12 August 1888 Zeckhausen believes in Yeshua #otdimjh

12 August 1888 Leopold Zeckhausen, father of H L Ellison, declares his faith in Yeshua #otdimjh

Rev Leopold Zeckhausen was a stalwart of CMJ, the IHCA (today IMJA) and IMCCAJ (International Missionary Council’s Committee on the Christian Approach to the Jews). A participant in major conferences, a writer, speaker and minister, he married CMJ worker Sara Jane Ellison. His son H. L. (Henry Leopold) Ellison was a distinguished Old Testament scholar who I knew in the 1980s. Zeckhausen served in Holland, USA, 418RT3ZHE3L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_

Israel and the United Kingdom. Here is his account in Bernstein: Some Jewish Witnesses:

Zeckhausen, Rev. Leopold. The following is from his own pen:-

“I was born in December, 1862, at Kovno in Russia, of strictly orthodox Jewish parents, and, with the rest of my brothers, I got the usual education of rabbinical Jews. My mother, like so many mothers in Israel, would fain have seen me devoting myself entirely to the Talmud. I was to be the rabbi of the family. My inclinations, however, were in the [529] direction of secular knowledge, and my father was broad-minded enough not to insist upon an exclusively rabbinical training. At the age of eleven I was accordingly sent to the local Gymnasium, or grammar school. After a stay of six years at this school I left Russia with the intention of studying medicine at the University of Koenigsberg in Prussia. But six months later financial difficulties, in which my father found himself, necessitated my dropping the studies and accepting a post offered me in an office (July, 1881.)


“Once in business I threw myself heart and soul into my new vocation, and kept on rising steadily. At the end of ten years spent in business houses in Koenigsberg, Frankfort and Amsterdam, I was offered a partnership at Libau in Russia. I declined it, however, after some deliberation, and decided to leave business for good (1891).

“That step was the outcome of another and a more important one, which I had taken three years previously, and which proved to be the turning point of my life. While still at my father’s house I had begun to get weary of the endless, and often meaningless ceremonies of rabbinical Judaism. In Germany and Holland, surrounded by general religious indifference and rampant scepticism, my faith in Judaism waned more and more. I tried to make myself acquainted with Christianity, assayed to study the New Testament, but not with the hope of finding in it truth and peace. My studies were mostly of a critical nature. My Jewish prejudices, though largely toned [530] down by frequent intercourse with Christians, were still potent enough to prevent an impartial investigation. The difficulties of the Gospels seemed to me insuperable.


So I continued to drift further and further away from religious influences, until at Amsterdam I found myself at a boarding house in the company of some earnest Christian young men. They were schoolmasters—intelligent, idealistic, eager to learn and to exchange thoughts with others, and before very long we were on friendly terms. Through their intercourse, the almost extinguished interest for religious thought once more revived in me. Not that we ever went in for regular theological discussions—mere politeness forbade that—but Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost,’ and other literary productions with a religious basis, were often talked over among us, and I could not help being impressed by the true, though unobtrusive, religious fervour of those educated young men.

“I decided to look for a person competent to deal with my prejudices and willing to assist me to a spiritual understanding of Christianity. An Encyclopædia helped to the address of the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, and a letter from the Secretary introduced me to the Society’s missionary at Amsterdam, the Rev. A. C. Adler. I told that gentleman, on my first visit to him, that it was not so much the history of Christ and Christianity as the spiritual element of the New Testament that baffled me, and that I should feel obliged to him for some light upon the subject.


I did not pretend to any [531] desire of embracing Christianity, nor did Mr. Adler, on his part, so much as hint at that eventuality. He most readily acceded to my request for enlightenment, and suggested that we should read together the Gospel of St. John. For some seven weeks I had the little expected pleasure of listening to a masterly exposition of a book that had been till then the least intelligible one to me in the New Testament. I shall never forget the impression Mr. Adler’s intelligent interpretation of that Gospel produced upon my mind and heart. I felt myself literally introduced into a new world—into that spiritual world of which the carnal mind and the materialist know nothing. The person of Christ kept on growing before and within me until I could think of nothing else. But I was not to yield myself to Him without a struggle.

“Mr. Adler, with an unerring tact, restricted himself conscientiously to the task of instruction. He asked no questions, nor did he invite me to a confession of faith. Had he done so, I fear he had but succeeded in repelling me, at least for a time.


“When I found myself face to face with the question:—’What think you nowof Christ?’—pride of reason and lingering prejudice seemed to assert themselves more. I at once suddenly ceased visiting Mr. Adler and thought of getting Christianity out of my head entirely. I cannot tell whether Mr. Adler still entertained the hope of ever seeing me again in his study; I certainly intended that it should not be the case. [532]

“The Lord Jesus, however, had become too strong for me to resist Him successfully for any length of time. My peace of mind was clean gone, and I had, for my own part, experienced the truth of our Lord’s words, ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me, draw him.’


“After a time I was again at Mr. Adler’s. When, in answer to my knock there came his Dutch ‘Binnen!’ (‘Come in!’), and I stepped into the room, Mr. Adler came hurriedly up to meet me, and, taking both my hands, exclaimed joyfully, ‘You have come again. Then all is right. I knew you would not come unless your doubts were conquered. I have been praying for that.’

“A few days after this episode I received a telegraphic message necessitating my immediate return to Germany. I took at once a train to Zandvoort, a seaside place near Amsterdam, where Mr. Adler was at the time with his family for their summer holiday. I told him I had to leave Holland without delay and requested, as a special favour, that he would admit me into the Church of Christ by baptism the very next day. Mr. Adler looked rather perplexed. He was, on principle, he told me, opposed to doing things in a hurry, and especially when baptism was under consideration. But my case was so exceptional that he thought he saw in it the Lord’s doing, and could not therefore refuse my request.


“The following morning, Sunday, August 12th, 1888, Mr. Adler was in the pulpit of his church, [533] after explaining the reason of his unexpected return to Amsterdam, he invited the congregation to be present at my baptism that afternoon. Saintly old Mr. Bloch, late missionary of the L.J.S., and the beadle of the church, acted as witnesses to my public declaration of faith in Christ crucified.

“On the day following my baptism I had already left Holland, and was on my way back to Koenigsberg. There I spent another three years, following my commercial vocation and keeping up all along a pretty regular correspondence with Mr. Adler, to whose instruction I owed so much. In those letters he frequently reminded me of my Christian duty toward my Jewish brethren, and invited me to offer myself for missionary training. I doubted my qualifications for such a calling, questioned the advisability of going back to college after an interval of ten years spent in commercial pursuits, but at last I decided to follow the call, and sent an application to London for admission into the London Jews’ Society’s Missionary College. I was admitted there in December, 1891, and remained associated with the Institution for three years and a-half, till July, 1895.


“Having completed the course of my studies, I was attached to the staff of the London Mission, thence I was transferred to work at Manchester in 1896, and exactly three years later to Jerusalem. Here I was ordained deacon at Christmas, 1900, and priest on Trinity Sunday, 1902, by the Bishop of the Church of England in Jerusalem and the East, Dr. Blyth. Here also I was married to Miss Sara Jane Ellison, [534] daughter of the late Dean Ellison, of Shillelagh, County Wicklow, Ireland, April, 1901.

“I may be allowed to mention in conclusion that the decision to give up my business prospects, in order to become a missionary to the Jews, was soon amply rewarded by the Lord. My elder brother, with whom I had exchanged many letters on the subject of Christianity ever since I had embraced it myself, without apparently making much impression on him, wrote to me now—having heard of the step I had taken—to express his appreciation of what I had done. ‘Whatsoever people may think of your motives or your actions, there is probably no one that can put them down at their proper value better than myself,’ ran his note. ‘I have seen you during the last ten years steadily climbing the ladder of commercial success, gaining in experience and reputation, and about to earn the fruit of much labour, and then to throw it all deliberately over in order to become a missionary! I cannot help admiring you. You have done the right and proper thing. Though we differ in our religious opinions, we do not on the point of principle. You have acted as I should have expected an honest man, with soul above £ s. d. to act. It is refreshing to find enthusiasm for ideal goods in our sordid age of materialism.’

“This brother of mine is now, I am grateful to say, himself a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, labouring with marked success as a medical missionary amongst the Jews of New York, faithfully assisted by his wife—also a convert from Judaism.”[535]

In 1902 the Rev. L. and Mrs. Zeckhausen were transferred from Jerusalem to Cracow; and in 1908, on the death of his spiritual father, the Rev. A. C. Adler, he succeeded to the headship of the L.J.S. mission at Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the life, ministry and legacy of your servant Leopold Zeckhausen. May his memory be for a blessing and an encouragement for all. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.




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11 August 1954 WCC Minority Report #otdimjh

11 August 1954 WCC Minority Report on the Hope of Israel #otdimjh


A Statement by 24 Delegates to the Second Assembly of the WCC


The Assembly, held at Evanston from 15 to 31 August 1954, rejected to include a passage on the hope of Israel in its statement on “Christ our Hope”. As a reaction to that decision a number of delegates issued a separate statement on the hope of Israel. 

[These delegates are listed below and include significant theologians Torrance, Berkhofand Niemoller]

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In view of the decision of the Assembly on Friday to omit any reference to the hope of Israel in its Statement on the Main Theme, we feel it our duty to offer an explanation of our convictions in the hope that it will help towards closer understanding with those from whom we differed.

Our concern in this issue is wholly biblical and is not to be confused with any political attitude towards the State of Israel.


We believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all mankind. In Him there is neither Jew nor Greek, but we also believe that God elected Israel for the carrying out of His saving purpose. Jesus Christ as Man was a Jew. The Church of Jesus Christ is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, all of whom were Jews, so that to be a member of the Christian Church is to be involved with the Jews in our one indivisible hope in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, was accepted by Gentiles but rejected by His own people. Nevertheless God is so gracious and mighty that He even makes the crucifixion of His Son to be the salvation of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11). Whether we are scandalized or not, that means that we are grafted into the old tree of Israel (Rom. 11:24), so that the people of the New Covenant cannot be separated from the people of the Old Covenant.

