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A fragile peace Christians Israel

November 4 2005

The Christian community of Jerusalem was originally mixed. When the apostles, it consisted mainly of tribesmen of the Lord Jesus, and a few converts from the Gentiles. With the adoption of Christianity in Byzantium, the greatest influence here was the use of the Greek Orthodox community. The majority of the inhabitants of the modern Christian quarter - the Arabs. But what is most surprising, for the first two thousand years, here again there were those who believed in Christ were Jews. They face the same difficulties that once the Savior.

Way into the Christian quarter of Jerusalem, where centuries of living followers of Jesus, leads through the large Jaffa Gate. Old Town is situated on an area of just one square kilometer area and enclosed by an ancient toothed wall with loopholes. It takes a microscopic part of modern Jerusalem. But it is here that the spiritual heart is beating "Ierushalaima", or "place of peace," as translated from the Hebrew name.

Up until the middle of the XIX century a new building in Jerusalem was limited to the old fortress walls. By nightfall all the town gates were closed and bolted. Remain outside of the city was dangerous: the inhabitants of the surrounding Arab villages often did not disdain banditry on the roads. After the establishment of Israel in 1948 and annexation of Jerusalem began large-scale construction of new quarters outside the city walls, and the total number of residents to date exceeds 700,000. For comparison, the population of the Christian Quarter of the Old Town is only 10 thousand inhabitants.

In general, Christianity is practiced today around 2% of the total population of Israel, numbering over 6 million people (the Jews - 79,2%, Muslim - 14.9%). It's probably not much more than in times when there was preaching the Savior. However, as we know, the Apostle Paul in his epistles, says that "... all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). Just today, God began to gather the Jewish people in the Holy Land in order to save, that is, talk to your beloved Son - Jesus.

And we are witnessing a remarkable phenomenon. After hundreds of years of unsuccessful attempts in the East and West to achieve voluntary recognition of the Jews of Jesus the Son of God, we see that gathered in his home country "people of God" had suddenly become like waking from a deep sleep. Many of them are increasingly moving into Christianity. The process is difficult. But so, perhaps it should be, because every Christian knows that "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

One of the main reasons for the difficulties of the Christian message in modern Israel is that it can be called a secular country only conditionally. This is particularly noticeable when starting "Sabbath" holy Saturday. At six o'clock in the evening stopped the movement of public transport, most shops are closed, do not operate any services. People rush to the synagogue: and old and young. Who's in no hurry, he is not trying not to appear on the street.

God forbid to call at this time on a machine in Mea Sharim, a quarter of Jerusalem, where they live, "Haredim" - "God-fearing." Stoned. Residents of the quarter can be easily distinguished by black hat, a long-Costume-lapserdakam and Pace.

The inhabitants of the quarter to buy food only in special, special kosher stores. Children brought up in austerity and chastity.TV - "hotbed of vice", in most homes, "Haredim" no. The same rules, some Israeli politicians want to make mandatory for the entire population.

Religion and state are not separated, so the Supreme Rabbinate - the highest religious establishment of Israel - is strictly monitored to ensure that secular laws are not contrary to the Torah. Sometimes, from the pen of scholars and rabbis go completely bizarre orders. So because of similarities with the Christian cross, the conventional mathematical plus sign in this country is banned for use in schools and universities, and replaced by an inverted "T". Through education and popular culture implanted hostile attitude towards Christianity, which is often depicted as a series of crusades and anti-Semitic pogroms. Needless to say, the Orthodox in such a harsh religious environment have hard times.

Through the endless stalls of a typical bazaar with its ineradicable scent of spices, sumptuous carpets, food and hookahs chased our way lies to the street "brother." Special article of Arab traders - selling souvenirs to pilgrims. Made from olive wood crosses, colorful postcards with views of biblical sites, pearl shell with a finely carved with scenes of Christmas - all this economy expanded on the ground, piled on the shelves and hung on the walls of many trade stalls. Hoping to devastate the tourist wallet before it will have time to do other hawkers announce neighborhood heart-rending appeals, grab a buyer's sleeve, offering "the best in all Jerusalem," the price.

