonetheless, the fullness of the means of salvation can be found only in Jesus the Messiah and in the Church He founded (CCC 846-47):
"Nor is there salvation in any other [than Christ], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ… for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." (Gal 2:16)
"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Gal 2:21)
"Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also." (1 Jn 2:23)
"The Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door." (CCC 846)
"Jesus affirms that ‘there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer for all." (Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church I. 7, Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, 1985)
The Church teaches, therefore, that it is the obligation of Catholics to witness to the Messiah's offer of forgiveness and salvation to all people - Jews and Gentiles (CCC 849-56). Anything less would be a betrayal of our Lord's will and our own faith.  To say that some people do not need Jesus for salvation is simply contrary to the Catholic and Christian faith. 
On the other hand, we are well aware of the troubled history of Jewish-Christian relations.  We recognize that Christian missionary endeavors to the Jews were often carried out using inacceptable methods that were disrespectful, coercive and sometimes even violent.  Worse, not a few of those who called themselves Christians have persecuted Jews in abominable ways throughout history.  The Church today not only condemns such acts of violence against the Jews and humbly asks for forgiveness for the sins of her sons and daughters; she also rejects any efforts at proselytism which do not respect the freedom of conscience and dignity of each person.
The Church also teaches that "the permanence of Israel (while so many ancient peoples have disappeared without trace) is a historic fact and a sign to be interpreted within God's design... It remains a chosen people, 'the pure olive on which were grafted the branches of the wild olive which are the gentiles'" (Notes 25).  Therefore, it would be wrong to wish for the conversion of Jews into Christianity and their assimilation into the Church if this would result in the dissolution of their Jewish identity.  The survival of the Jews as a people is a sure sign and witness of God's faithfulness.  If Jesus the Messiah is calling them to Himself, and this within the one Catholic Church which He has established, then we should invite and welcome the Jewish people into the Church, yet at the same time we should encourage them to retain and cherish their Jewish identity, heritage, traditions, and observance of Torah. 
In light of these points, we do not actively proselytize and seek to "convert Jews into Christianity." We are faithful to the Church's mission of evangelization by extending an invitation to all people, Jews and Gentiles, to come to a living communion with Yeshua the Messiah and to receive his offer of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.  This invitation is extended by the publishing of material on our website presenting the reasons why life in abundance can be found in Yeshua and in His Church.  But we do not carry out organized missionary activities or campaigns.

In summary: YES we believe like all Christians that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah of Israel and YES that He is lovingly calling his people, the Jewish people, to himself; but NO, we do not actively engage in proselytism for the sake of "converting Jews to Christianity;" and we tend to view favorably those baptized Jews who wish to continue living an Torah-observant Jewish lifestyle, in imitation of the first Christians who were all Jews and did not see faith in Jesus as a break with their Jewish heritage.

From: http://www.israelcatholic.com/content/view/95/25/lang,en/ - used with permission.


Why Catholics for Israel?


Why the need for an apostolate of Catholics for Israel?
What are some of the current challenges and problems in the Church and in the world that Catholics for Israel hopes to address?
Historical Background: Israel and the Messiah
The story of the Bible is primarily the story of a people: the people of Israel.  Truly astonishing is the fact that this people, now better known as the Jewish people, survives to our own day, after journeying through most of its nearly 4,000 year-old history either under foreign domination or in exile from its homeland.

 We read in the book of Genesis about the stories of Israel's founding fathers in the land of Canaan and about how God gave to them and their offspring this land as an everlasting possession (Gen 13:14-17, 17:7-8, 26:3, 35:12). In the opening chapters of the book of Exodus, we witness them becoming a great nation while laboring under Egyptian slavery, followed by God miraculously delivering them and adopting them as a nation set apart for Him by means of a solemn covenant and by the giving of the Torah.  Some forty years later, we witness God leading His people back to the land of Canaan in accordance to His promises to the patriarchs. From there, over the course of several centuries, they slowly rise from a group of disorganized clans into a powerful but short-lived kingdom under David and Solomon, only to then suffer division, decline, destruction and exile to Babylon. The return to Zion after seventy years and reestablishment of Jewish religious life in the homeland is again portrayed in the Bible as a witness to divine faithfulness, while at the same time preparing the scene for Israel's ultimate raison d'être: the coming of the Messiah, the One who was to bring God's light and salvation to the ends of the earth and through whom all nations would come to know the God of Israel. 

 The Eternal Word and Son of God became flesh - and He was a Jew: Son of Abraham, Son of Israel, and Son of David. Initially, Jesus' mission was almost entirely directed to His own people, the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," in great respect and complete continuity with the Judaism of His day, and with the explicit declaration that he had not come to abolish the Law and prophets but rather come to fulfill them (Mat 5:17). It was only after Jesus' sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension that it became clear to His followers that He had not only come for the Jews but also for the Gentiles (Acts 10), who through the Messiah were now invited to be "grafted in" the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:19-24) and to partake of the universal salvation which God had promised long ago through the prophets.
Jews and Gentiles Reconciled in the Church?
The Epistle to the Ephesians describes a kind of theological blueprint of what the Messiah was to accomplish between Jews and Gentiles: whereas previously the Jews were effectively isolated from the rest of the nations due to their special consecration to God, now the Messiah, "our peace" had come to "make both one, and broken down the middle wall of separation... so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God... thereby putting to death the enmity" so that we may "both have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Eph 2:14-18). The picture portrayed here is idyllic: Jews and Gentiles finally reconciled, both united in the Messiah of Israel in common worship of God the Father, each one retaining their distinct calling, yet no longer in a state of enmity with one another.

 How was this fraternal coexistence between Jews and Gentiles within the Church to work? The original Church was entirely Jewish. As Gentiles began to stream into the Church, Jewish-Christians inevitably raised the question: should Gentiles be circumcised, and should they keep the Torah of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-5)? The apostles and leaders of the Church in Jerusalem answered a categorical no: Gentiles, like Jews, were justified and saved by faith in Christ and not through observance of the Law (Acts 15:6-11, Gal 2:16,21); they were therefore under no obligation to be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses (Acts 15:18-21).  This was in fact strongly discouraged: The apostle Paul forcefully exhorted the Gentile Christians in Galatia who were tempted to be circumcised: "if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing" (Gal 5:2).

On the other hand, Jewish Christians did not cease to be Jews.  It would never have crossed the mind of the apostles and of the early Jewish-Christians that by accepting Christ they were forsaking Judaism and their observance of the Torah and joining a new religion. Paul, while travelling in Greece, had his co-worker Timothy, son of a Jewish mother and Greek father, circumcised (Acts 16:3). And upon his return to Jerusalem, Paul was greeted by James and the elders who enthusiastically informed him that "many myriads of Jews... have believed, and they are all zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20). However, rumors were spreading that Paul was teaching Jews "to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs" (21:21). He therefore agreed to take a vow in the Temple to prove these rumors false and to show that he also still lived in full accordance with the law (21:24).

We thus see in the New Testament how the union of Jew and Gentile within the Messiah's Church did not blur the distinct identity of each group.  True, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28), yet just as the distinct identity and role of man and woman were not abolished with the coming of Christ, the same can be said regarding the distinct role and identity of Jew and Gentile within the Church.

Jewish-Christian Relations
There is only one problem with this idyllic portrait of Jew and Gentile reconciled in the Church, united in faith yet maintaining their distinct vocations: it never happened - or at least not in practice. Although the union of Jew and Gentile in the common worship of the God of Israel is theologically fulfilled in Christ and has been seen on a small scale at numerous times since the birth of Christianity to our own day, we have not yet seen the kind of large-scale reconciliation which Paul described to the Ephesians. Quite on the contrary, Judaism and Christianity soon became two separate religions, divorced from one another and often in a state of hostility and enmity with one another.

How did this happen? The problem began when the Jewish leaders and a majority of Jews rejected their own Messiah and began to persecute the nascent Church. This created a split within Judaism itself by the turn of the second century, when those Jews who accepted Jesus were expelled from the Synagogues and were no longer accepted among the Jewish fold. At the same time, with the large-scale influx of pagan converts into the Church, Jewish Christians became a minority and within a few centuries nearly disappeared. The Church founded by the Jewish Messiah which had been intended to be the fulfillment of Judaism became predominantly composed of Gentiles, many of whom had little or no appreciation for the people from whom Christ had come.
 The Church fathers, almost all of them from pagan backgrounds and spurred by the Jews' rejection of Jesus and persecution of the early Church, soon began a theological and polemical offensive against Judaism as they set out to establish the theological foundations of the Christian faith. Since a majority of Jews had rejected Jesus, Judaism could no longer be regarded as the mother faith but rather was seen as a rival religion. Delegitimizing the validity of post-Christic Judaism thus became an integral part of arguing for the truth of Christianity. This was accomplished by emphasizing several recurring themes:
The Jews have rejected their own Messiah, the Son of God. They are "Christ-killers," guilty of deicide - of having murdered God.
Because the Jews have rejected Christ, God has revoked His election of Israel and chosen instead the Church to be the "new and true Israel." This idea later became known as "supercessionism" or "replacement theology."
God's rejection of the Jews was visibly manifest through the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and their subsequent dispersion throughout the world. By rejecting Christ, the Jews had forsaken their God-given inheritance of the land of Israel, and they were from then on condemned to perpetually wander across the world as a sign of their unbelief. 
Jewish law, worship, tradition, and scriptural interpretation were all fulfilled in Christianity and thereby have become obsolete. All sacred things to Jews, such as the Sabbath, the biblical feasts, and the dietary laws were systematically denigrated as empty, ineffective, and outdated rituals.
As a consequence of this theology, the situation described in the New Testament where Jewish Christians did not cease to be Jews was soon forgotten. Jews who came to faith in Christ were eventually compelled to explicitly renounce their Jewish heritage, customs and traditions. This policy of assimilation accentuated the feeling among Jews that to embrace Christianity was no less than a complete betrayal and rejection of their Jewish past. Needless to say, it also resulted in the substantial failure of the Church's mission of leading the Jews to Christ.
The anti-Judaic theology of the Fathers soon turned into anti-Judaic legislation and discrimination, which in turn deteriorated into a vicious Christian anti-Semitism that endured for the larger part of Christian history and caused untold suffering to the Jewish people: forced baptisms, acts of violence and persecution, crusades, blood libels, the Inquisition, expulsions, ghettos, pogroms, and death sentences periodically marked the lives of Jews living in Christian countries until relatively recently.
Three Decisive Events
 In the past century, three decisive events have had an irreversable impact on Jewish-Christian relations. The first began quietly in the late 19th century and gradually became one of the most remarkable events of human history. This was the rise of Zionism, the movement supporting the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The second event was brutally brief, yet it precipitated the first and made its culmination possible.  This was the Nazi Holocaust. The decimation of European Jewry, which shocked the conscience of the world, indirectly led to a miraculous resurrection 3 years later: the birth of the modern State of Israel, followed in 1967 by the return of Jerusalem under full Jewish sovereignty for the first time in over 2,000 years. Many saw in these momentous events another testimony to the faithfulness of God's word, who long ago promised through prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel that He would return the children of Israel to the land that He had promised to their forefathers. Whether one agrees with this interpretation of Scripture or not, the Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel inevitably forced the Christian world to rethink its theological position toward Judaism and the Jewish people. Since then, and especially following the Second Vatican Council, Jewish-Christian relations have immensely improved. 
The third remarkable event of the twentieth century has been the rebirth of the Jewish-Christian (or Messianic Jewish) movement. For the first time since the first century of the Church, a large community of Jewish believers in Jesus has arisen both in Israel and in the nations. This movement has experienced significant growth, especially since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, and it now constitutes a presence in Israel that must be reckoned with.
The Balance Sheet Today
The Holocaust, the renewed existence of a Jewish state in the land of Israel and the rise of the Messianic Jewish movement have created significant new challenges to the Church of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Catholics for Israel hopes to be a forum where these problems and challenges can be discussed and addressed. 
What are some of the problems that are of particular relevance today?
The problem of anti-Semitism in the world and even in the Church has far from disappeared. The Church, it is true, has declared that "the hostility or diffidence of numerous Christians toward Jews in the course of time is a sad historical fact and is the cause of profound remorse for Christians aware... that the Jews are our dearly beloved brothers, indeed in a certain sense they are 'our elder brothers'" (MR 5.4). The Church considers that the failure of Christians to respect and love our 'elder brothers' has constituted a grave enough offense to urge "a call to the consciences of all Christians today, so as to require 'an act of repentance (teshuva),' and to be a stimulus to increase efforts to be 'transformed by renewal of your mind' (Rom 12:2), as well as to keep a 'moral and religious memory' of the injury inflicted on the Jews. In this area, much has already been done, but this should be confirmed and deepened" (MR 5.4). How are we to positively contribute to this confirmation and deepening of the Church's sorrow for the sins of the past committed against Jews, and to a renewed respect and appreciation towards the people of the covenant? How are we to counter the new rise of anti-Semitism in the world today?
The problem of supercessionism (replacement theology) is still widespread within the Church. Many Christians still erroneously believe and teach, contrary to official Church doctrine, that the covenant with Israel came to its completion in Christ and in the Church, and the only remaining role of the Jewish people today is to abandon Judaism and convert to Christianity.  How are we to affirm the special vocation of Israel while remaining faithful to the Church's permanent missionary calling? 
Very often, anti-Semitism and supercessionism go hand in hand with anti-Zionism and irrational anti-Israel attitudes. Old prejudices die hard. Those who were convinced that God had forever forsaken the Jewish people were caught by surprise in 1948 when the State of Israel was founded, and again in 1967 when Jerusalem returned under Jewish sovereignty. Anti-Zionists find abhorrent the idea that God may actually be behind the return of the people of Israel to the land of Israel, despite the fact that this is one of the most oft repeated promises of the Hebrew Bible, never abolished by the New Testament. They will often go to any length to delegitimize the existence of the Jewish state, often through systematic distortion and demonization of its role in the Middle East conflict, all while whitewashing the hatred, aggression, and violence directed against it by enemies vowed to its destruction. Also, for  many Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land who have personally suffered from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it has become nearly impossible to take a detached, objective approach towards the theological significance of the land of Israel today. When national identity takes precedence over Christian faith, theology inevitably becomes swayed by politics. One of the greatest problems of the Church in the Holy Land today is the politicization of the Church and the often inaccurate portrait, strongly biased against Israel, that some (Palestinian) leaders of the Church may convey to the world regarding the political and religious situation in the Middle East.  How are we to consider the return of the Jews to the land which God promised to their ancestors in light of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, while remaining mindful of finding a just solution to the Middle East conflict for all inhabitants of the Holy Land?
In reaction to the historical error of supercessionism, the opposite error, a more modern heresy, has recently made its way to even some influential positions in the Church: this is the error of dual-covenant theology, the idea that Jews are already in a saving covenant with God and therefore do not need to come to faith in Christ in order to be saved. As a result, many Catholics have forgotten that the Gospel is the "power of salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first..." (Rom 1:16), and they have either abandoned or neglected the Church's mandate to share the good news of Jesus the Messiah to His own people. It is often said and heard that the number of Christians in the Holy Land and in the Middle East is dwindling. What is not said, however, is the fact that some of the local Church leaders actively discourage the evangelization of non-Christians (Jews and Muslims). Can we expect the Church in the Holy Land to thrive while her leaders betray the very heart of her mission? How are we to share the Gospel of salvation with the Jewish (and Muslim) people with sensitivity, respect and love?
The rise of Messianic Judaism testifies to the work of the Holy Spirit: probably more Jews are finding their Messiah today than ever before. Messianic Jews usually emphasize that by believing in Jesus they do not become Christians but remain Jews. This attitude is at least partly legitimate, for as we have seen, it is important that Jews who come to faith in Christ retain their special calling and vocation as sons and daughters of Israel.  However, by remaining outside of the Church they forsake a significant part of the gifts and blessings which the Messiah gave to His Church (see Why Be Catholic?). How can the Catholic Church create a "space" within her so that Jews who find the Messiah may receive the fullness of His gifts and blessings in the Church, while still feeling "at home" in a genuinely Jewish-Catholic environment which values Jewish heritage and traditions? In particular, for the increasing number of Jews who have come to faith in Christ but wish to continue living an observant Jewish lifestyle, how can the Catholic Church encourage and facilitate the observance of the Torah for Catholic Jews?

From: http://www.israelcatholic.com/content/view/59/77/lang,en/ - used with permission


 

What do we mean by Catholics “for Israel”?


