11 May 1665 Fernando Mendes, Jewish-Christian Doctor in time of Great Plague #otdimjh

Fernando Mendes (1647-1724)            



Fernando Mendes was a well-respected Jewish physician, who attended both Charles II and his wife, Catherine of Braganza. Catherine ( 25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) was queen consort of England, of Scotland and of Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II.

In 1662, he had been brought over as her doctor from Portugal to England, when she married. Mendes was a converso and actively a Roman Catholic, yet also a conflicted and a hidden Jew, throughout his life in England. An additional interesting insight was that the Queen’s marriage dowry had been arranged by Jewish financiers. This indicates how close the Portuguese Jewish conversos were to the heart of the royal families in both Portugal and England.

Mendes was a merchant, politician and doctor, who attended the royal family at the time of the outbreak of the Great Plague of London, which took hold in the beginning of May 1665, and forced the King and his court to flee to Oxford. Mendes was recently mentioned in the Jewish Chronicle on 6 May 2020. He attended Charles II during his final illness and his family lived at Somerset House in the Strand, the Queen’s palace. Even in 1706, he was still consulted about the health of Pedro IV in Lisbon. This study will also highlight how close the Mendes family was to Queen Catherine herself. As she was seriously missing her Portuguese homeland, she became very close to the Mendes family. She insisted that Fernando’s baby daughter should be baptised at Somerset House and also take her name; she further indicated that she wanted to be the godmother of Catherine (1679-1756) at the baptism. The Queen continued to take an active interest in her godchild, as she had no children, which continued to cause many problems in her relationship with Charles. This close and intimate, almost familial, Mendes connection has been missed from much of the earlier Anglo-Jewish histories.


Fernando Mendes is a good example of what a converso or a Crypto-Jew meant in practice. For most of his life in England, he maintained his Catholic tradition out of loyalty to the Queen, who had Priests in residence for her daily mass at Somerset House. This personal conflict within Protestant England fuelled deep suspicions about the negative influence of ‘Papists’ on the Queen, and by association also for Catherine Mendes. She was later recognised as a famous artist, and one of the few outstanding female Jews of the time. She married her cousin, Anthony Moses da Costa (c.1667—1747), a wealthy trader in diamonds, coral, and bullion. Her father later paid the cost for his continuing Catholic faith, when his membership of the College of Physicians was cancelled in 1689, because they described him as a Papist.

In 1688, he was also denied a family inheritance from his wife’s uncle, because he was not considered to be Jewish enough. He was never circumcised or took any part at Bevis Marks, in contrast to his wife Isabel, who was an observant Jew. However, all his children were married there. Yet, as he faced death, he requested permission along with a gift of £100, to be buried next to his wife in the Sephardic (Velho) cemetery at Mile End, because he could not face the prospect of a Christian burial. This unusual request was graciously granted by the synagogue. This presaged a similar plea by Samson Gideon (1699-1762), the most famous Jew in the eighteenth century, who had married a Christian wife. He was buried there too; he had been secretly making regular contributions to the synagogue under an assumed name. For so many of these conversos, who had vehemently chosen to reject any genuine religious commitment, at death they wanted to be part of the Jewish community. There were many others like Mendes and Gideon, who could not ultimately escape their Jewish heritage.

Reflection and Prayer:

I was surprised to discover my relationship to Mendes – see below – but could understand the pressures he lived under – born Jewish, raised Catholic, persecuted as a Catholic in Protestant England, and at the time of his death wanting both a Jewish and Catholic burial. So often Jewish disciples of Jesus, caught in the interface between the different faith communities and at the mercy of the asymetries of power, their own witness, wealth and willingness to serve led them to eke out a precarious survival amongst the leaders of their day. Today Jewish disciples of Yeshua face similar challenges, all the while processing their own identities and faith perspectives.

A prayer of Cardinal Newman: The Mission of My Life

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

With thanks to Rodney Curtis for his research and interview on Youtube – https://youtu.be/5G0uc7yZHpQ

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May 3, 1942 Death of Anton Urspruch – “Baptising” Pastor who helped his Jewish friends #otdimjh

Pastor Anton Ursprunguch was a pastor in Frankfurt-am-Main for more than three decades and was well-loved and popular throughout the region.  He was a pastor at the St. Paulsgemeinde (1899-1925) and then at the Dreikönigsgemeinde in Sachsenhausen (1925-1933). 

Pastor Urspruch’s wife Berta Grünebaum was Jewish, as were many of  his friends. During the rise of National Socialism they came to him for help, and he provided them with ways of escaping arrest – certificates of baptism. Of the 700 certificates of baptism given to Jewish people in the Frankfurt churches between 1900 and 1934, more than 50 were issued by him, more than by any other minister.

He was the nephew of the composer of the same name (1850-1907), whose Piano Concerto can be heard here.

The Frankfurt Jewish community, prestigious families such as the Katzenellenbogen, Schmidt-Fellner and Brodnitz families, all had close friendships with this ebullient and well-liked minister.  Almost all the members of these families, who were close with him and among themselves, were originally baptized as children or adults.  Urspruch maintained contact with numerous Jewish or mixed Jewish-Christian families, baptized their children and conducted church marriages for them.  Yet despite his earnest efforts members of all three families were arrested, taken to extermination and concentration camps and murdered. 