Turn left, and that's staircase of a house. After going through him, you find yourself in a vacant lot at the far end of which stands a tiny temple Nicholas. It belongs to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, but the main parishioners - Jews, immigrants from Russia. The mere entering into the Holy Land for permanent residency for many of them became a kind of miracle. Indeed, in the Israeli "Law of Return" has a point: if a Jew voluntarily accepted any faith other than Judaism, it is not eligible for repatriation to the Land of Israel. Clearly, this creates a huge inconvenience not only to many Orthodox immigrants from Russia, but also to all other Christians, Jews by birth. According to the authors of the law sharing the Jews to "clean" and "unclean", the object of Christian preaching in the State of Israel can only be Arabs, but in any case not the children of Israel. Compatibility of the concepts of "Jew" and "Christian" here try to exclude by law.

Nevertheless, with the help of God, baptized emigrants Wring, who as you can. Have heard anecdotal stories about how one Orthodox Jew, managed to get from Russia to live in Israel without renouncing Christ. Filling immigration form, he in the "religion" wrote the «orthodox». As well known in Israel and the Jews, belonging to the orthodox wing of Judaism, in contrast to the reformatory. English-speaking immigration officer did not notice the trick, and "our man" became a citizen of the Holy Land. Another, by passing medical board, not to remove the cross, unhooked from its tow, and the very crucifix stuck to the body of a Band-Aid, told the doctor that there had boil. So, people are suited to solving problems creatively. But so be it, because as a Russian priest admonished his parishioners, a Jew who has decided to move to live in Israel: "Julia's what you like, but Christ did not abdicate."

That "yulyat. The benefit of our seasoned Soviet perestroika and the life of man is accustomed to find a way out of any situation. According to the Law of Return "Israeli citizenship is available to any Jew, the son or grandson of a Jew, if they have not moved into another profession.However, their relatives or, more precisely about religion and their wives, husbands and children, who are also eligible for entry, the law does not say anything. For many it was a loophole in Israel and finds the majority of "our people". Someone manages to get even illegally.

So, in March 2005, the Immigration Police of Israel stated that he was able to reveal the "international network" created by immigrants - vatikami ", which was engaged in smuggling in Israel Christians from Russia and the CIS as a" new immigrants ". In recent years the group has organized the repatriation of dozens of fake families consider the Office. As a result of all these devices due to vagaries of Israeli law, Israel was still a fairly large number of Jews, some of which are already in Russia were Orthodox, but there are certain kolichestvoprishedshih the Church has the Holy Land.

Atmosphere in which to live and work these people are not friendly name. When our pilgrimage through the group covered with bullets and shrapnel Zion Gate was a Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem, the guide openly warned: "If you spit - do not be surprised and do not react." Recently, such "attack" was subjected to Armenian priest.

Police detained a bully, but soon let go home. It would seem a trifle, but it all much poison the lives of local Christians. Especially the Jews, believe in Christ, which become the object of special hostility on the part of fanatics. When leaving the Holy Land pilgrimage in the sector of the Moscow Patriarchate, together with the ticket to me was given a cassette with the film from the famous series of "Orthodoxy in the Holy Land." So, according to the author of the film, lives in Israel by Alexander Sloboda, to avoid conflicts with the tribe, he even has to hide his crucifix, wearing his T-shirt under a long chain.

If the number of circulating among the Jews for Jesus is growing, in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories Christians, by contrast, is getting smaller. The main reason - is not fading now half a century of Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In this case, of course, gets hard and Christians who find themselves between two fires.

When in 1948 the British withdrew from the Holy Land, and the United Nations proclaimed the establishment of the Jewish and Palestinian states, the latter immediately "grabbed" with each other.

How it looked from the inside, you can learn from the expressive notes which left who witnessed the battle for Jerusalem Russian nun: "In the morning on July 15 left the British out of Jerusalem and the mandate of surrender only at midnight. Jews, not waiting for midnight, began to seize and move forward: beginning of an explosion and a fierce fire, especially around our mission and the Cathedral. We prayed fervently.

The bullets flew like flies in our garden, especially at night. Finally, the Arab armies came with guns, armored cars, mitralezami and others, I must say, I know of a weapon of war. We distinguish them only by their sound, but that the invention of military mechanics - do not know. Uproar unimaginable. After all, we in Gethsemane - the Holy City before the visa-a-vis the Mosque of Omar, and then followed the old Jewish part of Jerusalem with its two synagogues and a vast domes. And so began. Gun fired at a Jewish synagogue, where, neglecting their duty of prayer, climbed the Haganah (Jewish fighting units), as the fort, and from there fired in all directions.