The New Testament, however, speaks also of the “fullness” of Israel, when God will manifest His glory by bringing back His “eldest son” into the one fold of His grace (Rom. 11:12-36; Matt. 23:29). This belief is an indispensable element of our one united hope for Jew and Gentile in Jesus Christ. Our hope in Christ”s coming victory includes our hope for Israel in Christ, in His victory over the blindness of His own people. To expect Jesus Christ means to hope for the conversion of the Jewish people, and to love Him means to love the people of God”s promise.


In view of the grievous guilt of Christian people towards the Jews throughout the history of the Church, we are certain that:

the Church cannot rest until the title of Christ to the Kingdom is recognized by His own people according to the flesh. [1]

We cannot be one in Christ nor can we truly believe and witness to the promise of God if we do not recognize that it is still valid for the people of the promise made to Abraham. Therefore we invite all men to join with us in praising and magnifying that God who “concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32).


H. Berkhof, Holland
M. Boegner, France
A. Koechlin, Switzerland
P. Maury, France
T.F. Torrance, Scotland
H. Vogel, Germany
J. Sittler, USA
O.S. Tomkins, England
J. Smemo, Norway
E. Schlink, Germany
H.I. Yochum, USA
N.A. Winter USA
H. d”Espine, Switzerland
R.S. Louden, Scotland
H.F. Schuh, USA
A.E. Haefner, USA
J. Hromadka, Czechoslovakia
D.G. May, Austria
J.P. Van Heest, Holland
M. Niemoller, Germany
A.H. Ewald, USA
I. Pap, Hungary
S.B. Coles, Canada
G. Stratenwerth, Germany


[1] Findings of the Pre-Evanston Conference of the American Committee on the Christian Approach to the Jews, at Lake Geneva, WI, 8-11 August 1954.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for this strong statement by Christian leaders of your ongoing election of Israel (the Jewish people) and the ‘Hope of Israel’. Despite this being a minority position within the World Council of Churches, it reminds the Church of the biblical foundations of its hope in You, and the Church’s responsibility to and relationship with Israel. Revive your Church, we pray, in Yeshua’s name!





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10 August 2007 Lustiger’s funeral #otdimjh

10 August 2007 Funeral of Cardinal Lustiger #otdimjh


France bade farewell to Cardinal Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger [Sept 17 1926 – Aug 5 2007] on Friday in a ceremony that mixed prayers from his Jewish roots with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a faith to which he converted during World War Two. [Reuters]

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A cousin of the late archbishop of Paris, Arno Lustiger, read the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead [sic] said in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, at the start of the ceremony outside Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris.

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Another family relation, Jonas Moses-Lustiger, read Psalm 113 in Hebrew and French, a psalm of special significance to both Jews and Catholics.

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A large crowd had gathered in silence under overcast skies in front of a packed cathedral.

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy broke into his summer vacation in the United States to lead political figures at the service but was scheduled to return for a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday.

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Lustiger, who died from cancer on Sunday aged 80, was hidden in Catholic boarding schools during the 1940-1944 Nazi occupation of France and converted from Judaism during the war. His mother was arrested and died in the Auschwitz death camp.

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Active in Christian student organisations after the war, Lustiger was a top theology student at the Catholic Institute in Paris. Ordained in 1954, he became known as a parish priest in Paris for hard-hitting sermons which were published as a book.

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The son of Polish refugees, Lustiger was close to the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed him bishop of Orleans in 1979, and archbishop of Paris in 1981, one of the highest positions for a convert to the French Catholic church. Two years later, Lustiger became a cardinal.


Like John Paul, Lustiger opposed both ultra-traditionalists and the Marxist-leaning “New Left” within the church but also took a vigorous stand on social issues, speaking out for the right to employment and against the exclusion of immigrants.


Jewish religious and community leaders and dignitaries from other religions also attended the funeral, conducted by Lustiger’s successor as Archbishop of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, and a message from Pope Benedict was to be read out.

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Lustiger’s coffin was borne into the cathedral by six priests and was to be laid to rest in the archbishop’s crypt at Notre Dame in line with tradition.

A casket containing earth from the Monastery of St Georges Kosiba near Jericho and the garden on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, was to be placed with his coffin.

The funeral, presided over by Cardinal Lustiger’s successor, was held at Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 August 2007. Sarkozy, on vacation in the United States, returned to attend Lustiger’s funeralIn homage to Lustiger’s Jewish heritage, the Kaddish—the traditional hymn of praise of God’s name—was recited by his cousin Arno Lustiger in front of the portal of the cathedral.

His epitaph, which he wrote himself in 2004, can be seen in the crypt of Notre-Dame Cathedral, and translates as:

I was born Jewish.

I received the name

Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron

Having become Christian

By faith and by Baptism,

I have remained Jewish

As did the Apostles.

I have as my patron saints

Aaron the High Priest,

Saint John the Apostle,

Holy Mary full of grace.

Named 139th archbishop of Paris

by His Holiness Pope John Paul II,

I was enthroned in this Cathedral

on 27 February 1981,

And here I exercised my entire ministry.

Passers-by, pray for me.

† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger

Archbishop of Paris

Prayer and Reflection: Thank you Lord for this outstanding Jewish believer in Yeshua – his depth of faith and wisdom, and his devotion to you. Help us to learn from his example and follow you in all that we do. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.



On his conversion

“I was born Jewish and so I remain, even if that’s

unacceptable for many. For me, the vocation of Israel is

bringing light to the goyim. That’s my hope and I believe

that Christianity is the means for achieving it.”

“I am not leaving you. I am not passing into the

enemy camp. I’m becoming what I am. I am not stopping

being a Jew — just the opposite. I’m discovering

a way of living it.”

“I am a Cardinal, a Jew. and the son of an immigrant.”

On being appointed Archbishop of Paris

“For me, this nomination was as if all of a sudden

the crucifix began to wear a yellow star.”

On the Holocaust

“The silence of


victims impels us to

uphold and order the

upholding of the dignity

of each human


On Jewish and Christian relations

“It is impossible for a Christian to be a Christian

… without the Jewish people.”

“What Christians believe, they got through the


“Jews and Christians are the guardians of the

revelation of the Only One God and of his design to

bring all humans together one day.”

“Christianity is the fruit of Judaism.”

On inter-religious dialogue

“All around the world, the intermixing of various

populations now brings side by side very different

religious faiths, and this leads to unprecedented


“This question is how to articulate the history and

geography of our communities with the history and geography

of modernity. Nowhere else perhaps than here

in New York has a better answer been experienced.”

On love

“The strength of evil can only be answered with

an even greater strength of love,”





From Ha’aretz

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jew who converted to Catholicism and rose through church hierarchy to become one of the most influential Roman Catholic figures in France, died Sunday, the Paris archbishop’s office said. He was 80.

Lustiger – whose Polish immigrant mother died in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz – was archbishop of Paris for 24 years before stepping down in 2005 at the age of 78. Lustiger died in a hospice in Paris, the archbishop’s office said. A cause of death was not immediately provided.

For years, Lustiger was the public face of the church in mainly Roman Catholic France, speaking out on critical issues and serving as a voice of calm wisdom in tumultuous times.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said the country had lost a great figure of spiritual, moral, intellectual and naturally religious life. Archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois said Lustiger’s reflections, and his personal history, led him to play an important role in the evolution of relations between Jews and Christians.

Lustiger kept largely silent on the tragedy of his mother Gisele, killed at the hands of the Nazis. But during France’s National Day of Remembrance to commemorate the deportation and death of French Jews during World War II, Lustiger, taking part in the reading of names in 1999, came to his mother’s.

Gisele Lustiger, he intoned, then added, ma maman (my mama), before continuing, Catholic World News reported.

The strength of evil can only be answered with an even greater strength of love, Lustiger said at an August 2005 Mass in Lodz, Poland, in memory of the more than 200,000 Jews deported from there to Nazi death camps.

A confidante of former Pope John Paul II, Lustiger represented the then-pontiff at commemoration ceremonies for the 60th anniversary in January 2005 of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where his mother died. It was his second trip to Auschwitz, after a 1983 visit.

I don’t want to return, because it is a place of death and destruction, Lustiger told reporters. If I am going, it is because the pope asked me.

Lustiger announced in April 2007 that he was being treated for a grave illness at a Paris hospice for the terminally ill.

On May 31, Lustiger, bound to a wheelchair, made an emotionally charged appearance at the prestigious Academie Francaise to say goodbye to his fellow immortals, as the 40 members of the Academie are known. The author of numerous books, Lustiger was made a member of the Academie Francaise in 1995.

Despite his diminished physical appearance, we felt his fervor, fellow member Jean-Marie Rouart said later.

An atypical archbishop and cardinal, Lustiger appeared to have perfectly synthesized his Jewish heritage with his chosen faith.

Christianity is the fruit of Judaism, he once said.

For me, it was never for an instant a question of denying my Jewish identity. On the contrary, he said in Le Choix de Dieu (The Choice of God), conversations published in 1987.

Born Aaron Lustiger on Sept. 17, 1926 in Paris to Polish immigrant parents who ran a hosiery shop, he was sent to the town of Orleans, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital, to take refuge from the occupying Nazis. There, Lustiger, who was not a practicing Jew, converted to Catholicism in 1940 at the age of 14, taking the name Jean-Marie.

Two years later, his mother was deported to Auschwitz.

He was ordained a priest in April 17, 1954, in Paris, after earning degrees in philosophy and theology from the Catholic Institute’s Carmes Seminary. For 15 years, he served as chaplain to students at the Sorbonne University, reportedly zipping on a motorbike through the winding streets of the Latin Quarter, the Left Bank student neighborhood.

Lustiger was appointed pastor of the Sainte Jeanne de Chantal parish, holding the post for 10 years until 1979, the year he began his swift climb up the hierarchy.

Named bishop of Orleans in 1979, Lustiger was named archbishop of Paris in 1981. Two years later, in 1983, Pope John-Paul II made him a cardinal.

Despite his role as a prince of the Church, Lustiger remained an eminently grass roots figure, creating a Christian radio station, Radio Notre Dame, in 1981 and expounding on issues ranging from the August 2003 heat wave that killed thousands of people in France to the building of a united Europe.

