14 August 1888 The faith of Nathanael Kameras #otdimjh

14 August 1888 Nathanael Kameras declares his faith in Yeshua #otdimjh


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Kameras, Rev. Nathanael, missionary in Vienna, of the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews. The following is an abridged extract from his autobiography [Bernstein: Some Jewish Witnesses]:—

“On the road leading from Russian Lithuania to [303] Russian Poland there stands a large and lonely inn. It was there that I first saw the light of day in the year 1862. A clay-floored entrance divides the rooms of this extensive house into two rows; on one side are the rooms for the strangers, who lodge here over night, the large tap-room, and the small rooms belonging to my parents; on the other, a one-windowed chamber, where our teacher slept, and the hall, a pretty large room, set apart for prayer and study. It contained long narrow tables and forms, an ornamented cupboard on the eastern side, in which the Thora-rollen (law scrolls) were kept, a prayer-desk with a seven-branched brass candelabra and a hanging lamp. The male members of our family, and Jews from the neighbouring villages, assembled there for Divine Service, to which the women listened in an adjoining room. There, too, our teacher instructed my four brothers and myself in the Hebrew language, and in the Talmud.

As soon as I was five years of age, my parents, wrapping me up in a Tallith (prayer-mantle), solemnly brought me in there, in order that I might receive the necessary instruction; so that from that moment I devoted myself exclusively to study. Every other occupation, every other employment, every recreation, game, or fun of childhood, all that makes the heart light and the body strong, was banished from my life. I felt like a bird imprisoned in a cage, and debarred the free movement of its limbs; outside, was the world in all its beauty, where numbers of joyous creatures were flying about in the full enjoyment of their individual freedom, whilst [304] I, powerless, clung to the bars.

Before my eyes lay a landscape, rich in rural splendour; as far as I could see, village after village, surrounded by fruit-laden trees, presented a most cheerful aspect, and from the window I could watch the Christian children at their play, enjoying the fresh air of freedom in the flowering fields and sprouting meadows. Amidst the songs of birds, the rustling of leaves and the roar of the forest, I caught the sound of happy human voices, whilst I, chained to my books all day and until late at night, was forced to pore over marriage contracts and divorces and other similar things, which would have been better kept from my childish reason. ‘Oh, if I were only that poor farm-servant coming home from the fields with the tired horses, or that ragged boy driving his cows home!’ Thus I sighed. But all my longings and wishings were useless; I had to go over the same tiresome road that all the Jewish children of orthodox parents must labour through. The master behind me, drove me on with a volume in one hand and the rod in the other; my father drove me, my relations drove me, and thus, without rest or quiet, I was hurried through all those voluminous works that are of no value for practical existence whatever, so that the years of my childhood passed by, joyless and unenjoyed.

“This Jewish elementary school, called Cheder, seemed to me just like a prison, and the teacher, who bore the title of Melamed, I looked upon as a jailer, so that when the news reached me of my parents’ resolve to send me to a Yeschiva, I welcomed it with [305] the same joy with which a convict welcomes his acquittal after long and hard imprisonment.

“It was not difficult to find a suitable Talmud school for me. The son-in-law of our district Rabbi was Rosh-Yeshiva (professor at a Talmud college) in a town where an uncle of mine lived. Thither my parents sent me shortly after I had been confirmed (Bar mitzvah), that is to say, when I had completed my thirteenth year. There, in his private lodgings, I visited Rabbi Schimele Wolf, for so the Talmud lecturer was called, and begged him to accept me as a pupil. At first he received me very coldly, and with dignity that involuntarily pointed to the importance of his position, but after I had delivered the recommendations I brought from his father-in-law, and had told him that his family doctor was my uncle, the stern look in his coal-black, thoughtful eyes, that shone like two glowing specks out of his pale face, fringed by a black beard, relaxed, and with extreme friendliness, he dispensed with the usual examination on entrance, and ordered his servant to lead me to the Yeshiva, and assign me a place there. We were still at a considerable distance from our destination when a great noise of human voices broke on my ear, and when at last I entered the hall, in which the Yeshiva was held, I was quite stunned by the terrific noise that was being made there.

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More than a hundred boys, youths of about thirteen to twenty years of age, were assembled, each one screaming and moving about in unrestrained restlessness. Some of them were sitting round long, narrow tables, continually swaying the [306] upper part of their bodies backwards and forwards or from side to side. Others were standing in front of small portable desks, leaning over them or swaying to and fro with them, or going round and round them. Each boy had a ponderous volume open before him, from which he chose a passage, that he quoted at the top of his voice. One roared like a lion, ‘Omar Rabbi Akiwa (Rabbi Akiwa said) sa……id, sa……id ..Ra……bbi…A……ki……wa…, oi Mamuni (Oh Mammy) Rabbi, oi Tatutim, (Oh Daddy) Akiwa, oi Ribene schel olam (Oh Lord of the World) said; said Rabbi Akiwa; what did Rabbi Akiwa say? A …ki….wa…sa……id…,’ and so on for hours. Another sang very daintily, imitating the voice of the chanter in sad and joyful melodies, such as had remained in his memory from the various festivals, or he composed something at will, with the following words; ‘According to the doctrine of Samai it is permitted to eat an egg that has been laid on a holiday on that same day, whereas according to the doctrine of Hillel, it is forbidden.’ My arrival attracted their attention and had a subduing effect; there was a lull. Suddenly a voice cried: ‘The Massgiach (overseer) is coming.’ This was uttered in the same sing-song manner, as though the boy were studying some sentence out of the Talmud.

It was repeated by a second, then a third and a fourth in the same manner, and was the signal for them all of one accord to begin their lamentations and singing afresh, with increased vigour, endeavouring to drown each other’s voices. It is in this way that these pale boys and[307] youths prepare for the ‘Schir’ (lecture), which lasts from two to four o’clock in the afternoon, taking place daily, and being carried out in the following manner:—The scholars stood round in a semi-circle at the feet of the Rabbi, who sat on an elevated chair at a desk. Charging one pupil to read a certain passage out of the Talmud, he desired another to read the commentaries to it, and again a third to read and explain the marginal notes to those commentaries.

“In the quiet cloisters of a large town I met a lonely man, living one day like another, a quiet and edifying life, to whom I felt particularly attracted. His head was a real study; a long white beard covered his breast, and he had a high, broad forehead, a finely arched nose, and large blue eyes, in which a whole world of goodness lay; over his features there was an expression of touching humility, as though he would excuse himself to everyone for daring to breathe the air and to fill a space in the universe. Hoping that with him I should not fare badly, I settled down there, and indeed, I did not regret it. From the beginning he showed me his goodwill in unlimited measure, taking care that I should receive free board from the prayer-men, who assembled there three times a day, and in such wise that I boarded with a different one each day in the week; besides which he contrived to give me ample pocket-money.

I was often allowed to substitute him in reading ‘Mischnais for anniversaries’ (extracts from the Talmud to be read for the departed souls on the respective days of their death, which the relations generally remunerate well). He took me[308] with him wherever he was called to sing psalms or say prayers, either at the cradle of a new-born child that had scarcely opened its eyes to the light, or at the bedside of the dying, closing them to the light, to a wedding-feast or to a death-watch, and everywhere money poured in. Thus we lived together day and night in a neighbourly, friendly manner in the cloisters, and nothing lay further in the recluse’s thoughts than that he should rob me of my peace of mind, which, however, he did without wishing to do so. His fervent prayers for the redemption of the people of Israel it was that had such a striking effect on my mind. Years will not efface from my memory the sight of that old man at midnight, when all around was quiet, and he thought himself unobserved, taking off his shoes and seating himself on the floor, imploring the Lord in heartfelt sincerity, in His mercy to return to Jerusalem and reign there as He had prophesied.

I still hear those heart-rending tones, in which he prayed; ‘Stretch out Thy right hand, Oh God! and in mercy redeem the people of Israel. Oh, that it might soon be announced to the unhappy nation: “Your Redeemer has come to Zion!”‘ Every sentence was accompanied by a sigh or broken by a sob. He imagined me to be asleep, but I heard every word, and was often moved to tears, involuntarily beginning myself to pray eagerly and perseveringly that the Messiah might soon come and release His people from captivity. From henceforth I devoted much thought to the subject, and, in my childish fancy, pictured to myself how glorious it would be when the Messiah would come,[309] and, as a child rejoices to greet its father from afar, I looked forward, daily and hourly, to the advent of the Redeemer of Israel. On the other hand, the question often worried me; Why does not God answer such real and fervent prayers? Why does not the Messiah come to release His people? I did not dare to speak to Rabbi Todresch, such was the name of the recluse, on the subject, but once when a Talmudist from some well-known Talmud school came back to his home in the cloisters, I told him what it was that troubled me so much, and my astonishment was indeed great when I heard his answer: ‘Prayers such as those will and can never be answered; for the Messiah has come.’

In vain did I beg him to explain it to me, but he purposely avoided all my questions, telling me only so much that he possessed a book which explained the question thoroughly, but which he could not entrust to me for fear of the consequences such a step might have for himself; besides, it would be of no use to me, as I should have to give up my present career entirely. ‘If you want to know the full truth,’ he said to me, ‘you must go abroad, for only there can you search after the truth freely and independently; whereas here, you must sell your freedom for your bread.’ Tortured by restlessness, despair and longing, and fearful lest my parents should get ear of the change in my heart, when they would certainly oppose my plans, I decided to follow his advice at once and to leave Russia.

“After taking a hearty leave of the recluse, and my new friend, the Talmud student, I seized my staff and[310] went out into the wide world, a toy for wind and weather. Like a nomad, I wandered uncertain, for a long period, from town to town and from village to village. It was quite late often when I reached a strange place; all the doors and gates were closed, and I turned my steps to the ever open house of God, entered upon a ‘Kasche’ (a Talmudic question of dispute) with any one of those present, and I immediately felt at home, had my board and lodging, and the pious prayer-men, who came there daily, openly and secretly pressed their charitable gifts into my hand. Thus I was enabled to wander through the whole of Russia to the frontier, which, having no passport, I could not legally cross, and was therefore forced to smuggle myself through by giving a man a rouble to conduct me through a wood which led into Germany. Now that I was in another country, my position became a different one. On reaching the first German town, I asked as usual for the ‘Beth-Hamedrash’ (Jewish prayer and school-house), but to my greatest dismay no one could give me any information. Only one thing I was aware of, and that was that I could not make myself understood at all. It was evening; the first stars, those companions of my wanderings, began to twinkle in the sky, but into my sad heart no light would enter; there all was dark and dull. Here I was, standing at the corner of a street leaning against a post, a little bundle in my hand, without means, work, knowledge or language; alone, forsaken, not knowing where to turn. A lady passing by stopped and looked at me inquisitively.

The sight of a [311] slender little lad, clothed in the long wide Kaftan, with a pale face and sad eyes filled with tears, must have aroused her sympathy. She addressed me, but finding I did not understand a word she said, she gave me a few pence and showed me an inn where I could pass the night. It was certainly a very cheap night’s-lodging that I had, but I was obliged to sleep amongst tipsy room-companions, to whom I was much too interesting a personage for them to leave in peace. Some would insist on making a common covering of my long coat; others played incessantly with my long fore-locks, whilst others again were interested in my Arba-Kanfoth (a garment with fringe at the ends) and were continually pulling at them. It was a long, weary night that I passed there, and as soon as the rising sun shone faintly through the dirty window-panes I hastened out, and, being once more alone, allowed my tears to flow. For the first time since my departure home-sickness with all its overwhelming power quite overcame me, and I felt the seriousness of life in its full meaning.

However, I soon took courage again, laid my Tephillin (prayer-strap) on and implored the Lord to lend me His assistance and protection, taking a solemn oath that from henceforth I would blindly let myself be guided by Him in all things. With this sacred oath and with the firm conviction that the Lord would carry out all to His glory, I went on my way. With great difficulty and many privations I reached Breslau, where I met a man from Russia, who assisted me in obtaining a place as instructor of the Hebrew language in a Polish [312] Jew’s family. After staying there a few months I seemed, curiously enough, to be drawn as by an invisible hand towards Vienna. The money I had earned as a teacher amply sufficed to take me there, and after a lengthy search, I found inexpensive lodgings in a Jewish family. (The head of the family is dead, but the wife still lives here, and her son is now, thanks be to God, a dear believing Protestant Christian.) Here I became acquainted with a Jewish shoemaker, who was the first to give me a New Testament in the Hebrew language to read. The very first sentence in that book was sufficient to draw me to it like a magnet, for there it was written what that Talmud-scholar had briefly told me, written clearly and in full, namely, that the Messiah, who until now had been the object of my prayers, my desires and hopes, had actually been born. On asking him to tell me something more about the book, the shoemaker conducted me to the missionary, Herr E. Weiss, who advised me to go to Pastor Schönberger, preacher at Prague, where I found a very friendly welcome. I passed the winter there, but, as Pastor Schönberger was obliged to be away for a year, he took me to his friend, the Rev. D. A. Hefter, L.J.S. missionary at Frankfort-on-the-Main, who kindly took me under his paternal care.

“The year 1881 was a decisive one for me. The Word of Life rooted itself deeper and deeper in my heart; prejudices vanished one by one, and the love of Jesus took their place. I perceived how deeply my heart had been wounded by sin; but at the same time [313] I acknowledged the most lovable of all the children of the earth, the Son of God, who has redeemed me too through the shedding of His innocent blood, and has healed all my wounds.

