« Sympathy Please | Main | 'Sweeps Week' Reader Drive »

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A promise long forgotten

I ran into someone last week who reminded me of a promise I made and never kept.  Following this chance meeting I realized that while writing this tear-inducing post (there, you've been warned), I had promised to revisit the details of a surreal business meeting in its own journal entry... and I never did.

Until now.

Almost exactly a year ago two business colleagues and I were visiting the pretty coastal community of Zichron Yaacov in order to discuss some potential business dealings with a local company there.  If you'd like a more guide-book take on my day in Zichron, you can read that other post (2 tissue warning)... today I want to talk only about the surreal meeting and what I learned therein:

As we pulled into the parking lot of the headquarters of the company with which we had scheduled the meeting I experienced the first of what would be many instances of cognitive dissonance that day.  The building itself did not look like any of the other Mediterranean-style structures in the area, nor did it look like a modern high-tech complex. 

The main building was bordered in very dark wood and the selection and placement of trees lent the place almost a storybook quality.   I was just about to comment to one of my colleagues about the 'Hansel & Gretel' architecture when one of them said, "Someone check the map... are we in Israel or Bavaria?"  We all had a giggle over that and then put on our business faces as we filed into the lobby.

Once inside we noticed that our first impression of 'German-ness' was reinforced with signage in English, Hebrew and German.  We weren't exactly sure where our meeting was supposed to take place so we approached a woman who was standing in the lobby. 

Even this woman's appearance seemed just slightly out of cultural focus.  For lack of a better way of saying this, she was dressed in the same manner as small town German women from the 20s and 30s I've seen in historical photographs.  Her skirt was heavy wool and came exactly to mid-calf.  Her blouse was starched and white with tiny flowers embroidered on the collar, and her front was primly covered by a business-like gray apron.  She wore knee socks and no-nonsense leather flats on her feet.  Her hair was the sort of gray that had certainly once been blond, and was gathered severely in coiled braids into a tight bun. 

Standing there in the lobby and staring at her pale white skin and impossibly rosy cheeks I felt as if I had fallen into the setting of one of Grimm's Fairy Tales... the only thing missing were the bread crumbs!  When I politely asked her where we could find our 9:30 meeting she answered us in German-accented Hebrew. By now our 'business faces' were long gone and we followed her towards the conference room.

We were welcomed into the conference room like long-lost brothers by the  company's President and several of the its executives and introductions were made all around. Once again I noticed the German accented Hebrew and tried valiantly to get my bearings in this increasingly unfamiliar territory.

I gathered that the disorientation we were experiencing was a common occurrence for visiting Israelis because while coffee, tea and pastries were being served the head of the company graciously provided much of the missing information.

He explained that his company was one of several enterprises undertaken by a small group of Christian German immigrants that had come to Israel in the 1960s to form a collective community based on modesty, hard work and a love of the land and people of Israel.  He went on to tell us that they were not affiliated with any of the mainstream Christian denominations and that they did not believe in converting the Jews.  They lived according to a literal understanding of both the old and new testaments without any additional commentaries.

From what I was able to gather, their two biggest tenets seemed to be that only those Christians who lived among the Jews would merit a share in the world to come, and that those who help/protect the Jews would themselves be helped/protected.

The president interrupted his opening remarks at this point because he noticed that I hadn't helped myself to any of the pastries.  A few whispered words in German sent one of the attendants (who were dressed almost identically to the woman we'd met in the lobby) scurrying to bring the original packaging so he could show me the kosher certification.  I was a bit mortified by his sudden solicitousness having come to enjoy the relative lack of notice my kippah garners in Israeli business circles.   But he rushed to put me at ease by saying that all of the products they served were strictly kosher, and that many were even produced by one of the community's other businesses (under the supervision of Zichron Yaacov's Chief Rabbi). 

This by itself would have been the single most surreal opening to a meeting I'd ever experienced, but he then turned to me and asked if I would mind making the blessing on the pastries since I was the only one present with a kippah. 

I looked desperately to one of my colleagues for help but he had a big grin on his face and was enjoying watching me squirm.  All I got from him was "Go on Rabbi, we're waiting".  I quickly made the proper blessing on the pastry and with my cheeks now quite red, turned the meeting back over to our host.

The primary business focus of the company we were visiting was filtration systems... specifically filters that could protect the interior of vehicles, rooms or even entire buildings from the poisons present in the air after a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.  He explained that this went back to their guiding principle of 'those who protect the Jews being protected'. 

