Thanksgivukkah and Advent

Having several Holy days around us we should consider why those days are special and deserve to be placed separate (holiness : being set apart).

Dedication and illumination

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the ea...

In this Rosh Hashana greeting card from the early 1900s, Russian Jews, packs in hand, gaze at the American relatives beckoning them to the United States. Over two million Jews fled the pogroms of the Russian Empire to the safety of the U.S. from 1881-1924. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Jews have their eight day festival of Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, also called “Feast of the Maccabees“, in the Talmud principally known as the “Feast of Illumination.” But what is illuminated? Is it just about displaying eight lamps on the first night of the festival, and to reduce the number on each successive night, or to begin with one lamp the first night, increasing the number till the eighth night? Or is it only remembering the relighting of the altar-fire by Nehemiah due to a miracle which occurred on the twenty-fifth of Kislev?

A Ḥanukkah Lamp found in Jerusalem Excavations.(In the possession of J. D. Eisenstein) says:

“[We thank Thee] also for the miraculous deeds and for the redemption and for the mighty deeds and the saving acts wrought by Thee, as well as for the wars which Thou didst wage for our fathers in days of yore at this season.

Provider of light, waters, earth, plants and animals

Clearly it is not just only saying thanks for the wars having come to a good end. It is also a time to reflect on the Wonders of the Most High Adonai. Throughout history the Divine Creator God did not only provide the light of this world, the streaming waters, the food giving plants and the many animals which can be used as meat to get more strength.

In the days of the Hasmonean Mattathias, son of Johanan the high priest, and his sons, when the iniquitous kingdom of Greece [Syria] rose up against God  tried to make His people Israel forget God His Law and to turn them away from the ordinances of His Will. Taking this in mind we should notice that those adversaries of God (Satan) did not manage to get the people of God away from God. In God His abundant mercy He lifted them up. Those occupied with the Law of God could manage to get through all the troubles which came over them by the many years.

A blessing from the Jews

Not only the Jews should remember those blessings God gave to His people. By the deed of the only begotten son of God, the Jewish Nazarene Jeshua (Jesus Christ) salvation has come to other people people than the Jewish Judean people. Everybody has been called to follow Jesus the Messiah. He has been the greatest gift the Most High has given the world.

To say thanks for that gift and the many other blessings God has given this world many protestants feast Thanksgiving Day. This year they can celebrate their holy days with the Jews and give them also a stronger feeling of being respected as the Chosen People of our Creator. Certainly in this time of  growing anti-Semitism it is necessary that people are remembered of their special role those people do have in the Plan of God and world-peace.

Season of giving presents

Julius.jpg
Electric candle lights on the first Sunday in Advent

Catholics do like a lot of gifts and are also entering a season of gifts. This weekend they celebrate the beginning of Advent, looking forward to the ‘Light of God’. Following the Sunday of the Feast of Christ the King they have this weekend  Advent Sunday, starting a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus which they celebrate at Christmas. On the night of 5 to 6 December Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christians have Saint Nicholas bringing presents for the children. On the 24th and 25th of December they have their most special day of the year, being Christmas. Followed by the last day to give presents on the first day of the New Year, celebrating the circumcision of Jesus. That Feast of the Circumcision is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on January 1 in whichever calendar (Old or New) is used, and is also celebrated on the same day by many Anglicans.

Advent wreaths are used to mark the passage of the season.

In the Advent Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist believers think about the first and second coming of Christ. (Parousia ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit, is adventus in Latin.) Those Christians do look for the shining of their lord. That manifestation, striking appearance they also want to celebrate in the feast with that name epiphany (“appearing”) which they took from the Greeks who used ‘epiphaneia’ to describe the glorious manifestation of the gods, and by the Romans as a title for the Emperor. For them Christ Jesus is such a manifestation or appearance of a divine or superhuman being and a manifestation of the gods, being god the son, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Passage of season

Like the protestants with their celebration of Thanksgiving, the Christians who celebrate the Advent remember the passage of the seasons and the special gift God has given the world. Both take it also as a time to meditate on the Works of God and how He is the Light in the dark, guiding us to the way to enter the Kingdom of God, by means of His only begotten son Jesus, the bringer of peace.

A godly mother

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9e/Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_Annunciation.jpg/330px-Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_Annunciation.jpg
Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis, 1712. The white lily in the angel’s hand is symbolic of Mary’s purity in Marian art.

The Catholic religion follows the Roman theology presenting Christ his mother as the Venus, the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. The annunciation to Mary (Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord) is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking an Incarnated God and having her as the mother of god or the Venus who embodies sex, love, beauty, enticement, seduction, and persuasive female charm among the community of immortal gods.

Having Jesus an incarnation, he fitted Hermes the god of transitions and boundaries, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. A bringer of presents he symbolises also Mercury, the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), and travellers who will show the way to himself as the most important god.

Like Turms was the equivalent of Roman Mercury and Greek Hermes, both gods of trade and the messenger god between people and gods, Jesus is now celebrated as the divine messenger and god having come down on the earth to save his people.

Bringer of peace

When we look at the description of Jesus in Catholic theology books we clearly can see the superposition of the man born in Bethlehem on the Greek and Roman gods. Having him as Bringer of peace also fits those pagan gods, but we do know that the Real and Only One God told His people to bring a messenger of peace. Lots of Jews did also expect to find in the Nazarene Jeshua (Jesus) to find their liberator or the Messiah who could get rid of the Roman oppressor.

These days we should think of that messenger who brought ‘Grace’ and liberated us not from Romans or any other government literally, but liberated us spiritually and gave us a hope for a better future. That Nazarene Jew is the man of flesh and blood who offered himself so that we would receive space to develop ourselves in the liking of the Creator. By him we should be able to find the way to see the space of all creativity, the connection to the Divine. Many still keep looking outside themselves, but they forget how in the Scriptures is told that we should go into our own body. We can not blame others for our being what we are. We have to create ourselves and find the connection that is inside of us.

Lots of people are looking in the world around them. They should know that there is not really another place where they have to go to. Everybody is enabled to find Him who gives peace, comfort, blessings also in this life here and know on earth. Jesus prepared the way and made it possible that we can speak freely to his Father, the only One God. We just have to come to Him and just have to talk to him, as our closest Friend and He will answer and come to us.

If we want to come to peace, first of all we do have to create peace in ourselves. Therefore we should love ourselves and give the love of Christ the chance to grow in us. Like Jesus showed the world his love we also should find the inner peace he had. Like his peace brought water of life our inner peace should flow out of us flowing into the world.

Time to meditate and to feel

Various menorot used for Hanukkah. 12th throug...

Various menorot used for Hanukkah. 12th through 19th century, CE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Putting on those candles in this holiday season, being Jew or Christian, those believers are demanded to see beyond the candle light and to see the real light. they also should come to feel a stillness deep within them, and should get to know how to look for that stillness that allows them to seek the Most High Almighty God Who is One Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

These days we get time to consider how lucky we are where we live and what we can do. We should become aware of all the things we really do get without doing enough for it. We must be aware of the nourishment we can get and the opportunities we get to live nicely and to come to an environment of peace. But oh, so often, we do not see it. We do run past it. We have our eyes shut so that we can not see it. It is all so close to us, but we do have to be willing to open our eyes and be willing to see.

God is prepared to give it you all, but you have to recognise Him and to take His hand.

“Hanukkah as the holiday of ‘miracles’ can help us reframe our gathering together with family and friends at this secular season as an incredible miracle that requires much gratitude,”

David Fainsilber, religious leader at the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe said.

“Thank God for this miracle of life and family, gathering, friends and gratitude.”

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Preceding: A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah

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Read also:

  1. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  2. Being thankful
  3. Thanksgiving-Hanukkah overlap spurs thanks, angst
  4. What happens when you cross Thanksgiving with Hanukkah?
  5. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  6. Count your blessings
  7. God’s Salvation
  8. Written to recognise the Promissed One
  9. A “seed” for the blessing of all mankind would come through the family of Abraham

Dutch articles about the advent:

  1. Adventstijd bezinningstijd
  2. Advent een tijd voor reflectie
  3. Uitkijken naar twee adventen
  4. Een “zaad” voor de zegening van de gehele mensheid gekomen door de familie van Abraham
  5. Uit u zal voorkomen degene die heerser in Israël zal worden
  6. Het grootste geschenk ons gegeven
  7. Wat betreft Korte inhoud van lezingen: Bijgeloof en feesten

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Find also additional reading:

  1. Do No-Thing: The Power of Self Love.
  2. Crazy Messy Love: [Insert Faith Here.]
  3. Legacy of peace
  4. Its Never to Late
  5. I Was to write about love

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  • Jen And Tim Get A Taste Of Thanksgivukkah (new102.cbslocal.com)
    On Thursday, November 28th, the first day of Hanukkah falls on the same day as Thanksgiving. Many popular websites such as Buzzfeed have created recipes for American Jews so they can incorporate both holidays and have some neat decorating ideas as well.
  • Next Thanksgivukkah in 70,000 years (vtdigger.org)
    “The calendar is drifting forward with respect to the solar cycle at a rate of four days every 1,000 years,” he said. “Right now, the earliest that the first day of Hanukkah can fall is Nov. 28. Coincidentally, this is also the latest that Thanksgiving can fall.”Other mathematicians argue that the phenomenon will never happen again. Regardless, everyone agrees on one thing: Thanksgivukkah is an extremely rare and significant event in our lifetimes.
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    Thanksgivukkah is big business. People are selling T-shirts, table décor, dreidels, jewelry and more in honor of the super holiday.

    But regardless of how people choose to celebrate Thanksgivukkah, this unique historical event offers Jewish Americans an opportunity for introspection and reflection, said David Fainsilber, religious leader at the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe.

    “The thinker behind Reconstructionist Judaism, Mordechai Kaplan, was the first to introduce a Thanksgiving service into his siddur/prayer book,” Fainsilber said. “One of his main contributions to Jewish thought is the concept that, as Jews in America, we live in two civilizations: American and Jewish. Today, as American Jews (or Jewish Americans) this concept is now taken for granted in many ways.

  • Thanksgivukkah 2013 (be-watchful.com)
    Both holidays are about being thanksful so that shouldn’t be too difficult. Thanksgiving is a day when Americans count our blessings and give thanks to those who fought for our freedom and for all that we have. We share a day together with our loved ones.
  • 18 Reasons Why Thanksgivukkah Gives Jews The Best Of Both Worlds (elitedaily.com)
    While it may be a little annoying for some Jews to have to meld two of their favorite holidays into one, it could be a lot worse: imagine if Thanksgiving fell on Yom Kippur! Thanksgivkippur would be terrible! When you think about it, it’s actually pretty awesome that the two holidays fall on the same day. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that every Jew should embrace and look forward to.Here are 18 reasons why Thanksgivukkah gives Jews the best of both worlds
  • Q-C Jews celebrate Thanksgivukkah (qctimes.com)
    Justin Teitle of Bettendorf says his family’s partying like it’s 1999.He’s Jewish. His wife is Lutheran. Their two children are Jewish. And Thursday was the only time any of them will ever see Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah fall on the same day. The next time the two coincide will be 79,000 years.
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    “We see it as a great chance for our kids to participate in something that isn’t going to happen again, like New Year’s Eve before the year 2000,” Teitle said.
  • Happy Thanksgivukkah (mymorningmeditations.com)
    Amazement never ceases for the enlightened mind.At every moment it views in astonishment the wonder of an entire world renewed out of the void, and asks, “How could it be that anything at all exists?”-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
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    In my recent investigation into the concept (as opposed to the movement) of Christian fundamentalism, I see that at its heart, it is just the attempt to render a basic definition of the essentials of what makes a Christian. It’s the minimum set of standards, so to speak, that one must uphold to be an authentic believer.
  • St. Louis Jews celebrate Thanksgivukkah for first time since 1800s (fox2now.com)
    Peggy Umansky has enjoyed preparing for both holidays simultaneously. “People have been very inventive,” she says, “I have half my house decorated for Hanukkah, half decorated for Thanksgiving.”