On the 14th of August, 1881, I was baptized by the missionary, Herr Hefter, in the ‘Dreikönigskirche’ at Frankfort-on-the-Main, receiving the names Nathanael Karl Albert. At first I learnt the art of bookbinding in Frankfort, but as the Rev. D. A. Hefter desired me to become a pupil at the missionary-house in Barmen, I complied with his desire most willingly, regarding this step as one indicated by the Lord. One year I passed in the preparatory-school of the missionary-house, and four years in the seminary itself. During these years I received abundant blessings from the Lord. I was led deeper and deeper into the Spirit of the Word of God, and guided to more independent search by teachers endowed with truly divine minds, and treated with the greatest affection by a friendly circle of brethren, among whom I was permitted, thanks be to God, to grow stronger in faith, more fervent in love, and riper in understanding.

To serve the Lord in His empire, and to win souls for Him out of His ancient people of the covenant, was my most coveted desire, and this too the Lord has granted me in His endless goodness and mercy. At the end of the year 1887 I passed my final examinations, and at the beginning of 1888, in answer to the proposal of the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews, I was permitted to begin my active duty among Israel in Vienna. Three years later, in [314] 1891, I received my ordination from the celebrated theologian of Würtemberg, Dr. Burk, in Stuttgart.

“One incontestible certainty has been proved to me both in the wonderful guidance of my life as also in my profession, which I now hold for more than sixteen years, that of myself I can do nothing, not even the slightest thing, and imbued with the conviction of my powerlessness and utter helplessness, of my own poverty and wretchedness, I have learnt to make use of the sweetest privilege of our life, namely, the subjection of my own will to the will of my Saviour, Jesus Christ.”


Prayer: This story of Nathaniel Kameras challenges us today – his genuineness of spirit, the deep orthodox background in which he grew up, and his firm faith in Yeshua. Thank you, Lord, for his witness and service. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.



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13 August 2002 Hansi Dobschiner promoted to glory #otdimjh

13 August 2002 Death of Hansi Dobschiner, writer and Holocaust survivor #otdimjh


Johanna-Ruth Douglas (Hansie Dobschiner) was born in 1925 and died on August 13 2002. She was a well-known and much loved figure in the British Messianic Jewish Alliance, and a leading member in Scotland. Here is her obituary from the Glasgow Herald. Not only did she die on August 13, but on the same date in 1943 she miraculously escaped arrest and deportation.

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Johanna-Ruth Douglas, known to everyone as Hansie, who wrote a moving memoir of her experience as the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, has died at the age of 76.

Selected To Live tells of her remarkable series of escapes as a teenager in her native Holland when she kept one step ahead of her Nazi pursuers to survive the war with the help of a series of sympathetic and brave Dutch families.

Born to Jewish parents in Berlin, Hansie’s earliest memory, with which she begins the book, was of attending celebrations for Adolf Hitler’s birthday with other members of her class as a seven year old.

Joanna-Ruth Dobschiner, as she was born [in 1926], quit Germany with her family two years later to return to her father’s native Amsterdam in the face of increasing anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin. The city was to prove no safe haven as the Germans invaded and the Gestapo began rounding up Jewish boys. Hansie’s two brothers were the first of the family to be taken, dragged away while walking the streets. The family were later notified that one of the boys had been killed.


In April 1943 soldiers forced their way into their home and took Hansie’s parents and the orphans they had been sheltering. She would have been taken too but the soldiers failed to look behind a partition that separated her room off from that of the orphans’. Terrified she lay still in her bed as the house was searched. Her mother managed a hurried farewell on the excuse that she wanted to ensure that the gas and electricity had been turned off. It was the last time either parent spoke to her. Both were killed in the concentration camps.

The Nazis caught up with Hansie, who was working as a nurse, three months later. Even as she was being led away she offered to look after the children on their journey, caring for others despite the fate that was befalling her.

She was loaded on to a cattle truck which was heading for the camps having attached herself to a family with a baby. Spotting the baby had red heat spots under its bonnet, she began shouting that the baby had an infectious disease, claiming it was scarlet fever. The moment of inspiration worked. Persuading the soldiers that they were all infectious, she and the family were able to escape.

Another time she was already on board a train bound for the camps when those around her discovered she had worked in the hospital’s isolation unit and demanded she leave in case she spread disease.

She stepped back onto the platform, explained the problem to the guards in German and asked for a lift back to the hospital.

Remarkably resourceful and resilient, Hansie only once felt like giving up. But a nurse who worked beside her stopped her. She was persuaded to return to the hospital and be taken into hiding by the Dutch resistance.

It was a risk. Hansie, then 18, had no way of knowing if the man who came for her whom she knew only as Domie was someone she could trust.

He cut from her coat the yellow star that the Nazis insisted that Jews wore, and led her to a safe house. She would spend the rest of the war hiding in attics in Holland sheltered by the Resistance. ‘Domie’ was Bastiaan Ader, a Christian pastor who helped save the lives of over 200 Jews.

Eventually he was arrested and tortured. He refused to give the Gestapo a single name and was shot.

It was while Hansie was in hiding in his manse that she read the New Testament for the first time. Through that she came to a Christian faith while remaining wedded to her Jewish identity.

Despite losing all her close family, Hansie Douglas devoted her life to reconciliation, never giving in to the bitterness and recrimination that would have been so understandable.

She had what can only be described as a genius for friendship, combined with an infectious sense of fun and invincible good humour. Her voluminous address books of friends around the world included many Germans.

After the war, Hansie moved to Scotland where she trained as a nurse. She met and married Donnie ”a real Scottish Highlander” and had twin daughters.

She worked tirelessly to foster relations between the Christian and Jewish communities and was a regular speaker at meetings and conferences worldwide.

She was the moving spirit behind Via Sucot, an organisation that donated an ambulance to the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross in 1982 and continues its work to this day.

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The ITV and BBC made documentaries about her experiences, the latter in 1989. Selected To Live was published in nine languages in addition to English. The latest edition was published in 2000 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Despite battling cancer for 18 months, Hansie Douglas was full of life until the end.

She had planned a holiday with her daughter, Anne, in which she intended to take up painting water-colours.

She is survived by her husband, Donald, daughters, Anne and Dorothy, and her grandchildren Andrew and Laura.

Johanna-Ruth Douglas (Hansie Dobschiner), writer and Holocaust survivor; born 1925, died August 13 2002.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the life and witness of this redoubtable lady, who escaped arrest and survived the Shoah through a series of miraculous events. Thank you for her faith in you, her witness, testimony and vibrant personality that speaks so strongly of what it means to be Jewish and to believe in Yeshua. Help us to follow her example of courage, humour and faith. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.





Moving quickly, fourteen-year-old Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner, known as Hansie to family and friends, drew back the curtains of her bedroom window. Aroused early by the unexpected noise of aircraft and gunfire over Amsterdam, she saw that the street outside was full of neighbours. Most of them were pointing upwards and looking agitated. It was very early on Friday morning, 10 May 1940. When Hansie looked up she was astounded to see the sky full of parachute troops. Not many hours later, she saw the terrifying sight of grey-uniformed German troops in her own street. A horrendous time had begun.

The world soon learned that at 04.30 on that morning of the 10th May Hitler had attacked a genuinely neutral country without declaring war. The Dutch had taken no part in the First World War. At the end of it they had even provided a home for life for Wilhelm, the defeated German Kaiser. Hitler had only one reason for unleashing his vast army against the unsuspecting Dutch: parts of their territory offered easy routes for him to deliver attacks on the British and French. The peace-loving Dutch, who had not fought a war since 1830, were beaten into submission within five days. The extremely brutal occupation of their country lasted for five years.

What happened next was particularly frightening to Hansie’s family. Their original home had been in Berlin. Hansie and her two older brothers, Werner and Manfred, had been born there. Seeing the writing on the wall, the Dutch consul advised them to flee from the rising tide of Nazi anti-Jewish prejudice and physical assaults. Hansie was only nine and looking forward to living in the safety of Holland. That was in 1935. When the German troops landed on them literally ‘out of the blue’, the dreaded enemy they had left behind had caught up with them. There had been exactly five years free from menace and terror.

Things quickly became worse in Holland. The Dutch queen, Wilhelmina, warned her people that she might be kidnapped and used as a hostage. Reluctantly she escaped to England on a British destroyer. The rest of the population was trapped. Within days the new German government started issuing laws. The majority of them were directed against the Jewish people, though any Dutch citizen who resisted the illegal occupation could also be in trouble. There was no way of evading the power of the invaders.

New regulations demanded that Jews hand over personal possessions such as cars, bicycles and radios. Notices appeared outside shops, hotels, theatres and cinemas announcing: ‘Forbidden to Jews.’ They were not allowed to use public transport. A miserable Hansie was forced to leave her integrated school and attend an all-Jewish school. Early in 1941 a new law stipulated that all Jews had to purchase bright yellow stars five inches (twelve and a half centimetres) wide with the word ‘JEW’ in capital letters written on them. The stars had to be stitched on all clothing worn outdoors. Anyone who did not wear the star was punished severely, but in the first stage of the occupation it was not a matter of life and death.

On 21 February 1941 anti-Semitism did become a life-and-death issue. Hansie’s two brothers were among many thousands of male Jews randomly rounded up off the streets and sent to concentration camps. Hansie insisted for the rest of her life that her mother’s hair went white overnight. As feared, her two brothers were never seen again. Her parents eventually received some ashes.

Hansie’s ambition was to be a nurse, but for the time being she had to be content with helping a dressmaker. As more and more Jewish people went to the ‘land of no return’, as she put it, fear gripped her and her thoughts became increasingly fixed on the Jewish Hospital. She had the idea that she would be safe as a patient in the hospital. A friendly nursing sister arranged for the unnecessary removal of her appendix. Hansie judged that her appendix was worth two weeks of peace of mind and safety.

In the autumn of 1942 she felt genuinely ill and a doctor diagnosed scarlet fever. Rules required a sign to be put up at the door of the house: ‘Danger. No entry. Scarlet Fever.’ Evidently the Nazis did not like infectious illness. The disease brought six weeks of welcome security. As she lay in bed, her very devout orthodox Jewish parents celebrated the feast of Hanukkah. This comes in December at about the same time as Christmas.

Confined to bed in an upstairs room, and on her own for much of the time, Hansie thought about recent events. She definitely believed in the Jewish religion and its observances. She was Jewish, and did not want to be anything else. But something was missing from this seventeen-year-old’s life. She analysed her religion and that of her parents. It was strict in outward observance of the festivals, yet God seemed distant. God was not part of their everyday lives even though they were so religious. It shook her deeply to think that God was not treated as a present reality. Orthodox Judaism offered festivals, such as Hanukkah, to remember the actions of God in the history of the Hebrew people. She started asking herself whether she could know God personally now. If God was real, could he be contacted? Why did her religion make him so remote?

During December 1942 she went through an experience that she described like this: ‘I became “God-conscious” for the first time in my life… This remote person, the Almighty God, allowed me a glimpse of Himself… I now knew that God not only was, but is… Three words now stood rock-like in my life: “GOD … WITH … US.” I knew myself close to God that evening.’

To share this message of comfort and assurance, she wrote the three words on three pieces of paper, and pinned them to the wall above her bed. The intention was good. If the family trusted in the truth of the words, they would find encouragement. That was how she reasoned.

However, when she shared this ‘moment of revelation’ about the nearness of God with her parents she was interrupted by her father’s comment: ‘Don’t talk such utter rubbish.’ Plainly the notion that God could be known as a daily reality was not for a devout orthodox Jew. Though she most certainly had not become a Christian, the strange spiritual experience of the nearness of God sustained her through the dreadful events of the next two years.

By February 1943 the scarlet fever was gone. The smell of Dettol antiseptic dispersed, and the notice warning about infectious disease had to come down. The Dobschiner family returned to ‘normal’. All of them felt the sword of Damocles was hanging over them by a very thin thread.

At 22.00 on 9 April 1943 came the bitterest blow of all. The cat-and-mouse existence ended. The doorbell rang, and did not stop ringing, until the door was opened. Hansie heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. A voice shouted, ‘Hurry up. We haven’t got all night.’ Her father and mother were forced out and pushed into a waiting army lorry. Hansie lay frozen with terror in her bed, which was hidden by a partition in the room. To her amazement the soldiers did not see her. The door banged and she was totally alone in a silent house.
Her brain worked at top speed. At first she remained motionless, mostly out of fear. Then she realized the danger she was in. Looters, who always seemed to know when a family had been arrested, might come before curfew ended. Acting quickly, she dressed, put a few essentials in a little black case and walked out as soon as 06.00 came. She dare not return. As she walked away, dazed and in a state of shock, she glanced back. It had been such a lovely flat with a good view of the canal and its barges.

She reported for duty at the Jewish day nursery where she worked. All she had to say was: ‘They came last night … the whole family.’ The others understood without further explanation. On a dreary April morning she watched the ghastly scene as dozens of army lorries lined up ready to receive the pathetic lines of helpless people. Then she saw her mother and father. She wanted to wave to them, but did not dare. If a soldier saw the movement of a curtain and a wave, he might simply point at the window. Other soldiers would burst into the building and take her to join the victims who had already been arrested. It was essential to resist the temptation to wave. Lorries’ engines revved, and then they were all gone. She would never see her parents again. The awful deed, a living burial, was done.

Hansie’s parents were among over 100,000 Dutch Jews murdered during the five years of Nazi occupation. The most well-known was teenager Anne Frank. The diary she kept before she was betrayed was published after her death.

On Sunday, 20 June 1943, Hansie was seized from the house where she was lodging. Soldiers were everywhere, ordering people into waiting army lorries. Some Dutch Nazi black-shirt traitors were on hand to help with ‘language-problems.’ Amazed at her own composure, Hansie said to her escorts in German, ‘Can I do anything to help?’ In her own mind she thought that she could look after some crying children. The offer was accepted. She could mind lost children.

