“And almost two-thirds could not name 1944 as the year of the D-Day landings. One in 10 even had no idea Adolf Hitler was involved in the war.”
Another survey released in April coducted by Onepoll.com on behalf of the History Channel found that of 2,000 respondents many had a poor understanding of the history of the Vikings.
“Almost four in 10 admit they believe the Vikings were just like the stereotype of ferocious raiders with blonde hair and big beards, but more than one in 10 aren’t convinced the Vikings even existed,” the Mirror reported last spring.
“One in four were also unaware the Vikings raided the U.K., with more than one in 20 believing they targeted south America instead.”
The 65-year-old Damkani was in Tupelo, Mississippi, last week as part of his first trip back to the States in eight years, conducting interviews and promoting A New Spirit, a recently released movie adaptation of his life story.
Damkani is warm and intense, with a resonant baritone voice, a thick gray beard and curly hair. Compact and vigorous, he begins his days back home with a 5 am swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
As a young adult, he moved from Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, New York, and lived in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community before moving to Asbury Park, New Jersey, where he ran a gift shop.
“I got to be friends with Bruce Springsteen. It was before he became a big deal. He’d play at the Stone Pony, and we had a few conversations,” Damkani said in an interview from the studios of American Family Radio in Tupelo.
It was while living in New Jersey that Damkani made a profound shift in his beliefs, a shift that led him from Asbury Park to Woodland Hills, California – home to a religious community called Last Days, led by popular Christian recording artist Keith Green, who died in 1982.
Damkani lived in the community and studied under Green for a year in 1978, in the waning days of the Jesus Movement. A casual observer would say he became a Christian, but the keenly intelligent Damkani, never at a loss for words, whether in Hebrew or English, put a finer point on his change of heart.
“Wait a minute. When we say ‘Christian’ we think of another religion,” he said. “But the idea that Jesus came to establish a new religion is far from the truth. Jesus never intended to bring a new religion, and the church has to understand that Jesus is the natural continuation of God’s promises made to Israel. Men made a new religion of it, and the Jews will not accept a new religion. That is the obstacle for the Jews. I didn’t become a Christian if that means following a new religion. If it means a follower of Messiah, then OK, I’m a Christian.”
Damkani left the States and moved back to Israel in 1981, with his heart set on bringing this message to his people, and on helping others – especially Gentile believers – do the same. In 1984, he established Trumpet of Salvation to Israel. For 34 years, the group has been teaching Gentile believers how to reach Israeli Jews in a culturally sensitive and effective way.
Damkani said part of the challenge is helping non-Jewish believers understand the Jews’ natural resistance to Christianity.
“The mind of the Jews doesn’t see Christianity as followers of Messiah, but as a new religion; one that betrayed the God of Israel and Israel as a people,” he said. “When it comes to my people, Christianity is just another religion – the enemy of the Jews who have persecuted them all the way from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the pogroms and the Holocaust. Hitler is associated with Christianity, and Hitler quoted Martin Luther a number of times.”
Damkani said it can be a daunting task to train Gentile Christians to see Western Christianity from a Jewish perspective – a task which requires some deprogramming from the “replacement theology” taught in many churches.
“You cannot really blame the Jews for their hostility,” Damkani said. “For 2,000 years the church told them they aren’t relevant anymore. It’s all based on replacement theology, which is big in the church: the idea that God has sent the Jews away and now Christianity is for the Gentiles. The church has been blind to the place of Israel in the glorious final salvation and the kingdom to come on earth. Messiah didn’t come to replace Israel, he came to open the door, to reconcile all men to God, first to the Jews and then the Gentiles.”
If Western Christians are to make inroads with Israeli Jews, Damkani said they must first acknowledge the part the church has played in alienating them.
“The tragedy is the Gentile world, the church, has done everything it can to do away with Israel and to take Jesus for themselves. Gentiles need to say, ‘Please forgive us for what we have made of Jeshua, for making a blonde, blue-eyed Jesus and for turning the feasts that he celebrated into Easter and Christmas. He had nothing to do with that,” he said.
When Damkani finishes his American visit, he’ll return to Tel Aviv, and to the work he has devoted the past 34 years to, a work he describes as “a double-edged sword.”
“The task we have now is to open the eyes of the Jews to accept Jesus for who he is,” he said, “and to open the eyes of the Gentiles – the saints from the nations – to their calling to Israel.”
In new HBO documentary about his life, Steven Spielberg discusses his Jewish upbringing, his illustrious career and the movie that changed his life forever.
You can’t discuss film directing without mentioning his name.
Over his illustrious 50-year-career, Steven Spielberg has created some of the most iconic, beloved and critically acclaimed films ever made.
And now he has taken a turn on the other side of the camera lens, sitting for hours of interviews as part of the new HBO biography and documentary Spielberg.
