30 December 2006

Sabbath buttons

The Jewish community in Sydney is trying to catch up with Melbourne and at issue is the pushing of buttons.

I'm all in favor of keeping the Sabbath. After all according to Ex. 31.14 ‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

That sounds pretty intense and fairly demanding. So what's the deal with the buttons? Seems a couple of Jewish council members of Woollahra and Waverley have asked the RTA to help out and the RTA is willing. But at issue is ... is it legal according to halacha (Jewish precedential law) to have people walk into a signal/photo tripper that causes a stop light to change to 'walk' from 'don't walk?'

Wow, what a long way the rabbis are from Moses.

Of course, the Bible in Ex. 35.3 says, “You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.”

That's the worrisome text. Is the kindling of a fire the same as an electrical spark?

What did Moses mean anyway? I think a helpful text is Num. 15.32 "Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day." The man ended up being capitally punished, put to death, for working on the sabbath. And gathering wood sounds like a lot of work. I know. Yesterday I did some serious trimming of my garden from the weeds that have great strength. And the clearing of the bush and the scrub was a sweat-inducing activity. Jeremiah 17 has a similar command about hauling wood and bringing loads out of the house.

OK, so gardening heavily is out. And according to Neh. 10.31 "As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day" so is marketing and selling and buying. See also Neh. 13.15-22. No selling. No buying. Fine.

But walking through a photoray to change a light switch? Is this what Moses wanted? Is this what God wanted?

I had a personal experience with lights and the Sabbath in 1970 and as a result gave up the halacha-ruling rabbis who made a mountain out of a molehill.

In answer to the allegations of Luke 13.14 "And the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the multitude in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; therefore come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”
Jesus replied to it this way in Matt. 12.5-8 “Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent? For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
That same Sabbath day Jesus healed a guy, citing "What man shall there be among you, who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it, and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

So Jesus in the sight of the synagogue official healed a woman as it records, Luke 13.16 “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

Probably the clearest example is in John 5.1-11 where we read of a healing at the pool in Bethsaida in Jerusalem. "Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. Therefore the Jews were saying to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”
But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Take up your pallet and walk.’”

I like this scene. The lame man is healed. The Jewish leadership should rejoice. Instead, they worried about technicalities of halacha. They missed the Lord of the Sabbath. God was in their midst and they worried about minutae. They should have been happy and celebrated. The lame man was celebrating. The one who healed him could make new halacha. The healer became the teacher.

Jesus still is the healer. He still is the teacher.

This Sabbath, let's rejoice in God's salvation. This Sabbath, let's bring people freedom.

In Jesus' words, recorded in John 7.23 “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Then in John 9, Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath. What happened? John 9.16 "Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them.

And friends, there is still a division among the Jews because of Jesus.

I know, this might push your button. You might be angered because Jesus has no right to be our messiah. You might be upset because your teachers have said things against the Messiah Jesus from Bethlehem.

But let's think like God thinks. Let's get on his agenda. Let's see things from his point of view.

That seems Mosaic. That seems reasonable. And that, in this new year, will give us reason to rejoice.

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and he wants to be your Lord as well.

Shabbat shalom!



Below is the report from this week's Australia Jewish News.

by Michelle Romain

SYDNEY’S Orthodox rabbinate is examining whether the Roads and Traffic Authority’s (RTA’s) proposal to install automated signals at two intersections in Bondi to assist Jewish pedestrians on Shabbat contravenes halacha.

The RTA has proposed installing the motion sensor-activated signals at the intersections of Old South Head Road with Victoria Road and Penkivil Street in Bondi, which are used by large numbers of Orthodox Jews to access nearby shuls.

The RTA proposal follows an earlier request by two local councillors to install timers on the lights at the intersections, which the RTA rejected, citing likely traffic delays.

Rabbi Dovid Slavin, executive director of the Yeshiva Gedolah Rabbinical College, is working with Waverley and Woollahra councils to ensure the crossings adhere to the laws of Shabbat.

But he doubts the Rabbinical Council of NSW will approve the sensor system.

“Walking in the path of a sensor to activate a pedestrian crossing is the same as pressing a button. But we can’t rule out anything without analysing the complete report.”

Rabbinical Council of NSW honorary secretary Rabbi Chaim Ingram also has doubts about the proposal.

“If you knowingly walk in the path of a sensor light causing it to go on indirectly, it goes back to the very heart of what Shabbat is – the free will of exercising restraint not to create activity [electricity] on Shabbat.

“The most minute things that cause a change of state can be forbidden on Shabbat,” Rabbi Ingram said.

Jewish councillors Tony Kay of Waverley and Isabelle Shapiro of Woollahra have lobbied the RTA to install automated signals at the intersections for the past two years. The pair drafted the initial proposal to install a timer on the traffic lights, which would operate on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

Kay said both councils have agreed to the RTA’s sensor proposal, providing “the rabbinical community accepts the use of the technology on Shabbat”.

At a cost of $20,000, the sensor technology is 20 times more expensive than the timers, which reportedly cost $1000 to install. The RTA has agreed to share the cost of the sensors with the two councils.

Rabbi Slavin said the councils, the rabbis and the RTA are working together to find a solution.

“We are trying to work towards a timer that wouldn’t be imposing on RTA traffic flows and a button is not pressed,” Rabbi Slavin said. “There are many others who would be benefiting from this technology, such as the blind, the elderly and children.”

Melbourne has had timer-operated signals at several intersections in areas with large Orthodox populations for many years.

21 December 2006

AntiSemitism in France and Australia and beyond...

Anti-Jewish attacks in Australia reach record high.

First a report from ECAJ then my comments then back to the report...

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry at its annual meeting in Melbourne this week received a comprehensive briefing on all aspects of antisemitism in Australia by Jeremy Jones, a former President of the Council who has provided detailed annual analyses to the Council since 1989.

More from Mr Jones later, but first let me give you my perspective on anti-Semitism just now, especially in France.

I apologize for the length of this commentary. Often they are quite short, but not this one.

We live in Australia, where our major clashes coming on football ovals and cricket pitches. We don’t know about terrorism inside our shores. We live in general peace and security. And that comfort is a boon to economy and to house re-sales and to our share market.

Sometimes Muslim clerics get in trouble denouncing the White House or women who look like uncovered meat, but religious diversity is a highlight of our multiculturalism. And Jews? Most people in Australia find Jewish people an interesting addition to that multiculturalism. So to discuss anti-Jewish sentiment doesn’t seem to fit here. Or does it?

As October ended some members of the Ocean Grove Football Club attacked Menachem Vorchheimer in Caulfield. Dressed in Orthodox Jewish garb, including a pair of head coverings, Mr Vorchheimer was beaten and taunted. He said he had suffered headaches and nausea since the attack and his two young children had undergone counselling.

He said he was attacked because of his faith. The club has apologized.

So does anti-Semitism happen in Australia?
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Grahame Leonard said the attack was the fifth unprovoked assault on a member of the Jewish community in Victoria this year. More than 140 incidents - a national record - were reported in July, at the height of Israel's war with Hezbollah. There has never been a conviction for an antisemitic incident in Victoria.

What about in Poland?
Anti-Semitism and intolerance in Poland have risen to new levels since the formulation of a coalition government in May 2006, according to a new report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
"Poland: Democracy and the Challenge of Extremism," details what ADL calls "the persistence of anti-Semitism" by examining a range of issues, including the makeup of the current coalition government, which contains two extremist parties, and the influence of Radio Maryja, a right-wing Catholic radio station which regularly broadcasts anti-Semitic diatribes.
It seems so unhealthy. It doesn’t make sense. Could this happen in France, the bastion of the Enlightenment, the place where egalitere was as much a part of the fiber as liberty and fraternity. Egalitere, or equality, is similar to our Aussie “fair go” and “mateship” Is there anything to report about anti-Semitism?

Trains and models
The establishment journal, Le Monde made room for the story on page one, "Amazement after the anti-Semitic attack on a woman on a train." Seems a woman with a 13-month-old baby in a pram was attacked on an RER train and no witnesses came forward. The story has thrown a spotlight on the steep rise in anti-Semitic crimes in France. According to official statistics, there were more attacks (vandalism, arson, assault, and so on) targeting France's 600,000 Jews in the first half of 2004 than in all of 2003--135, up from 127 last year.