In 1933, under pressure of work, ill health and under scrutiny for his efforts to help his wife’s community, he took early retirement “due to illness.” He was a marked man, and crushed by the fate of the Jewish community that he was unable to prevent. He died on May 3, 1942.

His efforts at protecting them did not go unnoticed, and Ursprung’s legacy was misused by his long-time opponent Pastor Georg Struckmeier (1885–1974) as evidence of what happened during those years.  Struckmeier, who belonged to the German Christians and was a member of the Nazi party, tried to absolve himself and the church of any responsibility for their crimes.  In his “Memories of the Time of National Socialist Tyranny” spoken on tape for the Frankfurt City Archives in 1962, he explains on the topic of  “the Church and Judaism” that it was “a matter of course that the Christian churches had nothing to do with the persecution of Jews in the Third Reich, As evidence he cited the “baptizing” pastor of Frankfurt.

Prayer and reflection: I am shocked and horrified at the complex and tragic situation of my people during this period of history, and grateful for all who sought to  help them. Anton Urspruch was one such person. His efforts to be a support and blessing did not go unnoticed, but there is no memorial to him, as far as I know.  May his name and memory be for a blessing.

Lord, help us to do the best we can with what you give us, as you helped Anton Urspruch. May our lives be given in service to you and to all humanity, and may we leave a legacy for others of courage, faith and service. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

Source: Evangelisch getauft – als »Juden« verfolgt – Hartmut Ludwig (Editor), Eberhard Röhm (Editor)

Anton and Berta Ursprung * November 23, 1869 in Frankfurt / Main, † May 3, 1942 in Bad Tölz: mated with Berta, born  Green tree.  1890–1894 studied Protestant Theology in Halle;  1894 First Thenological Exam, 1896 Second Theological Exam;  1899–1925 pastor at the St. Paul congregation in Frankfurt / Main, 1925–1933 pastor at the Dreikönias congregation in Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen;  1933 early retirement “due to illness”. \

Die Familie Urspruch in Frankfurt:
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1st May 1948 Passing of Johannes Lesser – Faithful Pastor, Prussian Nationalist, “Half-Jew” #otdimjh

Johannes was the son of Heinrich Lesser, a Jewish bookseller from Halle who converted to Christianity in 1864, three years before Johannes was born on 17 February 1867. For most of his life this did not affect his career or ministry, but when the Nazi Party came to power, he was forced to retire early, denied a pension, and died on May 1st,  1948.

Johannes studied theology in Halle and Berlin, and was ordained in 1894 in the Lutheran church. He was a pastor in Wegenstedt (1894-1899), Höhnstedt (1899-1908), Müchlein (1908-10), and from 1910-1933 in Luckenwalde, an industrial area near Berlin, until 1933, when he was forced to  retire as a “half-Jew”.

Luckenwalde was an industrial city.  In the Weimar Republic, more than 90 percent of the approximately 26,000 inhabitants were politically left-wing, and the majority of the workers were also unionized.  63% were Protestant and 26.2% were non-denominational.  In 1926, 5000 parishioners left the church.  That was astonishingly high at the time.  The anti-church free thinker movement had a considerable influence. 

Lesser was a conservative politically and a liberal theologically, but above all a faithful servant of church and nation, an archetypal Prussian nationalist. His manner and style were forceful, authoritative and commanding. Yet when the Nuremberg Laws were passed (1935) forbidding those with Jewish ancestry from serving  in the professions, his popularity waned and he became an embarrassment to  friends, colleagues and ecclesiastical authorities. Despite being the district superintendent for churches in the Luckenwalde region, the rise to power of the National Socialists and the accompanying growth in influence of the German Christians who supported Hitler meant that he could no longer  serve as a minister.

At first Lesser tried to keep the peace between the German Christians and those who would become the “Confessing Church”, following Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoller and Karl Barth. The Barmen Declaration (1934) affirmed that no civil leader or authority could usurp the authority of God. He took the oath of loyalty to the State Commissioner August Jäger on 27 June 1933 adding in his own handwriting “I sign this declaration in the expectation that nothing will be expected from me that is contrary to my vow of ordination.”

Now at the age of sixty-six and having served nearly 40 years in ministry, he had been suffering from health problems for some time and was only able to carry out his office sporadically. He asked to retire early, and the fact that Lesser was “half-Jewish” contributed to this decision. On September 21, 1933, he took part in the meeting of the parish church council for the last time.  The chairman, Pastor Gleiniger, thanked him for his work.  Lesser declined later invitations in order to save the congregation from having to face difficulties.   He moved away from Luckenwalde where he had been known and respected, to live with one of his sons in Weinböhla near Dresden. In what became East Germany he received no pension after the war, and died on May 1, 1948.

Reflection and prayer.

A long and active life in ministry shortened by the rise to power of the National Socialists, Lesser escaped arrest and deportation – probably by going under the radar away from where he was well-known. We know little of this man’s inner soul, his faith perspective, and it seems he had little regard for his Jewish identity until it put him in danger. Yet his life and ministry bear witness to the faithfulness of God in the midst of the difficult times and circumstances in which he lived. May his name be  and memory be for a blessing!

