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Zionism – Scripture Catholic

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Zionism is a movement that seeks a spiritual and national restoration of Israel, the land of the Jewish people. Specifically, Zionists believe that the Jews have a divine right to the real estate it formerly possessed during the reign of King Solomon, based on the promises that God made to Abraham in the book of Genesis:

On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites. (Gen. 15:18-21).

Zionism is part of a greater eschatological worldview that sees the restoration of Israel as a sign of the end-times (this is often called Dispensational pre-millennialism). Christian Zionists believe that, once Israels land is restored and its ancient borders are secured, Christ will come again to rule with the Jews in Israel for a millennium. They base their beliefs on the 1,000 years of Apoc. 20:2-6 (even though this apocalyptic language is only symbolic). During His reign, Christ will appoint 144,000 Jewish leaders to rule with Him over the Gentiles until the end of the world (Apoc. 7:4; 14:1,3).

However, prior to Christs earthly reign from Jerusalem, Zionists believe that Gentile Christians who are still living at this time will be secretly taken up into heaven. This will pave the way for the Jews to rule with Jesus for the millennial period. They call this secret taking of Christians up to heaven The Rapture, and base this belief on Pauls letter to the Thessalonians:

For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangels call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

The rapture (a word that is not used in Scripture) will supposedly occur in connection with a period of tribulation for the Church (based in part on Dan. 9:27). Some Zionists believe the rapture will occur before the tribulation, and are thus called pre-tribulation rapturists. Some believe the rapture will occur during the tribulation (mid-tribulation rapturists), and some believe the rapture will take place at the end of the tribulation (post-tribulation rapturists).

This schema of events can be summarized as follows:

After the period of tribulation and rapture, Christ and the Jews will rule the Gentiles through an earthly kingdom for 1,000 years. During Christs millennial reign, most Zionists believe that there will be a mass conversion of the Jews to Christianity. They base this on Pauls letter to the Romans, where Paul says and so all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26; we exegete this passage below). At the end of the millennial period, Christ will bring an end to the world and judge the living and the dead.

Proponents of Zionism view the war in Iraq as fulfilling biblical prophecy. Israel will have an easier time removing Christians and Muslims from Palestine (the land Israel believes is theirs by divine right) if Islamic military forces are weakened or eliminated. The United States military (which happens to be led and advised by many Fundamentalist / Evangelical Christians) is helping to make that happen. A weaker Muslim world means a stronger Israel, and that will help the Israelis secure the land it believes God has promised them (even if they secure it through violence and human slaughter). This, Christian Zionists believe, will usher in the return of Jesus Christ.

Zionism is based on a distorted and erroneous reading of Scripture, and began with the English preacher John Nelson Darby. Zionism was perpetuated in America by Cyrus Scofield during the early 20th century, who published the popular Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Zionist eschatology is held by most Fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and Evangelical Protestant sects, and is one of the biggest falsehoods ever fabricated about the end times. We will briefly address some of the most obvious problems with Zionism from a biblical perspective below.

1. God does not owe the Jews any land or protection.

Zionism is based on the faulty assumption that God still owes the Jews the land He promised to give to Abrahams descendants. Scripture, however, teaches that God has already fulfilled His promises to the Jews. For example, regarding the land in question, God says through Joshua:

Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land which he swore to give to their fathers; and having taken possession of it, they settled there (Jos. 21:43).

God also declares through Solomon that all his promises to Israel have been fulfilled:

Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he uttered by Moses his servant (1 Kings 8:56).

God further says through the prophet Nehemiah that His promise to grant the land to Abrahams descendants has been fulfilled:

Thou art the LORD, the God who didst choose Abram and bring him forth out of Ur of the Chaldeans and give him the name Abraham; and thou didst find his heart faithful before thee, and didst make with him the covenant to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite; and thou hast fulfilled thy promise, for thou art righteous (Neh. 9:7-8).

Thus, those who believe that God still owes the Jews land and protection by divine decree deny the plain meaning of Scripture and make God a liar.

In fact, the loss of Israels ancient holdings is a sign of Gods divine judgment against the Jews for rejecting His Son, Jesus Christ, their Messiah. God warned Israel in the Old Testament Scriptures:

But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and the house which I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone passing by it will be astonished, and will hiss; and they will say, `Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house? Then they will say, `Because they forsook the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the LORD has brought all this evil upon them. (1 Kings 9:6-9).

Scripture is clear that God owes the Jews nothing more, and suggests that the Jews are suffering the ramifications of rejecting Jesus Christ. They have been broken off of the root of Christ because of their unbelief (Rom. 11:19-20). However, Paul says that the Jews can be grafted in again, if they do not persist in their unbelief, for God has the power to do so (Rom. 11:23).

We should also note that the Old Covenant that God entered into with the Jews has been superseded by the New Covenant of Christ (the Church calls this doctrine supercessionism). This happened the moment that God tore the curtain of the Jewish Temple in two (Matt. 27:51). When we speak of the Old Covenant, we are referring to the Mosaic covenant, that is, the law that God gave the Jews through Moses (see 2 Cor. 3:14). We are not referring to the Abrahamic covenant which, because it was based on grace through faith, was incorporated into the New Covenant of Christ. This is why Paul says that Abraham is the father of the children of the New Covenant (see Rom. 4:16; 9:7; Gal. 3:29; James 2:21; see also Gal. 3:9,14,16,18).

The only place where the phrase Old Covenant is used in the New Testament is in Pauls letter to the Corinthians, and Paul says that through Christ it is taken away (see 2 Cor. 3:14). Referring to the abrogation of the Old Covenant, Paul tells the Hebrews that a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (Heb. 7:18). The phrase set aside (from the Greek aphetesis) means to annul. Again, referring to the Old Covenant, Paul says He abolishes the first in order to establish the second (Heb. 10:9). The word abolish (from the Greek anaireo) means to abrogate or destroy. Paul uses very specific language to teach that the Old Covenant has been rendered null and void by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ (see also Heb. 8:7).

This means that the Jews are no longer in a saving covenant with God until they renounce Judaism and are baptized into Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church has affirmed this fact throughout her history (e.g., the Council of Florence; the Council of Trent; Second Vatican Council, Pius XIIs Mystici Corporis). Thus, even though the Second Vatican Council affirmed a persons civil (but not moral) right to religious liberty, it taught that the Church must preach the gospel to the Jews, as she does to everyone else (Nostra Aetate, 23).

2. The Rapture is not a secret event.

Zionists believe that Christians who are living right before Christ comes to rule for the 1,000 year period will be secretly taken up into heaven (although they differ on whether this will happen before, during or after the tribulation period that precedes the millennium). Because Zionists believe the rapture will be secret, it will be accompanied by confusion since unbelievers wont understand what is going on.

However, the very Scripture passages that Protestants use to advance the rapture theory say something quite different about the phenomenon. It says that the rapture will be no secret event, but will be accompanied by the Lords own cry of command from heaven, with the archangels call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God (1 Thess. 4:16).