    Umansky and her daughter made pumpkin-flavored challah, shaped and decorated like a turkey.  “I think it’s fun for the kids when the secular world meets the religious world, and they see that everything can coexist and be fun together,” she explains.

  • ‘Happy Thanksgivukkah!’ (endtimebibleprophecy.wordpress.com)
    Judith Mendelsohn Rood, a Jewish Christian and professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at Biola University, connected Hanukkah to one of Jesus’ most important teachings. In an interview this week, Rood cited John 10:22-42, when Jesus celebrated the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.

    “In the Old Testament, there’s the festival of tabernacles, where people lived in booths in the fields for eight days,” Rood explained. In the time of Judas Maccabeus, the ruling Greeks would not allow the Jews to celebrate this feast. Once the Maccabees freed Israel from their rule, however, they celebrated Succoth late, and that gave rise to Hanukkah, Rood said.

All I want is peace!!!

This holiday season we may think of Whom can give the peace in our heart and Whom can bring peace in the world. But we also should know we do have to find first peace and love in our own heart, before we can find peace outside ourselves.

  • Still, Small Voice (connieartiemoore.wordpress.com)
    Today, I celebrate that Still, Small Voice that speaks to each of us. Even as we may be chronically unaware of It, It speaks to us of Truth and Love, Peace and Wisdom, Freedom and Abundance so that these things are never far from our hearts.
  • Black Friday Peace (leadershipunderground.wordpress.com)
    The holiday shopping season is here. Retailers are already pushing for Black Friday, admittedly the worst day of the year for me. My wife loves the crowds on that “glorious shopping day” but I prefer to hide in the woods.During the past two holiday seasons, retailers have been selling to Americans primarily one product – Joy. We saw this message in the car commercials for Lexus and the advertising of Macy’s. The message was everywhere – buy this and you will have joy.

    As we approach the 2013 holiday season, I see a trend developing. While joy has been the “hot” product pitch of years past, I see “peace” as the sales pitch of today. We are all worn out. The noise of the national debt, the economy, the healthcare disaster, and the awful national politics, is, well, quite exhausting.

  • Peace Prevails (writingtofreedom.wordpress.com)
    Most people and life simply reflect back what we give out. By changing their paradime from fear-based security measures to love-based encouragement, the school radically shifted the experience of school for the children.
  • Being At Peace! (angelicblessings.wordpress.com)
    If we all focused on being at peace, then there would be no wars, no competition, and no competitiveness, to win at all costs.  Somehow we have put “being at peace” as the opposite of being competitive.Being at peace is not about being the opposite of being competitive; being at peace is about being at peace with ourselves. Being relaxed, being focused on the tasks at hand without outside influences.
  • Creating Peace (beencouraged.wordpress.com)
    We must have inner peace to have peace in the home. To have peace in the our communities, we must have peace in our homes. To have peace in the nation, we must have peace in our communities.
  • Preparing the Way for Christ: Revs. Bingle, Darring and Lee Dialogue-Advent 1 (judyabl.wordpress.com)
    Our Hebrew Scriptures for  the first Sunday of Advent herald an age of peace when nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more(Isaiah 2: 1-5). Nations will come to God’s house on the highest of mountains for instruction in God’s ways so that we may “walk in God’s paths”. Clearly that instruction is instruction in the ways of peace and God’s path is the path of peace. (Is 2:3b)
  • How to Sleep in Heavenly Peace This Holiday Season (accidentvictimsalliance.com)
    From the run up to Thanksgiving right on through New Year’s Day, the things dancing in my head at bedtime are hardly visions of sugar plums. It’s more likely that my sleep will be disturbed by needless worry over my menu selections, or the number of matching cream-colored napkins I have in stock, or fear I’ve left someone off my gift list.Yes, when it comes to sleep troubles, ’tis the season.
  • Poetry of Peace (steppingtoes.wordpress.com)

Poetry of Peace

Lots of people are hungry of peace and do not know how to find it. First of all they are afraid to look into their self. A big problem about not finding a solution to get that peace is that most people do not understand they have to build up love in their own being.without loving oneself it will be impossible to love some one else. Most are afraid of their own self and they are very eager to find solutions outside.

We should learn not to avoid an encounter with the ‘Soul‘, our own ‘I’ and our own ‘Being’. Those who look for the Divine Being, the ‘I am’ shall also not be able to find God if they dare not to find the peace within themselves.

In the article:
  1. Hungry of Peace
  2. Leaving the tradition of his/her birthplace
  3. Abandoning the birthplace or abandoning the roots
  4. Trying to find peace outside
  5. A soul longing for home
  6. Doing anything to avoid an encounter with the Soul
  7. Encounter with the soul is painful
  8. Sorrow is similar to sandpaper – smoothening hard stone
  9. Smooth, soft, radiant life
  10. Suffering [dukkha (life is suffering)]  is actually a vitamin of peace
  11. New eyes to see the beautiful insight of soul
  12. Life inside is like ocean – we are the ocean
  13. Forget yourself, serving the other = rediscovering that “I am you”

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Find also to read:

  1. The Soul not a ghost
  2. Those who make peace should plant peace like a seed
  3. Peace Takes You

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  • Finding Peace (howanxious.wordpress.com)
    Peace is a word, often associated with silence and meditation. I guess, one can find peace anywhere… if one is meant to find it. One will find it eventually… if one is destined to find it.

    I didn’t want to venture into the political and social dimensions of this word. Hence, I chose to do it, thinking of what peace may mean for an individual on a personal level.
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    peace is when you feel at ease, / within your skin, in your own body, / peace is when, you close your eyes, / and exhale out all your worries, / peace is when, you hold your love, / against the cold, of the winter nights,

  • The Messianic Blade (poetry) (hellomynameisfriendly.wordpress.com)
    Find me a world where I may set down my head / Find me a world where there is nothing left to be said / Find me a world where only silence is / Find me my perfect world, my only wish.

    Find me the peace that is in pieces / Find me the love that no hand reaches / Find me the smile that has long since faded / Find me the happiness that has been raided

  • Identify With Your Soul by Ram Dass (peacefulselfprograms.wordpress.com)
    “Everything must change except the soul.” Ram Dass
  • Stressed Out Christian? (socyberty.com)
    It is hard for those of us who are Christians when we cannot seem to control feelings of stress. Some versions of Job 30:27 describe stress very well. My own interpretation of this verse is, “I feel all churned up inside and out of sorts. I cannot get anything done.” That describes me when I am stressed.
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    The feeling that we should be doing better than we are adds to the load.
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    Stress kills. It can make a road wreck of the human spirit. It has to be dealt with before it harms you any more than it already is.
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    So, you lost your peace? It is time to start looking for it. You won’t find it alone. You need others to help you. By sharing the load, it will start to ease the feelings inside.
  • Embracing Peace (sheryllpetgrave.wordpress.com)
    Today was quite a busy day running around preparing for our upcoming trip for the Thanksgiving holiday. As I reflected over the day I cannot help but ponder on how much everyone spends during this holiday all in the name of ‘giving thanks’. What is the purpose behind it all? Why is saying ’Thanks’ so expensive and time consuming? I smiled at the thought. No wonder the Word of God  encourages us to seek peace and pursuit it. God knew it would not be a natural part of our lives like the air we breathe.
  • Peace, War, and Death… (studio315.wordpress.com)
    I believe Peace can mainly be found in God’s creation–nature. Unfortunately, Peace can be masked by War- a manmade idea.  This is our greatest downfall, and for some reason we deter from nature’s peacefulness and begin fighting each other.  Is it really worth it? Because War leads to Death.
  • 31 Reminders from Eden: PEACE (messymiddle.com)
    I’ve worked with many a family in transition over the years and my number one prayer for them was Lord, may your spirit of peace rest on this family. May their home be infused with your peace in this time of transition. Amen and amen and amen and amen.
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    Passing the peace wasn’t a part of the tradition I grew up in, instead we “greeted our neighbor.” I dread the moment every week – I get it is personal preference here. Is it more holy or appropriate to greet or pass? No. The difference, for me, comes on a soul level. When I greet, the ‘near introvert’ in me cringes. I find random “hellos” to people I don’t know, meaningless (I find, not it is) and I can’t wait to sit down or sing or do just about anything else, even leave.

    When I pass the peace, my soul engages. On the surface it seems trite. Touch a hand and say, “The peace of God to you.” But I don’t have to know a thing about a person and they don’t to know a thing about me to know that we all can use more peace. When I am looked in the eye by a soul I don’t know and am told, “The peace of God with you.” So it is. And when it’s a soul I know and love deeply, all the more so. The peace of God with me.

  • I Was to Write About Love (backofafrica.wordpress.com)
    But before I write I have to be honest with myself / Write the truth about love / Write the truth about peace / Write the truth about patience / Write the truth about kindness / But before all that I need to be honest with myself
  • A Soul Wrapped in Vanity (thecosmicpilgrim.wordpress.com)
    Cure yourself of the affliction of caring how you appear to others.  Concern yourself only with how you appear before God, concern yourself only with the idea that God may have of you.  ~Miguel De Unamuno
  • Peace (portiadery.wordpress.com)
    Thunder is fast approaching but the aroma of peace is still missing.
    Women with childern pinned to their backs run here and there looking for shelter..but alas peace is faraway!
    Our hearts have become a bed for fear,despair and helplessness.

A Meaningful Thanksgivukkah

Bijbelvorsers notes:

Believers in the Creator God should see that like the third miracle of Hanukkah, Thanksgiving is not really a story about the Pilgrims. But they also may not take it as a ritual of reconciliation post-civil war. More than the recreation of national mythologies for the sake of mending the wounds of fighting between brothers, we should look at the celebrations as a means to take time to thank God for His being with His people, helping them to undergo the battles in this world, making them strong to struggle and to find ways to survive. For all the blessings we are able to receive in this lifetime we should thank the Most High. It is not bad to meditate on our attitude once in a year and to consider how we can praise Jehovah and be thankful finding our way to live here in this world.

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  • Happy Thanksgivukkah! (gjnashen.wordpress.com)
    From the glut of Thanksgivukkah swag and kitsch out there, you’d think American Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have never overlapped before or will never overlap again. And that would be correct — at least not for another 70,000 years.
  • Celebrate Thanksgivukkah! (new102.cbslocal.com)
    Normally Hanukkah falls closer to Christmas time, but this year Turkey day is so late in the month that the first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are on the same day.

    So this inspired some awesome merging, kind of like Crystal Pepsi. Wait, you mean Crystal Pepsi wasn’t like the Cristal of Pepsi? OK horrible example. But you get my point.

  • This Is The Official Thanksgivukkah Anthem You’ve Been Waiting For (buzzfeed.com)
    Once every 70,000 years, Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. What is it that makes Thanksgivukkah the most spectacular day ever?
  • Thanksgivukkah! (redtreetimes.com)
    This convergence has been dubbed Thansgivukkah.  Kind of catchy, huh?  I don’t know that there is any real significance here but it sure sounds ominous  (and kind of cool) when you throw in the fact that it won’t happen again for another 77,ooo years or so.  And anytime you get to throw around a portmanteau like Thanksgivukkah, it’s got to be good.  So enjoy your Thanksgivukkah, whether you’re thinking about the Pilgrims or the Maccabees.
  • Happy Thanksgivukkah! (marianneknightly.com)
    Upon further research, assuming a generation is about 30 years, that would be about 2,600 “greats” in the above note. But I could be wrong, as I am awful at math.
  • Happy Thanksgivukkah, 1888 (ghostsofdc.org)
    Hanukkah and Thanksgiving rarely overlap.  Among its 22 articles covering 2013′s “Thanksgivukkah” holiday mashup, the Washington Post reports that the convergence of turkey and latkes won’t occur again for 77,798 years.

