May 22, 2008

Enjoy your bonfires!

Israel hit by Bible burning row - BBC NEWS

Messianic Jews in Israel say they want an inquiry into the burning of hundreds of copies of the New Testament by Orthodox Jews in Or Yehuda last week.

The books were given to the town's Ethiopian Jews by the Messianic Jews, who believe in Jesus as a saviour.

Or Yehuda's deputy mayor says he received complaints about the books, and arranged for them to be burnt.

He has now apologised after his actions have been compared to those of Nazis who burnt Jewish holy scriptures.

Proselytizing to Ethiopian Jews is sensitive because historically they were the target of missionaries who converted many to Christianity in Ethiopia - though they later argued the conversion was forced and they had never really abandoned their Jewish faith, the BBC's Frances Harrison says.

The dispute is revealing growing tension between Messianic Jews and their Orthodox opponents who do not recognise them as Jews, our correspondent adds.

'Dumped and burned'

Many of the details of exactly what happened in Or Yehuda are now disputed.

But the deputy mayor says Messianic Jewish missionaries had targeted an area of the town where many Ethiopian Jews live, distributing packages containing New Testaments and pamphlets.

He says he received complaints and then drove around the area with a loudspeaker urging people to hand over the material to Orthodox religious students who went door-to-door collecting it.

The books were then dumped in a pile and burned.

Messianic Jews complain of institutionalised discrimination and are demanding all those involved be put on trial.

Meanwhile, Orthodox Jews are applauding the destruction of texts they say urge Jews to convert.

me: Happy Lag B'Omer everyone!


Bar Kochba said...

I'm getting sick of all these Christian proselytizers. They are constantly persecuting Jews, accusing us of blood libel (think of the case of the Ariel pastor attack) and comparing us to Nazis. They quickly turn on us when we refuse to convert. New Testaments make great Lag BaOmer bonfires!

Daniel E. Levenson said...

An interesting post - here in America we don't seem to see quite as much activity by these groups, but it is interesting to see how different Jewish communities respond to their proselytizing efforts. I've always found it rather odd that they call themselves "Jews," when it seems to me that if they were familiar with Jewish history, they would realize that the Jews (and others) who saw Jesus as the Messiah were the first Christians - it seems both culturally and theologically dishonest, or at the very least, highly confused, for them to refer to themselves as Jews in any way, but hey that's just my opinion.

When you have a moment, I would like to invite you to visit a new online Jewish publication which focuses on themes of modern Jewish identity:

We're always looking for new
contributors so if you or someone you know might be interested in submitting something we would be happy to hear from you.

Bar Kochba said...

Where are you? Long time no post.

I hope your leg is getting better.

Anonymous said...

Or Yehuda is a pretty savage place. I used to go there to see my in-law's. The Bukharim look on the Ethiopians like savages and the Ethiopians hate them in return. There's more sinat henam there than C-ian problems.