These cries, calls and trumpet blasts will be no secret to anyone, living or dead. In fact, these events will literally wake the dead, for they will inaugurate the consummation of the world and the resurrection of all people at the end of time. For Protestants to argue that the rapture will be a secret event is plainly refuted by Scripture.

3. The Rapture occurs after the Resurrection on the last day.

Recall that Zionists believe that the rapture will occur before the millennial reign of Christ (either before, during or after the seven-year tribulation). After the rapture, Christ will rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. Thus, Zionists separate the rapture from the end of the world by 1,000 to 1,007 years. The end of the world will immediately follow the millennial period, at which time Jesus will raise the living and the dead.

The Scriptures, however, say that the rapture occurs coincident with the end of the world, not a millennium before the end of the world. Again, turning to the rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians, Paul says: For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep (v.15). In other words, those Christians living at the time of the rapture are not taken first.

Instead, the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (vv.16-17). These passages clearly teach that the resurrection of the dead precedes the rapture. Therefore, to know when the rapture occurs, we must first know when the resurrection of the dead occurs.

Scripture teaches that the resurrection of the dead occurs on the last day of the world (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48). Because the resurrection of the dead occurs on the last day of the world, and the rapture follows the resurrection, this means that the rapture also occurs on the last day (there can be no day after the last day). Since the rapture occurs on the last day, it cannot occur on any other day (that is, there is no pre-millennial rapture).

4. The Rapture is the raising of the righteous and the unrighteous at the same time.

As we have seen, the Zionist / Rapture eschatology holds that believing Gentile Christians will be taken up into heaven before the millennial reign of Christ to clear the way for the Jews. Christ will then choose 144,000 Jewish evangelists to rule with Him from an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. This reign will bring about a mass conversion of the Jews by the end of the millennium period.

But we have already seen that the rapture occurs on the last day (John 6), and immediately follows the resurrection of the dead (1 Thess. 4:16-17). This necessarily means that the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised at the same time, because there is no day that can follow the last day where the unrighteous could be raised.

Scripture, of course, confirms this conclusion. In John 5:28-29, the Lord Jesus says:

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Jesus says that the resurrection will occur at the hour (v.28). This is the same as saying the resurrection will occur on the last day because an hour is part of one day, and that is the last day per John 6, 11 and 12. Jesus also says that all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (v.28). This follows Pauls teaching on the resurrection/rapture event when he says that the Lord will descend from heaven with a cry of command, and the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thess. 4:16).

Finally, Jesus is clear that at this hour both those who have done good and those who have done evil will rise at the same time. The good will be raised to life, and the evil will be raised to judgment. There is simply no exegetical basis for inserting a millennial period between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. Jesus says that the resurrection happens at the hour, when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth. Thus, Scripture teaches that the rapture of the living occurs coincident with the resurrection of all of the dead, both the good and the evil, at the same time, on the last day of the world.

5. The Zionist / Rapturist eschatology requires three comings of Christ.

The Protestant scheme of a rapture preceding the millennium and final coming requires three comings of Christ. First, Christ came at the Incarnation. Second, Christ would come at the rapture. Third, Christ will come at the end of the world.

This scheme is absolutely false and contradicts the perennial teachings of the Church. It is also refuted by Sacred Scripture. For example, Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews:

And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Heb. 9:27-28).

Paul says that Christ will appear a second time. This second appearance of Christ is nothing short of His second and final appearance at the end of the world, when He will judge the living and the dead. Paul draws a parallel between our death and Christs death, and our judgment and Christs second appearance. Following the literary parallel, Christs second appearance is the very moment of our judgment, for Christ is the lawgiver and judge (James 4:2; 5:9).

Because this Second Coming of Christ refers to the end of the world, Christ will no longer deal with sin because He will have already rendered His judgments upon the wicked. In other words, at Christs second and final coming, the fate of all humanity will be sealed. For those who have done evil, it will be too late to repent.

The Scriptures are clear: When Christ comes again, it will be His second and final coming at the end of the world. On this last day and at this hour, Christ will judge the living and the dead. The righteous will be raised to eternal life, and the unrighteous will be raised to judgment and eternal punishment.

6. Scripture does not teach a future mass conversion of the Jews.

Because Christian Zionists believe that Christ will set up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem and reign with the Jews for 1,000 years, they believe that this will bring about a mass conversion of the Jewish people to Christ before the end of the world. They base this belief primarily on Pauls letter to the Romans, where Paul says all Israel will be saved. Here are the relevant passages in full:

I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins (Rom. 11:25-27).

There are obvious problems with the Zionistic interpretation of Pauls statements.

First, Paul is not speaking about a future millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem that precedes the end of the world. No such thing is mentioned either in Romans 11 or any where else in Scripture. Paul is also not speaking about a future conversion of the Jews. Instead, he is speaking about the present conversion of the Jews. How do we know this?

Because Paul is focused solely on the Jews present (not future) condition in Romans 11, specifically, their current hardness of heart. Paul tells them that they were the natural branches that were broken off because of their unbelief, but they can be grafted back in again if they do not persist in their unbelief (v.17-23). In other words, Paul is saying that if the Jews change their present condition (hardness of heart and unbelief), then this will result in their present conversion (not a future, en masse conversion of yet-to-be-born descendants).

The Jews needed to hear Pauls message because they began to think that God had forsaken them (after all, God tore their Temple curtain in two, and Paul was now telling them that their Jewish works of law could only condemn them, not save them). Paul explains that, even though God has abrogated the Old Covenant, He has not rejected the Jewish people. Paul says in verses 1-2, Has God rejected His people? By no means!God has not rejected His people whom he foreknew.

Thus, Pauls whole point in Romans 11 is to teach the Jews that they have salvation, here and now, not in the Old Covenant of works, but in the New Covenant of grace (v.6). Paul even says that the purpose of his mission to the Romans was to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them (v.14). Paul is talking about saving the Jews of his day, and never refers to some fuzzy event in the distant future when God will suddenly effect a miraculous, universal conversion of their offspring. What good would that do for the Jews who lived during the Church age? God doesnt work that way. God wants to save the Jews now.

Zionists read Romans 11:25-27 with futuristic glasses to make the passages conform to their pre-millennial eschatology, but nothing in the text warrants such a reading. Many read into the text a sequential ordering of conversions based on Pauls presentation of: (1) a hardening has come upon Israel; (2) until the full number of the Gentiles comes in; (3) and so all Israel will be saved. Based on the words until (regarding the Gentiles conversion), and so, often translated as then (regarding the Jews conversion), Zionists see the Jews conversion coming after all the Gentiles are saved, which will be at the end of time.

But Paul is not speaking about the timing of the conversions; he is speaking about the manner of the conversions. When Paul says and so all Israel will be saved, the Greek word for so (houtos) is an adverb which means in the same manner, and modifies the verb will be saved. Thus, houtos describes how Israel will be saved, not when Israel will be saved. In certain Protestant translations, so is erroneously translated as then, which contributes to the confusion and Zionist bias of a future conversion.

