Guess who’s back! The Rosh Pina Project returns

This time six years and two months ago, the Rosh Pina Project was but a twinkle in the eye of Messianic bloggers who wanted to assert a few things.

We have developed into a blogging collective with several writers contributing content, and over 1.2 million views since our June 2009 launch.

We set up RPP in the months following the bombing of Ami Ortiz. We had seen the paucity of media understanding of Messianic Jews and we wanted to put this right.

The pressure and negativity against Messianic Jews was such that few people wanted to publicly discuss the persecution of believers in Israel, for fear of the consequences.

But how could we end up in a place whereby Israeli children were almost murdered because of their parents’ faith, and the perpetrator thought he was pleasing God?

It was this question that sparked our interest in Kahanism, “Redemption” and the anti-Messianic ideology espoused by some radical haredim. We looked at some of the theological and philosophical assumptions underlying certain political prejudices.

In Israel, you cannot turn to the right or to the left without seeing a yellow poster of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, declaring the spiritual leader of the Chabad movement to be King Messiah.

Similarly, graffiti and street music proclaiming the chant “Na Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me’Uman” is ubiquitous.

This phrase is at once a celebration of the mystical, quasi-divine powers of the Breslov Rebbe Nachman from beyond the grave, and a prayer which when spoken aloud grants salvation to the believing Jew, according to the teachings of the late Saba, whom many Hasidic Jews also think is King Messiah.

So we have two deceased Jewish teachers who are thought of as godlike, messianic figures in Israel, and their followers are not considered controversial. Meanwhile, Jewish believers in Yeshua are dismissed as idolators!

We think it is both logical and intellectually consistent for Messianic Jews to be accepted as Jews by the wider community. Yet our main concern is for Messianic Jews as citizens of Israel or of Western countries to be treated with dignity, as human beings who are allowed to express their faith peacefully and worship without persecution.

We took great care to couple our concern over anti-Messianic activity with a wider consideration of Christian theology towards Israel.

We focused on Stephen Sizer’s associations and public statements to such an extent that he accused RPP of being part of a shadowy Israel lobby! The Church of England eventually took note of the campaign we took a lead on, and gave Sizer a choice between his activism or his parish. He chose his parish and apologised publicly. Now Reverend Sizer is proving to be a controversial issue in the wider public, thanks to his ties to the potential Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

We highlighted problems in Bethlehem Bible College, the Lausanne Movement, World Vision, the Church of England, the Methodist church, and other institutions which allowed themselves to be used by an agenda deeply hostile to Israel’s wellbeing.

We have tended to let the quality of our work speak for itself. This is reflected in how RPP has become considered as a credible media source, being quoted in the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Ynet News, the London Jewish Chronicle, Christianity Today, Compass News, Israel Today and other sources.

Since we began blogging, we have seen many positive developments.

The Church of England censuring Sizer is one of them.

Others include:

  • Direct harassment of Messianic Jews seems to be a lot more reduced. This especially follows the death of Yad L’Achim’s head Dov Lipschitz, and the arrest of Yad L’Achim leader Binyamin Klugger for price tag activities. Yad L’Achim volunteer Jack Teitel (who tried to murder the Ortiz family) was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence; convicted also of two prior murders of Arabs in 1997. The Israeli public has become more familiar with Messianic Jews, and the residents of Arad have stood up to haredim bullying a defenceless woman with a small business who happened to believe in Yeshua.
  • Messianic Jews have become better known in Israeli public life; the amazingly successful Moti and Eitan of One For Israel are quickly becoming household names, and Messianic Jews have even thrived in X Factor-like singing contests.
  • The Lausanne Movement denounced antisemitism, removed a vile anti-Israel article from its website and withdrew its support for With God On Our Side, after we highlighted problems with the movement.
  • The vitality of Messianic Jews on social media is a marvel to behold – not just Moti and Eitan, but also the excellent Avner Valer and the Messianic Drew.
  • Happily, strong Israeli Christian voices have emerged, such as the Israel Empowerment Lobby, the Christian Empowerment Council of Gabriel Naddaf, Hananya Naftali, Shadi Khaloul, and FIRM.
  • Israel has begun tackling Far Right incitement in a more meaningful way, as evidenced by the recent arrests of Honenu activists. The political will to ensure churches are no longer attacked by arsonists now appears appears evident.

So we are encouraged by all this, and appreciate the breadth of Messianic and pro-Israel believing voices available online. We are happy with our role as Messianic citizen bloggers, and we are still inspired and motivated to write.

We are not shy of debating the shortcomings of the Messianic movement or controversial and taboo issues. RPP has been the source of many a long debate on a diverse range of theological issues.