In contrast, Lustiger kept his personal journey of conversion a mostly private matter. However, he called for a true dialogue between Christians and Jews in a 2002 book, La Promesse (The Promise) that delved into Judeo-Christian relations and the mystery of Israel. He specified that Israel in the book was the biblical reference to the Hebrews, not the Jewish state.

The book is a collection of oral meditations made in 1979 to a community of monks as well as more recent addresses at several Jewish conferences.

In an October 2003 interview in the French daily Le Figaro, Lustiger said that the center of living gravity of the Church was moving from its old center to Africa, the Americas and elsewhere, and predicted that, in the third millennium, Asia would become the new land of evangelization.

A funeral Mass for Lustiger was to be held Friday at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Paris archbishop’s office said.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/cardinal-lustiger-jew-who-converted-to-catholicism-dies-aged-80-1.226910

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9 August 2015 60th anniversary of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel #otdimjh

9 August 2015 Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel celebrate 60 years #otdimjh


My friend Fr. David Neuhaus has issued the following Pastoral Letter, “Sixty Years”, published on the site of the Saint James Vicariate to mark the sixty years since the establishment of the Work of Saint James in 1955. Messianic Jews join them in celebrating this important anniversary.

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Saint James Vicariate
For Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel

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Sixty Years – A Pastoral Letter

Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar, responsible for the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel, has published a pastoral letter on the occasion of the 60th anniversary since the founding of the Work of Saint James. The letter was published on the Feast of Edith Stein, August 9, 2015.

Sixty Years
A Pastoral Letter

Praise the Lord, all nations, extol him all peoples,
for His faithful love is strong, and His constancy never ending.
(Psalm 117)

I. Beginnings

1. This year, we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Work of Saint James (Oeuvre Saint-Jacques). On December 14, 1954, the Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Mgr. Vergani, together with Father Joseph Stiassny (Father of Sion), Father Jean-Roger Héné (Assumptionist), Mr. Martin Weinhoben and Ms. Yosha Bergman, announced the creation of the Work. A month later, Father Bruno Hussar (Dominican) and others joined the Work. On February 11, 1955, Latin Patriarch Gori granted temporary permission (ad experimentum) for the Work and on February 19, a first mass in Latin was celebrated in Jaffa. On February 19, 1956, Father Bruno Hussar celebrated the first mass at the Saint James Center (Moadon Yaaqov HaTsadik) that opened at 55 Yehuda HaYamit Street in Jaffa. A month later, on March 21, 1956, on his arrival in the country, Brother Yohanan Elihai (Little Brother of Jesus) celebrated the first Hebrew language mass, in the Syrian rite, in Haifa.

2. The first Church in Jerusalem, founded by the apostles after Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, was a community completely at home in the Jewish world. The apostles were Jews like their Lord and Messiah and continued to live integrated among their people. Many of the founders of the Work of Saint James dreamed of a Church that would revive this Jewish-Christian Church. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 provided the context in which, for the first time since the first century, Christians lived within a Jewish majority, in a society defined by the contours of Jewish religion, history and civilization. Thousands of Christian immigrated to the new state. A minority among them were Jews who had encountered Christ and recognized him as Messiah and Lord, a majority among them were Christian members of Jewish families, Christian spouses, their baptized children and other relatives as well a number of Righteous among the Nations, who had saved Jews during the Shoah, together with their families. Among the founders, pioneers and members of the Work of Saint James were those who believed that being a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ made that believer no less Jewish.

3. In 1955, Latin Patriarch Gori promulgated the Statutes of the Work of Saint James. This foundational document defined the goals of our work:

– to develop Catholic communities;

– to ensure among the faithful a solid Christian spirit sensitive to “the mystery of Israel” (Romans 11:25), steeped in both a Biblical formation and a spirituality sensitive to Jewish-Christian culture;

– to work for the full integration of Jews who have become Catholics in the Church and in Israeli society;

– to continue to sensitize the Church to her Jewish roots;

– to combat all forms of anti-Semitism.

These founding statutes continue to guide our work.

II. Thanksgiving

4. Sixty years have passed since these momentous events and with hearts filled with thanksgiving, we remember the founders and pioneers, who have preceded us. These courageous men and women: priests, religious, consecrated men and women and laypeople, worked hard to establish communities, organize pastoral structures and develop whatever was necessary for Catholic community life in Hebrew. They began the work of forming a Christian community, intimately connected to its Jewish roots, at home in the State of Israel, speaking Hebrew, a language never before used for Christian life and liturgy, and witnessing to the values of the Gospel in Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking society.

We thank God for sending these faithful, energetic and visionary men and women and bestowing on them the talents needed to edify the Body of Christ. In addition, we thank the bishops who sent priests and the orders and congregations, the institutes for consecrated life and the new communities that sent their members to Israel to participate in this work of the Church. Among them were Dominicans, Fathers and Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus, Franciscans and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Benedictines, Carmelites, Jesuits, Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition, Assumptionists, Salesians, members of Pax Nostra, Koinonia John the Baptist, the Neo-Catechumenal Way and many more.

5. Seven years before the foundation of the Work of Saint James, in May 1948, the State of Israel was established. It provided a home for the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Shoah, the most catastrophic suffering this people had ever experienced. In its Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers of the state guaranteed religious freedom for all citizens. “(The State of Israel) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture” (Declaration of the Independence of the State of Israel, May 15, 1948). We give thanks that this freedom of religion has allowed the Work of Saint James to develop and adapt to ever-changing circumstances in the vibrant Israeli society. We continue to pray that this society will know peace, justice and equality for all its citizens.

6. As we celebrate sixty years since the establishment of the Work of Saint James, we also celebrate fifty years since the end of the Second Vatican Council, in 1965. We give thanks for the teachings of Saint Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope Paul VI. In particular, we are inspired in our identity and mission by the teaching of the conciliar document Nostra aetate and all the documents that have followed, which contribute to one of the greatest revolutions in the 20th century, the revolution in relations between Jews and Christians. A widespread “teaching of contempt” among Christians is giving way to a teaching of respect for Jews and Judaism thanks to the Council. The founders and pioneers of the Work of Saint James contributed their part to this change. As the Council reminded all faithful: “As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock” (Nostra aetate (1965), 4).

In particular, since the Council, the Church has celebrated her Jewish roots, the Jewish identity of Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, the apostles and the primitive Church. The Council proclaimed, “The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: “theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh” (Romans 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church’s main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ’s Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people” (Nostra aetate (1965), 4).

7. Likewise, in the wake of the Council, Jews in the Church have been encouraged to take pride in their roots and remain united with their people. Saint Pope John Paul II said of one of the most eminent Jewish Catholics in recent history, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, German philosopher Edith Stein, “Edith’s encounter with Christianity did not lead her to reject her Jewish roots; rather it enabled her fully to rediscover them. (…) Her entire journey towards Christian perfection was marked not only by human solidarity with her native people but also by a true spiritual sharing in the vocation of the children of Abraham, marked by the mystery of God’s call and his “irrevocable gifts” (cf. Rom 11:29)” (Spes aedificandi (1999), 9).

8. We are also grateful for the development of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. We have participated in four visits to Israel by four great Popes, Blessed Paul VI in 1964, Saint John Paul II in 2000, Benedict XVI in 2009 and Francis in 2014. We have ardently supported the efforts to build the relations that now exist between the Holy See and the State of Israel and we continue to pray that the negotiations between the two sides will conclude with Final Status accords in the near future.

Indeed, there is much to give thanks for in these past sixty years!

III. Developments

9. In the years that followed the first foundation, the Work of Saint James developed, adapted to new circumstances and faced many challenges. In 1957, Pope Pius XII gave permission to the Work of Saint James to celebrate large parts of the Latin mass in Hebrew, long before the rest of the Church received permission to pray in the vernacular, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. After all, even if Hebrew is our daily vernacular, we can never forget that it is also the language of the prophets and the entire people of ancient Israel. The Hebrew language rite of the Latin mass was published after the liturgical reforms and has been used ever since. Another important milestone was reached when the modern Hebrew translation of the New Testament was published in 1976, an endeavor to which members of the Work of Saint James contributed alongside Protestants and Messianic Jews.

After the first foundation in Jaffa in 1955, other kehillot (parish communities) were established in the other major Israeli cities – in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beer Sheba. In addition to these, today there are also kehillot in Latroun, Nazareth and Tiberias. Brave and faithful pastors worked energetically to gather the faithful and develop community life.

Whereas, many of the founding fathers and mothers and the early pioneers have already taken their places in the heavenly Jerusalem, a new generation of priests, consecrated men and women and laity have felt called to continue their work, striving to build up the Church in Israel. Building on the firm foundations established by the first generation, work has continued to develop the Hebrew language liturgy, compose Hebrew language liturgical music, translate Church teaching, teach catechism, author books, engage in dialogue with our neighbors and bear witness in Hebrew to our faith. Today, Hebrew speaking Catholics have seven centers in Israel, regular liturgies, catechism classes, adult education seminars, camps for Catholic children, weekends for families, youth activities and a social outreach to the poor and needy.

10. In 1990, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, named Father Jean-Baptiste Gourion OSB Patriarchal Vicar, recognition of the importance of the Work of Saint James. This was the first step in the establishment of a Vicariate within the Patriarchate, parallel to the geographic Vicariates of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. Father Gourion was ordained a bishop in 2003, another important symbolic step in the integration of the Vicariate into the Local and Universal Church.

On January 1, 2013, the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel received formal Statutes from the Holy See, approved by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and his Vicars, underlining its special identity and mission. According to these Statutes, the Latin Patriarch appoints the Vicar according to the norms established by Canon Law, and the Vicar, confirmed by the Holy See, assumes responsibility for the work of the Vicariate.

Today, the Vicariate promotes the mission of the earlier Work of Saint James and continues to develop its vision and goals, striving to formulate a pastoral vision and plan for all Catholics who live within the Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking milieu. The Statutes determine the jurisdiction and goals of the Vicariate:

– to guarantee the continuation of the mission of the Work of Saint James.

– to preserve and strengthen the Catholic faith in Israel, particularly among the Hebrew-speaking faithful and all those living within Israeli Hebrew-speaking society, and to aid in the integration of the faithful within Israeli society.