Psalm 8 For the director of music. According to gittith. [1] A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Source: Evangelish Getauft – als “Juden” Verfolgt [Baptised as Protestants, Persecuted as “Jews”], Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus – Ein Gedenkbuch. Eds. Hartmut Ludwig/Eberhard RöhmCalwer, 2014

eds. Hartmut Ludwig/Eberhard Röhm

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29 April 1916 – Birth of Ludwig Dewitz – Holocaust refugee, Old Testament theologian, Messianic apologist #otdimjh

Born Ludwig Richard Max Heymann, studied theology in Berlin 1934-36, worked in Sheffield UK and Italy with Mildmay Mission 1937-49, leader of Emmanuel Messianic Congregation, Baltimore, 1950-59, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary, 1959-1984.

Ludwig R.M. Dewitz, 1916-2000 – Obituary by Davison Philips ’43 President Emeritus, Columbia Seminary, USA

The life of Professor Ludwig Dewitz, who died November 1, 2000, reveals a pattern unlike that of any other faculty member in Columbia Seminary’s history. He not only survived the hazards and demonic forces that threatened his early life, but came to faith and ministry during one of the great crises of the twentieth century. He experienced the tumultuous history of two World Wars, the Holocaust, awesome economic depressions and ecclesiastical changes, yet believed and served the Sovereign God.

Stephania H. Davis, in her Atlanta Journal/Constitution article after his death, wrote, “He was a German, a Christian, and a Jew.” In all the chapters of his extraordinary life in Germany, England, Italy, and the United States, he survived and grew in faith and scholarship. Dewitz used his intellectual and spiritual gifts in teaching the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. He lived and grew in the nurture of the church and his family and friends throughout the 84 years of his long and faithful life. From a 12-year-old boy in Germany to his major task as Columbia’s professor of Old Testament, he lived out his faith. In retirement, to the applause of his friends, he married his long-time friend, Miriam Brodsky, and they both were important members of the seminary community.

With thanks to Elliot Klayman – Messianic Literature Outreach

He was born in Danzig, Germany, on April 29, 1916, of Jewish parents, was adopted and grew up in Berlin. He became a Christian at a camp for boys in the Black Forest. A series of amazing events led him to England, Italy, Baltimore, Maryland, and Decatur, Georgia. It was far more than a collection of coincidences: it was in reality the work of God in that young man’s life. It began as he heard a growing flood of alarming statements about Jews, the least of which were those of the notorious minister of Nazi propaganda, Dr. Goebbels, “We shall treat the Jews as we treat flowers, only we shall not give them any water.”

For a time, Dewitz was able to study at a theological college, and later on, at an institution which had Ludwig Richard Max Dezvitz, professor emeritus of Old Testament been called into being by the Confessing Church in opposition to the teaching given at official universities. Then, one morning the Gestapo appeared, warning that further gatherings would have serious consequences. The future seemed nothing but a big continued on page 9 “question mark/’ as Dewitz described it.

In the summer of 1936, Dewitz was unexpectedly invited to a meeting in Germany with the Rev. S. H. Wilkinson, director of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews in England, who offered him a position in London. Providentially, this took place shortly after he learned that his birth mother was Jewish. His adoptive parents were required to provide a birth certificate to the Nazi authorities, and that put his life in serious danger. The following year, he fled to England. As he crossed over the border from Germany to Holland, he felt both joy and sorrow. The joy came from feeling that he would survive and carry on his ministry.

The sorrow was the feeling that he had left his home and might never experience it again. Even in England, as World War II spread across Europe and threatened Great Britain, Dewitz was interned for the duration as a German citizen. In the internment camp he began to teach the Bible, and he continued to do so with enthusiasm and effectiveness all of his life.

He also studied at the University of London by extension courses to qualify for the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Ordained for ministry by the Waldensian Church of Italy in 1949, Dewitz brought little more with him to the United States than these experiences, his degree, and his commitment as a Christian and a minister. While serving as a missionary to the Jews in Baltimore, Maryland, he studied with William F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University and received the Ph.D. in 1960. He was an exceptional linguist, mastering more than 10 languages.

Dewitz came to Columbia Seminary in 1959 as professor of Old Testament. He began an amazing and fruitful career of instruction, pastoral care, and ministry in the Presbyterian Church. After his retirement in 1983, he continued to be in great demand as a Bible teacher and preacher. His former students waited in line to secure a time in his schedule for teaching and preaching in their churches. Professor Dewitz had friends around the world, and wherever he traveled, he received hospitality from a variety of friends in various countries and cultures. Dr. Dewitz made demands on students and was sometimes disappointed in their efforts. He need not have been concerned, for most of his students came to know, respect, and admire him. He not only taught in a traditional way, but often had students sing Hebrew psalms or songs as a teaching method. His teaching beyond the campus embraced a wide variety of settings, such as youth conferences, Sunday school classes, women’s meetings, presbytery and synod programs, clergy seminars, and Young Life leadership training sessions.

One of Dewitz’s most enjoyable extracurricular activities was the regular opera classes which he held in his home. Students and staff were invited to listen to his introduction of the works and then enjoy his treasured recordings or radio broadcasts. He rarely missed Metropolitan Opera performances in Atlanta. Those who knew him often speak of many treasured associations in these varied settings. The truest thing that could be said about Ludwig Dewitz is that in his ministry he faithfully served under the authority of the God who led him through danger and disaster to a useful lifetime of witness and ministry.

