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November - December 2011 Christmas feasts

Holy See / Holy Land Miscellaneous

Archaeology Â


Bible/Holy Land Statistics

No. 479

Messages of peace as Christians celebrate Christmas .......................................... 2 The Christmas message from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. .......................... 3 Christmas Message from the Custos of the Holy Land ........................................ 6 Palestinians’ statehood bid part of Christmas ...................................................... 7 South Sudanese gear up for Christmas in Holy Land .......................................... 8 Pope receives members of the Israeli Religious Council ..................................... 9 Statement of the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel .................................... 10 Address to Pope From Chief Rabbi of Israel ..................................................... 11 Historical agreement between Jews and an Orthodox Church ........................... 13 Israelis and Palestinians: win together or lose together ..................................... 14 Churches in Israel struggling to keep up with mass influx of foreign workers................................................................... 16 Archbishop of Manila in Holy Land talked about the pastoral care of Hebrew speaking catholics Philipinos ................................ 18 Reform Jewish Israeli Movement....................................................................... 19 A Unique Archaeological Discovery ................................................................. 20 Overlooked relics may help unearth Dead Sea Scrolls' authors ......................... 21 Morbid theory in mystery of Israel's answer to Stone Henge ............................ 22 Excavations reveal King Herod didn't complete construction of Jerusalem's Western Wall .............................................................................. 24 Israeli archaeologists uncover first artifact confirming written record of Temple worship ...................................................................... 24 Archaeologists criticize new bill for 'politicizing' Israel Antiquities Authority ................................................................................ 25 Congress of French pilgrimage directors met in Jerusalem for first time .......... 26 Tourism Ministry focuses its marketing efforts in order to increase incoming tourism ................................................................................................ 27 Following the path of Jesus in northern Israel ................................................... 28 New Israeli-Palestinian land dispute rises as Dead Sea water levels drop ......... 29 Israeli prof's algorithm looks at linguistic cues to find Bible authors ................ 30 Opening the door to Israel's beautiful churches ................................................. 30 Israel's population stands at 7.8 million with 2012 around the bend ................. 31

Editor: Jerzy KRAJ, ofm

Messages of  peace  as  Christians  celebrate  Christmas   BETHLEHEM. Tens of thousands of Christians flocked to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas as the pope at the Vatican called for peace, humility and reconciliation. As the faithful crowded the ancient town where the Bible says Jesus was born, Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas Eve urged believers to look beyond the "glitter" of the Christian holiday. "Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity," the pope told thousands at mass in Saint Peter’s basilica. "Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light," the 84-year-old pontiff said. He also issued a scathing rebuke to "oppressors" and warmongers around the world. "In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours," he said. Peace was also a central theme in Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal’s Christmas homily delivered in Bethlehem, where hotels and guesthouses were packed to capacity with pilgrims. "We ask for peace, stability and security for the entire Middle East," said Twal, the most senior Roman Catholic in the Middle East. In a midnight mass, he urged "the return of calm and reconciliation in Syria, in Egypt, in Iraq and in North Africa". In popular uprisings in Tunis and Egypt which ended decades of secular dictatorships this year, Islamist parties have since taken centre stage. The UN Security Council says Syria has killed more than 5,000 of its people in a clampdown on protesters in recent months, and Thursday attacks in Iraq killed 60 people, heightening sectarian tensions less than a week after US troops withdrew. "O Child of Bethlehem, in this New Year, we place in your hands this troubled Middle East and, above all, our youth full of legitimate aspirations, who are frustrated by the economic and political situation, and in search of a better future," Twal said. He welcomed Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to the mass, and congratulating him "in his unfaltering efforts to achieve a just peace in the Middle East, a main thrust of which is the creation of a Palestinian State." As day broke over Bethlehem, a few miles south of Jerusalem, residents welcomed thousands of pilgrims who came to see where the Bible says Jesus was born to a couple from Nazareth. Palestinian officials expected more than 50,000 visitors from around the world. "Hotels are full. We have no rooms left even though the number of hotel rooms has multiplied in the last three years," Palestinian tourism minister Khulud Daibes told AFP. Christmas Eve celebrations are mainly in and around Manger Square, the central plaza next to the Church of the Nativity. The church is built over the site where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable and laid him in an animal’s feeding trough, or manger. Boy scouts with drums and bagpipes marched through the town for the annual Christmas parade ahead of concerts and other entertainment on what is the year’s biggest tourist attraction in the Palestinian territories, where Christmas is a national holiday.


A huge Christmas tree covered in lights and decorations dominated the square, which filled up with excited visitors, some wearing red Santa hats and others in the somber garb of various monastic orders. Tourists snapped pictures of the giant tree and of a local dressed up as Father Christmas, as a group of foreign activists in Santa hats, each wearing a letter on their clothes, lined up to spell the words: Free Palestine. There were also Muslims among the crowds. Many veiled women brought their children to join the celebrations of the birth of Jesus, or Isa in Arabic, whom they revere as a prophet. "I’m here today to see the celebrations like every year. We come as Christians and Muslims to see them," said Shireen Knaan. "There is no difference between Christians and Muslims as it is the Prophet Isa’s birthday." The Israeli army eased security measures to facilitate the arrival in Bethlehem of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli Christians. The town is cut off from neighboring Israel by part of the separation barrier that snakes along, and often inside, the line dividing Israel from the West Bank. Roman Catholics, Protestants and some Eastern Orthodox celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, but other Orthodox and oriental churches do not do so until January. In London, anti-capitalist protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral celebrated Christmas with the church, putting aside old squabbles. In the spirit of Christmas goodwill, clergy sang for the 200-odd protesters camped on the church’s doorstep since October, and invited them to attend midnight mass. By Shatha Yaish and Philippe Agret Agence France-Presse – December 25, 2011

The Christmas  message   from  the  Latin  Patriarch  of  Jerusalem.     Dear friends present here, dear faithful of the Holy Land (in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus); I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of hope and peace in your hearts, in your families and your countries. I welcome our Bishops here present: Bishop Giacinto Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel; and Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem. I also welcome Father David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel for the Hebrew-speaking Christian community, and I thank them for all their work. Dear journalist friends, welcome! Thank you for regularly covering the news of our Diocese and for your work of disseminating information to the world with dedication and professional competence, taking to heart the truth. We recognize the media's influence in the changes presently happening in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. I would like to review with you the year that is about to end, to look at successes and shortcomings, and to share my concerns, hopes and expectations at the dawn of the New Year. 1. Interreligious Dialogue I gladly remember the following events that we need to encourage, to continue and to support: 1.1. I want to thank the Holy Father for welcoming and meeting the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel at the Vatican on November 10th with the purpose of promoting mutual understanding and respect. The different Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Druze communities still believe in the power of prayer to foster reconciliation and improve co3

existence and relations with our neighbors. Interreligious dialogue is an indispensable condition in the creation of a climate of trust, friendship and collaboration. 1.2. The meeting directly complemented the significant gathering in Assisi, where Pope Benedict convened nearly 300 representatives of different faiths and non-believers for a time of prayer and dialogue, seeking peace and justice for all peoples. For the second time in history, all religions of the world gathered in one place to pray to God, in each one’s own way for peace in the world. What I remember of Assisi is that religions have a special responsibility to help people build peace. Religions are a factor for peace. We condemn all violence against places of worship and contempt for religious symbols. 1.3. The London Conference held in July brought together Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Muslims and Jews around the same table. This is already a positive signal. 1.4. Just recently, the second Muslim-Catholic Forum in Amman brought together senior representatives of Catholics and Muslims. What we expect from these meetings is a dissipation of prejudices, foster mutual respect, learn about our common values, and build bridges of common sense and goodwill without forgetting the importance of dialogue in everyday life, in our schools and various institutions. 2. Ecumenism Along the same lines, I would like to recall the commitment among Christians to dialogue. The 10th meeting of the Council of Churches of the Middle East recently held in Cyprus stressed the willingness of four Christian groups: Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox and Orthodox for more collaboration and commitment to unity. At the invitation of the Synod for the Middle East last year, we intend to unify the date of Passover. We do so, driven by the desire of our Lord and the unanimous will of the Christian people of the Holy Land. I also want to emphasize a happy moment following the meeting of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East held in Lebanon from November 14 to 17. We welcomed Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow who invited us to visit him in Russia to strengthen our relations. I am very delighted. 3. Arab Spring and situation of Christians I would like to go back to current events, to situations that we continue to follow closely, to what happened and is happening in the Arab countries. I have always defended the changes taking place in favor of freedom and democracy. I have repeatedly emphasized that Christians are not excluded from these movements. That said, I fervently hope that human rights and the dignity of each individual are respected. I also hope and pray that the competent authorities make every effort to calm the spirits without violence, and to protect the minorities who are an integral part of the population in the region. We must grasp this moment of opportunity to build a new society based on equal citizenship for all. The Catholic Patriarchs of the East together have asked our faithful to set a day of prayer for reconciliation and peace in the Middle East. 4. Application to the UN for membership of a State of Palestine We want a just and comprehensive peace to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We adhere to the position taken by the Holy See, clearly acknowledging the two-state solution with security and internationally recognized borders. I often say that to be with one of the parties does not mean to be against the other. We are for the welfare and interests of the whole 4