– To organize and promote the pastoral care, parish life, sacramental discipline, and social activities of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel.

– to care for the evangelization and catechetical formation of migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers, and internal migrant workers who live in Israeli Hebrew-speaking society long term and become Hebrew speakers, and especially their children who are integrated into the Israeli school system.

IV. Challenges

The challenges the Vicariate faces today provide a sketch of who we are, what our mission is and where we are heading in the future.

11. Adoring the Lord: Our vocation as kehilla is to nurture communities, which are oases of prayer and joy. At the very center of each kehilla is the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist. Guided by the Word and nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, the kehilla is a place where the faithful come to be refueled and from where they go out into the world as courageous, coherent and joyful witnesses to the Resurrection. Our primary mission is to preserve the kehilla, help it grow, enrich it with all the gifts that are brought by all those who serve in it and gather together there, priests, religious, consecrated men and women, lay people, the veterans, the elderly, families, single people, youth and children. Each one has a gift to offer and the kehilla is strengthened and empowered by welcoming each one and recognizing his or her gifts. We come together in a common desire, “one thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of the Lord, to seek out His temple” (Psalm 27:4). In our coming together, we form, in a palpable way, the Body of Christ at the heart of the world in which we live.

12. Speaking Hebrew as believers in Jesus Christ: From the very beginning, the founders and pioneers set to work on facilitating the life of the faithful within a Hebrew speaking milieu. Thankful for the work of those who began and accomplished so much, this task continues today. Until 1955, no Catholic community had ever used Hebrew as the language of liturgy and community life. The challenge remains not only to translate Catholic liturgy, doctrine, theology, spirituality and catechism into modern Hebrew, a great challenge in itself, but to find a Hebrew way of saying Christianity that is both authentic and comprehensible.

This is a dual challenge. On the one hand, the Hebrew expression of the Christian faith seeks its rootedness in the Hebrew texts of the Jewish people, most particularly in the Old Testament (Tanakh). This endeavor creates a vibrant relationship not only with the Bible but also with Rabbinic, medieval and modern texts, so that the expression of the Christian faith in Hebrew is not only faithful to Christian tradition but also at home in Hebrew idiom.

On the other hand, the Christian faith expressed in Hebrew must make sense to all Jewish Hebrew speakers, both religious and non-religious, in whose midst we live. Brother Yohanan Elihai, one of the giants in this field of activity, wrote: “We ourselves can no longer pray as we did in Europe in the past. Furthermore, it is necessary to express our faith in a way that will not mislead the Israeli listener (or those that will read our prayer books and our thought). (…) Furthermore, we can be an example of a return to the origins – to the Tanakh, to the Semitic thinking of the first disciples – for the rest of the Christians in the world” (Notre qehilla dans l’Eglise universelle, 2004).

13. Living at the heart of Jewish society: Prayer and community life in Hebrew in a Jewish milieu as Catholic Christians define the parameters of our life and reflection. Some of us are Jewish by identity, origin, history and culture. Some of us live our faith openly and publicly; others live discreetly and privately. Some, who are not Jewish, have become Israeli citizens, permanent or long-term residents, opting for life here, deeply connected to Jewish and Hebrew culture, history and tradition. To all intents and purposes, we are a part of the Jewish milieu in Israel. While we make no distinction between Jew and Gentile in the life of our kehillot, we pay particular attention to the Jewish milieu in which our kehillot live, breathe and have their being.

A “church” in the midst of the Jewish environment, particularly sensitive to the inner life of the Jewish people, recalls the most primitive “kehilla”, the church of the first disciples of Jesus. The primitive Church in Jerusalem within the Jewish milieu was greatly weakened after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD and it eventually disappeared from view, swallowed up into the Gentile Church. Today, a Church from within the Jewish milieu restores a missing dimension to the universality of the Body of Christ, promising renewed vigour to the community of believers. We are called to be a constant reminder to the Church of her rootedness in Israel. As Pope Benedict XVI said to the members of the kehillot during his visit to Nazareth in 2009, “In this place where Jesus himself grew to maturity and learned the Hebrew tongue, I greet the Hebrew-speaking Christians, a reminder to us of the Jewish roots of our faith” (Homily in the Basilica of the Annunciation, May 14, 2009). Moreover, we are called to bear constant witness to the fundamental unity of the Old and New Testament and God’s constant fidelity to His people.

14. An Israeli Catholic community of believers in Jesus, living integrated in Jewish Israeli society, serves as a bridgehead for profound healing and reconciliation between Jews and Christians in the land of Jesus. We seek to make Jesus of Nazareth known as a son of this Land and of the Jewish people. It is important to restore the New Testament to its place within the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period. We are also called to be Hebrew language spokespeople for the Church as she formulates her teaching of respect for the Jewish people and her contribution to mending a broken world. As the Instrumentum laboris for the Special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East stated, “Although the Jewish civil media shows a certain openness towards Christian topics, Hebrew-language programmes are scarcely available in the Christian media. Consequently, Hebrew-speaking Christians need to be formed to become involved in such programming in the media” (Instrumentum laboris (2010), 83). This is accomplished through the involvement of Hebrew speaking Catholic professionals in all spheres of civic society, especially in education, the media and social activism.

Historically, members of the kehillot have been discrete and humble in their faith. This humility is a prerequisite for the much needed healing after so many centuries of hostility and animosity between Jews and Christians. When a relationship of trust is restored, Jews and Christians can look confidently at one another and re-evaluate the place of Jesus Christ in the history of salvation. When questioned about our faith, the words of Peter can serve us as a guide: “Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts and always have your answer ready for people who ask the reason for the hope that you all have, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

15. Living at the heart of the Local Church: We are fully members of the Local Church. Our Vicariate is a part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and we take our place there, within the great diversity of Catholics that this Patriarchate represents. Among the Vicariates for Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Cyprus, the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel makes its contribution to the life of the Church and is sustained by it.

We are all invited to reflect on the fact that God Almighty has planted the seed of faith in Christ deep in the soil of both Palestinian (and Arab) and Israeli societies. Does this have significance for the vocation of Christ’s disciples who, though separated by walls of enmity because of the ongoing conflict, are united by their faith in Christ? The words of the Apostle take on new meaning in our context, “For (Christ) is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Brought together, despite the walls of enmity, because “He is our peace”, Hebrew speaking and Arabic speaking disciples of Christ are called to show that justice, peace and equality are possible in our land. Our lives of faith must reveal the alternatives to war and violence, contempt and discrimination, engaging the other as brother and sister. Disciples of Christ can constitute a bridge between the Palestinian (and Arab) and Israeli worlds. We cannot assent to injustice and must be sensitive to injustice wherever it is present, especially in our own society. As disciples of Christ, we must also preach pardon as we have an intimate personal experience of being pardoned although we are sinners.

Particularly significant in this regard is the fact that our Hebrew speaking kehillot are also home to more and more Christian Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, who for various reasons have made their homes in the Hebrew speaking milieu. Their children are growing up in our communities and we welcome them and their parents with open arms. Our shared community life and our oneness in Christ can become an integral part of our witness to peace, mutual respect and reconciliation in this country.

16. Open communities that welcome all: We have an identity, roots and a particular context and yet we are called to build communities that are open to all who search for Christ and seek to follow him within the Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking context. We have welcomed wave after wave of aliyah (immigration) and still have in our midst many olim (new immigrants), who speak Russian and gather in Russian speaking communities, celebrating the liturgy and living their community life in the language of their country of origin. They are our brothers and sisters, living the same faith and facing the same challenges.

However, Israel today is a country that attracts many more who come in search of work and refuge. In Israel, there are not only hundreds of Catholics of Jewish origin who, together with committed Catholics of non-Jewish origin, gather in the Hebrew-speaking kehillot, but also tens of thousands of Catholic migrant workers and asylum seekers, whose children are integrated into the Jewish Israeli Hebrew language school system.

In his exhortation to the Church in the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the place of migrants in the Local Church, “Native and immigrant Catholics together constitute the current reality of Catholicism in the region. As pastor of the universal church, I wish to say a word to all the Catholics of the region, whether native or recently arrived, realizing that in recent years their proportionate numbers have come close together. For God, there is only one people, and for believers only one faith. Strive to live in unity and respect and in fraternal communion with the one another in mutual love and esteem, so as to be credible witnesses to your faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.” (Ecclesia in Medio oriente (2012), 36).

In Israel, the migrants live in the same Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking milieu that we live in. This means that they are not only our brothers and sisters in faith in a special way but that we, as the Hebrew speaking Church in Israel, have a special responsibility towards them. It is commendable that our communities have opened themselves to welcome these new brothers and sisters, many of them Asian and African. They enrich us with their vitality and we are energized by our working amongst them. Most of these migrants are not Hebrew speaking, however the Coordination for the Pastoral among Migrants of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem collaborates closely with the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel. Already, priests, consecrated persons and laity from the Vicariate are deeply engaged in the work of the Coordination. These two bodies work together for the future of the Church in Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking society.

17. Transmitting the faith to the next generation: Undoubtedly, one of the most important challenges of all is the challenge of transmitting our faith to our children. As we look towards the future, we must take up this challenge. The central question is: how can we create the circumstances in which our children can encounter the Risen Lord? How can we build communities that are oases for our youth as they seek their way in the world they live in? How can we attract our young people to think seriously about the possibility of believing and practicing the faith even as they live in secular Jewish Hebrew speaking Israeli society?

We must admit that in the sixty years of our existence we have not always been successful in transmitting the faith to the next generation. A striking fact in looking at our history over the past sixty years is that we almost have no succession of generations among the Hebrew speaking Catholics in our communities. Tempted to assimilate into secular Jewish society in which we live, some of our faithful hide their Christian identities, adopt Jewish customs and even convert to Judaism. The assimilation process is even more successful with our children who are educated in the secular, Jewish Israeli school system, with almost no exposure to the Christian faith and traditions of their parents. This is particularly the case within the Israeli army, where our young people are encouraged to enter the “mainstream” by becoming formally Jewish through conversion.