When they reached the railway station in Amsterdam, the children were reunited with their parents. The scene on the station was one of confusion. The adult victims stood around, just accepting what was happening to them. German soldiers ordered a goods train to be filled up. Fifty prisoners about to make the journey to death were to go in every cattle truck. The Jews were packed in like animals. There were no seats and no sanitation.

Before long it was Hansie’s turn to climb into a cattle truck. She helped to lift a pram aboard. The family’s baby was crying. The child was covered with red spots. In a desperate attempt to escape, the ‘nurse’ used her fluency in German. Through the bars she cried out loudly, Attention. Attention. Infectious disease. Open the door at once. Highly infectious family in this wagon. Hurry! Hurry!’

To her astonishment, nearby soldiers opened the door. Boldly, she ordered them to keep their distance. An officer told her that as a nurse she was in charge of the family! They were to go to the station waiting room. With the help of a friendly Dutch doctor, the resourceful seventeen-year-old continued the pretence that what were probably only heat spots were in fact the symptoms of scarlet fever. Trains came and went, clearing the station of its human misery. Finally, Dr van Ebo arranged for the family and a few others to be loaded into an ambulance. Still wearing her yellow star, Hansie climbed in with the family. The ambulance headed for the hospital. In this way, she escaped death once again. Another nightmare was over – for the time being.

Without informing Hansie, Dr van Ebo told the hospital matron what his young helper had done on Amsterdam railway station. As a result the Jewish City Hospital employed Hansie Dobschiner as a nurse, even though she was unqualified. All the time she was there she wondered how safe she really was. When would she be taken away to a concentration camp? It seemed as though an answer came on 5 July 1943.

Officers from the Gestapo came to the hospital, took over the loudspeaker system, and read out the names of everybody who had been employed there for less than three months. H. Dobschiner was one person named. Still in uniform, she was bundled into a lorry. They went through familiar streets to a waiting train.

Hansie climbed into a compartment. Before they moved off, a lady also on the journey to oblivion, asked Hansie on which ward she had worked. ‘Infectious diseases,’ was the reply. Did they not have enough trouble without catching infectious illness from her? A chorus of voices pleaded with her: ‘Please go; please leave us.’ To Hansie it seemed ironic to be concerned about any sort of infection in such a situation.

She broke all the rules and stepped out on to the platform. At once a soldier approached. Ignoring the pointing rifle, she spoke in her Berlin accent: ‘It’s no use; they won’t have me in the train because I worked in the isolation unit for infectious diseases. I think I had better go back to the hospital. Have you any transport please?’

The soldier lowered his gun and turned to another soldier: ‘Are you going back to the city? Drop this nurse at the hospital, will you? Thanks.’

It worked! Hansie was the only person to return to the hospital that day. All the others went to death camps.

The matron in charge of the Jewish hospital assigned Hansie to district nursing. Her orders were to care for a woman with pneumonia called Mrs. Sim. One day Mr. Sim returned from work very early. Out of breath, he gasped, ‘They are doing your hospital. It’s dreadful.’ Sure enough, the hospital was emptied. All doctors, nurses and patients were sent to their deaths. Hansie was saved only because she was off the premises. This inhuman deed occurred on 13 43 1943.

Hansie was now a couple of weeks away from her eighteenth birthday. However, the will to live was ebbing out of her. She became inwardly convinced that her turn to be rounded up was now inevitable. Were all these attempts to escape worthwhile? She decided to end the mental torture by giving herself up. She even chose a date to surrender: 6 September. Hearing of her decision, a friend, Lena, physically restrained her from walking into captivity. ‘You selfish, stupid, childish idiot,’ her friend yelled. ‘Get back at once and stop your nonsense.’

Having been restrained from ‘committing deliberate suicide’, as Lena described it, consider Hansie’s surprise when on the following day some anti-Nazi Dutch people offered her the opportunity to go ‘underground’. This meant that there was the possibility of going into long-term hiding somewhere. Another Jewish girl had been the first choice, but was in bed with influenza. Because the next day was the deadline, Hansie was selected as a substitute.

8 September 1943 was the great day. The instructions were simple, and given to protect everyone involved. They were communicated by Jan, a hall porter who had worked in the hospital. She must memorize, not write down, an address in Amsterdam East. At the corner of that street she was to sneeze and take a handkerchief out of the right-hand pocket of her coat. As directed, she went to the house. Reaching the address, she knocked at the door and walked into the house – and into a new way of life.

A tall slim man greeted her. She had to take him on trust since she had no idea who he was. It might well have been a trap. Instead the man told her to call herself Francisca Dobber from then on. He cut off her yellow star. She changed out of her nurse’s uniform. The man said that she could call him ‘Domie’. Together they took a train to the north of Holland, where he hid her in his house along with five other young people.

In Holland Christian ministers are usually called ‘Dominie’. Domie was in fact Bastian Johan Ader, an evangelical minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. Aged thirty-three when he met Hansie, he was a key figure in the Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation. Bastian Ader not only sheltered Jews; he protected airmen who had been shot down and arranged for them to be smuggled back to England. As well as these activities, he kept up a Reformed biblical ministry near Groningen in the north of Holland. No wonder that one of Hansie’s first impressions of him was that he seemed tired. He is one of the world’s little-known great men.

In the safety of Bastian Ader’s home in the countryside at Nieuw-Beerta, Hansie was away from the world of soldiers, arrests, curfews and raids. Ader’s wife, Jo, had one young son and another on the way, so Hansie helped around the house. It turned out to be tense and lonely waiting for liberation as the Allied armies slowly pushed the Germans back. News of Allied progress after D-Day, 6 June 1944, came from the BBC in London on an illegal radio located in the attic of the church house.

Hansie kept up her Jewish religion as much as the solitude allowed. Hundreds of books lined the walls of every room in Domie’s home. One day in early 1944, as she was looking at titles, she found an illustrated Children’s Bible. She decided to read it. Chores were done, and time passed so slowly that boredom was a problem. Most of the stories it contained were familiar to a religious Jew, such as those about Moses and the prophets. Then for the very first time she read the story of Jesus Christ. It was puzzling. Why had she never been told before about this Jewish prophet? The more she read, the more she admired Jesus. She commented, ‘As the weeks and months passed by, his life became part of mine. I enjoyed the company of my Bible and my new-found prophet and hero, Jesus.’

One day she unearthed a Bible in Dutch. After reading the Old Testament, there was a blank page before a new title page. On that title page was printed: ‘The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. Following this were four books about Jesus called ‘Gospels’ – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. She read the four short books, and some following books, with growing interest. It became easy to understand why these Christians, such as Domie, or ‘Uncle Bas’ as she now called him, acted as they did.

One Sunday morning in February 1944, she asked if she could join the others in a secret position from which she could observe the church service. It was the first Christian message from the Bible that she had ever heard. Domie preached from John chapter 13. Hansie sensed his sincerity. The power of the sermon reached her heart. The whole story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and its implications for her, became clear.

During one evening in April 1944, Domie informed the group that he must go into hiding because the Nazis were determined to arrest him. They would have to move quickly before his house and church were raided. As they all dispersed Hansie asked Domie’s wife for permission to take the Dutch Bible with her. She consented – and seemed not the least bit surprised.

Moved from one safe house to another, Hansie was helpless. Her future, if she had one, was in the hands of Domie and his friends. She knew that these ordinary Dutch people were freely accepting a fearful risk. They could be shot for hiding her. Days and weeks dragged by. More and more her thoughts turned to the Bible.

She wrote, ‘[God] was explained and portrayed so clearly by…Jesus Christ, that I almost felt that I knew Him – that I could depend on him – that I could take Him at His word and live according to His advice. It only worried me when this Jesus Christ made definite claims regarding his purpose on earth or his authority; or proclaimed His …divinity and the part He played in our approach to the Almighty Creator of the Universe. Some of His…words would come to me:

“No one cometh unto the Father but by me.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
“Come unto me…and I will give you rest.”
“All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.”
“I am come that they may have life.”‘

Then she recorded: ‘Unconsciously, He had stolen His way into my life, and I could no more think of God the Father without visualizing Jesus Christ. Slowly but surely, God became a reality… As day succeeded day [Christ drew] me closer and closer to his heart… What reason did we have to disbelieve this Jesus, when he claimed that he was that promised Messiah who would die for our sins and rise again to be the first of those to conquer death? … A vital truth surged through my very being … He’s alive! … It was [Jesus] who had been busy with me all these months. His vast almighty penetrating Holy Spirit had pierced my iron curtain of reasoning.’

On Easter Monday 1944, Hansie was sharing the attic of a safe house in the south of Holland with Sister Moony. They had known each other in the Jewish Hospital in Amsterdam. Neither had realized the other was still alive. Back in the period when she had worked in the hospital, Hansie had looked up to the sister with awe and dread because she was such a bossy person. However, in the attic they were just two equal human beings. A plaque above the attic door proclaimed a verse form the Old Testament which says, ‘Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7).

Hansie’s search for a relationship with a personal God came to an end that Easter Monday. Once chores were done, all her waking hours were taken up with the study of the little black Bible in Dutch. She was oblivious to the once-domineering presence of Sister Moony. As she read, God became more and more real. Matters came to a conclusion with an act of faith and commitment. Hansie was peeling potatoes. She laid down the knife, rose from the stool, and walked to a spot among the attic beams in a little corner of the roof. ‘I slowly knelt down, clasped my hands in absolute surrender and closed my eyes to all around. “Rabboni Joshua Hamoschiach” (“Master Jesus Christ”). It was all I could whisper. Deep thankfulness and love to Almighty God for his inexplicable revelation and gift flooded my entire being. God cared. He cared after all!’

By the end of Easter Monday 1944, even though she had been a Christian for only hours, Sister Moony asked her why she seemed so happy. ‘My inward happiness had spilled over and made her wonder,’ she thought.

During the next few weeks, she eagerly read all she could from both Old and New Testaments. She felt as though she had entered a different world, one with a life that was endless. She was totally secure spiritually because she was in the hands of her majestic Creator, and his appointed prophesied Saviour.

In later years the writer spent hours discussing Hansie’s wartime experiences with her. She explained, among other things, how she found these words in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can kill both soul and body in hell’ (Matthew 10:28). That was strong language, she thought. Even if she were arrested now, her Master would look after her, even if she had to die.

The spiritual experience that happened in moments lasted a lifetime. By faith she came to know the risen Christ. Domie and his wife were good examples, but no human being gave her new life. Christ did that directly. No human mediators were involved. It was a living faith in the living God who became real to her as she read the pages of Scripture. She never repudiated her Jewish background, but she was Christ’s disciple from that Easter Monday in 1944 for as long as she lived.

She described her experience like this: ‘Never before did I have such close fellowship with Christ, the irresistible Christ, whose existence some people deny.’ When the air-raid sirens sounded and people ran for shelter, she wrote, ‘Christ stayed with me, His Holy Spirit, able to be everywhere at the same time, covered me with security. I knew myself loved, even when no human being considered my need.’ The cross became a symbol of ultimate victory to her.

In the late summer of 1944, she stood on the edge of the pavement at Treebeek in the south of Holland with thousands of others and cheered and waved at the columns of Allied tanks that set them all free from a vile tyranny. Though in a crowd, she felt alone. There was no Bastian Ader to thank. She had nowhere to go, no friends, no family, no money. There was no one close to her except the Christ she had come to know by faith.

Fortunately she found someone to take her in. She helped the Red Cross, and for the first time in her life began to attend church. She told the minister that she wanted to receive the bread and the wine at the communion service. Naturally the pastor was curious about her since she was Jewish by race and Christian by belief. She had come to believe that by turning to Christ, a Jew became spiritually complete. It was not a matter of being converted to a new religion, but fulfilling the old one by bringing it to completion. It seemed so clear to her that the Old Testament prophecies only had meaning as they came true in the New Testament. As she would say in later years, she exchanged ‘religion’ for the reality of God.

Hansie Dobschiner told the Dutch Reformed minister in Treebeek the story of her spiritual journey. On Sunday, 19 November 1944, she was baptized. She knelt on a special stool in front of the assembled congregation. The minister said, ‘Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’ When the words ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ were pronounced Hansie felt cold water on her forehead forming the shape of a cross. It was as if she was invisibly marked. To her it was an everlasting mark, which nobody else would ever see. After being baptized and confessing her faith, she received the bread and wine from the Lord’s Table.

Soon after being received into the church, Hansie received the news from the north of Holland that Domie had been killed. Betrayed for money, he had been arrested in Haarlem. Taken to a Gestapo prison in Amsterdam, he was tortured, but did not betray a single name. He was shot there on Monday, 20 November 1944, aged only thirty-five. Hansie could scarcely take the news in. It seemed particularly poignant to her that his death came one day after her baptism and communion. A fine Christian man had lost his life just as all Holland was on the verge of liberation by the Allies. She wrote, ‘He died to secure my life in this world. Christ died to secure it in the next. Life here and life eternal by the shedding of blood.’

When the Second World War ended Hansie was only twenty years old. It took her at least two years to recover from living like a hunted animal for so long. Though she never gave way to bitterness, self-pity, or the desire for recrimination which would have been so understandable, she had forgotten how to laugh or live a normal life.

In post-war Holland she was delighted to meet with other Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. When they found out that she accepted Jesus as the Messiah, they accused her of being a ‘Geschmad’. This means an apostate from Judaism, a Jewish person who has been baptized into the Christian faith. The Jewish community would accept that a Jew could be an atheist, a Communist, even a criminal, but never a Christian. It was, and is, seen as betrayal. Though Hansie clung fervently to her Jewish roots and hated anti-Semitism, it made no difference. The Jewish community would not accept her. There is no place in Judaism for the ‘Messianic Jew’.