Paul explains the manner in which God will save the Jews: So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace (Rom. 11:5). That is, Paul says that a remnant of Jews will be saved by grace. Paul calls this a mystery (v.25) because, even though the Jews appear entirely cut off from God, God is still saving a remnant of them by grace. Why does Paul emphasize the manner in which God is saving the Jews (via remnant and grace)? Paul does this for a couple of important reasons.

First, the Jews had wrongly believed that they were saved by the Mosaic works of law. In Romans 11:6 and elsewhere, Paul teaches them that they are saved by grace and not works of law. In using the word houtos, Paul connects the manner in which the Jews are saved in verse 26 to the manner in which the Gentiles are saved in verse 25. Paul does this to show that, as the Gentiles are saved through the grace of the New Covenant, so (in the same manner) the Jews are saved as well. This would have been especially striking to devout Jews, since the Gentiles were being saved but were never under the Mosaic law. Paul is teaching that both Jews and Gentiles are saved in the same manner (by grace, not works of law), as they are now one in the New Covenant (see Gal. 3:28-29).

Second, Paul is emphasizing that the Jews had a bad track record with God, which is why God is saving only a remnant of them. This is why Paul mentions that in Elijahs time only 7,000 of out of ten million Jews didnt bend the knee to Baal (v.4). In emphasizing the remnant, Paul is urging the Jews to repentance. He wants to change the course of events. Paul says that if they do not persist in their unbelief, they will be grafted back in (v.23). Since Paul says if they dont persist in unbelieving, the Jews conversion is not a given; for Paul, it is still an open question. Because God is saving a remnant of the Jews, Paul says he is trying to save some of them (v. 14). Pauls teaching is consistent with Isaiahs prophecy: For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return (Isaiah 10:22; see Rom. 9:27).

Why will only a remnant return? Because Israel will persevere in their rejection of the Messiah throughout history. When Paul says until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, the Greek for until (achri hou) in Romans 11:26 generally continues the action of the main verb (here, the hardening of Israel; see, for example, 1 Cor. 15:25; Apoc. 2:25). That being the case, the Jews will be hardened until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, which is at the end of time. This would mean that the Jews will be hardened until the end of time. In fact, when Christ comes at the end of the world, John says that the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him whom they pierced (Apoc. 1:7). This is the wailing of fear and judgment, not mass conversion. As Isaiah says, only a remnant of them will return (Isaiah 10:22).

We dare not prognosticate about how many Jews (or Gentiles) will be saved versus lost, for this is in our Lords hands. But there is nothing in Romans 11 or elsewhere about a mass conversion of Jews (Paul and Isaiah say only a remnant). There is also nothing about a future conversion of Jews (Paul is speaking only of the Jews of the present time). We can only conclude that the cumulative total of Jews chosen by grace as a remnant constitutes the all Israel that will be saved. As such, all Israel would be the elect of the Jews. Alternatively, all Israel could also be viewed as the sum total of both Jews and Gentiles who will be saved. This is an equally plausible interpretation, since the Church is the new Israel of God (cf. Gal. 6:16; Lumen Gentium 2,9; Ad Gentes 1,5; this view was also advanced by Augustine and Theodoret).

Even if, as some argue, the Greek until (achri hou) in Romans 11:26 does not continue the action of the main verb regarding Israels hardening (which is possible; see Gal. 4:19-20; Apoc. 7:2-3), this would not demonstrate that there will be a mass conversion of the Jews in the future. It would just mean that the hardening upon Israel will cease to the extent that a remnant of the Jews can be saved.

Some Zionists also try to push the conversion of the Jews into the future because Paul says that Israel will be saved in connection with the Deliverer coming from Zion (v. 26). Paul says that this Deliverer will banish ungodliness from Jacob, establish his covenant, and take away their sins (v.27). Zionists view the Deliverer as Jesus Christ who comes a second time to reign with the Jews during the millennium. Once again, this is a complete distortion of Scripture.

In Romans 11:26, Paul is quoting from Isaiah 59:20, which says nothing about a millennial reign of the Messiah at the end of time, and certainly nothing about a future national and spiritual restoration of Israel. Isaiah is writing about Gods anger against Israel for their sins, and how He is going to send the Deliverer to forgive their sins if they repent. Isaiah goes on to mention that the Deliverer will establish my covenant with them (v.21).

God establishes His New Covenant at the First Coming of Christ, not the Second Coming. As we have seen with Hebrews 9:27-28, when Christ comes the second and final time, He will not come to establish a covenant or forgive sin. He will come to judge sin according to the covenant He has already established at His First Coming.

Thus, Romans 11:25-27 must be read in the context of Christs First Coming, not a future, pre-millennial, second appearance before the end of the world. Jesus is the Deliverer who comes from Zion to establish the New Covenant with His Incarnation. Just as Isaiah said that the Deliverer will banish ungodliness from Jacob, so Gabriel tells Mary at the Annunciation that Christ would reign over the house of Jacob (Luke 1:33). Just as Isaiah said the Deliverer will take away sins, so Zechariah says that Jesus would grant the forgiveness of sins (Luke 1:77). Just as Jeremiah (who Paul quotes in Romans 11:27) said that God will establish his covenant with the Jews, Zechariah says that God has remembered his holy covenant in Christ (Luke 1:72). All these parallels, and many more, are only understood in the context of the First Coming of Christ.

Out of the 100 or so prominent Church Fathers, I have discovered less than a dozen who actually wrote about a conversion of the Jews at the end of time (Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria, Augustine, Gregory the Great, John Chrysostom, and John Damascene; there are also some brief remarks from Thomas Aquinas and Robert Bellarmine). There may be more, but it is safe to say that there is no patristic consensus on the question of a future conversion. Moreover, none of the Church Fathers ever wrote about a national or spiritual restoration of Israel.

The few Fathers who addressed the issue of a future conversion of the Jews often equivocated about whether there would be large-scale conversion beyond the normal quota that God is saving through a remnant. The Fathers who touched upon this subject do not provide any in-depth exegesis of Romans 11:25-27 (of course, the Church has never given an official interpretation either). There is no compelling patristic evidence that supports an extraordinary, en masse conversion of the Jewish people at the end of time, and certainly nothing to support the belief that this would occur during or after some earthly, millennial reign of Christ before His final coming.

Indeed, if there were a consensus of the Fathers on the interpretation of Romans 11:25-27, we would be bound to follow it (Council of Trent, Vatican I). This is because a consensus indicates the teaching has apostolic origins. However, where there is not a consensus, the Church teaches us to follow the literal and obvious sense of the Scriptures (Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus). Therefore, a future conversion of the Jewish people is, at best, an open question. It certainly could happen, but this cant be demonstrated from Scripture. It is more consistent with Scripture to believe that God is saving the Jews currently, who accept Jesus Christ, in the same manner as the Gentiles, that is, through the grace of the New Covenant.