    How did D.C. media report on this calendar quirk the last time it happened — 125 years ago?

  • Thanksgivukkah Latke Burger! (nycnomnom.com)
    We love our Franken-foods, and now we have a Franken-holiday when the first day of Chanukkah falls on Thanksgiving Day (aka Thanksgivukkah).  Mike, being the Domestic Divo that he is, came home on Friday with an idea: let’s make a Latke Burger!

    The plan: latkes in place of buns, a turkey burger with some brisket in there to add flavor, and cranberry ketchup

  • St. Louis Jews celebrate Thanksgivukkah for first time since 1800s (fox2now.com)
    The chefs at Kohn’s Kosher Deli, also inspired by this rare occurrence, perfected some new Thanksgivukkah dishes, like sweet potato latkes.  Catering Director Robin Rickerman divulged some hints about their recipe: “A little nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and then we top it with sour cream and brown sugar.”

    However, Thanksgivukkah isn’t just about inventive food combinations, or even turkey-shaped menorahs.  Rabbi Yosef Landa with Chabad of Greater St. Louis says the two holidays share some meaning.

    He explains, “One of the messages of Hanukkah is really the same as Thanksgiving. The great miracles that happened, and the Maccabees in their battle to preserve their religious freedom, they established the holiday to give thanks for all the wonderful miracles that happened to them.”

    Even though these holidays won’t coincide for another 70,000 years or more, their powerful messages will remain.  As for those tasty new traditions?  Kohn’s Kosher Deli plans to keep them going.  Rickerman says, “Every year Thanksgiving now, I think we’re going to serve sweet potato latkes, and different stuffings in our donuts.”

  • Thanksgivukkah mashes up rare double holiday (cbc.ca)
    Jews in the U.S. are marking an unusual convergence of secular and religious holidays with American Thanksgiving falling on the second day of Hanukkah, creating the once-in-a-lifetime hybrid holiday Thanksgivukkah.
  • What’s going on Thursday? (Thanksgivukkah!) (brooklynvegan.com)
    Mazel Tofurkey

Said to Myself

aviOn their surfaces, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are simple holidays.  We see the themes of light breaking through the darkness, a few banding together to beat the elements, and the power of having faith in community.  We camp folk know that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.  So let’s look deeper into the three miracles of Hanukkah.  One miracle is that small group of zealots were able to beat the stronger forces and regain control of the Temple.  When they recaptured the Temple they found one small jar of oil for the menorah in the Temple.  The second miracle was that despite the fact that this small jar only had enough oil for one day it lasted for eight days.  This story about the miraculous Hanukkah oil has allowed us to look past focusing solely on the military victory.  This is important in that the war was not a…

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Governments need to be more proactive to ensure racism is kept in check

While in Europe voices are heard against Jewish traditions and campaigns are hold to make kosher slaughter and even circumcision illegal and Jews do find that one decision is taken after another by governments taking away their religious freedoms and driving them out of the country, in Australia it does not seem so bad yet.

English: "Anti-Semitic Jewish Postcard"

“Anti-Semitic Jewish Postcard” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile in Israel the rabbis look with fear to the growing debate around ritual male circumcision elsewhere in the world, and voiced their fear of the precedent that could be created by a Jewish Israeli woman allowed not to circumcise her son. The rabbis opposed Israeli Jews to freely decide on the ritual circumcision of their own children because it goes against God His Law and might have a bad impact on the global debate over the issue.

“We have witnessed for some time now public and legal struggles against the brit milah in many countries in Europe and in the United States,”

the judges wrote.

“The public in Israel has stood as one man [sic] against these trends, seeing them as yet another aspect of displays of anti-Semitism that must be combatted. How will the world react if even here the issue of circumcision is given to the discretion of any person, according to their own beliefs?”

Religious courts in Israel hold complete sway over all matrimonial issues, including divorce. An appeal to the Haifa District Court by the woman was turned down, and the woman said the only resort left now is an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Europe’s Jews feel increasingly threatened and abused, fearing antisemitic abuse from Muslim extremists, the extreme right-wing, and left-wing radicals. With few European member states taking any serious action, and the failure of the authorities to tackle this growing problem, the human rights of Jewish Europeans are under threat.

75 years after Kristallnacht, has Europe failed to learn from history?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week described Kristallnacht when the savage attacks of 9th November 1938 saw Jewish businesses attacked, hundreds of synagogues torched and around 30,000 Jewish men rounded up for deportation to concentration camps, as

“one of the darkest moments in German history,” urging “all the people in this country to show their civil courage and ensure that no form of anti-Semitism is tolerated.”

But 75 years on, where do German Jews stand? Merkel herself went on to observe that today it is “almost inexplicable but also the reality that no Jewish institution can be left without police protection.”

Image of New Statesman Cover from wikipedia co...

Image of New Statesman Cover from wikipedia commons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the increasingly distressing amount of anecdotal evidence appearing in the news, it has been hard to gauge the extent of Europe’s antisemitism problem. Stories of individuals suffering antisemitic discrimination and even violence are, of course, unacceptable. But they cannot alone provide a clear picture of a trend. Some argue that ‘legitimate’ criticism of Israel is erroneously labeled as antisemitism (it rarely is). Academics and commentators are unable to agree what it all means. Manfred Gerstenfeld writes in his recent book, Demonizing Israel and the Jews, that

polls show that well over 100 million Europeans embrace a satanic view of the State of Israel… [this] view is obviously a new mutation of the diabolical beliefs about Jews which many held in the Middle Ages, and those more recently promoted by the Nazis and their allies.

But others warn that comparisons with German National Socialism of the early 20th century are alarmist and overblown. It is true that the cracks on German shop windows this week will be nothing more than stickers, applied as a part of a peculiar campaign of remembrance and solidarity with the murdered Jews of Kristallnacht. One British Jewish community leader once challenged me, asking, “surely you don’t think it’s as bad here as it was in Nazi Germany?”, as if Europe’s Jews ought to wait for a full-scale repeat of such extreme levels of Jew-hatred before we allow ourselves to say “enough.”

Australia also faces anti-Semitic incidents in Australia in 2012 being the highest ever on record, though the number of serious physical attacks was the lowest since 2005. After eight young men attacked families who were walking home from a synagogue in Bondi last month Australia’s peak Jewish body  called for the national anti-racism strategy to be strengthened following an alleged anti-Semitic attack in Sydney’s east.

The council’s Peter Wertheim says governments need to be more proactive to ensure racism is kept in check.

He says the national anti-racism strategy needs to be strengthened and included in the education curriculum.

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Preceding articles:

Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe

Holocaust remembrance statue not desired

More on the circumcision debate:

  1. Stand up for your son: Say ‘no’ to ritual circumcision
  2. My (inadequate) justification for circumcision
  3. Outlawing circumcision: Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic

On the ongoing Anti-Semitism:

  1. Did France ignore the Islamic radical threat?
  2. New attacks target Jews in France
  3. Chief rabbi fears anti-semitism
  4. Increasing attacks in Germany
  5. Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia in 2012 highest ever on record

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  • Woman fined $140 a day for refusing to circumcise son (972mag.com)
    An Israeli woman is being fined NIS 500 ($140) every day for refusing to circumcise her one-year-old-son, Israel’s Channel 2 reported today. There is no sweeping legal requirement for Jews in Israel to circumcise their children, but the woman is undergoing a divorce process at the Haifa Rabbinical Court, and her husband has appealed to the court to pressure the woman into circumcising the son.
  • Antisemitism In Europe: The New Jewish Exodus. Anti-semitism is reaching terrifyingly high level… (pjmedia.com)
    This is something that InstaPundit has been covering since the beginning. It’s only gotten worse. If I were Jewish, I’d be buying property in the U.S., or somewhere safe. Related archive item here.
  • The double-pronged threat to European Jewry (blogs.timesofisrael.com)
    In his 1996 book Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945, historian Bernard Wasserstein predicted the imminent disappearance of European Jewry. This was not, he wrote, due to anti-Semitism, which he did not consider a serious danger. The problem was rather the “very beneficence of the surrounding environment” which “tends to diminish the Jews’ attachment to specific Jewish practices, languages, traditions and values.”
  • Israeli court orders mother to circumcise her son (telegraph.co.uk)

    An Israeli mother has been ordered by a rabbinical court to circumcise her son in a ruling that could set a legal precedent

  • Anti-Semitism is Rife Among America’s Far Left (Review) (algemeiner.com)
    If you’ve ever wondered why “do-gooder” is a pejorative label, Stephen Norwood’s book on “Antisemitism and the American Far Left” will enlighten you. Rarely has there been a group of Americans so prone to mistake feeling good about what they are doing for actually doing good as “far leftists.”

    They comprise Stalinists, Trotskyists, Old Leftists, New Leftists, loyal readers of The Daily Worker, New International, PM, Labor Action, The Nation, Ramparts, Tikkun; members of the CP, SP, SWP, SDS, SNCC, and indeed the whole alphabet soup cooked up by the dissidence of dissent.

  • Jewish Court Tries to Force Mother to Circumcise Her Young Son, on Penalty of Daily Fines (patheos.com)
    The rabbinical judges in the case said in their decision the woman was opposing the circumcision as a means to bringing her husband back to her. They also referred explicitly to the growing debate around ritual male circumcision elsewhere in the world, and voiced their fear of the precedent that could be created by a Jewish Israeli woman allowed not to circumcise her son.
  • Anti-Semitism lives on 75 years after Germany’s Kristallnacht (dralfoldman.com)
    Being Jewish, albeit not particularly religious and fairly cosmopolitan in my views, I have always struggled to understand anti-Semitism. Let me share two short stories which changed me fundamentally.
  • French Jewish leader: Majority of Jews too afraid to put kids in public school (jta.org)
    Perceptions of increasing anti-Semitism over the past five years were most widespread among French Jews, with 74 percent of respondents saying it has “increased a lot” compared to 27 percent in Britain. Among French respondents, 46 percent said they have considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism compared to 18 percent in Sweden, Latvia and Britain.
  • French Jews too afraid to put kids in public school (timesofisrael.com)
    French Jews are not leaving France in large numbers, according to Cukierman, who downplayed the significance of figures that show a 49 percent increase in Jewish immigration from France to Israel in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same time frame last year.

    “These figures fluctuate between 1,500 and 3000 every year, and at their highest represent half a percent of French Jewry. So this is not such a big figure,” he said.

  • Holocaust remembrance statue not desired (steppingtoes.wordpress.com)
    In Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe we can see that about two-thirds of the respondents for the survey considered anti-Semitism in Europe a problem and three-quarters said it was worsening.

Holocaust remembrance statue not desired

In Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe we can see that about two-thirds of the respondents for the survey considered anti-Semitism in Europe a problem and three-quarters said it was worsening.

Time Magazine (September 13, 2010) ...item 2.....

Time Magazine (September 13, 2010) …item 2.. The New Anti-Semitism – What it is and how to deal with it (July 12, 2011) … (Photo credit: marsmet541)

Elite opinion in Europe would surely disdain such anti-Semitism, but in its own way demonstrates considerable discomfort with Jews. Unlike Americans, whose Bill of Rights and historical experience commit them to the protection of religious freedom, most educated Europeans are deeply secular. They have little respect for religious traditions – especially those held by minorities – and do not take seriously the right to practice religion when it comes in conflict with currently defined “rights.”

Anti-Semitism may perhaps not overtly raised in the parliamentary debates but countries like Poland outlawed kosher slaughter. Last month the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called for countries to protect children from violations of their physical integrity, specifically including infant circumcision for religious reasons. The claim was that this age-old Jewish practice deprived children of their human rights. If the absence of kosher slaughter would only make life difficult for Jews – the meat could, after all, be imported – the criminalization of ritual circumcision would make the survival of Jewish communities in Europe virtually impossible.