Catholics for Israel is an apostolate faithful to the Magisterium, the living teaching office of the Church to whom Jesus has entrusted the task of authentically interpreting the word of God (DV 10).  This means that official magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church, most especially chapter 4 of the declaration Nostra Aetate and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, form the core of our beliefs concerning Israel and the Jewish people. 
The Church and the Jewish People as Formulated in Notra Aetate
 For the first time in the history of the Church, the declaration Nostra Aetate (promulgated at the Second Vatican Council in 1965) laid a positive foundation for a theology of Israel and of the Jewish people.  This document affirmed:
the spiritual bond between Christians and the Jewish people.
that the Church received the Old Testament from the people of Israel.
that the Church “draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree (Israel) onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles” (Rom 11:17-24).
that Jesus the Messiah has by his cross “reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in himself” (Eph 2:14-16).
that to the Jewish people belong “the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Messiah according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5).
that the apostles and most of the early disciples were Jews.
that despite the fact that many Jews rejected Jesus and the Gospel, “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers” and “does not repent of his gifts and his calling to them” (Rom 11:28-29).
that Jews and Christians will one day worship and serve the Lord together with one voice.
the importance of mutual respect and understanding as the fruit of common study and dialogue.
that although “the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.”  
that consequently, “the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures;” and so the Church “decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”
that it remains nonetheless “the burden of the Church's preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.”
Open Questions
While Nostra Aetate has provided an essential foundation for a positive Catholic theology of Israel, it has but laid the most basic building blocks of this foundation, while leaving many questions open and unanswered.  Examples of such questions are:
Given that God’s gifts and calling to Israel are irrevocable, even while a majority of the Jewish people has to this day not accepted the Gospel, what exactly is Israel’s role in God’s plan of salvation since the coming of Jesus the Messiah?
Jesus’ great commission to the Church to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) remains intact, particularly to the Jewish people since the gospel is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the non-Jew” (Rom 1:16).  How should the Church faithfully express her missionary calling to the Jewish people in respect, sensitivity, and love, mindful of not repeating regrettable abuses that were committed in the past?
How should Jews who encounter Jesus the Messiah and find the fullness of truth in the Catholic Church continue to live and express their Jewish identity as Catholics Jews?
How should Catholics of Jewish origin relate to the Torah and to the observance of its commandments?
Given that God’s gifts and calling to Israel are irrevocable, one of the most central of these gifts is the land of Israel – a gift that was never revoked by the New Testament.  What is the significance of the land of Israel today and of the recent return of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers?
Statement of Faith
In light of Nostra Aetate and of the above questions, Catholics for Israel proposes the following statement of faith:
Concerning the Jewish people:
We DO:
affirm an unconditional love for the Jewish people, our “elder brothers in the faith.”
oppose anti-Semitism in all its forms, including under its currently common disguise of anti-Zionism.
call Christians to repent from past and present anti-Semitic acts, words, and attitudes.
affirm the irrevocable and permanent nature of God’s covenant with the Jewish people and oppose the false teaching of replacement theology (supercessionism), which claims that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.
affirm the Church’s faith that Israel’s calling, destiny and salvation can only be accomplished in union with Jesus, Messiah of Israel and King of the Jews, who was sent first and foremost to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 15:24) and wept over Jerusalem’s rejection of Him (Luke 19:41), and that union with Jesus is most fully attained in the Catholic Church.
affirm, therefore, the permanence of Church's missionary mandate, divinely ordained by the Word of God, to propose the Gospel of salvation “to the Jew first.”  
reject, therefore, the false teaching of dual-covenant theology, which would have the Jews attain salvation through the Old Covenant and observance of the Torah, while Gentiles attain salvation through Jesus the Messiah. Although "the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Rom 7:12), it remains nonetheless that “a man is not justified by the works of the Torah [law] but by faith in Jesus Christ… for by the works of the Torah no flesh shall be justified… for if righteousness comes through the Torah, then Christ died in vain” (Gal 2:16, 21). 
affirm that, since the Church is "the all-embracing means of salvation" in which alone "the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained" (UR 3), “Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer for all” (NJJ I.7).
affirm the need for establishing a Jewish-Catholic community where Catholic Jews will be able to live a genuinely Catholic life, in accordance with the teachings of Jesus the Messiah and of His Catholic Church, while at the same time remaining entirely faithful to the Torah and to Israel's cultural and religious heritage. This is in accordance with the first community of Jewish Christians who were "all zealous for the Torah" (Acts 21:20) - for Jesus did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them (Mat 5:17-20).
We do NOT:
Pretend to love the Jewish people and support Israel as a cover-up for missionary activity.
Favor disrespectful or aggressive proselytizing of the Jewish people on the part of Christians.
Concerning the land and people of Israel:
We DO:
believe that God’s promise of the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was never revoked by Jesus and the New Covenant, and that this promise remains valid to this day.
believe that the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel in the last century bears prophetic significance, and we therefore affirm the theological plausibility of a moderate biblical Zionism.
believe that though the modern state of Israel is in itself a secular entity, it may well be a “first step” towards the final redemption of the Jewish people.
believe that the state of Israel has the right to defend itself against acts of terrorism carried out against it and its people; that it should, however, always exercise great caution and restraint in order to not harm innocent civilians.
encourage and promote reconciliation, peace and justice for all of the inhabitants of the Holy Land today.
call all inhabitants of Israel, Israelis and Palestinians, to repent and turn away from the grave evils that currently afflict Israeli and Palestinian society such as violence and hatred, corruption and dishonesty, discrimination and injustice, promiscuity, prostitution, pornography, abortion, and the increasing normalization of homosexuality.
Call all inhabitants of Israel, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims, to conversion to the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the prince of peace, through whom is found forgiveness, reconciliation with God and with one another, and eternal life.
Call all Christians in the Holy Land to greater faithfulness and unity in living and sharing the gospel of Jesus the Messiah.
We do NOT:
attribute a Messianic significance to the modern state of Israel in its present form.
advocate the rebuilding of the Temple and re-establishment of animal sacrifices.
support the ingathering of the Jewish people to the Holy Land in the eschatological hope of ushering in the battle of Armageddon.
necessarily agree with every political or military action carried out by the government of Israel.
support any form of injustice or discrimination towards anyone.
hold any anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian attitudes.

From: http://www.israelcatholic.com/content/view/28/77/lang,en/ - used with permission

 

www.israelcatholic.com: Random Thoughts... and Messianic Judaism, Part III

Catholic News, Opinions and Reflections from the Cradle of our Faith (www.israelcatholic.com)

August 2010
Random Thoughts... and Messianic Judaism, Part III

Dear Robert,

For a number of reasons, chief of which is a frenetic pace of life which is sometimes hard to escape, Catholics for Israel newsletters were interrupted for an unexpectedly long time.  Penitent and repentant I beg the forgiveness of those who have been expecting part III of our series on Messianic Judaism for too long. But before I attempt to atone for my silence in this respect, a few random notes and thoughts:

I have been taking a break from the heat of the Middle East (regarding weather, politics and religion) for the summer.  I just spent almost two months in Steubenville, Ohio, "filling up" my spiritual tank while attending the wonderful Franciscan University summer conferences.  Kudos to the organizers, speakers, and staff for their excellent work of evangelization and catechesis and the impact they are having on thousands of youth and adults every summer.  I cannot recommend enough attending these conferences, which are a beacon of the light of the Gospel in a culture and society in ever greater need of it. I am now in my native Canada visiting family before I head back to Jerusalem at the end of the month.

***

Every time I am away from Israel, I am always stunned at two strange things concerning the relationship between Catholics and Israel: the first is how so many Catholics seem to think that the Holy Land is a perpetual dangerous war zone.  This idea has nothing to do with reality.  Yes, there are real tensions and threats coming from Hamas around the Gaza Strip, the Hizbullah on the northern border, and from Iran.  Yet many people don't realize how these "hot spots" are very localized. Tourism in Israel is actually booming and thriving, hotels are full, and it is hard to keep up with the massive number of pilgrims who come from all over the world to discover the land of the Bible.  Pilgrims are always surprised at how safe Israel is, and personally I find Jerusalem safer than certain streets of Steubenville at night.

The second thing that stuns me about the relationship between Catholics and Israel is the continued "Great Disconnect" between Catholic pilgrims and modern Israel.  I repeatedly speak to Catholic pilgrims who visit the Holy Land as one visits a museum: looking at the ancient stones and sites where Jesus walked, reflecting on the events where the Scriptures come to life, yet having no experience whatsoever with the miracle of modern Israel, little to no contact with the "living stones" in the land today, no reflection on God's continued action today among His people in the land of the Promise, and no encounter with the rich Jewish life or thriving Messianic communities, their challenges and hopes.  The land of Israel is not just a memorial of the past. It is also (salvation) history in the making.  For more on this, see Holy Land or Israel?

***

Because we call ourselves Catholics for Israel, we invariably get the occasional email accusing us of being anti-Arab or of blindly supporting (allegedly?) unjust Israeli policies.  As we clearly state in our mission statement, neither of these accusations are true.  Recently, our contributor Georgina Michelson from the German branch of CFI has written an address to our Arab Christian brothers and sisters in the faith explaining at greater length how our being "for Israel" does not imply in any way a bias against Arabs. On the contrary, our love for Israel implies an even stronger desire to see the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles (and especially of Arabs) in our day as the latter are "grafted in" to the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11).

***

From October 1 to 3, I will be attending a conference in St. Louis sponsored by the Association of Hebrew Catholics entitled You Shall Be My Witnesses... Hebrew Catholics and the Mission of the Church.  If you are able, I highly recommend that you attend this conference which will tackle topics of great importance for the Church today, and will feature noted speakers such as David and Rosalind Moss, Roy Schoeman, Dr. Lawrence Feingold, and several others.

***

The translation of our website is slowly continuing, with the first half of our online course on salvation history now available in French and Italian.  The whole course is also available in English and Hebrew for free online viewing.  This is the first Catholic catechetical resource in Hebrew available in Israel. Your donation (or purchase of the PowerPoint lessons of the online course) is much appreciated to help us continue our work of translation and apostolate of reconciliation in the Holy Land.

***

And now for some brief concluding words on the topic of Messianic Judaism (click here for an earlier article covering the topics discussed in our previous two newsletters if you need a refresher).  In our last newsletters, we proposed a brief survey of the Messianic movement today, with a primer on Messianic theology and faith, Messianic congregations and worship, and Messianic culture and life in Israel.

What are Catholics to make of Messianic Jews?  On the one hand, Messianic Jews are a challenge to Catholics.  We are witnessing in our own age a remarkable rebirth of the Church of the Circumcision, with probably more Jews who believe in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Jewish Messiah than ever before.  Most of these Jewish believers face some form of ostracism if not persecution from their fellow Jews and often they are not really accepted by Christians either, yet they hold on to their faith and give witness to it with a courage and determination that could put many Catholics to shame.  

Catholics should resist and reject any temptation to dismiss Messianic Judaism as a fringe movement, "cult" or heretical "sect."  The fact that Messianic Jews resist being assimilated into Gentile Christianity and their desire to recover and restore their Jewish heritage as believers in Christ is not only important for the preservation of their own identity; it is also a source of great enrichment for the Church. Jesus was a Jew. Unless we know and understand Judaism, we cannot know Jesus very well, because his Jewishness was and is an integral part of his humanity.

On the other hand, Messianic Judaism also bears the traits of a very immature movement.  If the Messianic Jewish desire to preserve their link with Judaism and with Israel is understandable and laudable, the fact that many Messianic Jews purposefully dissociate themselves with Christianity and especially with the Catholic Church is of course disastrous, for it re-erects the "wall of separation" torn down by the Messiah and at the same time cuts them off from many of the sources of God's life which He gave us.  The absurdity is that while many are adamant that they are not Christians but Messianic Jews, at the same time they adopt wholesale the major tenets of Protestant Christianity such as sola scriptura (the Bible as only source of authority), sola fide (salvation by faith alone), the rejection of the authority of the Church, non-liturgical worship, etc...  

Even their relationship to traditional orthodox Judaism is ambivalent: while some try to keep certain Jewish traditions, others preserve but a thin veneer of Jewish customs and basically live out evangelical christianity while at the same time insisting that they are not Christians.  This double talk, unfortunately, makes them lose a lot of respect from the general Israeli population and perhaps, for their own good, the wisdom of this strategy would be worth reconsidering.

For several years I have personally experienced Messianic Judaism as an insider.  While I know their struggles and sympathise with them, I am also intimately familiar with the shaky theological ground upon which they are trying to build their communities and faith.  The stark individualism of Messianic believers, the rejection of the apostolic authority and chair of Peter established by Yeshua means that often the ultimate authority for faith, though claimed to be the Scriptures, really ends up being each believer's subjective interpretation of them.  The fragmentation and breaking up of the deposit of faith that was passed on by Yeshua to the apostles and to the (Catholic) Church is a true tragedy, resulting in widespread doctrinal confusion and increasingly large numbers of disaffected believers wandering from one congregation to the next.  

Equally tragic is the forsaking of the sacraments instituted by their own Messiah, and the absence of the priesthood and therefore of the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist.  It is tragic that our brothers and sisters in Messiah who because of their challenging situation are in greatest need of the Lord's sanctifying grace are largely deprived from it.  This separation from the font of grace is exacerbated by anti-Catholic prejudice, ignorance of Catholic doctrine, and false beliefs that Catholicism is somehow a pagan corruption of the true biblical faith.

As with every ecumenical endeavor, the Catholic approach to Messianic Jews should be made in humility.  Some of their grievances about unfair and uncharitable Christian treatment of them in history is legitimate.  In encounters with Messianic Jews, Catholics should resist immediately putting on their apologetics hat to defend the Church in every circumstance.  The problems of Christian anti-Semitism, of replacement theology, and of the suppression of the Jewish identity in the Church are still issues today that need to be dealt with on the Catholic side with humble repentance and the changing of old entrenched attitudes.  

Moreover, Catholics have much to learn from Messianic believers.  The first followers of Jesus were indeed Messianic Jews.  But they were also Catholic Messianic Jews (or Hebrew Catholics) - in communion with Peter and the apostles, united in the Church's faith, liturgy and sacraments.  And so respectful dialogue should hopefully lead us to clarify and explain the Jewish and biblical basis of the Catholic faith to our Messianic brothers and sisters so that they too may respond to the invitation to partake of the fullness of faith and communion with the Lord, and so that we may one day share at His Eucharistic table together, truly united in His one Body.

Until next time,

Ariel Ben Ami
Catholics for Israel (www.israelcatholic.com)

Please consider supporting the educational work of Catholics for Israel.  We remain in great need of donations to finance the continued translation of our website in Hebrew and publication of catechetical materials.  Please see our donations page if you would like to support us financially.   Thank you for your interest in our work and may God bless you from Jerusalem!

How to Speak to a Jew

Mark Bonocore spells out the Catholic approach in dialoguing with our Jewish brethren.

John and Paul's comments are in bold printing.


I am a member of the Catholic Church - by the grace of God! - for 9 years now (was Evangelical Protestant). Anyways, Paul, a Jewish apologist who has challenged me to prove to him that Jesus is the true Messiah. Raising three boys 6 and under plus work keeps my wife and I very busy. Can you help me help this Jewish man see the truth? Thanks, John.

Well, the typical problem with convincing an educated Jew that Jesus is the Messiah is that Christians often fail to appreciate the nature of the Messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament. What I mean by this is that Christians (most often Evangelical Christians) fail to recognize that the Messianic prophecies have both a primary historical meaning and a more far-reaching theological meaning. So, when a Christian cites something like Isaiah 7:14 ( "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel") and argues that this is fulfilled in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:23), an educated Jew dismisses this idea because he knows (quite correctly) that the prophecy primarily refers to something else -- that it's primary meaning is that the royal House of David would not be destroyed in the days of King Ahaz (when it looked like that Assyrians were going to destroy Jerusalem and wipe out the kingly line of David), but that the House of David will have a kingly heir -- that Ahaz will not be the last Davidic king to rule, but that his line would continue and survive the Assyrian threat, and his heir would show that "God is with us" -- that is, with the Davidic line of kings (as God promised David), which is what the name "Immanuel" means ("God is with us"). For the Jews, this prophecy is fulfilled by the birth of the great Jewish king, Hezekiah. And that is a valid, primary interpretation of the prophecy. But, that doesn't mean it's the only interpretation of the prophecy. For, what cannot be denied is that ancient Jews saw in this prophecy a more far-reaching meaning. And this is the meaning that St. Matthew (a 1st Century Jew) puts forward in Matt 1:23 when he says that Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled by the birth of Jesus. For, understood in context, Isaiah's prophecy is declaring that the kingly line of David would continue --that it would not be wiped out, but that "a son" would arise to show that God is faithful to it -- that is, faithful to the promise of a Messiah (Anointed King) Who would descend from David and rule for all eternity. Well, when the Kingdom of Judah finally did fall to the Babylonians, and no kingly successor to David actually reigned any more, the Jews began to understand this prophecy as a promise of the coming of a future king -- of someone from the house of David (which did survive, as God promised it would) who would eventually restore the Kingdom and reign as an actual king. What St. Matthew is saying in his Gospel is that this prophecy is fulfilled totally and completely in Y'shua ha-Moshiach (Jesus Christ). For, Jesus is a son of the House of David; and He represents the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy in that He Personifies and is the ultimate purpose of the House of David -- that is, He is the Messianic King Who was promised, thus showing that God is faithful to His promise that the House of David would not die out, but would produce the ultimate King. And Matthew is saying that this Jesus fulfills this prophecy so totally and completely that He is even literally born of a virgin, which gives even deeper Divine significance to Isaiah's intended statement (more on this below).

So, even though Isaiah 7:14 is primarily about the continuation of the Davidic line of kings in the days of King Ahaz, what one cannot deny is that Jews of later generations (including the first Christians, who were all Jews) saw in this prophecy a future and more far-reaching promise that would be literally and specifically fulfilled by the actual Messiah. And, if we look deeply at the Hebrew Scriptures, we see that such ancient Jews had good reason for reading Isaiah 7:14 in this way. For, as is typically argued (with some validity), the promised "son" of Isaiah 7:14 is King Hezekiah, who will succeed his father King Ahaz, thus showing that the Davidic line of kings would continue, and not be wiped out by the Assyrians, thus proving that "God is with" (i.e., "Immanual") the House of David. However, if you look at the kingly timeline in 2 Kings 15:27, 16:2-3 and 18:1-2, and do the math, Scripture shows us that the "son" who "will be" (future tense) born to the virgin cannot be Hezekiah himself. This is because Hezekiah was already 8 years old when his father Ahaz started his reign. So, this creates a significant problem for someone who wishes to apply the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 to Hezekiah literally. And this is why ancient Jews came to believe that Isaiah 7:14 must ultimately refer to some future king -- to the ultimate, promised Messiah. And the Catholic Church (whose original forefathers were all Jews) is heir to this ancient Jewish understanding.