world: peace, security, mutual respect and dignity. The journey has begun but the process is long and tedious. I firmly believe and even more today, that negotiation is the best way to resolve the conflict. 5. Visits to the Diaspora Among the events of this year, I want to mention my two visits to the United States in June and September. They were opportunities to meet with our faithful of the Diaspora. The purpose was to encourage them to remember and to love their homeland, and help their brothers, "the little flock" that has remained in the Holy Land. One of our major undertakings in the field of education is the American University of Madaba, which opened on October 17th, and aims to prepare our youth to be enlightened, open and to become responsible leaders of our future generations. 6. Pastoral Care of Migrants Today, we face a new reality in the Church, the presence of migrant workers and refugees. In Israel alone, there are around 230,000 foreign workers and approximately 30,000 asylum seekers, the vast majority are Christian. They live mostly in Hebrew-speaking Jewish society. In fact, the Hebrew-speaking Vicariate is facing a great challenge to meet the pastoral needs of Catholic immigrants. We must redouble our pastoral efforts to provide religious services and to ensure their integration into the local church. 7. Religious communities and Year of the Bible Before concluding, I thank all the religious communities in the Holy Land for their prayers and apostolic service. I also wish to thank all our good people who have dedicated themselves to the realization of the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini. The year 2011 has been dedicated as the Year of the Bible in the Holy Land, for our faithful to become more familiar with the Word of God, "our daily bread." I look forward to some major upcoming events in the Church in which we will participate with joy: 1) The World Congress for Pastoral Care of Tourism (Mexico - April 2012). 2) The Congress for the Pastoral Care of the Media to be convened by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. (Lebanon - April 17-19, 2012) 3) The World Meeting of Families (Milan - June 2012) with the participation of eight families from the Holy Land. 4) The 50th International Eucharistic Congress (Dublin - June 2012) 5) The Synod for the New Evangelization (Rome - October 2012) I would like to conclude with an invitation to all Christians to come on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Do not be afraid. Our warm welcome awaits you. Come as pilgrims. It is one of the most beautiful ways to love the Holy Land, and to pray for it and its children. The earthly motherland of Jesus needs you and you need her. Dear friends, I renew my sincere wishes for peace. Let us pray that Mary, Mother of Christ, the Prince of Peace intercede for our Holy Land. May Christmas fill you with joy. + Fouad Twal Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem


Christmas Message  from  the  Custos  of  the  Holy  Land   "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Matthew 13:44) Christmas is the story of a God, who has come to hide, in a field. Hidden, in becoming small, the son of man, a child, like every other child. Hidden, in being born in silence, in Bethlehem. Bethlehem, a tiny village in a small country, lying on the very edge of an immense empire, in a land which then, like today, does not know peace. Christmas is also a story of fields and treasures, of men who find the field and the treasure. Many learn the news that the treasure is right there, in that field! Unfortunately, not all of them look for it, not all of them find it and not all of them leave everything to get it. To come into possession of the treasure, first of all, you must get rid of everything. This is the only way! It's not enough to find the treasure, it's not enough to know where it is. You have to stake your life on it. The Scriptures are the story of this treasure, hidden in the field, which is the heart of man. Because every field and every heart, can hide the treasure. The Scriptures are the story of many men, like us, who have staked everything in the face of this discovery. Abraham left his land and his gods. Moses lost the safety of his small exile. David questioned himself, with all his being, including his sin. Job had to lose everything to be able to know God. And then the prophets, who lead us to the Magi, to the shepherds, to the poor widow, to all the children of the Gospel… None of them hesitated. In the face of this discovery and this encounter, these people realized that the event was the decisive one, the meaning and heart of everything, in front of which everything else finds the right dimension. You do not find the treasure by chance, you do not own half of it. The treasure has the bright colours of everything that is radical and absolute. You have to lose absolutely everything in order to have it. Those who love, lose everything. Because loving means losing everything and giving everything. Jesus Himself was the first person to take this risk, hidden in the field of Bethlehem, in the hope that everyone could find Him. He was the one to inaugurate the road of losing, He lost everything and found man again. Like the man who loses everything, he finds God. Faith is risking entering the road of those who, like Him, can forget themselves in favour of others – whoever they are – and can take on the attitudes that derive from this: forgiveness, welcome, listening, solidarity … The path of losing, marked out by these stages, becomes the path of finding. Those who take this path, find God, the brother finds himself. Life is transformed this way. It may be – usually it is this way – that outside nothing seems to change, that history and, in particular the history of our Holy Land, continues to be the dramatic reality that we see and experience: hatred, divisions, fears, suspicions, prejudice, paralysis… But inside, everything changes! The way of looking at life changes, the way of being changes and – by grace!- we are pleased with this life, because this life is not only a field, but it is the field that hides the treasure. The wish, for this Christmas, is to become people who lose themselves, in their story, in searching for God. And, in their desire for Him, find themselves, in the amazing discovery that this treasure is truly in the field of life, ours and the lives of those who are alongside us. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, Custos of the Holy Land


Palestinians’ statehood  bid  part  of  Christmas   Palestinians plan on incorporating their statehood woes with Christmas as tens of thousands of pilgrims travel to Bethlehem, which has been affected by settlement construction, to visit the sacred Nativity church At Christmas time the world looks to Jesus’ traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, and this year the Palestinians hope to use some of that attention to boost their quest for independence. They’re trying to be subtle about it, with just a hint of politics in this year’s Christmas slogan, "Palestine celebrating hope," a veiled reference to their bid this fall to win UN recognition of a Palestinian state. Organizers say they didn’t want to be overtly political for fear of putting off foreign pilgrims in search of a religious experience. Some 90,000 foreign visitors are expected to throng the Church of the Nativity and adjacent Manger Square in December, including 50,000 during Christmas week. "We want to use this opportunity to convey a message to the world that we have hope of having our own independent state and we need the international support for that," said Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes. "Since Christmas is a religious occasion, we can’t use direct political slogans." Volunteers will distribute postcards with the Christmas motto in the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. Visitors can then mail them at the Manger Square post office, using Palestinian stamps, another symbol of the state in the making. Members of a tour group from Britain and Canada heading into the Nativity church Tuesday had mixed feelings. Some, like 37-year-old pilot Mario Savian from Ontario, said they didn’t like injecting politics into Christmas. But Catherine Meecham, 62, a retired health worker from Scotland, said there was a legitimate connection because Christmas is a time to pray for peace. "I want to see people in Palestine find a peaceful solution," she said. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the cause of peace would be better served by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resuming negotiations with Israel. "We hope that the Palestinians will use the holiday season as a time to think ... and that ultimately they will soon expeditiously return to peace talks," he said. Abbas has said he won’t negotiate unless Israel halts construction for Jews on occupied lands the Palestinians want for their state, arguing settlement growth pre-empts the outcome of talks. As part of the campaign, the Palestinians also offer pre-Christmas media tours to highlight Bethlehem area settlement expansion and the disruption caused by Israel’s separation barrier which surrounds the city on three sides. Israel announced or approved plans for thousands more apartments for Jews in the Bethlehem area in recent months, settlement watchdogs say. "This Christmas will be an opportunity to show the real threat to the city of Bethlehem — the settlement enterprise and the wall that separates the city from its twin, Jerusalem," said Ziad Bandak, an Abbas adviser on Christian affairs. The Bethlehem area, which borders occupied lands Israel annexed to Jerusalem after the 1967 Mideast War, has been particularly hard-hit by settlement construction, said Hagit Ofran of the Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now.


She said the expansion is an attempt to block the Palestinians from establishing a capital in the annexed areas of Jerusalem — a reference to the fact that the construction creates an Israeli buffer between Palestinian areas Israel has effectively ceded, like Bethlehem, and any part of Jerusalem. Regev argued that Israel only approved construction "in areas where there’s a strong consensus internationally that they’ll stay part of Israel" in a final peace deal. However, the international community has repeatedly urged Israel to halt settlement construction. After Christmas, Abbas’ government also plans to seek UN recognition of Bethlehem as a world heritage site, following acceptance of Palestine as a member of the world body’s cultural agency, UNESCO. The successful UNESCO membership bid further strained relations with Israel, which accused Abbas of trying to bypass negotiations with unilateral actions and temporarily suspended the transfer of $100 million in Palestinian tax refunds. Over the years, Christmas in Bethlehem has reflected the rollercoaster of the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. Tourism experienced a long dry spell at the height of the second Palestinian uprising a decade ago — at one point Palestinian gunmen on the run from Israeli troops even barricaded themselves in the Nativity church for a month. During the relative lull of recent years, the number of visitors has risen gradually, in part because Israel has eased access through the barrier which consists of gray cement slabs along the stretch separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem. This year, the number of foreign visitors is expected to be up about 10 percent from last year, mainly because more pilgrims are coming from Russia and Poland, new markets for the Palestinian tourism industry, officials said. Local Christians say they have no problem with politicizing the holiday, saying the conflict with Israel affects everyone’s lives here. "The settlements and the wall turned Bethlehem into a jail," said Suzan Atallah, a 48year-old teacher and mother of four. "My school can’t take the students to sacred places that they read about in Jerusalem because of the wall and the permits," she added, referring to Israel’s stringent entry restrictions for Palestinians. In Beit Jalla, a town next to Bethlehem, prayers at the local Roman Catholic church have focused on the fear of losing land to Israel’s separation barrier, said the congregation’s priest, Father Ibrahim Shomaly. Israel portrays the wall as a defense against militants who during the years of violence would regularly infiltrate Israel, killing hundreds in suicide bombings and other attacks. The Palestinians denounce it a land grab, because in many places it encroaches into the West Bank, effectively pushing the de facto border forward. Shomaly said a new section currently under construction near Beit Jalla will hamper the community’s access to hundreds of acres of land. "We started praying six weeks ago and will keep praying until God helps us protect our land," the priest said. The Jerusalem Post – December 8, 2011

South Sudanese  gear  up  for  Christmas  in  Holy  Land   "We pray and dance all night," says Tel Aviv upholsterer. Simon Koang Gai would love to slaughter a cow for the traditional South Sudanese Christmas feast, but pulling off such a holiday treat would be far too expensive in Israel. 8