In a drastic move designed to bring attention to anti-Semitism in Sweden, Swedish Jewish activist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein has filed for asylum in her own country Monday. The 31-year-old political adviser and mother of two took the unprecedented step to protest a series of measures in Sweden banning kosher slaughter, ritual circumcision, and possibly even the importation of kosher meat.

Rothstein, who has also been active in helping to organize Jewish solidarity and pro-Israel rallies in Sweden, said she hoped her actions would help move the issue from being a discussion on Twitter, around dinner tables and in synagogues to something that political decision-makers are talking about as a problem that needs to be addressed.

“One thing that we are good at is having conversations among ourselves, but I don’t see this as a Jewish problem because I don’t think there are a lot of Jewish anti-Semites out there,”

she told The Times of Israel in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“It’s not our responsibility to solve this on our own. It is a political problem that needs to have political consequences and solutions.”

Rothstein said many people she’s talked to have told her to forget about it and that the only solution for Jews in Europe is to move to Israel, but she’s unwilling to accept that.

Israel’s foreign ministry condemned the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe last month after it adopted a resolution calling for regulation of religious circumcision, which is also carried out on Muslim boys shortly after birth.He demanded that the resolution be annulled, saying it

“casts a moral stain on the Council of Europe and fosters hate and racist trends in Europe”.

Jews in the Minsk Ghetto, 1941

Jews in the Minsk Ghetto, 1941 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The commemoration of the Holocaust seems also to become a problem in certain countries.
Last week, the Foundation for the Jewish Monument Utrecht applied for a permit to build a monument for commemorating the city’s Holocaust victims, which will cost $237,000, according to the Dutch daily Telegraaf. The Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht its director Paul Vlijmen opposes the erection of a statue near his museum in memory of 1,224 Jews who were deported to death camps from Utrecht during the Holocaust. He believes that his museum, built on an old train station from which the Jews were deported, devotes enough attention to the subject with a plaque and an exhibition titled “Loaded Trains,” according to the local news site DeStadUtrecht.nl.

Maarten van Ditmarsch, a spokesperson for the Jewish foundation, said the Railway Museum has thwarted earlier attempts to honor the victims.

“People said that the city already has a monument for those who fell during the war. I think, however, that this time we will succeed,”

he was quoted as saying on DeStadUtrecht.nl.

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Please do find to read:

  1. Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe
  2. The double-pronged threat to European Jewry
  3. Dutch museum opposes Holocaust memorial
  4. Rothstein published article on the Mosaic Magazine website on Monday to announce her petition to be recognized as a refugee in Sweden.

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Graffiti near a synagogue in Salzwedel, Germany. 3 Oct 2013

Swastikas and slogans were daubed near a synagogue in Salzwedel, Germany

  • Dutch museum opposes Holocaust memorial (whitenewsnow.com)
    Maarten van Ditmarsch, a spokesperson for the Jewish foundation, said the Railway Museum has thwarted earlier attempts to honor the victims.
  • French Jews too afraid to put kids in public school (timesofisrael.com)Anti-Semitism “affects Jewish families very seriously and is the main reason there are so few Jewish children in public schools,” Roger Cukierman, president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, said Tuesday during a symposium on anti-Semitism at the European Parliament. “Most of them go to Jewish or Christian private schools.”

    Cukierman spoke at a symposium organized by the European Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith International with European lawmakers on the findings of a recent survey undertaken last year by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency among 5,847 self-identified Jews from nine European countries.

  • Anti-Semitism lives on 75 years after Germany’s Kristallnacht (dralfoldman.com)
    If you have the time, read the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report entitled “Discrimination and Hate Crime against Jews in EU Member States: experiences and perceptions of antisemitism” which is highly recommended reading.For another more passionate perspective, I would strongly recommend the following article by  Jonathan Sacerdoti who is a political analyst, broadcaster and writer based in the UK.

    מידה — Groundbreaking Survey Reveals Scale of Europe’s Antisemitism Crisis

    Sacerdoti takes a historical look at anti-Semitism arguing strongly and passionately that seventy-five years after Germany’s  Kristallnacht that anti-Semitism is still thriving in Europe.

  • Anti-Semitism ‘on rise in Europe’ (bbc.co.uk)
    Respondents in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom were asked to give “their opinions and perceptions on anti-Semitic trends and anti-Semitism as a problem in everyday”.
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    The President of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, welcomed the survey, but said “the fact that a quarter of Jews are not able to express their Jewishness because of fear should be a watershed moment for the continent of Europe and the European Union.””The Jewish reality in Europe is of great concern and the authorities need to deal with incidents of hate and intolerance in a holistic manner, to really combat these manifestations before it is too late.

    “We would like to see concrete steps being taken, including creating legislation to specifically deal with anti-Semitism and racism, bolstering law enforcement agencies and ensure a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism, even, and perhaps specifically, when opinion-shapers and decision-makers engage in these forms of hate,” he said.

  • Jewish Issues Watchdog: preading European Anti-Semitism (jiw.blogspot.com)
    European Jews fear that they, their friends or their families might become victims of an anti-Semitic attack, if all this is a regular part of European discourse…
  • CHANGE: Exodus: Migration of Jews Out of France Begins. “They wonder whether classic anti-Semitism… (pjmedia.com)
    “They wonder whether classic anti-Semitism is not back with a vengeance all over Europe, after several decades of post-Holocaust toleration. The fact that campaigns to make kosher slaughter and even circumcision illegal are gaining ground in several countries, and were even endorsed at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, is seen as particularly ominous.”
  • Israeli court orders mother to circumcise her son (telegraph.co.uk)

    An Israeli mother has been ordered by a religious court to circumcise her son against her will or face fines of £90 for every day the procedure remains undone.

    The unprecedented ruling has been handed down by one of Israel’s rabbinical courts, which have legal jurisdiction over religious questions – including marriage and divorce – concerning the country’s Jewish majority.

Anti-Semitism ‘on the rise’ in Europe

For some years now in Belgium we see a bad evolution, similar as the trend was evolving in the 1930s Berlin.

Media creating an idea of danger

Once a world full of entertainment and “joy de vivre”, without financial restriction the people loved to have their freedom, going out until late in the morning.  Being drunk they passed others, but found themselves, by their anti-social behaviour more looked at. This annoyed them. with the financial crisis they also saw that they could not any more enjoy their going out “a volonté” and could not have so many trips to other countries any more. Aannoying as well was that some cheaper regions became more dangerous because of Muslim Fundamentalists. Those also came more in the news and tried to get more Belgians involved in their ‘road to Damascus’. Sharia for Belgium took care that the Muslim community came in a worse picture, and the media did the rest to present all those Muslims as a danger for our community.

The banks corrupting and the financial market bringing down the people with the little savings while the Jews still kept the thriving market of jewellery. Seeing those sometimes ‘poorly’ black dressed Jews was a sneer in the face of those who envied their money.

Antisemitism is one of the most alarming examples of how prejudice can endure, lingering on for centuries, curbing Jewish people’s chances to enjoy their legally guaranteed rights to human dignity, freedom of thought, conscience and religion or non-discrimination. Despite European Union (EU) and Member States’ best efforts, many Jews across the EU continue to face insults, discrimination, harassment and physical violence that may keep them from living
their lives openly as Jews. Nevertheless, there is little concrete information available on the extent and nature of antisemitism that Jewish people encounter in the EU today – whether at work, in public places, at school or in the media – information critical to policy makers seeking to craft effective solutions to bring an end to such discrimination.

Nazi Anti-Semitic propaganda at Yad Vashem

Nazi Anti-Semitic propaganda at Yad Vashem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Data by European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has reported on the available official and unofficial data on antisemitic incidents in its Annual report on Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements, as well as in a separate annual working paper – Antisemitism: Summary overview of the situation in the EU – which presents trends on the available data covering up to 10 years. This provides a long-term view of the developments concerning
antisemitic incidents. These reports are part of FRA’s body of work on hate crime, shining light on the experiences of various groups such as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons, immigrants and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities.

The available data fail to answer many questions, however, which are of keen interest to policy makers looking to improve responses to antisemitic acts. Effective solutions require information on the types of antisemitic incidents, the context in which they take place and the reasons why many incidents are not reported at all, indeed, why official statistics markedly underestimate the number of antisemitic incidents and the number of people exposed to these acts.
Furthermore, even the most basic official statistics on antisemitic incidents are not available in many EU Member States.

Need for rallying against something

For some it might be clear that people need something to rally against to stay united. A good example of that we could see in the ‘Cold War’ where we had the West against the East, the Americans against the Soviets. Many do think it was the best time when they had the USA to rally against the USSR. Several Americans do find they have come to sit in a slow-motion train wreck of a divisive, culturally degenerative society ever since the Soviet Union ceased to give them purpose and unity.

Others consider that certain people are looking for it by placing themselves as a separate people. They are convinced that the Jewish religion encourages a separate identity for Jews, asking them to keep themselves apart in certain respects from the cultures they live within. That naturally can lead to conflict. People hate certain Christians for much the same reason. Those who want to follow the Only One God undergo the difficulty of ‘not being of this world’ and still having ‘to be part of this world’. Non-trinitarians are as ridiculed and confounded as the Jews who have the same God of Abraham. (Check in your own environment how people do think for example of Jehovah Witnesses.)

Blamed for suffering

It's not a question of religion, the Jew is of...

It’s not a question of religion, the Jew is of a different race and the enemy of ours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Historically, Jews have had religious traditions and doctrines that have allowed them to thrive (or at least survive) where others have struggled. Because those people did follow the Laws of the Divine Creator somehow they also where protected and blessed by this Creator God. They also seemed to cope better with their struggle for life and their suffering, which was a thorn in the flesh for the people around them who underwent more difficulties with the same problems.

During the Black Plague, Jews washed themselves more often than once a year, which reduced their infection rate; they were blamed.
Due to Christian bans on usury, they were inevitably the money lenders; they were blamed.

Having been able to cope with many diseases, many terrible incidents, every-time springing up again, like not destroyable weed, always forming one union with their community, combined with being members of a highly visible minority where race and religion are not equal but intermingled, is sufficient to trigger envy by others who also look at the actions taken in Israel where walls are build and Palestinians provoked.

2012 Survey

5,847 self-identified Jewish people (aged 16 years or over) in eight EU Member States – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the
United Kingdom gave their answers for the survey which was carried out online during September and October 2012.

Two thirds of the survey respondents (66 %) consider antisemitism to be a problem across the eight EU Member States surveyed, while on average three quarters of the respondents (76 %) also believe that the situation has become more acute and that antisemitism has increased in the country where they live over the past five years. In the 12 months following the survey, close to half of the respondents (46 %) worry about being verbally insulted or harassed in a public place because they are Jewish, and one third (33 %) worry about being physically attacked in the country where they live because they are Jewish. Furthermore, 66 % of parents or grandparents of school-aged children worry that their children could be subjected to antisemitic verbal insults or harassment at school or en route, and 52 % worry that they would be physically attacked with an antisemitic motive while at school or en route. In the past 12 months, over half of all survey respondents (57 %) heard or saw someone claim that the Holocaust was a myth or that it has been exaggerated.

Protecting Jewish people from discrimination

About one quarter of respondents (23 %) said that they have felt discriminated against on the grounds of their religion or ethnic background in the 12 months preceding the survey. Specifically concerning discrimination because of being Jewish, the respondents in all eight EU Member States indicate that they are most likely to experience discrimination at the workplace (11 % of respondents who were working during the period have experienced this), when looking for work (10 % of respondents who have been looking for work) or on the part of people working in the education sector (8 % of respondents in school or training or whose children were in school or training have felt discriminated against by people working in this area). More than three quarters (82 %) of those who said that they have felt discriminated against during the period because they are Jewish did not report the most serious incident, namely the one that most affected them, to any authority or organisation.