The Church has condemned pre-millennial eschatology which was previously known as Chiliasm. Although Chiliasm was discredited by the early Church during the first few centuries of her existence, pre-millennialism came back in the 19th and 20th centuries with the wave of Protestant evangelicalism. As a result, the Holy Office, on July 21, 1944 under Pope Pius XII, decreed:

In recent times on several occasions this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been asked what must be thought of the system of mitigated Millenarianism, which teaches, for example, that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world. The answer is: The system of mitigated Millenarianism cannot be taught safely (Denzinger 2296).

The traditional Catholic view is that the millennium of Apocalypse 20 began with the First Coming of Christ. This view holds that the rapture occurs at the Second Coming of Christ, which is the end of the world. At this time, both the living and the dead, will be resurrected the righteous to eternal life, and the unrighteous to eternal punishment. Because there is no millennial period between the Church age and the end of the world, the Catholic and Scriptural view is often called the amillennial view. This view was held by Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, Rufinus, Venerable Bede, Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Theodoret and Aquinas.

Zionisms belief in a restoration of Temple worship and sacrifice in Jerusalem during the millennium is not only anti-Scriptural, it is anti-Christian. Paul repeatedly condemned the observance of Jewish rituals throughout his epistles (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians). The Church has also declared that any observance of the Jewish law is alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation (Council of Florence).

In fact, the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia stated that the future Antichrist would be of Jewish extraction, from the tribe of Dan, and the 1936 edition stated that he would rebuild Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, in which he will set himself up as God. Paul warned us of this very event when he said the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:3-4.

In summary, Zionism is an anti-Catholic movement that attempts to remove the Church as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and the only authoritative voice for interpreting these prophecies. By turning Scripture into a wax nose for their own political and religious fantasies, Zionists make the Jews and Israel, and not the New Testament Church, the focus of Gods divine plan. Zionism is blatantly false and has no basis in Sacred Scripture or Tradition.

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Zionism – Scripture Catholic

Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism – HuffPost

Posted By on August 17, 2017

I spent the last week in Basel, Switzerland where in 1897 Theodor Herzl officially inaugurated the Zionist movement when he convened the First Zionist Congress. One of the first places I visited was the Three Kings Hotel. It was Herzls home while in Basel and I wanted to see the balcony from where he posed looking over the Rhine, ostensibly thinking about the millions of Jews suffering under pogroms in Europe and who would need the refuge he would describe in his manifesto, called (in German) Der Judenstaat or the Jewish State.

Herzls goal was unambiguous: it was to establish a Jewish state somewhere (the ancient Jewish homeland of Palestine, preferably, but elsewhere if Palestine was beyond reach) to which European Jews could escape to avoid the continuation or (as he correctly expected) the radical intensification of the physical attacks on Jews that was commonplace in Europe since the conversion of Europeans from paganism to Christianity. Although he could not have imagined the Holocaust, he anticipated it anyway.

His message to Jews was to get out of Europe before it was too late. But time ran out.

Of course, Herzls thesis was proven right. Had Jews managed to acquire a homeland in Palestine or East Africa or Latin America (the last two were Herzls proposed alternatives to Palestine), the slaughter of six million Jews might not have happened. But it did happen and the Jewish state of Israel was established as a response, in theory so it could never happen again.

Herzl never imagined the nakba (the displacement and expulsion of Palestinians) that occurred as a result of the Jews establishing their state in Palestine. Given his willingness to accept even a small part of Africa or Latin America as an alternative to Palestine, he never would have demanded for a Jewish state (he often spoke as a mere homeland in Palestine, not a state in all of it) as has been the goal of rightist Israeli prime ministers like Binyamin Netanyahu.

As for the transformation of Palestinians into second class citizens or occupied non-citizens, he was on record of favoring full equality as described in his futuristic novel Old New Land which envisioned a quasi-socialist homeland for all the people of Palestine. An assimilated and utterly non-religious Jew, he was appalled by Jewish exclusivity or claims to a special status as conferred by a God he did not believe in.

Herzl died in 1904 so he never saw the realization of his dream. Hence we have no way of knowing what he would think of Israel today. One thing that is clear: he would have opposed the occupation. He would have been so ecstatic that Israel existed within what we now call the pre-67 lines that he would have been repelled at the idea of jeopardizing that state in favor of pursuing some divinely inspired manifest destiny in the West Bank. Again, he was an assimilated non- (even anti-) religious Jew. He would cherish Tel Aviv and secular Israel, not Arab-inhabited West Bank lands because Jews walked there 3000 years ago. He wanted a refuge for Jews, not some place to worship rocks and ruins.

Zionism is not about holding the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem even if Netanyahu and the Israel lobby here want it to be. It is about Jews having sovereignty in a parcel of land where they can live in security and to which they can welcome future Jewish refugees if worst comes to worst again, an eventuality not hard to imagine in the era of Trump and the alt-right.

To argue that Jews are not entitled to that right is anti-semitic.

After all, why (especially given their history) are Jews the only people in the world who dont have it. I suppose opposing Zionism is not bigotry if one also opposes the rights of other stateless people, like the Palestinians and the Tibetans to a state or if one argues that no people really needs sovereignty.

But the very people who call themselves anti-Zionist are those who demand all of Israel and all of the occupied territories for the Palestinians. Anti-Zionists oppose even an inch of the land for Jewish sovereignty, while a sizable percentage of Israelis and their supporters favor sharing the land with the Palestinians.

After all, it was only in 1995 that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered for beginning the process of negotiating the dividing of the land between Israelis and Palestinians. Only the Jewish right favors Jews keeping all the land and they are quite rightly defined as rightists and bigots, the Jewish alt-right. Why doesnt the same opprobrium apply to those who proudly call themselves anti-Zionists and whose motto could be not one inch for the Jews. Add to that the animus toward Jews in general that emanate from websites that carry the anti-Zionist banner like Mondoweiss, the most prominent one. Its writers and editors continually blur the line between Zionists and Jews because, in modern parlance, there isnt one.

The bottom line is this. Calling out Israel for its policies (many of which are abominable) is legitimate and more than legitimate. It is right. Demand the end to the illegal, immoral occupation and every settlement. Boycott or dont boycott (BDS is NOT intrinsically anti-semitic). But stop attacking Zionists when you just mean Jews. After all, if you believe that every other people on the planet have the right to a place in the sun where they will not be persecuted, where their children are safe, but that Jews or Israelis dont, then you are an anti-semite. My only advice to you is to stop saying you oppose Zionism when what you really oppose are historys favorite scapegoat: the Jews.

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Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism – HuffPost

My Journey to Zionism – Algemeiner

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Illustrative. Photo: Hynek Moravec via Wikimedia Commons.

When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to Mississippi to see an exhibit calledWithout Sanctuary.