As we celebrate these sixty years of life, we recommit to the work of formation of our faithful within their particular context, particularly of our children, youth and young people. This work must be accomplished through supporting and strengthening our families. It is in the family that the child first encounters the faith and religious practice of believers, who are his or her parents. Our children are at the very center of our communities and we must redouble our efforts in catechism, in children’s camps, in publishing books and other material for children and youth, in forming youth leaders, in creating occasions where our youth can get to know the Universal Church. Most importantly, we must learn their language and get to know ever better the world in which they live so that our language and our transmission of faith can better respond to their needs.

18. Reaching out to other believers in Christ in our milieu: Attempting to respond to these challenges effectively, it will undoubtedly be fruitful to open ourselves to a fraternal dialogue with the other believers in Christ who live in our society. In Israel today, tens of thousands of Russian Orthodox Israeli Hebrew speaking faithful, thousands of Messianic Jews, as well as Ethiopian Orthodox, Protestant and other believers in Christ are facing some of these same challenges. These are our brothers in faith and as we seek to build up Christ’s Body in the Israeli Jewish Hebrew speaking milieu, we are invited to seek out the will of the Lord together, helping each other respond to His counsel.

V. Towards the future

Show your servants the deeds You do,
let their children enjoy your splendor!
May the sweetness of the Lord be upon us,
to confirm the work we have done.
(Psalm 90:16-17)

19. The celebration of an anniversary is also a time to recommit to the founding vision, and in the light of the evaluation of the present, move with confidence towards a future that is opening up on the horizon. As we look towards the future of the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel, the different kehillot and the faithful living in the Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking milieu, we turn to the Creator to ask His blessing, to the Lord to ask His guidance and to the Holy Spirit that we might be inspired.

VI. Prayer

20. Deepen our faith, strengthen our commitment, grant us joy:

Lord, son of this Land and this people,
You who rose from the dead to grant us life,
You who are the source of joy,
Deepen our faith,
Strengthen our commitment,
Grant us your joy,
As we continue to build up Your Body, the Church,
in the Land you walked and among Your very own people.

Show us how to work for the unity of Your Body in this Land,
How to work for the healing of the separation between Israel and the Nations,
How to be witnesses to justice, peace, reconciliation and pardon,
How to show Your face to all those we meet.

We ask this, through the intercession of Your mother and ours,
Mary, daughter of Zion.

Rev. David Mark Neuhaus SJ
Latin Patriarchal Vicar
Responsible for Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel

Jerusalem, Feast of Saint Edith Stein, August 9, 2015


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4 August 1808 CMJ 0.9beta released #otdimjh

4 August 1808 Joseph Frey founds forerunner of CMJ #otdimjh

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Ever the entrepreneur who covered his traces by moving on and founding new organizations, this first attempt by Joseph Frey [see here for biography and writings] to form a Mission to Jews would morph into the longer-lasting London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews.


The first society folded. CMJ continues, in various regenerations, to today.

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Gidney reports: Consequently, on August 4th, 1808, at Artillery Street Chapel in the East End, a small and unpretending association, consisting of a few influential men, was formed under the title of

“The London Society for the purpose of visiting and relieving the sick and distressed, and instructing the ignorant, especially such as are of the Jewish nation,”

with Mr. Frey as President. The benefits offered appear to have been of a spiritual and temporal character, operations amongst the Jews being undoubtedly the most prominent, though not the exclusive, objects of the Society. Religious publications, calculated to remove Jewish prejudices and objections to Christianity, were issued, and lectures given to Jews in Bury Street.

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A very short experience sufficed to demonstrate that a wrong beginning had been made. The union of Gentile and Jewish work proved to be impracticable, and well-nigh impossible. History had repeated itself.

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The Apostolic arrangement, that some should go to ” the Circumcision,” and others to “the Uncircumcision,” was found to be the best even in the nineteenth century. And so it was deemed expedient to remodel the Society, and, in fact, to make a new start.

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This was all the more necessary as the formation of this Society had called forth a protest from ” The Missionary Society,” as being an invasion of their field. The new Society, however, held its ground.

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The Committee, persuaded of “the declining state of the Jewish affairs under the Missionary Society, arising as they conceive from the multiplicity of the objects,” and from the fact that the members were ” either professedly, or by reputation. Dissenters,” resolved on February 15th, 1809, “That in future this Society shall be denominated the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity amongst the Jews,” subsequently modified into “for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews.”

The title is indeed a lengthy one, and has often been felt to be unwieldy, although it exactly formulates the objects of the Society, as being for the extension and diffusion of Christianity amongst this ancient people, and not the conversion of the entire race — a consummation not to be expected during this dispensation.

It is doubtful, h0wever, if the founders restricted the title to this sense. For, whilst noting that there were “not less than thirty converted Jews and Jewesses in His Majesty’s Dominions,” they added, “these we consider as the earnest of that great harvest of Israel which the prophets have predicted.” And they asked, referring to Missions to the Heathen, “Should not similar efforts be made that all Israel may be saved ? ”

It was, however, fully recognized that the duty of supporting Missions to the Jews was altogether a thing apart from the necessity of holding any special views on prophecy.*

Reflection and Prayer: Looking back 200 years to the history of the early days of CMJ it is wondrous to see how such a small beginning could have led to such a significant impact. Supporters of Jewish evangelism, Christian Zionism, Messianic Judaism, the infrastructure and institutions in the State of Israel, the growing awareness among Christians of the ongoing purposes of God for the Jewish people, can all trace their origins to small groups such as were involved in Frey’s early attempt to found an organisation. Not without great human weaknesses, such attempts did not seem likely to succeed, yet along continue until today. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labour, labour in vain. Amen 







Hebrew Grammar 1813


Essays on Baptism 1829


The theological lectures of Rev. David Bogue, never before published, Volume 1 (Google eBook)http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_theological_lectures_of_Rev_David_Bo.html?id=ewFMAAAAYAAJ&redir_esc=y David Bogue, Joseph Samuel Christian Frederick Frey L. Colby, 1849 – Theology, Doctrinal – 806 pages

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4 August 1947 10 Points of Seelisberg #otdimjh

4 August 1947 10 Points of Seelisberg realigns Christian-Jewish relations #otdimjh


Still reeling from the shock, terror and trauma of the Holocaust, Christians began the painful but much needed task of re-visioning their historic relationship with the Jewish people, renouncing the ‘teaching of contempt’ and recognising the disastrous effects of supersessionism.


In the summer of 1947, 65 Jews and Christians from 19 countries gathered in Seelisberg, Switzerland. They came together to express their profound grief over the Holocaust, their determination to combat antisemitism, and their desire to foster stronger relationships between Jews and Christians. They denounced antisemitism both as a sin against God and humanity and as a danger to modern civilization. And to address these vital concerns, they issued a call in the form of 10 points to Christian churches to reform and renew their understandings of Judaism and the relationships between Judaism and Christianity.

The Seelisberg Conference (International Conference of Christians and Jews) was an international conference that took place in the small town of Seelisberg in Switzerland from 30 July to 5 August 1947 in order to study the causes of Christian antisemitism.


Among the 70 participants from 17 countries were:

28 Jews, including Jules Isaac, Jacob Kaplan, acting chief rabbi of France, Alexandre Safran, chief rabbi of Romania, the writer Josué Jéhouda, of Geneva; Professor Selig Brodetsky, president of the Representative Council of the Jews of England.


23 Protestants,9 Catholics, including Père Marie-Benoît, Father Calliste Lopinot, Abbot Charles Journet, Father Jean de Menasce, Father Paul Démann.

At the time of this conference, the Christians undertook a re-examination of Christian teaching with regards to the Jews and Judaism. They measured the extent of Christian responsibility in the Nazi genocide and understood that Christian teaching had to be urgently corrected. They prepared ten points, largely inspired by the eighteen proposals of the historian Jules Isaac to eradicate prejudices against the Jews.

International Council of Christians and Jews

The 10 Points of Seelisburg, 1947

The following statement, produced by the Christian participants at the Second conference of the newly formed International Council of Christians and Jews, was one of the first statements following World War II in which Christians, with the advice and counsel of Jews, began to come to terms with the implications of the Shoa.


SEELISBERG (Switzerland), 1947

We have recently witnessed an outburst of antisemitism which has led to the persecution and extermination of millions of Jews. In spite of the catastrophe which has overtaken both the persecuted and the persecutors, and which has revealed the extent of the Jewish problem in all its alarming gravity and urgency, antisemitism has lost none of its force, but threatens to extend to other regions, to poison the minds of Christians and to involve humanity more and more in a grave guilt with disastrous consequences.

The Christian Churches have indeed always affirmed the un-Christian character of antisemitism, as of all forms of racial hatred, but this has not sufficed to prevent the manifestation among Christians, in various forms, of an undiscriminating racial hatred of the Jews as a people.

This would have been impossible if all Christians had been true to the teaching of Jesus Christ on the mercy of God and love of one”s neighbour. But this faithfulness should also involve clear-sighted willingness to avoid any presentation and conception of the Christian message which would support antisemitism under whatever form. We must recognise, unfortunately, that this vigilant willingness has often been lacking.

We therefore address ourselves to the Churches to draw their attention to this alarming situation. We have the firm hope that they will be concerned to show their members how to prevent any animosity towards the Jews which might arise from false, inadequate or mistaken presentations or conceptions of the teaching and preaching of the Christian doctrine, and how on the other hand to promote brotherly love towards the sorely-tried people of the old covenant.

Nothing would seem more calculated to contribute to this happy result than the following


  1. Remember that One God speaks to us all through the Old and the New Testaments.
  2. Remember that Jesus was born of a Jewish mother of the seed of David and the people of Israel, and that His everlasting love and forgiveness embraces His own people and the whole world.
  3. Remember that the first disciples, the apostles and the first martyrs were Jews.
  4. Remember that the fundamental commandment of Christianity, to love God and one’s neighbour, proclaimed already in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus, is binding upon both Christians and Jews in all human relationships, without any exception .
  5. Avoid distorting or misrepresenting biblical or post-biblical Judaism with the object of extolling Christianity.
  6. Avoid using the word Jews in the exclusive sense of the enemies of Jesus, and the words “the enemies of Jesus” to designate the whole Jewish people.
  7. Avoid presenting the Passion in such a way as to bring the odium of the killing of Jesus upon all Jews or upon Jews alone. It was only a section of the Jews in Jerusalem who demanded the death of Jesus, and the Christian message has always been that it was the sins of mankind which were exemplified by those Jews and the sins in which all n en share that brought Christ to the Cross.
  8. Avoid referring to the scriptural curses, or the cry of a raging mob: “His blood be upon us and our children,” without remembering that this cry should not count against the infinitely more weighty words of our Lord: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
  9. Avoid promoting the superstitious notion that the Jewish people are reprobate, accursed, reserved for a destiny of suffering.
  10. Avoid speaking of the Jews as if the first members of the Church had not been Jews.