Now, above I mentioned St. Matthew's connection of Isaiah 7:14 to the literal reality of Jesus' virgin birth -- something which shows that God fulfilled the prophecy in a way that is even more powerful and specific than most Jews (including perhaps Isaiah himself) ever expected. As you may know, this association between Isaiah 7:14 and the virgin birth is often criticized by modern Jews on the grounds that the original Hebrew does not use the term "virgin" (which is "bethulah" in Hebrew) but rather uses the term for "maiden" ("almah" in Hebrew) and reads: "...the maiden will be with child ..." Because of this, modern Jews tend to argue that there is nothing in the prophecy about a miraculous virgin birth, but it's merely about a young woman (a maiden) who will get pregnant by natural means. Well, there are two main problems with this argument. The first is that, despite what modern Jews tend to assume, St. Matthew himself (who wrote in Greek) did not make the decision to use the Greek word for "virgin" ("parthanos") in place of the original Hebrew word for "maiden" ("almah"). Rather, in Matt 1:23, the New Testament is merely quoting from the Jewish Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint), in which Isaiah 7:14 was translated by Jews into Greek over 200 years before Jesus was born. So, this understanding of "virgin" is not a Christian innovation, but is based upon an ancient Jewish understanding. And this brings us to our second point, which is that of the proscriptive understanding of Isaiah 7:14 in ancient, pre-Christian Judaism. In other words, when the Hebrew speaks of a pregnant "maiden" as being the promised mother of the Messiah, how did ancient Jews understand this reference? For, if one bothers to think about it, a "maiden" is a young, unmarried woman. And this means that there are only two possible interpretations of the prophecy. Either the Messiah would be born as a bastard to a sinful woman who had sex outside of wedlock, or His mother would be a righteous unmarried woman who will be pregnant in some mysterious, paradoxical sense. For, in the ancient word, and especially in Jewish society, a young, unmarried woman (a "maiden") better damn well be a virgin, or she would be stoned to death as a whore. It's for this reason that ancient Jews began to understand Isaiah 7:14 as a mysterious, rabbinical paradox. How can a girl be both a righteous maiden/virgin and also a mother? It is a mystery. And the Greek Septuagint Bible --a translation made in 200 B.C. by pre-Christian Jews -- preserves this implicit understanding in Judaism by intentionally translating "almah," not as "maiden," but as "virgin." In other words, the Greek translation illustrates an expressed intention (on the part of pre-Christian Jews) to preserve their implicit understanding of the passage. The promised Messiah will be born to a woman who is both a virgin and a mother -- a mystery; a paradox, but a Divine revelation all the same. This is how our Jewish ancestors saw this passage. St. Matthew merely reveals that the ancient Jewish understanding has been revealed in a way that is more powerful and more literal than anyone ever expected. God literally manifested the paradox by causing a young Jewish maiden to become pregnant miraculously. And, in doing so, He shows that He is "with us" -- that is, with the Jewish people -- in a way that is far more profound and intimate than they every expected. For, not only is God faithful to the Davidic line, but He Himself becomes physically united to it in the Person of Jesus Christ (God Incarnate); and He does this through a virgin of the House of David, who represents the Scriptural "Daughter of Zion," who literally personifies Israel itself, to show the one-Flesh union between God and Israel (spoken of by the Prophets), and to manifest this in the most profound and intimate way possible -- through the literal birth of a Child, Who is Himself.

And the same complex and multi-dimensional understanding applies to all the Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures which we Christians say are fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. But, all too often, modern Jews reject these claims out of hand because they are only presented with the Fundamentalist Protestant understanding of them, and not the deeper and far more mature understanding of the Catholic Church -- an understanding the recognizes and preserves the traditional Jewish understanding, and which is very Jewish in and of itself. This is the common ground which Jews and Catholics can build upon to, hopefully, reach a faithful consensus about Who the Messiah is.

Needless to say, Jesus' identity as the Messiah cannot be "proven" by simply throwing proof texts at an educated Jew. This is the all-too-common mistake made by Protestant Fundamentalists, and it only makes the problem worse. Rather, for a Jew to see why we believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, it requires long and very mature analysis of the Scriptures and an appreciation of the historical and theological reasons why we read Scripture in the way we Catholic Christians do. If a Jew is willing to engage us on this basis, then a fruitful exchange can be achieved. But, if this "Jewish apologist" is merely interested in "debunking" the Christian claims (especially when he assumes that the Christian claims are represented by the silly and 2-dimensional arguments of Protestant Fundamentalists), then discussing the subject with such a person is a waste of time. For centuries, many Jews have attacked the true Christian understanding of the Messianic prophecies using arguments which are just as silly and ignorant as the Protestant arguments against non-Christian Judaism. So, I'd be happy to help you with your Jewish friend (the apologist), but one must first establish where this guy is "coming from."

Thanks so much for your helpful reply. I will try to put those helpful ideas to use with my friend Paul (yes, his name is Paul, ironically). Some quick background and then you can see our latest exchange below to see where Paul is coming from (by the way he was raised Jewish and his parents just gave him that name due to a friend they liked so he says he is stuck with the name). I met him on an Evangelical Protestant chat room. He references www.realmessiah.com a lot.

That's a bit unfortunate, since such Messianic Jews tend to be Evangelical Protestant in their theology. A better organization for him to consult and interact with are my friends at the Association of Hebrew Catholics (http://hebrewcatholic.org/), who are Jewish members of the Catholic Church. I should mention that I myself have a few disagreements with the AHC, since many of them tend to be strong Zionists and think that there is a religious significance to the modern, secular (socialist) state of Israel. This is of course an Evangelical idea, and it comes from the fact that many AHC members are themselves former Messianic Jews/Evangelicals who have entered into communion with the Catholic Church. But, overall, the AHC is the best and most reliable Jewish-Christian organization right now. They well understand that the Catholic Church is the new and true Israel --that is, that remnant of Israel which accepted Jesus as its Messianic King (i.e., the Apostles and all the other earliest Christians), along with the Gentiles who were welcomed into full communion with them.

Think I will lead into that with how Micah 5 mentions childbirth which I can then go to Isaiah and the virgin birth as you discussed and then mention Malachi 1 and the universal sacrifice and how all everything points to a restoration of true Judaism with the Messiah and how God is so far above our ways and ideas as proven in Christ, etc.

What I said above applies to this too. If you quote Malachi, as did St. Justin Martyr c. 155 in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, a modern Jew can just point to the primary historical meaning of Malachi's prophecy (which simply refers to righteousness among the Gentiles) and dispute that it refers to the Sacrifice of the Eucharist. For, even while St. Justin connected Malachi to the universal Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Church, he did so knowing that the Eucharist is merely a deeper fulfillment of what Malachi was talking about, not necessarily what Malachi was specifically talking about. This reality gives Jews enough "wiggle room" to dismiss our understanding ...that is UNTIL we maturely explore the overall mystery, which has to do with the true significance of the Temple sacrifices as they related to true righteousness, and how the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Church perfectly and universally fulfills the righteousness intended by the old Temple sacrifices in the context of the New Covenant. This must be appreciated properly and deeply before a Jew can accept any connection between Malachi and the Catholic Mass. Just pointing him to Malachi or using the prophet as a proof text is not enough ...not for an educated Jew.

As for your friend Paul's comments, please find my response to him below. You might want to send my responses to him as written, and tell him that they come from me so that he will know that the issues run far deeper than he obviously assumes.

He writes ...

John, my frustration grows with each exchange with you. Instead of addressing the points I make, you brush them aside and throw a Talmudic verse at me as if what I stated was erroneous.

This is significant. You need to tell him that you understand and agree --that proof-texting is not enough, and that your exchange needs to go deeper and become more substantial.

Let me ask you something John...do you know what Berakhot means? Do you know the difference between the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud? Do you know what the tractate Berachot is even about? Have you read either Talmud? The Mishna? The Gemara? The Torah? The Tanakh? The Zohar? Have you read them in Hebrew or Aramaic? Have you read accurate translations?

The correct response to this is to admit that you have not. However, the scholars of the Catholics Church have long studied both Torah, Tanakh, and Talmud (especially the Mishna, which contains many things that both Jewish oral Tradition and Catholic oral Tradition share in common, via our ancient Jewish heritage); and because of this, you do not need to be a Scripture scholar personally, but can speak from the point of view of our Traditional Catholic understanding.

I venture to say you would answer no to most of these questions. I stand corrected if mistaken. I don't know where you got that quote but it's likely from, yet again, a christian source. Some facts for you: The Jerusalem Talmud or Palestinian Talmud as it's sometimes referred to is not as revered as the Babylonian.

This is true. But, it is a valid and accepted Jewish document, and it bears witness to Jewish belief ...at least in regard to the belief of some Jews; and our Catholic Christian ancestors would be included among such Jews. Now, as the old rabbinical expression goes, "When you have three Jews in a room, you get four opinions." :-) So, no one is saying that any one Jewish source speaks for all Jews everywhere. As Paul must know, the Jewish faith is far from monolithic; and has lacked any true and binding "Magisterium" (a final teaching authority) since the destruction of the Temple and the dissolution of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin in A.D. 70. So, what we have in Judaism (and we may count the first Christians in this) is a case where different Jewish groups stressed or emphasized different aspects or truths of the Mosaic tradition. The difference between the Babylonian Talmud and the Palestinian Talmud represent part of this; as does the difference between contemporary Jewish tradition (which is based primarily on the Pharisaic school of Jamnia) and the very early Christian tradition (that is, the beliefs of the Jewish followers of Jesus who established the Catholic Church throughout the Greco-Roman world).

The Talmud is rabbinic commentary. It's not Law.

We agree. However, one can argue (and most Orthodox Jews would agree with this) that the Mishna (the heart of the Talmud) has the force of Law, since it is the so-called oral Torah, representing or illustrating the oral Traditions of Mosaic Judaism, and with content possibly dating in part from the very time of Moses.

The Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in 368 C.E.There are 6 orders of the Mishna.? Zeraim? Moed? Nashim? Nezikin? Kodashim? Tohorot? Within each of these six orders is between 7 and 12 tractates. Berakhot is the first tractate in Zeraim which means "SEEDS". Berakhot is about agricultural laws that apply in Israel and also those that apply outside of Isreal.Berakhot is also about prayers particularly the Shema and the Amidah (standing prayer.)

Yes. All this is true.

There is no mention of the Messiah in Berakhot 5a.

Well, ... That is debatable. :-) It is true that there certainly is no explicit reference to the Messiah in Berakhot 5a. But, some Jews see in the quote an implicit reference to the Messiah's righteousness.

>>>>>>>Berakhot 5a ?"Man should always incite the yetzer tov (good impulse in man) against the yetzer hara (evil impulse in man) [i.e., to wage battle against the yetzer hara], as it is written "Tremble (incite) and sin not (or: and you will not sin.)'"

Again, this is a standard of righteousness that is typified by the promised Messiah, who will fulfill it. In certain Jewish circles, the "yetzer tov" is seen as a personification of the Messiah. In certain Reformed Jewish theology, as Paul may know, this has even led to speculation that any righteous Jew --an man who lives according to the "good impulse" or "interior witness of God" is himself (or herself) the promised Messiah. Of course, Orthodox Judaism would never take it that far, and maintains (correctly) that the Messiah is and will be an actual person --a true King of Israel, the successor of David.

John, please reveal your source for the quote you provided. I'd also appreciate if you'd address the points I made in my most recent email response to you regarding Micah 5.

Well, I'm not sure what you are sending to Paul, or where you are getting it, so I can't comment. But, if we argue for Truth, we must always be in accord with the Truth, which means that our sources must always be accurate and that we must follow the Truth wherever it (read: He) leads us. Otherwise, we make problems far worse.

The King Messiah... from where does he come forth? From the royal city ofBethlehem in Judah. " - Jerusalem Talmud, Berakoth 5apaul-net writes:> John,First of all, you yet again bring me a CHRISTIAN (this time CATHOLIC) interpretation of HEBREW scripture and expect me to be swayed from its original HEBREW meaning and context. How the catholic church interprets Micah is immaterial.

Well, given that we are in a Catholic-Jewish exchange, this is essentially true. We do not expect our Jewish brethren to automatically accept our Catholic understanding. Rather, all we expect of them is to acknowledge the viability of our understanding as a matter of our common Jewish heritage. For, our reading of Micah 5 comes from a time when the Catholic Church was a sect within Judaism. In other words, our reading is a Jewish reading --a viable and permissible interpretation of the passage within the context of 1st Century Judaism. Paul must (if he is honest) at least give us that, and admit that much. What he is complaining about, however, is your failure to acknowledge a more primary historical interpretation of Micah's prophecy, and your (faulty) presumption that just citing Micah 5 should be enough to convince an educated Jew that Jesus is the Messiah. It is not enough, however. There is more to this; and we Catholics appreciate that fact. Playing a game of proof texting is not helpful to this conversation.

Ironically, I don't disagree with much of what you say here. It's when you make that stretch of the "house of lechem" and "bread of life" comparison that irks me. If Bethlehem meant "bearded man" you would say that applies to "him" as well. Any similarity is latched onto and pointed to as a "proof text."

Yes. We should admit that. The fact that Bethlehem means "House of Bread" (and Ephrathah means "Fruitful One" --a reference to grape vines) is not conclusive proof of any Christian or Eucharistic connection. All we can say is that 1st Century Jewish believers in Jesus saw such a connection, and this connection is part of our Christian heritage coming from a segment of 1st Century Judaism. And the connection runs very deep within Judaism in regard to the commonly-presumed priestly character of the promised Messiah, in which the name of King David's home town connects him to the priestly offering of Melchizedek in Genesis (a priest who offered bread and wine); and Melchizedek was seen as a kind of prefigurement of the Messiah in that he was the predecessor of David himself as king of Salem (Jerusalem); and David, in a mysterious way, succeeded to this "kingly priesthood" by becoming the first Jewish King of Salem (Jerusalem); and that Jesus, as David's Kingly and Messianic successor (so we Christians believe) is the ultimate fulfillment of this, as exemplified by the Sacrificial offering of Eucharistic Bread and Wine. For the first Jewish Christians, ancient rabbinical speculation that the Messiah would be both king and priest (which was considered a mysterious paradox for the Jews, since David was not a Levite, and the priesthood belonged to Levi, not Judah, from which the Messiah would come) was brought to light in this overall understanding of Jesus and His Kingly identity via Bethlehem. But, again, this just represents the view and the belief of some 1st Century Jews (the first Christians). It cannot "prove" our belief epistemologically to a Jew who does not believe this. But, what Paul must admit is that it is a viable and potentially valid understanding within the context of ancient Judaism. We should at least be able to agree on that.

It's a ridiculous analogy John and I don't buy it for a second. Micah 5:2(1) states that the Messiah's ancestors originate from Bethlehem....NOT WHERE THE MESSIAH HIMSELF WILL BE BORN. You said: "Since Micah refers to "Bethlehem Ephrathah, and not just Bethlehem, and clans, a fair case can be made that Micah was also referring to the line of descent.

Again, Paul is essentially correct. The primary meaning of Micah's passage is that the Messiah would come from the house of Jesse (David's paternal line), with its seat in and around Bethlehem. But, with that said, an additional truth must also be appreciated; for the Christian interpretation of Micah is connected intimately to this truth --namely, that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (and, also, implicitly the Gospel of John in 7:42) identify Bethlehem as the place of Jesus' birth in order to prove to their non-Christian Jewish opponents that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah. The very fact that the earliest Christians felt the need to do this screams the fact that 1st Century Jews commonly took Micah 5 to mean that the Messiah would literally be born in or around Bethlehem itself. Indeed, many liberal scholars assume that the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke were made up to make Jesus' Messiahship more convincing. :-) But, whether they were made up or not (I myself of course believe that they bear witness to historical reality) the fact remains that there would be no reason to place Jesus' birth at Bethlehem if contemporary Jews did not read Micah with the understanding that the Messiah would literally be born there. For this is all that the New Testament witness is speaking to. Indeed, in John 7:42, the Jews who deny Jesus are made to say:

"Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will be of David's family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"

Now, granting that this is a Christian source (and so of course biased), one still needs to admit that the question (which is rhetorical and never answered in John's Gospel, because it obviously did not require an answer for John's audience) testifies to the contemporary historical reality viz. the non-Christian Jewish rejection of Jesus. Indeed, if you notice, John 7:42 presents both the primary and historically intended meaning of Micah 5 (that the Messiah would come from David's family) as well as the common contemporary Jewish understanding of the passage, which was that the Messiah would not only come from David's family, but literally from Bethlehem itself. Now, one can always say that the ancient Jews who took this common understanding from Micah were wrong --that they did not read the text carefully or consider what Micah actually said. But, whether they were mistaken or not, one cannot deny that this was the common understanding of ancient, non-Christian Jews at the time --so much so that the New Testament took special care to associate Jesus' birth with Bethlehem in order to convince these Jews that Jesus is, in fact, the promised Messiah..

So, both interpretations can be argued fairly."A fair case cannot be made because where you err here is with the CONTEXT of Micah 5:2(1). What does it specifically say? 5:1. "And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah-you should have been the lowest of the CLANS of Judah..." I totally agree that Bethlehem Ephrathah can either refer to the city of Bethlehem or a CLAN from Bethlehem and I made that point to you in a previous email. This verse specifically addresses a CLAN. NOT THE CITY. PAY ATTENTION TO THE CONTEXT.

We do acknowledge the context. And John 7:42 certainly does (see above). But, Paul himself needs to pay attention to our common, Jewish historical experience; and what cannot be denied is that 1st Century Jews commonly interpreted Micah 5 to mean that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem itself. This was the implicit understanding among Paul's ancient Jewish ancestors. So, if he wishes to reject that implicit understanding, he must point to his source of authority for doing so. If he disputes how ancient Jews commonly understood and interpreted Micah 5, then he is the one rejecting ancient Jewish Tradition, not us.

But, even if we were to grant Paul's argument. Even if we were to say that there is nothing in Micah (implicit or otherwise) which connects the Messiah's literal birthplace with Bethlehem, the fact still remains that Micah says that the Messiah will come from the clan of David, and Jesus is from that clan. So, the primary interpretation of Micah's expression does not disqualify Jesus, but supports His Messianic candidacy. So, if the liberal-modernists are right and Jesus was not really born in Bethlehem at all, but up north in Nazareth, He could still be the Messiah because He comes from the House of David, both biologically through His mother and legally through his foster father St. Joseph. So, Paul's primary interpretation still (though not exclusively) supports the Christian view; and if Paul's Jewish ancestors interpreted Micah 5 as he does (which they apparently did not), the first Christians could have made the same argument that I am making right now --that is, they could have appealed to the primary interpretation of Micah, and said, "Sure. Jesus was born in Nazareth (or Jericho, or Shechem, or Hebron, or Joppa), but he was born into the clan of David, and so still fulfills the prophecy of Micah." This argument would have worked just as well, IF contemporary Jews did not believe that the Messiah had to literally be born in Bethlehem, and IF Jesus was not literally born there. But, as we can see from the historical record, such an argument was never made, nor did it need to be made.