In our garden, pouring thousands of bullets. More explosive dum-dum. "Everywhere: on the road, on the stairs, the porch, the nuns' cells and around - everywhere falling bullets and shrapnel, but miraculously kept the Lord of us all. Jews settled in the neighboring Arab areas and, more importantly, took the Christian churches, schools and hospitals, turn them into forts, so that Arab armies had to shoot at the church. Horrible cruel system of the Haganah began to occupy the church and charities. Tore the flags of the Red Cross, without regard to anything else. At that time people were killed 8 Russian men and women who remained in the so-called "Russian Court". Their bombs blew up the Arabs, taking the Jews, ie, All Arabs have fled earlier from his home in the neighborhood. The Russian mission is the main Jewish headquarters. It is hoped that there is more discipline, and the Lord will protect our churches. While the large dome is broken and the roof of his sand bags. After six days of waiting for the resumption of hostilities with greater force. " [1].

Do you think that now something has changed? Only one - if at that time, Jews and Arabs fired on each other from mitralez yes armored cars, and now use more sophisticated means of killing. The result is, in terms of Christians, is unchangeable - they are again "extreme." Suffice it to recall the capture in 2001 by Palestinian militants of the ancient basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the subsequent punitive action the Israelis, during which was captured by Russian pilgrims hotel. In 2003-2004. Dozens of families from nearby villages from Jerusalem, a predominantly Orthodox and Catholic Arab population - Beit Sahour and Beit Jala - had to, leaving everything to escape. As the newspaper reported, "Eaton Jerusalem," it happened because of frequent cases of attacks on both Israeli and Palestinian side. Suffered most of all those who live near military bases Shedma. After the outbreak of the intifada, this database is constantly subjected to attacks by militants. In response, IDF soldiers with a clear conscience "ironed" Beit Sahour and other villages, especially without understanding - where civilians were hiding, or are just fighters. As a result, were damaged over 140 houses. This forced their occupants to leave the village as soon as possible and seek refuge with relatives in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and other cities.

Thus, members of one family, were told that their house is occupied by force, Palestinian "partisans" and started to keep out of it aimed fire on an Israeli military base in Gilo. "We tried to talk with militants, but they confirmed that our problems they do not care. Even if the house is due to the shootings ruined - they do not care ", - told the newspaper a father. Other residents who tried to protect their homes from seizures were severely beaten. The same tactics the guise of "shield" of civilians are known to have adopted and Chechen terrorists.

In the Old City of Jerusalem, the war now is not - in December last year, Israelis and Palestinians signed the "hudna" - a temporary truce. Nevertheless, here again the Christian world is concerned about the rapid decline in the number of their co-religionists. According to the adviser to the Mayor for Religious Communities Moti Levy, the Christian quarter of Old City, despite the small numbers, the community does not feel a minority, with the support of the rest of Christendom. But in East Jerusalem, including Arab Muslims, they live really hard. Not wanting to fight with the Jews of Arab Christians their Palestinian compatriots, branded as "traitors". Especially towards Christians has worsened since the U.S. invasion, Britain and their allies in Iraq. In the East, this aggression was seen as a new "crusade" of the West against the Muslim world. And take vengeance Islamists, as in the olden days on their own blood brothers, only accepted Christianity, seeing it as a "fifth column".

ak said Levi, most souvenir shops in East Jerusalem has traditionally belonged to Christians, have already acquired host-Muslims, and if not, pay tribute to racketeers. Protection they have nowhere to wait, because the Israeli police to such subtleties, and even in the Arab quarter, no matter. As a result, in the old city of Jerusalem now lives 18 thousand Muslims, and only 5 thousand Arab Christians: a decade ago, the latter was twice as much. Most of the latter, preferred, waving his hand at all emigrate. And so now, during the next "truce" which, as practice shows, the Middle East is not very long. Visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority leaves the impression of sustained calm before the big storm. Hence, Christians will continue to go under the steamroller of the Arab-Israeli confrontation.