Prayer and reflections: Such statements seem obvious today, but then were radical in their recognition of the need to redress the wrong thoughts and actions of the past. Yet even today there is still much work to be done for Christians and Jews to have a right understanding of the ‘indissoluble bond’ between them, and Messianic Jews have a significant role to play in promoting mutual understanding and bringing them together. Lord, help us to serve you, your Church and your World, Israel and the nations, in ways that honour you and glorify your name. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.







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1 August 1567 Meir Gershon born #otdimjh

1 August 1567 Birth of Christian ben Meir Biberbach Gerson #otdimjh

g-Gerson titels. Book 1659-Erfurt-antijüd. font-in-museum-e1419064979680

Gerson, Christian ben Meir Biberbach, born at Reeklichhausen, August 1, 1567, received the usual Talmudical education, and was a teacher in several places. [ Bernstein: Some Jewish Witnesses ]

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A neighbour, who was a Christian woman, borrowed from him ten pence, giving him as security a Lutheran New Testament. Curious to know the source of the Christian errors, he and his two brothers-in-law read it with much amusement. Yet finding there quotations from the Old Testament, he continued reading it more earnestly, comparing Scripture with Scripture, until his conscience was awakened and felt the need of salvation through Christ. He wrote afterwards—”I found such light, for which I have to thank the Lord God all my life.”


He was baptized by Pastor Silberschlag at Halberstadt, October 19, 1600. Gerson’s son Stephen was baptized years later, but his wife got a divorce from him. He then taught Hebrew at Copenhagen, and eventually, after being persuaded by friends, he became a preacher of the Gospel. Testimony is given him that he heartily loved his people, and defended them against blood accusations.

His works are: “Des Jüdischer Talmud fürnehmster Inhalt und Widerlegung,” Gislav, 1707, Gera, 1613. A German translation of the eleventh chapter of Tract Sanhedrin. Gerson died on October 22, 1642, only 47 years old, as a preacher of the Gospel, in poverty. He was pastor of two parishes, receiving a stipend of six gulden, and had to work as a farm labourer for his living. In the Jewish Encyclopædia it is stated that Gerson was drowned at Roelheim, September 25, 1627. Here is [233] a specimen of the contradictory statements of historians.

Reflection: Gerson’s Life and Times were difficult, and his works display a justification of his new faith that takes on a polemical and adversarial stance against his fellow Jews and Judaism itself. Such a position which not uncommon, and is still present  today, as Jews who believe in Yeshua find it difficult to situate Themselves comfortably between the two religious communities that have viewed each other with so much distrust and mutual suspicion over the centuries.

Lord, give us a new generosity of spirit, sense of commitment to one another, and deeper understanding of your purposes of  with both  Church and Israel, so that we may accept of one another with the love Yeshua has for His People, His World and all creation. In his name we pray. Amen.


  • Martin Friedrich: Between Defence and conversion. The position of the German Protestant theology to Judaism in the 17th century.  Tübingen 1988
  • Nathanja Hüttemeister : A Jewish family in the tense relationship between Judaism and Christianity, the Christian convert Gerson in conflict with his Jewish family.  In: Vestische Journal , 99 (2002), pp 47-59.
  • Rotraud Ries: individualization in the tension to differing cultures: location measurement and experimental redefinitions in the Jewish minority.  In: Kaspar von Greyerz (Hg.):  Self-Narratives in the Early Modern Period: individualization ways in an interdisciplinary perspective. , Munich 2007, pp 79-112.
  • FA de le Roi: Christian Gerson, the first Protestant preacher from the converted Jews. In:  Dibre Emeth or voices of truth to Israelites and friends of Israel , 35 (1879), pp 97-110 ( digitized ), pp 129-140 ( digitized ).



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31 July 1255 Hugh of Lincoln’s disappearance leads to Blood Libel #otdimjh

31 July 1255 Disappearance of Hugh of Lincoln


Hugh was an eight year old boy from the Dernstall area of the city (now known as The Strait). He disappeared on 31 July 1255. His body was found in a well on 27/29 August. Despite the lack of any evidence, the owner of the well, a Jew named Jopin (or Copin) was held for the child’s murder. Jopin was promised clemency if he confessed that the child had been crucified in a ritual murder by a number of prominent Jews who had gathered in Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The promise was reneged on. Jopin was tied to a horse’s tail and dragged up to Canwick Hill where he was executed. A further 92 Jews were rounded up and taken to London. 18 were executed for refusing to plead and all but 2 of the others were sentenced to death until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had    purchased the right to tax the Jews from his brother Henry III, made terms for them.


One near contemporary account of the events was by the monk and chronicler Matthew Paris (c1200-1259). In his “English History” he wrote a particularly blood-thirsty and anti-Jewish version which insisted that virtually all the Jews in England had colluded in Hugh’s murder and attributed miraculous events to Hugh’s body.

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The body was taken to Lincoln Cathedral and buried in the South Choir Aisle. The story of the boy’s death stirred the anti-semitism that was already virulent in England. The boy was regarded as a Christian martyr. He was called Little Saint Hugh and a shrine was built over his tomb. After years of increasing persecution and hardship, the entire Jewish population of England was expelled from the country in 1290 and their property confiscated by the Crown. Jews did not return to England until 1655.


Anti-semitic Ballads about the story of Little Saint Hugh spread throughout Britain and France.

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer referred to Little Saint Hugh in The Prioresses Tales of the Canterbury Tales. The tale is of a blood libel, the ritual murder of a young boy by the Jews.


684        O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also
                  Oh young Hugh of Lincoln, slain also
685        With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
                  By cursed Jews, as it is well known,
686        For it is but a litel while ago,
                  For it is but a little while ago,
687        Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
                  Pray also for us, we sinful folk unstable,
688        That of his mercy God so merciable
                  That of his mercy God so merciful
689        On us his grete mercy multiplie,
                  Multiply his great mercy on us,
690        For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen
                  For reverence of his mother Mary. Amen

The shrine of Little Sir Hugh in the South Choir Aisle of Lincoln Cathedral did not survive the Reformation intact. In 1790, during repaving of the aisle, the tomb was open. It contained the skeleton of a boy 3 feet 3 inches tall.

The 19th century American folk song collector Francis J. Child collected 18 variants of the    Little Saint Hugh ballad from Europe and the USA. These variants include “The Jew’s     Daughter”, “The Jew’s Garden” and “The Fatal Flower Garden”, “Little Son Hugh”, “Little Sir Hugh”, “Little Saloo”, “Little Harry Hughes” and “Little Harry Houston”. Each variant honed to the interests of a local region. They were anti-semitic, anti-gypsy or just plain stories of   sadistic child murder. So widespread was the song that one of the earliest recordings of it was by Nelstone’s Hawaiians in the 1920s.


As “Little Harry Hughes”, the song appears in another key work of English literature, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (published in 1922), sung to the novel’s central character, the Jew Leopold Bloom.  “Ulysses” was set in 1904, a significant year for Jews in Ireland as it was the year of the Limerick Pogrom, when the city’s entire Jewish population was driven out by trade boycotts, harassment and beatings.

In the early twentieth century, the legend of Little Saint Hugh remained a draw for Lincoln.  Around 1910, a false well was sunk in the Jew’s Court as a tourist attraction.

Since the Second World War, the Christian community has allowed the legend of “Little Saint Hugh” to fade into obscurity.  Modern recordings of the song such as those by Steeleye Span and Ian Campbell Folk Group are purged of any anti-semitic reference and concentrate on the psychotic murder.

In 1959, a plaque was placed at the site of Little Hugh’s former shrine at Lincoln Cathedral. It read:

“By the remains of the shrine of “Little St. Hugh”.

Trumped up stories of “ritual murders” of Christian boys by Jewish communities were common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and even much later. These fictions cost many innocent Jews their lives. Lincoln had its own legend and the alleged victim was buried in the Cathedral in the year 1255.

Such stories do not redound to the credit of Christendom, and so we pray:
Lord, forgive what we have been,
amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be.”

In 2001, the Jewish playwright, director and actor Stephen Berkoff wrote “Ritual in Blood”, a play steeped in anger about the events in Lincoln in 1255.

In 2008, a new plaque at the site of Little St Hugh’s shrine was being drafted and designed jointly by the Christian and Jewish communities of Lincoln.

Prayer: Lord, forgive what we have been,
amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be.”




Documents Displayed

James Joyce: Ulysses (1922 Text Edition) (Oxford Press) pp643-644

The “Little Harry Hughes” variant of the Little Saint Hugh appears in James Joyce’s masterwork with full score.


“Recueil de Ballades Anglo Normande et Ecossoises Relatives au Meurtre de cet Enfant Commis par les Juifs en MCCLV”.

An extract from a French publication of 1834 at the Lincoln Library. undated [watermark 1814].

A French manuscript of the Anglo-Norman variant of the Little Saint Hugh ballad.

  1. Linc 910 HOM p117

“Lincoln Official Guide 1921”

  1. Linc 942 GRE

Forgotten Lincoln (1898) p24

History of the Little Saint Legend including a  Buckinghamshire variant of the Little Saint Hugh ballad.