Davison Philips ’43 President Emeritus

I was fortunate to meet Ludwig Dewitz in his final years at one of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance Executive Conferences – I think in the UK. I was a very new and junior member of this organisation, and he was a senior citizen and elder statesman. I was struck by his sharp intellect and gracious manner, and I think Harcourt Samuel and others looked to him as one of the finest minds in the Hebrew Christian movement of their day. I reproduce the essay he wrote celebrating the 80th birthday of H L Ellison, as part of a book of tributes to another esteemed biblical scholar and Hebrew Christian. Another point of interest – Dewitz overlapped at Columbia with Walter Brueggemann, another profound Old Testament theologian – and I wonder what influence he may have had on Brueggemann’s own sensitivity to Jewish and post-supersessionist readings of Scripture – a topic for some PhD student somewhere!

Prayer and reflection:

Lord, who would have foreseen the circumstances of Ludwig Dewitz’s life? Yet what an amazing tapestry you wove around the details of his walk of faith, and what a contribution he has made to our understanding of scripture and his witness to the Messiah. Thank you for his testimony, his scholarship and his faith – in Yeshua the Messiah’s name we pray.







1 "The Concept of Balance in the Old Testament"
… By Ludwig R. Dewitz
The Concept of Balance In The Old Testament Ludwig R. Dewitz 

If one tried to define a certain trend in recent publications pertaining to the Old Testament field of Biblical studies, it could be said that "balance" is one of the dominating factors. Anderson's panel discussions on The Old Testament and Christian Faith as well as Westermann's collection of Essays on Old Testament Hermeneutics, Barr's books on The Semantics of Biblical Language and Biblical Words for Time, the theologies of Eichrodt, Vriezen and v. Rad, however much they may differ as to method, these books focus attention on all factors involved, thus avoiding a position of imbalance. 

In this connection it is striking to note that two essays, dealing with Egypt and Mesopotamia respectively, in Frankfort's publication The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man state that the decline of these two cultures might be traced to an inherent imbalance in them. Wilson concludes: "Egypt had not had the opportunity or the capacity to work out the interrelation of man and God in terms satisfactory to both. To put it in a different context, Egypt had not had the opportunity or the capacity to work out the interrelation of the individual and the community in terms of benefit to both." 1 Similarly Jacobsen remarks concerning Mesopotamia: "Divine will and human ethics proved incom- mensurable," and then comments on the "Dialogue of Pessi- mism": "With this denial of all values, denial that a 'good life' existed, we end our survey of Mesopotamian speculative thought." 2 

We believe that one of the factors which gave Israel's faith abiding vitality when other cultures died is the factor of balance. Israel's theological thought, religious practice and social structure were balanced in such a way that from its beginning (continues here - https://archive.org/stream/colutheolo5731964colu/colutheolo5731964colu_djvu.txt)

Ludwig Dewitz is a graduate of the Universities of London and Johns Hopkins. This paper is the text of his Inaugural Address as Professor of Old Testament Languages, Literature and Exegesis, delivered in the Columbia Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia, on March 18, 1964.
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21st March 1958 Passing of Franz Ehrenberg, German Jewish Theologian and teacher of Franz Rosenzweig


Hans Philipp Ehrenberg (4 June 1883 – 21 March 1958) was a German Jewish philosopher and theologian. One of the co-founders of the Confessing Church, he was forced to emigrate to England because of his Jewish ancestry and his opposition to National Socialism.

a pastor with Jewish ancestry from Westphalia who, after a
short imprisonment in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, emigrated
to England in 1939 with assistance from Dietrich Bonhoe√er.50

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4 February 1874 Robert Liefmann, Professor of Economics born #otdimjh

4 February 1874 Robert Liefmann, Professor of Economics born #otdimjh

Robert Liefmann was born the son of the wealthy Jewish merchant Sammy Liefmann and his wife Auguste Juliane. He studied economics and law in Freiburg, Berlin, Munich and Brussels.   

At the suggestion of Max Weber , he did his doctorate on business associations and antitrust and received his habilitation (after studies in England) with Magnus Biermer in Gießen in 1900. In 1904 he became an associate professor in Freiburg im Breisgau, where he was appointed full professor of economics.

In 1907 he undertook an extensive study trip through the USA, where his main areas of research were in economic organizational forms and the connections between business and psychology. In addition to corporate forms in the narrower sense, his institutional economic interests primarily concerned with  cartels and trusts. Even before the First World War , Liefmann was regarded not only in Germany, but also abroad as a luminary in the field of cartel law. In 1913 he attracted public attention through his controversy with Wilhelm Merton about the role of the Metal Company and its subsidiary, the Metal Bank, in the international metal trade.

During the First World War, Liefmann was a balloon pilot in the Vosges for a few months before he was transferred to higher education. In the early twenties he developed myasthenia , which meant that he was temporarily dependent on a wheelchair.