I soon found out that this was not going to be just another vacation.

In a dark room of the exhibit, the first thing I noticed was that people were somberandquiet. There were pictures. At first, I couldnt make out what they contained. But as they came into focus, I realized that I would never be the same again.

Men. Women. Hanging and dismembered.

Lynchings.

The white crowds were gushing at theSundayspectacle: a black man blowing in the breeze, disfigured and burnt to a crisp.All because of skin color. I sawmy face in theirs, and wanted to scream.

That night, I dedicated myself to the notion that being black required that I carry myself with dignity that sanctuary was sacrosanct; that love was essential.

That is how my journey started.

Im not sure when I knew that I was a Zionist.

Maybe it was when I heard James Wheldon Johnsons Lift Every Voice and Sing,and saw the Jewish story wrapped up in my ownor maybe when I heard my father talk about Leon Uris.Or maybe it was when I watched Freedom Writers, a story about kids from broken homes who hated each other because they didnt know the value of their own lives. Then they learned the story of Anne Frank, a young girl who was attacked for her identity, but still chose not to hate others. And thenthose kidslearned to love.

Its always the same story: An individual wrestling with imperfection or oppression or both, struggling with what it means to have a relationship with the Divineto have a capacity to love even when that love is not always reciprocated. A personalways tryingto find meaning and significance and identity.

That is how my journey started.

I went to Rome for the first time last year.Rome has a way of surprising you with its grandiosity. But Rome is also fickle; it has a way of reminding you of your own mortality. I love Bernini, but when I saw his work, I was reminded that nothing good can last.

So as quickly as Rome excited my imagination, it depressed me and made me search the book of Ecclesiastes to explore Solomons confrontation with his own mortality.

I came across an explanation, by Ethan Dor-Shav:

the wisest of Israels kings realizes that not only good fortune and success, but also sorrow, power, jealousy, and oppression are all, in the end, fleeting. It is this realization that opens the doors to redemption. Go eat your bread with joy, drink your wine with a content mind; for God has already graced your deeds. Whatever you find in your power to do, do it. For there are no deeds, no contriving and no wisdom in the abyss you are bound for. Like fleeting cherry blossoms, almost sacredly ephemeral, the transience of (life) inspires Kohelets existential transformation. It encapsulates the beauty of sunsets, autumn leaves, or the Impressionists fascination with fleeting light. For it is precisely the transience of these things that moves us.

I share this part of my journey with you so that youll know that I have felt, at times, vulnerable and alienated. Even though I am a public figure, I am first and foremost a human being searchingas all human beings dofor significance and belonging. I share in this frightening and beautiful adventure with you.

After Rome, I began to read and listen voraciously.Steinbeck and Tolstoy and Shakespeare and Angelou and Baldwin and Soloveitcheik and Prince and Leonard Cohen and Bob Marley and Nina Simone and Kendrick Lamar and Assaf Avidan and all those who carry anguish and abandonment but are still brave enough to sing of redemption.

That is how my journey started.

I went to Israel for the first time in 2013. I went to South Africa for the first time this year.

Both were potent with the force of athousand musicians playing athousand instruments all at once.

Like when Maya Angelou sang a song in front of the Spelman class of 1992.Look where he brought us from, she kept singing over and over again.Over lynchings.Over disenfranchisement. Over the shortcomings of our own selves. Look where he brought us from.

This is the story of Israel. This is the story of South Africa. And this is my story. And this is yours, all yours.

Look where he brought us from.

I contain multitudes:my peoples dark and troubled past, their grace and wisdom despite itand the Jewish story, its turmoils and triumphs,always pulling me along my search for myself.

I have sensed what Tolstoy once described as the unutterable complexity of all living things.

This is my Zionism.

Chlo Valdary is a brand ambassador and artistic creator for Jerusalem U, a film production company based in Israel. She has been published in dozens of papers, including the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, and the Jerusalem Post. She has also appeared on different media outlets, including Salon Talks, Al Jazeeras The Stream, and Huffington Post Live.

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My Journey to Zionism – Algemeiner

Why Do Nazis Hate Jews? How Christian Politics Fuels Anti-Semitism in the United States – Newsweek

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Newsweekpublished this story under the headline of Again, Anti-Semitism on February 16, 1981. In light of the recent neo-Nazi, white power and alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Newsweekis republishing the story.

Charles Benjamin, a leader of the Jewish community in his quiet, suburban New Jersey town, came home to find bright red swastikas painted on his back door. The outdoor furniture had been dumped into the pool. The mailbox had been looted. “My knees buckled,” Benjamin later told a television interviewer. “I sat down on the ground, not believing that this could happen in… my little patch in the United States. “Anti-Semitism is an ancient story that is suddenly making news across the United States. The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reported 377 anti-Semitic “episodes” in 1980, a nearly threefold increase in one year. Most of these sporadic incidents involved little more than scrawled graffiti or vandalism, but there were also 10cases of arson, four fire-bombings and several death threats. No one has been killed or seriously injured, and no evidence suggests a campaign of any scale; most of the incidents have been juvenile pranks. Yet many American Jews are worried. “Hitler started with a handful of people and paint brushes,” says Jeffrey Maas of the ADL in New Jersey. And many government officials agree that the incidents cannot be shrugged off. “There is a tendency… to treat incidents of anti-Semitic or racial vandalism as isolated acts of mischief,” warns New Jersey Attorney General John J. Degnan. “Unfortunately … these acts may represent deep-seated racial and religious hatred.”

To combat the flurry of anti-Semitic incidents, Degnan and other law-enforcement officials around the country have stepped up their investigations, often forming special police and prosecution units. Many Jewish leaders have begun holding seminars on bigotry and rallies against anti-Semitism, such as one that drew 3,000 people in California’s San Fernando Valley a fortnight ago. Not satisfied with these steps, Jewish militants have redoubled their own controversial efforts at self-defensepatrolling Jewish neighborhoods and training Jews in the use of high-powered rifles and pistols.

Some Jewish organizations are reluctant to read too much into the new statistics of anti-Semitism, noting that vandalism and violent crime are on the rise generally. “It will take another year of monitoring to find out what the numbers actually mean,” says a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee in New York. Other Jews see the low-level violence and harassment as part of a larger pattern. With mounting alarm, they note the renewed organizing efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party, the tone of some of the criticism of Israel in the United Nations and above all the bloody attacks on Jews in several European cities last year. “There is a feeling,” says Murray Wood, an executive of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, “that all roads somehow lead to Auschwitz.”

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Anti-Semitism in the United States today hardly compares in virulence with the anti-Jewish attitudes and actions in the 1920s and 1930s. Then, Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent (circulation: 700,000) ran anti-Semitic diatribes with headlines such as JEWISH GAMBLERS CORRUPT AMERICAN BASEBALL. More damaging, unstated quotas and restrictions kept Jews out of schools, jobs, neighborhoods and hotels. Today, most such barriers have fallen, and many public-opinion polls show a continuing decline in prejudice against Jews. In one survey last year, for example, only 8 percent of those questioned thought Jews had “too much political influence.”