Documentarian Susan Lacy has pieced together interviews with the director himself, his siblings, parents and colleagues over the years, interspersed with film footage and behind the scenes videos to create a comprehensive look at Spielberg’s life. The result is a two-and a- half hour glimpse into the director’s Hollywood career, from his first professional job at age 21 to his numerous box office hits and critical successes. It is telling of the breadth of his career that 150 minutes doesn’t serve as enough time to touch on dozens of his films.
The 70-year-old is a congenial interview subject, discussing the highs and lows of his career as well as his childhood and personal life with ease.
A who’s who of Hollywood – after all, who hasn’t worked with Spielberg – weighs in as well, including his close friends and compatriots Martin Scorsese, JJ Abrams, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. Actors Richard Dreyfus, Tom Hanks, Leonardo Dicaprio, Drew Barrymore, Liam Neeson, Dustin Hoffman and Daniel Day Lewis all show up to discuss their time on set with the legendary director.
The lengthy but jam-packed documentary weaves its way through Spielberg’s illustrious career, from his first big hit with Jaws, to the iconic E.T. and Jurassic Park and the critically-acclaimed The Color Purple and Saving Private Ryan. While Spielberg has been one of the most respected filmmakers in Hollywood, he didn’t shy away from creating feel-good box-office friendly franchises, like Men in Black (which he produced but didn’t direct) and Indiana Jones.
While for many years Spielberg shied away from his Jewish identity, he has long since embraced it as part of his life and his work.
“I don’t search for films consciously that have a spiritual core,” he said of his 1977 science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “There’s a spiritual part of myself that happens to bleed over into the work,” he added, saying he often “will find things that inherently have something of a belief system that’s beyond our understanding.”
In the interview with Lacy, Spielberg said he believes in God, and reflected on the role faith had in his upbringing.
“I was raised Orthodox, and tradition has been a huge part of my family – religious studies and Hebrew school and bar mitzvas and bat mitzvas,” he said. “But we always lived in neighborhoods where there were no Jews and there was a real cultural divide in those days.”
The director said while growing up he “certainly experienced being excluded and picked on and discriminated against.” Those experiences, he said, led in part to him beginning to “deny his Jewishness… deny everything that I had accepted as a child.”
But when he married his second and current wife, Kate Capshaw, who converted to Judaism before the wedding, he underwent a return to the faith of his childhood.
Certainly career-wise, however, there was no film that connected Spielberg to the Jewish people more than the iconic 1993 Schindler’s List.
“It was, emotionally, the hardest movie I’ve ever made,” the director recounted.
“Nothing could prepare me for my first visit to Auschwitz… I knew this couldn’t be just another movie, and it couldn’t be like anything I’d ever directed before.”
The film left more than just an indelible legacy – and Spielberg’s first Academy Award – it spurred the director to set up the Shoah Foundation.
That organization, founded with the profits of Schindler’s List (“I couldn’t take any proceeds from the film”), created an archive of filmed testimony by Holocaust survivors.
But the impact it had on Spielberg’s own life was also immeasurable.
“The experience of making Schindler’s List made me reconcile with all of the reasons… I hid from my Jewishness,” he said. “And it made me so proud to be a Jew.”
More than a decade later, the director tackled another – more controversial – film with 2005’s Munich.
That movie told the story of the Mossad’s secret plot to avenge the deaths of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.
After 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the games by PLO terrorists, Israel embarks on a mission to kill the 11 PLO operatives involved in the murders.
“I knew it would be controversial from the very get-go,” Spielberg said. He noted that the film explored the ideas of revenge and its justification, leaving viewers with murky feelings on the morality of retribution.
“Munich is a prayer for peace,” he said. “But peace the hard way, peace by discovering within yourself your moral high ground.”
Spielberg airs in the United States on Saturday October 7. It will be available on YesVOD and HOT VOD starting October 8 and air on October 13 at 10 p.m. on YesDocu and October 14 at 10 p.m. on HOT HBO.
(JTA) – As Yom Kippur approaches, Jewish baseball fans hark back to the fall of 1965, when Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax said he would not take the mound in Game 1 of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins.
Mind you, this was no ordinary pitcher. Koufax dominated on the hill that season for Los Angeles and would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax, now in his early 80s, and his choice would go down in Jewish lore, to be recalled annually on the Day of Atonement – or perhaps whenever his coreligionists have a tough call to make.
“There was no hard decision for me,” he would say later in an ESPN documentary released in 2000. “It was just a thing of respect. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, and I had no idea that it would impact that many people.”
Learn more about Koufax’s story in the video above.
Roads and airwaves fall silent, but security and rescue services remain on high alert.
Israel shut shut down on Friday for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
All flights in and out of Ben Gurion airport ceased at 1:35 p.m., while public transport gradually halted with buses and trains stopping their routes until after the fast day.