In 1933, his teaching position at the girls’ school and his approval for health insurance were withdrawn in the course of the first National Socialist measures. He was also excluded from the university. Although his parents had joined the Protestant faith and Robert, like his sisters, had been baptized as a Protestant, they were considered to be full Jews. Despite the circumstances, the family did not want to leave their homeland and Robert Liefmann even set aside a large amount in his will as a foundation for the University of Freiburg, with the aim of promoting the further development of his economic theory teaching.

On October 22, 1940, he and his sisters Else and Martha and all Jews from Baden and the Palatinate were deported to Camp de Gurs in southern France at the foot of the Pyrenees. There they lived separately from each other under the most primitive conditions. With the help and mediation of the secretary of the World Council of Churches in Geneva , Adolf Freudenberg , who was married to Elsa Liefmann, a cousin of the siblings, they were granted a holiday in February 1941. However, Robert Liefmann was already doomed to die and died a few days later in Morlaàs, 50 km away . It is also tragic that a little later he received permission through the University of New York to emigrate. Only his sisters were able to leave the country or flee to relatives in Switzerland.


In Germany, the family’s assets were confiscated, the property sold, and the house at Goethestrasse 33 was expropriated by the German Reich. The building was used by the Gestapo until the end of the war. Then it was confiscated by the French occupying powers, whose military police used it as a base. It then was transferred to the state of Baden-Württemberg , which established a police station there from 1949 to 2000. Today the Liefmann House is used as a guest house by the University of Freiburg. In memory of those humiliated by the National Socialists, Marlis Meckel reconstructed their life paths in 2006 and placed solperstein (“stumbling  block”) in their memory. The first solperstein was for Robert Liefmann in front of his former home, Goethestrasse 33. The inscription reads:

Stumbling stone for Robert Liefmann
Here lived
Prof. Dr. Robert Liefmann
Born in 1874
Deported in 1940
Died 20.03.1941 in Morlaàs

Prayer and reflection: A great mind whose views on economics have continued to influence thinking of cartels and the metal broking industry but caught up in the torrents that flowed through Germany and led to his death. How much of a disciple of Yeshua was Liefmann? Only God can judge! How Jewish? Enough  to  lose his life and his contribution to knowledge, civilization and the betterment of humanity cut short.  Oh Lord, forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of others, knowing that you, the Judge of all nations, will act  justly and show mercy. In our Messiah Yeshua’s name,  who reconciles Israel and the nations we pray. Amen.

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3 February 2020 IHCA International Hebrew Christian Allliance Magazines available to download #otdimjh

Due to the kindness of a friend a vital resource for the research and history of Jewish disciples of Yeshua is now newly available online and to download. If you want to know about the history of Hebrew Christianity, Jewish Christians in antiquity and up to the present, and the modern Messianic Jewish movement, these magazines are an invaluable tool. Heroes and heroines of the modern Hebrew Christian movement of the 20th century, such as Sir Leon Levison, Harcourt Samuel, Jacob Jocz, Heinz Leuner, Hugh Schonfield and many others come alive through their articles, reviews and reports.

Here are the first few volumes – follow the links and let me know if you have a problem downloading.

Volume 2 April 1929 – January 1930

Volume 3

Volume 3 April 1930 – January 1931

Volume 4 here

Volume 4

Volumes 6 – 40 and other resources

Prayer – Thank you, Lord, for the rich history and legacy of the IHCA. May it inspire, challenge and teach us what it means to be a Jewish disciple of Yeshua today. May their memory be a blessing, and an ongoing faithful witness to your faithfulness to Israel, all nations and all creation, in the name of our Messiah Yeshua – Amen.

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21 January 2020 German court may reject appeal to remove anti-Semitic ‘Jew pig’ relic #otdimjh

German court may reject appeal to remove anti-Semitic ‘Jew pig’ relic – Times of Israel report

NAUMBURG, Germany (AP) — A court in eastern Germany indicated Tuesday that it will likely reject a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of an ugly remnant of centuries of anti-Semitism from a church where Martin Luther once preached.

The Naumburg court’s senate said, at a hearing, that “it will maybe reject the appeal,” court spokesman Henning Haberland told reporters.

“The senate could not follow the plaintiff’s opinion that the defamatory sculpture can be seen as an expression of disregard in its current presentation,” Haberland said.

The verdict will be announced on February 4.

In this January 14, 2020 photo the so-called Judensau, or “Jew pig,” sculpture is displayed on the facade of the Stadtkirche (Town Church) in Wittenberg, Germany. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

The so-called Judensau, or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg dates back to around 1300. It is perhaps the best-known of more than 20 such anti-Semitic relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Located four meters (13 feet) above the ground on a corner of the church, it depicts Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.

Judaism considers pigs impure and no one disputes that the sculpture is deliberately offensive. But there is strong disagreement about what to do with the relief.

Tuesday’s hearing was the second round in the legal dispute, which comes at a time of mounting concern about anti-Semitism in Germany. In May, a court ruled against plaintiff Michael Duellmann, who wants the relief to be taken off the church and put in the nearby Luther House museum.Plaintiff Michael Duellmann speaks prior to a trial at the Higher Regional Court in Naumburg, Germany, January 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Judges in Dessau rejected arguments that he has a right to have the sculpture removed because it formally constitutes slander and the parish is legally responsible.