But other polls indicate a persistent suspicion and distaste for Jews as “pushy, clannish, unethical.” In Anti-Semitism in America, published two years ago, authors Charles Y. Glock and Harold E. Quinley reported that a third of Americans share such negative attitudesabout the same number, according to a more recent poll, that suspect Jews of being more loyal to Israel than to the United States.

Alan Sandler and his bride, Zipporah, had just returned from their honeymoon in New York City. The mailbox of their Cranston, R.I. home was brimming with congratulatory cards. One was decorated with two lovebirds on the front. But inside was a swastika and the words. “We are back. ” Many experts blame the nation’s economic problems for the new signs of anti-Semitism. “Times of distress, social unrest and economic depression [are] often preliminary to outbreaks of anti-Semitism,” explains the Rev. Edward H. Flannery, author of another book on the subject, Anguish of the Jews. In hard times people find it comforting to have a scape-goat, Flannery says, “And they always look in the direction of the Jews.” In the spotlight of full media coverage, one episode often leads to others. Says New York City police official Patrick J. Murphy: “The incidents feed off each other. The kids read about themselves…and any dope can see himself immortalized.” In three days last month, officials at the University of Florida in Gainesville found thirteen examples of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus. After the wife of university President Robert Marston spoke out forcefully against such bigotry, her telephone rang. “This is the Florida-wide organization of Hitler,” said the caller. “I am going to kill you.” In fact few of the reported incidents seem directly connected with extremist groups. “If it were more organized,” says Long Island ADL director Melvin Cooperman, “we could zero in and nail them.” But both the Nazi Party and the Klan have run avowedly anti-Semitic candidates for public officewith disturbing success. Harold Covington, 27, chairman of the National Socialist Party of America in North Carolina, won more than 43 percent of the vote in the state’s Republican primary for attorney general last year. The rise of racist groups also seems to create a climate favorable to individual extremists and a certain public tolerance for isolated incidents.

The dramatic growth of Christian fundamentalismand Moral Majority politicsmay also spur anti-Semitism. Just last week, the Rev. Dan C. Fore, Moral Majority leader in New York City, told a reporter: “Jews have a God-given ability to make money, almost a supernatural ability…. They control this city.” Even without such stereotyping, the fundamentalist emphasis on “Christian politics” and efforts to convert Jews are threatening, says William Gralnick of the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta. “What it says is that the Jewish faith is not a valid path to salvation; it tends to separate us from grace.” Last year in Macon, Georgia, says Gralnick, Protestant ministers refused to speak out when the head of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” It was shortly after 1 a. m. when two men drove up to the synagogue in Temple City, California.They pried open a window, poured gasoline over a wooden pew and set the synagogue ablaze. Seven stained-glass windows were shattered and other damage to Temple Beth David was estimated at $180, 000. The incident was followed” by nearly 30 more anti-Semitic outbursts in the Los Angeles area over the last eight weeks.

The randomness of anti-Semitic incidents, and the absence of links to organized groups in most cases, makes prosecution difficult. In the 377 cases reported by the ADL last year, only 20 arrests were made. Even when there are arrests, the charge is normally a misdemeanor State assemblymen in California and New Jersey have proposed legislation that would stiffen penalties for religiously motivated vandalism. “When a cross is burned or a swastika is smeared, the terror it generates is as intense as from a bomb threat,” says New Jersey Assemblyman Byron Baer. But some judges prefer to sentence juvenile perpetrators to study Jewish history and the Nazi Holocaust. Said one such youth: “I am beginning to realize through these books the great deal of suffering I must have caused.”

Many Jewish organizations have escalated their own programs of public education. Last week the ADLworking with the Urban League and the U.S. Justice Departmentsponsored a conference in Providence, Rhode Island, on “extremist groups” and another in Boston on “religious and racial harassment.” About 1,500 people attended an anti-Nazi rally last month at the Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies in Los Angeles, itself a target of three anti-Semitic attacks earlier this year. But education didn’t seem to do much good at Great Neck North Senior High School in New York. Though the school has offered courses on the Holocaust for five years, vandals spray-painted the walls with “KKK” and “Hi’Hitler” last October, And police in many areas reported a flurry of similar anti-Semitic incidents after the “Holocaust” series on television.

Such incidents have only encouraged militant groups like the Jewish Defense League to expand their often provocative paramilitary operations. The JDL plans to offer 10-week courses in “warfare tactics” at secret sites in southern California, Michigan and upstate New York. Most mainstream Jewish organizations see these steps as an inflammatory overreaction. But equally dangerous, they agree, would be simply to ignore the current upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents. “There’s no reason to panic; the country is not being overrun byanti-Semites,” says Art Teitelbaum of the Anti-Defamation League in Miami. “But it is something to be vigilant about.”

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12. Neo-Nazis were among those present. Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

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Why Do Nazis Hate Jews? How Christian Politics Fuels Anti-Semitism in the United States – Newsweek

Holocaust discovery: Ritual baths uncovered in synagogue complex destroyed by Nazis – Fox News

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Archaeologists have uncovered two ritual baths in the remains of the Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius), in Lithuania, more than 70 years after its destruction during the Holocaust.

A team of experts from Israel, the U.S. and Lithuania uncovered the baths in the Lithuanian capital last month, the latest discovery at the historic site.

The 17th-century Great Synagogue was at the heart of the Jewish community Vilnius for hundreds of years until its destruction by the Nazis. Prior to the Holocaust, the Great Synagogue was also surrounded by a host of buildings, including other synagogues, a community council, kosher meat stalls, miqvaot (ritual baths) and the famous Strashun rabbinical library.

RADAR TECHNOLOGY HELPS REDISCOVER THE GREAT SYNAGOGUE OF VILNIUS, 70 YEARS AFTER ITS DESTRUCTION

The site was also home to Rabbi Eliyahu, the celebrated 18th-century Vilna Gaon, or genius.

The excavation site (Jon Seligman).

The Great Synagogue compound was looted and burned by German forces in 1941, and the standing remains were later completely destroyed by Soviet authorities in the 1950s. The Soviets later built a school on top of the area in 1964.

In 2015, archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar to locate the remains of the Great Synagogue and the buildings around its Shulhoyf or shulof community courtyard.

HOLOCAUST ESCAPE TUNNEL FOUND: PRISONERS DUG WITH SPOONS TO ESCAPE NAZIS

Most of the historical descriptions of the Great Synagogue in Vilna and the community courtyard (the Shulhoyf) relate to the Great Synagogue and the surrounding prayer halls, explained Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who led the research team, in a statement. Until now, we have found little information about the bathhouse and Miqve (ritual bath) building of the Jewish community, a community that comprised almost half of the city’s population.

