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September 1, 2017

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 1, 2017 A Living Church of God congregation in San Diego celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles, the church's name for Sukkot, in 2016. By Ben Sales NEW YORK (JTA)--On the night of Rosh Hashanah, thousands of people will leave work, gather in congregations across the globe and worship God, the ruler of the world. Ten days later they will begin a fast and gather again to pray, this time atoning for their sins. On both occasions they will praise Jesus Christ and pray for his return. They are not Jews, nor are they Jews for Jesus. Rather, these congregants are mem- bers of an evangelical Chris- tian movement called the Living Church of God. On the days Jews know as Rosh Ha- shanah andYom Kippur, these Christians celebrate what they call the Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement. "We're not trying to be Jew- ish," said Dexter Wakefield, a Living Church minister and the church's spokesman. "We're obeying God's com- mandments. The holy days have great meaning for the Christians who keep them." Living Church of God is one of a few evangelical groups that observes Christianity as it believes Jesus observed it, according to the dictates of the Hebrew Bible. That means no Christmas and no Easter--holidays the church rejects as pagan in origin. It also means that members observe their Sabbath like the Jews: from Friday night to Sat- urday night. The mainstream Christian custom of observing the Sabbath on Sunday, they believe, is another deviation from the authentic Christian- ity of Christ. Though the Living Church of God, which has about 10,000 members, advocates observing the Sabbath on Saturday as well as Jewish holidays, they are not Messi- anic Jews, who self-identify as Jewish and use Hebrew scrip- ture and liturgy. Nor are they Seventh-day Adventists, who observe a Saturday Sabbath but no other Jewish holidays. The church has nearly 400 congregations on six continents, and most of its membership is in North America, with headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is governed by a Council of Elders and is an ideological outgrowth of the philosophy of Herbert Armstrong, whose preaching of Old Testament observance inspired several churches that see themselves outside of the evangelical mainstream. For the Living Church of God, Rosh Hashanah andYom Kippur--the former begins this year on the evening of Sept. 20 and the latter at sunset Sept. 29--are two of seven festivals celebrated across the year. Those festivals correspond to the five Jewish holidays commanded in the Torah--Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot. The church gets to seven by treating Shemini Atzeret, the holiday at the end of Sukkot, as a separate festival, and by splitting Passover in two--the first day and everything that comes afterward. "These days were clearly commanded in the Old Testa- ment, and their observance by Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament certainly ratifies them for the Chris- tian Church," the church's founder, Roderick Meredith, wrote in a pamphlet. "True Christians are to keep holy the days God made holy. And we are to follow the example of Jesus and the original Apostles in so doing." These holidays correspond to the annual agricultural cycle, and have also taken on Jewish historical significance. But for the church, they re- flect steps in the second com- ing of Jesus and the world's ultimate redemption. Rather than marking the New Year, Rosh Hashanah--a one-day holiday called the Feast of Trumpets, a rea- sonably literal translation of its name in the Torah, Yom T'ruah--marks the day when Jesus will appear again hailed by trumpets. Yom Kip- pur, translated as the Day of Atonement, marks the day when Satan will finally be defeated. The church celebrates each day with a service--short by Jewish High Holiday stan- dards-that includes a short and long sermon on the theme of the day, bookended by hymns. Like observant Jews, on the Day of Atone- ment congregants will take the day off and abstain from eating and drinking. But on the High Holidays they dispense with Jewish rituals like dipping apples in honey, wearing white robes known as kittels or blowing a shofar. And while Jews have special prayer books meant just for the High Holidays, Wakefield said there isn't a traditional set of hymns to sing on either day. "Occasionally someonewill bring a shofar just for the fun of it," said Wakefield, who served as a pastor to several Florida churches before mov- ing to work in the church's headquarters. "It's not a particular ritual that we do. It's a delightful thing to do." Four days after the Day of Atonement, the church's congregations will leave their homes for a temporary dwell- ing, as Jews do on Sukkot. But that dwelling will be a resort or motel--not a sukkah made of cloth, wood and branches. Christians on page 15A Janette Silverman By Jane Edelstein A beginner in the Jew- ish genealogy search, Jane Edelstein recently attended the International Associa- tion of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference held in