The relief “is a terrible falsification of Judaism … a defamation of and insult to the Jewish people,” Duellmann says, arguing that it has “a terrible effect up to this day.”Volker Buchloh, Presiding Judge at the Higher Regional Court in Naumburg, Germany, center, opens a trial on January 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

When the church was renovated in the early 1980s, the parish decided to leave the sandstone sculpture in place, and it was also restored. In 1988, a memorial was built on the ground underneath it, referring to the persecution of Jews and the killing of 6 million in the Nazi Holocaust.

Pastor Johannes Block from the Town Church says the church also considers the sculpture unacceptably insulting. However, he argues it “no longer speaks for itself as a solitary piece, but is embedded in a culture of remembrance” thanks to the memorial.In this January 14, 2020 photo, pedestrians walk beside the Stadtkirche (Town Church) in Wittenberg, Germany. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

“We don’t want to hide or abolish history, but take the path of reconciliation with and through history,” he says.

In Berlin, the federal commissioner for Jewish life in Germany told reporters he favored putting the relief down into a museum.In this January 14, 2020 photo, pastor Johannes Block is seen in the Stadtkirche (Town Church) in Wittenberg, Germany. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

“This would be a good contribution by the church to overcome anti-Semitism,” Felix Klein told reporters ahead of the court hearing.”

Prayer and Reflection – This case is ongoing, and may go not only to the Federal Court in Germany but also to the United Nations, as it is a world heritage site. It was never the intention to go to law, but rather to seek repentance and reconciliation between Lutherans and the Jewish people by relocating this abusive and antisemitic object as a practical demonstration of the fruits of repentance.

A prayer of forgiveness from the Jewish prayer book – I hereby forgive anyone who has angered or provoked me or sinned against me, physically or financially or by failing to give me due respect, or in any other matter relating to me, involuntarily or willingly, inadvertently or deliberately, whether in word or deed: let no one incur punishment because of me. (Jonathan Sacks, Koren Siddur, 294)

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13 January 1901 Birth of Josef Wölfel, patriotic Austrian pastor with Jewish mother #otdimjh

Josef Wölfel

Josef Wölfel was born in 1901 in Güns (Hungarian “Köszeg”), a city that came to Hungary after the end of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, two kilometres from today’s Austrian border. After completing voluntary military service with the Hungarian army from July 1919 to  January 1920 he studied philosophy in Budapest and received his PhD in 1925.  After a short teaching post, he studied Protestant Theology in Vienna and Tübingen (SS 1930), which he completed in 1930 with the First Theological Exam in Vienna.  During his studies in Vienna, he was tutor for the children of the Hungarian ambassador. 

Baptised as Protestants: Persecuted as Jews – p374-5

This was followed by further training as an independent clergyman, in September 1930 as a clerical assistant in Vienna-Floridsdorf, from February 1932 in Vienna-Landstrasse and from July 1934 as a personal vicar in the local community.  From October 1936 Wölfel was pastor of Fürstenfeld (Styria). 

After the invasion of German troops on March 12, 1938 and the “annexation” of Austria to the “Reich”, the Austrian Church also asked its pastors for proof of Aryan identity.  On April 6, 1938, the President of the Upper Church Council in Vienna, Robert Kauer, declared to the Ministry of Education that the majority of the few Protestant pastors of Jewish descent had the intention of leaving Austrian church service forever, “the intent of which the Church authorities believes it must promote in every respect.” (Unterköfler, 124). 

Accordingly, on May 11, 1938, the highest church authority asked Wölfel for a corresponding declaration regarding his “Aryan descent”.  He could not give this because he was considered a “first-degree hybrid” in the sense of the Nuremberg Laws.  Instead, on June 13, 1938, he turned to the Church council with the request for “professional equality with full Aryans”. He gave the reason that his paternal ancestors – traceable from the 16th century – were “Aryans”.  His mother, however, was a Jew by birth, and was baptisted before his parents married. She died when he was five years old.

Most of all, Wölfel cited his German nationalistic political views, which he had shown by belonging to the German minority movement in what was then nationalistic Hungary. After  1919 he could not stay in Hungary, but decided on Austria.  “And so I should like to expressly request that a life that has so far been clear and unambiguous in its direction and in its decisions should not be judged in the opposite direction.”

Superintendent Heinzelmann did not want to follow the Wölfel’s argument and  wrote on September 26, 1938 to the church council: “Since Pastor Dr.  Wölfel in Fürstenfeld was not able to provide proof of his Aryan descent properly, he should be carefully informed that he would soon have to find a post outside the Austrian Protestant Church and should familiarize himself with the idea of ​​giving up the pastorate in Fürstenfeld.

Hermann Thür, Austrian Jewish Pastor who escaped to England

This was In contrast to his colleague Pastor Hermann Thür in Kapfenberg (another non-Aryan Jewish Christian, also a“ first-degree hybrid ”, who had given up all hope of remaining with his church and fled to England.

Josef Wölfel had better chances.  On October 12, 1938, Superintendent Spanuth supported him in a letter to Superintendent Heinzelmann with two reasons:

1. In 1919, at the time of the Soviet Republic in Hungary, Wölfel had fought against communism with a weapon in his hand: “Therefore he couldn’t for one  be equated with those who fought as Jews or half-Jews in the World War and for the party?”