Josh Turnil is the chief of station of Jews for Jesus in Paris. In a recent phone interview, he cited the following:
• It is a felony to be anti-semitic
• It is a felony to deny the Holocaust happened to 6 million Jews
• In the first three months of 2003, there were more acts of antisemitism in France than the previous fifteen years
• The European Union now monitors antisemitism with its own task force.
Turnil was especially candid about an incident involving his own Jewish Christian cousin. She is from Aberdeen and was called “sale youpine” an especially derogatory title “Dirty Jewess” and this strong language is very hard for anyone to take.

She was not the only one recently to hear such a remark.
Nineteen-year-old Alexandra Rosenfeld heard it in October. After she was crowned as Miss Europe in a pageant held in Kiev, Rosenfeld learned of some rare viewers posting unfriendly remarks on internet forums. They called Rosenfeld “sale youpine” and accused the producers of orchestrating the victory of the Jewish candidate.

They said that since the rights of the program were owned by Endemol which belonged at the time to Jewish producer Arthur and his associate Stephane Courbit, Rosenfeld was propelled to the top.
Rosenfeld did not reply to these remarks, but did participate in February’s massive march organised in Paris to denounce anti-Semitism and racism. The demonstration was organised after the murder of a young Jewish phone salesman, Ilan Halimi, which is the landmark and most insidious case this year.

It’s hard to know whether the anti-Semitism if fuelled by anti-Jewish racism or by anti-Israel politics. Some see it as European (racism) or Muslim (political).

Take, for instance, the case of Halimi, whom Wikipedia reports, “was a young French Jew of Moroccan descent kidnapped on 21 January 2006, by a gang of mostly Muslim immigrant youths called the "Barbarians" and subsequently tortured to death over a period of three weeks. The murder, among whose motives authorities count anti-Semitism, incited a public outcry in a France already marked by intense public controversy about the role of immigrants in its society.”
The Barbarians’ leader is Youssouf Fofana, the 26-year-old son of Muslim immigrants from Ivory Coast, a former French colony in West Africa. Most gang members were nominal Muslims.

So far, Fofana and 19 alleged accomplices have been charged in the savage abduction. According to police, the gang made at least four botched efforts to kidnap a Jew before snatching Halimi.
The Boston Globe reported, “In the bleak housing project where a young Jew died, there's scant sympathy for the victim.

''It's too bad this happened, because we immigrants are always blamed," said Ibrahim Ag Ahmalou, a lanky man of West African heritage who shares his girlfriend's apartment in the project. ''But Jews have all the money and power. Everyone knows this and resents them. That's why they have these problems."

Last March, there were more attacks on Jews by Arab and African immigrants in suburban Paris, according to police. None of the latest victims was seriously injured, but the attacks heightened the nervousness of French Jews. There is alarm that the antipathy of French Muslims toward Jews, long based on opposition to Israel, is reverting to the even more sinister prejudices that once pervaded Europe, making Jews the scapegoats for all social ills.

''Anti-Semitism is rising in our country," said legislator Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The Halimi case launched a new wave of questions. Was the kidnapping designed to get money or to get Jewish money? Was it politically motivated or racial? In other words, since the people in the neighbourhood knew what was happening, and the Jewish community was involved, why has the case still not gone to court?

The Muslim Barbarians wanted a cash ransom of more than $500,000 because they assumed all Jews were rich, according to French authorities. And when Halimi's family could not get that kind of money, the kidnappers killed their captive, because he was a Jew.

In taunting calls to Halimi's family, the abductors addressed his parents with anti-Semitic slurs and told them to get cash ''from your synagogue." They also contacted a French rabbi, boasting, ''We have a Jew." Even more shocking, investigators believe that many inhabitants of the project were aware that the youth gang was holding a Jewish captive, but none called police or urged the abductors to show mercy.

Both racial and political anti-Semitism continues this year. After Halimi, the attacks continued in Lyon and Sarcelles. On March 6, a Jewish pupil in Lyon was attacked and kicked in the face. Days earlier, in Sarcelles, a Jewish man suffered a dislocated shoulder after he was beaten by youths making anti-Jewish remarks. On March 3, two young men in Sarcelles were attacked in separate incidents, with one, the son of a local rabbi, suffering a broken nose.

Turnil told me that the last institution attacked was the Jewish welfare agency. It was burned. This is classic anti-semitism or racism.

Said Sammy Ghozlan, a retired police chief and activist against anti-Semitism: ''It's all mixed up: gang stuff, violence, and a glaze of ideology -- they hate Jews, they hate the West, they hate France. The Jews are the face they put on their generalized anger at the world."

Probably the last six months or so, every day, police come to the Jews for Jesus office in Paris in order to take names and keep records. They want to guarantee the safety of all Jewish agencies, including our missionary band. “It can be a bit much,” said Turnil, “but we are glad for their help.”

Back to Mr Jones' comments in the ECAJ press release
"Threats", conveyed through the telephone, mail, leaflets, posters or e-mail, were recorded at a rate forty two percent above the average.

Amongst the incidents recorded during the past year were

* Synagogue vandalised, with damage to exterior and to ritual objects.
* Rabbi’s home adjoining synagogue and cars parked on property vandalised and damaged.
* Rocks and a brick were thrown through the glass door of a synagogue.
* Attempted arson of synagogue.
* Congregants leaving synagogues were pelted with eggs.
* Office of Jewish student group on campus vandalised.
* A Jewish university student was threatened, spat upon and harassed on campus.
* Incidents of assault and harassment of Jewish people walking home after Festival meals
* Jewish man verbally abused, called “bloody Jew” and assaulted, while walking home from synagogue.
* A Chasidic Jew in a market area had paint thrown at him by unknown assailants.


Anti-Jewish graffiti were reported at the highest level since records have been kept and at a rate seventy seven percent above the average for all years, while hate mail and threatening telephone calls were recorded at just below the average of the previous 16 years.

Graffiti included:

* Graffiti “Bloody Jews” written on wall of ritual religious structure had been assembled in a university.
* Antisemitic graffiti reading “Jews must die” and “Kill the Jews” daubed on business office.
* Graffiti “Jews Kill” painted in prominent city positions.
* Graffiti “Die Jews” painted on synagogue.
* A series of antisemitic daubings were painted in and around a Jewish day school campus.

Hate mail included:

* A synagogue received antisemitic hate mail, which included comments such as “Herr Hitler had the right attitude about Jews, no question”.
* Antisemitic letter sent to Holocaust survivor.
* Jewish communal figures received envelopes with comments “die Jews” and containing white powder.
* Jewish organisations received mail “Hitler was Right” and swastika.

Abusive/threatening telephone calls included:

* Bomb threats directed at a synagogue made to the private home of an executive member. The caller stated “In the name of Allah, a bomb is in the synagogue and will go off in 25 minutes, blood will be shed.”
* Telephone threats, concluding “Watch out, bloody Jews” made to Jewish community organisation.
* Abusive and threatening telephone calls, “I will kill you all”, made to a number of Jewish organisations
* Threatening telephone call with the phrase “kill Jews” repeated, received at home of Jewish family.

Abusive, threatening and other antisemitic e-mails sent to Jewish individuals and Jewish communal offices were reported at a rate of more than three per week, which added to concerns at “an explosion of anti-Jewish invective on web-based bulletin boards and discussion groups,” Mr. Jones reported.

Examples of offensive emails included:

* A man received at his home a long antisemitic e-mail, on the subject of “your filthy Talmud”.* E-mail “Jews stink!” beginning “I hope you big nosed greedy cunts are taught a lesson . . . “ sent to Jewish organisations.
* E-mail sent to Jewish community leader and copied to Jewish organisations saying “What a PITY your VERMIN RACE was not eliminated! Jews SMELL, STINK and are VERMIN. They aren’t real humans and are a lower form of life. Three cheers for the holocaust HIP HIP, HIP HIP, HIP HIP, HORAY!!!!!!! Can’t wait till Israel is a smoldering mess, then there will be NO WHERE for THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL TO RUN TO and to pedal their lies from. I WIPE MY ARSE WITH YOUR ‘STAR OF DAVID’. YOU UNGRATEFUL VERMIN SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.”
* Antisemitic e-mail sent to Jewish organisations alleging Jews had “infested the U.S.A., Argentina and a few other countries . . . you’re everywhere, like roaches in a dirty kitchen”.
* Jewish organisation received e-mail comparing Jews to Nazis, concluding “Hitler was correct, you are not human”. A similar e-mail was received at a Jewish school.
* E-mail sent to Jewish organisation calling Jews “vermin”, and referring to a leader as a “Stinking Yid”.