Antisemitism on the internet

Antisemitism on the internet – including, for example, antisemitic comments made in discussion forums and on social networking sites – is a significant concern for a majority of respondents. Overall, 75 % of respondents consider antisemitism online to be a problem, while another 73 % believe antisemitism online has increased over the last five years.
More than 80 % of the respondents living in Belgium, France, Hungary and Italy are concerned by the level of antisemitism on the internet which they say has increased either a lot or a little. Antisemitic hostility in public places and antisemitism in the media are the next two manifestations that respondents are most likely to perceive as on the rise.

Meeting the needs of Jewish victims of hate crime

Antisemitism in Budapest Gyermekavasut

Antisemitism in Budapest Gyermekavasut (Photo credit: Yigal Chamish)

One quarter of respondents (26 %) experienced some form of antisemitic harassment in the 12 months preceding the survey – including various offensive and threatening acts, for example, receiving written anti-semitic messages, phone calls, being followed or receiving offensive antisemitic comments in person or on the internet, according to the survey results. Overall, 4 % of respondents experienced physical violence or threats of violence because they are Jewish in the 12 months preceding the survey. Of all respondents, 3 % on average said that their personal property has been deliberately vandalised, because they are Jewish, in the 12 months preceding the survey. A majority of the victims of anti-semitic harassment (76 %), physical violence or threats (64 %), or vandalism of personal property (53 %) did not report the most serious incident, namely the one that most affected the respondent, in the past five years to the police or to any other organisation protecting Jewish people from discrimination The relative position of antisemitism on the list of other social and political issues varies slightly among the EU Member States surveyed. When asked to consider whether each of the items presented is a problem or not in the country where they live, the respondents rated unemployment (85 % saying that it was ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’), state of the economy (78 %) and racism (72 %) ahead of antisemitism (66 %) in terms of the present magnitude of the problem. Anti-semitism was followed as a problem, respondents said, by crime levels (62 %), immigration (59 %), religious intolerance (54 %), state of health services (51 %) and government corruption (40 %). In contrast with other countries, in Germany antisemitism was regarded as the greatest problem (61 %) in comparison to the other issues listed in the survey, such as unemployment (59 %), racism (57 %) or others.

Respondents from all the EU Member States surveyed except of Germany – consider unemployment to be the most pressing issue facing the country where they live.
Over 90 % of respondents in five countries (France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia and the United Kingdom) saw the state of the economy as ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’. Respondents in Germany and Sweden seem less concerned with the state of the economy – 41 % and 25 % of the respondents, respectively, said it is ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’.

Most pressing social and political issues

Antisemitism was rated among the three most pressing social and political issues in France, Germany and Sweden (85 %, 61 % and 60 %, respectively, considered it ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’). In a pattern that differs slightly from the other survey countries, respondents in Belgium viewed – besides unemployment – crime levels and immigration as the problems which most affect the country where they live (81 % and 80 %, respectively).

Respondents in Hungary and Italy alone considered government corruption to be among the top three problems in the country where they live (94 % of respondents voiced this opinion in both countries). A notable share of respondents in Latvia and the United Kingdom identified the state of health services as a problem (92 % and 69 % of respondents, respectively).

Respondents were also asked whether they felt that antisemitism has increased or decreased during the past five years in the country where they live. Antisemitism is reported to be on the increase – having increased ‘a lot’ or increased ‘a little’ – by a majority of respondents in all eight EU Member States surveyed . The percentage of respondents indicating that antisemitism has increased over the past five years was especially high (about 90 %) in Belgium, France and Hungary. These are also the countries, as shown earlier, where the respondents were most likely to say that antisemitism is ‘a very
big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’ today.

Manifestations and Attacks to affect community

Antisemitic attacks have a profound impact not only on the individuals concerned and those close to them, but certain manifestations of antisemitism also affect the Jewish community as a whole.

Among the specific manifestations listed, online antisemitism is seen as a particular problem: three quarters of all respondents (75 %) consider this either ‘a very big’ or a ‘fairly big problem’, and almost as many (73 %) believe that it hasincreased over the past five year.

59 % of the respondents feel that antisemitism in the media is ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’, while 54 % say the same about expressions of hostility towards Jews in the street and other public places. Half (50 %) consider desecration of cemeteries to be a problem.

The majority of the respondents in France (84 %), Belgium (74 %) and Hungary (72 %) consider expressions of hostility towards Jews in the street and other public spaces to be ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’ in the country. In Sweden (51 %) and Germany (48 %), about half the respondents consider it a problem, while in Italy (30 %) or the United Kingdom (35 %) one third of the respondents do so.

Arena’s

Regarding the four arenas where antisemitic comments may occur and comparing the eight survey countries, respondents from Belgium, France and Hungary indicate in particular antisemitic reporting in the media (64 %, 70 %, and 71 %, respectively, to be ‘a very big problem’ or ‘a fairly big problem’) and antisemitic comments in discussions people have (69 %, 72 %, and 76 %, respectively). Respondents in France and Hungary (87 % each) highlight political speeches and discussions. Respondents in Latvia were less likely than those in the other countries surveyed to highlight any of the four arenas as very or fairly problematic with regard to spreading antisemitic content. In Sweden and the United Kingdom, less than half of all respondents consider that  antisemitic content is ‘a very big’ or ‘a fairly big problem’ in three of the four arenas, with the exception of antisemitism on the internet, for which respondents living in those two countries also give a higher rating, seeing it as a problem.

Prevalence and context of negative statements about Jews

Hearing or seeing statements that offend human dignity by assigning fictional negative attributes to individuals as members of a group can be detrimental to Jewish people’s sense of safety and security and undermine their ability to live their lives openly as Jews. The FRA survey addresses this issue by asking respondents to what extent they have been exposed to certain statements selected for the survey, and whether they consider these statements antisemitic. The statements selected cover various issues including the role of the Jewish community in society, their interests and distinctiveness, attitudes towards historical experiences and current issues. These statements do not necessarily reflect the whole spectrum of antisemitic views or connotations. They were used to guide the respondent into thinking about situations where they may have heard negative comments about Jewish people, in order to identify the contexts in which Jewish people hear these comments and to describe the person or persons who made the comments.
Respondents’ assessments concerning these statements offer an insight into the issues which they consider antisemitic. Respondents’ sensitivity to all things (perceived as) antisemitic has an impact on all of the other survey results.
First, the survey respondents were asked how often they have heard or seen non-Jewish people make these statements, in what contexts they have heard or seen them, and respondents’ perceptions concerning those who made these statements. The information concerning the medium used for making these statements and the context in which they are made can help the EU and its Member States in designing measures to counteract the use of such statements, for example, through awareness-raising and education campaigns.

Worrying level of discrimination

Antisemitism casts a long shadow on Jewish people’s chances to enjoy their legally guaranteed rights to human dignity, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and non-discrimination. The daily insults, discrimination, harassment and even physical violence, with which Jewish people across the European Union (EU) must contend, show few signs of abating, despite EU and EU Member States’ best efforts. Nevertheless, little information exists on the extent and nature of antisemitic crimes to guide policy makers seeking to effectively fight these crimes. This FRA survey is the first-ever to collect comparable data on Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of antisemitism, hate-motivated crime and discrimination across a number of EU Member States,  specifically in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Its findings reveal a worrying level of discrimination, particularly in employment and education, a widespread fear of victimisation and heightening concern about antisemitism online.
By shining light on crimes that all too often remain unreported and therefore invisible, this FRA report seeks to help put an end to them.

More to be done

John Mann, chair of the UK’s all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, said he was shocked by the survey’s results.

“It is extraordinary that 75 years after the terrible events of Kristallnacht, Jews are again living in fear,” he said. “The inaction of the European commission in combating antisemitism is inexcusable.”

Mann said the EU had to do more to co-ordinate Holocaust education work and to crack down on online antisemitism.

“The internet is a classic EU territory because it crosses borders and the EU could have a huge impact – if it had a thorough approach to antisemitism and other hatred and abuse on the internet,” he said.

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism and provides security for the UK Jewish community, said the research showed that much more needed to be done to protect Jewish people across Europe.

“In some countries, including Britain, politicians and police are trying to deal with the problem, but these efforts are sorely needed everywhere,” the spokesman said.

“Jews also require basic anti-racist solidarity in all of this – solidarity that has been partial, or deliberately denied, far too often since the year 2000.”

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Please do find also to read:

  1. Ambassador Gutman and the relationship between the inhabitants of Belgium
  2. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #3 Of the earth or of God
  3. Migrants to the West #7 Religions
  4. Pupils asked ‘why do some people hate Jews?’ in GCSE exam
  5. What Are The Sources Of Anti-Semitism? or Why do people hate Jews?
  6. Stand Up
  7. Religion, fundamentalism and murder
  8. Christian fundamentalism as dangerous as Muslim fundamentalism
  9. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #3 Right to Human dignity
  10. Jehovah’s Witnesses not only group that preach the good news
  11. A world in denial
  12. Judeo-Christian values and liberty
  13. Anti-Semitic incidents in Australia in 2012 highest ever on record

In Dutch:

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To me, it demonstrates the outdated mentality of a post-war generation. Too many of us are trapped in an anachronistic mind-set, always looking out for examples of antisemitism, always trying to “catch it on the edge of a remark” (as Harold Abrahams put it in Chariots of Fire).
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Being Jewish today can be a lot of fun. I work and socialise primarily with non-Jews, so I milk the Jewish angle whenever possible. I wear a chai necklace, drop Yiddish words into conversation and grow a beard and a Jewfro during the winter months.

Jews could hardly be better-positioned in our multicultural society, part of the mainstream but retaining a crucial bit of edginess. It’s a good place to be. The same goes for America, where the pollster Mark Penn now uses the voter category, philosemite, to describe people who either wanted to marry a Jew or emulate Jewish values.

Of course I’m not suggesting antisemitism is dead. It is an ancient and insidious prejudice that will exist as long as we do. There is still plenty of antisemitism in Britain, whether it’s troglodyte football fans chanting about Auschwitz or belligerent anti-Zionists obsessing over Jewish media influence.

 

  • EU Study: Jews in Germany Fear Rising Anti-Semitism (spiegel.de)
    The survey’s results provide insight into the perceptions, experiences and self-conception of European Jews. Rather than supplying absolute figures on anti-Semitic attacks, the study focuses on the perceived danger of such attacks and how much the anxiety this causes affects their lives.
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    In Germany, the KPMD, a service for registering crimes, has recorded a decline in anti-Semitic crimes since 2009. However, by itself, that says nothing about the perceptions of Jews living in Germany. According to the FRA report, 63 percent of the Jewish respondents in Germany have avoided “wearing, carrying or displaying things that might help people identify them as Jews in public,” such as a skullcap (kippa). Likewise, 25 percent of them claimed to have considered emigrating from Germany in the last five years because they don’t feel safe there.

 

When it comes to the relative seriousness of anti-Semitism, Germany was the only country in which a majority (61%) of respondents said it was the greatest problem. Respondents from the other seven countries believed that unemployment was the most pressing issue.

 

  • Alarming early figures from Euro antisemitism poll (thejc.com)
    In France, thousands of Jews have moved to Israel, North America and Britain. In Hungary, the situation is also very concerning, but very different, deriving from far-right nationalists. Then, there is Malmo in Sweden, widely regarded as the worst example of a local community living in fear.

 

In Britain, we are relatively fortunate. CST and the police have had excellent relations since the 1990s and, over the past decade, our politicians have taken antisemitism increasingly seriously.

Many of our continental cousins look on with envy, and really need this survey to kick-start better responses from local officialdom.