The rest of the meeting and tour of their facilities was pretty much what I had experienced at other Israeli hi-tech and manufacturing facilities, except that everywhere we looked we saw men and women (with names like Hans, Dieter, Gretta, Ingrid, etc.), dressed as if they had been plucked from a pre-war Bavarian village. 

During the tour I was able to speak informally with the president and he gave me a bit more background about his group.  They lived in a close-knit community and grew/produced much of what they needed.  They had their own schools and their children were taught both Hebrew and German. 

It turns out that in the 80s several of the group's members had taught themselves engineering after becoming interested in filtration systems and had gone on to win Israeli government approval for their unique devices.  The '91 gulf war saw them perfectly positioned to provide their adopted country with extremely effective and cost-effective air-filtration systems for military facilities, hospitals, homes and vehicles.  They also earned the grudging trust from their neighbors during those tense weeks of Iraqi SCUD attacks by inviting local residents into their protected facilities whenever the sirens would sound.

He acknowledged that the surrounding Jewish community had always viewed them with a jaundiced eye, both because they were German and because they were Christians.  The former because of obvious bad feelings (now there's and understatement) following the Holocaust, and the latter because of ongoing missionary efforts by many of the evangelical Christian sects to convert Israeli Jews.  He acknowledged that a certain amount of collective guilt over the Holocaust was likely responsible for the Genesis of their group, and he said that a generous dose of distrust was both expected and accepted by the group.  He also said that though his group did not believe in seeking converts they all knew that it would take many years before this became apparent to their Israeli hosts.

Even though he was being extremely forthcoming and open I didn't dare ask him about the apparent irony of Germans manufacturing devices to protect Jews from poison gas.  However, an article I read several months later (* linked below) confirmed this as one of the motivating factors in their choice of industries.

Last week Zahava and I attended the wedding of a neighbor's daughter which was held in a hotel in Ariel.  During the ceremony we noticed a couple that seemed to look, uh, less like the others.  There were plenty of secular guests among the mostly religious crowd, but this couple just seemed 'different'.  Afterwards I was making my way to the bar to get drinks for Zahava and myself when I came face to face with that couple.  It turned out to be the President of this company I've been telling you about and his wife.  Not only did he remember me, but he asked how my beekeeping was going and extended an invitation to come see his community's hives so I could observe some of the German apiary techniques they had imported.

While we stood and chatted I thanked him again for the warm welcome he had given me during our previous meeting and told him it must be extremely difficult to begin every social or business relationship with a preemptive recital of who he was and what he stood for.  Even thought it was only last week I honestly don't recall how he responded because at that very moment I realized that as an observant Jew living in a 'settlement', quite frequently I feel compelled to provide an accounting of myself to people who view me with suspicion or even contempt.

You may think that the title of this journal entry refers to the promise I made in that earlier post to write about the 'surreal meeting'.  But in fact it is a reference to the promise I made to myself many years ago that once I moved to Israel I would no longer feel compelled to explain myself to anyone.  Unfortunately such arrogant promises are made with youth's enthusiasm as well as its ignorance.

I still feel that Israel does not owe an explanation to anyone on earth for decisions we make regarding our safety and security.  But I know in my heart that for any hope of a national rapprochement to occur we Israelis need to get used to doing a bit of explaining to one another.

* I obtained additional information for this post from this article originally published in FAKTEN ONLINE about 6 months ago.

219_20

Posted by David Bogner on January 24, 2006 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c581e53ef00e5503e9f528833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A promise long forgotten:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I take it you're feeling better?

On a serious note, I don't think anyone really gets to the point where they don't have to explain themselves. However, the reason for having to do so changes and doesn't have to be a defensive move, but rather a freeing or sharing move with others who are open to hearing about something unknown or similar about someone they come in contact with.

Posted by: val | Jan 24, 2006 2:42:09 PM

Little did I know when I got up this morning that today's post would find me biting into the table over this once more!

I think the crucial point is whether one indulges madly in explaining themselves over and over again, thus communicating a statement of life, an attitude or whatever, or whether one sees this as an unnecessary burden and disturbance of privacy. To me, honestly, these people (the Fakten Online says 'sect') don't sound like they really suffer from repeating their mission over and over again? After all, their philosemitism is based on self-interest, nothing more.