And, this realization brings us to the real point, and the very nature of why ancient Jews read Micah to mean that the Messiah would literally be born in Bethlehem itself. For, while Paul is correct, and all that Micah is really saying is that the Messiah would come from the tribe and clan of David, how on earth would this prophecy bear any significance at all in a situation in which families from the House of David were scattered all over the place??? There were sons of David in Judea, in the Galilee, and in Babylon, and all throughout the Jewish Diaspora. So, if the Messiah could come from any of these families, how would one ever know the true Messiah when He appears??? Or, more to the point, how could the prophecy of Micah be significant in the face of the dispersion or world Jewry??? The answer (as the ancient rabbis obviously concluded) was that Micah's prophecy has a geographic connection. Yes, the Messiah would come from the tribe and family of David; but we will know when He appears because He will come from the very seat of that tribe and clan --from Bethlehem itself. For only that sign would serve to fulfill the intention of Micah's prophecy. This was clearly the mindset and understanding of 1st Century Judaism; and it is the mindset and understanding which the Christian Gospels are addressing. If Paul is reasonable and honest, he simply must admit this fact.

So your "bread of life" proof falls flat and does not apply.

Right. Not on it's own and independent from deeper substance. Paul is correct about that. It only works as we look deeper. This is the sort of thing which, sadly, Paul has not be exposed to.

Your analogy reminds me of a conversation I had with a christian who said that since the blood on the doorposts dripped from the horizontal part of the door way in a vertical fashion it formed the shape of the cross foreshadowing christ as the Pascal lamb. I almost fell out of my chair.

Well, again ... Even if that were true, it is certainly not "proof" of anything, and we should not expect such things to convince an educated Jew. Such Fundamentalist musings are not helpful.

Your "bread of life-house of bread" scenario is almost as amusing.

Only because it has not be explained correctly or deeply enough, and because Paul is (justifiably) "turned off" by Fundamentalist proof-texting.

I'm amazed at the lengths taken with our Hebrew text to make the case for "him." On top of all this, the word Messiah means "ANOINTED ONE." "He" was never anointed, hence he could not be the Messiah among several other reasons.

Here, Paul is clearly ignorant of Christian theology, and especially the ancient Catholic (read: very Jewish) understanding of it. Like David before Him at the hands of the prophet Samuel, Jesus was anointed at the time of His Baptism in the Jordan at the hands of John the Baptist, who we believe was the last prophet of the Old Testament. Anointing with oil under the Law was, and is, a sign of Spiritual anointing from God. Jesus' anointing was this kind of anointing, when the Holy Spirit (Ruach ha-Kadosh) came down upon Him at the time of His Baptism. The Traditional and Apostolic understanding of this event runs like this: The Baptism of John the Baptist was not Christian Sacramental Baptism. Rather, it was a Baptism of repentance within the context of Judaism --that is, it was the mikveh ritual of conversion to Judaism, still practiced by Orthodox Jews today. As I'm sure Paul knows, when a Gentile wishes to convert to Orthodox Judaism, the Gentile is circumcised (if he is not circumcised already); and, in addition to this, the rabbis will shave his head and cut his fingernails and toenails as short as possible, so that the convert looks like a newborn baby. The convert will then be immersed completely in a mikveh (ritual bath), and when he comes up again out of the water, he is recognized to be "re-born" as a Jew --that is, pledged to the Mosaic Covenant. This is what John the Baptist was doing in the Jordan River at the spot where Joshua first led the Israelites into the Promised Land by passing through the river (an image of birth). The only amazing difference is that St. John was performing the ritual of conversion, not on Gentiles, but on Jews! In doing this, what St. John was saying is that all Jews have failed to live by the Covenant --that all have broken faith with the Lord (and are like Gentiles because of it), and they need to repent of this and come back to the Mosaic Covenant and live by it faithfully in preparation for the appearance of the Messiah. Now, as John was preaching this message to Israel, Jesus appears and asks to be Baptized --that is, Jesus offers to submit Himself to a Baptism of repentance for sin. The only problem with this (so we believe) is that Jesus was totally without sin: the Word of God Incarnate, and so the very Personification of the Torah. Thus, His submission to a Baptism of repentance was done to express solidarity with the rest of (sinful) Israel and all mankind. For, though He Himself was sinless, Jesus came to stand with sinners and eventually do die for them. And, so, when this Son of David Who is a Perfect Jew submits to John's Baptism of repentance for the sake of all Israel and all mankind, it was an act that was so outrageous and so disordered that the Heavens themselves were forced to open, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove (a dove symbolizing the establishment of peace between God and man, as in the days of Noah) and God spoke from Heaven and declared: "You are my beloved Son, with Whom I Am well pleased." ..."Pleased" because Jesus had embraced His Messianic destiny and received His Messianic Anointing (an Anointing of the Holy Spirit) through His free choice to associate Himself with sinners and redeem them. This is why we call Jesus "the Messiah." He was anointed, like the kings of old, through the ministry of a prophet; and His anointing was more than the symbolic application of oil; it was with the Spirit of God itself, which is what the oil of the old kingly rite merely symbolized.

I urge you to seek JEWISH sources when researching JEWISH scripture...not catholic scripture for heaven's sake.

And by what right does Paul asset that the Catholic Scriptures are not "Jewish sources"? :-) They are very Jewish. They (with the sole exception of Luke and Acts) were all written by 1st Century Jews. The problem that Paul has here (and it is a recurrent problem, unfortunately) is that he fails to appreciate the Jewish origins of the Christian Faith, and most especially that of ancient Catholic Christianity. Modern Jews do not represent the totality of ancient Jewish heritage. Rather, they represent one dominate school of ancient Judaism (the Pharisaic school ...and only a rabbinical version of that). They do not speak for the other schools or sects of Judaism which died out: the Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, and all of the sub-sects among them. Nor do they speak for the other sect of Mosaic Judaism that does survive: the Catholic Church. For, in reality, and viewed from the overall scope of history, Paul is not a generic Jew. Rather, he is a Rabbinical Jew --a religion that developed based on Pharisaic theology in the wake of the destruction of the Temple and the Levitical priesthood after A.D. 70 The religion that preceeded this is called Mosaic Judaism, and we Catholics are just as much an heir to it (if not more so ...which is what we believe) as Rabbinical Jews are.

The one any old reason that Catholicism is not readily perceived as a form of Judaism is that it extends the Covenant to Gentiles (which is and always was the true purpose of Israel) and now expresses itself through the cultural trappings of the Gentiles who represent the majority of its members. But, as a matter of substance and theology, Catholicism is profoundly Jewish and a valid expression and continuation of Mosaic Judaism, just as (and, we would argue, even more than) Rabbinical Judaism is.

So, if Paul is going to engage us properly and honestly, he needs to acknowledge our equal footing in historical and theological relationship to the Mosaic Judaism of our 1st Century forefathers. The failure to do this is sheer prejudice and bigotry, and tantamount to anti-Semitism practiced by Gentiles against Jews.

Again, John, please share these responses with Paul. The mistake he is making is that his understanding of Catholic Christianity is merely a popular understanding, not a scholarly or profound one; and no one should judge any religion based on its popular or commonly-perceived expression. Clearly, we should not treat Paul's Rabbinical Jewish faith this way ...which is how he (justifiably) feels he is being treated when he is presented with mere proof texts that insult his (largely correct) understanding of Scripture, and with no theological or historical substance to contextualize our claims or back them up. But, he should not treat the Catholic Faith this way either (e.g. his presumption that Jesus was never anointed) ; for if we do this, we are merely wasting each other's time and energy and talking past each other. Unlike Fundamentalist Protestantism, both Rabbinical Judaism and Catholic Christianity have very ancient, deep, and rich intellectual traditions. We make a grave mistake (and actually sin against God and His revelation) when we underestimate each other this way. God is at work here. We should show reverence, awe, and respect for the things of God as they have been handed down in our two parallel Covenantal Traditions.

Mark Bonocore
The Catholic Legate
November 16, 2007

(Source: http://catholic-legate.com/ - Used With Permission)

 

Email Exchange with the Toward Jerusalem Council II

Original Message-----

From:
tjcii@webhost01.g2web.com [mailto:tjcii@webhost01.g2web.com] On
Behalf Of
free32@gmx.de
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 12:38 PM
To:
comments@tjcii.org
Subject: Message From TJCII Contact Form
first_name: Robert
last_name: Gollwitzer

comment:

Hi,how come so many Messianic Jews are very anti-catholic at times? The "Toward Jerusalem Council" seems to be the big exception, but in almost all the other writings I find attacks against the Catholics.
I am a Catholic and I do support the TJC. I put links and articles on my Catholic homepage (
www.katholisch-leben.org) - both in German and English and will continue to do so.

Sometimes I really don't understand that especially we Germans have such a big problems evangelizing among Jews. Jesus and the first apostles preached in synagogues, so it can't be that wrong!

Personally, I have lived for years with Israelis and speak Hebrew a little bit. I have always love Israel and as a Catholic I very much believe that it is not possible to fully understand Christianity and the New Testament without understanding the Jewish background.

Anyway - keep up the good work!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from Munich, Germany!

Kol tuv, chaverim!

Robert

Robert Gollwitzer
Ridlerstr. 2180339
Munich
Germany



 
------------------------------------------------




Dear Robert,



Thank you for your message of December 18.  First of all, we are glad that you have found the forum of TJC II to be informative and encouraging enough to pass on to others.  We are also grateful for your questions, as this helps us to discern the needs that we must address.  Your questions are good ones, and we will do our best to give you some insight into this centuries old problem.
 
Yes, Jesus preached in synagogues because He was a Jew, as were all the apostles.  He came to His own people first with the message of redemption, in fulfillment of the Scriptures given to and through Moses and the Prophets, all of whom were, of course, Jews.  He told the Samaritan woman at the well that "Salvation is from the Jews".  (John 4:22b).  As we read this entire encounter, we are reminded that the Jews had "no dealings with Samaritans" (4:9b).  As a Catholic, you have the advantage of understanding this conflict between Jews and Samaritans better than most Protestants, from the books of the Maccabees.  The extreme persecution of the Jews of that period under the Seleucids reached its peak only about 150 years before Jesus walked the earth.  Those wounds remained deep in the Jewish heart, and the Samaritans had aided the persecutors.  Thus the Jews had no dealings with them many years later.
 
This is just a snapshot into the heart of the modern Jew who has basically learned to distrust the church at large, because we too have been his persecutors.  The ancient church councils, as well as those of the middle ages, issued edicts that resulted in serious persecution of the Jewish people over 1600 years.  The Catholic church, being so prominent in the west, the Orthodox in the east, still bear the burden of those edicts.  The Protestants  carried the anti-semitic stance of Martin Luther's later years into their circles as well.  
 
You may or may not be aware of the terms "supersessionism" or "replacement theology".  Basically, this has been the position of the mainline church over the centuries, and it is the root of the persecutions.  It teaches that God has rejected the Jews for their rejection of Jesus.  The church is now "the new Israel", and has inherited the promises given to Israel; having replaced the covenant Jewish people. This false teaching flies in the face of the whole counsel of Scripture, but nonetheless remains with us.  TJC II is committed to expose it for what it is, but we have a long way to go.
 
So Messianic Jews, in their effort to live in their communities, and to reach their people with the message of Yeshua as Redeemer and Lord, not only have the task of Jesus Himself in reaching His people when He walked among them, they also become associated with the church at large which persecuted Jews. Messianic Jews struggle with the fact that they are considered traitors to their people because of the persecutions of the Jewish people in His name.  We have found that as they mature in their faith, the Lord enables them to renounce this anti-church/anti-Catholic stance, but it takes time.   Many within the Catholic church have worked to correct these perceptions, but just as with the Jews and the Samaritans, those old wounds die hard.
 
So Robert, our advice to you is to listen to and to love the Jews---believers and non-believers in Jesus.  Acknowledge that their perceptions of not only Catholics, but Christianity at large have often been true.  Historically, there is really no dispute about that.  Then, you can begin to prayerfully get to the heart of the Jewish need, which is to know their Messiah.  The woman at the well got the message, just as many Jewish people are coming to the truth in our generation.
 
May the Lord bless you in your service to Him.  Please let us know if we can be of further help.
 

Arlene Stucki
North American Committee
Toward Jerusalem Council II


Toward Jerusalem Council II | Repentance and Reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles in Messiah


6304 Belt Line Road | Dallas, TX 75254 | Tel 972.726.9964 | Fax 972.386.4770 | www.tjcii.org

Meir Panim 2009

Why does it seem that Christianity's success seems to be dependent upon making Jews and Judaism a failure? The more I read the more I see an inferiority complex.

Judaism was not a failure. It lead to Christ who was the 'end' of the Mosaic Law. (I am equivocating on the word 'end' because it can mean either the terminus or the goal of the Law.)

The only Jewish failure was that in the 1st Century the Jewish leadership did not accept their Meshiach.

Christianity succeeded Judaism as the religion of the promise to Abraham. When the Jews continued to practice the Temple cultus after it had been rendered obsolete by the sacrifice of the cross, God gave them time to repent of this. They failed to do so and so God OBJECTIVELY put an end to it.

Because of the hermeneutic keys given to us by the NT, we Christians are better able to understand the OT prophecies which for Jews remain mysterious:

Mal 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name [shall be] great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense [shall be] offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name [shall be] great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. [THIS WAS SEEN BY THE CHURCH FATHERS AS A FORESHADOWING OF THE MASS BEING CELEBRATED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.]

Mal 3:1 "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. [THIS IS A PROPHECY OF THE COMING OF CHRIST AND HIS SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS.]

Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. [THIS PREDICTS THAT A NEW COVENANT WILL BE FORMED WHICH WILL BE UNIVERSAL AND EVENTUALLY CONVERT THE WHOLE WORLD TO WORSHIP HASHEM SO THAT NO FURTHER MISSIONARY WORK WILL BE NECESSARY.]

Isa 66:16 For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. 17 "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating swine's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, says the LORD. 18 "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. 22 "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain. 23 From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD. [THIS PROPHECY SAYS THAT MEN OF ALL NATIONS WILL BE TAUGHT THE WAYS OF HASHEM AND SHALL GIVE UP ABOMINABLE PRACTICES. THEN ALL MEN WILL BE JUDGED BY GOD, NOT JUST THE JEWS. FURTHERMORE IT STATES THAT SOME NON-JEWS WILL BECOME 'PRIESTS AND LEVITES'. THIS IS FULFILLED IN THE CHRISTIAN PRIESTHOOD AND DIACONATE.]

I know that Jews have their own interpretations of these passages, but the Christian interpretations work nicely and several of these prophecies are echoed in the NT writings themselves.

So don't look at Judaism as a failure. It is an opportunity. As St. Paul taught:

Rom 11:1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Eli'jah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have demolished thy altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." 4 But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Ba'al." 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day." 9 And David says, "Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution for them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs for ever." 11 So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Rom 13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

HaShem is not finished with the Jews yet. He has marvelous plans in store for them in the future.

Art Sippo
The Catholic Legate

(Source: http://catholic-legate.com/)

 

Catholics for Israel

About Catholics for Israel
 
We are a Catholic apostolate, faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, of Jewish and Gentile Catholics from Israel and from the nations.
In accordance with the teachings of the Church, we believe that God’s plan of salvation awaits the “Final Marriage” of Israel and the Church, where:


- Gentile Christians will repent for past acts of Christian anti-Semitism and come to a greater appreciation and love of their Jewish roots; (CCC 528)

- the Jewish people will come to a historic reconciliation with Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah of Israel and Son of God – yet without forsaking their Jewish identity, culture, and heritage; (CCC 674)

- both will be united through God’s “Ark of Salvation,” the Catholic Church. (CCC 845)


Towards this end we wish to: 


- foster a love for the Jewish people and for Israel by reflecting on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and the “mystery of Israel” in God’s plan of salvation. This includes combating anti-Semitism (often disguised as anti-Zionism) and the errors of replacement theology and dual-covenant theology. (CCC 839)
- foster a greater understanding and love for Jesus, “light to the nations and glory of Israel” – Messiah of Israel, Savior and Son of God. (CCC 430-455)
- teach the biblical and Jewish roots of the Catholic faith in a way that highlights the ties between Israel and the Church, and how the Church extends into time the work of Jesus the Messiah. God's election of Israel is irrevocable; yet at the same time the Catholic Church is “the world reconciled” and the new people of God “where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation.” (CCC 845)


What is Replacement Theology?


Replacement theology (or supersessionism) is the idea that the Christian Church has "replaced" Israel (or the Jewish people) in God's plan of salvation as His chosen people.  In its simplest expression, replacement theology could be expressed as follows:  
The Jews have rejected Christ; therefore God has rejected the Jews and the Church is now the 'New Israel.'
In the words of Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.):
We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.


Or, as someone once wrote to us:


We Catholics ARE the new Israel.  Christ’s Church fulfills all the prophecies and makes the continuation of the old Israel historically out of date.  The Church IS the Kingdom of God.  Jews are the most tragic people in the world in that “they missed the time of their visitation.

Thus the main tenets of replacement theology are:


The Jews were formerly God's chosen people at the time of the Old Testament until the coming of Christ, but because they did not accept Jesus as Messiah of Israel, God then rejected them and formed a new people instead of them - the Church.  


Jews, therefore, are no longer the chosen people, and God has no future plan or calling for the nation of Israel.  The only role left for the Jewish people is to convert to Christianity and be incorporated into the Church. 


The promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, the Jews are still subject to the curses found in the Bible, as a result of their rejection of Christ.  Consequently, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are "spiritualized" or "allegorized" into promises of God's blessing for the Church.


We have discussed elsewhere the Scriptural basis for God's election and covenant with Israel.  The present article is limited to the question as to whether God's election of Israel as His chosen people remains valid today or whether it has been abrogated by the New Testament.  Keep in mind that we are not talking here about whether the Mosaic Covenant and observance of the Torah are still binding for Jews (See section on Torah and Gospel), or whether Jews in their present state are in a covenant with God that can be considered "salvific" (see: What is Dual-Covenant Theology?).  Here we merely touch upon the issue of Israel's election and their continued role in God's plan of salvation.


