Intervju med Shmuel Aweida

Koss blir eigentleg messianske jødar, altså jødar som trur at Jesus er Messias, oppfatta i Israel?

Gjennom Caspari Center Media Review fekk eg i går tilsendt eit referat frå eit interessant lokalt intervju med pastor Shmuel Aweida. Shmuel er pastor i Beit Eliahu i Haifa. Dette er ein messiansk menighet som har nære kontaktar med Den Norske Israelsmisjon.

Det er inspirerande å oppleva Beit Eliahu. Her kan du lesa det eg tidlegare har skrive om denne menigheten, etter eit besøk i Haifa for to år sidan.

Slik blir intervjuet med Shmuel referert:

A reporter from the local Haifa paper Kol Bo (June 8) determined to investigate the “Messianic Jewish stronghold” in the city, and interviewed Shmuel Aweida, pastor of Beit Eliahu. Under the title “Messiah, Messiah” (taken from a popular Chasidic song), the article opened thus: “‘We believe that the people of Israel are the chosen people, that the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, and that God chose the people of Israel to be a light to the nations.’ When these words are said in fluent, unaccented Hebrew, by Shmuel Aweida, 39, a Christian Arab born in Haifa, a graduate of a municipal school, they sound rather surrealistic.” The cause of this surrealism lies in the fact that – as the interviewer, Chana Tal, points out – Aweida hasn’t converted or become Jewish, but was born an Arab. Aweida’s love for Israel – both land and people – is expressed, in Tal’s words, “with a naturalness that arouses astonishment,” leading her to raise the rhetorical question: “Confusing, no?”

Describing the service she attended at Beit Eliahu, Chana Tal noted the amiability of the congregants who “were willing at any moment to spread the Gospel that Yeshua the Messiah was born to the Virgin Mary, crucified, and buried, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and the day is soon coming when he will be revealed again and reign over the world.” Having spoken of the “angelic singing,” she then described the prayer: “The prayers aren’t taken from a book. They’re personal and spontaneous, but with a fixed content: asking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for mercy and compassion, healing for the sick, and aid to the needy. They also request from the Creator of the world that He will help the earthly and local leaders make the right decisions – at this moment, that Ehud Olmert will be able to stop the rocket attacks on Sderot and that the mayor will run the city properly.”

Under the subheading “Baptism and Bible study,” Chana Tal noted that “according to their faith, the first Messianic Jews were Yeshua’s twelve disciples who, following his crucifixion, believed that he was the Messiah. They were considered traitors by the Jewish people, and all contact with them was forbidden … According to their system, God made a new covenant with those who believe in Him, which demands that they believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, Son of David. This belief is sufficient to gain them entrance to Paradise, without the duty of observing any [of the] commandments. They choose to celebrate the Jewish festivals out of identification with the Jewish people.” Tal understood that the only obligations they feel are imposed upon them are baptism – “a symbolic declaration of their faith and new birth” – and communion, which they celebrate once a month.

According to Tal, the Messianic community in Israel numbers around 15,000, having doubled in the past ten years due largely to the influx of Russian immigrants. The 100 or so congregations across the country “have names which carry a Jewish character: Mercy, Grace, Hope of Israel, Israel Lives, Living Water.” Claiming that “the congregation’s character is missionary by nature,” Tal addressed the fact that it is consequently the target of anti-missionary organizations, especially Yad L’Achim, whose activities “slid over into real violence against the congregation in Arad and Beersheva.” According to Tal, Yad L’Achim protested against a march by the “Haifa congregation” in August 2005, during which the participants handed out literature. “They were met by Yad L’Achim who loudly announced ‘Beware, missionaries! Don’t take anything from them! They want to make you convert’ -and promptly led to the dispersal of the march.” In response, Aweida declared, “We are no more missionaries than the Chabadnikim who stand at cross-roads and sell books.” When asked by Tal concerning feelings of persecution, Aweida noted that the congregation has suffered from graffiti and he himself constantly receives threatening and abusive telephone calls in which the community is described as Nazis and Christians. Responding to a specific question regarding his Arab identity, Aweida said: “I don’t live among them, don’t come into contact with them, don’t even speak Arabic. I’ve never once spoken to my two brothers in Arabic. I only see Arabs when I go to buy a shwarma [meat in pita bread]. The Arabs perceive us as enemies. Whoever believes in the Tanakh [Old Testament] believes that God chose the people of Israel and gave them the Land of Israel, and there can’t be a situation in which he will see the Jewish people as an enemy.”

Tal interviewed several young people in the congregation, most of whom preferred not to reveal their full names. She also interviewed a former congregant who, having become a believer, then left the faith, claiming that it was a cult. At the end of the article, she devoted a section to Yad L’Achim’s attitude toward the Messianic Jewish community. Overall, the piece was objective and even positive toward Aweida, the congregation, and Messianic Judaism in general.

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