Even a hardened skeptic can not deny: the set of biblical predictions concerning Jerusalem and Israel have been fulfilled. In the words of Jesus, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Israel was in 1970 AD destroyed by the Romans and the people who crucified the Son of God - are scattered like sand in the face of the earth. But the Old Testament prophets said that in recent days "people of God" will meet again on their land. In 1948, there are two thousand years later, it happened with the formation of the State of Israel.

Due to cultivation and irrigation, the local soil of the desert turned into beautiful citrus groves and parched reservoirs - to the rich fisheries. Impressive drip irrigation - around a lifeless Martian landscape, the air is melted by the heat, and the trees and flowers bloom luxuriantly. On the ground, laid rubber tubes with small holes, out of which oozes clear bracer necessary for plant life. Moreover, employed in Israeli agriculture, only 5% of the population. But thanks to high technology and the ingenuity of Israelis, it is enough to feed not only their own but also other nations. Including Russians, have not minded my New Year's dinner table without fresh Israeli strawberries.

Indeed, it never ceases to surprise achievement of Agriculture of this country. Less than sixty years ago the state was built on the sands and in the midst of malarial swamps impassable without pitsya suitable for water, and that markets are already bursting with abundance, kibbutzim complain about the crisis of overproduction, vegetables and fruits are cheap and available to all. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, 2500 years ago, says that when the Jews returned from exile to their homeland, "The wilderness and the dry land and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose will bloom beautifully, and rejoice even with joy and singing" (Isaiah 35:1-2).

What next? Israel turns to Christ and be forgiven: "And the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will pour out the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they looked upon him, which pierced (Jesus), and shall mourn for him as a cry for his only son, and grieve, both mourn the firstborn. On that day a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning Gadadrimona in the valley of Megiddo ... The day will open the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for the washing away of sin and for uncleanness. " (Zah.6-12). The city of Jerusalem is the city of King, all nations will worship Jesus. Form of the Holy City will be similar to the heavenly Kingdom on earth: "And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine in his for the glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp - Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. Gates it will not be locked during the day and night will not be there. And bring the glory and honor to the people, and not enter into it anything unclean, and none whatsoever worketh abomination, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life "(Rev. 21:23-27).Even nature will triumph: "And in that day: the mountains shall drop down new wine and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters" (Joel 3:18). So in the words of the Apostle Paul, "all Israel", and with it the rest of us, we shall be saved.

Jerusalem - Moscow


[1] The tragedy of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem / / "Orthodox Russia". Church-public body, № 13 (417), 1 / 14 July 1948.

Christians in Israel (statistics)

In Israel, Christians make up 2.3% of the total population and 13.7% of his non-Jewish sectors of the population (90% of them - the Arabs). About 50% of Christians live in the Galilee. The largest communities - in Nazareth and Beit Lahm (Bethlehem). Most Christians in Israel, spoke in Arabic and in customs and appearance no different from Muslim Arabs.

Christians of Israel belong to four major churches: Catholic, Orthodox, Monophysite and Protestant.

Catholic Church - the greatest. It owns an extensive network of religious, cultural and charitable institutions. For the Catholic Church is a number of eastern churches, preserving its structure and ceremonies, but recognizing the primacy of the pope: Greek Catholic, Maronite, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean and Coptic.

The Orthodox Church - the second largest in Israel. Inside its biggest - the Greek. In the last chapter is the patriarch, he takes a leading position among the orthodox clergy of the country.

To the Orthodox Church is also: Founded in 1874, the Russian spiritual mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate, headed by Archimandrite; mission of the American Orthodox Church and the mission of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Monophysite church has about 4,500 parishioners. She is represented in Israel, the Armenian Apostolic (Gregorian) Church. About half of the parishioners live in the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem. By Monophysites include Armenians, Copts, Syrians, Jacobites, Ethiopians.

Protestant church in Israel, about 4 thousand parishioners and represented approximately 20-directions.

Israel recognizes the autonomy in internal affairs of the Christian communities, which applies to offices, shrines, for the appointment of clerics to schooling and the proceedings. Sundays and Christian holidays are officially recognized non-working days for Christians. In the past 30 years at public expense have been restored many sacred places. Christians are exempt from conscription.

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See also:

Ghosts of the castle Krak des Chevaliers

Copts - Christians of Egypt

East is preparing to meet Christ?

Pilgrimage to the bicycle saddle. The "Temples of Russia". Reportage

Feast of the Transfiguration Valaam

Константин Дятлов

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