Posted by: Account Deleted | Jan 24, 2006 3:38:13 PM

Val... A little better, thanks. I agree with your point, but trust me when I say that that is rarely the case here in Israel. Everyone has their own little piece of ideological turf staked out and everyone else is a dangerous fanatic. As difficult as it often seems, a little explanation often goes a long way to getting people to put down their guard.

mademoiselle a. ... I was waiting for your explosion and you didn't disappoint. :-) Look, you and I have talked about this numerous times in emails and on the phone. I agree that many of the people you quite correctly call 'philosemites' are in love with the Jews out of pure self-interest (from a theological point of view, anyway). But in this very narrow case I mentioned today I still feel that not only are they self-interested parties... but they also present no threat to the Jews; something many Evangelical sects can't really say with a straight face. My goal today was to share an interesting story and to use it to demonstrate how even people who we are fairly certain should be viewed with suspicion and caution may turn out to be benign or even beneficial once they've explained themselves. The whole point of a benign relationship is that it does no harm, and a symbiotic relationship is one where both parties gain something from the other. What do I care if either or both are self interested? The benefit exists whether it is made/heard... the trick is getting people to shut up long enough to hear the explanation. To put it in entirely Israeli terms, I think the modern State of Israel would be a terrible place if it were purely secular or purely religious. The only thing keeping the two sides from realizing this is that they can't shut up about the 'other guy's' bad points long enough to hear the legitimate explanations of the good things the other side brings to Israeli society!

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 24, 2006 3:59:45 PM

That's great! I've got a crazy suggestion for you. You've certainly spent many years in the States being made to feel like you're a Martian because of your kippa or because of keeping kosher or a million other things that made you not fit seamlessly into non-Jewish society. Here's your perfect opportunity to help people who must frequently feel like Martians feel more at home. Befriend this guy. Check out his bees. Invite his family over to your house for Shabbat lunch (or a less ritualized meal during the week). It's one thing to love Jews theoretically; let them get to know some lovable Jews. In return you might make a friend, and he'll feel less like a freak-show in his host country.

I see the seeds of world redemption here, but that's probably because I haven't had my (instant) coffee yet.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 24, 2006 4:32:24 PM

There's sort of a mirror version of this story - The Temple Society or the Templar sect. They founded Jerusalem's German colony, amongst other places.

You can read about them here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Society

I can't seem to find anything about it online now, but I recall reading that beyond their later Nazi sympathy, they actually fought against the Jews in the War of Independence.

I wonder if the Beth-El community was inspired at all by this previous German settlement effort here.

Posted by: Dave | Jan 24, 2006 4:37:26 PM

Facinating. Truly facinating. My husband's best friend "AK" is a German Lutheran minister. They met while both studying in Israel for their respective clergy programs, and both needed a roommate. A 'shidduch' was born. The German seminaries have several substantial programs where their students can learn for extended periods of time in Israel. I met my husband during this time (we were all in Israel at the same time learning) and I have a number of surreal stories of my own from hanging out with "AK" and the small but strong German Christian religious community that resides in Israel. I still have not come to terms with much of who they are, but the basic premise of their beliefs are very interesting. Very briefly, they believe that since Jesus was most likely a Jew who was observant in the way Jews were at the time, in order to be true Christians, and follow the model that Jesus represents, they must incorporate to some extent those rituals and beliefs that Jesus held as a Jew. While I think they also believe that Paul made some improvements and directed Chrisitanity in what they feel is a productive way, they lament the loss of Jesus's Judaic-based faith. These are Christians, who, for example, do not eat pork. I am not doing justice to their full range of beliefs, but this is a snippet. I have some serious issues with some of their practice, and many of the German Lutherans I met in Israel are subscribers to Liberation Theology, which they think they have applied to the current political situation. My husband is more open-minded about such things. I will say, that I have a newfound respect for how Germans who are in their 20's and 30's still feel an immense amount of guilt for the actions of their grandparents. It motivates much of their actions and beliefs. Anyway, too long comment, but this is such a facinating segment of Israeli society!

Posted by: ezer knegdo | Jan 24, 2006 5:16:36 PM

The Jacob/Magda story it 3 hanky at least.
I used to live on Maagan Michael, the big kibbutz that lies on the coast under Zichron and never knew that community was there. Learn something new every day.
I second Dr. Bean (did I just say that?). They sound like very interesting (and certainly polite) people.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Jan 24, 2006 6:12:22 PM

Very fascinating! I learn such interesting things from your blog. Glad you're feeling a little better.