What Scriptures are commonly quoted to support Replacement Theology?


Advocates of replacement theology often present the following Scriptures to argue that God has terminated his covenant with the Jews:
The nation of Israel was only the seed of the future Church, which would arise and incorporate people of all nations (Mal. 1:11): "For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place, incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure offering for My Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts."


Rebuttal: This is great, and shows that the Jewish people and Israel fulfilled one of their callings to be "a light to the nations," so that God's Word has gone around the world. But it does not suggest God's dealing with Israel was negated because His Name spread around the world.


Jesus taught that the Jews would lose their spiritual privileges, and be replaced by another people: "Therefore I am saying to you, 'The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.'" (Matt. 21:43)


Rebuttal: In this passage, Jesus was talking about the priests and Pharisees, who failed as leaders of the people. This passage is not talking about the Jewish people or nation of Israel. 
A true Jew is anyone born of the Spirit, whether he is Gentile or Jewish: "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Rom 2:28-29)


Rebuttal: This argument does not support the notion that the Church replaced Israel. Rather, it simply reinforces what had been said throughout the Hebrew Scriptures [the Old Testament], that outward circumcision is not enough to be justified before God but that circumcision of the heart is also necessary.


The promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham was only a "starter." The real Promised Land is the whole world, which the Church will inherit. "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom 4:13).


Rebuttal: Where does this verse exclude Abraham and His natural prodigy, the Jews? It simply says that through the law, they would not inherit the world, but this would be acquired through faith. This is also true of the Church.


"True Israelites" are not the physical descendants of Abraham ("children of the flesh") but rather believers in Christ ("children of the promise"): "For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham's children are his true descendants; but 'It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.' This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants" (Rom 9:6-8).


Rebuttal: Paul is not transferring the meaning of Israel to mean the Church or implying that the Church replaces Israel.  He is merely restricting the use of Israel to those who believe in the promises. In other words, it is not enough to be a physical descendant of Abraham to be a true Israelite; one must also have faith in God's promises.  True, Paul also writes that others (Gentiles) may also be included to the promise made to Israel (cf. Rom 9:25-26)


Paul apparently abolishes the differences between Jews and non-Jews: "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:27-28). 


If this passage were literally meant to abolish the distinction between Jew and Greek, it would also have to abolish the difference between man and woman. The passage is speaking of everyone's standing before God as equals, because we are all sinners saved by God's grace and Christ's Paschal sacrifice.  But there is still a distinction in roles between Jews and Gentiles in God's economy of salvation, just as there remains clearly distinct roles between men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. 


To be a real son of Abraham is not be belong to the nation or people of Israel but to have faith in Jesus Christ.  Sonship to Abraham is seen only in spiritual, not national terms: "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal 3:29).


Rebuttal: While this is a wonderful inclusionary promise for Gentiles, this verse does not exclude the Jewish people from their original covenant, promise and blessing as the natural seed of Abraham. This verse simply joins Gentile Christians to what God had already started with Israel.


The Church is allegedly the "Israel of God": "As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, [and] upon the Israel of God" (Gal 6:16).


Some translations (e.g. RSV) omit the Greek word kai (and) that is found in the original text.  This is a serious ommission, because without the kai the verse would imply that all who "walk by the rule" - that is, all Christians - are the Israel of God.  But when the kai of the original text is preserved, the verse implies that there is a distinction between "those who walk according to the rule", the Christians, and the "Israel of God" - the remnant of natural Israel who have accepted God's promises in Christ.


The Problem with Replacement Theology

If God rejected Israel as His chosen people it would constitute a real failure on His part.  It would mean that He chose a people to be his witness to the world, but in the end He was unable to get them to accomplish his purposes.  God married Israel, but she proved to be such a problematic bride that she stretched her divine husband's patience beyond the breaking point until He could not stand her any more and divorced her, thus violating His own promise to betroth her forever:


"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD." (Hos 2:19-20)


The prophet Jeremiah compares God's covenant with Israel to the cosmic order and to the permanent natural laws of the universe.  The covenant is as firm and unshakeable as the cycle of day and night and the foundations of heaven and earth:


Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar- the LORD of hosts is his name: If this fixed order were ever to cease from my presence, says the LORD, then also the offspring of Israel would cease to be a nation before me forever. Thus says the LORD: If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will reject all the offspring of Israel because of all they have done, says the LORD. (Jer. 31:35-37)


A major practical problem with replacement theology is the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been rejected and condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the remarkable survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?  Can the return of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers, in accordance with the writings of many of the prophets, be a mere "accident of history"?  Can the miraculous rebirth of Israel, the nation that is at the center of salvation history in every page of the Bible, be but the result of a clever human enterprise that has nothing to do with God's plan of salvation?


What do the New Testament and the Catholic Church say about Replacement Theology?


The Covenant with Israel is indeed fulfilled in the New Covenant, but this does not mean that the former is abolished or dissolved.  The Church is indeed the "New Israel" (LG 9), but this does not imply that Israel "in the flesh" has been dispossessed of their divine election and promises.  The New Testament never claims that Israel's special role should come to an end after the coming of Christ.  On the contrary, it affirms the permanent validity of their covenant with God.  Neither do we find a confusion of identity between Israel and the Church in the New Testament; the two remain distinct although closely related.


There are 77 references to Israel in the NT and none of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words "the Church," where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and incomprehensible, e.g., Rom. 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved." If you put "the Church" where Israel is mentioned, then it is redundant. The Church is the body of saved believers, so how could Paul's prayer be for the Church to be saved?


Jesus himself said that he had not come to abolish the Torah and the prophets, which are the heart of God's covenant with Israel:


Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Mat 5:17-18)


Moreover, the Church affirms the permanent validity of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) as source of Divine Revelation:


The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked. (CCC 121)
Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism). (CCC 123)


This means that the promises and end-time prophecies to Israel in the Old Testament, many of which have never been fulfilled, cannot be easily dismissed.  Particularly remarkable are those which speak of the return of the House of Jacob to their land (Israel) and its restoration, words that have largely been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past century (See Isa. 11:11-12;  43:5-6; 49:22-23; Isa. 60:9-11; Jer. 16:14-16; Eze 35:1; 36; 37:1-14).


The magisterial documents of the Church, following St. Paul, confirm that even after the Incarnation, Israel and the Jewish people somehow remain the root and sustenance of the Church.  The Vatican II declaration Nostra Aetate, echoing chapter 11 of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, declares that the Church "draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree [Israel] onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles."  Paul's warning to the Gentile Church in the illustration of the olive tree (Rom. 11:17-24) is remarkably prophetic: Though natural branches (Jews) were broken off the tree of Israel because of their unbelief, and wild branches (Gentiles) were grafted in their place, he warns the Gentiles not to become proud or arrogant towards their roots, lest they too be cut off:


Do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you (Rom 11:18).


Moreover, God has the power to graft the natural branches of Israel back into their own olive tree. In light of the Church's contemptuous treatment of the Jews over the greater part of Christian history, Paul's warning went unheeded. Indeed, his warning was prophetic: The arrogance of the Christian nations towards the Jewish people throughout the ages - in some circles even persisting to our own day - shows to what extent they had forgotten and despised the root that was meant to support them.


Nostra Aetate also reminds us of Paul's words about his Jewish kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5).  The declaration continues:


As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation, nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading. Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues (NA 4; cf. Rom 11:28-29)


Paul could not be clearer: Despite Israel's unbelief, God's gifts and calling to them are "irrevocable."  The declaration also unequivocally opposes attributing guilt to the Jews for the death of Christ or claiming that God has somehow rejected them because of their non-acceptance of Jesus:


True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures."  (NA 4)


Finally, consider this beautiful paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which affirms that Gentiles can discover Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, "only by turning towards the Jews":

The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East... In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that "the full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs", and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made "worthy of the heritage of Israel") (CCC 528).


Conclusion


In conclusion, replacement theology or supersessionism is a theological error that has no foundation in the New Testament or teachings of the Church.  Even though this error became widespread and was taught by many influencial Christians beginning with the Church Fathers, it was never an official doctrine of the Catholic Church.  
On the other hand, the fact that God's election of Israel remains valid does not mean that His covenant with them is "salvific," or that they can be fully justified before God while they continue to reject the Gospel.  This opposite error, called dual-covenant theology, is treated in another article.

Sources:

Supercessionism (Wikipedia)
The Error of Replacement Theology (Clarence Wagner, Bridges for Peace)

 



What is Dual-Covenant Theology?


In another article we looked at the theological error of replacement theology, which claims that God has rejected the Jews as His chosen people and replaced Israel by the Church.  We saw that this theory cannot be reconciled with the New Testament and with the teachings of the Church, which state that God's election of Israel and His covenant with the Jewish people are irrevocable and permanent. 


Today, another theological error is causing much confusion in the Church, because it is held by not a few influential people.  This error is called "dual-covenant theology."  Dual-covenant theology teaches that since God's covenant with the Jews is still valid for them, they don't need the New Covenant to be saved.  Jews could go to Heaven simply by keeping the Law of Moses, because of the "everlasting covenant" between Abraham and God (Gen 17:13), whereas Gentiles (those who are not Jews) must convert to Christianity to be saved.  In other words, Jews have their own way to God, the Old Covenant, and the Christians theirs, the New Covenant.   Dual-covenant theology is thus the opposite error of replacement theology.  Whereas replacement theology claims that God's election, covenant and promises to Israel are superceded and abolished, and the only role left for Jews is to convert to Christianity and enter the Church, dual-covenant theology claims on the contrary that since God's covenant with the Jews is still valid, it is totally sufficient for them, and therefore they don't need Jesus or the Church at all to be saved.


This idea is very attractive to Jews who don't believe in Jesus (and, tragically, even to many Catholics) because it does away with Jesus' commandment to his disciples that they should share the Gospel with everyone, Jews and Gentiles.  But the problem with the dual-covenant theology is that it completely contradicts the writings of the New Testament and teachings of the Church.  


Quite obviously, the New Testament claims that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel that God promised to the Jewish people through Moses and the prophets (see Messianic Prophecies*, The Messiah in the Tanakh and Who Do You Say I Am?*): 


Jesus' own mission was directed exclusively to the Jews.  He said "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Mt 15:24) 
The proclamation of the early Church was also exclusively directed to the Jews. (cf. Acts 2-4; 7)
The apostle Paul wrote: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom 1:16)
Since God's covenant with Israel is still valid, could Jews then be saved by simply observing the Mosaic Law - the Torah?  The New Testament and the Catholic Church answer a categoric "no" to this question. Although the Torah is God-given and good, and it can certainly be meritorious for Jews to observe its commandments in a spirit of devotion to God, Divine Revelation tells us that Torah observance alone is not sufficient for salvation:


"Nor is there salvation in any other [than Christ], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ… for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." (Gal 2:16)
"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Gal 2:21)
"Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also." (1 Jn 2:23)
"The Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door." (CCC 846)
"Jesus affirms that ‘there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer for all." (Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church I. 7, Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, 1985)


Even the declaration Nostra Aetate in its section on the Jewish people, where it affirms the permanence of God's covenant with Israel, still states that it is "the burden of the Church's preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows"  (NA 4)


The fact that Judaism as it is practised today is insufficient for salvation should be evident to anyone who reads the Scriptures.  In the Old Testament, forgiveness was attained through the offering of animal sacrifices and the shedding of their blood in atonement for sins (cf. Lev 17:11).  In the New Testament, Jesus' Paschal Sacrifice and the shedding of His blood universally atoned for the sins of all mankind.  Through baptism, we take part in the Messiah's death and resurrection, our sins are washed away, and we receive the gift of God's supernatural, divine life.  The Messiah continues to impart to us this supernatural life through the other sacraments that He instituted, and most especially in the Eucharist where we partake of His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  For sure, the observance of the mitzvoth (the commandments) - as meritorious as it may be  - can only fall way short of this great gift of supernatural grace, and even more so because Judaism has been deprived of a Temple and sacrifices since shortly after the coming of the Messiah.


In summary, though God's election of Israel is indeed irrevocable and permanent, Jews cannot be considered "saved" or justified before God through the Mosaic covenant.  The NT and teachings of the Church make it clear that salvation can only be found in Yeshua the Messiah of Israel.  This does not mean, however, that Jews are automatically condemned to hell if they do not explicitly and consciously accept Christ, for the Church also teaches that those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church but seek God with a sincere heart and try to do His will to the best of their ability can be saved.  Nonetheless, the fullness of the means of salvation can be found only in Jesus the Messiah and in the Church He founded (CCC 846-47).


Let us close with the words of a Catholic Jew, Roy Schoeman, on the subject of Jews, Jesus, and the Catholic evangelization of Jews:
The greatest misconception that Catholics hold about Jews is the terrible, pernicious one that somehow Jews don’t need Jesus! It is natural that Jews should hold this view – to them Jesus was, after all, a false Messiah who indirectly caused incalculable disaster to befall Jews – but it is tragic that, in the interest of "dialogue" and a false ecumenism, this view is sometimes voiced even by Catholics, and even by Catholics who believe that they are representing the Church...What could be more anti-Semitic than refusing to share the Gospel, the Good News, the joy and fulfillment and salvation brought by the Jewish Messiah with the Jews themselves, through whom He first came?   (Judaism Fulfilled, Interview of IgnatiusInsight.com with Roy Schoeman)
 
(www.israelcatholic.com)

 

Messianic Judaism - Journey to Bethlehem

Dear Robert,

A most blessed Christmas to you from Catholics for Israel!

On Christmas day, I had the honor of attending Mass in the grotto at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, at the traditional place where the King of the Jews was humbly born, forsaking His eternal heavenly glory to share in our humanity for the sake of our salvation. It was a privilege (and a challenge) to see beyond the hustle and bustle of the thousands of pilgrims streaming into the church and to reflect on the coming of the Prince of Peace into a restless world that still needs peace so desperately today.

Speaking of the King of the Jews, today I would like to tell you about one of the most interesting religious movements today: this is the phenomenon of Messianic Judaism.  What you will read below is an edited extract of an article that I wrote a few years ago (2003) on this topic.  I wrote this as a former "insider," having worked with Messianic congregations in Israel for a number of years, including a time when I led the music team of a congregation in Tel Aviv before my return to the Catholic Church in 2002. (For the original article with sources and references, see Israel, A Prophetic Sign? Part III: Messianic Judaism and Christian Zionism; for my complete testimony see A Prodigal Son Returns Home).  

I will begin today with a brief introduction to the Messianic movement (especially the one in Israel, with which I am the most familiar) followed by a primer in Messianic Jewish theology and faith.  I will continue this overview in our next newsletter, in which I will present some features of Messianic congregations and worship, Messianic culture and life in Israel, as well as insights into Messianic evangelism and the opposition it faces from the orthodox Jewish establishment.  Next time I will also propose a Catholic response to Messianic Judaism.
The Messianic Movement Today

Against all odds, in the aftermath of the horrors of the Holocaust, the twentieth century has witnessed the miraculous re-birth of the state of Israel and the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland.  Alongside the beginnings of Zionism in the mid-nineteenth century also came a renaissance of Hebrew Christianity which eventually developed into what is now probably the greatest movement of Jewish believers in Jesus since the first century of the Church: Messianic Judaism.  Messianic Jews are Jews who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel and Son of God.  They believe in the New Testament yet generally insist that by coming to faith in the Messiah they have not "changed their religion" and become Christians but rather continue to be Jews, just like Jesus and his disciples always remained Jews.  In the past few decades, the Messianic Jewish movement has grown from a marginal fringe movement within Christianity to a self-sustaining worldwide phenomenon, with its own unique culture and life.

Messianic JewToday, there are hundreds of Messianic congregations spread out across the globe.  To these are added all sorts of Messianic ministries: some have an evangelistic focus (such as Jews for Jesus), others exist to support and pray for Israel, and others wish to build bridges with Christians of the nations and foster among them an awareness and appreciation of Israel.  There is a growing profusion of academic and theological institutions, and schools of formation and discipleship, either ran by Messianic Jews or by Gentile Christians who have "a heart for Israel and the Jewish people".  An ever-increasing abundance of resources are also available online, including teaching materials, books, music, Judaica articles and gifts from Israel.  Several Messianic Newspapers in different languages now exist, as well as radio and television stations.  The Messianic community even now has a few dating sites of its own.

How many Messianic Jews are there?  Though it is difficult to accurately estimate their number, the number of Messianic Jews in the United States is said to be at least in the tens of thousands, with some suggesting that the number may be as high as 100,000. Messianic synagogues springing up in almost every major city across the country are representative of the rapid growth of the movement.

Messianic Judaism in Israel

At the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 there were but a handful of Israeli Jews who believed that Jesus is the Messiah, all of whom had to keep the strictest secrecy about their faith or else be shunned by the mainstream Israeli society.  By the early 1960s there were probably still no more than 200 Messianic Jews in the land, many of whom were Holocaust survivors.  By the 1970s these numbers had increased to some 350-450 adults, and by the 80s there were some 1,000-2,000 Messianic Jews in Israel.  The movement experienced substantial growth in the 1990s.  By the turn of the millennium, leaders of the movement estimated that there were between 5,000 and 7,000 Messianic Believers scattered in some 80 congregations and house fellowships throughout the land of Israel. With many of them having large families, today Israel counts probably some 10,000 to 15,000 believers.  These figures include Gentiles either married to Jewish believers or who feel a certain solidarity with the movement.  Since Israel is a country of immigrants, a large percentage of its Messianic believers were born in other countries, with a sizeable proportion coming from the former Soviet Union.

There are countless stories of Israeli Jews who have had a personal experience of faith unexplainable apart from the fact that divine grace was at work in lifting the veil off their eyes and in disclosing to them the Messiah of Israel.  Many of them found the Messiah while traveling abroad, less constrained while away from the pressures of Israeli society.  One Israeli pastor relates how Jesus personally appeared to him.  Another young man I know found the Lord in a U.S. prison while he was awaiting deportation.  Many came to faith thanks to the loving witness of Gentile Christians, but more and more have been challenged by their own Jewish brethren to examine the claims of the Messiahship of Jesus in light of the Hebrew Scriptures.