Archaeologists followed a late 19th century architectural plan for the restoration of the ancient bathhouse. According to the plan, the bathhouse consisted of two main floors, a number of rooms, and a large service wing. Experts were also able to identify two ritual baths.

In July, the team exposed the ritual baths, which date to the early 20th century. The baths have tiled walls and floors, steps leading to the pool, and an otzar, an auxiliary pool in which water is collected for the miqve, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

HOLOCAUST HEROINE’S WILL, LOST PHOTOS, UNEARTHED IN SCOTLAND

Mantas Daubaras of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Organization and Professor Richard Freund of Hartford University also participated in the excavation.

“These discoveries add a new dimension to the understanding of the daily lives of the Jews of Vilna, and will certainly provide a new focus for understanding the lost cultural heritage of the Jewish community of Vilna, the ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’, the researchers said in a statement.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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Holocaust discovery: Ritual baths uncovered in synagogue complex destroyed by Nazis – Fox News

Bail set at $50000 for suspect who urinated on Northeast Philly synagogue’s front door – Philly.com

Posted By on August 17, 2017

The man suspected of urinating on the front door of a Northeast Philadelphia synagogue and giving the finger to a security camera recording the act was arraigned on a host of charges Wednesday, includingethnic intimidation and indecent exposure.

Police said bail forSheidali Dzhalilovwas set at $50,000, but it was unclear Wednesday night whether he was still in custody.

On Tuesday night, Dzhalilov, 23, of the 2100 block of Hoffnagle Street in the Rhawnhurst section of the city, turned himself in to Northeast Detectives and announced that he was the man seen on the surveillance recordings desecrating the synagogue. The footage, released by investigators Monday, shows a man dressed in a white shirt and dark jeans walk up to Congregation Beth Solomon at 198 Tomlinson Rd. about 12:30 a.m. Sunday and urinate on the front door and the sidewalk.After emptying his bladder, he leaves in a white sedan, but not before making an obscene gesture toward the surveillance camera. The mans face was clearly visible.

Police on Wednesday also charged Dzhalilov with institutional vandalism, desecration objects, open lewdness, harassment, and disorderly conduct.

In an interview Wednesday night, RabbiSolomon Isaacson, founder of Beth Solomon, said he was relieved that a suspect was in custody. Beth Solomon has been vandalized two other times within the last 12 months.In September, a menorah was taken from outside the building, and in January, someone spray-painted graffiti on the wall of a nearby shopping center where the synagogues ritual bath is housed.

This was definitely a hate crime, Isaacson said.I hope they prosecute this as a hate crime and not as some misdemeanor.

It was unclear whether Dzhalilov was facing misdemeanor or felony counts.

Isaacson praised the Police Department for getting the surveillance tape and the suspects image out to the public quickly.

We need to thank the police. They did a terrific job, Isaacson said.

Asked how he would counsel his congregation in light of the vandalism, Isaacson said, We have to understand that this man was influenced by his surroundings, his family, his friends.

He said if people get to know and understand other people, their reactions to people of different religions, faith and race would be different.

Published: August 16, 2017 9:16 PM EDT

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Bail set at $50000 for suspect who urinated on Northeast Philly synagogue’s front door – Philly.com

Man accused of urinating on synagogue is arraigned, jailed – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Posted By on August 17, 2017

Associated Press August 17, 2017 – 9:16 AM

PHILADELPHIA A man accused of urinating on the walls of a Philadelphia synagogue has been jailed on charges of ethnic intimidation.

Records show a judge on Wednesday set bail for 23-year-old Sheidali Dzhalilov at $50,000.

Police say Dzhalilov approached the front doors of Congregation Beth Solomon, made an obscene hand gesture in the direction of a surveillance camera and then urinated on the walls and sidewalk in front of the synagogue early Sunday. They say he turned himself in on Tuesday.

Dzhalilov is also charged with institutional vandalism, indecent exposure and open lewdness. Court records do not show that he has retained an attorney.

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Man accused of urinating on synagogue is arraigned, jailed – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Charlottesville Cops Refused to Protect Synagogue – Yahoo News

Posted By on August 17, 2017

The Jewish community in Charlottesvillehired armed security to protectits synagogue for the first timeafterlocal police declined to provide a guard for the site despite hundreds of white supremacists congregating on the town over the weekend fora rally that resulted in the murder of counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Alan Zimmerman, president of the Congregation Beth Israel in the Virginia town, wrote a blog postpublished on Monday evening following the violent scenes on Saturday that resulted in a car-ramming attackthat took place just 200 feet from the place of worship.

He described the fearhe felt in the presence of white supremacists, who rallied aroundanti-Semitic slogans, as 40 members of the community prayed in the synagogue, withoutsupport from the local authorities.

The police departmentpromised to provide an observer near the building but Zimmerman says it was not kept by the force leaving the congregation vulnerable to assault as they worshipped.

For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple, he wrote. Had they tried to enter, I dont know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldnt take my eyes off them, either.

Not only did armed protesters stand across from the synagogue, but neo-Nazis paraded past the building, shouting anti-Semitic slogans, a horrible reminder ofNazi Germanys persecution and mass slaughterof European Jews.

Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, ‘There’s the synagogue!’followed by chants of ‘Sieg Heil’and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols, Zimmerman wrote.

This was before James Alex Fields Jr.plowed his car into protesters in the town, leaving a scene of carnage that has sparked outrage across the United States, and the wider western world.

The Jewish community has faced more incidents of hate crimes since the ascension of Donald Trump to the Oval Office. Jewish community centers have received bomb threatsmany of which turned out to be from a Jewish man based in IsraelJewish cemeteries have been desecrated and Trump himself has failed on several occasions to single out the white supremacists for censure, blaming violence on both sides, in reference to anti-racist protesters trying to stop Saturday’swhite supremacist march.

Zimmerman said that the threat was not only on the ground but online too. He learned that Nazi websites had posted a call to burn the synagogue after which the communityleaders took the precautionary step of removing our Torahs, including a Holocaust scroll, from the premises.

Zimmerman told the Jewish worshippersthat it would be better if they exited the synagogue by the back entrance, and to go in groups to protect each other.

This is 2017 in the United States of America, he wrote.

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Charlottesville Cops Refused to Protect Synagogue – Yahoo News

Great Synagogue of Vilna’s Jewish Ritual Baths, Destroyed in Holocaust, Found by Archaeologists – Haaretz

Posted By on August 17, 2017

The Nazis burned and looted the synagogue but it was the Russians who knocked it down as they set out to eradicate Jewish memories in Lithuania after WWII.

An international team of archaeologists has unearthed the remains of ritual baths at the Great Synagogue in Vilna, which had been burned and ransacked by the Nazis during the Holocaust, and was finally pulled down once and for all by the Russians in 1965 as they set out to eradicate all memory of the Jews in Lithuania.