In his overall assessment, Mr Jones observed :

* "In contemporary Australia, to accuse any person or organisation of antisemitism is to allege that their behaviour is antisocial and
unacceptable. No one with aspirations to public credibility admits to holding antisemitic views or to associating with openly antisemitic
organisations."

* "While individuals and organisations associated with the political left who promoted extreme anti-Israel racism, which sometimes included
offensive and gratuitous anti-Jewish imagery, were particularly keen to assert that they were not antisemitic, even far-right and neo-Nazi
groups publicly professed to be "anti-Zionist" rather than anti-Jewish, although the material they distribute can give the lie to any such distinction."

* "In the mass media during the year in review, a number of commentators and a large number of contributors of letters and other forms of public feedback crossed the line between political commentary and offensive commentaries came during the period when Israel was engaged in military activity against HAMAS and Hezbollah. Other anti-Jewish comments came in the course of public discussions on eg the US military involvement in Iraq, the prosecution of Nazi War Criminals when this involved Australian residents and the personal campaign against Israel by an individual author who promoted himself as a victim of a mythical anti-democratic Jewish establishment. In non-mainstream publications, anti-Jewish rhetoric was also invoked in other discussions such as eg on Australia's anti-terrorism laws and on Australian Jewish support for victims of racism."

* "Issues of antisemitism emanating from Islamic sources in Australia were a significant topic of public discussion during the period in review. The Mufti of Australia came under the public spotlight when it was reported that he had promoted Holocaust denial in his Sydney mosque in 2006. A number of media reports appeared noting anti-Jewish books available in bookshops serving Australia's Muslim community."

* "Anti-Jewish propaganda in fringe publications and from extremist organisations remained a serious concern. During debates on a number of matters of public policy overtly anti-Jewish language, and/or inflammatory slanders, sometimes were part of the mainstream discussion. Conspiracy theories abounded on the internet and these included a disturbing proportion"

* "In cases under the Federal Racial Hatred Act, the ECAJ was successful in having an article in the One Nation political party's newspaper found to be in breach of the Act and having an Apology ordered. The case against the Bible Believers' web-site was heard in the Federal Court and a judgement is anticipated early in 2007. In the state of New South Wales, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal determined a Jewish couple had been the victims of unlawful anti-Jewish racial vilification. In Western Australia, a person was charged with making
anti-Jewish telephone calls. In Queensland, a case commenced against a person who had used telephone text messages as a mode for harassment. Further, amended legislation as part of counter-terrorism policies was raised as a possible means for legal action against anti-Semitism in Australia in the future".

* “While traditionally anti-Jewish racism has been thought of as primarily a far-Right phenomenon, there is considerable evidence that a growing proportion of antisemitic commentary in Australia comes from a wide variety of sources, including the far Left.”

Mr. Jones added: “While the sources of antisemitism are many and varied, the reality in Australia is that there has been excellent political and moral leadership against antisemitism in recent times, with the Federal and State Parliaments passing strong, unanimous resolutions on the subject in 2004 and 2005, and a growing awareness of the responsibility by the mass media to avoid being hijacked by racists,” Mr. Jones commented.

“In the current climate it is very significant that Muslim and Christian leaders in Australia have joined with Jewish leaders in common cause against those who would use religion to justify hatred and racist violence, a fact which sets Australia apart from many other societies,” Mr. Jones concluded.

Sacred Space and Immanuel


synagoguevienna.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Sacred Space: Shrines and SBS
Is God dwelling with us a good thing?

For publication
A Christmas message
By Bob Mendelsohn
National Director, Jews for Jesus

Earlier this year men and women, and even boys and girls stayed up into the night here in Australia for nearly thirty days. We were not being bombed like happened in WWII in London. We were not experiencing terror alerts as might be common in Iraq in these days. We simply wanted to know and to know firsthand and live, what the scores of games being played in Germany at that hour were. We didn’t want to wake up in the morning to the scores. We sat in pubs and tuned our home tellies to the SBS to watch and cheer, and drink and slap high fives to mates we’re not ever likely to see again. What a month for the World Cup of soccer!

We also had many other things to watch including Wimbledon, the US (golf) Open, the start of a new season of Jack Bauer’s 24 and whatever Hollywood wanted to peddle our way on Showtime or the Sunday night movie. I’m weary just thinking again about it.

Usually each Sunday I am privileged to preach in different churches in Australia, Singapore or New Zealand. In the next 12 months I’ll also be in Korea, Argentina, the Philippines, Hungary and the US doing the same. Each place is different; each culture is varied. But almost without exception, they call their places of prayer and worship a ‘sanctuary.’ (Some in the high church will argue that the nave is different to the sanctuary, but this is not a technical article about church architecture.) The sanctuary is the ‘holy place’ and derives from the Older Testament perspective of the Tabernacle (later the Temple.) The sanctuary was the main room of the building, with double the room of the Holy of Holies, and was the closest an ordinary priest could go to meet with God.

The English word ‘sanctuary’ comes from the Latin “sanctus” meaning “holy” as in sanctification or sacrosanct. Whatever else we can say about the sanctuary and its meanings, we can certainly say that God wanted to meet with His people in the wilderness (Exodus 25-40) and had Bezalel and Oholiab build the place for the people ‘that I might dwell among them.” (Exodus 25.8). The very word “Shechinah” which some translate the Glory of God, has at its root the word ‘Shachan” meaning “he dwells” and thus reminds us that God wants to dwell with us in the sanctuary (Hebrew: Mishkan, also rooted in ‘to dwell’)

Dwelling sounds like a good thing to do with God. It’s certainly better than being opposed by him. But there might be a downside to it. Dwelling with us can be intimidating. Think about the times your parents came to sit on your bed and you wondered what they wanted? “Just to visit with you” was not an answer you wanted to hear, especially as you survived your teen years. Or how about the policeman who dwells with you while you are driving down the highway in some semblance of a hurry. Do you want such dwelling? So how do you view the ‘dwelling with us’ of the Almighty?

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1.23)

At Christmas we hear a familiar word. The Hebrew word “Immanuel” is translated into English as “God with us.” And this carries the same connotation as his ‘dwelling with us.’ Presence can be a wonderful thing, or it can be an intimidating thing. Which it is is usually a function of our relationship with him and our belief in what he thinks is our biggest sin.

All that said, I think often about sacred things and sacred space. God wants to dwell with us, is there room where we are? Remember the scene of the new kid arriving at school and coming to the lunch room with tray in hand looking for any empty chair or any welcoming stranger who would make room for him? This is how I imagine God coming to me. He stands at the door and looks around, hoping for an invitation to sit by me or by someone. I want to be awaiting him and thus welcoming him straightaway. No delays here!

And this requires my having to make room for him. Thus the idea of sacred space. I don’t think God wants me to build what Moses’s contract managers, Bezalel and Oholiab, had to do in 15 chapters of the Bible. But he does want me to make a clearing of sorts in what I usually do and what I usually think and what I usually believe… and let him in.

It must be a human enterprise, built into each of us, to worship in sacristy and holiness. We were built to worship God. Either this would take place in the Garden of Eden (not humankind’s original birthplace, but our first temporary residence) or outside it in our wandering here on earth. We were born to worship and dwell with God.

But, it’s not only believers who worship.

I think the new 'sanctuary' that is the new worship centre may be the television lounge room. Each day men and women, boys and girls gather to devote themselves at the shrine, bowing and adjusting pillows to receive information and entertainment, so that their lives might be fuller. Into that lounge room can come views from other sacred spaces, all on video tape or live coverage, from Red Carpets and Hollywood Mt Olympus deities to the MCG and the deities of war and contest there.

It’s not so much a matter of location however, that defines our sacred space. It’s a matter of who is the focus. What we worship defines who we are as much as what we eat or read or sing. We can create sacred space in our cars or in our gardens. It can look like a shrine or simply a moment of silence given to quiet reflection on the One who came to dwell with us at Christmas.

In fact, I prefer to call this holiday “Messiahmas” to remind myself of the person who came and not the gifts that were brought or the reindeer or the German tree or the green and red tinsel at Myer’s. Messiahmas is really God dwelling in our sacred space, first in a manger (not usually considered sacred) outside Bethlehem in Israel, then in a carpenter’s shop, and finally hanging on a Roman cross of torture. Finally a tomb outside Jerusalem from which he rose from the dead. Nothing sacred about any of those, except that Y’shua (that’s the Jewish way to say Jesus) was there. It’s his presence that makes any space sacred. All he wants is a place at your lunch table. All he wants is for you to welcome him to your lounge room. Into your car, into your life. May there be room in your inn this Messiahmas for the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world.