  • Poll: 76% of European Jews Believe Anti-Semitism Is On The Rise in Europe (jpupdates.com)
    On the 75th anniversary of Kristelnacht, the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has released the results of their first poll ever that they conducted on Jewish people’s experiences of antisemitic harassment, discrimination and hate crime in the EU. This report, which covers responses from 5,847 Jewish people in the eight countries in which some 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the EU live, will thus be a vital tool for EU decision makers and community groups to develop targeted legal and policy measures.

 

Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah

In 1888 the world could celebrate Thanksgiving and the start of the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah (Chanukah {חנוכה}) on the same day. In 2013 this happening now brought for some concerns, because this year the two feasts also come together but are by many mixed.

The convergence of the secular and sacred holidays is presenting opportunities for many Jews and challenges for others — including concerns about everything from extra preparation and party planning to those who think they will dilute or devalue both celebrations.

The dilemma is best illustrated by Hillel Day School teacher Lori Rashty, who recently watched eighth-grade students help second-graders plant their freshly painted hands onto paper to make the turkey, then transform the four finger feathers into candles to incorporate a menorah.

Image from a greeting card made by Jewish online gift shop ModernTribe.comWe are facing a real special Hanukkah – Thanksgiving holiday because we shall have to wait for an other for 79,000 years before we would encounter such an occasion again. Looking at what happens in the world now, this probably would not happen as such, because the Third World War shall have happened already and the Millennium shall also have been a fact, after which Christ Jesus shall have handed over the Kingdom of God again to his Father.

But now we can look at the double-barreled holiday, which in certain countries brings a kind of an exciting way for the kids to realize that it’s a special occasion for them.

The lunisolar nature of the Jewish calendar makes Hanukkah and other religious observances appear to drift slightly from year to year when compared to the U.S., or Gregorian, calendar. Jewish practice calls for the first candle of eight-day Hanukkah to be lit the night before Thanksgiving Day this year, so technically “Thanksgivukkah,” — or “Thanksgivvukah,” as the Hillel students spell it — falls on the “second candle” night.

At Hillel Day School, students entering the library see a colourful poster designed to provoke thoughts about the convergent holidays: Under a Thanksgivvukah headline are several questions, including

“How are Thanksgiving and Hanukkah alike?”

It may be very special to have Hanukkah and Thanksgiving on the same day. We should think about the creation, what God has given us all, believers in God and other believers. The secular element for Thanksgiving has been there always because it finds its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, celebrating the reaping of the harvest. In many countries the heathen also had their harvest-home or harvest-festival, where they celebrated the blessings they got from nature. In lots of places was celebrated that the year came to a good end and was hoped and prayed to the gods to go in a good Winter season.

Origin of Thanksgiving

The radical reformers of 1536, wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including the heathen Christmas and Easter, but hose festivals looked to traditionally embedded they did not manage to get them our of the Christian holiday festivals. Though for many serious Bible students and sincere Christians, who knew Christ Jesus was born on the 17th of October 4BCE, the celebration of the goddess of light was a celebration they did not want to associate with. Therefore they wanted to say thanks to their God, and remember the birth of Christ Jesus on an other day.

In the 16th century the heathen holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special or Divine providence.

English: The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, ...

The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, Laing Art Gallery (Tyne and Wear Museums) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Strangely enough for their holidays they also took secular happenings. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day. In the Autumn of 1621 William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, called for a day of thanksgiving and prayer after the colonists’ first harvest. An other thanksgiving day in 1623 celebrated rainfall after a drought. After 1630 a Day of Thanksgiving came to be observed every year after the harvest and other colonies in New England gradually adopted the practice. In the South the custom did not appear till 1855.

President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 officially proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. Traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November, it was changed by the act of congress in 1941 to the fourth Thursday of November.

The first Canadian Thanksgiving or Jour de l’Action de grâce is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher, in thanks not for the harvest but for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs.

In Holland some commemorate the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden on their way to the New World and thank God for His provisions. {Many of the Pilgrims who migrated to the Plymouth Plantation had resided in the city of Leiden from 1609–1620, many of whom had recorded their births, marriages and deaths at the Pieterskerk.}

Most of the U.S. aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada. The Canadians celebrate it annually on the second Monday in October.

Origin of Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication, the Feast of Light

Antiochus IV Epiphanes had, because of his frustration not to extirpate the Jewish faith, desecrated the Second Temple of Jerusalem. To observe the rededication of the temple in 165 BCE {Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire} , a celebration of 8 days, beginning Kislev 25 (according to the Hebrew calendar), had to bring to the memory the indistinguishable and ever spreading Jewish faith. The ceremony also recalls the Talmud story of how a small, one-day supply of non desecrated oil miraculously burned in the temple for eight full days until new oil could be obtained.

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanukiah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Jews use a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah. { חנוכה (Hanukkah) is also the Hebrew acronym for ח נרות והלכה כבית הלל — “Eight candles, and the halakha is like the House of Hillel”. This is a reference to the disagreement between two rabbinical schools of thought — the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai — on the proper order in which to light the Hanukkah flames. Shammai opined that eight candles should be lit on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on down to one on the last night (because the miracle was greatest on the first day). Hillel argued in favor of starting with one candle and lighting an additional one every night, up to eight on the eighth night (because the miracle grew in greatness each day). Jewish law adopted the position of Hillel.}

Today on the first day of the festival the first arm is put on light. The second day a second candle is lighted. Progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash (sometimes spelled shamas Hebrew: שמש‎, “attendant” or “warden”) or gabbai ((Hebrew: גבאי‎) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than publicizing and meditating upon Hanukkah is forbidden.

In Sephardic families, the head of the household lights the candles, while in Ashkenazic families, all family members light.

A dedication to God

The name “Hanukkah” derives from the Hebrew verb “חנך”, meaning “to dedicate”. the Jews want to show others around them that they are willing to  dedicate themselves fully to the Most High Creator, the Adonai Elohim יהוה {Jehovah} Who created the heavens and the earth and  said, “Let light come to be,” and light came to be (Genesis 1:3). It was the Messenger of יהוה {Jehovah} who appeared to Mosheh  (Moses) in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. The God Who spoke often by the flames and should be are light in the darkness, is the One Who needs our attention. Those eight days we can meditate on His Works.

Jesus (Jeshua) also celebrated the Feast of lights or Hanukkah.

“22  then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. it was winter, 23 and Yeshua was walking around inside the temple area, in Shlomo’s colonnade.” (John 10:22-23 CJB)

When  Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon, he wanted to honour his Father and be thankful for all the things He did for him and his followers.

We do not have to go through Solomon’s porch any-more, but we do have to be thankful to our Creator like Jesus was thankful to Him. The Nazarene Jeshua remembered that in 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. Jeshua when he was alive never was called Jesus, Issou or ‘Hail Zeus’ and probably would not have liked it to be called that way. This name in honour of the Olympian “Father of gods and men”, the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology was only given many years later in Constantine’s time to adhere with the Roman Empire their gods and to have him as a part of a three-une god like in the Roman-Greek culture. By calling him the same as Zeus, Jeshua also could be called the god father, like Zeus. It was Antiochus who banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple (the sacrifice of pigs to the Greek gods was standard ritual practice in the Ancient Greek religion).

In the light of today

English: Saying grace before carving the turke...

Saying grace before carving the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Earle Landis in Neffsville, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today Christians do not need to have a circumcision and do not need to bring any offerings, so there is certainly not needed a  sacrifice of pigs.

Hanukkah is not a “Sabbath-like” holiday, and there is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath, as specified in the Shulkhan Arukh. It is  and is celebrated with a series of rituals that are performed every day throughout the 8-day holiday, some are family-based and others communal. There are special additions to the daily prayer service, and a section is added to the blessing after meals.

For both occasions,  it is all about remembering the wonders of the Most High. The prayers and songs are presented to the Holy One who give us all things even when we may not deserve them. God has given his only begotten son Jeshua (Jesus Christ) who by giving his totally to his Father, presenting his body as a sacrifice, became the Messiah, the one who brought salvation to all people of the world.

“For Hanukkah, you usually just get presents and then for Thanksgiving you just eat. Now everything is just mixed together and I think that’s a great thing.”

said Jason Teper, an eighth-grader who was helping the second-graders with their menurkeys. But in many countries Hanukkah is in the first instance also a period of saying prayers to think God. In some countries the presents became more important. Also for the Christians the presenting food to the table of the lord, sharing the presents God has given us by the Work in nature,made lots of Christians concentrating on preparing a good festival meal at home for themselves. In many countries presents also became part of the holiday festival. For some Thanksgiving Day was such an important day like Christmas is/was for the Catholics.

Combined festivities

Saul Rube, Hillel’s dean of Judaic studies, said the light-hearted combinations of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah icons underscore a deeper bond: The Talmud, one of Judaism’s core texts, describes Hanukkah as a “holiday of thanksgiving.”

“The fact that you could meld our Jewish culture and the popular culture is such a wonderful opportunity, when so many times in December observant families feel … torn. They want to be part of that whole holiday season,” he said.

Rube said his Thanksgiving dinner table will have one notable addition: a challurkey, a loaf of Jewish challah bread in the shape of a turkey. Some Detroit-area bakeries are selling them but he found one he liked online from a kosher bakery and ordered it. It was only $12, but a good bit more for shipping.

“I splurged — I told my wife if we amortize the cost over 80,000 years ’til it happens again, it’s not so bad,” he said.

American Jews also love Thanksgiving and celebrate it every year with the rest of America. Some Jews consider Thanksgiving kosher, not for the thanking of the Creator, but because Thanksgiving is generally seen as a secular, national holiday in which people honour family and community, regardless of ethnic group or religious denomination. It is also popularly associated with pilgrims giving thanks for their new life in America, where they could practise their religion freely.

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of the Washington office of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement, says there is “nothing adverse to anything Jewish or contradictory to Judaism” in Thanksgiving.

“For that celebration to happen – as we are in our religious calendar celebrating our own religious freedom, as it was achieved in ancient times – makes it only that more emphatic,” he says.

People preparing meals for the poor at a Jewish community centre in Washington DC

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Additional reading:

  1. Being thankful
  2. Thanksgiving-Hanukkah overlap spurs thanks, angst
  3. What happens when you cross Thanksgiving with Hanukkah?
  4. Barry’s Best Bread for the Challah-Days

Women their education and chances to become a parliamentary

While in Jerusalem some ultra-Orthodox women may have their growing desire fulfilled to meet the standards of beauty in the secular society that surrounds them – without compromising the religious requirement for modesty, in several Muslim countries women are more and more pushed in the corner, not having any opportunity to have some beauty adjustments or to have their brains filled with more knowledge.

In Israel we do find a third of Jerusalem’s Jewish population belongin to the ultra-Orthodox community, known for its stringent observance of Jewish religious law, or halacha. Its members are strongly committed to preserving tradition, often by remaining separate and distinct from Israel’s secular majority. Many of them demand male-female segregation in public places; are intolerant of exposure of the female body; censor photographs of women in their publications and advertisements; and believe that men should not listen to female singers as this may arouse lustful thoughts.

Second to Israel in its receipt of American foreign aid Mubarak’s corrupt and often brutal rule could survive for 30 years thanks to U.S. taxpayers. There the women a few years ago like in Lebanon could walk freely and have to work hard like their male counterparts.  Only 18% of working age Saudi women are part of the workforce in their country where they are not allowed to drive a car. Saudi women earn an estimated $7,156 annually, while Saudi men made around $37,661 on average — one of the widest gaps globally.

Women made up almost half of the workforce last year, and yet were paid only 77 cents for every dollar men made. This wage gap varies considerably among states. Women in Maryland and Vermont, for example, make 85 cents for every dollar men make, while women in Wyoming and Louisiana make closer to 65 cents.

