Skip to comments.School apologizes for burning New Testament
Posted on 12/24/2001 4:49:53 PM PST by dlt
BEIT SHEMESH (December 25) - The organization that administers Orot school in Beit Shemesh issued an apology yesterday for publicly burning a copy of the New Testament a student received from Christian missionaries.
"Everybody knows we made a mistake," said Jordana Klein, spokeswoman for Sha'alei Torah. "We wouldn't do it again. We don't think it's the right thing to do."
The book-burning took place in the school courtyard the week before Hanukka, after a teacher in the boys' school found that one of his sixth-grade students had brought in a Hebrew copy of the New Testament.
The student received it from local missionaries who, according to Klein, have been active in proselytizing Beit Shemesh children.
"The teacher said: 'God sent it and He gave us the privilege, and we'll be able to burn the New Testament," said Ariel Lesnick, 11, who is in the class.
The teacher consulted with the principal, Rabbi Yair Bachar, said Klein. After receiving approval, the teacher - whose name Klein refused to divulge - took his class outside.
Then, Lesnick said, "We took a few sticks and we burnt it." The teacher emphasized that the book-burning was an anti-missionary activity and not an anti-Christian one, Lesnick said.
After receiving calls from angry parents, Bachar reconsidered the decision, which Klein described as "too hasty." He consulted rabbinic authorities on the issue and decided to appoint Rabbi David Spector - rabbi of the Givat Sharet neighborhood of Beit Shemesh - as a permanent rabbinic decision-maker for the school.
Spector ruled that missionary material should be burned, but it is the sole responsibility of the owner to burn it and the burning should take place in private.
"It was appropriate to burn the New Testament in private," wrote Spector in his ruling. He cited traditional and modern rabbis, including Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who wrote that he had burned missionary texts, which he called "books of incitement and brainwashing." Such burning is permissible even if the texts include the name of God, Spector said.
The teacher said that if missionary material were found in the school again, it would be thrown into the garbage rather than publicly burned, said Lesnick.
The Education Ministry was not aware of the incident, said spokeswoman Orit Reuveni.
"In principle, the ministry condemns book-burning as an educational act," she said. "We are not aware of this incident, but we will investigate the matter in depth."
Wayne Firestone, director of the Anti-Defamation League here, said the apology is a positive reaction to the school's "inappropriate" decision.
"The issue of conversion obviously is a sensitive one, and school officials are entitled to make requirements to try to protect their students from inappropriate materials entering the school," he said.
"At the same time, the symbolic and actual imagery of burning any books is really an inappropriate reaction to any offensive material. We're encouraged to hear that the school has issued an apology, and we hope that from the apology, they can send a better message to their own students about tolerance of other religions."
Since the burning, Bachar has addressed teachers, parents, and students - particularly the sixth-grade class - about the issue. He emphasized that the school is not against Christians but against Christian attempts to convert Jews, said Klein. The school is also planning programs to increase tolerance, she said.
The student who brought the New Testament in is not the only one missionaries have targeted. After the book-burning, one of the other students in the class said missionaries came to his home and hung a crucifix behind the mezuza, said Lesnick. The family told the missionary they didn't want the crucifix and returned it, he said.
"We obviously have a missionary problem," said Klein. "We weren't even aware of how big a problem it is in our school."
The students that missionaries approach are generally among the native Israelis and immigrants who make up about 40 percent of the student body and tend to live in old Beit Shemesh, said Klein. That section is poorer than the newer section populated mostly by Anglos, who comprise 60 percent of the student body.
The Anglo-Israeli divide may have contributed to a difference in the approach to burning the New Testament. Lesnick, whose family immigrated from New Jersey four years ago, saw that distinction among the boys in his class. "The Israelis thought it was the right thing to do, but for the Americans, you're used to seeing [non-Jews] every day, and you don't do that to somebody that's just a little different than you," he said.
His father, Marc, also noted the difference nationality may have made in the decision. The teacher, he said, is an Israeli who has never left the country. But as an American, he said, "This is not the type of education I want my kids to have. In America, they let you practice your religion, you let them practice their religion, and you kind of coexist."
Book-burning may also invoke different images for Anglos than for Israelis. "The idea of burning in general in our minds has to do with Kristallnacht and the KKK and so on," he said.
But once he brought the issue to the attention of the school, said Marc Lesnick, it "very quickly took the matter really seriously and dealt with it properly afterward."
Lesnick found out about the burning when Ariel came home from school. "My son got home from school that night, and he actually said to me, 'Dad, you know what we did today? Well, we burned the New Testament.' I said, 'You're joking,'" said Lesnick.
He discussed it with the teacher, and a few days later Bachar came to his home to talk about the incident. Lesnick is glad that they have told him they would "definitely not do this again."