Posted by: Essie | Jan 24, 2006 6:13:04 PM

I think I got you right before, and I, for my part, did not intend to mark them as harmful (did I say that somewhere?) to anyone.
I certainly won't doubt that they are benficial to the state and the world in that they produce high-quality products. I am just a little alarmed over people carrying their mission statements around on billboards, because I have learned that the more and louder people emphasize specific aspects, the more they seem to have a (psychological) problem with it in the first place.

But who knows - and Doc Bean actually made a good point. How about Pesach, then? Mazzot galore, the whole programme, song and cheer.

Posted by: mlle a. | Jan 24, 2006 6:46:54 PM

That was very interesting.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 24, 2006 6:50:23 PM

Hmmm... totally interesting, David. I now find that I cannot go a day without reading your blog because I always learn something new or feel something deep down... that's a wonderful thing. Being of German ancestry myself, I have gone through periods of tremendous guilt. If that inspires people to do good things or somehow feel they have to make amends, that's OK, isn't it? I think everyone has an agenda, hopefully, the agenda benefits everyone, not just themselves... simplistic I know...

Posted by: Regina Clare Jane | Jan 24, 2006 7:13:56 PM

Well said, Mr. Bogner! And to some of the readers who have commented thus far, sometimes (esp. in a situation such as this) one must take what one can get. Just focus on the positive and ignore the negative aspects- at least, the harmless negative aspects.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jan 24, 2006 7:31:53 PM

So did he say if they have a company policy about capering around in lederhosen during business hours? Because that part gives me pause.

I don't see how their concern would be "self-interest," but that part does seem a bit hair-shirtish.

(Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the phrase, but in today's world, being pro-Jew seems like anything but "self-interest." And they could sell their product in Saudi or Pakistan just as easily, for example, if it was all about the money.)

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 24, 2006 7:40:57 PM

Interesting post. To be honest, it rubs me wrong when people decide to befriend us (by us, I mean Jews) because of the rewards they feel they reap in doing that. I do not care much for motives that are selfish.

Posted by: Stacey | Jan 24, 2006 9:05:40 PM

You've touched on a topic that I have thought a lot about. There is a very fine line between feeling defensive/apologetic about ourselves (those who live in Judea and Samaria) and being obnoxiously over-assertive. I try very hard to walk that line.

That is the reason I called my blog "westbankblog" but refer to where I live as the Shomron,and I use the term settlement and yishuv interchangeably. I want to be accessible to people who only know about us using the term settlers, and unapologetic about the fact that where I live has ancient Jewish roots - hence the term yishuv and Shomron.

I don't know if I will be successful at this, but at least I am trying. It seems that you see the need for this also.

Posted by: westbankmama | Jan 24, 2006 9:15:29 PM

Wow. Well your mind is obviously feeling better that's for sure. I flipped back and read Jacob's story as well. Besides the beauty of the story and the poignance ... I can't help but reflect on the world's present state of affairs.

Maybe there are just not enough of the new Israeli generations that know and grasp the deep import of these stories.

My father-in-law was a B-17 bombadier-navigator flying out of Britain in the early years of the war. He spent three years in a nazi prisoner of war camp and is a Jew. ( Just as an aside when the guards would ask the ranking officer, a Brit, who were Jews amoungst his men the colonel would answer, "We're all Jews." ) My father-in-law was liberated by Paton and personally saw and participated in Paton's custom of having his troops tour all liberated concentration camps.

My wifes familly includes several halocaust survivors on both sides. I know many of their and my father-in-law's stories of those times.

This is part of why I just cannot understand why nearly every israeli is not millitantly supportive of their own nation and it's protection from those who wish to destroy it. History is so obviously reapeating itself .... again. As you know this makes me crazy not only about Israel but about my own nation.

Bush has now come out and said Iran's threats against Israel are a threat against the entire world. This is just the plain truth and I would extend that sentiment to all of extremist Islam. A far far greater extent of Arabia than our 'liberal' fellow planet dwellers wish to admit or believe.

We stand on the brink of another world war or may already be in it and Israel teeters on the brink of another halocaust. It's no longer time for 'over-the-top' tolerance if not suicidal pandering to and understanding of our enemies. It's time to do the right thing.

Sorry if this post takes your wishes for this topic down a road other than what you would have liked.

