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A major change in Israeli governance has taken place recently. A governing body has suddenly appeared which has not existed for 1600 years.

On January 20th, 2005, the same day of the U.S. Presidential inauguration, the Sanhedrin was launched in Tiberias. A unique ceremony convened 71 rabbis who received special rabbinic ordination as specified by Maimonides. This Sanhedrin is to be the religious ruling body in the State of Israel. Here let it be noted that it was the Sanhedrin that condemned the Lord Jesus to death and gave the apostles of Jesus so much trouble, especially the Apostle Paul.

The newly formed Sanhedrin also convened on February 9th, 2005, to discuss and determine the exact location of the former great temple in Jerusalem. The purpose of making this determination is to rebuild the temple and re-establish temple worship according to Rabbi Chaim Richman. One of the problems faced by the Sanhedrin is that it appears that the temple would need to be built on the spot where the Islamic Dome of the Rock Mosque now stands. Quite obviously, if anything is done to destroy that mosque, all hell would break loose as over one billion Moslems would be outraged.

Israel's Jewish population to outstrip U.S. by 2006

Israel will have the largest Jewish population in the world by 2006, when it will surpass the United States for the first time in history, the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute said Monday.

Planning institute director general Avinoam Bar-Yosef presented the research group's annual report on "the situation of the Jewish people" to the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee. The institute, which is partly funded by the Jewish agency, concluded that the State of Israel is the single guarantee of the Jewish people's continued existence. Bar-Yosef will submit the report to the government next week.

Today about 5.28 million Jews live in the U.S., with 5.235 million living in Israel.

The report projects how many Jews there will be in 2020. Israel is the only country in the world expected to see significant growth in the size of its Jewish population, while all other communities in the world are expected to shrink or remain stable. The overall number of Jews in the world is expected to rise by half a million people.

The Jerusalem-based institute predicts that there will be 6.25 million Jews in Israel in 2020, compared to 5.25 million Jews today.

In North America the number of Jews is expected to remain stable, at about 5.5 million. The number of Jews in Europe is expected to drop from 1.25 million to 1 million. In the former Soviet Union, the
number of Jews is expected to shrink from 380,000 to 180,000.


Israeli religious leaders urge Catholic anti-Semitism Day (Courtesy of ANSA)

Vatican City, September 15, 2005-

Israel's two chief rabbis met Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, inviting him to visit the Jewish state and urging him to issue a fresh appeal against anti-Semitism.

Thursday's visit was the second to the Vatican for Sephardic chief Shlomo Moshe Amar and Ashkenazi head Yona Metzger, who saw Benedict's predecessor John Paul II in July 2004. Benedict received them "with an open heart," they told a press conference, and stressed that relations with Irael were "solid and stable." The pope told them aides would examine a packet of requests including condemnations of terrorism, anti-Semitism and the recent destruction of synagogues in the Gaza Strip.

The other main request was to establish October 28 as the Catholic Church's anti-semitism day. This year, October 28 is the 40th anniversary of the Vatican's 1965 first declaration, Nostra Aetate (Our Age), on relations with non-
Christian churches.

Rabbi Metzeger said instituting a Catholic anti-semitism day would be seen as a gesture of good will and respect. Israel was disappointed when a recent condemnation of terrorism by the pope did not include a reference to a terrorist attack on Israel.

The incident put a damper on relations which had just been boosted by an invitation to Israel from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In the letter of invitation, Sharon underlined his desire to continue the good relations established with the Vatican under John Paul II.

In reply to the letter, the pope said Israel was among his "priorities" for a visit. On Thursday, in the wake of the rabbis' visit, Israel's Ambassador to the Holy See Oded Ben Hur would neither confirm nor rule out next year as a possible time for Benedict's visit. The invitations to go to Israel follow a series of strong signs from the pope demonstrating his desire to push ahead with Catholic-Jewish dialogue.He visited the synagogue in the German city of Cologne in August, when he went there for World Youth Day celebrations.

The visit was seen as a symbol of the pope's commitment to Jewish-Catholic relations. The German pope told a high-level Jewish delegation in the Vatican in June that he wanted to take Catholic-Jewish dialogue forward without ever forgetting the horror of the Holocaust.

"Remembering the past is a moral imperative for both communities and a source of purification as we work together for reconciliation," he said .

One of Benedict's first acts as pope was to send a message to Rome's Jewish community, saying he intended to continue John Paul II's line of dialogue and respect.

The Polish pontiff is credited with improving Catholic-Jewish relations more than any other pope. He established diplomatic ties for the first time with Israel and made a landmark visit to Rome's synagogue in 1986. John Paul also visited Israel in 2000, and famously put a slip of paper into a crevice in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The paper contained a request that Jews forgive Catholics for centuries of mistreatment and mistrust.