Britain exercised a magnetic power on Hansie’s mind, probably because it had stood out as a beacon of freedom during the years of war and tyranny. In 1946, sponsored by the generosity of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, Hansie studied for two years at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. The training to qualify as a nurse took a further three years at Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary. The plan was to be a staff nurse at Tiberias Hospital in Israel. It was not to be. Instead, she married a Scotsman, so becoming Hansie Douglas. Twin girls were born soon after. At last she enjoyed a normal family life.

Hansie Douglas had a great gift for friendship, even with many German people. Tirelessly, she worked to foster good relations between Christians and Jews. Both Independent Television and the BBC – the latter in 1989 – made documentaries about her. The cameras followed her as she retraced her steps to the house where she had once lived in Amsterdam, and from which her parents were so cruelly removed. She is seen on Amsterdam station reliving the scenes of the deportations, and in the attic where she peeled potatoes and became a Christian believer. The hero of the documentary has to be Bastian Johan Ader, ‘Domie’. The pictures of her describing her memories of him while glancing down at his simple grave make compelling viewing. The gravestone just gives his name and two dates: 30-12-09 and 20-11-44.

When her husband Donald became a polio victim, he needed to be cared for twenty-four hours a day. With very little help, Hansie fulfilled the role of carer for many years. Her daughter Anne became a consultant psychiatrist in Glasgow. Dorothy married and went to live in Australia.

Hansie Douglas died of cancer in Glasgow in 2002 aged seventy-six. Her faith never changed from the basic beliefs that she had come to on Easter Monday 1944, though her understanding obviously increased. When she was puzzled for a title for her memories, her teenage children thought of ‘Selected to Live”. The book Selected to Live, now translated into ten languages, has rarely been out of print since first published in 1969. It presents a vivid picture of Nazi-occupied Holland, and a gripping pen-portrait of a resilient young woman trying to avoid death as a consequence of one of the greatest crimes in history.

More information on Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner

For over thirty years I had the privilege of writing and speaking to Hansie Douglas. All the papers relevant to her wartime life were photocopied for me. The TV documentaries mentioned above are also sources for details of her life. These are the reasons why there is information in this account that is unique and additional to her other writings.

When Selected to Live went out of print, she was not happy, and was keen to see her book of memories available once again. She was not feeling well at the time and, through a friend within the firm, I encouraged her to approach Hodder Headline. In 2000 they reprinted it. The first copy in her possession was given to me as a Christmas present in 1999 with the inscription: ‘Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to bring this book back to life…’ Naturally, it is my hope that my readers will follow this account by reading Selected to Live.

Her obituary appeared in the Glasgow Herald on 17 August 2002 and added further minor details about her life story.

A book about the remarkable life of Bastian Ader is available only in Dutch. The details are: Een Groninger Pastorie in de Storm by J.A. Ader- Appels. If somebody with the necessary skills were to translate this book into English it would, I feel sure, make very interesting reading.

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12 August 1888 Zeckhausen believes in Yeshua #otdimjh

12 August 1888 Leopold Zeckhausen, father of H L Ellison, declares his faith in Yeshua #otdimjh

Rev Leopold Zeckhausen was a stalwart of CMJ, the IHCA (today IMJA) and IMCCAJ (International Missionary Council’s Committee on the Christian Approach to the Jews). A participant in major conferences, a writer, speaker and minister, he married CMJ worker Sara Jane Ellison. His son H. L. (Henry Leopold) Ellison was a distinguished Old Testament scholar who I knew in the 1980s. Zeckhausen served in Holland, USA, 418RT3ZHE3L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_

Israel and the United Kingdom. Here is his account in Bernstein: Some Jewish Witnesses:

Zeckhausen, Rev. Leopold. The following is from his own pen:-

“I was born in December, 1862, at Kovno in Russia, of strictly orthodox Jewish parents, and, with the rest of my brothers, I got the usual education of rabbinical Jews. My mother, like so many mothers in Israel, would fain have seen me devoting myself entirely to the Talmud. I was to be the rabbi of the family. My inclinations, however, were in the [529] direction of secular knowledge, and my father was broad-minded enough not to insist upon an exclusively rabbinical training. At the age of eleven I was accordingly sent to the local Gymnasium, or grammar school. After a stay of six years at this school I left Russia with the intention of studying medicine at the University of Koenigsberg in Prussia. But six months later financial difficulties, in which my father found himself, necessitated my dropping the studies and accepting a post offered me in an office (July, 1881.)


“Once in business I threw myself heart and soul into my new vocation, and kept on rising steadily. At the end of ten years spent in business houses in Koenigsberg, Frankfort and Amsterdam, I was offered a partnership at Libau in Russia. I declined it, however, after some deliberation, and decided to leave business for good (1891).

“That step was the outcome of another and a more important one, which I had taken three years previously, and which proved to be the turning point of my life. While still at my father’s house I had begun to get weary of the endless, and often meaningless ceremonies of rabbinical Judaism. In Germany and Holland, surrounded by general religious indifference and rampant scepticism, my faith in Judaism waned more and more. I tried to make myself acquainted with Christianity, assayed to study the New Testament, but not with the hope of finding in it truth and peace. My studies were mostly of a critical nature. My Jewish prejudices, though largely toned [530] down by frequent intercourse with Christians, were still potent enough to prevent an impartial investigation. The difficulties of the Gospels seemed to me insuperable.


So I continued to drift further and further away from religious influences, until at Amsterdam I found myself at a boarding house in the company of some earnest Christian young men. They were schoolmasters—intelligent, idealistic, eager to learn and to exchange thoughts with others, and before very long we were on friendly terms. Through their intercourse, the almost extinguished interest for religious thought once more revived in me. Not that we ever went in for regular theological discussions—mere politeness forbade that—but Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost,’ and other literary productions with a religious basis, were often talked over among us, and I could not help being impressed by the true, though unobtrusive, religious fervour of those educated young men.

“I decided to look for a person competent to deal with my prejudices and willing to assist me to a spiritual understanding of Christianity. An Encyclopædia helped to the address of the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, and a letter from the Secretary introduced me to the Society’s missionary at Amsterdam, the Rev. A. C. Adler. I told that gentleman, on my first visit to him, that it was not so much the history of Christ and Christianity as the spiritual element of the New Testament that baffled me, and that I should feel obliged to him for some light upon the subject.


I did not pretend to any [531] desire of embracing Christianity, nor did Mr. Adler, on his part, so much as hint at that eventuality. He most readily acceded to my request for enlightenment, and suggested that we should read together the Gospel of St. John. For some seven weeks I had the little expected pleasure of listening to a masterly exposition of a book that had been till then the least intelligible one to me in the New Testament. I shall never forget the impression Mr. Adler’s intelligent interpretation of that Gospel produced upon my mind and heart. I felt myself literally introduced into a new world—into that spiritual world of which the carnal mind and the materialist know nothing. The person of Christ kept on growing before and within me until I could think of nothing else. But I was not to yield myself to Him without a struggle.

“Mr. Adler, with an unerring tact, restricted himself conscientiously to the task of instruction. He asked no questions, nor did he invite me to a confession of faith. Had he done so, I fear he had but succeeded in repelling me, at least for a time.


“When I found myself face to face with the question:—’What think you nowof Christ?’—pride of reason and lingering prejudice seemed to assert themselves more. I at once suddenly ceased visiting Mr. Adler and thought of getting Christianity out of my head entirely. I cannot tell whether Mr. Adler still entertained the hope of ever seeing me again in his study; I certainly intended that it should not be the case. [532]

“The Lord Jesus, however, had become too strong for me to resist Him successfully for any length of time. My peace of mind was clean gone, and I had, for my own part, experienced the truth of our Lord’s words, ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me, draw him.’


“After a time I was again at Mr. Adler’s. When, in answer to my knock there came his Dutch ‘Binnen!’ (‘Come in!’), and I stepped into the room, Mr. Adler came hurriedly up to meet me, and, taking both my hands, exclaimed joyfully, ‘You have come again. Then all is right. I knew you would not come unless your doubts were conquered. I have been praying for that.’

“A few days after this episode I received a telegraphic message necessitating my immediate return to Germany. I took at once a train to Zandvoort, a seaside place near Amsterdam, where Mr. Adler was at the time with his family for their summer holiday. I told him I had to leave Holland without delay and requested, as a special favour, that he would admit me into the Church of Christ by baptism the very next day. Mr. Adler looked rather perplexed. He was, on principle, he told me, opposed to doing things in a hurry, and especially when baptism was under consideration. But my case was so exceptional that he thought he saw in it the Lord’s doing, and could not therefore refuse my request.


“The following morning, Sunday, August 12th, 1888, Mr. Adler was in the pulpit of his church, [533] after explaining the reason of his unexpected return to Amsterdam, he invited the congregation to be present at my baptism that afternoon. Saintly old Mr. Bloch, late missionary of the L.J.S., and the beadle of the church, acted as witnesses to my public declaration of faith in Christ crucified.

“On the day following my baptism I had already left Holland, and was on my way back to Koenigsberg. There I spent another three years, following my commercial vocation and keeping up all along a pretty regular correspondence with Mr. Adler, to whose instruction I owed so much. In those letters he frequently reminded me of my Christian duty toward my Jewish brethren, and invited me to offer myself for missionary training. I doubted my qualifications for such a calling, questioned the advisability of going back to college after an interval of ten years spent in commercial pursuits, but at last I decided to follow the call, and sent an application to London for admission into the London Jews’ Society’s Missionary College. I was admitted there in December, 1891, and remained associated with the Institution for three years and a-half, till July, 1895.


“Having completed the course of my studies, I was attached to the staff of the London Mission, thence I was transferred to work at Manchester in 1896, and exactly three years later to Jerusalem. Here I was ordained deacon at Christmas, 1900, and priest on Trinity Sunday, 1902, by the Bishop of the Church of England in Jerusalem and the East, Dr. Blyth. Here also I was married to Miss Sara Jane Ellison, [534] daughter of the late Dean Ellison, of Shillelagh, County Wicklow, Ireland, April, 1901.

“I may be allowed to mention in conclusion that the decision to give up my business prospects, in order to become a missionary to the Jews, was soon amply rewarded by the Lord. My elder brother, with whom I had exchanged many letters on the subject of Christianity ever since I had embraced it myself, without apparently making much impression on him, wrote to me now—having heard of the step I had taken—to express his appreciation of what I had done. ‘Whatsoever people may think of your motives or your actions, there is probably no one that can put them down at their proper value better than myself,’ ran his note. ‘I have seen you during the last ten years steadily climbing the ladder of commercial success, gaining in experience and reputation, and about to earn the fruit of much labour, and then to throw it all deliberately over in order to become a missionary! I cannot help admiring you. You have done the right and proper thing. Though we differ in our religious opinions, we do not on the point of principle. You have acted as I should have expected an honest man, with soul above £ s. d. to act. It is refreshing to find enthusiasm for ideal goods in our sordid age of materialism.’

“This brother of mine is now, I am grateful to say, himself a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, labouring with marked success as a medical missionary amongst the Jews of New York, faithfully assisted by his wife—also a convert from Judaism.”[535]

In 1902 the Rev. L. and Mrs. Zeckhausen were transferred from Jerusalem to Cracow; and in 1908, on the death of his spiritual father, the Rev. A. C. Adler, he succeeded to the headship of the L.J.S. mission at Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the life, ministry and legacy of your servant Leopold Zeckhausen. May his memory be for a blessing and an encouragement for all. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.




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11 August 1954 WCC Minority Report #otdimjh

11 August 1954 WCC Minority Report on the Hope of Israel #otdimjh


A Statement by 24 Delegates to the Second Assembly of the WCC


The Assembly, held at Evanston from 15 to 31 August 1954, rejected to include a passage on the hope of Israel in its statement on “Christ our Hope”. As a reaction to that decision a number of delegates issued a separate statement on the hope of Israel. 

[These delegates are listed below and include significant theologians Torrance, Berkhofand Niemoller]

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In view of the decision of the Assembly on Friday to omit any reference to the hope of Israel in its Statement on the Main Theme, we feel it our duty to offer an explanation of our convictions in the hope that it will help towards closer understanding with those from whom we differed.

Our concern in this issue is wholly biblical and is not to be confused with any political attitude towards the State of Israel.


We believe that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all mankind. In Him there is neither Jew nor Greek, but we also believe that God elected Israel for the carrying out of His saving purpose. Jesus Christ as Man was a Jew. The Church of Jesus Christ is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, all of whom were Jews, so that to be a member of the Christian Church is to be involved with the Jews in our one indivisible hope in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, was accepted by Gentiles but rejected by His own people. Nevertheless God is so gracious and mighty that He even makes the crucifixion of His Son to be the salvation of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11). Whether we are scandalized or not, that means that we are grafted into the old tree of Israel (Rom. 11:24), so that the people of the New Covenant cannot be separated from the people of the Old Covenant.

The New Testament, however, speaks also of the “fullness” of Israel, when God will manifest His glory by bringing back His “eldest son” into the one fold of His grace (Rom. 11:12-36; Matt. 23:29). This belief is an indispensable element of our one united hope for Jew and Gentile in Jesus Christ. Our hope in Christ”s coming victory includes our hope for Israel in Christ, in His victory over the blindness of His own people. To expect Jesus Christ means to hope for the conversion of the Jewish people, and to love Him means to love the people of God”s promise.