“It cost very much money to buy a cow in Israel,” Gai said. The 39-year-old South Sudan native owns the appropriately named “Holy Land” upholstery store on Chelnov Street in south Tel Aviv, where he refurbishes motorcycle seats and furniture and repairs satellite dishes. On Wednesday, he spoke excitedly about the upcoming Christmas celebrations his community was planning at their church in south Tel Aviv, in particular the late-night praying and dancing extravaganza that is Christmas Eve for South Sudanese. “We pray and dance all night, but it’s not dancing for us, it’s dancing for the lord,” Gai said. The day after the all-night festival at the church on Levanda street in Tel Aviv and at the community’s church in Arad, those who can will make their way to Bethlehem on Sunday. Gai said on Christmas, South Sudanese travel far and wide to reunite with their families in their home villages, traveling back home from Khartoum and beyond, often at great risk. In addition, Gai said they travel from house to house bringing good tidings to their neighbors, and that massive communal barbecues are held. When asked if they decorate Christmas trees, he replied matter-of-factly, “no, we don’t have those trees in South Sudan.” Gai moved to Israel three years ago after spending four years in Egypt, where he arrived after fleeing South Sudan. Owing to his fervent evangelical faith, Gai keeps a bible on hand and highlights his points with scripture. Thumbing through the book of Isaiah, he comes to chapter 18 verses 1-7, which describe “a people tall and smooth of skin” who come from a land “the rivers divide” and make their way to Mount Zion. He rolls up his sleeve to reveal what is indeed a hairless forearm, which along with his well over 6-foot frame would suggest a resemblance to the description given in the book of Isaiah. Gai said the Christian population in the South Sudanese community in Israel – estimated to number around 3,000 – is mainly Evangelical with some Catholics, mostly in the community in the Negev city of Arad. As opposed to Sudan, South Sudan is predominantly Christian and Animist, with a Muslim minority. The Christianity practiced in the country has been heavily influenced by local traditions and has customs quite different than those practiced in the West. A few blocks away, at a hair salon outside the new central bus station, Johannes Aforki, a 28-year-old Eritrean of Ethiopian extract chewed khat leaves and spoke of Christmas traditions in his Orthodox Christian homeland as the mild narcotic stimulant seeped into his veins. “There’s no work on Christmas, it’s a holiday. We go to church and pray, and you buy new clothes for Christmas and wear them.” “I haven’t seen my family in 10 years, but I’ll call them and talk to them on the phone,” Aforki said, adding that he’ll probably cry speaking to them as another holiday passes without them. The Jerusalem Post – December 23, 2011

Pope receives  members  of  the  Israeli  Religious  Council   VATICAN CITY – "In our troubled times, dialogue between different religions is becoming ever more important in the generation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding 9

and respect that can lead to friendship and solid trust in each other. This is pressing for the religious leaders of the Holy Land who, while living in a place full of memories sacred to our traditions, are tested daily by the difficulties of living together in harmony". With these words Benedict XVI greeted members of the Israeli Religious Council, whom he received in audience this morning in the Vatican. The Council brings together leaders of the main religious communities in Israel, as well as representatives from other institutions and organisations. This was the first meeting of its kind in the history of relations between the Israel and the Holy See. "As I remarked in my recent meeting with religious leaders at Assisi", said the Pope continuing his English-language remarks, "today we find ourselves confronted by two kinds of violence: on the one hand, the use of violence in the name of religion and, on the other, the violence that is the consequence of the denial of God which often characterises life in modern society. In this situation, as religious leaders we are called to reaffirm that the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. This is a truth that must become ever more visible in the way in which we live with each other on a daily basis. Hence, I wish to encourage you to foster a climate of trust and dialogue among the leaders and members of all the religious traditions present in the Holy Land. "We share a grave responsibility to educate the members of our respective religious communities", he added, "with a view to nurturing a deeper understanding of each other and developing an openness towards cooperation with people of religious traditions other than our own. ... Justice, together with truth, love and freedom, is a fundamental requirement for lasting and secure peace in the world. Movement towards reconciliation requires courage and vision, as well as the trust that it is God Himself Who will show us the way. We cannot achieve our goals if God does not give us the strength to do so. "When I visited Jerusalem in May 2009, I stood in front of the Western Wall and, in my written prayer placed between the stones of the Wall, I asked God for peace in the Holy Land. I wrote: 'God of all ages, on my visit to Jerusalem, the City of Peace, spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, I bring before You the joys, the hopes and the inspirations, the trials, the suffering and the pain of all Your people throughout the world. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft; send Your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of all who call upon Your name to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion. 'The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him!' "May the Lord hear my prayer for Jerusalem today and fill your hearts with joy during your visit to Rome. May He hear the prayer of all men and women who ask him for the peace of Jerusalem. Indeed, let us never cease praying for the peace of the Holy Land, with confidence in God Who Himself is our peace and consolation". Vatican Information Service – November 10, 2011

Statement of  the  Council  of  Religious  Leaders  in  Israel   "Free Access for Believers to Their Respective Holy Sites Must Be Provided" On the occasion of meeting H.H. Pope Benedict XVI, this tenth day of November 2011, we the religious leaders in the State of Israel affirm our belief in the Creator of the Universe 10

who directs His world with loving kindness and compassion and who calls upon us human beings to live with one another in peace and dignity. The Council of Religious Leaders expresses gratitude to His Holiness for this outstanding meeting, and holds in esteem his activity to bring hearts together and to bring peace throughout the world. First and foremost, we reiterate our commitment to the sanctity of human life and reject all violence, especially when this is done in the name of religion – a desecration of the sacred. In order to maintain peace and mutual respect among the different religious communities in our State, we must educate our children and congregations accordingly and prevent any offense against the feelings or beliefs of others. We inherited the Holy Sites from our forebears, and we are required to preserve their religious sanctity and cultural significance. We do this, also in the name of Israeli Law related to the protection of the Holy Sites. The unity and special character of the Holy Sites must be protected from all violence and desecration. It is the responsibility of the religious leaders to strengthen this approach and to call on their communities to ensure that the Holy Sites of other religious communities are not harmed. In accordance with the above, and in keeping with the commandments and prohibitions of each respective religion, free access for believers to their respective holy sites must be provided, and the empowered civil authorities must guarantee this. Our religious heritages teach us that peace, doing justice, and righteousness are the commandments of the Holy One Blessed Be He, and as religious leaders, we have a special duty to be attentive to the cry of the weak in our midst and to work together for a more just and fair society. We reiterate our commitment to do everything in our power to fulfill this important charge, especially in the Holy Land, which is dear to us all. Offering our prayer heavenwards, we give thanks to the Creator, who has enabled us to come together this day in order to work together to bring a blessing for all. Zenit – November 10, 2011

Address to  Pope  From  Chief  Rabbi  of  Israel   "There Is No Reason Why the Sons of Abraham Should Not Be Able to Live in Peace" Your Holiness, We appreciate very much this unique historical opportunity in which we, the leaders of the religious communities in Israel, a country that is holy to us all, are gathered together in order to meet you. The Holy Land encompasses many religions, and I believe that there is no other language capable of solving the problems of the Middle East besides the language of religion, as spoken by its leaders; after all, most attachments to this land derive from religious sentiments. We thank to the Almighty, that the Land of Israel can serve as an example to the entire world for the manner in which so many and such varied religions live and act alongside one another. We do this under absolute freedom of religion and observance, and in a spirit of mutual respect and regard.


Your Holiness, During your impressive and exciting visit to the Holy Land, I was reminded of one of the most famous prophesies – that of Ezekiel chapter thirty seven, the Prophesy of the Dry Bones. There, the Almighty promises him that, "Here I will open your graves and I will bring you from your graves with me to the Land of Israel …Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD who has spoken and has done it." We believe that this speech is addressed to us. I am the son to a family that was mostly annihilated during the Shoa in Poland and Germany. Remnants of those Jews returned like dried bones to our country after the war. We believe that it is only thanks to the spirit of the Divine that they managed to return and participate in rebuilding the land, thus fulfilling the prophet's words. Today, too, we meet on an historical date. Tonight, the tenth of November seventy three years ago, our synagogues were destroyed in Kristallnacht – the night of the glass shards. That terrible event, during which Nazi hands destroyed hundreds of synagogues, torah scrolls and other holy books, marks the beginning of the Shoa – the worst tragedy in our history. It would only end after six million people were exterminated – among them women and children whose only crime was being Jewish. Unfortunately, the Satan of hate does not rest. Shoa deniers raise their heads in public even today, when we still have amongst us those remnants who still bear in public their tattooed number on their arm – a living proof to the atrocity. Still, the deniers are undeterred, and a president of a country east of the Euphrat continues to promise that he will annihilate us and our state. Unfortunately, the world hears and reacts with irrelevant and meaningless chatter. Such was the world's reaction while the Nazis were rising to power. This thundering silence encouraged only the malicious perpetrators to implement their plans. We, the religious leaders of the Holy Land, have come to prove, once and for all, that we can live in peace; we do so in mutual respect and appreciation, in freedom to serve our Lord, in the words of the prophet: each following his belief. We, the Council of Religious Leaders in the Holy Land, in the State of Israel, wish to convey through you to other religious leaders in other countries: please, spread this message of respect and reciprocity to your countries. There is no reason why the sons of Abraham should not be able to live in peace with each other. Why should we cause sadness to our Lord in Heaven. We hope that our country will be the one from which the message of peace and the prophesies of the bible will come to pass. Your Holiness, We appreciate your kind hospitality and your blessed activity for world peace. We will all continue to pray together so that the words of Isaiah will come to pass: "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore…" and in the words of the Psalms: "The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace." Amen. Zenit – November 10, 2011