Posted by: Scott | Jan 24, 2006 11:30:36 PM

I think it's better to do a good thing for the wrong motive, than not to do it all. In this case, I don't see anything wrong with these people acting out of self-interest, as long as they are not trying to convert Jews. I mean, what they seek for themselves, is their own personal business. Why should we judge their motivations if Israel only benefits from their actions? Also, I think many philanthropical actions are frequently motivated by self-interest, that's a normal part of human nature.

Posted by: Irina | Jan 24, 2006 11:34:03 PM

The need, in some circumstances, to EXPLAIN ONESELF is pefectly reasonable. Tom Jefferson put it neatly in the opening to the U.S. Declaration of Independence:
"...a decent respect for the opinions of mankind..." required that he explain why the Colonies were separating themselves from Great Britain.
Especially since rading those words, I have generally understood the reasonableness of a collective or individual justification or explanation for one's actions or presence or identity. It's not needed every time, of course, but somewhere between neurotic self-consciousness and absurd grandiosity (a rather large expanse), there is room for such helpfulness.
As for Israel, looking out at the world, perhaps some explanation to its friends might be useful in one way, and a frank but non-beligerant word directed to its enemies might be useful in another way. It is, however, entirely up to the Israeli governent to decide what and to whom. Come to think of it, the same leeway applies to the Israeli press. And even to thoughtful Israeli individuals--such as Treppenwitz!
If this sounds like a long way around to a simple point, blame it on Jefferson.

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jan 25, 2006 12:17:47 AM

Doctor Bean... I'm assuming that this couple's presence at the wedding indicates that they already have some friends among 'regular Israelis'. This isn't to say I wouldn't love to get to know him better... but I'm also not actively shopping for new friends right this second. :-) Oh, and try the decaf.

Dave... That's an interesting comparison but I hesitate to try to pigeonhole them neatly into a description like that. They seem to be quite unique.

Ezer Knegdo... From what little I've gleaned from other sources it seems that Holocaust guilt was a contributing factor to this group's coming to Israel. But feeling guilty about something and actively working to make amends are two very different things. I admire them for taking the extra step, even if they have an ulterior motive for doing so (personal redemption).

Lisoosh... Sorry, my estimates were based on a double-ply tissue with aloe added. :-) Polite? Oh my yes. Sitting with them I began to wish I'd worn a more crisply pressed shirt. :-)

Essie... Thank you... much.

mlle a. ... I agree, but sometimes whether you like it or not you come to be associated with a group that has a bad reputation. I live in Efrat so I find that I need to bring a little something to the table occasionally before someone from the coast will see me as David Bogner rather than just a gun-toting religious settler. Being a German Christian in Israel puts you in the position of either making a fairly regular explanation of yourself or not having many people to talk to.

Jack...Thanks.

Regina Clare Jane... I couldn't have said it better. Although I would argue that ancestry shouldn't bear such a strong stain.

tnspr569... I suppose you're too young to remember the song that goes, "Ah-ccen-tu-ate the positive... eee-li-me-nate the negative..."? No? Oh well. :-)

Tanya... No, nobody was wearing lederhosen (at least that I saw). There is an element of self-interest in their enterprise and they are very up front about it: Those who help/protect the Jews will be helped/protected. That's one aspect. And there's also their theology which says that only Christians who live among the Jewish people will have a share in the world to come (If I understood him correctly... we were discussing theology in a language that was native to neither of us).

Stacey... I like to think of the relationship as symbiotic. Think of the the relationship of a whale shark and a ramora fish. They each get something from the other and both are much healthier together than apart. If you look at them one at a time each looks like it has a self-serving, maybe even parasitic motive to seek out the company of the other, but the big picture says differently. We don't know what the big picture will be here. Sadam's SCUDS in '91 may have been just the first test run. We may soon be facing a nuclear Iran... then whose shelter filtration systems will be a G-dsend to the Israeli people?

Westbankmama... I agree and would even go so far as to say that this group walks the same line. Once a relationship (business or otherwise) exists there is no need of further explanation. But that first meeting pretty much demands it.

Scott... Thank you for taking the time to read both posts. And yes, I am feeling much better... thanks. You've guessed correctly that that's not exact;y the direction I'd hoped the discussion would go, but let me respond to one or two small points: We are already in the midst of a world war, and while extreme measures may be called for, extremism itself is not. Moderation - REAL moderation is a virtue when exchanging ideas in a safe environment like this. Save your big guns for the battlefield... we're just sitting in the officer's club having a few drinks here. Lighten up. :-)

Irina... Good point all around. And you might add that they haven't tried to hide their agenda even a little bit. If one group wants to do business with the Israelis because we make the best weapons and another wants to do business with us because we grant eternal protection/salvation to our business partners... who am I to judge?