In view of the grievous guilt of Christian people towards the Jews throughout the history of the Church, we are certain that:

the Church cannot rest until the title of Christ to the Kingdom is recognized by His own people according to the flesh. [1]

We cannot be one in Christ nor can we truly believe and witness to the promise of God if we do not recognize that it is still valid for the people of the promise made to Abraham. Therefore we invite all men to join with us in praising and magnifying that God who “concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32).


H. Berkhof, Holland
M. Boegner, France
A. Koechlin, Switzerland
P. Maury, France
T.F. Torrance, Scotland
H. Vogel, Germany
J. Sittler, USA
O.S. Tomkins, England
J. Smemo, Norway
E. Schlink, Germany
H.I. Yochum, USA
N.A. Winter USA
H. d”Espine, Switzerland
R.S. Louden, Scotland
H.F. Schuh, USA
A.E. Haefner, USA
J. Hromadka, Czechoslovakia
D.G. May, Austria
J.P. Van Heest, Holland
M. Niemoller, Germany
A.H. Ewald, USA
I. Pap, Hungary
S.B. Coles, Canada
G. Stratenwerth, Germany


[1] Findings of the Pre-Evanston Conference of the American Committee on the Christian Approach to the Jews, at Lake Geneva, WI, 8-11 August 1954.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for this strong statement by Christian leaders of your ongoing election of Israel (the Jewish people) and the ‘Hope of Israel’. Despite this being a minority position within the World Council of Churches, it reminds the Church of the biblical foundations of its hope in You, and the Church’s responsibility to and relationship with Israel. Revive your Church, we pray, in Yeshua’s name!





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10 August 2007 Lustiger’s funeral #otdimjh

10 August 2007 Funeral of Cardinal Lustiger #otdimjh


France bade farewell to Cardinal Jean-Marie Aaron Lustiger [Sept 17 1926 – Aug 5 2007] on Friday in a ceremony that mixed prayers from his Jewish roots with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a faith to which he converted during World War Two. [Reuters]

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A cousin of the late archbishop of Paris, Arno Lustiger, read the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead [sic] said in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, at the start of the ceremony outside Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris.

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Another family relation, Jonas Moses-Lustiger, read Psalm 113 in Hebrew and French, a psalm of special significance to both Jews and Catholics.

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A large crowd had gathered in silence under overcast skies in front of a packed cathedral.

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy broke into his summer vacation in the United States to lead political figures at the service but was scheduled to return for a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday.

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Lustiger, who died from cancer on Sunday aged 80, was hidden in Catholic boarding schools during the 1940-1944 Nazi occupation of France and converted from Judaism during the war. His mother was arrested and died in the Auschwitz death camp.

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Active in Christian student organisations after the war, Lustiger was a top theology student at the Catholic Institute in Paris. Ordained in 1954, he became known as a parish priest in Paris for hard-hitting sermons which were published as a book.

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The son of Polish refugees, Lustiger was close to the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed him bishop of Orleans in 1979, and archbishop of Paris in 1981, one of the highest positions for a convert to the French Catholic church. Two years later, Lustiger became a cardinal.


Like John Paul, Lustiger opposed both ultra-traditionalists and the Marxist-leaning “New Left” within the church but also took a vigorous stand on social issues, speaking out for the right to employment and against the exclusion of immigrants.


Jewish religious and community leaders and dignitaries from other religions also attended the funeral, conducted by Lustiger’s successor as Archbishop of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, and a message from Pope Benedict was to be read out.

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Lustiger’s coffin was borne into the cathedral by six priests and was to be laid to rest in the archbishop’s crypt at Notre Dame in line with tradition.

A casket containing earth from the Monastery of St Georges Kosiba near Jericho and the garden on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, was to be placed with his coffin.

The funeral, presided over by Cardinal Lustiger’s successor, was held at Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 August 2007. Sarkozy, on vacation in the United States, returned to attend Lustiger’s funeralIn homage to Lustiger’s Jewish heritage, the Kaddish—the traditional hymn of praise of God’s name—was recited by his cousin Arno Lustiger in front of the portal of the cathedral.

His epitaph, which he wrote himself in 2004, can be seen in the crypt of Notre-Dame Cathedral, and translates as:

I was born Jewish.

I received the name

Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron

Having become Christian

By faith and by Baptism,

I have remained Jewish

As did the Apostles.

I have as my patron saints

Aaron the High Priest,

Saint John the Apostle,

Holy Mary full of grace.

Named 139th archbishop of Paris

by His Holiness Pope John Paul II,

I was enthroned in this Cathedral

on 27 February 1981,

And here I exercised my entire ministry.

Passers-by, pray for me.

† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger

Archbishop of Paris

Prayer and Reflection: Thank you Lord for this outstanding Jewish believer in Yeshua – his depth of faith and wisdom, and his devotion to you. Help us to learn from his example and follow you in all that we do. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.



On his conversion

“I was born Jewish and so I remain, even if that’s

unacceptable for many. For me, the vocation of Israel is

bringing light to the goyim. That’s my hope and I believe

that Christianity is the means for achieving it.”

“I am not leaving you. I am not passing into the

enemy camp. I’m becoming what I am. I am not stopping

being a Jew — just the opposite. I’m discovering

a way of living it.”

“I am a Cardinal, a Jew. and the son of an immigrant.”

On being appointed Archbishop of Paris

“For me, this nomination was as if all of a sudden

the crucifix began to wear a yellow star.”

On the Holocaust

“The silence of


victims impels us to

uphold and order the

upholding of the dignity

of each human


On Jewish and Christian relations

“It is impossible for a Christian to be a Christian

… without the Jewish people.”

“What Christians believe, they got through the


“Jews and Christians are the guardians of the

revelation of the Only One God and of his design to

bring all humans together one day.”

“Christianity is the fruit of Judaism.”

On inter-religious dialogue

“All around the world, the intermixing of various

populations now brings side by side very different

religious faiths, and this leads to unprecedented


“This question is how to articulate the history and

geography of our communities with the history and geography

of modernity. Nowhere else perhaps than here

in New York has a better answer been experienced.”

On love

“The strength of evil can only be answered with

an even greater strength of love,”





From Ha’aretz

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jew who converted to Catholicism and rose through church hierarchy to become one of the most influential Roman Catholic figures in France, died Sunday, the Paris archbishop’s office said. He was 80.

Lustiger – whose Polish immigrant mother died in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz – was archbishop of Paris for 24 years before stepping down in 2005 at the age of 78. Lustiger died in a hospice in Paris, the archbishop’s office said. A cause of death was not immediately provided.

For years, Lustiger was the public face of the church in mainly Roman Catholic France, speaking out on critical issues and serving as a voice of calm wisdom in tumultuous times.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said the country had lost a great figure of spiritual, moral, intellectual and naturally religious life. Archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois said Lustiger’s reflections, and his personal history, led him to play an important role in the evolution of relations between Jews and Christians.

Lustiger kept largely silent on the tragedy of his mother Gisele, killed at the hands of the Nazis. But during France’s National Day of Remembrance to commemorate the deportation and death of French Jews during World War II, Lustiger, taking part in the reading of names in 1999, came to his mother’s.

Gisele Lustiger, he intoned, then added, ma maman (my mama), before continuing, Catholic World News reported.

The strength of evil can only be answered with an even greater strength of love, Lustiger said at an August 2005 Mass in Lodz, Poland, in memory of the more than 200,000 Jews deported from there to Nazi death camps.

A confidante of former Pope John Paul II, Lustiger represented the then-pontiff at commemoration ceremonies for the 60th anniversary in January 2005 of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where his mother died. It was his second trip to Auschwitz, after a 1983 visit.

I don’t want to return, because it is a place of death and destruction, Lustiger told reporters. If I am going, it is because the pope asked me.

Lustiger announced in April 2007 that he was being treated for a grave illness at a Paris hospice for the terminally ill.

On May 31, Lustiger, bound to a wheelchair, made an emotionally charged appearance at the prestigious Academie Francaise to say goodbye to his fellow immortals, as the 40 members of the Academie are known. The author of numerous books, Lustiger was made a member of the Academie Francaise in 1995.

Despite his diminished physical appearance, we felt his fervor, fellow member Jean-Marie Rouart said later.

An atypical archbishop and cardinal, Lustiger appeared to have perfectly synthesized his Jewish heritage with his chosen faith.

Christianity is the fruit of Judaism, he once said.

For me, it was never for an instant a question of denying my Jewish identity. On the contrary, he said in Le Choix de Dieu (The Choice of God), conversations published in 1987.

Born Aaron Lustiger on Sept. 17, 1926 in Paris to Polish immigrant parents who ran a hosiery shop, he was sent to the town of Orleans, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital, to take refuge from the occupying Nazis. There, Lustiger, who was not a practicing Jew, converted to Catholicism in 1940 at the age of 14, taking the name Jean-Marie.

Two years later, his mother was deported to Auschwitz.

He was ordained a priest in April 17, 1954, in Paris, after earning degrees in philosophy and theology from the Catholic Institute’s Carmes Seminary. For 15 years, he served as chaplain to students at the Sorbonne University, reportedly zipping on a motorbike through the winding streets of the Latin Quarter, the Left Bank student neighborhood.

Lustiger was appointed pastor of the Sainte Jeanne de Chantal parish, holding the post for 10 years until 1979, the year he began his swift climb up the hierarchy.

Named bishop of Orleans in 1979, Lustiger was named archbishop of Paris in 1981. Two years later, in 1983, Pope John-Paul II made him a cardinal.

Despite his role as a prince of the Church, Lustiger remained an eminently grass roots figure, creating a Christian radio station, Radio Notre Dame, in 1981 and expounding on issues ranging from the August 2003 heat wave that killed thousands of people in France to the building of a united Europe.

In contrast, Lustiger kept his personal journey of conversion a mostly private matter. However, he called for a true dialogue between Christians and Jews in a 2002 book, La Promesse (The Promise) that delved into Judeo-Christian relations and the mystery of Israel. He specified that Israel in the book was the biblical reference to the Hebrews, not the Jewish state.

The book is a collection of oral meditations made in 1979 to a community of monks as well as more recent addresses at several Jewish conferences.

In an October 2003 interview in the French daily Le Figaro, Lustiger said that the center of living gravity of the Church was moving from its old center to Africa, the Americas and elsewhere, and predicted that, in the third millennium, Asia would become the new land of evangelization.

A funeral Mass for Lustiger was to be held Friday at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Paris archbishop’s office said.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/cardinal-lustiger-jew-who-converted-to-catholicism-dies-aged-80-1.226910

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9 August 2015 60th anniversary of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel #otdimjh

9 August 2015 Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel celebrate 60 years #otdimjh


My friend Fr. David Neuhaus has issued the following Pastoral Letter, “Sixty Years”, published on the site of the Saint James Vicariate to mark the sixty years since the establishment of the Work of Saint James in 1955. Messianic Jews join them in celebrating this important anniversary.

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Saint James Vicariate
For Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel

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Sixty Years – A Pastoral Letter

Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar, responsible for the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel, has published a pastoral letter on the occasion of the 60th anniversary since the founding of the Work of Saint James. The letter was published on the Feast of Edith Stein, August 9, 2015.

Sixty Years
A Pastoral Letter

Praise the Lord, all nations, extol him all peoples,
for His faithful love is strong, and His constancy never ending.
(Psalm 117)

I. Beginnings

1. This year, we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Work of Saint James (Oeuvre Saint-Jacques). On December 14, 1954, the Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Mgr. Vergani, together with Father Joseph Stiassny (Father of Sion), Father Jean-Roger Héné (Assumptionist), Mr. Martin Weinhoben and Ms. Yosha Bergman, announced the creation of the Work. A month later, Father Bruno Hussar (Dominican) and others joined the Work. On February 11, 1955, Latin Patriarch Gori granted temporary permission (ad experimentum) for the Work and on February 19, a first mass in Latin was celebrated in Jaffa. On February 19, 1956, Father Bruno Hussar celebrated the first mass at the Saint James Center (Moadon Yaaqov HaTsadik) that opened at 55 Yehuda HaYamit Street in Jaffa. A month later, on March 21, 1956, on his arrival in the country, Brother Yohanan Elihai (Little Brother of Jesus) celebrated the first Hebrew language mass, in the Syrian rite, in Haifa.

2. The first Church in Jerusalem, founded by the apostles after Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, was a community completely at home in the Jewish world. The apostles were Jews like their Lord and Messiah and continued to live integrated among their people. Many of the founders of the Work of Saint James dreamed of a Church that would revive this Jewish-Christian Church. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 provided the context in which, for the first time since the first century, Christians lived within a Jewish majority, in a society defined by the contours of Jewish religion, history and civilization. Thousands of Christian immigrated to the new state. A minority among them were Jews who had encountered Christ and recognized him as Messiah and Lord, a majority among them were Christian members of Jewish families, Christian spouses, their baptized children and other relatives as well a number of Righteous among the Nations, who had saved Jews during the Shoah, together with their families. Among the founders, pioneers and members of the Work of Saint James were those who believed that being a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ made that believer no less Jewish.

3. In 1955, Latin Patriarch Gori promulgated the Statutes of the Work of Saint James. This foundational document defined the goals of our work:

– to develop Catholic communities;

– to ensure among the faithful a solid Christian spirit sensitive to “the mystery of Israel” (Romans 11:25), steeped in both a Biblical formation and a spirituality sensitive to Jewish-Christian culture;

– to work for the full integration of Jews who have become Catholics in the Church and in Israeli society;

– to continue to sensitize the Church to her Jewish roots;

– to combat all forms of anti-Semitism.

These founding statutes continue to guide our work.