Historical agreement  between  Jews  and  an  Orthodox  Church   On December 6th. 2011, Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger signed a historic declaration in Nicosia, Cyprus, with Archbishop Chrysostomos, primate of the Church of Cyprus, affirming the illegitimacy of the doctrine of collective Jewish guilt for the deicide of Jesus. This is the first time an Orthodox church has explicitly repudiated this doctrine, which was one of the most important factors in the development of religious anti-Semitism in Europe. The declaration also states that the two men promised to deepen relations between the Church and the Jewish people. “We have signed today a historic declaration about the Jewish relationship with the Orthodox Church,” Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told The Jerusalem Post. “Until now, the Orthodox churches have been reluctant to take this kind of step, but the Church of Cyprus has taken on this responsibility with today’s brave declaration. “We hope that now, step by step, we will be able to enter into similar relationships with the other major Orthodox churches, such as the Greek and the Russian churches,” he said. The declaration explicitly states, however, that the Church of Cyprus was never party to accusations of collective guilt or to the “systematic negation” of Jewry. “We accordingly affirm the repudiation of such prejudice as incompatible with the teaching of the Holy Scriptures,” reads the declaration. “We, the chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, and the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos, give thanks to God for the blessed increase of this mutual respect and affirm our commitment to advancing excellent relations between Cyprus and Israel,” the declaration says. The Orthodox Church of Cyprus is one of the 14 autocephalous, or independent, churches of the Eastern Orthodox Communion. Adherents of the Orthodox churches number some 300 million people, 700,000 of whom belong to the Church of Cyprus. The Roman Catholic Church repudiated the notion of the collective guilt of the Jewish people for Jesus’s death in 1965 with the promulgation of the Nostra Aetate, passed by the Second Vatican Council, which states that although some Jewish authorities called for Jesus’s death, blame cannot be apportioned to all Jews from that time, nor can Jews today be held accountable. The other major provision of Tuesday’s pronouncement declares that proselytizing among the respective communities “undermines the religious identity of the other” and is “incompatible with mutual respect.” Metzger emphasized the political importance of the declaration, pointing to the strong influence of the churches in Cyprus and the other countries with predominantly Christian Orthodox populations. “Many people in these countries look to the approach of their religious leaders for guidance and take their political views from the stance of the Church,” Metzger said. “This kind of declaration gives legitimacy to the State of Israel in the eyes of these people and has a significant political impact.” Metzger also referred to the strengthening of ties between Cyprus and Israel following the decline in Israel-Turkey relations in recent years. “People in Cyprus feel much stronger because they are closer to Israel,” he said. “You cannot walk around this country without meeting citizens who will talk of the pain they feel that Turkey stole half their island and occupied it.”


With an eye on the recent diplomatic strife with Turkey as well as general conflict with other parts of the Islamic world, Metzger called the rapprochement between Judaism and the Orthodox Church a “revolutionary” change, years in the making, which is important in light of a new common “enemy.” The declaration also affirmed the teachings of both Judaism and Christianity regarding the sanctity of life and stated that “accordingly, we condemn all acts that desecrate this sanctity, in particular violence and terror against innocents and especially when this involves the abuse of the name of God and religion.” Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee and honorary adviser to the Chief Rabbinate on interfaith matters, welcomed the declaration, but said that it was only the beginning of the process. “It is significant in that the head of the Church of Cyprus is making this declaration,” he said. “But the main importance is the potential to expand the content of this declaration to the greater part of the Orthodox world.” By Jeremy Sharon The Jerusalem Post – December 8, 2011

Israelis and  Palestinians:  win  together  or  lose  together Caritas General-Secretary in Jerusalem on Christians in Jesus' Land ROME – According to Claudette Habesch, the Caritas general-secretary in Jerusalem, the problems of the Holy Land are political and land-related, not religious. But Israelis and Palestinians face the same choice: "There is no victory for one people and defeat for the other," she says. "We either win together, Israelis and Palestinians, or we lose together." Habesch spoke with Mark Riedemann for Where God Weeps in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need about the situation in the Holy Land, and particularly the plight of Palestinian Christians. Q: The Holy Land is the place where the Prince of Peace walked. Despite this, peace has yet to come, and terrible divisions continue to divide the community of Palestinians and Jews. Habesch: Well, maybe my first comment would be the real issue is not Palestinians and Jews. It is Palestinians and Israelis, and that is a big difference for us. Our problem is not a religious problem. It is not Palestinians versus Jews. It is a political problem, a problem of land and not of religion. Q: You are a Roman Catholic Palestinian. You were a child refugee. Can you tell us a little bit about your story? Habesch: When I was very young I was made a refugee. I lost my home, I lost my bed, I lost my thoughts. My parents took us for safety to our winter home in Jericho and we never came back. As a child the real problem for me was that I could not understand why I could not get back to my home, why I could not have my clothes and my toys ... Q: Did this childhood experience engender bitterness or anger? Habesch: No, because I was brought up in a family that made sure that we were happy children. I have great admiration for my parents. I do not think about bitterness. Because my parents made sure we got the best education, we got the best family home. But I really wanted to see my family home again. I really hope that justice will come one day. Unfortunately it is more than 60 years, and justice has not been done. 14

Q: So you can forgive, but you cannot forget? Habesch: Exactly, I do forgive. But, I cannot forget. I say I cannot forget, because I do not want to forget. I believe I have a right and justice should be restored. Thank God that I am a mother. My daughter lives some six miles away from my home. It is in Jerusalem, but there is the famous checkpoint that we call the Checkpoint of Humiliation, the Kalandia checkpoint. Coming back from her home to my home, it sometimes takes three hours to travel six miles. But when I look in the face of those young soldiers who are manning the checkpoints, when they scream at you, I look at them and I forgive, because I am a mother. And I think, my God if this is victory please God do not give it to my children. I would not want to see my children in the place of those soldiers. Q: It is always like this? Habesch: Yes, for example, when I travel through the Ben-Gurion Tel-Aviv Airport -and I do agree about security we need security for all of us, we need it for the Israelis, but also we need security for the Palestinians -- at the airport under the banner of security our bags go through the X-rays. This is acceptable to me, but then automatically because I am Palestinian I am asked to go to another checkpoint, which takes a good one or two hours whereby they check every single thing in your bags. After they check your bags, they take you to a special room where they ask you to take off your shoes, to take off your jacket. Even this is ok. But sometimes the way they search you is not right ‌ it seems that they are trying to find a bomb under my skin. For example, when you wear pants, if there is a zipper, the alarm rings. So: "take off your pants." Sometimes they ask you to strip completely. Do you know how humiliating this is when it is a girl who is the age of your children, or maybe younger? Q: I want to address a little bit the situation of the Christians, because I have the impression that the Christians are caught between two stools: on one side the nationalist Jewish parties and on the other an increasingly fundamentalist Islam. Would you agree with this assessment? Habesch: This is a very interesting question. Why do you presuppose that Christians are discriminated, or persecuted? You are not the first one who asks me this question, and many journalists do the same. I am a Palestinian Christian Arab. This is who I am. And whatever befalls the Palestinian citizens is the same for me. There is no difference. But, do I look as if I am persecuted; do I look as if I am afraid? If I were afraid, I would not be sitting here and talking to you. The fact is that we are not persecuted. We have access to the same rights as everybody, all the other Palestinians. Q: But why then are so many people leaving the country? Habesch: Yes, there is emigration, and unfortunately the ones emigrating are young people ... and they are middle class. Christians emigrate, but also Muslims emigrate, but, because we are so few in number today, it is more obvious when we leave -- we leave a void. Q: I would imagine that young Christians are leaving because they see that for their children, their future looks pretty bleak. Habesch: The future looks a bit bleak for all of us Palestinian people, and we wonder if the international community is really interested in bringing peace to this land. This is why they leave, not because of other issues. I have three children; the three of them studied in the United States, they graduated with honors, they could have succeeded in the United States. They chose to come back to Jerusalem. They are Jerusalemites. They care. They care about their identity, and you know they could have stayed in the United States and they would have had a much easier life. But, I believe that as Christians from the Mother Church, it is a privilege to live in Jerusalem. It is the most beautiful city in the world. But, it carries a lot of


weight, a lot of responsibility. We do not want Jerusalem to become a museum. This is why we stay. Q: What roles do Christians play between the Jewish and the Palestinian communities? Habesch: Christians play a role. Because I am part of this people, a Palestinian Christian, but also because of my belief of tolerance, of forgiveness, and hopefully reconciliation, I think we have a message -- and our role is to give hope. Q: Ultimately you are hopeful for the future? Habesch: My belief, my faith does not allow me not to hope. Yes, sometimes you see people have lost hope. They are desperate. You see it drawn on their faces. But, thank God, I have never lost that hope, and this is why I stay. This is why I do the work I do -- to accompany those who need to be accompanied. With my faith, I believe that this is possible, and don't forget that this is the Land of Peace. This is where it all started, the message of peace. Jesus started this message of peace, but I also remember that Jesus cried over Jerusalem. Q: The first tears… Habesch: Yes, you know our Patriarch always said: "This is the Church of the Calvary." It is true we are the Church of the Calvary, but do not forget we are the Church of the Resurrection, we are the Church of the victory of life over death, we are the victory of hope over desperation. So, definitely we will stay, we will continue our mission and peace is possible, but, we need you to help us. We need the international community to realize that alone we cannot have peace; we need the United Nations to implement the resolutions. We need to have respect for the Geneva Convention; we need to have respect of international law. We need to have respect for human rights. Q: Even Jesus needed Simon to carry the Cross. Habesch: Yes, and we need you. We need all of you. We need the international community to step in and help these two peoples to recognize one another, to respect one another, because, at the end of the day, there is no victory for one people and defeat for the other. We either win together, Israelis and Palestinians, or we lose together. *** This interview was conducted by Mark Riedemann for "Where God Weeps," a weekly television and radio show produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network in conjunction with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. Zenit – December 2, 2011