Dad... There you go again with that 'oldschool' 'framers of the constitution' yadayadayada... phffthtth :-) OK, maybe you have a point. ;-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 25, 2006 12:48:21 AM

OK OK

On another note: The deutche volks kinda creeped me out. As an observant Christian (c'mon, it works) I cannot fully respect any Christian sect that comes up with some narrow, cultish and unbiblical interpretation of which bunch of Christians obtain the eternal reward. (not heaven by the way if you actually read the New Testament). I'm glad these folks make a good product and I'm glad they support Israel but they surely do need to explain themselves. To me and everybody else with an interest as well. If one is going to claim that one is a Venusian one needs to explain.

HOWEVER .... all we Christians are used to expaining to Jews why we love them. Goes with the territory. We carry a massive guilt over 2000 years of our forefather's persecution of the Jews. Both at the hand of our fathers the Romans and our latter progenitors out of Europe of various religious bent.

That they now doubt our consideration and hold us in suspicion evokes a sort of "oh well .... we deserve it" response. We don't expect you all to believe us. As a Christian that was mostly an atheist for half of my adult life and who inherited nothing from immediate family along Christian lines allow me to tell you how it actually is that we modern obervant Christians (if you will) care for the Jews.

We read our bible and we literally believe it. We don't allegorically interpret it as the Roman Catholic church did for centuries and our Reformation fathers continued to do. Abraham is our father too and we are only adopted children. We are but branches grafted into the True Vine. We revere all that the Jews revere. We just have a different idea about the Messiah.

I understand that this can tick off a Jew as well ... if not enrage. I'm sorry. We have tried to build our faith on logic and the truth of scripture. We don't want to rip off your heritage or replace you ( those guys are a cult ) . It's just our faith. We deeply believe we see Jesus in the Torah. There is just no way we can hold any ill will towards our adoptive brethren whether they are Messianic or not. Whether they accept us or not.

Just wanted to explain.

Posted by: Scott | Jan 25, 2006 2:55:52 AM

It's funny because I'm going the less-is-more route when it comes to explaining my anachronistic faith/situation lately and so far, so good. It's between God and the individual. That's why there's all that stuff in the Torah about not judging people, which is super challenging, obviously. So while I work on that, I make it easier for other people by helping them to mind their own business.

Posted by: Alice | Jan 25, 2006 3:31:59 AM

Interesting post. Maybe with a little more mutual explaining and understanding nobody would have need of nuclear shelters and filtration systems. Hmm, if only...


(A short note to Scott: You are obviously very clear in your mind about your beliefs and religion. Thats great, but I think you should be a little more careful about categorising Christian denominations that believe differently to you as either sects or old-fashioned. You make a number of comments about Christian beliefs which a lot of Christians would not agree with. Given the number of different denominations (eg. Catholic, Anglican, Baptist), no one person should say that their beliefs are those of all Christians)

Posted by: zemirah | Jan 25, 2006 4:39:59 AM

zemira,

I don't ask anyone to believe as I do. I'm commanded not to judge others for that is to take the place of God. At the same time I'm commanded to discern. 'Wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' Perhaps I misread David's explanation of these people's beliefs but if they do indeed claim that only Christians who live amoung the Jews would inherit the world to come ... that is flat out bonkers. That's cultish. As it is only God that sees the heart .... their standing with Him is between themselves and Him alone but I don't trust them and based upon my orthodox understanding of Scripture I would have to warn anyone else to avoid their religion. Not them .... just their religion.

We Christians are commanded and instructed to rightly divide the Word of God and to take our doctrine very seriously. It is our duty to point out at least extreme heresy such as these people believe. I'll tolerate them. I might even do business with them and live peaceably and gregariously as their neighbor. I would also discourage my children from intermarriage with them and warn others of their false doctrine.

We Christians are like that. We have our eyes on each other. No way around it. Comes with the territory.

All that being said .... if these folks can open the bible and prove to me with scripture that they are right and i am wrong .... I'll convert. Lord knows I've had to do it before.