Orlando. This is the second article about her experience finding her roots. If you're building your family tree online, you may be tired of reviewing old historical documents that aren't even in English. It's one thing to focus on relatives that you or your parents had once met, but once you've gone back two or more generations, how do you increase your personal connection to the past? "You want to make history more personal and meaning- ful," noted Janette Silverman, senior genealogist research manager at AncestryPro- Genealogists, speaking at the recent International Association of Jewish Ge- nealogical Societies (IAJGS) conference in Orlando. "It helps tremendously if you can link a historical event to an ancestor." Silverman related how she once tied a historical date to a relative who she knew was aligned with that event. "Sometimes you have to integrate information from two or more different sources--and only then does a connection become clear," she said. Here are some other tips that Silverman shared to help make your genealogical search more personal: Pay extra attention to old ketubas (wedding contracts) you may find. "They often conveyed the place where they were written," Silver- man said. This could help link a person to a town. Consider that a grave- stone is more than just the writing that's on it. "What kind of stone is it? How is the stone constructed?" Silver- man queried, explaining ad- ditional types of information that can be obtained. Consider a source of information that is relatively new in terms of categoriza- tion-individual synagogue yahrzeit (anniversary of death) plaques and memo- rial records. "A plaque can connect a person to a place that may not be documented elsewhere," Silverman noted. Indeed, has just within the past couple of years begun index- ing and categorizing yahrzeit plaques in a searchable database. "As of December of last year, we had 136,000 memorial records from 225 synagogues," noted Avraham Groll, director, JewishGen. The database is growing rapidly. (The database may be viewed at; click on the link to Memorial Plaques Database.). By Alan Kornman On Aug. 17, the 'Florida Atlantic University profes- sor and president of the Islamic Society of Boca Ra- ton, Fla Bassem Alhalabi, agreed to publicly defend the Shariah Islamiyya (Islamic Law) but ran away in shame from the venue minutes before the program's start- ing time. The title of the meeting was "Interfaith Cafe: Sharia Law and U.S. Law Nothing To Fear." Dr. Alhalabi was to defend Islamic law, making the case that non-Muslims have nothing to fear from Shariah. Deep down Dr. Alhalabi knows the facts are not on his side. What Dr. Alhalabi fears most are Americans who are educated on Islamic Law and use Islamic sources with consensus to distinguish his lies from truth. When people from The United West showed up to film the talk, Dr. Alhalabi ran out of the venue faster than you can say chop, chop adios. Dr. Alhalabi left his audience and event organiz- ers dumbfounded. Back on May 23, 2016, Dr. Alhalabi was a participant on a Muslim Student Asso- ciation panel discussion on Islamophobia at FAU. That event haunts him to this day. Dr. Alhalabi made the case that chopping off the hands of thieves is good for society, as per the Shariah. Professor 'Chop Chop' Alhalabi, as he's affection- ately known in South Florida, didn't realize members of The United West caught the entire exchange on tape. On the panel was Wilfredo Ruiz, legal counsel for The Council OnAmerican Islamic Relations--Florida, who said nothing. Except for Rabbi Barry Silver, nobody on that Islamophobia panel was outraged. There was no out- rage from the followers of Islam on the panel because Dr. Bassem 'Chop Chop' Alhalabi said nothing that contradicted Islamic Law/ Sharia. Sadly for the Delray Beach Interfaith Cafe Community, their other speaker in the discussion, Dr. Mark Schnei- der, professor emeritus from Southern Illinois Univer- sity said, "Non-Muslims have nothing to worry about, since Mohammed, and/or the Qur'an, never commanded Muslims to kill." Audience member Roger Gangitano informed Dr. Schneider that Qur'an Verse 4:89 states, "Those who reject Islam seize them and slay them wherever you find them." Dr. Schneider replied, "That is a lie" and ended that uncomfortable moment without any personal reflec- tion or honesty. In the Islamic culture it is stated, "The most cherished cultural value is honor. No effort and care is spared in order to avoid shame " Dr. Bassem Alhalabi left the building rather than be shamed, however, he has lost face in the South Florida Islamic and interfaith Dr. Bassem Alhalabi praises severing hands at panel discussion at FAU. Rabbi Barry Silver is seated to the right. communities. I suspect the cumulative effect of Dr. AI- halabi's running away from a scheduled speaking engage- ment for no good reason, defending the chopping off of thieves hands, his arrest for assault, and illegally selling thermal imaging equipment to Syria should render him toxic in American lexicon and without honor in the Islamic culture. Ladies and Gentleman Florida Atlantic University Professor Dr. Bassem Al- halabi has left the building in shame and dishonor.