By: Joseph Jacobs

Alleged victim of ritual murder by the Jews of Lincoln in 1255. He appears to have been the illegitimate son of a woman named “Beatrice,” and was born in 1247. He disappeared July 31, 1255, and his body was discovered on Aug. 29 following in a well belonging to the house of a Jew named “Jopin” or “Joscefin.” On promise of having his life spared, Jopin was induced by John of Lexington, a priest who was present at the time of the discovery, to confess that the child had been crucified by a number of the most prominent Jews of England, who had gone to Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The remains of the lad were taken to the cathedral and were buried there in great pomp. Henry III., on arriving at Lincoln about a month afterward, revoked the pardon of Jopin, and caused him to be dragged around the city tied to the tail of a wild horse, and then hanged. The remaining Jews of Lincoln, including some who were there as visitors—probably to attend the marriage of Bellaset, daughter of Berechiah de Nicole—were carried, to the number of ninety-two, to London, where eighteen of them were executed for refusing to plead. Berechiah was released, and the remainder lingered in prison until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was in possession of the Jewry at the time, made terms for them.

Tomb of St. Hugh in Lincoln Cathedral.(From Tovey, “Anglia Judaica,” 1738.)

The accusation, as usual, rested upon no particle of evidence; all that was known was that the lad had been found dead; and even if it was a murder,it could not have been connected with any ritual observance on the part of any Jew. But the prepossessions of the time, and the “confession” forced from Jopin caused the case to be prejudged, and enabled Henry III. to confiscate the property of the executed Jews, and to obtain, probably, a ransom for those afterward released from captivity. The case made a great impression on the popular mind, and forms the theme of various French, Scottish, and English ballads, still existing; Chaucer refers to it at the beginning of his “Prioress’ Tale.” A shrine was erected over Hugh’s tomb in Lincoln Cathedral; it was known as the shrine of “Little St. Hugh” to distinguish it from the shrine of Great St. Hugh of Lincoln, the twelfth-century bishop whose death was mourned equally by Jew and Christian. See Blood Accusation.


  • Matthew Paris, Historia Major, ed.Luard, v. 516-518, 522, 543;
  • Annales Monastici, ed. Luard, i. 340, ii. 346;
  • Jacobs, in Transactions Jew. Hist. Soc. Eng. i. 89-135 (with an extensive bibliography on pp. 133-135);
  • idem, Jewish Ideals, pp. 192-224;
  • Francisque Michel, Hugues de Lincoln, Paris, 1834;
  • Hume, St. Hugh of Lincoln, London, 1849.


Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, (born 1245, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, Eng.—died Aug. 27, 1255, Lincoln; feast day August 27 [suppressed]), legendary English child martyr who was supposedly murdered by members of the local Jewish community for ritual purposes. There was little basis in fact for the story, but the cult that grew up around Hugh was a typical expression of the anti-Semitism that flourished in Europe after the year 1000.

The victim of an anonymous murder, Hugh, a 9-year-old boy, was found dead in a well. His friends came forth with the accusation that a Jew named Koppin had imprisoned the child for more than a month, torturing and finally crucifying him. According to rumour, the body had been thrown into the well because the earth had refused to receive it. More than 90 Jews were subsequently arrested and charged with practicing ritual murder. Koppin, who allegedly confessed, was executed along with 18 others.

Miracles began to be attributed to Hugh as soon as the body was discovered. The story, although lacking any evidence, grew both in detail and in popularity over the years and, like others of its kind, reinforced the nearly universal sentiment of anti-Semitism and provided additional fuel for anti-Jewish acts. The legend of Hugh’s martyrdom was a popular subject in medieval literature, notably in Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale. His name does not appear in the standard Butler’s Lives of the Saints (1998).

684        O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also
                  Oh young Hugh of Lincoln, slain also
685        With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
                  By cursed Jews, as it is well known,
686        For it is but a litel while ago,
                  For it is but a little while ago,
687        Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
                  Pray also for us, we sinful folk unstable,
688        That of his mercy God so merciable
                  That of his mercy God so merciful
689        On us his grete mercy multiplie,
                  Multiply his great mercy on us,
690        For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen
                  For reverence of his mother Mary. Amen

Shrine of Little St.Hugh

Little St.Hugh was a Christian boy reputedly crucified by Jews in Lincoln in 1255; the ensuing retribution resulted in the deaths of many of Lincoln’s Jews. During the Cathedral restoration of 1790 a stone coffin was found containing the skeleton of a boy 3 ft 3 inches tall, seemingly confirming the tradition. The tomb was originally more substantial but destroyed during the iconoclasm of the Commonwealth, though a copy of William Dugdale’s drawing of 1641 can be seen nearby.

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30 July 1492 Spain expels Jews #otdimjh

30 July 1492 Expulsion of the Jewish people from Spain #otdimjh

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In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies.” So begins Christopher Columbus’s diary. The expulsion that Columbus refers to was so cataclysmic an event that ever since, the date 1492 has been almost as important in Jewish history as in American history. On July 30 of that year, the entire Jewish community, some 200,000 people, were expelled from Spain. [writes Jacob Telushkin: Jewish Virtual Library]

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Tens of thousands of refugees died while trying to reach safety. In some instances, Spanish ship captains charged Jewish passengers exorbitant sums, then dumped them overboard in the middle of the ocean. In the last days before the expulsion, rumors spread throughout Spain that the fleeing refugees had swallowed gold and diamonds, and many Jews were knifed to death by brigands hoping to find treasures in their stomachs.


The Jews’ expulsion had been the pet project of the Spanish Inquisition, headed by Father Tomas de Torquemada. Torquemada believed that as long as the Jews remained in Spain, they would influence the tens of thousands of recent Jewish converts to Christianity to continue practicing Judaism. Ferdinand and Isabella rejected Torquemada’s demand that the Jews be expelled until January 1492, when the Spanish Army defeated Muslim forces in Granada, thereby restoring the whole of Spain to Christian rule. With their most important project, the country’s unification, accomplished, the king and queen concluded that the Jews were expendable. On March 30, they issued the expulsion decree, the order to take effect in precisely four months. The short time span was a great boon to the rest of Spain, as the Jews were forced to liquidate their homes and businesses at absurdly low prices. Throughout those frantic months, Dominican priests actively encouraged Jews to convert to Christianity and thereby gain salvation both in this world and the next.


The most fortunate of the expelled Jews succeeded in escaping to Turkey. Sultan Bajazet welcomed them warmly. “How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king,” he was fond of asking, “the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?” Among the most unfortunate refugees were those who fled to neighboring Portugal. In 1496, King Manuel of Portugal concluded an agreement to marry Isabella, the daughter of Spain’s monarchs. As a condition of the marriage, the Spanish royal family insisted that Portugal expel her Jews. King Manuel agreed, although he was reluctant to lose his affluent and accomplished Jewish community.

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In the end, only eight Portuguese Jews were actually expelled; tens of thousands of others were forcibly converted to Christianity on pain of death. The chief rabbi, Simon Maimi, was one of those who refused to convert. He was kept buried in earth up to his neck for seven days until he died. In the final analysis, all of these events took place because of the relentless will of one man, Tomas de Torquemada.

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The Spanish Jews who ended up in Turkey, North Africa, Italy, and elsewhere throughout Europe and the Arab world, were known as Sephardim — Sefarad being the Hebrew name for Spain. After the expulsion, the Sephardim imposed an informal ban forbidding Jews from ever again living in Spain. Specifically because their earlier sojourn in that country had been so happy, the Jews regarded the expulsion as a terrible betrayal, and have remembered it ever since with particular bitterness. Of the dozens of expulsions directed against Jews throughout their history, the one from Spain remains the most infamous.


Prayer: Lord, how we lament the suffering of the Jewish people, the treatment of Jews and Jewish Christians by the Church and the Crown, and the expulsion of 1492. Yet we see your hand of Providence yet again scattering our people, sending them into the New World, and to places where they would be free to live, learn and let their lights shine. Only you know the times and seasons of our lives, both as individuals and as peoples. Lord, have mercy upon Israel and all nations. In Yeshua’s name, and for his glory, we pray. Amen.




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29 July 2013 Portuguese Jews return! #otdimjh

29 July 2013 Right of Return to Portugal Five Centuries After Inquisition #otdimjh

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 22.12.46

The Portuguese government on Thursday 29 January 2015 approved modifications to a law that regulates nationality rights to the descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian nation five centuries ago, local media reported.


“I would not say that it is a historical reparation, because I believe that in this regard there is no possibility of repairing what has been done. I would say that it is the granting of a right,” Portuguese RPT news quoted Justice Minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz as saying at the conclusion of a cabinet meeting.

Portugal’s law on naturalizing descendants of Sephardic Jews was passed by parliament on July 29th 2013.

“We expect the law to be effective by mid-February or the beginning of March 2015,” said the president of Lisbon’s Jewish community Oulman Carp.

According to the legislation, “the government will give nationality … to Sephardic Jews of Portuguese ancestry who belong to a tradition of a Portuguese-descended Sephardic community, based on objective prerequisites proving a connection to Portugal through names, language and ancestry.”

Oulman Carp said it also will apply to non-Jewish descendants of Sephardim, Oulman Carp said.

Existing legislation on the naturalization of Sephardim has not been applied because it still does not contain regulations for bureaucrats, which may be published along with the final letter of the law.


The authors described the legislation as an act of atonement for the expulsion of Portuguese Jewry in 1536 during the Portuguese Inquisition. Similar legislation is underway in Spain, where it awaits a final vote in Congress. Hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Iberia from 1492 on because of Church-led persecution.

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In both countries, legislators and government officials said Jewish communities would be consulted and perhaps made partially in charge of screening applicants. The Jewish community of Lisbon, where the vast majority of Portugal’s 800 Jews live, has rejected applications because the final letter of the law has not yet been published, Oulman Carp said.


Reflection and Prayer: This symbolic gesture cannot begin to redress the injustices, persecution and destruction of life and property that took place hundreds of years ago, nor can original wrongs be righted by an apology. Yet it is an important gesture nevertheless, showing a real desire for reconciliation and restoration of relationships. As such it should be welcomed and affirmed, in the hope that others would follow such an example, and Jewish people feel welcome again in countries that so often persecuted and expelled them.

Oseh shalom b’imromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol hagoyim, v’imru Amen. May he who makes peace in the heavens also make peace among us and among all Israel and the nations, and say ye, Amen.