___________________________

Bob Mendelsohn is the director of Jews for Jesus in AustralAsia, based in Sydney. He and his wife have three children. They all were born in the US and moved to Australia to found Jews for Jesus in 1998. He is a popular conference and church speaker and travels to many nations to share the message of Jesus among Jewish people and in many Christian churches. The website www.jewsforjesus.org.au has much more information about him and the organization.

16 December 2006

BobPatty30th.jpg


BobPatty.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Parties are one thing, but celebrating 30 years of marriage is quite another. We were in our 20s when we wed in Kansas City in 1977, and now we are on the verge of remembering 30 years (on 1 January). My wife is a noble and wonderful woman, full of grace and love. And I'm not interested in only a party, but in thanking God for his power to keep us and to keep His name on our lips.

So really I'm honoring God on this 30th Anniversary for He is worthy of our praise.

06 December 2006

Jackie Mason...a Jew for Jesus?

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency today:
Jews for Jesus apologized to Jewish comedian Jackie Mason in order to settle a lawsuit.

The group had distributed a pamphlet over the summer that featured a caricature of Mason and the words: “Jackie Mason ... A Jew for Jesus!?”

Mason, who is not a Jew for Jesus, sued for $2 million.

In federal court Tuesday, Mason accepted an apology instead, along with a promise from Jews for Jesus not to distribute the pamphlet again.

Afterward, Mason told reporters outside the courthouse that the apology acknowledged that “You can’t be a table and a chair. You’re either a Jew or a gentile.”

David Brickner, Jews for Jesus’ executive director, responded, “We wanted you to think about it because” Jesus is “the best Jew that ever lived.”

Mason shot back, “Jesus didn’t believe in Judaism; that’s the reason he became a Christian.”




OK. Mr Mason, I get it, you don't really have a clue about who Jesus was and that he rose from the dead, not to found a new religion, but ok, you don't get it. That's fair enough.

But maybe someone else might.

And maybe they will understand that Jesus is the best Jew who ever lived, and he's not looking for an audience to cheer him on, but rather people with humble hearts who want to listen to his passion and compassion for all people, Jews and nonJews.

I'm glad the US folks in Jews for Jesus apologized and withdrew the flyer from its street campaigning. But God didn't withdraw his love for Jackie Mason nor his invitation for Jackie to consider the issue for himself. A really big man will do just that.

God be with him and with those who read this.

04 December 2006

At Casa Rosada.jpg


At Casa Rosada.jpg
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

What is it about this fantastic tango-dancing, Boca-cheering, Euro-loving Paris of the South? I really enjoy the people and the energy. It's often called the City that Never Sleeps, although I've heard that before in New York City.

Before the "White House" of the Argentine republic, I felt God wanting to pour out his power on this country and he will do so. Nothing will stop his desires. And we are hoping to find more and more Jewish people who are keen to find out more about God's love in Y'shua as well.

When I return to Australia in a few days... may the Lord keep Argentina on my mind and in all of our prayers.

28 November 2006

Airport3.JPG


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Long distance travel can be wearying, but with inspirational moments like this, even bad days can be made well. God knows how to encourage you and me, and will give us just what we need at the right time.

What drags you down? Maybe it's time to spend less time with that, if you have a choice. What inspires you? Remember to go there once in a while. Is it the ocean or the plains? The sunset or sunrise? A friend? The Bible?

Don't delay. If you have choice, use your choices well.

25 November 2006

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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

I left Friday for Argentina, but only got as far as the airport. Sadly the aircraft had troubles and we were delayed and finally cancelled. So I spent the night in Sydney and even enjoyed time with my wife again before I headed off to New Zealand to begin the long flights.

Please pray for Bob (that's me) as I carry on the next 8 days in sharing the good news of Y'shua when the clock is morning or evening or...anytime. OK? Thanks.

11 November 2006

Jews for Jesus on Flickr


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

We are not sure what will happen with yet another group to monitor, but there is a Flickr site for Jews for Jesus Australia, and now there is a Group on Flickr for your photo and discussion enjoyment.

Come have a look and even join if you would like...

http://flickr.com/groups/jewsforjesus


OK?

07 November 2006

Melbourne Cup


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

The Race that stops a nation

Today in Melbourne is the Cup, the Melbourne Cup, the Race that Stops the nation. Three-year-old Efficient is out of the race, after winning the Derby on Saturday, and would have been the first horse since 1941 to win the double. Alas.

Other horses are cueing up to win today's race. And tipping is rampant and so is hat purchasing. The ladies dress to the nines and the folks at Flemington have more excuses to drink and gamble than usual.

I won't be watching the race; I'll be working at my office. Horses running in an oval, well, although it's exciting to be there, and probably would be exciting to win money from other gamblers if your horse wins, but I've got better things to do. Like praying and reading my Bible and writing friends about the love of God.

You see, 2000 years ago a man died. It didn't stop any nation. Most barely noticed. He had been a fairly charismatic preacher and hundreds and at times thousands had followed him. Some even tipped him to be the Messiah.

But the crucifixion of Jesus was heart stopping only for one person. Jesus himself. A few noticed like his mother Mary and a Roman soldier nearby, but his own followers ran away.

Then three days later he rose from the dead. That was remarkable. That was life-changing, For any who trust Him, for any who recognize Him as Messiah..For you.

It will take only a minute to read about this, but if you let your life stop long enough to consider this.. if might be eternally significant. Certainly moreso that today's Cup winner.

29 October 2006

Sermons online (Text)

If you want to read some of my sermons online in text form, go to the list of them, Bob sermons



Here's one on the Five Mountains that might inspire you today.

Five Mountains
By Bob Mendelsohn
Given at Beth Messiah
2 February, 2002
Sydney
Revised for form only 29 October 2006

Today I want to talk to you about 5 mountains. Perhaps you've been to Mt Kosziusko near Jindabyne. Or to Mt Hutt or the scenes of the Winter Olympics are already captivating you, are they? The Rocky Mountains in the US are awesome to behold and vast. Of late we've been studying the Bible, specifically the Gospel of Matthew, and some of our most exciting conversations have centered on the return of Messiah to earth, the Parousia, when Y'shua puts His foot down on the Mount of Olives very soon. One thing that may help us, is to take a short break from Matthew and look at the Olivet discourse from the top of some other hills, getting a higher view if you will of history. Can we do that today?

Each mountain gives us a different view of the land around it. Each mountain gives us perspective on our lives and how God is leading us today. Each mountain will show us God's plan then and perhaps give us a glimpse of His continuing purposes in our own history. And maybe it will help you in sorting out how God is talking to you about these 2nd Coming realities.

I. Mt Moriah: Mountain of Faith that works (Sacrifice)

As we begin, we go to the place of the beginning of the Jewish people, the man Abraham, and to a mountain which would define his call and his commitment throughout history. Mount Moriah is the place. Modern day Jerusalem is the present day location of this mountain. It's described in the book of Genesis, chapter 22. This section of Bible is called in Hebrew the akedah, that is, the binding. It is the place of the supreme sacrifice, the giving of a child of promise.

Tell story. (For those online, please read the chapter to 'hear' the story. Here we learn about Jehovah Jireh and the God who demands and yet provides).

It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me."

Moriah is the mountain of sacrifice which foretells another sacrifice which is to come. God would give His only son to deliver us and to give us eternal life, but I preempt myself.

II. Mt Sinai: The Mountain of God’s instructions: Torah

Mountain #2 is made famous by both Charleton Heston and Stephen Spielberg in "The Ten Commandments" and "Prince of Egypt." It's the story of God delivering the Jewish people from slavery and taking us out of Egypt, our 400 year detention center, and making us His own. Mountain #2 is called Mt Sinai. It's here the Jewish people received the Law, later called the Law of Moses. Of course, it's really the Law of God, given to Moses to give to us.

Whereas Mount Moriah is the mountain of sacrifice; Mount Sinai is the mountain of law and constitution. It's where God teaches us about His ways and His ordinances. It's where God reminds us of His being God, and that He is the boss.

Some view this mountain with derision. Don't do that. God needed to teach his people whom He delivered from Egypt. We needed to learn how to think as a redeemed people, rather than as victimized slaves. Law is good the apostle said. (1 Tim.1.8) Let's get this in context.