A Primer in Messianic Theology and Faith

With the origins of the Messianic Movement deeply intertwined with British and American Protestantism, and with the massive support its receives from Evangelical churches, it is hardly surprising that Messianic theology is essentially Protestant in nature, faith, and theology, though many believers eager to affirm their identity as Jews (and eager to dissociate themselves from all Christian denominalism) would attempt to deny this.

Messianic Jews see themselves first and foremost as Jews who do not wish to renounce their Jewish identity and culture in expressing their faith in the Messiah of Israel.  For this reason, the very term "Christian" is shunned, since for the average Israeli it is associated with a "Gentile religion" believed to be responsible for persecuting the Jews for almost as long as it has existed.  Interestingly, in the Hebrew language the term "Messianic Jew" is quite legitimate: wheras the usual Hebrew word for "Christian," Notzri, literally means "Nazarene," the term Meshichi (Messianic = "follower of the anointed one") used by Messianic Jews is an exact translation of the English "Christian."  Thus the question of whether to use "Messianic" or "Christian" for a Jewish follower of Christ vanishes in the Hebrew language since both words are synonymous.  Another term commonly used among Messianic Jews to designate themselves is the generic term "believer."

This is far from being the only adaptation of language found among Messianic Jews.  The newcomer to the movement will find many common Christian words conspicuously absent from the Messianic vocabulary.  Thus an assembly of believers is not a "church" (associated with anti-Semitism and the assimilation of Jews) but rather a "congregation" (sometimes called "synagogue" in the U.S. but not in Israel).  Among English speakers the word "Christ" is never used, but rather its Hebrew equivalent "Messiah."  Jesus, of course, is called by his Hebrew name "Yeshua" - and thus "Jesus Christ" is Yeshua haMashiach.  Other traditional Christian terms are avoided whenever possible, such as "cross" (more a reminder of crusades and shed Jewish blood than of redemption) and "Trinity" (often wrongly interpreted by Jews and Messianic Jews as representative of some form of polytheism).

The terminology used to designate the Bible is also tricky.  The term "Old Testament" is almost never used (to avoid the connotation that it is now outdated and replaced by the New) but rather the Jewish term Tanakh (an acronym of Torah, Prophets and Writings).  The New Testament is the Brit Chadasha (New Covenant), and for lack of a better word in Hebrew, the entire Bible is simply known in Hebrew as "the Scriptures."  Messianic Jews use the Jewish and Protestant Old Testament that does not include the deuterocanonical books.

Though there are plenty of disagreements on doctrinal issues among Messianic pastors, the overwhelming majority are united in their unconditional acceptance of sola scriptura - the belief that the Scriptures are the final and only authority in matters of faith, independently of any authoritative tradition.  This is a sine qua non that is almost never questioned among believers and congregations.  Strangely enough, considering the desire to return to a more Jewish and biblical form of faith, it rarely occurs to Messianic believers that this Protestant belief is neither Jewish nor biblical.  Neither do many consider that perhaps the absence of a central authority in Messianic Judaism (the "magisterium," to use the Catholic term) may be at the root of unending disunity and disagreements among them.  I remember vividly my own experience when I began to question the legitimacy of the concept of sola scriptura while serving in a Messianic congregation in Tel Aviv.  Some people looked at me as if I had committed the unforgivable sin, and only a short time thereafter I was relieved of my ministerial duties.

The second Protestant pillar of sola fide (salvation by faith alone) is also generally accepted, albeit sometimes with reservations.  There is a wider range of opinions here, with some granting a certain amount of importance to the role of good works.  In the US, many messianic synagogues encourage their members to continue to abide to Jewish laws and traditions in different degrees.  Though it is stressed that this is not for the purpose of salvation (obtained through faith in the Messiah), the rationale is once again to show that a Jew who believes in Yeshua does not lose his distinct Jewish identity.  In this way he is also a better witness to unbelieving Jews.  This phenomenon is much less present in Israel where the entire population is Jewish: since there is no threat of assimilation as in the Diaspora, one feels less the imperative to affirm one's jewishness through observance of the commandments.

To what extent Messianic Jews keep the Torah is a complex issue that we can only briefly summarize here.  Most agree that they are not bound by the precepts of orthodox Judaism in force today, since these are post-biblical developments based on rabbinical oral tradition.  Thus, most Messianic Jews would not feel obligated to keep the kosher law of separating meat from dairy products, or the prohibition against driving on the Sabbath.  Also, all precepts having to do with the Temple service, the (OT) priesthood and sacrificial system are considered to have been abolished by virtue of the Messiah's atoning death on the cross.  Thus it is not considered necessary to fast on Yom Kippur to obtain atonement and forgiveness, since this has already been accomplished in Yeshua.  Some, however, will still choose to do these things in solidarity with their people and their customs.  The bottom line is that most Messianics have a very Protestant "pick and choose" approach to the commandments, observing what happens to suit them and leaving aside what doesn't.  (To be fair, one could also compare this approach to the "cafeteria Catholic" mentality).

Because of the absence of a central authority, Messianic ecclesiology is wholly Protestant.  The "Body of Messiah" is not a visible, hierarchical institution but rather the invisible union of all "true believers" - Jews and Gentiles - who may be found in any denomination.  Similarly, Messianic soteriology is typically Evangelical / Fundamentalist.  One is "saved" by "believing that Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel and Son of God," and by "receiving him in one's heart."  The axiom of "once saved, always saved" is assumed by many but not by all.  New believers are baptized, but not always in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This means, sadly, that many Messianic baptisms are in fact invalid.  On a few occasions I have witnessed baptisms that were done in the name of Jesus only. On another, bizarre occasion, the newly baptized were told to proclaim "Yeshua, you are my Lord" before plunging themselves under the water.  Most Messianic Jews are "good Baptists" in believing that Baptism (done by immersion only) is merely the outward sign of a living, adult faith, and does not have any efficacious power of its own.  Infant baptism, therefore, is not considered acceptable.  As for other sacraments, they are also viewed in the Protestant way, with the Lord's Supper generally seen as a mere memorial of the Lord's death, though there are some who hold beliefs that are closer to the Catholic position regarding a form of "Real Presence" in Communion.

The absence of authority and of a magisterium renders the lines of Messianic Judaism "orthodoxy" (an oxymoron?) difficult to delineate.  Though all agree on the authority of Scripture, the virgin birth, the reality of miracles, the atoning death of the Messiah, the bodily resurrection, and the expected return of the Lord, some at the fringes of the movement may go as far as denying the divinity of Christ and the Trinity.  

Most messianic Jews have a strong evangelistic zeal.  The imperative to share the gospel is a central component of their faith, and Jews who have encountered the forgiveness and love of Yeshua often have a burning zeal to share the gospel with their Jewish brethren so that they too may come to salvation.  Influenced by Fundamentalist theology, Messianic Jews have a strong eschatological outlook and expectation of the Lord's return that is inseparable from their belief in the return of the Jews to the land of Israel and hope for their salvation through recognition of Yeshua as their Messiah.

But enough for today.  As I mentioned above, I will continue next time on the same topic and conclude with a Catholic critique of Messianic Judaism. In the meantime, your thoughts, questions and comments are welcome.  Most especially, please pray for the full reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church that the Messiah of Israel has founded, so that they may be truly united in faith and sacraments while each preserving their distinct calling (See Pray for Us and Why Be Catholic?)

Again, a most blessed and peaceful Christmas season and New Year 2010 to you from the land of Israel.  May the King of the Jews reign ever more in our hearts as we continue our earthly journey towards meeting Him face to face.

Ariel Ben Ami
Catholics for Israel

www.israelcatholic.com



Catholic News, Opinions and Reflections from the Cradle of our Faith

Messianic Judaism (Part II)

Dear Robert,

Last month I began an introductory overview of Messianic Judaism (with a basic primer in Messianic Jewish theology and faith), based on my personal experience and observations of the movement in the last twelve years or so.  Today I would like to continue on the same topic, presenting some features of Messianic congregations and worship, Messianic culture and life in Israel, as well as insights into Messianic evangelism and the opposition it sometimes faces from the orthodox Jewish establishment.  (For the original article with sources and references, see Israel, A Prophetic Sign? Part III: Messianic Judaism and Christian Zionism; for my complete testimony see A Prodigal Son Returns Home).  

Messianic Congregations and Worship

Messianic congregations usually adopt biblical names, often focusing on a theme from the Old Testament connected to Christ.  Some of the congregations in Jerusalem include King of Kings, which has both an English-speaking assembly of mostly foreign Christian tourists and visitors to Israel, and a growing Hebrew-speaking congregation, Sukkat David ("The Tabernacle of David"), Shemen Sasson ("Oil of Gladness"), and Roeh Israel ("The Shepherd of Israel"); some congregations in Tel Aviv: Adonai Ro'i ("The Lord is my Shepherd"), Tiferet Yeshua ("The Glory of Jesus"), and Beit Immanuel ("The House of God-with-Us").  Most of these congregations are entirely or partially Hebrew-speaking, with some of them providing English and/or Russian translation for non-Hebrew speakers.

Messianic Congregations usually meet in rented buildings that bear no particular marks from the outside to avoid unnecessarily provoking the surrounding residents.  As one enters the meeting hall, one typically notices a variety of Jewish symbols, such as the menorah or Star of David, perhaps a flag of Israel and some banners with quotes from Scripture. 

Though there are variations depending on the congregation, a visitor attending a Messianic service will witness a hybrid between Jewish customs and Evangelical/non-denominational Protestant worship.  Most of the dozen or so congregations that I have attended in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv met on the Sabbath and conformed to a similar pattern: The service begins with a word of welcome, a short prayer, and sometimes lengthy announcements.  At times the Sh'ma ("Hear, O Israel," Deut. 6:4-5) is sung, followed by a time of lively praise and worship (typically from 30 to 60 minutes).  A short teaching may then be given on the Torah portion of the week that is read in synagogues.  The focal point of the service is the sermon, where the Scriptures are expounded at length (45 to 60 minutes are not unusual).  At the end of the service there may be a time of ministry and prayer accompanied by more praise and worship, followed by a time of fellowship.  A small minority of congregations (rare in Israel, more common in the US) have adopted a liturgical form of worship that is closer to the synagogue than to evangelical Christian worship, praying from the Jewish sidur (prayer book) and reading from the Torah and prophets as in the synagogues.. 

Messianic Jews generally celebrate the Jewish Feasts with great joy, though often in a very loose fashion that severely compromises the richness of the orthodox Jewish liturgy and customs.  At the root of this compromise stands again the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura ("Scripture alone").  If some custom is not explicitly commanded in Scripture (such as the blessing of the Sabbath candle-lighting or the ritual washing of hands before the blessing of the bread), then these customs are likely to be discarded. The Christian holidays, on the other hand, are barely acknowledged if not denigrated as the product of the Church's gradual loss of Jewish identity and alleged compromise with pagan customs. If the Messianic rejection of the Christian feasts and liturgy is obviously an unfortunate impoverishment and great loss, I have found their desire to keep the Jewish feasts wholly understandable: why would a Jew who finds the Messiah cease commemorating and celebrating the Exodus (Passover), the giving of the Torah (Shavuot), the rededication of the Temple (Hanukkah), or God's salvation of the Jews from their enemies (Purim)?  Yeshua (Jesus) is always integrated in one way or another to the celebrations: he is the Lamb of God and broken bread of Passover, the one who sent the Holy Spirit as fulfilment of the giving of the Law at Pentecost, and he is the light of the world who is remembered at the lighting of the candles at Hanukkah.  Personally, I have found since my return to the Catholic Church that the Jewish feasts can be easily integrated in a beautiful and enriching way to the Church's liturgical calendar. It remains to be seen whether Messianic Jews will be able to move beyond their "knee-jerk reaction" against Christianity and recognize that the universal celebration of the incarnation, birth and resurrection of the Messiah (to name but the highlights of the Christian liturgical year) belong to them too as the fulfillment (but not the abrogation!) of their own Jewish feasts.

Apart from the minority of traditionalist Messianic Jews who have adopted a more liturgical form of worship, many Messianic believers in Israel hold a definitely negative attitude against what they would call "religion," set in opposition to a "personal relationship with God" or "simple faith in Yeshua."  This is clearly another trait inherited from fundamentalist Christianity.  Many interpret Jesus' invectives against Pharisaic hypocrisy or Paul's discourses on "freedom from the law" as a criticism and rejection of all forms of religious establishment, whether traditional Christianity, Orthodox Judaism or any other organized religion, for that matter. This attitude is generally a reaction against their perception (sometimes justified, but often caricaturized) of rabbinical Judaism as a burdensome and legalistic system requiring the observance of hundreds of commandments yet leaving little space for a living, personal faith.  When secular Israeli Jews experience a personal encounter with Christ, therefore, the tendency is to throw all religious heritage overboard.  Anything that remotely smells of ritual, such as written prayers or liturgy, is looked upon with suspicion - though there are also instances of secular Jews who after coming to faith in Yeshua have developed a greater respect and appreciation of traditional Judaism.

Predictably, Catholicism does not fare too well in the eyes of Messianic Jews, and especially of those who suffer from this "anti-religious bias."  When my Messianic friends heard of my return to the Catholic Church, not a few thought that I had apostasied and left the original "pure faith" in Yeshua to go back to a "dead religion."  While many of the reasons behind this anti-Catholicism are based on ignorance and prejudice, some of their objections are understandable.  A Messianic-Catholic rapprochement is difficult because Messianic Jews have inherited two distinct sets of anti-Catholic prejudices - one from Protestantism and one from Judaism.  The objections stemming from Protestantism are the least serious and can largely be addressed with the same Catholic apologetics that are used in dialogue with Protestants concerning the usual issues of Mary and the saints, Peter and the papacy, Scripture and Tradition, justification, purgatory, statues, etc...  The objections deriving from Judaism, on the other hand, have much deeper roots and deserve a more serious treatment.  These include the history of anti-Semitism in the Church, the false teaching of "replacement theology" (unfortunately still present in the attitudes of many Catholics, though officially rejected by the Church), and the suppression of Jewish forms of expression in the Church throughout the ages that has resulted in Christianity appearing culturally very foreign to Jews in her architecture, art, music, style, language, dress, etc.  Jews interested in Catholicism, therefore, presently must overcome a major culture shock if they wish to be reconciled with and joined to the Church.  

Messianic Culture and Life in Israel

The faith of Messianic Jews in Israel is all encompassing.  Conversions are often made at a high personal cost, and because of this most believers are bold and radical in following the Lord.  In addition to their main congregational meeting on the Sabbath, during the week one can attend additional Bible studies, prayer meetings and home groups.  Several times a year believers have the opportunity to attend nation-wide conferences, either organized by local pastors or guests from abroad.  Common themes at these conferences might be, for example, the evangelization of Israel, Messianic-Jewish identity, or reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles - sometimes more specifically between Jewish and Arab believers.  Some of the most touching scenes I have seen have been meetings where Jews and Arabs united in the Messiah worshiped together, prayed for one another, and embraced each other in a powerful witness of God's love that transcends all national barriers.  I have even met a few "Zionist Arabs" - some of them ex-Muslims who formerly harbored a deep hatred of Jews, and after their conversion to Christ not only developed a love for the Jewish people but also came to believe in the ongoing validity of God's promise of the land of Israel to them.

Many Israeli Messianic pastors have an active international ministry and are frequently invited by churches in other nations to speak about their work and life in Israel.  On two occasions, I was invited to travel with a team from a Messianic congregation to Israel conferences in Toronto, Canada, and The Hague, Holland.  I was impressed by the several hundreds of Christians who attended each of these, not only to enjoy the lively Messianic music but also to hear about Israel's prophetic role, and the need for Jewish-Gentile reconciliation and restoration of Jewish identity in the Church.  Moving apologies for past ill treatment of Jews were presented by Christian pastors to Jewish believers, welcoming them and embracing them in their Jewishness into the Body of Christ.  I found these manifestations of reconciliation extremely powerful and wish there were more in the Church at large.

Evangelism

I have also had the privilege to accompany Messianic believers on a few evangelistic outreaches in Israel that count to this day among the most interesting adventures of my life.  Some congregations go out on the streets to pass out tracts, books, and initiate conversations with other Israelis to share with them about the Messiah of Israel.  Teams of believers are sent out several times a year to various secular events across the country, such as rock concerts and New Age festivals, to evangelize the attending youth there.  On a few occasions, I accompanied teams to large open-air New Age festivals.  The Messianic believers established their camp in a corner of the site where they alternated times of praise & worship and prayer with "going out" to share the good news, inviting Israeli youth to come back to the campground for a meal and conversations about the meaning of life.  The Messianic team obtained permission from the organizers of the festival to set up a book table where anyone could come and ask questions, or pick up a free Hebrew New Testament or other literature in Hebrew.  There was an uninterrupted stream of people coming and going to the booth.  The hunger for truth and interest for Jesus today in Israel among Jews is staggering, with conversions and baptisms occurring ever more frequently.

But there is also opposition.  Though tolerance in Israeli society has greatly increased (a few decades ago, it was impossible to even talk about Jesus in public in Israel) there are still many cases of ostracizing and harassment that make life difficult for believers.  The greatest opponents of the Gospel are Orthodox Jews, who seek to protect their people from the spiritual destruction that they associate with "Christian mission".  An active anti-missionary organization (Yad Le'Achim- "A hand for the brothers") is active in attempting to block evangelistic initiatives and in causing trouble for believers.  They have their information networks and often show up at outreaches with their own tracts "warning" unsuspecting Jews about the dangers of the "missionaries" who have come to "steal their souls."  Though they may not legally use violence, instances of persecution do occur.  A girl who came to faith from an ultra-Orthodox family was thrown out of her house and beaten up by men sent by her father.  Congregations in Arad and Beer Sheva have been harrassed by angry mobs of orthodox Jews for years.  Some Jewish believers lost their jobs because of pressure exerted on their employers.  In the most serious case to date, two years ago the teenage son of a Messianic pastor was gravely wounded by a bomb that was disguised as a Purim gift package and left at the door of the family apartment by an orthodox Jewish extremist (who since then has been arrested and is under trial).  There are many more examples, though most instances of harassment are not physically violent.