Churches in  Israel  struggling  to  keep  up   with  mass  influx  of  foreign  workers     While the number of Christians with roots in Israel is on the decline, temporary residents are flocking to local services in record numbers. Shifting demographics are changing the landscape of Israel's Christian communities as an influx of migrant workers poses a new set of demands for local churches. While the number of Christians with roots in Israel - including Arabic, Ethiopian, Coptic, Greek and Armenian Christians - is diminishing due to immigration, statistics show the overall population of Christians remains steady due to the arrival of many foreign workers. In fact, the churches themselves appear to be growing. 16

But in many cases, the additional membership is only temporary. Many of these foreign workers eventually leave Israel, either after they've made enough money to return home or when their visas expire. This shift in demographics is evident in the Masses at two Roman Catholic churches in Jaffa. While St. Anthony and St. Peter offer only two Masses in Arabic for the town's native Arab Christian population, they now offer four Saturday Masses in English. Those services are attended primarily by Filipina caregivers. Additional services are also offered in Spanish and French for African migrants, and several are offered in South Asian languages. St. Peter holds a service in Hebrew for more fully assimilated Christian children and Russian immigrants. Father Ramzi Sidawi - an Arab Catholic from Jerusalem and the parish priest in Jaffa says the presence of foreign workers poses a unique challenge for the community. Some, he said, try to prove paternity or seek baptism for children without papers. Recently, he said, a woman visited his office who had a visa for only two days. "They gave it to her on the 13th of December and it [expired] on the 15th," he said, shaking his head. "But somehow these people manage. Nobody knows how many there are, but they also provide cheap labor in jobs no Israeli wants to do." Sidawi said his community has about 1,000 Arab Christians and about 20 times as many church members who hail from other backgrounds; in most cases they come from the Philippines. A separate church near Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station also caters specifically to Filipino church-goers. "The language does make a difference," said Sidawi. In some cases Indians and Filipinos are able to follow along in shared services, he said; sometimes they understand Spanish. "That is why," Sidawi explains, "there is little contact among them beyond shared Masses on Christmas and other festivals: 80 to 90 percent remain in their own communities." Non-Arab church-goers in Jaffa tend to live elsewhere, he said, mainly in districts in south Tel Aviv with many foreign workers. These workers typically bus to church. "I have been living here for 30 years now," said Shirley, a Filipino immigrant whose son is a altar server at St. Anthony. "We are very warm and friendly with each other in this church," she said, noting that Arab church-goers often keep to themselves. Shirley said her community has changed drastically due to deportation over the past 10 years. Sidawi also has noticed a change. He recalls the many Romanian foreign workers who once lived and worked in Israel in the early 1990s. "They all vanished," he said. Provost Uwe Grabe of Jerusalem's Church of the Redeemer now speaks of "a completely new Christianity in the Holy Land." It remains unclear whether, in the long run, it will be possible to create a dialogue between the old and new communities, he said. If not, he said they risk becoming disconnected, fragmented islands - a trend he foresees happening in the future to West Bank Christians. According to Grabe, Christian emigration from the West Bank is causing a continuous decrease in the number of Arab church-goers. Eventually there will only be a few communities left around the holy sites, he warns. By Julia Niemann Haaretz -– December 30, 2011


Archbishop of  Manila  in  Holy  Land  talked  about  the  pastoral   care  of  Hebrew  speaking  catholics  Philipinos   Just weeks after his appointment, the young Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila, the Most Rev. Luis Antonio Tagle, went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was an occasion to explore with him the issue of pastoral care for migrants, particularly those from the Philippines. President of the Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, a member of the International Theological Commission, Bishop of Imus, Cavite since 2001, the Most Rev. Luis Antonio Tagle was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI metropolitan Archbishop of Manila on October 13th. A few weeks after his appointment, he visited the Holy Places in the Holy Land with 100 pilgrims including members of the Philippine Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. It presented the opportunity to reach out to the many Filipino migrants through the Latin Patriarchate and discuss in depth their pastoral care with His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Father David Neuhaus, SJ, patriarchal vicar for the Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel and overall coordinator of the Commission for Pastoral Care of Migrant Workers and Asylum Seekers. "With Archbishop Tagle, we talked about the reality of Filipinos settled here, seeking ways to better assist in their spiritual, religious, educational needs," Father Neuhaus said. "The Archbishop desires to be part of the pastoral care for Filipino migrants and a continuing dialogue and pastoral collaboration between the Latin Patriarchate and the Archdiocese of Manila." The number of Christian migrants in the Holy Land continues to increase in the last 20 years. There is now a significant population of Israeli citizens who are non-Arab Christians, who unlike the Arabs, are fully assimilated into the Israeli Jewish majority. Filipinos follow this trend. Today 40,000 are immersed in the Hebrew-speaking environment through their work and their children’s school. Their presence is a new challenge for the local church which is dealing with thousands of children of migrant workers who speak Hebrew as their first language and who are under the influence of mainstream society. To strengthen their faith, the local church has developed and teaches Catechism in Hebrew. "To express our faith in a language which is the original language of the Old Testament, but has never been used as Christian language is very exciting," stated Father Neuhaus in an interview during the recent CELRA (Conference of Catholic Bishops in the Arab Region) meeting (October 11-13) in Rome, in connection with the challenges posed by the arrival of a new Catholic population in Israel. "It’s a key moment for the Catholic Church of Israel, both for working with migrant communities and also for the efforts of reconciliation with the Jewish community." At the same time, like all churches in the Middle East, the Catholic Church is facing an uncertain future for its local communities, according to the article: “In the Holy Land, a changed Christian world” or through the Hebrew-speaking Vicariate website. It is reported that the number of indigenous Arab Christians, which is 110,000 has been stagnant, without diminishing it has not increased either. Many young people leave the country for the West as they are caught between Jews and Muslims in an ongoing conflict, and experiencing the feeling of abandonment that is shared by Israeli Arabs. 18

Archbishop Tagle also had a private meeting in Bethlehem with the Apostolic Delegate and Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco who was Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines from 1999 to 2006. During the pilgrimage, Archbishop Tagle who is a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher received his pilgrim shell from the Patriarch. Knights and Ladies of the Philippine Lieutenancy who also received their pilgrim shells were: Ambassador Jesus Tambunting, Mrs. Margarita Tambunting, Mrs. Marilen Espiritu and Atty. Rene Banez. Family members and friends of the Knights and Ladies, groups from the Jesuit Communications in Manila and the Diocese of Imus were among the pilgrims. The Archdiocese of Manila was established as a suffragan diocese of Mexico on February 6, 1579 by Pope Gregory XIII by virtue of the Apostolic Constitution “Illius fulti praesido,” following the first successful missionary efforts. Today, the metropolitan Archdiocese of Manila has a population of 3,296,000, Catholics are 2,884,000, priests 642, permanent deacons 3, religious 1,481. Archbishop Tagle succeeds His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who succeeded His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin. By Amelie La Hougue, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – November 2, 2011

Reform Jewish  Israeli  Movement:   ’Incitement  by  rabbis  going  unpunished’   Reform Movement report to Knesset claims police not investigating most complaints of incitement. The Reform Movement in Israel presented a report to the Knesset Lobby Against Racism on Tuesday about racial incitement by rabbinical figures. The report claims that most complaints against rabbis accused of religious incitement are not investigated. Out of 48 complaints filed between 2002 and 2011, the police initiated just 18 criminal investigations, the report says. The remaining complaints were either dropped prior to investigation or were left unanswered. In only five cases were the accused rabbis put on trial, and four of these were ultimately dropped because the rabbis in question apologized for the comments. “These rabbis are a minority among rabbis in Israel, but their number is growing and the legitimacy which they hold must spur action against them,” said Reform Movement director Anat Hoffman. “These rabbis are undermining the foundations of Israeli democracy, fanning hatred and fear and staining Judaism with hatred of the other.” The report cites numerous cases of rabbinic incitement, including one in which Rabbis Yitzhak and David Batzri addressed a conference in Jerusalem that was intended to prevent the establishment of a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in the city’s Pat neighborhood. The rabbis said at the conference that “Arabs are a nation of donkeys, they are Satan and are evil. The question could be asked, ‘Why didn’t God make them walk on all fours like other donkeys?’ The answer is that they need to be cleaners and builders, but they need to understand that they are donkeys.” 19

“Presumably someone who devotes his life to sacred matters must meet high standards of ethics and morality,” Hoffman said. “But the reality is that these rabbis are not called to account for actions which would be considered a violation of the law, if they were made by any other state employee.” By Jeremy Sharon The Jerusalem Post – November 9, 2011

A Unique  Archaeological  Discovery  –  a  Crusader  Inscription   in  Arabic,  found  in  Tel  Aviv   A Unique Archaeological Discovery – a Crusader Inscription in Arabic, found in Tel Aviv, which bears the name of Frederick II, “King of Jerusalem” Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: “This is the only Crusader inscription in the Arabic language ever found in the Middle East” An Arabic inscription that bears the name of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, and the date “1229 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus the Messiah”, was recently deciphered by Professor Moshe Sharon and Ami Shrager of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During the deciphering it became evident that this is a rare archaeological find – the only one of its kind. The 800-years-old inscription was fixed years ago in the wall of a building in Tel Aviv. The original location of the gray marble slab, on which the inscription is engraved, was probably in Jaffa’s city wall. As Professor Sharon relates, "Frederick II led the Sixth Crusade of 1228-1229 and succeeded, without resorting to arms, in achieving major territorial gains for the Crusader Kingdom. His most important feat was the handing over of Jerusalem to the Crusaders by the Egyptian sultan al-Malik al-Kamil as a result of an armistice agreement the two rulers signed in 1229. Prior to achieving this agreement, the emperor fortified the castle of Jaffa and left in its walls, as it now appears, two inscriptions, one in Latin and the other in Arabic. The Arabic inscription was drafted by Frederick’s officials, or possibly even the emperor himself, and it is the one which has been now deciphered”. Although just a small part of the Latin inscription was preserved, it was enough to ascribe it, already at the end of the nineteenth century, to Frederick II. Today, with the aid of the Arabic inscription, it is possible to virtually complete the text of that fragment. The unique Arabic inscription is almost completely intact. It lists all of the titles of Frederick II, and as already stated, has no counterpart elsewhere. In Sicily, where Frederick’s main royal palace was located, no Arabic inscription of his has been found to this date. Furthermore, until now this is the only Crusader inscription in the Arabic language ever found in the Middle East. Frederick II, despite having been excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX, crowned himself king of Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and mentioned his being the ‘King of Jerusalem’ in this inscription. He knew Arabic and maintained a close relationship with the Egyptian royal family. A scientific publication of the inscription is currently being prepared by Professor Sharon and Ami Shrager. The Jerusalem Post – November 14, 2011


