Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Messianic jews and judaism

In the week I was in Gathundia I did not witness any altercations amongst the children, not even any raised voices.

The warm personality of the soft spoken Ruth and her husband Joseph seems to be reflected in well behaved and happy children.

 In the cold evenings the children congregate together in the tiny smoke filled kitchen eating their dinner, and preparing the next day's school lunch.

Joseph's wife Ruth rarely sat down during the many hours that I was with Yoseph and other members of the community who would pop in. Yoseph was recovering from a bout of a flu like illness so he was taking a break from his normal routine of hard physical work.

Sorting the crop of beans. This year's harvest was meagre owing to the drought

4) Yoseph and members of the community are very interested in modern Israel and its achievements. As former messianic christians who had rejected the teachings of the New Testament they found Josephus enlightening. Josephus wrote his book the Jewish Wars which includes an account not just of the terrible slaughter inflicted on the Jews of the Land of Israel by the Romans, but of much of the life, culture personalities and even of the great building works of the Herodian period, such as the aqueducts, the city of Caesaria and its amazing harbour. That Jesus was not once referred to in this contemporary account does not lend credence to the later writings about him, even if Jesus himself existed, which is not a foregone conclusion.

Josephus confirms the Gathundia jews in their previous decision to leave christianity as practised by the messianic 'jews'. The step was not a great wrench as the messianic christian 'jewish' movement celebrates all jewish holidays, even Purim. And the sabbath is also held on Saturday the seventh day of the week as with jews according to the Bible.

My Purim visit to the community meant taking a five mile trip in a matatu (a transit van filled until the door can only close with difficulty) to an internet shop boasting a grand total of three ancient desktops in order to download a hebrew/english version of Megilat Esther that was kindly uploaded as a pdf file by Chabad. The excruciatingly slow computers were matched only by the printer. Thirteen pages took 45 minutes to print! Anyone who used the first inkjet printers of the mid 90's will remember this experience fondly.

Megilat Esther is recited each year on the festival of Purim to celebrate the saving of the jews of Persia from the vizier Haman who wished to annihilate the whole jewish community. Haman met a bad end as did a later man with the same murderous intent. And now Persia/Iran has Ahmadinejad who is unable to restrain himself when describing his genocidal intent vis-a-vis the jewish people.

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