Posted by: Scott | Jan 25, 2006 5:42:27 AM

Mr. B- I thought you worked in finance- how in the world did you end up attending a meeting about such filters?

Scott- regarding your first comment, another example of this sentiment (which I'm not saying is entirely off base) that stands out most in my mind is an email my father received several months ago. It's way too long to post here, but well worth your time to read. Let me know if you're interested...

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jan 25, 2006 6:20:41 AM

Glad you are feeling better, David. I have been to Zichron Yaakov only twice, and remember it mostly for its breathtaking real-time forest. The sect you describe is fascinating - why did they settle in Zichron Yaakov of all places? Will you take him up on his offer of visiting their beehives? Subsequent to the extraordinary post of January 6th, any updates on what became of Jacob?


Posted by: mcaryeh | Jan 25, 2006 8:47:26 AM

tnspr569,

I'd be interested. Thanks for the offer. Perhaps David would be so kind as to foreward one of us the other's e-mail. It's OK by me if you have my email but I don't think it wise to print it out here.

Posted by: Scott | Jan 25, 2006 10:35:01 AM

Last intifada these people brought a bunch of their German brothers on a tour of Samaria, including our village/settlement. The girls looked like Bais Ya'akov girls - perhaps even plainer, and with no makeup.

They were NOT interested in politics. They only wanted to know which ancient tribe this land belonged to, and if our faith was strong. It was clear that a Jew who wasn't observing his/her own covenantal obligations was a pitiful creature, obstructing salvation. An interesting take, and not easily assailed given their own dedication to their beliefs.

The members of the group who lived here were more aware and interested in politics and other things. But they were totally unabashed in seeing the political and security crises in relation to the secular nature of the state (I won't hold you in suspense... they see it as a big mistake...)

A week later one of our neighbors was giving a mussar lecture, and said: "Don't compare yourself to the sages of previous generations - in previous generations, the gentiles dressed and acted like those German Christians, not like today..."

I could get used to a world in which most people dressed and acted like these folks. What's not to like?

Posted by: Ben-David | Jan 25, 2006 2:06:06 PM

Yeah, I was just put off by the overgeneralization of the original 'self-interest' comment. I'd love to hear exactly what my motivation is, since I clearly have some ulterior motive.

And on the other subject, you don't think the costumes are hair-shirtish? (Look! We're not just Xtians, we're Germans! Loath us! It's ok!)

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 25, 2006 4:45:48 PM

Tanya - I agree with you, I think many posters found a "selfish" motive that isn't there. These people are living according to their beliefs and values. Is it so odd to pursue what one feels to be right? As an Orthodox Jew, I also practice my religion (at least partially) because I anticipate reward.

So?

The dress of this German group is not much different than that of many religious Jews here. It expresses their values, using normal Western clothing - unlike some very religious Jews! - that is, the clothing of their own culture.

No hair shirts.

Posted by: Ben-David | Jan 25, 2006 4:57:30 PM

I'm not convinced that it's the clothing of their culture. (It's the clothing of their country from one specific decade. That would be like me wearing bellbottoms, a velour wing collar blouse, and platform shoes, and calling it the clothing of my culture.)

But what concerns me is, if they wanted to dress differently at work, could they? Understanding that they live in their own isolated community, of course it would be awkward to be the one person out of costume, but would it be allowed? Or is it company policy?

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 25, 2006 5:33:14 PM

Reading about their unusual costume, it sounded very much like the Amish/Mennonites/etc in the US. I just read a book about why they dress strangely. In a nutshell, they don't want to conform, and they want to be modest, and apparently they figure the simplest way to make sure everyone is doing both is to enforce a strange and very dated uniform. The rationale of these German Christians might be similar.

Being a Christian, I feel the need to do a little explaining of my own. I agree with Scott's attitudes about Jews being our brothers. I don't try to 'convert' people, although I pray that God will work in their hearts to help them find the truth. To me it seems selfish, if I believe I know something wonderful, not to want others to learn about it too.

I hang out here and at PT's partly because I want to learn about my religious heritage. I'm more interested in listening than talking, and hopefully Jewish friends will feel comfortable, knowing that I'm not trying to change them. Y'all are so very interesting!

Scott, what do you think the 'eternal reward' is, if not heaven? Verses? Trep, please give him my email, assuming you'd rather we discuss that elsewhere. Thanks.

Posted by: Kiwi the Geek | Jan 29, 2006 9:47:38 AM

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In