We are concerned for the spiritual vitality of our movement, and we would caution that a lack of focus on the Brit haHadashah’s clear teachings about Yeshua’s divinity, the triumph of grace, and the current priestly order of Melchizedek can lead disciples of Yeshua to veer off in unhelpful directions.

We believe that a Messianic Jew is not defined as such by his intellectual or practical understanding of halachah, but rather by his dynamic and cosmic understanding of Yeshua the Jewish Messiah, and how he allows Yeshua to guide his discipleship.

We also have welcomed many professional anti-Messianic polemicists to our comments section such as Mark Powers, Gavriel Sanders, Penina Taylor, Eli Cohen, Yisroel Blumenthal, and our favourite, Moshe Shulman.

We love debate and want our comments section to be a place for respectable dialogue; we welcome a range of Messianic, secular and haredi voices to this space below-the-line.

Refreshed from our mini-break, we look forward to blogging again on relevant issues. You can contact us if you need anything, you want us to cover something, or you want to suggest content for us to publish at – roshpinaproject AT gmail DOT com.

Thank you for being with us in this 6-year-plus blogging journey.

May Yeshua richly bless all our readers in His grace.

Stuart Dauermann replies magnanimously

Have a read:

To all concerned: I am sure that Moti and Eitan are noble servants of God and of the Jewish State. Noting was said nor intended to disparage them! I am not saying that differing with the rabbis and reabbinical Judaism is disallowed. But there is a difference between differing, and creating a caricature or ridiculing, and that was painful to watch and hear. For example, dismissing wrapping tefillin as “wrapping the skins of dead animals around one’s arm” was unnecessary and nasty.

In addition, I did not mean to say that these gentlemen are anti-Semites or anti Zionists! My comparison was that just as it is incongruous for those who say they love the Jews to hate the Jewish State, so it is incongruous when we say we love the Jews but hate the means God used to preserve them. THAT is the comparison–incongruity.

Again: differing is one thing, ridicule is another. And it is unbecoming for Jews, for fine Jews like Moti and Eitan, to ridicule that religious tradition and its exemplars whom God used to preserve our people. I felt they failed to show proper kavod. That I am viewed as having failed to show THEM proper kavod, also a sin, is something I regret. But it was not and is not my intent. Kol haKavod–but I remain convinced that rabbinical Judaism and the rabbis deserve more Kavod than is often shown. That, and that alone, is my point. Shalom.

It takes a person of virtuous character to reply in such a humble way, and Stuart Dauermann has our respect for that.

We also feel it is a legitimate discussion to have within Messianic Jewish circles, about the appropriate level of “respect” Messianic Jews should show towards the religious customs of Judaism – and this discussion does not involve questioning either the Jewishness or the moral character of people on opposite sides of this debate.

Whilst I still think Eitan and Moti’s video is perfectly acceptable, and would disagree with Dauermann’s critique, I think it is healthy for people such as he to critique their work, as the resulting discussions can sharpen our minds and get us thinking about what we do and why we do it.

I would also add that Perfect (in many cases) is the enemy of Good, and no-one will ever produce a perfect presentation. What we admire about Eitan and Moti is the way they talk in a spiritual and godly yet also friendly and relatable way. Their fruits show as Israelis respond to their message, understanding Yeshua’s gospel for the first time in their lives.

There is also room for videos and social media content with a different focus and tone, which may appeal to different viewers for different reasons. As believers we should have no rivals, and I’m sure there is room for plenty of content besides that of Eitan and Moti, on the internet.

We want to celebrate their work and also rejoice in the way Stuart Dauermann has responded to this, and we hope that in future discussions we can take the various sensivities and passions into account, as we move forward as a Messianic Jewish body united in faith in Yeshua the Messiah.

A disgraceful smear against Moti and Eitan

Moti and Eitan from One For Israel have produced a new video explaining the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah, to Israeli Jews, using Jerusalem as the backdrop. The video is a reasoned critique of the human condition – we are inclined to sin, and we use religion as a sticky plaster to try to cover our sins, but our own piety cannot please God – only forgiveness on his terms via trust in Yeshua.

Writing on Interfaithfulness, Stuart Dauermann responds to Moti and Eitan by comparing their attitude towards Judaism, to an anti-Zionist attitude towards Israel:

Here is one way to understand why this is offensive. There are people who hate the Jewish State, but say “Some of my best friends are Jews, and I have nothing against the Jewish people.” But somehow, we Jews have serious issues with anyone who rabidly opposes the only Jewish State in the world while the states around Israel are a study in human rights abuses. Somehow the statement “I like Jews but I hate Zionists” belongs in the same category as “I like you Jim. You’re not like other black people.”