Overlooked relics  may  help  unearth  Dead  Sea  Scrolls'  authors   Study of garments found with scrolls in Qumran caves seems to support contested theory of separatist Essene authorship. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves in the Judean Desert, tattered pieces of fabric were found with them, sometimes wrapping them and sometimes stuffed into the jars in which they were found. Scholars, focusing on the scrolls, arguably the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century, ascribed little importance to the fabric. But in recent years, Dr. Orit Shamir of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Naama Sukenik (a relative of Eliezer Sukenik, who identified the scrolls ) of Bar-Ilan University have shone their scholarly spotlight on the crumbling cloth. Soon to be published in the prestigious Dead Sea Discoveries journal, their conclusions will likely not put to rest the heated debate over the identity of the people who wrote the scrolls. But scholars who surmise that the ancient volumes were written by a separatist sect will find in the research support for their position. Shamir, conservator of organic materials in the Antiquities Authority, is in charge of a small, crowded, humidity-controlled storeroom in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim industrial zone, filled with organic materials discovered in various digs. "I always say that I did my doctorate on rags," Shamir says, laughing. She studied weaving for two years, even weaving fabric on a model of a Second Temple period wooden loom that she built herself. Among the finds in the storeroom are a number of boxes containing small, torn pieces of cream-colored linen from Qumran. Shamir and Sukenik found that these fabrics are different from any others found in excavations from the same period. Both Jews and Romans wore mainly woolen garments Shamir says, and so wool is the fabric mainly found at archaeological sites. Most of the clothing also featured a dark red pattern described both in Talmudic and non-Jewish sources. But pieces of cloth from Qumran are completely different. They are all made of linen rather than wool and are devoid of decoration. They were also bleached, apparently by soaking them in bicarbonate of soda produced from plants, which Shamir says was both costly and labor-intensive. Shamir says that linen, which was more expensive than wool, was worn as a manifestation of religious observance. According to Shamir, both Romans and Jews wore white "to stand out and convey modesty." The researchers believe that after the fabrics were too tattered for further use as clothing, they were used to wrap the scrolls. The fact that the inhabitants of Qumran wore white dovetails perfectly with a description by the ancient historian Josephus that acolytes of the Essene sect wore white. He mentions elsewhere that these garments were linen. The conclusions support the view of one scholarly camp that believes that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essenes, who concealed them at the site. But another camp, considered more radical, believes they were written in Jerusalem by the Sadducees, a religious faction that eventually died out. Shamir and Sukenik are in no hurry to tie their research to either school of thought, but it is hard to ignore the fact that it supports the theory that community of anchorites lived at


Qumran and wrapped their sacred scrolls in the remnants of their garments, hiding them in the caves for generations. Shamir points out the great similarity between the archaeological finds at the site and descriptions of the sect. Qumran is also unusual in that no evidence of weaving, traditional women's work, was found there, which Shamir says also supports that a sect in which no women were present lived at Qumran. Four pieces of fabric stand out among the hundreds in the study. They bore a single blue thread, woven in a square. Shamir, like the late scholar of the Judean Desert and Masada, Yigael Yadin, believes this fabric was not in secondary use, but was made to wrap and protect the scrolls, and the single blue thread was made to represent the Temple. By Nir Hasson Haaretz – November 28, 2011

Morbid theory  in  mystery  of  Israel's  answer  to  Stone  Henge   Archaeologist Rami Arav links structure of concentric stone circles in the Golan Heights, known as Rujm al-Hiri in Arabic and Galgal Refaim in Hebrew, to ancient method of disposing of the dead. A newly proposed solution to an ancient enigma is reviving debate about the nature of a mysterious prehistoric site that some call the Holy Land's answer to Stonehenge. Some scholars believe the structure of concentric stone circles known as Rujm al-Hiri was an astrological temple or observatory, others a burial complex. The new theory proposed by archaeologist Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska links the structure to an ancient method of disposing of the dead. The site's name means "stone heap of the wild cats" in Arabic. In Hebrew it is known as Galgal Refaim, or the "wheel of ghosts." It was first noticed by scholars in 1968, a year after Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, and despite its intriguing nature it has attracted few visitors. Unmarked, it lies an hour's hike from the nearest road, near old minefields, an abandoned military bunker and a few grazing cattle. Rujm al-Hiri's unremarkable appearance from the ground belies its striking form when seen from the air: It consists of four circles — the outermost more than 500 feet across — made up of an estimated 42,000 tons of basalt stone, the remains of massive walls that experts believe once rose as much as high as 30 feet. It is an enormous feat of construction carried out 6000 years ago by a society about which little is known. It seems likely that Rujm al-Hiri served residents of excavated villages nearby that were part of the same agrarian civilization that existed in the Holy Land in the Chalcolithic period, between 4500 and 3500 B.C. This predates the arrival of the Israelites as described in the Bible by as much as three millennia. But nothing is known about why they went to such great lengths to construct something that was not a village or fortress, whose location was not strategic and whose practical purpose is entirely unclear. Most scholars have identified Rujm al-Hiri as some kind of ritual center, with some believing it connected to astronomical calculations. Archaeologist Yonathan Mizrahi, one of the first to excavate there, found that to someone standing in the very center of the circles on


the morning of the summer solstice in 3000 B.C., "the first gleam of sunrise would appear at the center of the northeast entryway in the outer wall." Just like England's Stonehenge — thought to date to around 3000 B.C. at the earliest — Rujm al-Hiri has also provided fodder for ideas of a less scientific sort. One posits the site is the tomb of the Biblical giant known as Og, king of the Bashan. There is indeed a tomb in the center of the site, but scholars tend to agree it was added a millennia or two after the circles were erected. A self-proclaimed expert in supernatural energy fields visited the site in 2007 and claimed it had high levels of energy and vibration, which he suggested was the reason the ancients chose the location. A psychic consulted afterward by the same expert declared that Rujm al-Hiri had been a healing center built with knowledge that came from "ancient Babel" and was "managed by a priestess named Nogia Nogia." The theory proposed by Arav, who has led the excavation of another ancient site nearby since the late 1980s, is based on a broader look at the local Chalcolithic civilization and on similarities he noticed with more distant cultures. Arav published his idea in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, a U.S. periodical. "I tried to look at the whole culture of that time," said Arav. The Chalcolithic people of the Holy Land buried their dead in ossuaries, small boxes used to house bones. Use of ossuaries requires that the flesh first be removed, which can be achieved by burying bodies for an initial period in temporary tombs until only the bones remain. But archaeologists have not found evidence of such preliminary graves from Chalcolithic times, Arav said, suggesting a different method for disposing of the flesh. Arav found a clue in a trove of Chalcolithic artifacts discovered to the south, near the Dead Sea: a small copper cylinder with a square opening like a miniature gate and, crucially, figures of birds perched on the edge. He also noticed a similarity to round, high-walled structures used by Zoroastrians in Iran and India, known as dokhmas or towers of silence. These are buildings used for a process known as excarnation or sky burial — the removal of flesh from corpses by vultures and other birds. The winged scavengers perch on the high circular walls, swoop in when the pallbearers depart and can pick a skeleton clean in a matter of hours. Rujm al-Hiri, Arav believes, was an excarnation facility. The cylindrical object found near the Dead Sea, he believes, is a ceremonial miniature of such excarnation sites. He cites evidence — including a mural showing vultures and headless human corpses — that excarnation was practiced several millennia earlier in southern Turkey, where the local Chalcolithic residents are thought to have originated. Arav's theory is the first such claim that excarnation was practiced in the Holy Land in that era. Archaeologist Mike Freikman of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who has led digs at the site for the past five years, said Arav's theory was based only on "very distant parallels" rather than on hard evidence, but that it could not be ruled out. "We know so little about this site that the answer could be yes or no," he said. Freikman's excavations have yielded almost no material remains of the kind that are common at most archaeological sites, he said. That is significant, however, as it confirms that the site was never lived in and was thus not a defensive position or a residential quarter but most likely a ritual center of some kind — possibly, he said, one indeed linked to a cult of the dead. 23

If Arav's theory is correct, the biblical narrative written millennia later might offer hints that sky burial remained in the memory of the local population. No longer practiced, it was instead considered an appalling fate wished on one's worst enemies. In one example, from the Book of Samuel, the shepherd David tells the Philistine warrior Goliath that he would soon cut off his head. Then David says: "I will give the carcasses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth." The Associated Press – November 03, 2011