As sundown approached all local radio and television broadcasts gradually fell silent.
Yom Kippur begins Friday at sundown and ends Saturday night.
It is marked with a 25-hour fast and intense prayer by religious Jews, while more secular Israelis often use the day to ride bicycles on the country’s deserted highways.
Security and rescue services, however, remain on high alert.
For the Magen David Adom Rescue service, Yom Kippur is one of the busiest days of the year with hundreds of extra medics, paramedics, ambulances and volunteers deployed across the country.
Most injuries over Yom Kippur come from accidents on the roads as tens of thousands of children and teens take advantage of the deserted streets to ride their bicycles. Other common Yom Kippur injuries are caused by parents leaving children unattended outside synagogues and, of course, dehydration and complications from fasting.
However, the weather this year is expected to be relatively mild, with even some light rain expected in the north.
Meanwhile, the IDF imposed a closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. The closure is expected to last until midnight on Saturday, “depending on a situational assessment,” the army said.
The closure is a routine procedure during Israeli and Jewish holidays. However, in a less common move, the military also announced that Palestinian workers would be barred from entering Jewish settlements in the West Bank — a measure that is not normally taken during closures. The army said special permission may be granted in some cases.
This additional restriction is likely tied to a terror attack on Tuesday morning, in which a Palestinian gunman hid among a group of laborers waiting to enter the Har Adar settlement, outside Jerusalem. When he was called to stop, the terrorist opened fire with a handgun, killing three security officers and wounding a fourth.
In addition, the Jewish high holiday season, which began last week with Rosh Hashanah, is generally seen by defense officials as a time of increased tension in the region, when the risk of terror attacks is higher.
Some of the seals are inscribed with biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinchas.
A rare collection of ancient seals inscribed with the names of officials dating to the Judean Kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction has been unearthed near the Old City’s walls during excavations conducted by the Antiquities Authority.
Dozens of seals, made of small pieces of clay used to officially close letters, were well preserved in the City of David and serve as evidence of their owners.
According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, directors of the excavation funded by the Ir David Foundation (Elad), the seals illustrate the advanced administrative underpinnings of Jerusalem during the First Temple period.
“The earliest seals bear mostly a series of pictures,” the archeologists said on Monday.
“It appears that instead of writing the names of the clerks, symbols were used to show who the signatory was, or what he was sealing.”
During later stages of the period – from the time of King Hezekiah (approximately 700 BCE) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 BCE – the seals bear the names of clerks in early Hebrew script.
“Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city, but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service,” they noted.
Some of the seals are inscribed with biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinhas.
“One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of Ahiav Ben Menahem,” they said.
“These two names are known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel: Menahem was a king of Israel, while Ahiav does not appear in the Bible, but his name resembles that of Ahav [Ahab] – the infamous king of Israel from the tales of the prophet Elijah.”
Although the spelling of the name, “Ahiav,” differs somewhat from “Ahav,” they said it appears to be the same name.
“The version of the name that appears on the seal discovered, Ahiav, appears as well in the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, as well as in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 15:7-8),” they said.
Chalaf and Uziel added that the appearance of the name “Ahiav” is interesting for two main reasons.
“First, because it serves as further testimony to the names that are familiar to us from the Kingdom of Israel in the Bible, and which appear in Judah during the period following the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel,” they said.
“These names are part of the evidence that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and found their way into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration.”
While Ahab is portrayed as a negative figure in the Bible, his name continues to be in use, albeit in a differently spelled version.
“It was used both in Judea during the latter days of the First Temple, as reflected in Jeremiah and on the seal; and also after the destruction in the Babylonian exile, and up until the Second Temple period, as seen in the writings of Flavius Josephus,” the researchers said.
The stamps, along with other archeological findings discovered during recent excavations, will be exhibited to the public for the first time at the 18th City of David research conference, the annual archeological conference held by the Megalim Institute, on September 7 at the City of David National Park.
“This is a time for the Jewish State to help our Diaspora brothers at their time of need,” Bennett said. “They helped us when we needed it, it is our turn to help them.”
Bennett said the funds, which which will go to assist in the rebuilding of schools, synagogues and the local JCC that were damaged by the hurricane, are a “clear message about mutual responsibility.”
According to statement put out by Bennett, many of the schools and synagogues serving the 60,000-strong Jewish community cannot be used, and the community’s senior citizens home and JCC have suffered extensive water damage.
Regarding Mexico, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set to leave for Latin America this evening, told the cabinet Sunday that when he meets Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, he will offer Israel’s assistance to areas hit by the devastating earthquake there last Thursday.