So much for this short introduction to the Messianic Jewish movement.  Last time I promised to conclude this overview with a Catholic evaluation of Messianic Judaism.  However, to avoid being too long I think it will be wiser to stop here for today and postpone this evaluation until next time.

Ariel Ben Ami
Catholics for Israel

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Messianic Jews - Links

Resources

Deutsche Bischofskonferenz: Leitlinien für das Gebet bei Treffen von Christen, Juden und Muslimen

Gloria TV / BR: Engel von Dachau - P. Engelmar Unzeitig (Video)



Handbuch Judentum: Antworten auf die wichtigsten Fragen aus christlicher Sicht (Gebundene Ausgabe)
von Michael L. Brown (Autor), Oliver Roman (Übersetzer)
Gebundene Ausgabe: 304 Seiten
Verlag: Scm R. Brockhaus; Auflage: 1., Aufl. (27. April 2009)
Sprache: Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3417262852
ISBN-13: 978-3417262858



What Do Jewish People Think about Jesus?: And Other Questions Christians Ask about Jewish Beliefs, Practices, and History (Taschenbuch)
von Michael L. Brown (Autor)
Taschenbuch: 304 Seiten
Verlag: Baker Book House (Oktober 2007)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN-10: 0800794265
ISBN-13: 978-0800794262



Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections: 1 (Taschenbuch)
von Michael L. Brown (Autor)
Taschenbuch: 304 Seiten
Verlag: Baker Book House (Februar 2000)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN-10: 080106063X
ISBN-13: 978-0801060632





Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: 2 (Taschenbuch)
von Michael L. Brown (Autor)
Taschenbuch: 352 Seiten
Verlag: Baker Book House (November 2000)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN-10: 0801063345
ISBN-13: 978-0801063343




ICEJ-Shop

The Covenant

Ronda Chervin

Association of Hebrew Catholics

Remnant of Israel

Second Exodus

Family Life Center: Salvation is from the Jews

Family Life Center: Mary's Role in Conversion

Jewish-Christian Relations

Doronia Online

Jewish Online Stores

Israel Music

IsraeliProducts.com

Shop Israel

Schmaltz Brewing Company: Hebrew - The Chosen Beer

Jewish and Israeli Posters

Shalom Hartmann Institute

 

Sprachkurse Hebräisch:

ClassicalHebrew.com

HebrewOnline.com

Doronia Online

Hebrew Dictionary


Suchmaschinen Israel:

Walla

Nana

SABRAnet

Achla

HaReshima

iGuide

 

Books:

Michael O'Brian: Father Elijah: An Apocalypse (Ignatius Press)

Roy H. Schoeman: "Salvation Is From the Jews" (Ignatius Press)

Roy Schoeman: "Honey From the Rock - Sixteen Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ" (Ignatius Press)

Rosale Marie Levy: Why Jews Become Catholics


Sinai and Zion: An Entry Into the Jewish Bible (Taschenbuch)
von Jon Levenson (Autor)
Taschenbuch: 240 Seiten
Verlag: Harper & Row (Oktober 1987)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN-10: 006254828X
ISBN-13: 978-0062548283 

 

CDs:

Bob Fishman: It is Written - Finding Jesus and Mary in the Old Testament (CDs)

Rosalinda Moss: From Judaism to the Fullness of Christ

Bonnie Motl: The Final Exodus - My Journey to Rome (CD)

 

DVDs:

ICN Ministries: Dr. Michael Brown: Countering the Counter-Missionaries (10 DVDs!)

Dr. Michael Brown

Who was Jesus? Brown / Silver Debate [DVD]

Bob Fishman: From Jerusalem to Rome (DVD)

Film: Ich habe euch nicht vergessen!

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Walking God's Paths

ICEJ: Replacement Theology - Where do you stand? (DVD)

 

YouTube.com:

Geschichte der Kabbala

 

aish.com:

Be Free!

 

ILI Literaturliste

Sachbücher


Der Iran – Analyse einer islamischen Diktatur und ihrer europäischen Förderer
Stephan Grigat/Simone Dinah Hartmann (Hg.)
Studienverlag
isbn: 978-3-7065-4599-0

Plädoyer für Israel
Alan Dershowitz
(Vorwort von Henryk M.Broder)
Europa Verlag, Hamburg


Die Terroristenjägerin
Rita Katz
C. Bertelsmann Verlag


Krav Maga: Abwehr bewaffneter Angriffe
Imrich Lichtenfeld / Eyal Yaniloy
Weinmann Verlag, Berlin
(International renommierte israelische Technik)


Islam und Terrorismus
Mark Gabriel
Resch Verlag


Tariq Ramadan und die Islamisierung Europas
Ralph Gadban
Schiler Verlag
März 2006


Halbmond und Hakenkreuz.
Das Dritte Reich, die Araber und Palästina
Klaus-Michael Mallmann / Martin Cüppers
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. Darmstadt 2006


Islam and the Jews
Mark Gabriel
Charisma House Verlag


Raketen gegen Steinewerfer
Rolf Behrens
LIT Verlag, Münster, 2003


Behauptungen und Tatsachen. Der israelisch-arabische Konflikt im Überblick
Mitchell G. Bard
Hänssler Verlag


Mein Leben, meine Freiheit
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Piper


Europa, Israel und der Nahe Osten
Avi Primor


Geschichte des Zionismus
Michael Brenner


Dies ist mein Volk
Abba Eban
Droemer Knaur


Eine Schlacht für den Frieden
Ezer Weizmann
Kindler


Mitla Pass
Leon Uris


Antisemitische Verschwörungstheorien nach dem 11.September
Tobias Jaecker
LIT-Verlag Müncter 2004


Israel, Europa und der neue Antisemitismus
Hans Rauscher


Neu-alter Judenhass – Antisemitismus,
arabisch-israelischer Konflikt und europäische Politik
Klaus Faber, Julius Schoeps, Sascha Stawski

Ein neuer Weltkrieg? Die Islamische Herausforderung des Westens
Friedbert Pflüger
DVA, München


Die Assasinen. Zur Tradition des religiösen Mordes im radikalen Islam
Bernhard Lewis


Terror und Liberalismus
Paul Bermann
Europäische Verlagsanstalt


Der Niedergang des orientalischen Christentums unter dem Islam
Bat Yeor


Krieg dem Westen. Terrorismus im 21. Jahrhundert
Walter Laqueur
Propyläen Verlag Berlin 2003


Von Allah zum Terror
Hans-Peter Raddatz
Herbig


Die Wut und der Stolz
Oriana Falaci
 

Die Kraft der Vernunft
Oriana Falaci


Hurrah wir kapitulieren
Henryk Broder


Der Krieg in unseren Städten
Udo Ulfkotte


Allahs Schleier – die Frau im Kampf der Kulturen
Hans-Peter Raddatz
Herbig Verlag


Die Ökonomie des Terrors
Loretta Napoleoni
Verlag Antje Kunstmann


Djihad und Judenhass
Mathias Künze


Propheten des Terrors
Udo Ulfkotte

 


Belletristik


Gebrauchsanweisung für Israel
Martin Wagner
Piper


Es geschah in Gaza
Amos Kollek
Fischer Taschenbuch


Exodus
Leon Uris


Drehen Sie sich um Frau Lot
Ephraim Kishon


Arche Noah, Touristenklasse
Ephraim Kishon


Gaza Blues
Etgar Keret
Verlag Luchterhand


Israelische Geschichten aus Deutschland
Leo Sucharewicz

(Quelle: http://www.il-israel.org/index.php?idpage=85)

 

Israel-Reisen

Die Kabalah

Was ist die Kabalah?


"Wir sind in einen schlafenden Zustand hinein geboren, leben in einem Traum und wir merken es nicht einmal. Es ist Zeit aufzuwachen."
"Die Echos klingen in unseren Herzen um uns zu zeigen, dass wir im Exil vom spirituellen Leben sind, dass wir schlafen und dass es Zeit ist, zu erwachen."           (Rav Chiya)


Die Kabbalah ist der mystische Weg des Judentums der in wissenschaftlicher für jeden nachvollziehbarer Form einen Weg zeigt für die spirituelle Entwicklung der Seele vom Egoismus zum Altruismus bis zur Gotteinung auf der höchsten Stufe. Genau beschrieben werden die verschiedenen Zustände die die Seele durchlaufen muss um die Korrektur zu erreichen- Korrektur  der durch den Sündenfall entstandenen Zersplitterung der Urseele die von Gott geschaffen wurde und die dann immer weiter in die Welt hinabgesunken ist und sich immer mehr vom Schöpfer entfernt hat.Der Schöpfer ( En Soph) ist die höchste Stufe , aus ihr geht durch Zimzum ( Einschränkung) der Adam kadmon(die höchste Welt , der göttliche Wille im Menschen) hervor – die Urseele.Im Abstieg bis in unsere materielle Welt die noch unterhalb der Machsom ( Grenze zwischen spiritueller und materieller Welt ) liegt da wo der Mensch ganz getrennt ist vom Schöpfer ist- durchläuft die Seele vier Stufen von oben nach unten : Azilut( ausgehend vom Göttlichen Ausströhmung- Gottes Verstand, Ein Soph, der unergründliche Gott)- Beria (Schöpfung- Gottes Gedanken, Welt der Engel)- Jezira( Formation- Gottes Sprache beim der Schöpfung : Es werde…., die Welt der Seelen.)- Assija.(Tat- die Erschaffung wird real, die physische Welt der Erscheinung)
. Die vier Welten sind symbolisiert durch die hebräischen Buchstaben fuer Gott (Jahwe)
י   ה   ו  ה  
Die Kabalah beschreibt diesen Weg von oben nach unten und den Weg zurück von unten nach oben auf 125 Stufen der Läuterung-nach dem Überqueren der machsom( Grenze zwischen physischer und geistiger Welt) stehen Göttliches und Menschliches wieder in einer Beziehung die der jeweiligen Stufe der Korrektur entsprechen– Korrektur ist das Verlangen der Seele vom Nehmen zum Geben zu ändern)
In der Korrektur steigt der Mensch auf von der Welt der Materie (malchut), durch den"Punkt im Herzen"( nekuda schä ba lev) –ähnlich der Stimme des Herzens zu verstehen durchbricht er die Grenze die die materielle Welt von der Geistigen trennt und korrigiert seine Seele über die Stufen des kabbalistischen Lebensbaumes bis er letzendlich wieder mit Gott vereint ist. Der Weg des TIKUN (Korrektur)fuehrt zum Ziel des GMAR TIKUN (die Vollendung der Korrektur)und wenn alle Menschen das vollzogen haben kommt es zum GMAR HA TIKUN HA KLALI   ( der allgemeinen Vollendung der Korrektur)-der Erlösung.In der Erlösung sind alle Seelen durch die Liebe Gottes verbunden und eins mit dem Schöpfer.
Die Kabalah spricht in einer eigenen Sprache , der Sprache der Zweige. Das heisst das jedes Geschehen eine Wurzel in der höheren Welt hat , die in der materiellen Welt einem Begriff entspricht.
Am Beispiel der Exodusgeschichte kann man die Sprache der Zweige so erklären:
Anstelle des äusseren Exils ist heute das innere Exil getreten und der Exodus des Mose wird zu einer spiritituellen Erfahrung . Das Buch Sohar führt in diese Erfahrung : Aus der tiefsten Dunkelheit des Sklavendaseins in Ägypten führt Mose sein Volk durch die Wüste ins gelobte Land. Die Seele vollzieht diesen Weg innerlich- unsere Welt ist die Welt des Egoismus , dort sieht der Mensch nichts als nur sich selber- das ist der Zustand des Pharao, Mose steht fuer die Erlösung vom Egoismus hin zum Geben- und die Wüstenwanderung beschreibt alle Stufen und Emotionen die die Seele durchmacht auf diesem Weg.
Durch das Erlernen der Sprache der Zweige wird die Thora verstanden wie sie von Gott gemeint ist und damit erübrigen sich alle Differenzen in der Bibelexegese.
Die wichtigsten Bücher der Kabbalah sind das Buch Sohar , das  Buch der Schöpfung ( Sefer ha jezira), der Bahir( Buch des Lichtes ) und das Buch Raziel.
Die Kabbalah  war uraltes geheimes Wissen – zunächst
nur mündlich ueberliefert  –und nur wer in die Thora ( 5 Bücher Mose)eingeweiht war war befähigt die Kabalah zu studieren.Und man musste mindestens 35 Jahre alt sein.Vorher wurde dieses Wissen als Gefahr gesehen und man konnt davon verrückt werden. Der erste Kabbalist war Abraham- gefolgt von Jakob ( die Jakobsleiter ist Symbol fuer den Aufstieg der Seele in göttliche Welten) und Mose dem Freiheitskämpfer der mit Gott von Angesicht zu Angesicht spricht .Ebenso zählt Eliah zu den Urvätern der Kabbalah, Gott war ihm nah und er wurde auf einem Feuerwagen in den Himmel entrückt.
Im 2. Jh. n. Chr. wurde Rabbi Schimeon ben Jochai durch die Niederschrift des Buches Sohar zum Erneuerer  der Kabbalah.In jedem Jahrhundert gab es bedeutende Kabbalisten die das uralte Wissen in zeitgemässser Form weiter gaben. Für unser Jahrhundert waren Rabbi Yehuda Aschlag und der Baal ha sulam( Rabbi Schimeon ha Levi ) die bedeutesten Kabbalisten.
Man unterscheidet eine theoretische Kabbalah und eine Praktische, die theoretsiche Kabbalah ist mehr Wissenschaft und orientiert sich an den theoretischen Grundlagen und den 5 Buechern Mose während die praktische Kabalah enge Beziehung zu Magie und Esoterik aufweist . Ebenso gibt es eine christliche Adaption der Kabbalah und christliche Mystiker kannten zum Teil die Kabbalah wie zum Beispiel Therese von Avila.
Die Kabbalah beinhaltet auch die Lehre der Reinkarnation die ansonsten im Judentum eher abgelehnt wird. Die Reinkarnation ( Gilgul ha neschamot)  dient zur Läuterung der Seele von Inkarnation zu Inkarnation, bis zur göttlichen Vollendung.
Das Böse hat in der Kabbalah keinen Platz , denn es ist nicht von Gott, Gott hat sich zurückgezogen von Seiner Schöpfung durch den ZimZum ( Gott nimmt sich in jeder Stufe des Abstiegs in die Welt weiter Zurück). Das Böse entsteht da wo Gott nicht mehr anwesend ist, das ist der Preis der Freiheit des Menschen, der seitdem die Möglichkeit hat zwischen Gut und Böse zu wählen.
Zusammenfassend bleibt zu sagen dass die Kabbalah die Wurzel des Judentums ist und sie beruht auf strenger Gesetzmässigkeit, jede ihrer Regeln ist logisch erlernbar und für jeden der ernsthaft studiert nachvollziehbar , es gibt keinen Raum für Wunder , denn für den der versteht ist alles erklärbar und ebenso wenig gibt es esoterische Hintergründe, auch wenn die Kabbalah gerade heute im Zeitalter des New Age oft missbraucht wird.Viele bekannte Persöhnlichkeiten wie Madonna z. B. haben diese esoterische Kabalah verbreitet und dazu beigetragen dass die eigentliche Lehre der Kabbalah missverstanden wird. In Israel gibt es heute zwei Schulen die die Kabbalah verbreiten , die des Yehuda Berg , der vor allem auf Macht und Geld ausgerichtet ist und die des Rav Michael Laitmann , der als Schüler des Baal ha Sulam die authentische Kabbalah vermittelt, die auf den ursprünglichen Schriften der grossen Kabbalisten beruht.
Die Kabbalah beschreibt die spirituellen Gesetze die für alle gelten unabhängig von der Religionszugehörigkeit. Sie ist verwurzelt im Judentum , in Israel , wobei Israel alle die Menschen umfasst die den Punkt im Herzen haben und zu Gott geöffnet sind, egal ob sie Juden , Moslems , Christen , Buddisten , Hindus oder andere sind. In diesem Sinn ist die Kabbalah eine universelle Lehre die allen Völkern und Religionen Toleranz anbietet ohne  Gott zu leugnen.Die Kabbalah ist das innere Licht, Gottes Funke im Herzen eines jeden ,der den Menschen wieder mit Gott verbindet. Kabbalah heisst auch empfangen und in dem Masse in dem wir offen werden für Gott und den Mitmenschen empfangen wir das göttliche Licht und spüren dass alle Menschen miteinander in der Liebe Gottes verbunden sind.Kabbalah ist das universelle Gebet zu Gott , das A M E N der Kabbalah, A steht für ADONAI ( im Hebräischen der Name Gottes= Mein Herr, JEHOVA, der nicht ausgesprochen werden darf weil er zu heilig ist), M steht für MELECH ( König) und N steht für NE EMAN ( treu), das E wird im Hebräischen nicht geschrieben, da keine Vokale geschrieben werden.So wird aus dem Wort AMEN (= so sei es), eine Meditation über die Bedeutung des Namen Gottes.In diesem Namen ist alles enthalten. In der Kabbalah ist der der Gottes Namen beten kann ein BAAL SCHEM TOV , ein Herr des Guten Namens.Im Gebet dass im Herzen im Namen Gottes geschieht steigen die Engel zur Erde hinab und das Gebet steigt auf ihren Flügeln auf zum Schöpfer.Und wie viel Erfurcht bei wahrem Gebet vorhanden sein muss zeigt das folgende GEBET vor dem Gebet.Bis heute brauchen die Chassidim eine Stunde um sich auf das Gebet vor zu bereiten.
 
Das Gebet vor dem Gebet
 

Möge es Dich erfreuen, oh Herr, Gott unserer Väter, der Du den Aufschrei unseres Flehen hörst und den betenden Stimmen Deines Volkes Israel lauschst. Voll Gnade bereitest Du unsere Herzen vor, bildest unsere Gedanken und formst die Worte unserer Gebete. Du schenkst den Gebeten Deiner Diener Gehör, die Dich mit lauter Stimme und vernebeltem Geistpreisen.

Du mitleidvoller Gott, durch Deine endlose Barmherzigkeit und Gnade vergibst Du uns und dem ganzen Volk Israels, dem Hause Israel, und machst wieder gut, wo wir vor Deinem Antlitz gesündigt, gefrevelt, geflucht und gegen Deine Regeln verstoßen haben.