How long Jews lived in Lithuania is hard to know. The earliest records note their presence from the 8th century C.E., though they could have arrived centuries before, as Jews scattered through the diaspora after the disastrous Bar Kokhba Revolt in ancient Israel. In any case, like numerous other European nations, Lithuania had a checkered relationship with the Jews, sometimes embracing them with warmth, at other times expelling the whole population, for instance in the year 1495. They were allowed back in after eight years, but relations between the Lithuanian powers that be and the Jewish population had soured, and would remain strained (and worse).

The vast Great Synagogue of Vilna itself was completed in 1633, over a century after the Jews were let back into Lithuania. It was built on the site of an older synagogue, which in turn had been built on the remains of an even older Jewish prayer house.

First the Lithuanian authorities of this early modern period had to let the Jews build a house of worship from stone. Since it was so large and grand, yet was forbidden by law to pass the height of churches in the city, much of the Grand Synagogue was built below ground. Seen from the street, the synagogue seemed three stories tall but inside it stretched the equivalent of five stories, all grandly decorated, according to records.

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany occupied Lithuania.

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“During the liquidation of the Small Ghetto, [in October 1941], the Great Synagogue was burned and then ransacked,” Dr. Jon Seligman of the Israel Antiquities Authority, leader of the research team, told Haaretz. It was 308 years after its construction.

Yet, as World War II ended, the shell of the synagogue still stood. Even though it was burnt out and its furnishings were gone, it could have been restored, he says.

It was not to be. “In the 1950s, the Lithuanian Soviet government decided to destroy the synagogue and the whole the area around it,” Seligman mourns. The synagogue compound had included schools (no less than 12 batei midrash, one run by the Gaon of Vilna), a library, kosher meat stalls and the mikves.

Grasshoppers and amphibia

The excavation was based on a late 19th-century architectural plan found in the municipal archive of Vilna, for the community to restore the ancient bathhouse. That plan had the bathhouse with two main stories, a number of rooms, and a service wing. But the archaeologists found just two mikvas and do not know if there were more.

“Only two are marked on the plan,” Seligman says. A sign that there may have been more is that they two are much smaller than the archaeologists had expected, he adds.

We don’t know what the mikvas’ building looked like. We do have a description of the mikve experience at the Great Synagogue, from a Yiddish tour guide. As delivered by Seligman: “The walls were covered with black mold and there were grasshoppers running around. Frogs croaking in the corner. It does not sound like it was a very nice place to visit.”

The Jews of Vilna were wiped out during the Holocaust. Of the original 130 synagogues in Vilna, only one remained standing after World War II and the subsequent Russian policy (at the time) to wipe out the memory of the Jewish people, Seligman says: “They destroyed all standing Jewish monuments. They also destroyed the cemeteries, using the tombstones as building materials.”

This Soviet destruction was not unique to Vilna: it was a common feature in that area any synagogues that had survived the war were demolished, or repurposed, for instance as storerooms, Seligman says.

On the site that had housed the Great Synagogue, the Lithuanians have built a school that stands there to this very day. And the Jews of Lithuania continue to worship at the one synagogue left standing. No others have been built.

The excavation of the mikvas was led by Seligman, with Mantas Daubaras of the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Organization and Prof. Richard Freund of Hartford University.

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Great Synagogue of Vilna’s Jewish Ritual Baths, Destroyed in Holocaust, Found by Archaeologists – Haaretz

Court Rules on Touro Synagogue Ownership – Newport This Week

Posted By on August 17, 2017

By Brooke Constance White

An appellate court in Massachusetts recently overturned a U.S. District Court ruling about who ultimately owns the oldest synagogue in America.

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston issued a decision on Aug. 2 that the Touro Synagogue building in Newport is owned by New York City-based Shearith Israel rather than Jeshuat Israel, the congregation that has been worshiping there for more than 100 years.

In the 21-page decision, Justice David H. Souter, a retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stated that, according to a lease dating back to 1903, Congregation Shearith Israel owns the building, fixtures and land located at 85 Touro St. in Newport.

As previously reported by Newport This Week, the case opened in 2012 after Touros Congregation Jeshuat Israel began experiencing financial difficulties and sought to sell one of two pairs of 18th-century silver ceremonial bells, called rimonim. Proceeds were to be put in an irrevocable endowment, with the interest maintaining the synagogue and ensuring the continuation of services.

The Newport congregation worked with Christies Auction House to find a buyer and accepted a $7.4 million offer from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Once the New York congregation discovered the plan to sell the rimonim, it objected, claiming ownership of the property and thus the rimonim. A lawsuit filed by the Newport congregation followed.

The two congregations are interwoven in many ways, dating back to the early 1800s, when most Jews left Newport fearing persecution stemming from the American Revolution. The synagogue closed, and the ownership and management of the property, building and contents transferred to the New York congregation.

When Jews re-established worship in Newport in the late 1800s, the New York congregation sent the contents back, including the bells recently at issue. The Newport congregation signed a lease in 1903 to rent the synagogue from the New York congregation for a nominal sum of $1 per year, and that arrangement played into the controversy.

A 2001 agreement made among three parties, the Newport congregation, a supportive organization known as the Society of Friends of Touro Synagogue, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, describes the Newport congregation as having “possession of the site through a lease with Congregation Shearith Israel as owner, confirming that the Newport congregation had no legal claim beyond that of a holdover tenant under the terms of the 1903 lease, as formally renewed in 1908.

According to Souters ruling, however, although there was an allusion to personal property in [the Newport congregations] obligations to the other two parties to protect and conserve the related collections in its ownership, possession or control, no object was mentioned as being within any of the three categories, and nothing can be inferred from this provision about the ownership of the rimonim.

Louis Solomon, attorney for the New York congregation, said his client is gratified that the appeals court looked at the case so thoroughly and ended up correcting the district courts previous ruling.

Now were hoping that these two congregations can put this behind them because there is so much more that we have in common than apart, Solomon said in a phone interview after the ruling. We want to move forward harmoniously and we have been waiting to hear from the Newport congregation. Weve offered up several olive branches of peace.

According to Solomon, the Newport congregation wants to ask for an extension to continue litigation, which is their right as a litigant, but will simply delay the process.

We need to experience healing now, he said. Its been five years and we need to get back to the business of serving Jews and people of faith in America.

Until the Newport congregation sued for ownership, Solomon said the New York congregation sought to preserve the Touro Synagogue as an active house of worship. With the new ruling, it will continue in that role.

Attorney Gary P. Naftalis, counsel for Congregation Jeshuat Israel, said his client is disappointed in the ruling and will be petitioning for a rehearing.

We remain committed to preserving Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue and the cradle of religious liberty in the United States, as a place of public worship for Jews and to safeguarding the rights of Jeshuat Israel, the Congregation that has prayed at and protected Touro for over a century, Naftalis said in an email to Newport This Week.

Visit newportthisweek.com to read more background on the dispute.

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Court Rules on Touro Synagogue Ownership – Newport This Week


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