Similarly, claiming to love the Jewish people, while categorically dismissing and ridiculing their leadership cadre which for thousands of years has guarded, transmitted, and preserved Jewish culture and the Jewish people sets off my stench detector

The beauty of internet videos, is they are not intrusive. If you don’t like the video, you can ignore it. If it starts playing automatically, you can close it down. Moti and Eitan cannot be accused of standing on a street corner and pushing literature into people’s faces – they are simply producing content. If you disagree with that content, you don’t have to watch it, and you can even make your content which you think is better.

But the fact that Moti and Eitan are getting hundreds of thousands of views on their videos prove that their work is relevant to the Israeli public watching them. They have the attention of intrigued, non-believing Jewish viewers – something that other Messianic ministries can only dream about.

This – plus the fact Moti and Eitan are savvy, urbane and likeable – means that other Messianic Jews have no other choice but to pay attention to them. To stay relevant, Messianic Jewish commentators have to talk about Moti and Eitan, even if they dislike their content.

But Dauermann’s comparison of Moti and Eitan to anti-Zionists is particularly vile and nasty, because both have completed their national service – Moti in the IDF, and Eitan as a medic in Magen David Adom for eight years.

Anti-Zionists want for the state of Israel to disappear, which would inevitably lead to harm to its Jewish population who are in the region to stay, not to be pushed into the sea.

Moti and Eitan have been loyal servants of their country, and not only that, they believe strongly that God chose Israel and keeps Israel in an unbreakable covenant. To compare Moti and Eitan to anti-Zionists is to seek to muddy their characters and good names in a false way.

For someone who wants us to listen more to the teachers of Judaism, this is unacceptable lashon hara.

To insult them further, Dauermann implies that Moti and Eitan are on the same moral level as an anti-black racist who has one black friend, because they “love the Jewish people” but reject rabbinical leadership.

Moti and Eitan’s position is pretty consistent with the outlook of most Jews in the world, which is that whilst the principle of ahavat yisrael is important, we don’t need rabbis to tell us how to do this. In some cases, ahavat yisrael may mean challenging rabbis.

Indeed, just as Moti and Eitan are culturally aware of their own societal trends in Israel, so Dauermann ought to be aware of what’s going on in the Jewish community in his own country. With a plethora of scandals highlighting the misdemeanours of American rabbis, even the Jewish press is awake to the fact that many of these men are far from sages.

Without the Holy Spirit indwelling someone and giving him authority to speak from God’s word, I would hesitate to call anyone a sage or a teacher.

Dauermann has no specific criticism of anything Moti and Eitan have said; no factual corrections, and no highlighting of where he thinks their arguments could be improved. Instead, Dauermann criticises Moti and Eitan for believing that rabbinical authority is not relevant for Messianic Jews.

Moti and Eitan’s position is consistent with Yeshua’s teachings, with Paul’s outlook on rabbinical authority after his road to Damascus experience, and that of the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews.

Dauermann teaches something rather different; that disobedience to Torah commandments is disobedience to God himself:

“Calling Jews back to Torah is inextricably part of the message of repentance and faith we are commissioned to proclaim.” (p.34 Son of David) …. “If the measure of Jewish sin is disobedience to Torah, then Jewish repentance requires are return to Torah living. (p.41) … “there can be no such thing as Jewish restoration apart from Jews returning to covenant obedience, the mitzvot of Torah. (p. 45)

No wonder Orthodox Jews are less interested in this kind of message than in One For Israel’s. If this argument is true, then they don’t need to change really anything about their lives, so they might as well just carry on living the way they have been.

Whereas Eitan and Moti are proclaiming a life-changing message with a challenge, and that is why they are more relevant. But in Dauermann’s ideology, such Messianic Jews who do not follow Jewish halachah are in fact comparable to Osama Bin Laden himself.

Frankly, Dauermann ought to apologise to Eitan and Moti and rescind his blog post.

If I were an Orthodox Jew, I would call this a chilul hashem.

Christian Missionaries: Should They Be Banned or Embraced?

cardozo-700wIn this enlightening, in-studio encounter with Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo — one of the great Jewish thinkers of our times — VOI’s Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel discuss with him whether Israel should be banning or engaging Christian missionaries. Hear his refreshingly revolutionary perspective on this national dilemma.

http://www.voiceofisrael.com/christian-missionaries-banned-embraced/

Tel Aviv pastor Avi Mizrachi: We do not support Musalaha; we support Father Naddaf

avimizrachi

Last month’s issue of Israel Today magazine turned its focus to the attitudes of Israeli Messianic Jews towards Musalaha – an organisation which claims to seek reconciliation between believers in Jesus in the Holy Land, but whose leader Salim Munayer misleadingly suggests that Hamas’ terror tunnels were actually defensive and practical in nature.