“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” (3-11)
To the Thessalonians, Paul had given instruction, " For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2 Th. 3.10-15)

So Law is good, if used lawfully and to help us lead disciplined lives.

III. Mount of the Sermon on the Mount: Ethics

Mountain #3 is the Mountain of Ethics. It's the Mount of the Sermon on the Mount. We talked about this some weeks ago. Y'shua amplifies the Law, He elevates it beyond human understanding or manipulation. He teaches that it's not enough to comply with legal regulations. He insists that a man should have a true heart which goes beyond actual duties. The inside of the cup must be clean, not only the outside.

Maybe this story will assist as we understand this ethics vs. law business. He uses the terms of grace vs. law, but the meaning is the same. In 1945 Dr HA Ironside told this story: Some years ago, I had a little school for young Indian men and women, who came to my home in Oakland, California, from the various tribes in northern Arizona. One of these was a Navajo young man of unusually keen intelligence. One Sunday evening, he went with me to our young people's meeting. They were talking about the epistle to the Galatians, and the special subject was law and grace. They were not very clear about it, and finally one turned to the Indian and said, "I wonder whether our Indian friend has anything to say about this."

He rose to his feet and said, "Well, my friends, I have been listening very carefully, because I am here to learn all I can in order to take it back to my people. I do not understand all that you are talking about, and I do not think you do yourselves. But concerning this law and grace business, let me see if I can make it clear. I think it is like this. When Mr. Ironside brought me from my home we took the longest railroad journey I ever took. We got out at Barstow, and there I saw the most beautiful railroad station and hotel I have ever seen. I walked all around and saw at one end a sign, 'Do not spit here.' I looked at that sign and then looked down at the ground and saw many had spitted there, and before I think what I am doing I have spitted myself. Isn't that strange when the sign say, 'Do not spit here'?

"I come to Oakland and go to the home of the lady who invited me to dinner today and I am in the nicest home I have been in. Such beautiful furniture and carpets, I hate to step on them. I sank into a comfortable chair, and the lady said, 'Now, John, you sit there while I go out and see whether the maid has dinner ready.' I look around at the beautiful pictures, at the grand piano, and I walk all around those rooms. I am looking for a sign; and the sign I am looking for is, 'Do not spit here,' but I look around those two beautiful drawing rooms, and cannot find a sign like this. I think 'What a pity when this is such a beautiful home to have people spitting all over it -- too bad they don't put up a sign!' So I look all over that carpet, but cannot find that anybody have spitted there. What a queer thing! Where the sign says, 'Do not spit,' a lot of people spitted. Where there was no sign at all, in that beautiful home, nobody spitted. Now I understand! That sign is law, but inside the home it is grace. They love their beautiful home, and they want to keep it clean. They do not need a sign to tell them so. I think that explains the law and grace business."

As he sat down, a murmur of approval went round the room and the leader exclaimed, "I think that is the best illustration of law and grace I have ever heard." (H. A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth, Moody Press, 1945, pp. 40-42.) Maybe that helps you too.

IV: Mt Calvary: Sacrifice of Y’shua: Redemption

Mountain #4 is the most famous so far in history. It's called Mt Calvary. This too is in Jerusalem. It's there that Y'shua died. He was crucified on a Roman cross as a punishment for treason or blasphemy or … well you just don't know, do you? What got into the people who had the power to release him? Why did they not let him go? Why did they long for his death? What possible good was there to his dying?

Some aver that he was a martyr. As a result of his death, a movement, a revolution was born. Jesus they assert, was a type of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted peace and human understanding and compassion between peoples. So he died on a cross much like King took a bullet after a peace march or Joan of Ark was burned at the stake. Sir Thomas More died for his convictions, perhaps that is it?

I want you to know that martyrdom is not the purpose of Y'shua's death. We'll read it in a few weeks, " Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit." (Mt. 27:49-50) He died for our sins. Like the Suffering Servant of Isaiah's predictions, Y'shua would take upon Himself the sins of the world, and bear us up on His loving and powerful shoulders. Isaiah had earlier predicted "And the government will be upon His shoulders" (9.7)

Y'shua's death was Plan A, and as I said, we'll talk more about that in weeks to come, but for now, let us remember this in historical context. We are looking over the top of 5 awesome mountains, remember? And the death of Y'shua is the Mount of God's redemption. Here He saves the people of the planet who trust in Him. Here He delivers from sin.

We thought we could be lawful or ethical. We thought we could keep God's commands. Sin has been the problem of the distance, the great gulf between man and God since the Garden of Eden. Sin is the separator and the most serious crime, worse than the Evil Axis of North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Worse than any terrorist mob. Sin is that which is a slap in the face of the Almighty. It's the mud you cannot wash off your spiritual face or feet. It's the blot on our spiritual white trousers. And only God Himself can deal with sin. And on Mt Calvary He did just that.

No wonder we say we love Him. No wonder we owe Him so much. No wonder we long to be with Him. Because of Mt Calvary. It's the mountain of reconciliation with God. Praise the Lord!

V. Mount of Olives: Eternal Hope: The return of Y’shua

Finally we come to Mt Olivet. That is the one mountain yet to be touched by man with God. It's the mountain of hope. And hope for something very present. Our hope as believers is not in getting a new car or a tax-free estate in Vaucluse or Toorak. Our hope is not about getting married and having loving grandchildren. Our hope is summarized by one thing: the return of Y'shua. It's the Parousia.

Everyone has a dream and hope. That dream is great and I don't want to make light of any of them. Remember the story from Parade magazine -- the story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem, a tough gang-driven area of New York City. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

Bob Dylan described it this way,
"Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond skies with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea circled by the circus sands with all memory and fate
Driven deep beneath the waves let me forget about today
Until tomorrow"

From "Mr. Tambourine Man"

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all...As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. (G.K. Chesterton, Signs of the Times, April 1993, p. 6. )

But I'm talking beyond human hope and aspirations of Chesterton's or Dylan's description. It's more than giving uni education to poor students. All of these are good in and of themselves. But we're talking on a mountain; this is a higher place. It's the place of the return of Y'shua to earth. It's here that the hope of all believers will be fulfilled. It's when Messiah returns, putting His foot down on the Mount (Zech. 14:4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.) [online folks look up http://home.regent.edu/ruthven/zech14-4.html

On your browser. It's the map of the faultline…amazing]
Some will call us meghuge. Listen to this report from the Melbourne Age from 1999.

The Second Coming is in site
By JONATHAN PETRE
LONDON
Monday 13 December 1999
An evangelical organisation in Britain has trained cameras on Jerusalem's Golden Gate and the Mount of Olives and is broadcasting the pictures live on the Internet in the hope of witnessing the Second Coming.
Christine Darg and her husband Peter, who run Daystar International, a "multi-media ministry" in the English town of Hereford, said that up to 200,000 people were visiting their "olive tree" website every month to meditate on the pictures from Jerusalem, which are updated every minute.

Mrs Darg, an Anglican who worships at Hereford cathedral, said the main purpose of the live pictures was to help Christians pray for Israel and Jerusalem, which would become the "worship capital of the world" after the return of Jesus.

"We are showing the place where Jesus left and, according to the Bible, the Mount of Olives is the place where He will return," she said. "He commanded His followers to watch and to pray. Evangelicals are logging on and they can pray as they watch."

Although she believes that Jesus would return in her lifetime, she doubts that the cameras would be able to record the event because it would be so overwhelming.
"It's going to be the most spectacular event ever, and it is going to make the overused word awesome totally out of date," she said.

"Something significant will happen. The Bible says that His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and there will be an earthquake, so our cameras might not even stand up to the impact. But we have a Swiss company who helped design these Web cameras and the Swiss are very impressive technically."

The website also details a series of conferences and healing sessions the organisation is planning in Jerusalem over the next year. It also advertises for sale a ram's horn or shofar, which, it says, can be used "to demolish citadels of Satan"

The world will mock. We who have this hope fixed on Him will work to give others true hope. We will extend His life and teaching to others. We will pray that all the people of the earth may know that He is the Lord.

OK, so maybe the world isn't ready for this appearing. The question is… are you ready? Do you long for Y'shua's return? Do you want to be with the One who died for you and who is the ultimate sacrifice? Nothing else can match the joy of His Parousia. For that day we long, and until that day we work.