Jews Win a Right of Return to Portugal Five Centuries After Inquisition

By John Krich / Lisbon

In a remote Wales town, artist Judy Rodrigues sees a chance to complete a search for belonging traced through the ancient synagogues of London and Amsterdam. In Israel, retiree Sara Cassuto Sachs wonders if stumbling on her maiden name as a tourist in the Portuguese city of Tomar can lead to the convenience of an E.U. passport. In Istanbul, the Portuguese Consul has been flooded with calls from a long-standing Sephardic community nervous about the strengthening Islamist influence in Turkish politics and eager to reconnect with a country whose language still infuses their prayers.

Portugal may not be the land of the Second Coming. But it very well could become the second country of choice for some Jews seeking to live in an ancestral homeland. The July 29 promulgation of a new law grants automatic Portuguese nationality to descendants of the estimated 400,000 “judeus” expelled, killed or forced to convert during the dark days of the 16th century Inquisition. “For those who may keep the key to the house of their ancestors,” declares the bill’s co-sponsor and Socialist Party heavyweight Maria de Belem Roseira, “this law tells them their homeland is still there.”

Formally established in 1536, the Portuguese Inquisition saw show trials, executions, mass killings and the forced separation of children shipped off to Portugal’s colonies. While more Jews remained as “new Christians” in Portugal than in Spain, most fled to what is now modern day Morocco, Turkey, the Netherlands, and turned up in Venice’s ghetto as well as among the first European settlers of New York City. There are estimated to be only 600 Jews in Portugal today, not counting ex-pats, compared with some 400,000 at the time of the Inquisition.

Call it apology or reparation, the new act is “trying to erase a black mark on our nation, something terrible and unfair,” says Christian Democrat member of parliament Joao Rebelo. “Nothing else could win unanimous support from all parties. It’s making history in a good way.”

As with all high-minded impulses, the difficulty may be getting down to the details. (A similar ruling, announced with less public fanfare late last year by Spain’s Ministry of Justice, has become mired in controversy – slowed by long waits, onerous regulations like renouncing other citizenship and what Rebelo describes as “a large Muslim lobby we don’t have in Portugal.”) Despite the stirring rhetoric, Portuguese lawmakers admit it may take another year to establish procedures for implementing the edict and exact criteria for approval of applications. Between Inquistion records and synagogue membership here and overseas, many of the common names the exiled Portuguese Jews adapted can be traced and verified.

“The Rabbis of our three approved communities should have the say,” argues Jose Oulman Carp, President of Lisbon’s 300-member “Israelite” Community. “They would know best who are Jews, who has Iberian rather than Eastern European origins, though the problem comes when trying to determine if families originated here or in Spain.” Where many fled across borders and the majority hid their identity with “new Christian” names, M.P. Rebelo points out, “There were no Facebook pages back then to help us keep track.” And Lisbon’s current main Rabbi Eliezer Shai Di Martino insists, “Everything will of course be done in accord with civil authority,” adding, “While mostly symbolic, I hope this may eventually add life to our small community.”

In fact, the single-sentence amendment to Portugal’s code does not even specify that applicants have to be practicing Jews, know much about Portugal, have clean criminal records. They won’t even have to reside in the country to gain citizenship — a provision that proponents like Roseira, a staunch human rights advocate, cite to refute suspicions, as voiced by Rabbi di Martino and others, that managers of an economy in austerity may hold the “old idea that all Jews are rich.” As Roseira points out, “laws already exist to grant citizenship to those investing a half-million Euros. Our only motive was to reassert this country’s tradition of tolerance for the mixing of cultures and races.”

Still, admits Esther Mucznik, grand-daughter of a Lisbon Rabbi, “While celebrating, it’s hard not to feel some bitterness. It’s like the duck they killed before is laying the golden egg.”

More likely, the law’s enactment comes as the fruition of a four-decade resurgence of appreciation for Portugal’s Jewish past since the overthrow of staunchly Catholic, Nazi-sympathizing dictator Antonio Salazar. Anti-fascist heroes like Aristides Sousa Mendes, Portugal’s so-called “Schindler”, have been officially rehabilitated. Sephardic life, customs, even food have become common subjects for scholarship here and in Brazil, spurred in part by the popularity of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, a historical novel by American Richard Zimler, who has found success in Portugal through Jewish themes.

While Carp hopes the new law will lead to resumption of direct flights between Lisbon and Tel Aviv, that will be spurred by commercial initiatives like the Rede das Judarias — a “network of Jewish sites” that has already enlisted 22 towns and cities to research and renovate their former synagogues, ritual baths, Jewish quarters or draw up blueprints for local museums. These include Belmonte, where Jews carried on in secret for five hundred years. And tiny Trancoso, a town where buried carvings of hundreds of Jewish symbols were recently found, has just opened its ambitious Isaac Cardoso Center for Jewish Interpretation, as well as its first temple since the late 15th century. To network creator Jorge Patrao, a non-Jewish official in Portugal’s isolated Serra da Estrela mountain province, his brainchild won’t just “spur income in places where tourism was based mostly on snow,” but help to “reclaim so much of our region’s historic identity.”

The same can be said for Portugal’s uncompromising embrace of its exiled children. Given the Nazis’ mass extermination of Sephardic communities, author Zimler notes, “it’s too bad the gesture comes eighty years too late.” But, says lawmaker Roseira, “we can only set things right for our time, see the past with our own eyes.”


Portugal becomes 2nd country, after Israel, with a Jewish law of return

500 years after the expulsion of its community, Lisbon’s new legislation corrects a moral wrong, albeit with some ‘economic considerations as well’

BY CNAAN LIPHSHIZ July 12, 2013, 8:16 pm 143


JTA — Until 2009, right-wing Portuguese politician Jose Ribeiro e Castro didn’t have much interest in the expulsion of his country’s

Jewish community in the 16th century. That changed once Ribeiro e Castro opened a Facebook account.

Online, the 60-year-old lawmaker and journalist connected to several Sephardic Jews, descendants of a once robust Jewish community numbering in the hundreds of thousands, many of whom were forced into exile in 1536 during the Portuguese Inquisition. Eventually the encounters morphed into a commitment to rectify a historic injustice.

For Ribeiro e Castro, correcting the injustice meant spearheading a bill to naturalize the Jewish descendants of expelled Jews, a measure that unanimously passed the Portuguese parliament in April and went on the books last week, making Portugal the only country besides Israel with a Jewish law of return.

“The law is a commendable initiative,” said Nuno Wahnon Martins, the Lisbon-born director of European affairs for B’nai B’rith International. “It has economic considerations as well, which do not subtract from parliament’s worthy decision.”

King John III, who requested the inquisition in Portugal (photo credit: Wikipedia commons)

Portugal’s initiative comes as countries across Europe continue to invest millions to develop Jewish heritage sites — an effort they say is rooted in their belated recognition of the continent’s vibrant Jewish history, but often is also an acknowledged attempt to attract tourist dollars at a time of economic stagnation.

Last year, Spain announced a similar repatriation plan to Portugal’s, though the effort has yet to advance

Last year, Spain announced a similar repatriation plan to Portugal’s, though the effort has yet to advance. And the country boasts a network of nearly two dozen cities and towns, known as Red de Juderias, aimed at preserving Spain’s Jewish cultural history in an effort to attract tourists.

Later this month, Portugal will open a $1.5 million learning center in Trancoso, a town once home to many Jews. The prime minister is slated to attend the July 19 opening of the center, which will be aimed at the area’s anusim, descendants of Jews forcibly converted during the Inquisition.

“The tourism drive and the repatriation effort in Portugal and Spain are connected on several levels,” said Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that runs outreach programs for anusim and will operate the Trancoso center. “The Sephardic Diaspora can be viewed as a large pool with the potential to benefit Spain and Portugal’s economies, provided that pool can be drawn to visit, settle and invest.”

Ribeiro e Castro, a soft-spoken man who tends to gesticulate vibrantly when discussing politics, insists he has no ulterior motives for promoting the legislation.

‘The tourism drive and the repatriation effort in Portugal and Spain are connected on several levels’

“For me, this is purely a historical and emotional goal,” he said. “These efforts got stuck in Spain had remained stuck also in Portugal for a long time, until we move them along.”

According to Ribeiro e Castro, his involvement in the project began as an experiment. In 2010, he encouraged several of his Jewish Facebook friends to apply for Portuguese citizenship, “just to see what happens.”

At first, Portugal’s powerful Socialist Party was none too thrilled about inviting descendants of Portuguese Jews to return. But the Socialists eventually came around, submitting their own bill to naturalize Sephardic Jews that ultimately was incorporated into Ribeiro e Castro’s amendment to the Law on Nationality.

The new legislation says “the government will give nationality … to Sephardic Jews of Portuguese ancestry who belong to a tradition of a Portuguese-descended Sephardic community, based on objective prerequisites proving a connection to Portugal through names, language and ancestry.”

The law names Ladino, the Spanish-based Jewish dialect spoken by some 100,000 people worldwide, as a viable “linguistic connection.”

Whatever his motivation, focusing international attention on the Catholic Church’s dark history is a bold choice for Ribeiro e Castro, a Catholic himself and former director of the Church-affiliated TVI network. He attributes his decision to an old high school buddy who taught him about Sephardic traditions in Portugal, and to his father, who served as Portugal’s colonial governor in Angola in the 1970s.

‘My father was an admirer of what he called “small history,” minor developments with a huge impact. Naturalizing the Sephardim could be that’

“My father was an admirer of what he called ‘small history,’ minor developments with a huge impact,” Ribeiro e Castro said. “Naturalizing the Sephardim could be that.”

For the law to have any impact, bureaucrats in Lisbon first need to address a host of complications. The Portuguese Bar Association already has warned that the law could compromise the constitutional principle of equality before the law.

And then there are practical issues.

“Differentiating between Jews whose families were exiled [from] Spain and those who fled Portugal is very difficult,” said Jose Oulman Carp, president of Lisbon’s Jewish community. “Clearly the Jewish communities [of Portugal] will need to be consulted on the screening process and we can provide some input, but the distinction is nearly impossible in many cases.”

But whatever the end result, merely the effort to lure back Portuguese Jews constitutes, in Freund’s mind, an ironic twist of history.

“Five centuries ago, the expulsion happened partly because the Iberian rulers wanted the Jews’ assets,” Freund said. “Now we see efforts to welcome back the Jews partly for the same reason.”

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