Rev. Ray Lockhart, director of the Jerusalem-based Israel Trust of the Anglican Church, said burning the New Testament so publicly was "going over the top somewhat." Lockhart, whose organization focuses on ministry to the Jews, added that it's preferable to get a signed statement from parents before giving Christian scriptures to a minor.
"Clearly no Jewish person would want to see the Tanah being burnt, and would feel that whoever did it, it was an affront to their beliefs," he said.
But the school's apology, said Lockhart, mitigates the offense. "I think it shows that it's sometimes good to have second thoughts, and to recognize that we can all make mistakes in the way we make a response off the cuff without really thinking through all the implications."
Anyone doubts that a teacher in a Christian school wouldn't throw Jewish/Muslim or any other missionary material into the garbage?
We have some Jewish friends who came over tonight on Christmas Eve to pick up their son who had stayed playing with our son today and to share some Christmas cheer.
They have their son enrolled in a "home school" contract teacher arrangement that teaches out of the basement of the Episcopal Church.
They were going to take him to the school play and brought his costume which was a shepherd's garb. When I asked what the play was about, they said it was a Nativity play. Oy Vey! :-)
A possible difference is that the Taliban, or the Saudis, for that matter, would have destroyed the missionaries, not the book.
Are you talking about non Christian literature or non Christian MISSIONARY literature.. And was this a planned class, or a discussion that spontaneously happened because a child brought missionary literature to class?
You are setting up an argument which denies Christians their identity. The essence of Christianity is its missionary nature.
Keep in mind that a thousand other schools in Israel DIDN'T engage in this pinheaded garbage that day, and it was one of the students' parents who complained.
Uh. You are twisting the facts. The fact is that I quoted the part where he said that he will throw it in garbage, not burn it.
So what you are basically saying is that Christians won't drop it till everyone on the plant is a Christian? Is that the argument you are setting up?
That is probably why they said they were wrong, apologized, and set a process to avoid such mistakes in the future. Now when do you expect to see an apology from the Islamists massacring Christians in Indonesia on Christmas Eve?
What part of 'Go forth and teach all nations' do you not understand?
Oh, I understand everything perfectly... I just needed someone to confirm it for the sake of aesthetics of this particular thread.
Sunday, November 29, 1998
Enraged mob attacks Jews for Jesus meeting By Aliza Arbeli, Ha'aretz Correspondent
A mob of several hundred ultra-Orthodox Jews besieged an old Arab structure in Be'er Sheva yesterday after a rumor spread in the city's synagogues that missionaries were baptizing Jewish children.
The Haredim stopped their prayers to go to the house, where they found about 40 people, including women and children, who are members of the messianic movement Jews for Jesus. The movement has met in the same building for 17 years.
Police Chief Superintendent Kobi Cohen, who headed the police force that arrived at the scene, said police rescued the trapped worshipers and escorted them past the singing and dancing demonstrators.
A messianic Jew who was in the area described the experience as terrifying. "A mob of men in black surrounded us and were shouting and throwing stones and they tried to jump over the fence. We were especially scared for the children. We're not missionaries. We are Jews just like those who want to kick us out. We all believe in the same god, but we also believe in love and tolerance," he said.
A few days ago in Kiryat Malachi, several dozen youths from a Chabad high school attacked an American couple whom they suspected were missionaries. The boys hurled stones at the house of the new immigrants, who moved to the city three months ago. The couple denied engaging in any missionary activity and said they belonged to a humanitarian organization based in Switzerland and came to Kiryat Malachi to work with Ethiopian immigrants.
Two weeks ago, a mob of ultra-Orthodox men attacked and ransacked an apartment rented by three Swiss Christian women they accused of conducting missionary activity in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She'arim. The women denied the accusations.
It is making news because it is so out of the ordinary. People do stupid things. Even Jews.
Read the article. Jews complained. Jews made it a story.
That being said. Yes, Jews object to be proselytized. Yes, they might act irrationally when they get fed up with unceasing proselytizing.
Where Christians insist that it is their duty, Jews must insist that they will resist. We can't always agree.
?? Who is the publisher?
?? What is this Hebrew N.T. called? Title?
?? What original source-language 'text' is it translated from?
?? Who are its authors, editors, translators, and illustrators?
?? When (year)(s) published? Versions? Houses?
?? Is it a Cult-perversion text and NOT Scripture!...?
?? Who? Which? 'Christian' groups 'support-endorse' this 'text'?
?? Who? Which? 'Christian' groups Actively DO NOT 'support-endorse' this 'text'?
BOTTOM LINE:: Maybe, this 'text' NEEDED TO BE BURNED!!!
Think it through..........there ARE MANY DECEIVERS & LIARS 'fooling' both Jewish peoples and Gentile peoples!!!
(Does this 'text' retain, 1st John 5:7......?)
If it doesn't have, 1st John 5:7.......o.k., burn it!!!