Income inequality is only one of the challenges women face, as is shown in a recent study by the Center for American Progress (CAP). The study, “The State of Women in America: A 50-State Analysis of How Women Are Faring Across the Nation,” examined the challenges facing women throughout the United States by measuring their economic security, prominence in leadership roles and the current status of women’s health issues. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the states that scored the worst in the country by these measures. {Click here to see which states are the worst for women}

In many countries we see, like in Mali, that Low educational attainment is a major contributor to gender inequality. Although educational attainment is poor among both genders, Malian girls and women are less likely than their male counterparts to be enrolled at each level of education. This disparity worsens at higher levels of education. In addition to a wide gender imbalance, the country has recently had to deal with considerable internal unrest.

In many Islamist countries we can feel the ground shivering by Islamic extremists who took advantage of the instability in those countries where the people did not agree any more with their government. The uprisings or coups are used by the fundamentalist as an easy target to get their dreams spread.

Iran, standing on the 7th place of inequality, received some of the lowest scores in the world for its gender disparities in economic participation. In the country, where in the sixties girls ran in bikini and took on all sorts of high jobs, just 17% of working age women participate today, against the will of the Taliban. Estimated earned incomes differ considerably between both genders, as well, with men earning nearly five times what women do. Politically, the nation is male dominated: Just 3% of members of parliament are women, and men outnumber women in ministerial positions ten to one. A recent report from a U.N. representative noted 30 female presidential candidates were all ruled ineligible for the country’s presidential election due to their gender.

To talk about that inequality in the jurisdiction of a country, standard bearer Malala Yousafzai, who first came to public attention in 2009 after she anonymously wrote an affecting BBC diary about life under the Taliban, came to Brussels to give a voice to all those oppressed women in the world.

This courageous girl was at 15 shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in October 2012 because of her campaign for girls’ education in her country which after Nigeria has the second highest number of unschooled children in the world. As young as 11 Malala began blogging for the BBC’s Urdu site, she brought a convincing voice writing about her ambition to become a doctor, her fears of the Taliban and her determination to not allow the Taliban — or her fear — to prevent her from getting the education she needed to realize her dreams. She got on television, where we could see the Taliban men standing behind at the wall, annoyed but not knowing what they should do. Her television debut in Pakistan was quickly followed with more opportunities to give women a voice in the East. She became a well known figure in Pakistan, but also a target for the Taliban who are totally against the woman having a voice at all.

The attack on her, a shocking act on a child (against Koran teaching) catapulted her to international fame. Today we still can see the damage in her face, caused by that dramatic assault, in which a militant boarded her school bus in Pakistan’s north-western Swat valley and opened fire, wounding two of her school-friends as well.

The attack on Malala exposed not only the dark side of an army unable to provide security but also the abysmal quality of education in Pakistan. Only 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product is allocated to education. Pakistan spends seven times more on its military. According to a recent U.N. study, 5.1 million children are out of school—the second-highest number in the world—and two-thirds of them are female.

Halima Mansour in the Guardian heralds Malala as a young “Pakistani heroine” for her bravery and independence.

“Malala doesn’t want to play to some western-backed or Taliban-loved stereotype. She shows us that there are voices out there, in Pakistan, that need to be heard, if only to help the country find democracy that is for and from the people, all the people.”

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says:

“We have a national lie. Why do we have to tell the truth to the world?”

“The national lie is that the Swat Valley has been liberated from the bad Taliban. Young Malala and her father mess up that narrative.”

Indian schoolchildren pay tribute to Malala

Schoolchildren around the world voiced their support for Malala after she was shot

The Taliban almost made Malala a martyr; they succeeded in making her a symbol.

“Malala was the lone voice in that wilderness,” writes Feryal Gauhar in the local Express Tribune.

“Hers was the voice which made us consider that indeed, there can be alternatives, and there can be resistance to all forms of tyranny. Today, the attempt to silence that voice shall only make her stronger; the blood stains on her school uniform shall only feed the conviction that as long as there is breath and life, there shall be struggle.”

The story of her slow recovery, from delicate surgery at a Pakistani military hospital to further operations and a programme of rehabilitation in the UK, has since been closely tracked by the world’s media. Named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2013, put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize and has reportedly secured a $3m (£2m) book contract for her life story.

The memoir she is writing to raise awareness about the 61 million children around the world who are not in school indicates she accepts that unasked-for responsibility as a synonym for courage and a champion for girls everywhere. However Malala concludes her book, her story so far is only just beginning.

Two organizations representing private schools in Pakistan have banned her book, ‘I Am Malala’‎ from more than 40,000 schools across Pakistan. According to them the book is an insult to Islam and shows Malala herself to be nothing more than a tool of the West.

“The federation thought we should review the book, and having reviewed it we came to the decision that the book was not suitable for our children, particularly not our students,”

said the federation’s president, Mirza Kashif.

“Pakistan is an ideological country. That ideology is based on Islam…. In this book are many comments that are contrary to our ideology.”

Once again we see how the Pakistan government is pulled from one site to an other and how it is under Taliban dictatorship. The leaders of an important sector of the Pakistani educational world has chosen to ban Pakistan’s best-known and most loved proponent of education, not just in Pakistan, but all around the world.

Despite the largely secularist policies and intentions of Jinnah, Pakistan is still under the thumb of the holier-than-thou men in beards and turbans, men who always know more than anyone else, even the best educated, who are always closer to God than anyone else, and who reckon they know how to put their fingers on apostasy and unbelief wherever they rear their ugly heads. Even if they don’t raise their heads, the mullas can always make them up.

writes Denis MacEoin of the Algemeiner.

Now after her near-fatal attempt to silence the 15-year-old, she is more dangerous to Pakistan’s status quo than ever before and the Taliban is still trying to get her silenced. The world is willing to give this girl a voice and recognises what she has done for womanhood. For some it is very difficult to understand that gender equality may drive development (rather than the other way round).

for The Guardian wrote on Wednesday 30 October 2013 on Malala Yousafzai’s fearless and still-controversial memoir:

Malala Yousafzai

In Arabic, “revolution” is a feminine noun. This is fitting, as without women revolutions are sterile. They have no movement, no life, no sound. Urdu, a distorter of tongues, pilfering as it does from Persian, Hindi, but largely Arabic, uses the masculine word for coup d’etat – inqilab – for revolution, rather than the accurate feminine: thawra. Perhaps that’s why the Taliban were confused. Perhaps that’s why they imagined that shooting a 15-year-old girl would somehow enhance their revolution.

As the newly released 2013 Global Gender Gap Index — which measures gender parity in 136 countries — reminds us, gender equity isn’t simply a matter of equal rights.

From her book we can also see how dangerous it can be when there is no power fairly shared among the provinces of a country.  there is not only the deepening ethnic imbalance so profound that only an extraordinary common enemy could distract from it. The burgeoning power of the Taliban in today’s Pakistan should not be much of a surprise to those who understand, as Malala does, the need to redress these ethnic wounds.

After she got got the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought she did not leave Belgium to leave it like it was before. Next she continued to speak in the parliament at the congress of the WIP: the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (from 27-29 November 2013). At that meeting is looked at reshaping society through female leadership; female empowerment for peace, security and integrity; impact of elected women in parliaments; fight against corruption; delivering on gender equality; gender studies in academics; and the use of technology and women’s political participation.

The intention of the summit is to consider the position of the woman in our society and how she can play a role in the development of the economical and political field of a country. Those countries bridging the gender gap will also receive awards for their leadership in this important task.

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Read more about the congress in Brussels:

Milestones for women ordered

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Please do find additional literature:

  1. Rise of the ‘secret’ ultra-Orthodox Jewish beauty salons
  2. The 2013 Time 100
  3. The Target
  4. The earth bleeds for Malala
  5. When gender inequality is good economics
  6. Gender equality and women’s rights in the post-2015 agenda
  7. Update: Malala Yousafzai “The Girl’s Hero:” The Ironic Gift of Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award

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  • Leonard Pitts: Malala Yousafzai’s courage (miamiherald.com)
    You may not listen to music or sing. You may not read. You may not leave the house except under certain strict conditions. You may not watch movies or television. You may not aspire. You may not learn.These are the strictures the Taliban seeks to impose upon women and girls in the places it infests, including the Swat Valley in Pakistan. And when she spoke against those strictures, when she gave interviews and wrote a blog asserting her right to learn and to be, Malala Yousafzai made herself a target of those men, one of whom boarded her school bus last October with a gun and asked, “Who is Malala?” None of the girls spoke, but a few glanced toward Malala and the gunman had his answer. He raised his pistol — it was a Colt .45 — and fired three shots. One bullet went through a girl’s hand. Another ended up in a girl’s right arm. And one went through the socket of Malala’s left eye.
  • Malala, Pakistan, and Israel (algemeiner.com)
    She has been given enough prestigious awards to last her several lifetimes, and may well enter the Guinness Book of Records for their sheer number. She has been received by the U.S. President and the Queen of Great Britain, by Prime Ministers, and innumerable dignitaries everywhere. She has spoken to the General Assembly of the United Nations. No matter where she goes, people listen to her. She talks of peace and education, and her message goes deep. Instead of silencing her, the Taliban turned her into a megaphone to trumpet aloud the emptiness of their philosophy.You would think the Pakistanis would love her to bits, and, of course, large numbers of them do. She’s bigger than all the Qawwali singers put together. Her name is everywhere. One day, she could stand for the post of Prime Minister. And God help the Taliban if that day ever dawns.
  • The creation of a Malala (maheshwarigangadhar.wordpress.com)
    The title of the autobiography, I am Malala itself indicates that the main idea is to present people with a photograph of the girl and tell them that she is Malala, with nothing else being revealed. She is the girl who spoke against the Taliban, but not the only girl; a fact that the world has not been enlightened with. Idolising her father, and with an interest in politics, Malala today is the West’s role model of what a young, school-going, oppressed (by Taliban) girl would be, if she ever spoke up and made herself evident to the world. She becomes a commodity through which the West can maintain an argument of international relations with a prosperous outcome and likewise.
  • Girls’ education in Pakistan – Malala Yousafzai (libraryeuroparl.wordpress.com)
    During their brief rule over the SwatValley, the Taliban destroyed more than 400 schools. More than half of these were girls’ schools. They argued that women (and girls) should stay in the home. The European Parliament stated in a 2012 resolution that violent extremism in Pakistan continues to impede the rights of girls. Since the government regained control of the region in 2009, it has rebuilt most of these schools, but there is still high inequality: there are 717 primary schools for boys, but only 425 for girls. Talimand Khan, from a Pakistani think-tank, adds that along with the number of schools, the quality of education has to be improved, too; some Pakistani religious representatives stated in interviews that girls should not receive the same education as boys, but be prepared to become ‘obedient’ wives and mothers.
  • Inspiration or danger? Private schools in Pakistan ban Malala Yousafzai’s book – The Independent (independent.co.uk)
    Yet in Pakistan, the reaction to Malala and her book has been mixed. Many have claimed she has been used by the West for its own interests. The Taliban threatened to attack bookshops that stocked it.Mr Kashif, who said 25 million pupils attended private schools in Pakistan, claimed that in the book Malala had defended the writing of Salman Rushdie on the grounds of free speech and had failed to use the abbreviation PUH – “peace be upon him” – when referring to the prophet Mohamed. He said there was a sense that Malala had not written large parts of the book, because it referred to things that happened before she was born.Observers say the ban comes amid discussions in Pakistan about Malala’s actions. It also follows recent controversy at a celebrated Lahore private school that started teaching sex education.
  • Education is a right, not a privilege. (laurenradmer.wordpress.com)
    The most valuable gift any person can receive is an education. In many African and Asian countries, women are discouraged or even forbidden from obtaining an education, in an attempt to spread male dominance and keep women ignorant. Many of these countries, including Pakistan, impose force and violence against women. According to a documentary created by the Department for International Development titled “Afraid and alone: Violence against women in Pakistan”, a woman in Pakistan is raped every two hours, 4,500 women experienced violence during the first 6 months of 2009, and roughly 1000 women are murdering in “honour killings” each year.
  • Malala (exploredreamexamine.wordpress.com)
    From my perspective, the gender gaps in women’s education Malala discusses are far closer to home than Pakistan is. As a student at an all-girls school that focuses on educating girls, I’m lucky. Girls don’t fall under the radar here as much as in co-ed schools, but are encouraged to take math, science and subjects typically considered to be “male- dominated.” But both in schools and in the workforce in the US, this is still a problem. Women are still paid less in the professional world, even when equally qualified as their male counterparts. Girls still are expected to be “worse” in math and science. Often stereotypes dominate our culture so much, it is hard to remove them.
  • Women need a voice and a seat at the table (theguardian.com)
    This week, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA) will bring together parliamentarians from around the world to discuss the post-2015 development agenda, with a conference on gender equality and women’s empowerment.Part of CPA’s work is aimed at empowering women leaders. This is about tackling a basic injustice, but it’s also critical to making the best, most informed decisions about poverty.
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    While most international leaders are happy to make a broad commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, they have been too vague on the detail of what should be done and how. It is imperative that countries commit to specific, measureable outcomes, because, in the words of Hillary Clinton: “What gets measured gets done.”
  • Why Gender Equality Is Not Just About Equal Rights (theage.com.au)
    Women of the world: pack your warmest sweaters, and head immediately to Iceland.According to a newly released report from the World Economic Forum [pdf], Iceland is the No. 1 country in the world for gender equality, for the fifth year in a row. And that equality is helping propel Iceland and its fellow Nordic nations to new economic heights. Turns out, the smaller the gender gap, the more economically competitive the nation. Even when that nation is totally freezing.(The report puts Australia at 24th place on the gender gap index, just below the United States but below Burundi, Cuba and New Zealand. Australia has moved up in the ranking one position from last year, but that’s not so good when compared with the No. 15 ranking achieved in 2006.)
  • Gender Equality and Equality (aclarioncallforgenderequality.wordpress.com)
    he’ and ‘she’ they both have quality,
    they both have ability
    so we should prefer gender equity and equality….!

