The Conspiracy

Houston in Israel; Jews and the New Testament; preventing war; and more. [Required Reading]

Can Jews better appreciate the New Testament? | Photo taken by flickr username Wonderlane (CC BY 2.0)

Whitney Houston visited Israel, called it “home” [Jerusalem Post]

Upon the recent announcement of the passing of world-famous vocalist Whitney Houston, whose rocky past and relationships were once the focus of much media attention, the Jewish press took the opportunity to explore Houston’s trip to Israel in 2003. Specifically, Houston visited Dimona, spending some time with members of the Black Hebrew community. Of the trip, the Jerusalem Post reports:

“Accompanied by her husband, Bobby Brown, and a large group of family and friends, Houston traveled from Eilat in the south to Galilee in the north.

She was hosted by Sharon at his official residence in Jerusalem but pointedly avoided shaking his hand, letting Brown do so instead.

Asked by Sharon how she felt in Israel, she said: ‘It’s home! It’s home!’

Wearing bright red African clothing, Brown and Houston – who was then 39 – told Sharon they had come to visit friends and family in the Black Hebrew community. Houston said that while it was her first trip to Israel, she planned to come back and record a Christmas television special here – a promise she never fulfilled.”

Democracy and Jewish law: irreconcilable tensions? [Forward]

In a recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center for Surveys, some surprising findings about the Israeli perception of the compatibility of Western values and halakhah (or Jewish law) were uncovered. When asked where to side in a conflict between democracy and halakhah, only 44% of Israeli Jews said they’d choose democracy. Harvey Hames explores the implications:

“This disturbing state of affairs comes from a misunderstanding of what Rabbinic Judaism is all about, and it reflects the incredible success of the rabbis over 2,000 years of linking belief with religious observance. Rabbinic Judaism emerged in the period after the destruction of the Second Temple (along with Christianity) in order to provide a solution for a people bereft of worldly power, political independence and a central place of worship. The rabbis further developed ideas that had been circulating for a couple hundred years, one of which portrayed the divine being as the supreme judge before whom comes each and every individual to answer for his or her deeds. Instead of going to the temple and having the priest, the chosen mediator, offer a sacrifice in order to placate the divine entity, every act of the individual was now under the scrutiny of an all-powerful God who offered blessed eternity to those who did his will (that is, kept the commandments) and severe punishment for those that did not.”

Moving toward a renewed Jewish understanding of the New Testament [Forward]

While Jewish sentiment toward the New Testament has been host to a variety of reactions, author Jay Michaelson highlights a new book that encourages a deeper reading of a text undeniably influenced by Jewish thinkers. Can this analysis offer guideposts to a renewed appreciation of a book that has been the core of conflict between Jews and Christians for centuries? Using a critical review as a jumping off point, Michaelson responds:

“But you can understand the anonymous reviewer’s fear: As the joke goes, ‘Two thousand years of Christian love have worn down the Jews’ nerves.’ Despite being the younger religion, for many American Jews, Christianity is the bullying elder brother: stronger, bigger, dumber. As a people, we’re appallingly ignorant of the New Testament, in part, as that Amazon comment suggests, due to having the Good News shoved down our collective throats for hundreds of years.”

Can war with Iran be prevented? [+972]

With tensions between Israel and Iran reaching a boiling point, what hope does the peace process have of quelling a conflict that could change the face of both nations forever? Reporter Larry Derfner weighs in on the future, what might be done, and what war could mean for Israel.

“I imagine the day after the smoke clears, for however long it clears, when Israelis count their dead and realize they’re going to have to do it again in another year or two or three, and I wonder what it’s going to be like in the interim. I try to imagine a future in which Israel, believing it has no choice, starts one war after another after another whenever some Middle Eastern country decides it wants a fraction of one percent of the weaponry Israel has had for decades.”


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One Older Response to “Houston in Israel; Jews and the New Testament; preventing war; and more. [Required Reading]”

  1. Shaul
    February 14, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    I try to imagine the day in which Larry Derfner gets an actual job.

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