II. Thanksgiving

4. Sixty years have passed since these momentous events and with hearts filled with thanksgiving, we remember the founders and pioneers, who have preceded us. These courageous men and women: priests, religious, consecrated men and women and laypeople, worked hard to establish communities, organize pastoral structures and develop whatever was necessary for Catholic community life in Hebrew. They began the work of forming a Christian community, intimately connected to its Jewish roots, at home in the State of Israel, speaking Hebrew, a language never before used for Christian life and liturgy, and witnessing to the values of the Gospel in Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking society.

We thank God for sending these faithful, energetic and visionary men and women and bestowing on them the talents needed to edify the Body of Christ. In addition, we thank the bishops who sent priests and the orders and congregations, the institutes for consecrated life and the new communities that sent their members to Israel to participate in this work of the Church. Among them were Dominicans, Fathers and Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, Little Brothers and Little Sisters of Jesus, Franciscans and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Benedictines, Carmelites, Jesuits, Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition, Assumptionists, Salesians, members of Pax Nostra, Koinonia John the Baptist, the Neo-Catechumenal Way and many more.

5. Seven years before the foundation of the Work of Saint James, in May 1948, the State of Israel was established. It provided a home for the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Shoah, the most catastrophic suffering this people had ever experienced. In its Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers of the state guaranteed religious freedom for all citizens. “(The State of Israel) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture” (Declaration of the Independence of the State of Israel, May 15, 1948). We give thanks that this freedom of religion has allowed the Work of Saint James to develop and adapt to ever-changing circumstances in the vibrant Israeli society. We continue to pray that this society will know peace, justice and equality for all its citizens.

6. As we celebrate sixty years since the establishment of the Work of Saint James, we also celebrate fifty years since the end of the Second Vatican Council, in 1965. We give thanks for the teachings of Saint Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope Paul VI. In particular, we are inspired in our identity and mission by the teaching of the conciliar document Nostra aetate and all the documents that have followed, which contribute to one of the greatest revolutions in the 20th century, the revolution in relations between Jews and Christians. A widespread “teaching of contempt” among Christians is giving way to a teaching of respect for Jews and Judaism thanks to the Council. The founders and pioneers of the Work of Saint James contributed their part to this change. As the Council reminded all faithful: “As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock” (Nostra aetate (1965), 4).

In particular, since the Council, the Church has celebrated her Jewish roots, the Jewish identity of Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, the apostles and the primitive Church. The Council proclaimed, “The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: “theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh” (Romans 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church’s main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ’s Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people” (Nostra aetate (1965), 4).

7. Likewise, in the wake of the Council, Jews in the Church have been encouraged to take pride in their roots and remain united with their people. Saint Pope John Paul II said of one of the most eminent Jewish Catholics in recent history, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, German philosopher Edith Stein, “Edith’s encounter with Christianity did not lead her to reject her Jewish roots; rather it enabled her fully to rediscover them. (…) Her entire journey towards Christian perfection was marked not only by human solidarity with her native people but also by a true spiritual sharing in the vocation of the children of Abraham, marked by the mystery of God’s call and his “irrevocable gifts” (cf. Rom 11:29)” (Spes aedificandi (1999), 9).

8. We are also grateful for the development of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. We have participated in four visits to Israel by four great Popes, Blessed Paul VI in 1964, Saint John Paul II in 2000, Benedict XVI in 2009 and Francis in 2014. We have ardently supported the efforts to build the relations that now exist between the Holy See and the State of Israel and we continue to pray that the negotiations between the two sides will conclude with Final Status accords in the near future.

Indeed, there is much to give thanks for in these past sixty years!

III. Developments

9. In the years that followed the first foundation, the Work of Saint James developed, adapted to new circumstances and faced many challenges. In 1957, Pope Pius XII gave permission to the Work of Saint James to celebrate large parts of the Latin mass in Hebrew, long before the rest of the Church received permission to pray in the vernacular, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. After all, even if Hebrew is our daily vernacular, we can never forget that it is also the language of the prophets and the entire people of ancient Israel. The Hebrew language rite of the Latin mass was published after the liturgical reforms and has been used ever since. Another important milestone was reached when the modern Hebrew translation of the New Testament was published in 1976, an endeavor to which members of the Work of Saint James contributed alongside Protestants and Messianic Jews.

After the first foundation in Jaffa in 1955, other kehillot (parish communities) were established in the other major Israeli cities – in Jerusalem, Haifa and Beer Sheba. In addition to these, today there are also kehillot in Latroun, Nazareth and Tiberias. Brave and faithful pastors worked energetically to gather the faithful and develop community life.

Whereas, many of the founding fathers and mothers and the early pioneers have already taken their places in the heavenly Jerusalem, a new generation of priests, consecrated men and women and laity have felt called to continue their work, striving to build up the Church in Israel. Building on the firm foundations established by the first generation, work has continued to develop the Hebrew language liturgy, compose Hebrew language liturgical music, translate Church teaching, teach catechism, author books, engage in dialogue with our neighbors and bear witness in Hebrew to our faith. Today, Hebrew speaking Catholics have seven centers in Israel, regular liturgies, catechism classes, adult education seminars, camps for Catholic children, weekends for families, youth activities and a social outreach to the poor and needy.

10. In 1990, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, named Father Jean-Baptiste Gourion OSB Patriarchal Vicar, recognition of the importance of the Work of Saint James. This was the first step in the establishment of a Vicariate within the Patriarchate, parallel to the geographic Vicariates of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. Father Gourion was ordained a bishop in 2003, another important symbolic step in the integration of the Vicariate into the Local and Universal Church.

On January 1, 2013, the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel received formal Statutes from the Holy See, approved by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and his Vicars, underlining its special identity and mission. According to these Statutes, the Latin Patriarch appoints the Vicar according to the norms established by Canon Law, and the Vicar, confirmed by the Holy See, assumes responsibility for the work of the Vicariate.

Today, the Vicariate promotes the mission of the earlier Work of Saint James and continues to develop its vision and goals, striving to formulate a pastoral vision and plan for all Catholics who live within the Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking milieu. The Statutes determine the jurisdiction and goals of the Vicariate:

– to guarantee the continuation of the mission of the Work of Saint James.

– to preserve and strengthen the Catholic faith in Israel, particularly among the Hebrew-speaking faithful and all those living within Israeli Hebrew-speaking society, and to aid in the integration of the faithful within Israeli society.

– To organize and promote the pastoral care, parish life, sacramental discipline, and social activities of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel.

– to care for the evangelization and catechetical formation of migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers, and internal migrant workers who live in Israeli Hebrew-speaking society long term and become Hebrew speakers, and especially their children who are integrated into the Israeli school system.

IV. Challenges

The challenges the Vicariate faces today provide a sketch of who we are, what our mission is and where we are heading in the future.

11. Adoring the Lord: Our vocation as kehilla is to nurture communities, which are oases of prayer and joy. At the very center of each kehilla is the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist. Guided by the Word and nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, the kehilla is a place where the faithful come to be refueled and from where they go out into the world as courageous, coherent and joyful witnesses to the Resurrection. Our primary mission is to preserve the kehilla, help it grow, enrich it with all the gifts that are brought by all those who serve in it and gather together there, priests, religious, consecrated men and women, lay people, the veterans, the elderly, families, single people, youth and children. Each one has a gift to offer and the kehilla is strengthened and empowered by welcoming each one and recognizing his or her gifts. We come together in a common desire, “one thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek: to dwell in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of the Lord, to seek out His temple” (Psalm 27:4). In our coming together, we form, in a palpable way, the Body of Christ at the heart of the world in which we live.

12. Speaking Hebrew as believers in Jesus Christ: From the very beginning, the founders and pioneers set to work on facilitating the life of the faithful within a Hebrew speaking milieu. Thankful for the work of those who began and accomplished so much, this task continues today. Until 1955, no Catholic community had ever used Hebrew as the language of liturgy and community life. The challenge remains not only to translate Catholic liturgy, doctrine, theology, spirituality and catechism into modern Hebrew, a great challenge in itself, but to find a Hebrew way of saying Christianity that is both authentic and comprehensible.

This is a dual challenge. On the one hand, the Hebrew expression of the Christian faith seeks its rootedness in the Hebrew texts of the Jewish people, most particularly in the Old Testament (Tanakh). This endeavor creates a vibrant relationship not only with the Bible but also with Rabbinic, medieval and modern texts, so that the expression of the Christian faith in Hebrew is not only faithful to Christian tradition but also at home in Hebrew idiom.

On the other hand, the Christian faith expressed in Hebrew must make sense to all Jewish Hebrew speakers, both religious and non-religious, in whose midst we live. Brother Yohanan Elihai, one of the giants in this field of activity, wrote: “We ourselves can no longer pray as we did in Europe in the past. Furthermore, it is necessary to express our faith in a way that will not mislead the Israeli listener (or those that will read our prayer books and our thought). (…) Furthermore, we can be an example of a return to the origins – to the Tanakh, to the Semitic thinking of the first disciples – for the rest of the Christians in the world” (Notre qehilla dans l’Eglise universelle, 2004).

13. Living at the heart of Jewish society: Prayer and community life in Hebrew in a Jewish milieu as Catholic Christians define the parameters of our life and reflection. Some of us are Jewish by identity, origin, history and culture. Some of us live our faith openly and publicly; others live discreetly and privately. Some, who are not Jewish, have become Israeli citizens, permanent or long-term residents, opting for life here, deeply connected to Jewish and Hebrew culture, history and tradition. To all intents and purposes, we are a part of the Jewish milieu in Israel. While we make no distinction between Jew and Gentile in the life of our kehillot, we pay particular attention to the Jewish milieu in which our kehillot live, breathe and have their being.

A “church” in the midst of the Jewish environment, particularly sensitive to the inner life of the Jewish people, recalls the most primitive “kehilla”, the church of the first disciples of Jesus. The primitive Church in Jerusalem within the Jewish milieu was greatly weakened after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70AD and it eventually disappeared from view, swallowed up into the Gentile Church. Today, a Church from within the Jewish milieu restores a missing dimension to the universality of the Body of Christ, promising renewed vigour to the community of believers. We are called to be a constant reminder to the Church of her rootedness in Israel. As Pope Benedict XVI said to the members of the kehillot during his visit to Nazareth in 2009, “In this place where Jesus himself grew to maturity and learned the Hebrew tongue, I greet the Hebrew-speaking Christians, a reminder to us of the Jewish roots of our faith” (Homily in the Basilica of the Annunciation, May 14, 2009). Moreover, we are called to bear constant witness to the fundamental unity of the Old and New Testament and God’s constant fidelity to His people.

14. An Israeli Catholic community of believers in Jesus, living integrated in Jewish Israeli society, serves as a bridgehead for profound healing and reconciliation between Jews and Christians in the land of Jesus. We seek to make Jesus of Nazareth known as a son of this Land and of the Jewish people. It is important to restore the New Testament to its place within the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period. We are also called to be Hebrew language spokespeople for the Church as she formulates her teaching of respect for the Jewish people and her contribution to mending a broken world. As the Instrumentum laboris for the Special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East stated, “Although the Jewish civil media shows a certain openness towards Christian topics, Hebrew-language programmes are scarcely available in the Christian media. Consequently, Hebrew-speaking Christians need to be formed to become involved in such programming in the media” (Instrumentum laboris (2010), 83). This is accomplished through the involvement of Hebrew speaking Catholic professionals in all spheres of civic society, especially in education, the media and social activism.

Historically, members of the kehillot have been discrete and humble in their faith. This humility is a prerequisite for the much needed healing after so many centuries of hostility and animosity between Jews and Christians. When a relationship of trust is restored, Jews and Christians can look confidently at one another and re-evaluate the place of Jesus Christ in the history of salvation. When questioned about our faith, the words of Peter can serve us as a guide: “Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts and always have your answer ready for people who ask the reason for the hope that you all have, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

15. Living at the heart of the Local Church: We are fully members of the Local Church. Our Vicariate is a part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and we take our place there, within the great diversity of Catholics that this Patriarchate represents. Among the Vicariates for Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Cyprus, the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel makes its contribution to the life of the Church and is sustained by it.

We are all invited to reflect on the fact that God Almighty has planted the seed of faith in Christ deep in the soil of both Palestinian (and Arab) and Israeli societies. Does this have significance for the vocation of Christ’s disciples who, though separated by walls of enmity because of the ongoing conflict, are united by their faith in Christ? The words of the Apostle take on new meaning in our context, “For (Christ) is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Brought together, despite the walls of enmity, because “He is our peace”, Hebrew speaking and Arabic speaking disciples of Christ are called to show that justice, peace and equality are possible in our land. Our lives of faith must reveal the alternatives to war and violence, contempt and discrimination, engaging the other as brother and sister. Disciples of Christ can constitute a bridge between the Palestinian (and Arab) and Israeli worlds. We cannot assent to injustice and must be sensitive to injustice wherever it is present, especially in our own society. As disciples of Christ, we must also preach pardon as we have an intimate personal experience of being pardoned although we are sinners.

Particularly significant in this regard is the fact that our Hebrew speaking kehillot are also home to more and more Christian Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, who for various reasons have made their homes in the Hebrew speaking milieu. Their children are growing up in our communities and we welcome them and their parents with open arms. Our shared community life and our oneness in Christ can become an integral part of our witness to peace, mutual respect and reconciliation in this country.

16. Open communities that welcome all: We have an identity, roots and a particular context and yet we are called to build communities that are open to all who search for Christ and seek to follow him within the Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking context. We have welcomed wave after wave of aliyah (immigration) and still have in our midst many olim (new immigrants), who speak Russian and gather in Russian speaking communities, celebrating the liturgy and living their community life in the language of their country of origin. They are our brothers and sisters, living the same faith and facing the same challenges.