My friend, if you are not yet a believer in Jesus. Today can be your day. Please say 'yes' to Him. He's the Saviour and the One who can save you, in fact, the only one who can save you. Let Him do so. Pray this prayer and receive His love and care. Father I accept Jesus as my Lord and Messiah. He died for me and still cares for me to this day. I receive Him as my Saviour and ask for forgiveness of all my sins, knowing He died on Calvary to save me. Thanks Lord for all you do for me and all you did for me. Help me to live for You.
If you prayed that prayer, please see me after the service is over [online folks, please email me on bobmendo@aol.com]. OK? Thanks.

26 October 2006

Shame in the neighbourhood

Orthodox block bar mitzvah over non-kosher circumcision (Shame in the Neighbourhood)

An article immediately follows from today's Jewish newspaper here in Australia. My comments follow.

by Dan Goldberg
A traumatic row over a bar mitzvah boy's circumcision forced a Sydney mother to move her son's simcha from an Orthodox shul to a Progressive temple at the 11th hour last week.

The bar mitzvah boy had been scheduled to read from the Torah at Chabad Double Bay last Shabbat, but rabbis from the Sydney Beth Din (SBD) ruled on the previous Monday that his circumcision was not kosher. Rabbi Moshe Gutnick and Rabbi Yoram Ulman, two judges at the Jewish court, were at the mikvah in Bondi preparing to draw a drop of blood from the boy to symbolise his Orthodox conversion when they noticed that his brit milah, conducted by a Jewish doctor in 1993, was incomplete.

"We immediately called one of the mohelim to check, and he confirmed a further circumcision needed to be done," Rabbi Gutnick said. He said he told the boy's mother, journalist and author Ros Reines, that her son could either be operated on under local or general anaesthetic, and that 'hundreds of boys' many from the former Soviet Union have undergone this procedure in Australia prior to their bar mitzvah.

"In order to become Jewish he has to be [properly] circumcised there's nothing we can do about it. We feel terrible it's devastating," Rabbi Gutnick said. "I didn't want my son to have that trauma [of another circumcision]," she told the AJN this week. "It's not true he wasn't circumcised; it's a question of degree."

"I spent the week in tears," she said. "To me it didn't sound very compassionate. I just feel a sense of sorrow because perhaps we don't really fit in. It's that feeling of being an outcast again." The single mother, who had an adult bat mitzvah following her Progressive conversion, said she had to inform the 100 or so guests of the change of venue due to a technical problem just days before the simcha.

But she said her son sang his portion magnificently. "He's a kid that bounces back. It was one of the happiest weekends of our lives." However, she added: "To know we'll never be counted there [at Chabad] really hurts me." She said the pain had been magnified because her son had a brit milah, conducted in the presence of Rabbi Kamins, eight days after he was born.

"You don't take your 13-year-old son four days before his bar mitzvah and give him a general [anaesthetic]. He didn't want to do it. Just imagine if there had been an infection," she said. Temple Emanuel Woollahra, which had a double aufruf and a bat mitzvah already scheduled for last Shabbat, accommodated the bar mitzvah.

Rabbi Kamins said it is the first time he has ever heard of such a case. "We were able to help the family in a way which they [the Orthodox rabbinate] couldn't," he said. "I don't think they would have made that decision with any lightheartedness or lack of consideration." But Rabbi Gutnick told the AJN the temple was "fooling the child" into believing he is Jewish.

"Unless the child goes to the mikvah and is circumcised according to Jewish law, pretending the child is Jewish is ultimately doing a disservice to the child," he said. In response, Reines said: "I don't know how they can live with themselves." Chabad Double Bay's Rabbi Yanky Berger said he was "very distressed" by the saga.

"I'd be surprised if any rabbis anywhere in Australia have been in this situation before," said Rabbi Berger, who attended the bar mitzvah party last Sunday night. He said he had spoken to rabbis around the Jewish world "to see if there's any type of halachic leniency, to see if there's a precedent." "He is an amazing kid. In difficult times people shine. He was shining. He showed such strong spirit." Rabbi Ulman failed to return several calls from the AJN.

I read this story on the Australian Jewish News website today, and felt so sad. The Jewish community missed the mark one more time. Abraham circumcised himself and his son Isaac with a rock. No measurements would matter then. It was a sign, not a matter of degree.

The community had a chance to help this young man, who sounds like a terrific kid, forge a new adult life. And they blew it. They reminded him that judgment conquers mercy. Or so they think.

But the truth is that Mercy triumphs over Judgment. The record of the Scriptures is clear. God wants mercy and not sacrifice. He wants us to care about people more than rules.

Jesus forgave a woman caught in adultery. The religious leaders knew the 'rules' that she should be killed. They knew the man caught should also be killed. But they heard Jesus say, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

If only the rabbis in the Beth Din would hear those words. The kid is Jewish and fully so. If only they knew mercy and not only mandates. Shame on them and God help the young man.

I hope we all get the story straight on this one. It's worth everything.

25 October 2006

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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Most people in the West have a desire to live peacably and quietly. Most want to get along with their neighbours. Most want to go to the shops, or the movies or the schools without fear of reprisals. Fair enough. And they want government to build good roads and schools and maintain the air in healthy quality.

But when you really get down to it, the number one concern is the economy, and at that, really it's not Gross national products or stock exchanges that much matter, since most folks cannot figure those out anyway.

What really is the bottom line? My wallet. That's what people say. They want enough in their wallet to get through this week, or this month, or some...this day! And if they have enough, the chicken in every pot, then they are happy. And they will re-elect government officials. It's that simple. Always has been. Always will be.

But what's the number one agenda item on your list? Peace with neighbours? Peace in the Middle East? Relationship with God?

Where your heart is that's where your treasure will be. And where your treasure is, that's where your heart is.

Choose well.

20 October 2006

Argentina again


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Witnessing one on one, whether here in Buenos Aires or in Sydney where I usually live is always hard and always worthwhile. Do you know Jewish people to whom you have born a witness and you'd like us to continue? Just email us.

Bob is going again to Buenos Aires in November 2006. Please pray for me to be successful.

14 October 2006

Israel update October


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Nearly 5,000 Evangelical Christian supporters of Israel from around the world have decended on Jerusalem for the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebrations. It is estimated that one in every three tourists to Israel is an Evangelical Christian.

The 27th annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, which is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, is expected to pump $15 million into the economy, in what has been billed as the single largest tourism event of the year.

Israeli Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said. "The Evangelical Christian community is a major pillar of the tourism industry in Israel, and they are true friends of Israel wherever they are. As radical extremist forces in the region call for the annihilation and eradication of the Jewish state, we should join forces with anyone that supports Israel," Herzog said.
Source: Jerusalem Post

What Israeli wouldn't welcome the financial 'good news' that Christians are to the state of Israel? Even if they come with baggage, it's welcome at this time, wouldn't you think?

News Australia reports that Prime Minister John Howard gave a keynote speech recently to a security conference in Canberra in which he said the Arab world must recognize Israel's right to exist and Israel must accept the establishment of a Palestinian state if the world is to ever live in peace and move forward.

"There must be unconditional acceptance throughout the entire Arab world, without exception, of Israel's right to exist in peace and security behind recognized borders," he said. "The entire Arab world - including Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas and in addition Iran - must give up forever the idea that the Israelis can be driven into the sea" Mr Howard said
Source: News Australia

Now is in fact a good time for believers to stand with Israel. That doesn't mean you have to endorse everything the country does, and 'bless' everything the politicians do (nor should you in any country). But it means to pray for Israel and for peace and love between all peoples. It means to help Jewish people find eternal life in Y'shua. It means speaking well of Jews and thanking God for making such a people as us.

I'm not choosing political "sides", but asking people of good will to support the rights of Jewish people in the Land to live in peace.

12 October 2006

Argentina.JPG


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Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

On the streets in Sydney or San Francisco or in this case, in Buenos Aires... we strive to make the Good News of Y'shua clear for people. Not everyone understands it; some want to take the mickey out of us. But for others, it's a case of investigation.

I'm so proud of the people who come to our Bible study in Sydney (Thursdays @ 6 pm) and who are genuinely dealing with the claims of Y'shua. Is he the Messiah? What does that imply?

Good questions. Keep working on this. It's worth the answers.

04 October 2006

Is peace possible (School shootings, hijacking)

With shootings in the schools in the US, and terrorists hijacking planes in Turkey, with the Iraq war ongoing and continued trouble between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine....will there really be peace, ever in the planet?

They say the last time there was 'no war' was in 1837.

That's almost 200 years ago, and I wonder if there was simply a lack of reporting of hostilities that year.