Science, scepticism, doubts and beliefs

Can a Christian have doubts?

Answered by  
"Doubts", Henrietta Rae, 1886

“Doubts”, Henrietta Rae, 1886 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we think of doubt and scepticism, we often think of something that is incompatible with faith. However, the Bible has a positive attitude towards being sceptical — in fact, it commands us to be! For example, in 1Thess. 5:21 (NIV) Paul says:

Test everything. Hold on to the good.

God knows there are a lot of false ideas in the world, so he wants us to test the concepts that present themselves to us to see if they are good or not, reject the bad and hold on to the good stuff. John has similar advice in his first letter:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1John 4:1]

When it comes to the arena of ideas and beliefs, scepticism is to be part of the characteristics of a Christian. We can often be afraid of doubt, seeing it as always the antithesis of belief, but it is, in fact, as an element in the process of scepticism that leads us to test everything, a necessary component of a Christian’s life. If we don’t have some level of scepticism we will end up believing all sorts of rubbish, things that are false and incompatible with Christian faith.

A Christian faith is a faith that requires evidence; based on a sceptical review of the evidence, it sorts out the good from the bad and holds onto the good.

The limits of scepticism

What we’ve seen of scepticism so far implies that we needn’t continue to be sceptical about something that we have verified to our satisfaction. Once we have verified something, we can trust it. This is what Paul is talking about when he says,

‘Test everything. Hold on to the good’

(i.e. when we have found something to be good we no longer need too test it but can rather trust it), and it is true in everyday life, as well as in science. So, once we have verified the evidence for faith in God, we can release our doubt and trust the evidence.

When doubt turns bad

Science & Faith (song)

Science & Faith (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However much faith we have, there will probably be time when we still doubt, doubting, perhaps, even the existence of God. This is pretty natural and usual. All sorts of people often have irrational doubts about all sorts of thing, be it their upcoming performance in a job interview, or the ability of a plane to stay airborne. These doubts are irrational because they go against the evidence: you’ve interviewed fine in the past; thousands of planes fly everyday without major problem. Likewise with belief in God: after we’ve weighed the evidence and found it affirming in favour of belief in God, our subsequent doubts are irrational. In the words of Paul, we are no longer ‘hold[ing] on to’ what we have previously verified. When this happens, we need to remind ourselves of the basis of our faith, the evidence that brings us to belief, be that the witness of the Jews, the evidence of the empty tomb, etc.

For some people, their main struggle as a Christian could be over a specific moral issue. For others, this may not be a problem but, rather, their Christian fight could be over faith at its basic level. Neither is unusual, and both require the effort of reminding yourself of the truth of the matter and holding on to it. Mentally walking through this process is commendable.

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Preceding:

Some one or something to fear #5 Not afraid

Where is the edge

Caricaturing and disapproving sceptics, religious critics and figured out ethics

Science & Faith

Science & Faith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Please do find also to read:

  1. The truth is very plain to see and God can be clearly seen
  2. To mean, to think, outing your opinion, conviction, belief – Menen, mening, overtuiging, opinie, geloof
  3. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  4. Control your destiny or somebody else will
  5. Answering a fool according to his folly
  6. Faith, things a person believes
  7. Belief of the things that God has promised
  8. Faith is knowing there is an ocean because you have seen a brook.
  9. Faith antithesis of rationality
  10. Concerning Gospelfaith
  11. Uncovering the Foundations of Faith
  12. Life and attitude of a Christian
  13. Walking in love by faith, not by sight
  14. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #1 Kings Faith
  15. Faith and trial
  16. Being Justified by faith
  17. A Living Faith #1 Substance of things hoped for
  18. A Living Faith #2 State of your faith
  19. A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
  20. A Living Faith #4 Effort
  21. A Living Faith #5 Perseverance
  22. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
  23. A Living Faith #7 Prayer
  24. A Living Faith #8 Change
  25. A Living Faith #10: Our manner of Life #2
  26. Faith is a pipeline
  27. Faith and trial
  28. 1 Corinthians 15 Hope in action
  29. Living in faith
  30. The professor, God, Faith and the student
  31. Everything that is done in the world is done by hope
  32. Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark
  33. Wondering
  34. Earnestly Contending for the Faith
  35. A Jewish Woman and a Test of Faith
  36. What’s church for, anyway?
  37. Don’t let anyone move you off the foundation of your faith
  38. God receives us on the basis of our faith
  39. Feed Your Faith Daily
  40. Remember there’s a light in the next day
  41. It is a free will choice
  42. Irrationalism and irrationality
  43. Let me keep to “first importance” things

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  • The Reasonableness Of The Christian Faith (christianreasons.com)
    It is in vogue now for Christians to simply reply ” I just believe” when confronted with a supposed inconsistency between their “faith” and “reason” , especially when “reason” is assumed to be the exclusive property of the sceptic. It’s as if Kierkegaard was the final authority for us, and not, say for instance, the Apostle John, who states that the reason for his Gospel is to give evidence for belief in Christ Jesus.
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    We have solid forensic and philosophical evidence for our orthodox Christian beliefs, so instead of just shrugging your shoulders, and retreating into the “I just believe” mantra, try thinking through your beliefs, and why you believe them. Do the fruitful work of an apologist. Study Scripture, read good apologetics books. Be prepared to give an answer, not just to be right, or win an argument, but to actually engage in spiritual warfare, and pull down worldviews and smug defenses, as 2CO 10:4-5 tells us to do.
  • Scepticism (andramccallum2013.wordpress.com)
    Scepticism is unpopular. Socrates’ scepticism got him murdered by the Athenian polis. Opponents argue (sceptically) that scepticism is untenable and (less sceptically) that it flies in the face of common sense and ordinary beliefs. As David Hume admitted, one of the characteristics of scepticism is that “it admits of no answer, and produces no conviction.” More picturesquely, Novalis quotes the proverb “Philosophy bakes no bread.” Undermining conviction and consequent moves to impose that conviction on others through indoctrination, censorship, bribery, casuistry, coercion, etc., irrespective of whether that conviction is supposedly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, is the very point of scepticism.
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    The point is that the problem posed by sceptical probing is not what people believe, but what evidence is there for those beliefs and whether this evidence is adequate. No one should be prevented from expressing their belief; however, everyone should be immediately challenged to produce for public scrutiny the evidence which compels their belief and which they would have compel ours.
  • Question everything: scepticism as a way of life (philosophyforchange.wordpress.com)
    Bouyed by the efforts of an army of lobbyists, and a cash-strapped media keen to exploit controversial debates, the climate sceptic movement, in particular, has been extremely successful in popularising the sceptical attitude, which is widely perceived as the appropriate stance of struggling working and middle class folk (the ‘battlers’, as we say in Australia) towards the policies of perceived elites. On the other side of the debate (such as it is), we find scientists and progressive journalists struggling in vain to persuade the sceptical public that science is itself a sceptical enterprise; that it is driven forward through the process of disproving, or ‘falsifying’, the results of previous research, and thus that any consensus view (such as that expressed in the quadrennial report of the International Panel on Climate Change) is based on a firmer foundation than people might expect.
  • The Reasonable, Evidential Nature of Christian Faith (str.typepad.com)
    Skeptics sometimes portray Christians as both “unreasonable” and “unreasoning.” The Christian culture only exacerbates the problem when it advocates for a definition of “faith” removed from evidence. Is true faith blind? How are true believers to respond to doubt? What is the relationship between faith and reason? Richard Dawkins once said:“Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.”
  • [cancer|religion] Faith, science and the afterlife (jlake.com)
    Science works in a completely testable, repeatable manner for anyone, anywhere, with the right education, data and equipment. Faith is so profoundly individual that there are about 41,000 Christian denominations in the world, and thousands, possibly tens of thousands of other religions. Many if not most of them proclaim a monopoly on the truth, but they cannot each and all in their tens of thousands of revelations be in sole possession of the truth. To hear most religionists tell it, only one faith can be right. Theirs. In other words, faith is not testable and repeatable for anyone, anywhere; rather, it is profoundly individual.
  • What’s the Belief of Your Mind? (mindbehindtheface.wordpress.com)
    I think, if what I want doesn’t come through, I’ll be so hurt. Hence, my fear of disappointment keeps me from believing and receiving. That’s quite tragic! I wonder what my life will look like if I truly believed without doubt. If I had faith “as small as a mustard seed” Matthew 7:20. I wonder what mountains I will be able to move.
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    Light, Darkness & Subconscious Consciousness
    We have been told a lot of lies from the beginning of our lives from society. Try to build the word satan and santa out of these letters: s,t,a,n,a. You see? There are no added or unused letters to make those spellings. It’s been in front of our faces the whole time, but we just did not see it before; however, our subconsciousness did. Possibly you already knew. The light comes from darkness, but the light is ours to keep, for construction.
  • can a good person be a bad Christian? (somuchandsomuch.wordpress.com)
    How in the world do you know that you are being Christian the “right way” and they are being Christian “wrong”? Even when I was certain of my belief in God, I was still not convinced that I was absolutely right. I never viewed my beliefs as infallible, or the ideas I held to be true as universal. Maybe that’s why questioning it all has come about. Maybe my doubt was deeply seeded and inevitable.
  • Christian Agnosticism & Touching Earth (jerichobrisance.com)
    Things of the spirit cannot be interrogated by the same means as other truth claims. At bottom is an agnostic claim: we simply cannot “know” things in this realm, nor prove them, and certainly not disprove them, by any path of critical thinking or evidence.
  • From the Blog: Are we really seeing a Christian Spring? (rationalist.org.uk)
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