Excavations reveal  King  Herod  didn't  complete  construction   of  Jerusalem's  Western  Wall   Israel Antiques Authority reveals discovery of mikveh alongside Jerusalem's ancient drainage channel. Recent archeological excavations in Jerusalem show that, contrary to popular understanding, King Herod was not solely responsible for constructing the Western Wall. Israel's Antiques Authority announced Wednesday that the discovery of a mikveh (ritual bath) alongside Jerusalem's ancient drainage channel challenges the conventional archaeological perception that Herod built the wall in its entirety, saying it is now evident that construction was completed at least 20 years after Herod's death (believed to be in 4 BCE). The excavations, directed by IAA archaeologist Eli Shukron with assistance from Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, revealed three clay oil lamps of a type that was common in the first century CE as well as seventeen identifiable bronze coins. The clay oil lamps and bronze coins were found when archeologists sifted through soil removed from inside the sealed mikveh. According to Dr. Donald Ariel, curator of the IAA numismatic collection, the latest four coins were struck by the Roman procurator of Judea, Valerius Gratus, sometime around 17 or 18 CE – about 20 years after Herod's death. "This bit of archaeological information illustrates the fact that the construction of the Temple Mount walls and Robinson’s Arch was an enormous project that lasted decades and was not completed during Herod’s lifetime," said the IAA, adding that the find confirms descriptions by the Jewish historian Josephus, which state that it was only during the reign of King Agrippa II (Herod’s great-grandson) that the work was finished." By Nir Hasson Haartz – November 23, 2011

Israeli archaeologists  uncover  first  artifact  confirming   written  record  of  Temple  worship   Button-sized seal believed to designate ceremonially pure provisions for Temple worship, such as that described in the legend of Hanukkah. Israeli archaeologists have uncovered the first archeological find to confirm written testimony of the ritual practices at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. An Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeological survey at the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount yielded a tiny tin artifact, the size of a button, inscribed with the Aramaic


words: “Daka Le’Ya,” which the excavation directors on behalf of the IAA, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, explain means “pure for God.” Researchers believe the artifact, dated to the first century, towards the end of the Second Temple period, is a seal similar to those described in the Mishnah. If they are correct, this is the first time physical evidence of the temple ritual was found to corroborate the written record. The team believes the tiny seal was put on objects designated to be used in the temple, and thus had to be ceremonially pure. In this vein, and in the spirit of Hanukkah, Jerusalem District archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “It is written in the Talmud that the only cruse of oil that was discovered in the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, “lay with the seal of the High Priest” – that is: the seal indicated that the oil is pure and can be used in the Temple. Remember, this cruse of oil was the basis for the miracle of Hanukkah that managed to keep the menorah lit for eight days”. In addition to this artifact, the dig also yielded other Second Temple artifacts, some older from the time of the Hasmonean Dynasty rule, including oil lamps, earthenware pots, and containers filled with oils and perfumes, as well as coins bearing Hasmonean kings such as Alexander Jannaeus and John Hyrcanus Haaretz – December 25, 2011

Archaeologists criticize  new  bill  for  'politicizing'  Israel   Antiquities  Authority   Sole vote against bill comes from MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), who charged that the bill's 'true purpose' was to make it easier to add a political appointee to the post. The Knesset passed a bill in first reading on wednesday that would abolish a rule requiring the chairman of the Israel Antiquities Authority to be a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The bill, which will now go to committee for further discussion, passed by a vote of 301. The sole vote against the bill came from MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), who charged that the bill's "true purpose" was to make it easier to add a political appointee to the post. "The cat has been let out of the bag, to the degree that it was ever in the bag," he said. "The field of archaeology in Israel is a sensitive field, and it is exposed to a powerful onslaught of partisanship and politicization. Instead of doing proper professional work, archaeologists are forced to prove political theses that prove that we were here, or that we were here first, or all kinds of political theses that can obviously be debated in the political arena, but to which archaeological science shouldn't be subordinated." Culture Minister Limor Livnat, however, denied that the law was intended to enable political appointments. The bill says that the authority chairman need not be a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; he must merely be "a senior scientist in the field of history or archaeology." However, the appointment must be made "after consulting with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities."


The explanatory notes to the bill say that the current law forces the minister to choose the chairman from among a very limited group of candidates, while in practice, there are many suitable candidates who are not members of the Israel Academy. But senior archaeologists claim the bill's real purpose is to prevent the appointment of archaeologists identified with the left. In July, the heads of four university archaeology departments sent a letter urging Livnat to withdraw the bill. One of the signatories, Prof. Zeev Weiss of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Haaretz that the new law "could undermine archaeology's academic freedom and its ability to operate free of political influence." While he assumed a worthy candidate would be appointed this time, he said, "It could degenerate into people with a political agenda being chosen because of their agenda." Another archaeologist from a different university termed the bill "inappropriate," saying, "We're getting close to being a Third World country. This really depresses me. I have no doubt the issue is political." In addition to Weiss, the July letter was signed by Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, Dr. Haim Goldfus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Prof. Arthur Segal of Haifa University. By Nir Hasson and Jonathan Lis Haaretz – November 10, 2011

Congress of  French  pilgrimage  directors   met  in  Jerusalem  for  first  time   The 64th Conference of the National Association of Diocesan Directors of Pilgrimage (ANDDP) of France is being held for a first time in Jerusalem from the 14th to the 19th of November. The theme will focus on the verse " O LORD, You showed favor to Your land " (Ps 85:1), with the objective to "encourage pilgrimage to the Holy Land." Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, opened the conference and read the message of His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is currently in Lebanon for a conference of the seven Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. The Patriarch’s message stated that a pilgrimage to the Holy Land follows three vocations, all having the same purpose: to meet God. A three-fold vocation First, "to be a pilgrim is a vocation." It is an opportunity to meet with Christ in his homeland. History, archeology and tradition confirm that the history of salvation is real: "the life of Jesus is real and is part of our human history, within the particular geography of the Holy Land." Pilgrimage intensifies knowledge of the Church, deepens and renews the faith of the faithful who may witness change in their professional and family life. This notably differs from "religious tourism." Secondly, the Patriarch underlined that "to organize pilgrimages to the Holy Land is a true mission," emphasizing the importance of the spiritual fruits that come from a wellprepared pilgrimage. Bishop Shomali thanked the French dioceses "for the good work being done." Today, France is among the top four countries for its number of pilgrims. The Patriarch’s message as read by Bishop Shomali expressed the third vocation of pilgrimages in "the reception of pilgrims by the local Church…our local Church in all its structures and facilities: parishes, shrines, religious communities and sanctuaries welcome pilgrims. We continue to issue green cards and do our best to facilitate spiritual animation." 26

We look forward to future plans of building chapels for the sacrament of penance and reconciliation. We invite and encourage all pilgrims to attend Sunday Mass in a parish to meet the living stones of our Church." The Patriarchate recognizes and acknowledges the Custody of the Holy Land for its "laudable efforts" of welcoming pilgrims both at centers for reception of pilgrims and at the holy sites, organizing and facilitating the celebration of Masses in various holy places. Invite and encourage other pilgrims Father Patrick Gandoulas, ANDDP president, delivered his address and declared the 64th Congress open in presence of the 168 delegates gathered at the Notre Dame Center (formerly known as Our Lady of France.) This center was a century ago, the first pilgrimage site capable of hosting some 1,000 people, which in some way was the beginning of modern pilgrimage. His first words set the tone: "this conference is a visitation, an expression of solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Holy Land." He stated that the pilgrim is a figure of peace, without avoiding reality: "a pilgrim in the Holy Land knows the price of peace and bears it in his heart along the way... He walks on a land referred to in the Bible where God became incarnate. And this gives a special meaning to his walk, his looks, his words, his prayer, and his silence." Father Patrick stated that "to explain the depth of a pilgrimage is through the Bible and archeology, he wants this entrenched in the pilgrim path, which leads to sharing, solidarity and seeking more…" The ANDDP Conference of 2011 in the Holy Land wants to walk on this path, "to learn how to better guide and invite other pilgrims to a similar experience," he concluded. On the first day of the meetings, Father Alain Marchadour (an Assumptionist exegete) and Father David Neuhaus, SJ (Patriarchal Vicar for the Hebrew Speaking Catholics) in their presentations, helped the participants to understand the issues of this Land in relation to the Bible, and in relation to its historical, political and sociological situation. The Consul General of France in Jerusalem, His Excellency Frédéric Desagneaux, spoke about the country’s time period from 1918 until today. In the afternoon, the diocesan directors of pilgrimages with the Auxiliary Bishop for Jerusalem and the Consul General, inaugurated a new place of prayer in the garden of the convent of the Pater, on the site of the Eleona on top of Mount of Olives. In the evening of this opening day, all participants were welcomed at Holy Sepulchre by Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land. Bishop Shomali presided over the Mass at the Latin Patriarchate. By Christophe Lafontaine, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – November 15, 2011

Tourism Ministry  focuses  its  marketing  efforts  in  order  to   increase  incoming  tourism   The Tourism Ministry, via the recently-established Religious Affairs Desk, has launched a new Christian YouTube channel, designed to arouse interest amongst Christians around the world, challenge them to visit Israel and increase Christian tourism traffic to Israel. During the running-in period in the last few months, thousands of hits were registered on the channel, this even before the channel’s promotion. The channel, which includes short videos in a range of languages including, among others, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian and Polish, features short testimonials from pastors, religious 27

leaders and tourists speaking about the spiritual experience of their visit to the Holy Land as well as information on religious sites and events. The creation and promotion of the website is part of the ministry’s NIS 60 million marketing efforts in 2011 aimed at the Christian markets (with a similar budget allocated for 2012.) These activities include, among others, dozens of seminars and dedicated meetings with tour operators and decision makers (pastors and religious leaders) and massive targeted advertising activities in the Christian media etc. The ministry’s Catholic channel ( Holyland Pilgrimage) has already registered over 750,000 views. New content has been uploaded in recent months, alongside competitions on the Facebook page to encourage user-generated content. Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov: “We are looking forward to the future of advertising and marketing and are using tools and the knowledge we have accumulated in order to maximize the vast tourism potential associated with Israel. Incoming Christian tourism, in all its denominations, represents the main target market in which the Tourism Ministry focuses its marketing effort in order to increase incoming tourism. This new website will help transmit messages and the special spiritual significance of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” The Jerusalem Post – November 14, 2011