But when will peace come? When will people really be safe in their schools or homes or airplanes?

I believe it's when the Messiah, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, returns to the earth. Prince means governor, leader, commander, boss. He's the one in charge of true peace and all other treaties of peace and good wishes are all well and good, but fall short.

Only when Jesus returns will there be true peace on the earth. Won't that be an awesome day?

19 September 2006

clouds


clouds
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

How great is our God to give us such beauty, in just one cloud! And what awaits us, in 5767, behind the dark clouds of war and rumours of war? Let us hope there is a ray of sunshine and sense. May men of good will find peace together and men who are endarkened with hatred and prejudice be tempered by justice and God's overwhelming love.

He loves us; he sent Y'shua to die for us to bring us back to relationship with him. What could be brighter than that?

16 September 2006

pam patty 06


pam patty 06
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

My wife Patty and her good mate Pam in the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa this July 2006. Others are riding; they seem to be having a good time resting roadside!

14 September 2006

Shlomi and a European Jewess


Shlomi and a European Jewess
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Some European Jewish lady has written me on her comments on my Flickr site saying this photo saddens her. She said that we should respect each other's beliefs and not try to 'lead someone to' another belief. That's always an interesting perspective, but I think a bit naive. If we find a good restaurant and want others to enjoy the food there, it doesn't matter if the person is an owner of another restaurant. What matters is finding good food and sharing it with others.

I believe Jesus is the Jewish messiah and I share that unashamedly with others. And so does Shlomi here from Israel and with us in Melbourne for a few weeks. Isn't God good? Isn't he worth sharing with others? No matter what people think or how they try to dissuade.

I'm respectful of other people and that they believe, but that doesn't mean I 'respect' every religion out there. Some are just dead wrong. And others have wrong in them. Respect for people, yes, absolutely. But agreement with their religion or politics or lifestyle or choices or ... that's silly. Respect is right; agreement is not required.

Truth is what matters and Jesus claimed to be just that.

09 September 2006

Farewells (Irwin, Webcke, Brock)

Farewells (Crikey, Steve Irwin, Peter Brock, Finals Footy)

The world moans at the news of Steve Irwin's passing. He lived with energy and died with energy as a stingray lashed out in a freakish accident ending the 44 year old's tenure as Crocodile Hunter, and father of two, husband of one, and legend to many. The accident took place at the Great Barrier Reef.


Irwin was on location in the area to film television segments, including material for “The Ocean’s Deadliest.” Witnesses on his boat, Croc One, and on a nearby diving vessel said that when he came close to a stingray, its barb pierced his chest and lodged in his heart.

Also Australia farewells Peter Brock, famed Aussie race driver and mentor of Australia's Olympic sides in Sydney and Athens. He also was on the Board of Collingwood Magpies football club.

Brock, 61, the son of a mechanic and a nine-time winner of the Bathurst 1000 during the 1970s and 80s, died instantly in the crash. He was the star attraction of the second Targa West rally, held in bushland near the small community of Gidgegannup, 40km east of Perth.

The accident happened about 10km into the 13km leg of the first stage of the rally, which started in the morning and was due to run all weekend.

In Brisbane, last weekend a massive crowd of 47,193 turned out in warm conditions at Lang Park for the match which was marketed as the fans' chance to say goodbye to veteran prop Shane Webcke. The Brisbane, Queensland and Australian prop announced earlier in the year that this season would be his last.


One of the most popular players at the Broncos, he received a standing ovation as he led the team out before the match. After the match, the big prop told ABC Grandstand he was humbled by the fact that so many fans had turned out for the match. "I'm just absolutely flabbergasted by it," he said.

Tonight at SunCorp stadium Brisbane welcomes the Dragons for Webcke's final final at the home ground.

We farewell those we love and we will not be seeing anymore. We attribute memorials to them and rename highways and trophies and even stadia in their honour. And all that is appropriate. After all this weekend marks the 5th anniversary of 9.11, the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the USA.

Probably the most notable memorial and honoured farewell symbol in the world, the most recognizable icon globally, is the cross. A simple two stick figure of varied proportions, but known worldwide as the execution location of the Jew Jesus.

It was about 2,000 years ago when the humble carpenter from Galilee was put on the cross by Roman soldiers and executed for sedition. It marked the end of a noble career in preaching by the almost-rabbi who preached about the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Then in a twist of history, after nearly 40 hours in the tomb, miraculously he arose from the dead. And appeared to 500 Jewish people over 40 days, who saw him, who ate with him, who received correction and forgiveness from him. It was amazing!

And it's believable.

We farewell the man who gave us the 'crikey' and adventure with snakes and crocs. We farewell Brockie whose family accepted the offer of a State Funeral today. And we farewell Webcke and all those for whom the 2006 season is their last.

And we thank God that Y'shua, Jesus the Messiah, for whom farewells were painful, rose from the dead and offers eternal life to all those who put their trust in Him.

Will you be one of those?

07 September 2006

Rabbis and Bishops Declare

Declaration of rabbis and bishops...they agree!

Today in the UK, rabbis and bishops agreed on some statements of joint affirmation. They published the declaration and the news immediately flew across the news wires and services. What shall we make of this?
The document is in full at the bottom of this commentary.

I believe that the peoples of the world will continue to merge and divide on the basis of good will or bad will. The gathering in Lambeth in the UK was one of good will and that's pleasing to see. Who wants enemies? We'd all rather have friends.

Second, when religions unite and share good will, that's much better than the historic dismissal and/ or torture, certainly by Christian England viz Jewish people. For a detailed yet encyclopedic report of the history of Jewish people in England, see British Jews

Third, I find some serious missing pieces. What they don't say might actually be louder than what they do say. For instance, Anglican Christians in particular, are working to kick against the Israeli government and her actions viz Palestinians. See
Anglicans divest or here from the NY Sun

What do they not say about evangelism? The declaration indicates a respect for Judaism and Christianity which "draws both on our particularity ...and which makes its contribution to the wider dialogue of the religions of the world." Now what is the particular distinctive of Christianity? And what did it contribute? Hospitals? Welfare? Educational institutions?

I believe the distinctive of Christianity is the Saviour, Jesus. Himself a Jew. And His claims to be the Messiah and Redeemer of the world. He as a Jew not only came for Jews, but He came for the world. He came to bring us back to relationship with the Almighty. How would He do that? By forgiving us our sins, known and unknown.

So what shall we make of the agreement then of clergy to cooperate? What does it do to works like Jews for Jesus? The declaration makes no mention of evangelism or proselytizing. The declaration merely puts both religions on equal footing, albeit the Jewish is the earlier version. "Christianity emerges from within Judaism" it says.

The Anglican "Church's Ministry among the Jewish people" (CMJ) expected the archbishop to sign patronage as every archbishop had from the organization's inception in 1809. That is, until Williams' predecessor. Now, due to the 'relationship' that the archbishop and the rabbis share, the evangelistic arm of the church is sidelined, or worse. The silence is deafening.

The representative of Anglican Friends of Israel had a reminder. Simon McIlwaine, the director of AFI, said: "We join with the chief rabbis in reminding the Church of the centrality of Israel, not only to the Jewish faith, but to the Christian faith too. "We also hope that this visit will remind the Church of the dangers of being swept up in an Islamic agenda to bring the entire Holy Land under Muslim control and may this visit strengthen the bond of interfaith fellowship and celebration of the common Biblical, theological and moral heritage we share with the Jewish people," he added.

All that said, may all people of good will find peace together. And may they allow us to share what we believe freely, that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and His love is for all people--including Jews, Muslims--all people.

The full text of the Declaration published today:
1. The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger of Israel, met in friendship at Lambeth Palace on 5th September 2006/12th of Elul 5766, to commit themselves to a continuing relationship based on mutual trust and respect. They gave thanks to the Creator and Lord of the universe for their meeting. At the end of their meeting they made the following statement:

2. “We meet today as religious leaders, Anglican Christians and Israeli Jews, each part of the wider world community of Christianity and Judaism. We seek a dialogue which draws both on our particularity and also on the universal nature of our respective communities and which makes its contribution to the wider dialogue of the religions of the world in which we share.