Whilst some Messianic Jews want to see the best in Musalaha, and see an opportunity for genuine discussion and fellowship, a growing number of Israeli Messianic voices are not convinced.

Here are some leaders quoted in Israel Today.

Avi Mizrachi of Adonai Roi Congregation & Director of Dugit Messianic Outreach Centre in Tel Aviv:

“I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with Father Naddaf. My wife, Chaya, and I would like to continue strengthening the relationship with Father Naddaf because of his strong stand for the nation of Israel. We fully support him. We do not and have not supported Musalaha for many years now.

Meno Kalisher, pastor of Jerusalem Assembly House of Redemption:

“I certainly do not see eye-to-eye with Salim regarding Israel. He holds to Replacement Theology. I do not know Father Naddaf personally, but I can only assume that he discovered God’s plan for Israel and realizes that those who bless Israel will in turn be blessed. Like many local Christians I have met, Father Naddaf knows that Israelis aren’t better than anyone else, but he understands that God has a plan. And if you stand against Israel, you stand against God. This has nothing to do with Israel; it’s all about God. Also, if you want to be blessed, you need to be a blessing. If you don’t work or pay taxes or serve in the army, you have far less right to complain. 

Christ at the Checkpoint 4 speaker: Evangelicals can learn from Boko Haram about “de-secularisation”

The topic of Christ at the Checkpoint 4 is “religious extremism”, and one of their main speakers is John Azumah.

johnazumah1

Azumah has a few things to say about this topic.

In an article about Boko Haram for Lausanne, theologian John Azumah tried to contextualise the group’s massacres against Christians, claimed Boko Haram’s beliefs had been distorted by the media, and suggested that Nigeria’s Christians were the radicalised ones who now needed counselling.

Azumah’s piece concluded in positive terms, suggesting Boko Haram are in fact an anti-secular group could be an example for evangelicals:

“Lastly, ‘de-secularisation’ groups like Boko Haram may be calling the evangelical communion to a long overdue conversation about the effects of the secularisation of society and culture on religious commitment.”

The structure of this sentence expresses approaching admiration Islamist terrorists who murder Christians, because they are an “anti-secular force”.

But really, is any of this surprising? Christ at the Checkpoint is organised by the Bethlehem Bible College. One of their board members thinks suicide bombers make a “supreme sacrifice“, and another thinks they are “martyrs“.

There are clear connections between Bethlehem Bible College staffers and PFLP networks. Moreover, Bethlehem Bible College produced a pro-Hamas video last summer, whilst its teacher Salim Munayer claims Hamas used its terror tunnels for food and drink, and defending Gaza .

Christ at the Checkpoint is not against religious extremism; it is facilitating it.

RPP would encourage Israeli Messianic Jews to speak at the next CATC conference in order to point out the charade of CATC itself, and publicly challenge the ideological justifications and equivalences towards terrorism which emanate from the Bethlehem Bible College.

We encourage prayer for any Israeli believer whose conscience does allow them to speak at CATC, and we urge them to simply highlight the religious extremism of Christ at the Checkpoint.

Last time round, CATC’s guest of honour (who didn’t show up in the end) was a man who oversaw a re-enactment of the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing, which killed 15 people, including 7 children and a pregnant woman.

Messianic leaders from Israel neglected to mention the depravity of this terror re-enactment by the CATC’s intended guest of honour, when they spoke at CATC last year.

Without this challenge, there is little purpose of Israeli Messianics participating in Christ at the Checkpoint.

John Azumah’s attitude to Boko Haram is of a piece with Bethlehem Bible College’s attitudes towards Hamas and the PFLP, and it merits a robust challenge.

Eli Yishai’s “Yahad” rally descends into chaos

Read about Eli Yishai’s Yahad rally on Ynet.

This seems to spell the end of Eli Yishai’s political career, at least for now. His “Yahad” party with Baruch Marzel was an electoral disaster – religious voters opted for Shas and United Torah Judaism, whereas nationalist voters went with Jewish Home and Likud.

Under Yishai’s watch as Interior Minister, officials with sympathies towards Yad L’Achim have had someone free rein to persecute Israeli Jewish citizens who chose out of their own free will to worship Yeshua as Moshiach. This prompted a Mabat Sheni documentaryin 2011. (Two years prior, RPP had called for an investigation into the relationship between Yishai and Yad L’Achim).

Baruch Marzel was the self-proclaimed right-hand man to Kahane, who champions freeing the Rabin murderer Yigal Amir. Marzel is a former Kach spokesman who has dozens of convictions for nationalist-based criminal activities.

Let us hope that this spells the end of neo-Kahanist influence on the Knesset.