Du weißt, dass wir uns Dir, Deinem Gesetz und Deinen Geboten nicht bewusst durch Rebellion und arglistige Täuschung widersetzen. Es liegt vielmehr an unserer ewigen, unbeugsamen und brennenden Gier, die uns Lust an dieser niedrigen Welt und deren Eitelkeiten bringt. Sie verwirrt immerfort unseren Geist, selbst wenn wir zu Dir für unsere Seelen beten wollen. Immer und immer wieder vernebelt sie trickreich unsere Gedanken. Und wir können nicht dagegen ankommen, denn unser Geist und unsere Anstrengung sind schwach geworden und unsere Ausdauer ist durch die ständigen Sorgen, Nöte und die Jahre dahingeschwunden.

Daher, oh Du gnadenvoller barmherziger Gott, verfahre mit uns, wie Du es uns durch Deine Vertrauten versprochen hast: „Und ich werde voll der Gnade zu jenen sein, zu denen ich gandenvoll bin und ich werde Barmherzigkeit jenen gegenüber walten lassen, zu denen ich barmherzig bin.“ Unsere Weisen sagten: „Obwohl es nicht so scheint und obwohl es nicht angemessen ist“, denn dies ist Deine Art: Gut zu sein zu den Guten aber auch zu den Bösen. Unser Seufzen, unsere Sorgen und die Gespräche über die Unfähigkeit, uns mehr für Dein Werk einzusetzen und uns wirklich Dir anzunähern, sind Dir gut bekannt. Wehe unseren Seelen; und wehe uns!

Unser Vater im Himmel, lass Deine große und ewige Gnade erwachen, verbanne den bösen Trieb aus unserem Inneren, rotte ihn aus und vertreibe ihn, sodass er uns verlassen möge und uns nicht mehr von Deinem Werk abhalte. Lass in unseren Herzen keinen bösen Gedanken aufkeimen, wenn wir erwachen und auch nicht in unseres Schlafes Traum – und vor allem nicht, wenn wir vor Dir stehen und zu Dir beten oder Deine Gesetze studieren. Und während wir uns in Deine Gebote vertiefen, lass unsere Gedanken klar sein, leuchtend und rein – mögen sie so stark sein wie Dein guter Wille für uns.

Erwecke unsere Herzen und die Herzen von ganz Israel, Deinem Volk, damit wir uns mit Dir in tiefer Wahrheit und Liebe vereinen, um Dir voll Freude zu dienen, so wie Du es vorgesehen hast. Und lege Dein Vertrauen für immer in unsere Herzen, binde es wie einen Pfahl, der nie umstürzen kann, an unsere Herzen und nimm die Hüllen weg, die uns von Dir trennen.

Unser Vater im Himmel, rette uns vor all den Verfehlungen und Irrtümern; verlasse uns nicht, gib uns nicht auf und beschäme uns nicht. Sei in unseren Worten, wenn wir sprechen - in unseren Händen, wenn wir arbeiten und in unseren Herzen, wenn wir denken! Gewähre uns, oh Herr, dass wir unsere Herzen, Gedanken, Worte, Handlungen und alle Bewegungen und Gefühle, bekannte wie auch unbekannte, enthüllte und verhüllte, nur Dir alleine widmen, aufrichtig und ohne jeglichen bösen Gedanken.

Reinige unsere Herzen und segne uns. Gieße auf uns das reine Wasser und reinige uns mit Deiner Liebe und Hingabe, pflanze Deine Liebe und Ehrfurcht vor Dir für immer in unsere Herzen, auf ewig, für alle Zeiten und alle Orte: Wenn wir gehen, schlafen und erwachen. Und lass den Geist Deiner Heiligkeit immer in uns brennen.

Wir verlassen uns immer auf Dich, auf Deine Erhabenheit, Deine Liebe, die Ehrfurcht vor Dir und Dein Gesetz - geschrieben oder gesprochen, verhüllt oder enthüllt - und auf Deine Gebote, um uns mit Deinem machtvollen und Ehre gebietendem Namen zu vereinen. Und bewahre uns vor Vorurteilen, Stolz, Zorn, Pedanterie und Traurigkeit, Tratsch und anderen Lastern und vor allen Dingen, die Deine Heilige und Reine Arbeit, auf die wir so acht geben, gering schätzen.

Verleihe uns den Geist Deiner Heiligkeit, damit wir uns Dir nähern und mehr und mehr nach Dir streben können. Erhebe uns Stufe um Stufe, damit wir auch des Verdienstes unserer heiligen Vorväter Abraham, Isaak und Jakob würdig werden. Möge deren Tugend uns helfen und mögest Du unser Gebet hören und uns immer antworten, wenn wir zu Dir beten – für uns oder irgendjemand aus Deinem Volk Israel, einen oder vielen.

Erfreue uns und sei stolz auf uns, und wir werden oben Früchte und unten Wurzeln tragen. Vergib uns unsere Sünden und vor allem jene unserer Jugend, so wie König David sagte, „Gedenke nicht der Sünden meiner Jugend und meiner Übertretungen.“ Verwandle unsere Verfehlungen und Sünden in Verdienste und gewähre uns - aus der Welt der Reue - Gedanken der von ganzem Herzen erwünschten Rückkehr zu Dir, damit wir alles, was wir an Deinem Heiligen und Reinen Namen verunstaltet haben, korrigieren mögen.

Beschütze uns vor gegenseitigem Neid und lass keinen Neid dem anderen gegenüber aufkommen. Vielmehr lass unsere Herzen die Tugenden der Freunde erkennen und nicht deren Fehler. Und lass uns voneinander auf solche Art und Weise sprechen, welche Dir wertschätzend und angemessen erscheint, und lass keinen Hass auf die Freunde aufkommen, Gott bewahre.

Stärke unser Band der Liebe zu Dir, so wie Du sie kennst, damit wir in der Lage sind, Dich zufrieden zu stellen. Denn dies ist unser hauptsächliches Ziel. Und sollten wir nicht in der Lage sein, unser Herz an Dich zu richten, dann lehre uns, damit wir wirklich das Ziel deines guten Willens erkennen.

Und daher, oh Herr, bitten wir Dich, unsere Gebete mit Gnade und gutem Willen anzunehmen. Amen, möge es so sein.

Susanne T.

 

Links Israel - von www.goisrael.de

Agritech 2006
Israels agriculture industry is one of our most important economic and cultural possessions. The field of agriculture symbolizes not only the fundamental relationship of the Israeli pioneers to the land, but is also a showcase for the great achievements
http://www.agritech.org.il/

 
Akko (deutsche Seite)
Akko - eine der ältesten Städte am Mittelmeer mit beeindruckender Kreuzfahrerfestung.
http://www.akko.org.il/German/main/default.asp

 
Arbeitseinsätze und Sprachschulen in Kibbutzim
Die Sprachschulen in den Kibbutzim eignen sich horvoragend, um die hebräische Sprache zu lernen.
http://www.kba.org.il/eng/welcome.htm

 
Archäologie
An den archäologischen Ausgrabungen in Israel kann sich jedermann beteiligen.
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00wk0

 
Archäologischer Park in Jerusalem
Toll gestaltete Website, die eine Reise durch die Zeit ermöglicht.
http://www.archpark.org.il/index.asp

 
Arkia
Englische Website der israelischen Charter-Fluggesellschaft Arkia.
https://www.arkia.co.il/site/app/intro.htm

 
Bahaitempel in Haifa
Die Gartenanlage des Bahaitempels in Haifa zählt zu den Weltwundern dieser Erde.
http://www.einhanet.co.il/bahai/

 
Bauhaus Architektur
In Tel Aviv kann man noch heute zahlreiche Bauten im Bauhausstil besichtigen.
http://interart.co.il/bauhaus/

 
Bed and Breakfast Guide
Bed & Breakfast Adressen in ganz Israel, nach Regionen gegliedert.
http://www.b-and-b.co.il/

 
Dan Online
Website der israelischen Busgesellschaft Dan
http://www.dan.co.il/english/default.asp

 
Delphine
Schwimmen mit Delphinen in Eilat am Roten Meer.
http://www.dolphinreef.co.il

 
Der Biblische Zoo Jerusalem
Hier leben hauptsächlich Tiere, die in der Bibel erwähnt wurden.
http://www.jerusalemzoo.org.il/english/upload/

 
Dienste in Israel
Vermittlung von freiwilligen Helfern für Altenheime, Krankenhäuser, Kinder- und Behindertenheime sowie Kibbuzim in Israel.
http://www.dienste-in-israel.de/

 
Eilat
Eilat - das Bade- und Tauchparadies am Roten Meer
http://www.eilat.net/english/

 
Ein Hod
Künstlerkolonie im Norden Israels
http://ein-hod.israel.net/

 
EL AL
EL AL Israel Airlines - fliegt täglich nach Tel Aviv.
http://www.elal.com/ELAL/English/States/Germany/

 
Food & Beverage in Israel
Übersicht über verschiedene Restaurants und Pubs in Israel.
http://www.leyden.net/entertainment.html

 
Germania

http://www.flygermania.de

 
Go Galilee 2009

http://gogalilee2009.org

 
Golf in Caesarea
Buchen Sie hier eine Golfreise nach Israel.
http://www.windrose.de/oper-golf_reise.asp?rid=376

 
Ha'aretz
Englische Online-Ausgabe der israelischen Tageszeitung Ha'aretz
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/

 
Haifa
Haifa - nördliche Hafenstadt. Wahrzeichen: der Bahai-Tempel.
http://www.tour-haifa.co.il

 
Infotour
Offizielle Website des Israelischen Tourismusministeriums.
http://www.goisrael.com/

 
Israel Hotel Association
Hier finden sich alle Hotels in Israel, nach Regionen aufgegliedert.
http://www.israelhotels.org.il/

 
Israel Meteorological Service
Offizielle Wettervorhersage aus Israel - landesweit.
http://www.ims.gov.il/index_en.htm

 
Israel Netz
Großes Israel-Newsportal mit aktuellen Nachrichten sowie Hintergrundinformationen über Israel.
http://www.israelnetz.de/my/index.html?973672489&sxpident=1143408828

 
Israelcams
Verschiedene Webcams in Israel.
http://www.isracamera.co.il/index.htm

 
Israel-Guide
Allgemeine Reiseinfos mit speziellen Angeboten.
http://www.israel-guide.com/

 
Israir
zweitgrößte Israelische Fluggesellschaft, fliegt ab Berlin, München, Stuttgart und Köln direkt nach Tel Aviv.
http://www.israironline.de

 
Israrail
Website der israelischen Bahngesellschaft
http://www.israrail.org.il/english/index.html

 
Jerusalem
Jerusalem - 3000 Jahre Geschichte.
http://www.jerusalem.muni.il/jer_main/f1_main.asp?lng=2

 
Jerusalem in Bildern
Website mit rund 300 Bildern von Jerusalem - mit Bildschirmschoner.
http://www.sobo.co.il/jerusalem/

 
Jewish Cultural Museum
Erleben Sie Jüdische Kultur im Herzen Jerusalems - im ersten Museum der Welt.
http://www.jewishculturalmuseum.com

 
Jugendherbergen
Israel verfügt über eine große Anzahl sehr moderner und günstiger Jugendherbergen.
http://www.youth-hostels.org.il/youth-hostels/

 
Kfar Kedem - ein biblisches Dorf
Lassen Sie sich in Kfar Kedem in die Zeiten der Bibel zurückversetzen!
http://www.k-k.co.il/

 
Kibbutzhotels deutsch
Website der Münchener Vertretung der Kibbutzhotels mit Buchungsmöglichkeit.
http://www.kibbutzhotels.de

 
Kibbutzhotels englisch
Offizielle Website der Kibbutz Hotels Chain mit ausführlicher Beschreibung der Hotels und Reservierungsmöglichkeit.
http://www.kibbutz.co.il/

 
Klagemauer Webcam
Aktueller Blick auf die Klagemauer in Jerusalem.
http://aish.com/wallcam/

 
Kultur
Webportal über israelische Kultur und Geschichte.
http://israeliculture.about.com/culture/israeliculture/mbody.htm

 
Lufthansa
Die Lufthansa fliegt ebenfalls täglich nach Tel Aviv.
http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/LH_COM

 
Mini Israel
Sollte bei keinem Israelbesuch fehlen - Israel en Mineature!
http://www.minisrael.co.il/

 
Museen in Israel
Übersicht über alle Museen in Israel inkl. Sonderausstellungen, Events, etc.
http://www.ilmuseums.com

 
Nationalparks
Die israelischen Nationalparks bilden eine Symbiose aus Natur und Kultur.
http://www.parks.org.il/ParksENG/index_search_tree.php3?NewNameMade=0&InitialEntry=1&from=116

 
Nazareth
Nazareth - der Ort der Verkündigung.
http://www.nazareth2000.gov.il/

 
Nazareth Village
Im "Nazareth Village" wird das Leben zu Zeiten Jesu Christi präsentiert.
http://www.nazarethvillage.com

 
Negev
Die Negev-Wüste ist nicht nur touristisch attraktiv, sie ist auch Standort zahlreicher wissenschaftlicher Einrichtungen.
http://www.negev180.K12.il

 
Neve Midbar
Spa in der Negev-Wüste
http://www.neve-midbar.co.il/index2.html

 
Neve Shalom
Neve Shalom/ Wahat al-Salam (NSh/WAS) ist eine Dorfkooperative,in der jüdische und palästinenische Bürger Israels miteinander leben.
http://www.nswas.com/

 
Private Gästezimmer
Der ländliche Tourismus in Israel wird immer weiter ausgebaut. Auch das Angebot privater Gästezimmer ist sehr groß.
http://www.zimmeril.com

 
Radtouren durch Israel
Entdecken Sie Israel mit dem Fahrrad! Hier finden Sie sowohl komplette Rundreisen als auch einzelne Touren in Israel.
http://www.tourdeisrael.com/

 
Reiseleiter in Israel
Finden Sie hier Ihren persönlichen Reiseleiter in Israel!
http://www.tour-guides.co.il/

 
Reiten in Galiläa
Vered HaGalil, die Rose Galiläas, bietet neben schönen Gästebungalows auch Reittouren durch Galiläa an.
http://www.veredhagalil.com/default_en.asp

 
Restaurants in Israel
Suchmaschine für Restaurant in Israel - gegliedert nach Region und länderspezifischen Restaurants.
http://www.go-out.com/index_e.html

 
Segeln
Übersicht über Israels Häfen am Mittelmeer und in Eilat.
http://www.israeli-marinas.co.il/

 
Souveniers aus dem Heiligen Land
Hier finden Sie zahlreiche Souveniers aus dem Heiligen Land, hergestellt von christlichen Familien aus Galiläa.
http://www.bestholygifts.com

 
Sprachkurs Hebräisch
Lernen Sie hier kostenlos Ihre ersten Wörter auf Hebräisch!
http://www.travlang.com/languages/

 
Suzanne Dellal Center
Website des Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre in Tel Aviv mit aktuellem Veranstaltungskalender.
http://www.suzannedellal.org.il/

 
Tauchen
Unterwasserarchäologie im Mittelmeer.
http://www.come.to/aquadora

 
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv - die Stadt, die niemals schläft.
http://www.telavivhotels.org.il

 
Tel Dor Projekt
Für alle Hobbyarchäologen: Beteiligen Sie sich an den Ausgrabungen in Tel Dor!
http://www.hum.huji.ac.il/dor/Season2006_g.html

 
The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra
Website des Israel Kibbutz Orchestra mit Übersicht über die folgenden Konzerte.
http://www.kibbutz-orchestra.co.il/

 
Timna Park
In diesem Park in der Negevwüste befinden sich die ältesten Kupferminen der Welt.
http://www.timna-park.co.il/

 
Totes Meer
Das Tote Meer - Kurort und Beauty-Wellness Destination
http://deadsea.co.il

 
Touring Israel
Website mit Reiseinfos und "special deals".
http://www.inisrael.com/tour/main.html

 
TUIfly
Infos und aktuelle Flugverbindungen der TUIfly
http://www.tuifly.de

 
umfangreiches Restaurantverzeichnis
Eine umfangreiche Liste von Restaurants in Israel
http://www.dinnersite.co.il/israel.htm

 
Vogelbeobachtung
Israel liegt an der großen Migrationsroute europäischer Zugvögel.
http://www.birds.org.il/

 
Wettervorhersage für Eilat
Mit 360 Sonnentagen im Jahr ist Eilat Israels sonnenreichster Ort.
http://de.weather.yahoo.com/ISXX/ISXX0005/index_c.html

 
Wettervorhersage für Jerusalem
Das Klima von Jerusalem unterscheidet sich deutlich von dem der anderen israelischen Regionen.
http://de.weather.yahoo.com/ISXX/ISXX0010/index_c.html

 
Wettervorhersage für Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv, direkt am Mittelmeer gelegen, steht stellvertretend für das Wetter an der Küste Israels.
http://de.weather.yahoo.com/ISXX/ISXX0026/index_c.html

 
Yad Vashem
In Yad Vashem gibt es anläßlich des 50jährigen Bestehens zahlreiche Feierlichkeiten.
http://www.yad-vashem.org.il
 
(Liste von http://www.goisrael.de/index.aspx?p=823)

 

Radio

International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

 

Josémaria Escriva

The Messianic Center

The Holy City Prayer Society

Being Jewish

 

Google Video

Dr. Michael Brown: Why Did God Choose Israel?

Dr. Michael Brown: My Servant the Branch

Dr. Michael Brown: Who Can Pay for our Sins?

Dr. Michael Brown: The Oral Law

 

ChaimLayeled.org

 

Dr. Michael Brown recounts his Jewish youth of drugs and rock music, and how he came to follow Yeshua (Jesus).

Melody

 

News from IDF in Arab

 

ICEJ - International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

ICEJ: Dismantling the Myth of Israeli Apartheid

Read and Study the Hebrew Bible (Tanach)

vimeo.com: ICEJ - Review 2009

JerusalemPrayerTeam.org: Dr. Evans Speech at Knesset