2. The situation of the Fürstenfeld community would justify his remaining. The Church government seemed to have endorsed this assessment.  In September 1940 he offered a sum of money in the event that Wölfel could no longer give religious instruction at state schools because of his lineage and that a representation would be necessary. 

Wölfel therefore initially remained a pastor in Fürstenfeld until the end of January 1941. On January 31, 1941, he resigned from his post and was assigned to the pastor’s office in Vienna-Schwechat as a “itinerant pastor”, but was not dismissed from service.  Until the end of the war he was employed as a reserve hospital priest in Vienna.  After the end of the Nazi regime, Josef Wölfel was a pastor in Klosterneuburg from 1947 until his death.  At the request of the presbytery, he had continued to care for the community beyond retirement age.  He died in 1973 in Klosterneuburg.  (Eberhard Röhm – my apologies for inaccuracies in style and translation!)

Astrid Schweighofer: Religious seekers in the modern age. Conversions from Judaism to Protestantism in Vienna around 1900

Prayer and reflection. My heart goes out again to this halachically Jewish, proudly patriotic German nationalist, who tried as hard as possible to remain in pastoral ministry in an Austria that was deeply antisemitic and supportive of the anti-Aryan laws of Nazi Germany. What a quandary! Just to stay alive, yet alone continue to practice in your chosen profession and follow your calling, was hard enough. His political views did not lead him to sympathise with  Bonhoeffer, Niemöller and the Confessing Church, or perhaps he new that resistance would be futile, and quickly lead to discovery and death. How might  you and I have responded? Would we have had the courage to resist evil? Would we have even believed that was the right thing to do?  “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!” (John 8:7)

* January 13, 1901 in Güns (today Köszeg / Hungary), † September 2, 1973 in Klostererneuburg (Austria);  married.  with Margarethe, née  Jandl;  two children.  1919–1920 voluntary military service;  Studied philosophy in Budapest: 1925 doctorate in Dr.  phil;  then studied theology in Vienna and Tübingen: 1930 first theological exam in Vienna;  from September 1930 spiritual assistant in Vienna-Floridsdorf, from February 1932 in Vienna-Landstrasse;  October 1934 Ordination;  1936–1941 pastor in Fürstenfeld;  1941–1946 “flying pastor” for the parish office in Vienna-Schwechat;  1947-1973 pastor in Klosterneuburg. 


Zwischen Kreuz und Hakenkreuz – Evangelische Pfarrgemeinde

Astrid Schweighofer: Religiöse Sucher in der Moderne. Konversionen vom Judentum zum Protestantismus in Wien um 1900, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte, Band 126. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2015, XXIV, 493 S., Hardcover, € 99,95, ISBN 978-3-11-036767-6.

Some questions, additions and corrections kindly supplied by my friend Heribert Binder, to be incorporated in a revised version of this post:

Herbert Ramplers book confirms on the whole the article posted in jewinthepew.org from 13th of January 2020, except one particular detail: 

Rampler says (p 294): 

Since the 1st of February 1941 Woelfel was working als a ”flying pastor” („fliegender Pfarrer”) of the Lutheran parish „Wien-Schwechat”.

And after that from1st of Nov. 1946 until his death in 1973 he again served as an officially installed pastor in Korneuburg. 

The website „jewinthepew”  characterizes his activities during the same period as:

… „itinerant pastor” … “employed as a reserve hospital priest in Vienna.” (p. 5) 

These two statements can somehow be rhymed with a lot of imagination.

BUT there is ONE bigger problem in view to that period between February 1941 and October 1947:

The book „Quellentexte zur Österr. Evangelischen Kirchengeschichte 1918 – 1945”, which is a collection of original documents from the Protestant church in Austria (being significant for the events and developments from 1918 to 1945), contains an official circular to all pastors and parishes, dated 8th of July 1945, in which Bishop May informs the clergy an den congregations about the actual (still chaotic) situation in the first months after the end of WW II. 

 In this context the bishop shared the good news, that (in the period of time 1941 to 1946)

… “Dr. Wölfel administered ((the Lutheran parish of)) St. Aegyd a. N.  and was … protected (rescued / saved) from evil” (bewahrt vor Bösem).

This information (in an official document!) poses an almost impossible puzzle!

One has to take into account that the small village from November 1944 to April 1945 was dominated by a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp,  in which around 500 prisoners were driven to forced labor by around 50 SS men.

A protestant pastor, born from a Jewish mother, was a prominent personality in the life of a village,  and therefore Dr. Woelfel would have been much more in danger in St. Aegyd than in Vienna.For a serious biographical sketch of Dr. Woelfel’s life the following questions must be answered:

Where lived and worked Dr. Woelfel 1941 – 1945 really?

Was he (as a „flying pastor”) a vacancy representative in some different parishes in „Niederdonau” (today: “Lower Austria”) included the parish of St. Aegyd? Perhaps also included temporarily a ministry as pastor in Viennese hospitals? 

Or was he all the time in St. Aegyd even during the six months of closest neighborhood to the SS Concentration Camp? Nearly unimaginable!