However, Israel today is a country that attracts many more who come in search of work and refuge. In Israel, there are not only hundreds of Catholics of Jewish origin who, together with committed Catholics of non-Jewish origin, gather in the Hebrew-speaking kehillot, but also tens of thousands of Catholic migrant workers and asylum seekers, whose children are integrated into the Jewish Israeli Hebrew language school system.

In his exhortation to the Church in the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the place of migrants in the Local Church, “Native and immigrant Catholics together constitute the current reality of Catholicism in the region. As pastor of the universal church, I wish to say a word to all the Catholics of the region, whether native or recently arrived, realizing that in recent years their proportionate numbers have come close together. For God, there is only one people, and for believers only one faith. Strive to live in unity and respect and in fraternal communion with the one another in mutual love and esteem, so as to be credible witnesses to your faith in the death and resurrection of Christ.” (Ecclesia in Medio oriente (2012), 36).

In Israel, the migrants live in the same Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking milieu that we live in. This means that they are not only our brothers and sisters in faith in a special way but that we, as the Hebrew speaking Church in Israel, have a special responsibility towards them. It is commendable that our communities have opened themselves to welcome these new brothers and sisters, many of them Asian and African. They enrich us with their vitality and we are energized by our working amongst them. Most of these migrants are not Hebrew speaking, however the Coordination for the Pastoral among Migrants of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem collaborates closely with the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel. Already, priests, consecrated persons and laity from the Vicariate are deeply engaged in the work of the Coordination. These two bodies work together for the future of the Church in Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking society.

17. Transmitting the faith to the next generation: Undoubtedly, one of the most important challenges of all is the challenge of transmitting our faith to our children. As we look towards the future, we must take up this challenge. The central question is: how can we create the circumstances in which our children can encounter the Risen Lord? How can we build communities that are oases for our youth as they seek their way in the world they live in? How can we attract our young people to think seriously about the possibility of believing and practicing the faith even as they live in secular Jewish Hebrew speaking Israeli society?

We must admit that in the sixty years of our existence we have not always been successful in transmitting the faith to the next generation. A striking fact in looking at our history over the past sixty years is that we almost have no succession of generations among the Hebrew speaking Catholics in our communities. Tempted to assimilate into secular Jewish society in which we live, some of our faithful hide their Christian identities, adopt Jewish customs and even convert to Judaism. The assimilation process is even more successful with our children who are educated in the secular, Jewish Israeli school system, with almost no exposure to the Christian faith and traditions of their parents. This is particularly the case within the Israeli army, where our young people are encouraged to enter the “mainstream” by becoming formally Jewish through conversion.

As we celebrate these sixty years of life, we recommit to the work of formation of our faithful within their particular context, particularly of our children, youth and young people. This work must be accomplished through supporting and strengthening our families. It is in the family that the child first encounters the faith and religious practice of believers, who are his or her parents. Our children are at the very center of our communities and we must redouble our efforts in catechism, in children’s camps, in publishing books and other material for children and youth, in forming youth leaders, in creating occasions where our youth can get to know the Universal Church. Most importantly, we must learn their language and get to know ever better the world in which they live so that our language and our transmission of faith can better respond to their needs.

18. Reaching out to other believers in Christ in our milieu: Attempting to respond to these challenges effectively, it will undoubtedly be fruitful to open ourselves to a fraternal dialogue with the other believers in Christ who live in our society. In Israel today, tens of thousands of Russian Orthodox Israeli Hebrew speaking faithful, thousands of Messianic Jews, as well as Ethiopian Orthodox, Protestant and other believers in Christ are facing some of these same challenges. These are our brothers in faith and as we seek to build up Christ’s Body in the Israeli Jewish Hebrew speaking milieu, we are invited to seek out the will of the Lord together, helping each other respond to His counsel.

V. Towards the future

Show your servants the deeds You do,
let their children enjoy your splendor!
May the sweetness of the Lord be upon us,
to confirm the work we have done.
(Psalm 90:16-17)

19. The celebration of an anniversary is also a time to recommit to the founding vision, and in the light of the evaluation of the present, move with confidence towards a future that is opening up on the horizon. As we look towards the future of the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel, the different kehillot and the faithful living in the Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking milieu, we turn to the Creator to ask His blessing, to the Lord to ask His guidance and to the Holy Spirit that we might be inspired.

VI. Prayer

20. Deepen our faith, strengthen our commitment, grant us joy:

Lord, son of this Land and this people,
You who rose from the dead to grant us life,
You who are the source of joy,
Deepen our faith,
Strengthen our commitment,
Grant us your joy,
As we continue to build up Your Body, the Church,
in the Land you walked and among Your very own people.

Show us how to work for the unity of Your Body in this Land,
How to work for the healing of the separation between Israel and the Nations,
How to be witnesses to justice, peace, reconciliation and pardon,
How to show Your face to all those we meet.

We ask this, through the intercession of Your mother and ours,
Mary, daughter of Zion.

Rev. David Mark Neuhaus SJ
Latin Patriarchal Vicar
Responsible for Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel

Jerusalem, Feast of Saint Edith Stein, August 9, 2015


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4 August 1808 CMJ 0.9beta released #otdimjh

4 August 1808 Joseph Frey founds forerunner of CMJ #otdimjh

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 19.47.59

Ever the entrepreneur who covered his traces by moving on and founding new organizations, this first attempt by Joseph Frey [see here for biography and writings] to form a Mission to Jews would morph into the longer-lasting London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews.


The first society folded. CMJ continues, in various regenerations, to today.

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Gidney reports: Consequently, on August 4th, 1808, at Artillery Street Chapel in the East End, a small and unpretending association, consisting of a few influential men, was formed under the title of

“The London Society for the purpose of visiting and relieving the sick and distressed, and instructing the ignorant, especially such as are of the Jewish nation,”

with Mr. Frey as President. The benefits offered appear to have been of a spiritual and temporal character, operations amongst the Jews being undoubtedly the most prominent, though not the exclusive, objects of the Society. Religious publications, calculated to remove Jewish prejudices and objections to Christianity, were issued, and lectures given to Jews in Bury Street.

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A very short experience sufficed to demonstrate that a wrong beginning had been made. The union of Gentile and Jewish work proved to be impracticable, and well-nigh impossible. History had repeated itself.

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The Apostolic arrangement, that some should go to ” the Circumcision,” and others to “the Uncircumcision,” was found to be the best even in the nineteenth century. And so it was deemed expedient to remodel the Society, and, in fact, to make a new start.

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This was all the more necessary as the formation of this Society had called forth a protest from ” The Missionary Society,” as being an invasion of their field. The new Society, however, held its ground.

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The Committee, persuaded of “the declining state of the Jewish affairs under the Missionary Society, arising as they conceive from the multiplicity of the objects,” and from the fact that the members were ” either professedly, or by reputation. Dissenters,” resolved on February 15th, 1809, “That in future this Society shall be denominated the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity amongst the Jews,” subsequently modified into “for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews.”

The title is indeed a lengthy one, and has often been felt to be unwieldy, although it exactly formulates the objects of the Society, as being for the extension and diffusion of Christianity amongst this ancient people, and not the conversion of the entire race — a consummation not to be expected during this dispensation.

It is doubtful, h0wever, if the founders restricted the title to this sense. For, whilst noting that there were “not less than thirty converted Jews and Jewesses in His Majesty’s Dominions,” they added, “these we consider as the earnest of that great harvest of Israel which the prophets have predicted.” And they asked, referring to Missions to the Heathen, “Should not similar efforts be made that all Israel may be saved ? ”

It was, however, fully recognized that the duty of supporting Missions to the Jews was altogether a thing apart from the necessity of holding any special views on prophecy.*

Reflection and Prayer: Looking back 200 years to the history of the early days of CMJ it is wondrous to see how such a small beginning could have led to such a significant impact. Supporters of Jewish evangelism, Christian Zionism, Messianic Judaism, the infrastructure and institutions in the State of Israel, the growing awareness among Christians of the ongoing purposes of God for the Jewish people, can all trace their origins to small groups such as were involved in Frey’s early attempt to found an organisation. Not without great human weaknesses, such attempts did not seem likely to succeed, yet along continue until today. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labour, labour in vain. Amen 







Hebrew Grammar 1813


Essays on Baptism 1829


The theological lectures of Rev. David Bogue, never before published, Volume 1 (Google eBook)http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_theological_lectures_of_Rev_David_Bo.html?id=ewFMAAAAYAAJ&redir_esc=y David Bogue, Joseph Samuel Christian Frederick Frey L. Colby, 1849 – Theology, Doctrinal – 806 pages

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4 August 1947 10 Points of Seelisberg #otdimjh

4 August 1947 10 Points of Seelisberg realigns Christian-Jewish relations #otdimjh


Still reeling from the shock, terror and trauma of the Holocaust, Christians began the painful but much needed task of re-visioning their historic relationship with the Jewish people, renouncing the ‘teaching of contempt’ and recognising the disastrous effects of supersessionism.


In the summer of 1947, 65 Jews and Christians from 19 countries gathered in Seelisberg, Switzerland. They came together to express their profound grief over the Holocaust, their determination to combat antisemitism, and their desire to foster stronger relationships between Jews and Christians. They denounced antisemitism both as a sin against God and humanity and as a danger to modern civilization. And to address these vital concerns, they issued a call in the form of 10 points to Christian churches to reform and renew their understandings of Judaism and the relationships between Judaism and Christianity.

The Seelisberg Conference (International Conference of Christians and Jews) was an international conference that took place in the small town of Seelisberg in Switzerland from 30 July to 5 August 1947 in order to study the causes of Christian antisemitism.


Among the 70 participants from 17 countries were:

28 Jews, including Jules Isaac, Jacob Kaplan, acting chief rabbi of France, Alexandre Safran, chief rabbi of Romania, the writer Josué Jéhouda, of Geneva; Professor Selig Brodetsky, president of the Representative Council of the Jews of England.


23 Protestants,9 Catholics, including Père Marie-Benoît, Father Calliste Lopinot, Abbot Charles Journet, Father Jean de Menasce, Father Paul Démann.

At the time of this conference, the Christians undertook a re-examination of Christian teaching with regards to the Jews and Judaism. They measured the extent of Christian responsibility in the Nazi genocide and understood that Christian teaching had to be urgently corrected. They prepared ten points, largely inspired by the eighteen proposals of the historian Jules Isaac to eradicate prejudices against the Jews.

International Council of Christians and Jews

The 10 Points of Seelisburg, 1947

The following statement, produced by the Christian participants at the Second conference of the newly formed International Council of Christians and Jews, was one of the first statements following World War II in which Christians, with the advice and counsel of Jews, began to come to terms with the implications of the Shoa.


SEELISBERG (Switzerland), 1947

We have recently witnessed an outburst of antisemitism which has led to the persecution and extermination of millions of Jews. In spite of the catastrophe which has overtaken both the persecuted and the persecutors, and which has revealed the extent of the Jewish problem in all its alarming gravity and urgency, antisemitism has lost none of its force, but threatens to extend to other regions, to poison the minds of Christians and to involve humanity more and more in a grave guilt with disastrous consequences.

The Christian Churches have indeed always affirmed the un-Christian character of antisemitism, as of all forms of racial hatred, but this has not sufficed to prevent the manifestation among Christians, in various forms, of an undiscriminating racial hatred of the Jews as a people.

This would have been impossible if all Christians had been true to the teaching of Jesus Christ on the mercy of God and love of one”s neighbour. But this faithfulness should also involve clear-sighted willingness to avoid any presentation and conception of the Christian message which would support antisemitism under whatever form. We must recognise, unfortunately, that this vigilant willingness has often been lacking.

We therefore address ourselves to the Churches to draw their attention to this alarming situation. We have the firm hope that they will be concerned to show their members how to prevent any animosity towards the Jews which might arise from false, inadequate or mistaken presentations or conceptions of the teaching and preaching of the Christian doctrine, and how on the other hand to promote brotherly love towards the sorely-tried people of the old covenant.

Nothing would seem more calculated to contribute to this happy result than the following


  1. Remember that One God speaks to us all through the Old and the New Testaments.
  2. Remember that Jesus was born of a Jewish mother of the seed of David and the people of Israel, and that His everlasting love and forgiveness embraces His own people and the whole world.
  3. Remember that the first disciples, the apostles and the first martyrs were Jews.
  4. Remember that the fundamental commandment of Christianity, to love God and one’s neighbour, proclaimed already in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus, is binding upon both Christians and Jews in all human relationships, without any exception .
  5. Avoid distorting or misrepresenting biblical or post-biblical Judaism with the object of extolling Christianity.
  6. Avoid using the word Jews in the exclusive sense of the enemies of Jesus, and the words “the enemies of Jesus” to designate the whole Jewish people.
  7. Avoid presenting the Passion in such a way as to bring the odium of the killing of Jesus upon all Jews or upon Jews alone. It was only a section of the Jews in Jerusalem who demanded the death of Jesus, and the Christian message has always been that it was the sins of mankind which were exemplified by those Jews and the sins in which all n en share that brought Christ to the Cross.
  8. Avoid referring to the scriptural curses, or the cry of a raging mob: “His blood be upon us and our children,” without remembering that this cry should not count against the infinitely more weighty words of our Lord: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
  9. Avoid promoting the superstitious notion that the Jewish people are reprobate, accursed, reserved for a destiny of suffering.
  10. Avoid speaking of the Jews as if the first members of the Church had not been Jews.