Netanyahu said these are “not easy days for Mexico,” and sent his condolences to the victims of the disaster. At least 90 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the earthquake which badly hit the states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Netanyahu characterized his trip to Argentina, Colombia, Mexico — and from there to New York where he will address the UN General Assembly — as “historic,” inasmuch as it will be the first ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister to South or Central America.
“This visit will strengthen our economic, security and technological ties with Latin America, and will constitute the continued strengthening of Israel’s position in the world, something we are leading in a successful and systematic manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nadav Argaman, the head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) briefed the cabinet before Netanyahu’s departure.
Netanyahu said before that briefing that the Shin Bent thwarted the efforts of more than 70 cells that were planning attacks. “Israeli citizens don’t know everything that the Shin Bet does,” he said. “I want to express my deep appreciation to the Shin Bet and all who deal with this important work for Israel’s security.”
38 years after returning to the West Bank City, Hebron’s Jewish community has acquired the official status of an independent settlement.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman upgraded the municipal status of Hebron’s Jewish community, separating it from the Palestinian municipality, which governs the West Bank city.
Liberman announced the change in the status of the 1,000 Jews in Hebron during a briefing with reporters in Tel Aviv.
A 1997 agreement split the city, of what is now more than 220,000 Palestinians, leaving 80% under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and 20% under Israel. But the Hebron Municipality is expected to provide basic services to the Jewish community, which has limited ability to government its own life.
The upgrade severs them from the Hebron municipality and allows them to independently seek services from the Civil Administration, which oversees civilian life in Area C of the West Bank.
The move was necessitated this year after the Palestinians in Hebron elected as their Mayor Sheikh Tayseer Abu Sneineh, who had been convicted and served time for his role in killing six Israelis in a terrorist attack.
“For years, Hebron’s Jewish residents lived without a municipal authority to take care of all the services required for normative civilian life,” said Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi). “After the election of a murderer for mayor of Hebron, the idea that they will receive these services from the municipality has become even more absurd.”
He added: “This is another important step in normalizing the lives of the Jews in Hebron, in particular, and in all of Judea and Samaria, in general.”
The upgrade comes during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In July, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization registered Hebron’s old town and the Tomb of the Patriarchs to the State of Palestine on its World Heritage List.
The inscription focuses on preserving the Muslim character of the 3,000-year-old-city with ties to three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Most of Hebron’s Jewish community of close to 1,000 people, live in the city’s old town.
It also comes as the Defense Ministry is in the midst of fierce negotiations to sway 15 Jewish families in Hebron to peacefully evacuate Beit Hamachpela, a three-story apartment building they illegally moved into in July.
The families have worked for the last five years to register their property claim and have provided documentation to show that they purchased it from the Abu Rajab family, which disputes the claim and has filed a petition before the High Court of Justice, seeking the removal of the Jewish families.
She gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.
An 8-year-old Israeli girl found a rare coin from the Second Temple period.
The half-shekel coin dates from a time when it was used to pay a yearly Temple tax, archaeologist Zachi Dvira told The Times of Israel. The custom is prescribed in the Torah (Exodus 30:11-16).
Hallel Halevy discovered the coin in May when she was picking up her sister from kindergarten in the Halamish settlement in the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported. On Wednesday, she gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.
After Halevy told her father about the find, he contacted a local professor, Zohar Amar of Bar-Ilan University. Amar conducted some research and was able to identify the find as a half-shekel coin that he believes was made in 66-70 C.E.
“These half-shekel coins were used to pay the Temple tax during the Great Revolt, replacing the Tyrian shekel used previously,” Dvira said, referring to the currency approved by the Romans before their temporary overthrow by the Jewish Zealots. “It appears that these half-shekel coins were minted by the Temple authorities on the Temple Mount itself.
Halevy said she was thrilled to have found the ancient coin.
“I felt that ‘wow!’ It was written on it ‘Jerusalem the Holy City.’ That’s really exciting,” she said, according to The Times of Israel.
An Israeli cinematographer and composer heads to middle America to capture art that is, truly, out of this world.
It started as a simple idea at the Swissa Creative headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. In a time where it seems the world is only plagued with bad news and dividing views, we needed something to bring us, all of us, together. Something to remind ourselves that we are all one people on one planet, and at the risk of making a cliche metaphor, something to bring us back to Earth.
Enter: Kobi Swissa, a proud Israeli, Chicago pizza enthusiast, and owner and CEO of Swissa Creative. Kobi, who currently calls Chicago home, made the six-hour drive to Union, Missouri with his creative team for a chance to be in the direct path of ‘totality’ of the 2017 solar eclipse.
As the eclipse captured our attention, our hearts, and our minds, Kobi was busy capturing some of the most incredible, out-of-this-world footage, and has graciously agreed to share with our JPost readers.
Below are still frames from Swissa Creative as they filmed the incredible 2017 solar eclipse.
Who knew something so far out in space could keep us so grounded, if only for a day?