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Letters Week of Jan. 4, 2012
Why Should We Accept This New View of Jesus?
Chasidic media personality Shmuley Boteach's opinion piece (Editorial & Opinions: "Jews Should Now Be Able to Accept New View of Jesus," Dec. 22) seems to have been inspired by the Peter Pan adage that "make-believe and true are exactly the same thing."
Boteach's analysis is fiction masquerading as scholarship.
There is no historical evidence that Jesus -- or any other Jew -- walked around in first century Palestine wearing a head covering.
"Rabbi Jesus"? Ridiculous. As a formal title, "rabbi' is a post-70 C.E. designation (Jesus died ca. 30 C.E.). His contemporary Hillel (d. 10 C.E.) is referred to -- as anyone conversant with the Talmud knows all too well! -- as Hillel the Elder, never "Rabbi Hillel."
Boteach asserts that "Jesus was a political leader" who fought the Romans courageously." How so? Is there any indication in the Gospels or elsewhere that Jesus took up arms against Rome? No!
It is a matter of extreme controversy among New Testament scholars as to whether Jesus viewed himself -- as opposed to later Church interpretation -- as having a "Messianic mission." And if he did, what was meant by that term? For the Jews of his day, the Messiah was to be a Judean freedom fighter, an individual who would do battle, not wind up hung on a cross.
The essence of Jesus' original message (Mark 1:15, 2:17) was "the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye ... I come to call sinners to repentance." There is nothing in this proclamation (gospel) about suffering and dying in order to "renew Jewish sovereignty in ... Israel."
Bottom line: You can't build good interfaith relations on self-indulgent, wishful thinking that deforms the historical record. Honesty must supersede ideology, no matter how good the intentions.
These People Really Don't Know Our Sister at All
We know this response is a bit tardy. However, we feel it is imperative to set the record straight as to what our sister Rita Levine believed in and would have felt with the release of the terrorist whose actions on the 405 bus in Israel took her life in 1989. Both Prof. Burton Caine and Ron Kall's letters, published on Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 respectively, are incorrect.
Rita Levine believed in the letter of the law. While Caine did visit her in the hospital, we know for a fact that she did not at that time express sympathy for the Arabs and their cause.
What she did express, and clearly directed us, her family, to address is the deep-rooted hatred that caused the act of terror, and for the world to know that it was an act of terror committed on innocent people.
She did not believe in the death penalty; however, she did believe that if people committed heinous crimes, they should be punished by the law.
While we were saddened to learn of the release of the terrorist in exchange for Gilad Shalit, we are happy that Gilad is back home with his family in Israel.
What we do believe Rita would have wanted the world to address and condemn is "Why Israel had to give up 1,000 to one?"
Mr. Kall's comments about what she would have advocated were incorrect. That she would have hurt Israel is preposterous and insensitive. To our knowledge, he never met Rita nor did he know anything about her beliefs.
In the future, before using her name, we ask that anyone contact us to qualify the facts.
Joan Levine Band
Article on Adult Ed Omits Important Sponsorship
I enjoyed the article on adult Jewish education in the Winter 2011 edition of Inside and was happy that the author chose to feature me in the section about "Topics on Tap."
Unfortunately, the organization behind Topics on Tap, Hillel's Jewish Graduate Student Network, was not mentioned.
The Grad Network runs social, educational and religious programs for grad students and young professionals; its presence is a key factor in helping many Jewish young adults feel at home in Philadelphia. And it also works to help them stay in the area following graduation.