3. Our meeting forms a further and hopeful chapter in the long story of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. It is a story in which Christianity emerges from within Judaism, but includes down the centuries all too many times of violence and persecution by Christians of Jews. It also includes significant signs of redemption and hope for a fruitful future together, not least in the United Kingdom where the resettlement of the Jewish communities after three and a half centuries of exile is being celebrated this year. The United Kingdom, encouraged by its Christian community, was involved in the origins of the State of Israel and the Church of England was instrumental in initiating the first Council of Christians and Jews in the dark days of 1942. Since those terrible times of the Holocaust a relationship between our communities, nationally and internationally, has grown from the steady work of encounter, discussion, reflection and reconciliation.

4. This relationship has not been without setbacks and difficulties, but for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion this is a commitment that reflects a continued determination to honour the covenant made by God with Abraham. The outworking of this determination is found in many places: in our welcome for the foundational document ‘Nostra Aetate’ [1] of our sister Roman Catholic Church in 1965 which has happily led to her present relationship of dialogue with representatives of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; in the recommendations of the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 and the document ‘Sharing One Hope’ [2 & 3]; in the joint declaration by the Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews on anti-Semitism in 2001 [4]; in the work of the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury towards the Alexandria declaration in 2002 [5]; in our strong support for the inauguration of a national Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom; and in the statements made by the Archbishop on those occasions [6]. Our prayer is that the Almighty will redeem our past and direct our future.

5. The dialogue between religions is an essential need of our time and requires that all people of faith bend their best efforts to this common task. In this connection we are sensitive in particular to the importance of continuing to develop our relationships of trust with Islam, nationally in our two countries and internationally. For Christians and Jews, however, the task of building mutual relationship has a different and prior basis than our dialogue with any other religion. Our relationship is unique, not only historically and culturally, but also scripturally, and for both religions, is rooted in the one overarching covenant of God with Abraham to which God remains faithful through all time. It is unique historically through the interaction of the Christian and Jewish communities, especially in Europe down to the Holocaust; and it is unique in the contributions made through the arts, science and humanities to a common culture.

6. Our meeting today builds also on the personal relationships which have grown between us from our previous occasions of personal meeting in Europe and in Israel and from our correspondence. We expect and intend that the friendship and respect that we hold for each other will continue to grow and provide an example to our communities.


31 August 2006

Aug 31 and Islam

What will it take for the news about Islam to be more balanced? I'm watching a trailer by the honestreporting.com folks. It is a trailer of their movie Obsession. And it's fascinating. And is intended to blow the whistle on Islam. Will they be labelled intolerant? Will they be arrested like our Dannys in Australia? Will anyone who recommends this site click here be taken to the tribunal?

I hope not.

Let's seek for balance and truth and let the chips fall where they lie.

23 August 2006

22 August 2006

Ewen's question

Hi Ewen
You wrote, "

How do you believe you are born again?
ewen72"

This is a very fundamental and serious question. It's useful to ponder in what context this term is used and how we should interpret things in thiese days.

I believe Y'shua used it to communicate the central issue of people who follow God...their faith. We are to demonstrate and live in faith to be born again. Specifically faith in a person and in the one-off actions of that person.

Being born again (read John 3) is the term Y'shua used to teach us to trust Him as the only way to heaven, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so he (Y'shua) would be lifted up on the cross. And that whoever puts their faith in that action of God would be born again.

John 3:16 is the most famous and oft-quoted text in the Bible. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

That sums up being born again Ewen and I hope this helps you and others.

All the best
bob




__________
Bob Mendelsohn, National Director
Jews for Jesus Australia
PO Box 925
Sydney NSW 2001 AUSTRALIA

www.jewsforjesus.org.au

Phone: +61.2.9388.0559
FAX +61.2.9388.0545
Mobile: +61.4.1475.4180

If ringing from Australia, drop the +61 and add a zero.
If ringing from New South Wales, no need for the initial zero.

Bookshop: 576 Oxford Street,
Bondi Junction 2022

Banking information:
Australia: NAB: BSB 082.067
Account number: 46.072.8465

New Zealand: BNZ: BSB 020.484
Account number: 010.6273

God's best to you,
bob

18 August 2006

myspace

It seems everyone is getting into this mySpace thing. So here you go

Check my little mySpace out


by clicking here
.

07 August 2006

AnneDadLongBeachwind


AnneDadLongBeachwind
Originally uploaded by bobmendo.

Some men put their treasures in the bank or on real estate journals, but I took mine with me to Long Beach this last month.

06 August 2006

Behold Your God final report

After 6 weeks away in NY, I'm pleased to report that the "Behold Your God" campaign was a massive
success. All the numbers are amazing; the statistics will blow you away. But
remember each number is a person. Each statistic represents numbers of people and
as such we are thankful to God for his love and power in bringing so many into
levels of interest never reached before.

Pass this one... it's awesome to ponder what God did.

JEWS FOR JESUS MAKES AN ALL OUT EFFORT TO REACH NEW YORK JEWS

August 5, 2006

For the month of July, Jews for Jesus was an unavoidable presence in the
greater New York area —the final stop of the organization’s “Behold Your God”
evangelistic campaigns, which covered every city (54 of them) outside of Israel
with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more.

This Grand Final pulled out all the stops, with over 150 staff and volunteers
from around the world conducting nine simultaneous outreaches to all five
boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester, Northern New Jersey and Long
Island. Three other outreaches took place among the language groups—
Russian-speaking Jews, Israelis, and Yiddish-speaking Chassidim. The Chassidic campaign
included the mailing of Yiddish language DVDs of the life of Jesus to 80,000
Jewish households.

In addition, 450,000 direct mail pieces were sent to Jewish households,
1,800,000 evangelistic pamphlets (broadsides) were distributed, 6,410 enquirers
(3,695 [=57%] of them Jewish) who don’t yet believe in Jesus gave their details
for further ministry, and 502 people prayed to receive Jesus as their Messiah
(241 [=48%] of them Jewish) with our teams.

For those who didn’t receive a pamphlet or a mailer, there were the many
billboards, banners, full-page newspaper ads and subway ads that blanketed the
area. The theme, “Jesus for Jews” was picked up by 13 local and national
television news programs that covered the month-long campaign and a feature article
in every major newspaper including the Jewish press.

“I was asked the question “Who is your PR agent?” by several people who were
amazed at how the subject of Jews believing in Jesus was being discussed
everywhere,” said David Brickner, US executive director of Jews for Jesus. “In
response, I would smile and point upward. We really saw the Lord’s hand in
all of this. Over 700 area churches and individuals were praying for us daily;
thousands of others around the world were getting regular prayer requests and
updates. We have been able to partner with local congregations on the
follow-up and in all this, I believe, God is greatly honored.”

The evangelistic campaign did not escape the disapproval of the leaders of
the major Jewish groups in the city, who called the missionary group, “deceptive.
” But a Jews for Jesus staffer commented, “If they knew what we knew about
Jesus, they would be joining us in the proclamation of the gospel, not
opposing it.”

The Australian staff of Jews for Jesus participated the entire month,
including Bob Mendelsohn, national director, and Mark and Rahel Landrum.

02 August 2006

Interview with Mendelsohn

Read the interview here.

Geoff Robinson interviewed me and put this on his blogspot. Have a read...he's a good interviewer.

04 June 2006

Global Warming

Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports, "Doctors should take the lead in Australia's fight against global warming by informing the nation about the health consequences of climate change, a new report urges.

Climate change is now widely acknowledged as the greatest environmental threat that human civilisation faces.

Epidemiologist Rosalie Woodruff, from the Australian National University, said if global average temperatures increased above two degrees, agricultural yields would fail, several billion people would experience increased water stress and hundreds of millions of others may go hungry."

Today is also Pentecost as last weekend we celebrated Shavuot in the Jewish calendar. It's a day when we remember the fire and the wind and the voice from heaven as the Jewish people (Hebrews) received the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). In Exodus 19 we read of the thunder and the storm and the wind and fire which accompanied this revelation.

And then many in the Christian church discuss their version of Pentecost (same holiday, just another language) in which flames of fire landed on each of the 120 disciples who were gathered in the hall in Jerusalem 7 weeks after Jesus died and rose again.

Fire is a central theme in each holiday, accompanying the reception of the Torah, or in the case of the church, the Holy Spirit.

And fire will warm things up a bit in the globe. And in our world, for sure.

When Y'shua received the Holy Spirit in his water baptism by John the Baptist, a dove came to alight on him. And that was a representative of the Holy Spirit.

Why dove for him and fire for us? He needed no cleansing, but we did. And we do.

The cleansing of the Almighty is available for us, if we will turn our hearts to him, receive his word in our hearts, and be born again.

I need my global warming; how about you?