Following the  path  of  Jesus  in  northern  Israel   Tourism Ministry officials say newly launched NIS 3 million Gospel Trail does not detract from older Jesus Trail, but both are vying for Christian tourists. The Ministry of Tourism last week launched a new trail that follows Jesus' wanderings in the Lower Galilee, from Mount Precipice near Nazareth to the Capernaum area on the northern bank of Lake Kinneret. It consists of 62 kilometers of dirt paths, mostly in open areas, some in Jewish National Fund forests and in fruit orchards. The route is designed for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders. At the dedication ceremony for the Gospel Trail, held in Wadi Hamad near Migdal, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov explained that the trail is designed to expand touring possibilities for Christians, who represent over two-thirds of all incoming tourists - and to offer Israelis a new and unique attraction. The Tourism Ministry developed and repaired the path in cooperation with the JNF, at an overall investment of NIS 3 million (NIS 2 million of which came from the ministry budget), in light of the increase in Christian tourism to Israel in recent years, and the expectation of an additional 200,000 Christians arriving in the next two years. According to Misezhnikov, his ministry believes that promoting and marketing the new route to the relevant clientele will help bring economic prosperity to the Galilee and allow it to realize its tourist potential. Specifically, the Tourism Ministry believes that development of the Gospel Trail will lead to a significant increase in the number of both Israelis and tourists in the area, will attract businessmen and tourism entrepreneurs, and will encourage new business ventures in the vicinity. "The various types of Christian tourism constitute the main anchor of incoming tourism in Israel," explained Misezhnikov. "The Gospel Trail, which reinforces the spiritual experience of the visit for every tourist and traveler who comes to Israel, and particularly the 28

Christians among them, represents a major, positive means for exploiting the tourist potential of the Kinneret region. It will encourage economic momentum in the north thanks to creation of new jobs and an increase in income from the visitors." All well and good, but a brief perusal of the map of Israel reveals that another route was dedicated three years ago and goes by a few names, among them the "Jesus Trail." It follows a slightly different route, 65 kilometers in length, with orange trail markings, from Nazareth to Lake Kinneret, and caters - until recently, with the enthusiastic encouragement of the Tourism Ministry - to exactly the same clientele. The creation of the older route began as an initiative of Maoz Yinon, a 35-year-old entrepreneur who owns the Fauzi Azar hostel in Nazareth, plus another hostel in Jerusalem. At the time Yinon won the support of many groups for his plan, among them the Tourism Ministry, the Israel Trails Committee (part of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel) and several local authorities. Together with an American Christian named David Landis, he developed a route based on three principles: It would have a connection to Christian tradition, it would feature hiking in beautiful landscapes and it would encourage the involvement of local communities. By Moshe Gilad Haaretz – December 05, 2011

New Israeli-­‐Palestinian  land  dispute  rises   as  Dead  Sea  water  levels  drop   Military stalling relocation of tourism facilities due to ownership issues. The retreat of the Dead Sea is a problem not only for environmentalists, but for the Civil Administration's legal experts who must establish who owns the land uncovered by the receding coastline. In some parts, the coast has retreated by as much as half a kilometer, necessitating the relocation of parking lots, stores and other tourist facilities that are now too far from the water. Since the sea's northern section lies in the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration is responsible for approving plans to relocate the facilities. Two and a half years ago, the Megilot Regional Council prepared a new master plan for the area that would move these facilities closer to the water. But the Civil Administration lawyers said they couldn't approve it, because the newly exposed land's legal status is unclear. A comprehensive survey must be conducted before it can be declared state land on which construction can be authorized, and due to the diplomatic implications, this process must be carried out "by the book," they said. Both the regional council and many army officers argued that the exposed land should be declared state land automatically, just as was done when the Mediterranean coastline changed. But the lawyers won out: Surveyors painstakingly mapped the area, then the Jordanian government was asked if it had any documents attesting to who owned the former seabed. And so far, no end is in sight. "They need to make sure there was no Palestinian village there," mocked a source in the regional council. A senior Central Command officer termed the process "idiocy." 29

"The legal advisors have lost all sense of proportion on the matter and are acting contrary to the state's agenda," said Mordechai Dahaman, head of the Megilot Regional Council. "It's simply delusional." The IDF Spokesman said this problem arises every time a receding coastline exposes more land. "To bolster legal certainty and due to the need for transparency vis-a-vis the entire population, it was decided to embark on the statutory process of registering the exposed land." The process has taken so long due to the large amount of land involved and the Civil Administration's "order of priorities with regard to formalizing the state's land rights." Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry plans to spend NIS 1.5 million on a light rail to ferry tourists from the existing facilities to the new shoreline. A tender is due to be issued shortly. By Chaim Levinson The Associated Press – November 10, 2011

Israeli prof's  algorithm  looks  at  linguistic  cues   to  find  Bible  authors   JERUSALEM (CNS) -- A Tel Aviv University professor has developed a computer program to help Bible scholars distinguish different authors of the various books of the Bible. Many books of the Old and New Testaments are thought to be composites, but distinguishing among the multiple sources has been a difficult process. Nachum Dershowitz, computer science professor at Tel Aviv University, said his computer algorithm can help unravel the different sources by recognizing linguistic cues, such as word preferences, to divide texts into probable author groupings. The researchers used the computer software program on the original Hebrew-language Bible, but said that, with adjustments, it could be used on other parts of the Bible. "Bible scholars have many clues as to the sources and styles, but what we are trying to do is to use the most objective of methods," said Dershowitz, who worked in collaboration with his son, Bible scholar Idan Dershowitz of Hebrew University, and Moshe Koppel, professor, and doctoral student Navot Akiva of Bar-Ilan University. "In any narrative an author may choose to repeat (certain words) for literary reasons ... other scholars may (look) at stylistic preferences. We are only looking at word usage." Nachum Dershowitz noted that the research is part of a growing new field called "digital humanities" in which computer software is being developed to give more insight into historical sources and programs to help attribute previously anonymous texts to well-known authors based on writing style. Dershowitz said such programs can even uncover the gender of a text's author. The Catholic News Service – November 22, 2011

Opening the  door  to  Israel's  beautiful  churches   A new guide to the churches of the Holy Land aims to make its multifarious Christian institutions accessible and comprehensible to the average Israeli. The long, complex and often painful nature of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity means that even today, many Israeli Jews are indifferent to, if not suspicious (or worse) of the faith that spun off from Judaism nearly two millennia ago. A colorful new 30

Hebrew-language album, “Hakenisiyot Hayafot Beyisrael” (“Israel’s Beautiful Churches”; Mapa Publishers, 288 pages, NIS 129), aims to make it easier for Israelis to understand and appreciate Christianity and its presence in their country. The Holy Land, of course, is the stage on which the drama of Jesus’ life and death played out, and Nazareth and the Galilee, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem and its environs are the locations identified with the individual scenes described in the Gospels, and hence where so many of the churches and monasteries that pepper the land were established. Author David Rapp selected 52 of Israel’s Christian sites, all of them open to the public and accessible to Israeli citizens, and provides brief surveys − religious, historical and artisticarchitectural − of each. Rapp’s choices were also all of functioning churches that are serving living Christian communities. Each chapter is accompanied by a map showing the church’s location and the relevant citation from the New Testament that mentions the site. Most notable are Hanan Isachar's gorgeous photographs of each church. Rapp, as a student of art history and a journalist (he has worked as an editor and an art critic at Haaretz), is well-placed to help the reader take in the significance and uniqueness of each institution, and the role that it plays in the life of today’s Christian communities here, with the political, theological and demographic challenges they face. Haaretz – November 30, 2011

Israel's population  stands  at  7.8  million  with  2012  around  the   bend   Year-end Central Bureau of Statistics report shows 166,000 new babies born in Israel throughout 2011, with 17,500 new immigrants arriving. Israel's population stands at 7.836 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) indicated on Thursday as part of its year-end survey. According to the ICBS report, Jews comprise 75.3 percent of the country's population, with 5.901 million people, with Arab citizens making up another 20.5 percent, or 1.610 million. Another 4.2 percent of Israel's population, some 325,000 people, is comprised by nonArab Christians and those whom the Interior Ministry doesn't classified by religion. The survey also indicated that 2011 saw a 1.8 percent increase in Israel's population – 141,000 people – a rate comparable to the figures of the last decade. In Israel, 166,800 new babies were born throughout the course of the year, and about 17,500 new immigrants arrived at the country. By Moti Bassok Haaretz – December 29, 2011

To Our Readers: While the editor tries to exercise best judgment in the choice of items to report or reproduce in the bulletin, responsibility for the contents of items taken from other sources remains with the original authors or publishers.


Dear readers of our Bulletin Associated Christian Press This edition will be the last printed bulletin. From January 2012 the new version will be send in PDF by e-mail. In order to receive it, please send your request by email to The Christian Information Center (CIC) was opened in June 1973. In August of the same year the first information sheet about statistics and anticipated pilgrimages was produced by the CIC. The two pages of the first report and the additional ones were written on a type writer. In August 1976 a collection of articles called “Associated Christian Press Bulletin” appeared for the first time. Initially it was published every two weeks, then monthly and since 1992 every two months. Thanks for  your  loyalty  and  your  continued   support  of  our  service.     Using  new  media  we  will  keep  you  informed   about  life  in  Christian  communities,  shrines,   archeological  discoveries  and  the  social   situation  in  the  Holy  Land.  

We wish all of you a blessed New Year 2012 The director  and  the  staff  of  the  CIC  

Bulletin CIC 2011_6  

Bulletin Associated Christian Press. November - December 2011 (579)