Did Bishop May mistakenly transmit fake news or only partially correct information?

to be continued…

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12 January 1903 Birth of Theodor Carlebach, Farmer, Pastor and Vicar #otdimjh

Theodor Carlebach came from a well-respected Jewish family in Germany, which spread in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Ernst Carlebach (1838-1923) moved from Mannheim to Heidelberg in 1863 and founded a book and art antiquarian business there.  His son Rudolf (1870-1917) came to Mannheim as a notary in 1900 and married Lili Goldmann in 1901.  They had two sons: Theodor and Alfred (born February 4, 1905).  His father Rudolf Carlebach wrote several books on legal history.  When he died in 1917 and his wife had to go to hospital, the sons went to their grandparents in Heidelberg. 

As chairman of the synagogue council, Ernst Carlebach was very influential and strengthened the more conservative direction of the generally liberal Jewish community in Heidelberg.  Little information is available for Theodor Carlebach from 1917 to 1933: he received an agricultural education.  To do this, he often spent several months at various locations: from May to July 1919 he was a private student of Max Maier, a well-known educator in Weinheim.  Other places were: Reichenau, Mohring, Strasbourg, Untersiggingen and Gut Hohenhausen.  He then worked as an assistant to a Jewish charity in Berlin and helped young people at risk until the Nazis prevented him from doing so.  He prepared for the university by “a fairly extensive self-taught course” (letter of June 14, 1934 to the University of Tübingen).  1933/1934 he studied in Freiburg im Breisgau.  The year 1933 saw a profound turning point for the Carlebach brothers as “full Jews”: Alfred Carlebach, who had studied law in Berlin and Heidelberg since 1929, dropped out of study in February 1933 and emigrated to Palestine in 1934.  Theodor Carlebach turned to Christianity and was baptized on July 30, 1934 by parish priest Johannes Schneider in the Eberhardskirche in Tübingen.  Three theology students were witnesses. 

From 1934 to 1937/1938 he studied Protestant theology as a guest student in Tübingen, in the winter semester 1934/1935 in Erlangen and in the winter semester 1935/1936 in Marburg.  In the winter semester of 1936/1937 he continued his studies at the illegal church college of the Confessing Church in Wuppertal-Elberfeld.  Perhaps he continued to study underground even after the Gestapo closed the university.  In his spare time he helped at the children’s church service in Wuppertal – until the November pogrom in 1938.

In January 1939, Theodor Carlebach tried to emigrate to England with the help of Pastor Hermann Maas in Heidelberg and the “Pastor Grüber” office in Berlin.  His name can be found on two lists of theologians who were able to come to England at the invitation of Bishop George Bell.  According to a list, Pastor Adolf Freudenberg suggested Carlebach to emigrate to Venezuela because he had an agricultural and theological education and could therefore work as a pastor and farmer. 

He arrived in England on July 21, 1939.  After the war began, Carlebach – like all Germans – was interned on the Isle of Man.  From 1939 to 1942 he studied theology at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, passed both theological exams, was ordained a deacon in September 1942 and a priest in the Diocese of Southwark (London) in 1943.  From 1942 to 1953 he was a clergyman (curate) in various parishes in south London: from 1942 to 1945 at St. Andrews Church in Lambeth, from 1945 to 1946 at Holy Trinity Church in Richmond, Surrey, from 1946 to 1949  at St. James Church in West Streatham, from 1949 to 1950 at St. James in Gravesend / Kent, from 1950 to 1953 at St. Paul’s in Salisbury / Wiltshire. 

Theodor Carlebach married to the widow Hilda Axcell in Gravesend.  Her daughter Christine was born in 1951 (and is a friend of many in the Messianic movement).  From 1953 to 1973 he was a priest in parishes in the counties of Derbyshire and Staffordshire (central England): from 1953 to 1961 Vicar in Swadlincote, from 1961 to 1970 Vicar St. Luke’s in Bilston and from 1970 to 1973 Curate St. Luke’s and St.  Paul’s in Leek.  His wife Hilda helped him with community work.  Rev. Theodor Carlebach was remembered as a calm-tempered man.  In retirement the Carlebachs lived in Streetly and belonged to the Church of the Brethren.  Theodor Carlebach died in Streetly in August 1977.  (Hartmut Ludwig)

Prayer and Reflection: I met Christine Carlebach in the 1980s but had not idea of her family’s history. I am now full of admiration and gratitude for men and women like Theodor, for the trials they went through, for the faith they demonstrated, and for those who helped them along the way. This important chapter in the history of Jewish disciples of Jesus stands as a reminder of the faithfulness of God in the times of genocide and trauma that have affected our people over the millennia, but whose survival demonstrates the preservation of a remnant despite all odds. May we honour their memory by living out their faith and convictions!

Theodor Carlebach * January 12, 1903 in Mannheim, † August 30, 1977 in Streetly (England);  Verth.  with Hilda, née  Allen, used  Axcell (1919-2010);  one daughter 1912-1917 high school Mannheim;  Agricultural training;  Jewish welfare organization in Berlin;  1933/1934 studies in Freiburg;  July 30, 1934 baptism;  1934–1937 theological studies in Tübingen, Erlangen, Marburg, Wuppertal: July 1939 emigration;  Studied theology in Qxford;  Ordained deacon in 1942 and priest in 1943;  1943–1973 Reverend of the Anglican Church.



Click to access LP_4299_Evangelisch_getauft.pdf

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