Prayer and reflections: Such statements seem obvious today, but then were radical in their recognition of the need to redress the wrong thoughts and actions of the past. Yet even today there is still much work to be done for Christians and Jews to have a right understanding of the ‘indissoluble bond’ between them, and Messianic Jews have a significant role to play in promoting mutual understanding and bringing them together. Lord, help us to serve you, your Church and your World, Israel and the nations, in ways that honour you and glorify your name. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.







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1 August 1567 Meir Gershon born #otdimjh

1 August 1567 Birth of Christian ben Meir Biberbach Gerson #otdimjh

g-Gerson titels. Book 1659-Erfurt-antijüd. font-in-museum-e1419064979680

Gerson, Christian ben Meir Biberbach, born at Reeklichhausen, August 1, 1567, received the usual Talmudical education, and was a teacher in several places. [ Bernstein: Some Jewish Witnesses ]

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A neighbour, who was a Christian woman, borrowed from him ten pence, giving him as security a Lutheran New Testament. Curious to know the source of the Christian errors, he and his two brothers-in-law read it with much amusement. Yet finding there quotations from the Old Testament, he continued reading it more earnestly, comparing Scripture with Scripture, until his conscience was awakened and felt the need of salvation through Christ. He wrote afterwards—”I found such light, for which I have to thank the Lord God all my life.”


He was baptized by Pastor Silberschlag at Halberstadt, October 19, 1600. Gerson’s son Stephen was baptized years later, but his wife got a divorce from him. He then taught Hebrew at Copenhagen, and eventually, after being persuaded by friends, he became a preacher of the Gospel. Testimony is given him that he heartily loved his people, and defended them against blood accusations.

His works are: “Des Jüdischer Talmud fürnehmster Inhalt und Widerlegung,” Gislav, 1707, Gera, 1613. A German translation of the eleventh chapter of Tract Sanhedrin. Gerson died on October 22, 1642, only 47 years old, as a preacher of the Gospel, in poverty. He was pastor of two parishes, receiving a stipend of six gulden, and had to work as a farm labourer for his living. In the Jewish Encyclopædia it is stated that Gerson was drowned at Roelheim, September 25, 1627. Here is [233] a specimen of the contradictory statements of historians.

Reflection: Gerson’s Life and Times were difficult, and his works display a justification of his new faith that takes on a polemical and adversarial stance against his fellow Jews and Judaism itself. Such a position which not uncommon, and is still present  today, as Jews who believe in Yeshua find it difficult to situate Themselves comfortably between the two religious communities that have viewed each other with so much distrust and mutual suspicion over the centuries.

Lord, give us a new generosity of spirit, sense of commitment to one another, and deeper understanding of your purposes of  with both  Church and Israel, so that we may accept of one another with the love Yeshua has for His People, His World and all creation. In his name we pray. Amen.


  • Martin Friedrich: Between Defence and conversion. The position of the German Protestant theology to Judaism in the 17th century.  Tübingen 1988
  • Nathanja Hüttemeister : A Jewish family in the tense relationship between Judaism and Christianity, the Christian convert Gerson in conflict with his Jewish family.  In: Vestische Journal , 99 (2002), pp 47-59.
  • Rotraud Ries: individualization in the tension to differing cultures: location measurement and experimental redefinitions in the Jewish minority.  In: Kaspar von Greyerz (Hg.):  Self-Narratives in the Early Modern Period: individualization ways in an interdisciplinary perspective. , Munich 2007, pp 79-112.
  • FA de le Roi: Christian Gerson, the first Protestant preacher from the converted Jews. In:  Dibre Emeth or voices of truth to Israelites and friends of Israel , 35 (1879), pp 97-110 ( digitized ), pp 129-140 ( digitized ).



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31 July 1255 Hugh of Lincoln’s disappearance leads to Blood Libel #otdimjh

31 July 1255 Disappearance of Hugh of Lincoln


Hugh was an eight year old boy from the Dernstall area of the city (now known as The Strait). He disappeared on 31 July 1255. His body was found in a well on 27/29 August. Despite the lack of any evidence, the owner of the well, a Jew named Jopin (or Copin) was held for the child’s murder. Jopin was promised clemency if he confessed that the child had been crucified in a ritual murder by a number of prominent Jews who had gathered in Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The promise was reneged on. Jopin was tied to a horse’s tail and dragged up to Canwick Hill where he was executed. A further 92 Jews were rounded up and taken to London. 18 were executed for refusing to plead and all but 2 of the others were sentenced to death until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had    purchased the right to tax the Jews from his brother Henry III, made terms for them.


One near contemporary account of the events was by the monk and chronicler Matthew Paris (c1200-1259). In his “English History” he wrote a particularly blood-thirsty and anti-Jewish version which insisted that virtually all the Jews in England had colluded in Hugh’s murder and attributed miraculous events to Hugh’s body.

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The body was taken to Lincoln Cathedral and buried in the South Choir Aisle. The story of the boy’s death stirred the anti-semitism that was already virulent in England. The boy was regarded as a Christian martyr. He was called Little Saint Hugh and a shrine was built over his tomb. After years of increasing persecution and hardship, the entire Jewish population of England was expelled from the country in 1290 and their property confiscated by the Crown. Jews did not return to England until 1655.


Anti-semitic Ballads about the story of Little Saint Hugh spread throughout Britain and France.

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer referred to Little Saint Hugh in The Prioresses Tales of the Canterbury Tales. The tale is of a blood libel, the ritual murder of a young boy by the Jews.


684        O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also
                  Oh young Hugh of Lincoln, slain also
685        With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
                  By cursed Jews, as it is well known,
686        For it is but a litel while ago,
                  For it is but a little while ago,
687        Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
                  Pray also for us, we sinful folk unstable,
688        That of his mercy God so merciable
                  That of his mercy God so merciful
689        On us his grete mercy multiplie,
                  Multiply his great mercy on us,
690        For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen
                  For reverence of his mother Mary. Amen

The shrine of Little Sir Hugh in the South Choir Aisle of Lincoln Cathedral did not survive the Reformation intact. In 1790, during repaving of the aisle, the tomb was open. It contained the skeleton of a boy 3 feet 3 inches tall.

The 19th century American folk song collector Francis J. Child collected 18 variants of the    Little Saint Hugh ballad from Europe and the USA. These variants include “The Jew’s     Daughter”, “The Jew’s Garden” and “The Fatal Flower Garden”, “Little Son Hugh”, “Little Sir Hugh”, “Little Saloo”, “Little Harry Hughes” and “Little Harry Houston”. Each variant honed to the interests of a local region. They were anti-semitic, anti-gypsy or just plain stories of   sadistic child murder. So widespread was the song that one of the earliest recordings of it was by Nelstone’s Hawaiians in the 1920s.


As “Little Harry Hughes”, the song appears in another key work of English literature, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (published in 1922), sung to the novel’s central character, the Jew Leopold Bloom.  “Ulysses” was set in 1904, a significant year for Jews in Ireland as it was the year of the Limerick Pogrom, when the city’s entire Jewish population was driven out by trade boycotts, harassment and beatings.

In the early twentieth century, the legend of Little Saint Hugh remained a draw for Lincoln.  Around 1910, a false well was sunk in the Jew’s Court as a tourist attraction.

Since the Second World War, the Christian community has allowed the legend of “Little Saint Hugh” to fade into obscurity.  Modern recordings of the song such as those by Steeleye Span and Ian Campbell Folk Group are purged of any anti-semitic reference and concentrate on the psychotic murder.

In 1959, a plaque was placed at the site of Little Hugh’s former shrine at Lincoln Cathedral. It read:

“By the remains of the shrine of “Little St. Hugh”.

Trumped up stories of “ritual murders” of Christian boys by Jewish communities were common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and even much later. These fictions cost many innocent Jews their lives. Lincoln had its own legend and the alleged victim was buried in the Cathedral in the year 1255.

Such stories do not redound to the credit of Christendom, and so we pray:
Lord, forgive what we have been,
amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be.”

In 2001, the Jewish playwright, director and actor Stephen Berkoff wrote “Ritual in Blood”, a play steeped in anger about the events in Lincoln in 1255.

In 2008, a new plaque at the site of Little St Hugh’s shrine was being drafted and designed jointly by the Christian and Jewish communities of Lincoln.

Prayer: Lord, forgive what we have been,
amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be.”




Documents Displayed

James Joyce: Ulysses (1922 Text Edition) (Oxford Press) pp643-644

The “Little Harry Hughes” variant of the Little Saint Hugh appears in James Joyce’s masterwork with full score.


“Recueil de Ballades Anglo Normande et Ecossoises Relatives au Meurtre de cet Enfant Commis par les Juifs en MCCLV”.

An extract from a French publication of 1834 at the Lincoln Library. undated [watermark 1814].

A French manuscript of the Anglo-Norman variant of the Little Saint Hugh ballad.

  1. Linc 910 HOM p117

“Lincoln Official Guide 1921”

  1. Linc 942 GRE

Forgotten Lincoln (1898) p24

History of the Little Saint Legend including a  Buckinghamshire variant of the Little Saint Hugh ballad.


By: Joseph Jacobs

Alleged victim of ritual murder by the Jews of Lincoln in 1255. He appears to have been the illegitimate son of a woman named “Beatrice,” and was born in 1247. He disappeared July 31, 1255, and his body was discovered on Aug. 29 following in a well belonging to the house of a Jew named “Jopin” or “Joscefin.” On promise of having his life spared, Jopin was induced by John of Lexington, a priest who was present at the time of the discovery, to confess that the child had been crucified by a number of the most prominent Jews of England, who had gone to Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The remains of the lad were taken to the cathedral and were buried there in great pomp. Henry III., on arriving at Lincoln about a month afterward, revoked the pardon of Jopin, and caused him to be dragged around the city tied to the tail of a wild horse, and then hanged. The remaining Jews of Lincoln, including some who were there as visitors—probably to attend the marriage of Bellaset, daughter of Berechiah de Nicole—were carried, to the number of ninety-two, to London, where eighteen of them were executed for refusing to plead. Berechiah was released, and the remainder lingered in prison until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was in possession of the Jewry at the time, made terms for them.

Tomb of St. Hugh in Lincoln Cathedral.(From Tovey, “Anglia Judaica,” 1738.)

The accusation, as usual, rested upon no particle of evidence; all that was known was that the lad had been found dead; and even if it was a murder,it could not have been connected with any ritual observance on the part of any Jew. But the prepossessions of the time, and the “confession” forced from Jopin caused the case to be prejudged, and enabled Henry III. to confiscate the property of the executed Jews, and to obtain, probably, a ransom for those afterward released from captivity. The case made a great impression on the popular mind, and forms the theme of various French, Scottish, and English ballads, still existing; Chaucer refers to it at the beginning of his “Prioress’ Tale.” A shrine was erected over Hugh’s tomb in Lincoln Cathedral; it was known as the shrine of “Little St. Hugh” to distinguish it from the shrine of Great St. Hugh of Lincoln, the twelfth-century bishop whose death was mourned equally by Jew and Christian. See Blood Accusation.


  • Matthew Paris, Historia Major, ed.Luard, v. 516-518, 522, 543;
  • Annales Monastici, ed. Luard, i. 340, ii. 346;
  • Jacobs, in Transactions Jew. Hist. Soc. Eng. i. 89-135 (with an extensive bibliography on pp. 133-135);
  • idem, Jewish Ideals, pp. 192-224;
  • Francisque Michel, Hugues de Lincoln, Paris, 1834;
  • Hume, St. Hugh of Lincoln, London, 1849.


Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, (born 1245, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, Eng.—died Aug. 27, 1255, Lincoln; feast day August 27 [suppressed]), legendary English child martyr who was supposedly murdered by members of the local Jewish community for ritual purposes. There was little basis in fact for the story, but the cult that grew up around Hugh was a typical expression of the anti-Semitism that flourished in Europe after the year 1000.

The victim of an anonymous murder, Hugh, a 9-year-old boy, was found dead in a well. His friends came forth with the accusation that a Jew named Koppin had imprisoned the child for more than a month, torturing and finally crucifying him. According to rumour, the body had been thrown into the well because the earth had refused to receive it. More than 90 Jews were subsequently arrested and charged with practicing ritual murder. Koppin, who allegedly confessed, was executed along with 18 others.

Miracles began to be attributed to Hugh as soon as the body was discovered. The story, although lacking any evidence, grew both in detail and in popularity over the years and, like others of its kind, reinforced the nearly universal sentiment of anti-Semitism and provided additional fuel for anti-Jewish acts. The legend of Hugh’s martyrdom was a popular subject in medieval literature, notably in Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale. His name does not appear in the standard Butler’s Lives of the Saints (1998).

684        O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also
                  Oh young Hugh of Lincoln, slain also
685        With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
                  By cursed Jews, as it is well known,
686        For it is but a litel while ago,
                  For it is but a little while ago,
687        Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
                  Pray also for us, we sinful folk unstable,
688        That of his mercy God so merciable
                  That of his mercy God so merciful
689        On us his grete mercy multiplie,
                  Multiply his great mercy on us,
690        For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen
                  For reverence of his mother Mary. Amen

Shrine of Little St.Hugh

Little St.Hugh was a Christian boy reputedly crucified by Jews in Lincoln in 1255; the ensuing retribution resulted in the deaths of many of Lincoln’s Jews. During the Cathedral restoration of 1790 a stone coffin was found containing the skeleton of a boy 3 ft 3 inches tall, seemingly confirming the tradition. The tomb was originally more substantial but destroyed during the iconoclasm of the Commonwealth, though a copy of William Dugdale’s drawing of 1641 can be seen nearby.

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