Moon’s Mates

A couple of months ago John Gorenfeld’s blog reported on the crowning of Rev Moon in the Dirksen Senate Building, in a ceremony attended by a number of politicians and religious figures. After plugging away for a while on the blogosphere (helped by Politics1 and other bloggers), Gorenfeld was recently invited to write a piece for Salon, since when the story has gone global, with dramatic results: press conferences, statements of clarification and disclaimers by some of the politicians involved (some now claim that they were tricked into taking part), and robust justification (in particular, independent Archbishop George A. Stallings, Jr. claims that since he is black those who criticise his links to Moon are racist – listen here, via the Talk Radio News Service).

So, in a shameless bid to get a piece of the action, I’ve tried to track down a couple of the lesser-known religious figures who were there – a tricky business as there are often multiple spellings and variations to contend with.

On June 29-30 Gorenfeld considered Rabbi Mordechai Waldman (also spelt “Mordehi Waldman” and “Mordechai Waldmann”). Gorenfeld notes that:

According to reader Rob, who attended [the coronation], Rabbi Waldman attended, blew a shofar and was identified as being from Temple Beth Tephilath, apparently in suburban Detroit.

A photo of the rabbi appears in his entry for the previous day. According to the Detroit News in 2002:

On the high holidays, Beth Tefillat Moses of Mount Clemens draws 100 or so worshippers. “I don’t know where they come from,” he [Waldman] says. Most Saturdays it’s all the temple can do to scrape together a minyan, the 10 males age 13 or older who have to be on hand before services can start.

Waldman arrived a decade ago after confounding everyone, including himself, by surviving a massive and hugely unpleasant cancer operation. After all concerned woke up and pinched themselves, his doctors told him he needed to slow down. That’s when he saw an ad for a part-time rabbi in Mount Clemens, wherever the heck that was.

“I thought it was the other side of the world,” says the 50-something Waldman. He grew up on the west side of Detroit and had always worked in Oakland County, and “I thought you needed a passport to go east of John R.”

The synagogue does not have much web presence, although I found the following listing (spelt as “Beth Tephilath Moses”), where the rabbi has, even more mysteriously, become  “Mark Waldman”. You can listen to Waldman blowing his shofar in honour of Moon here.

Standing behind Waldman in the picture of him provided by Gorenfeld (to our left) is Dr Joshua Ben-Ami (also known as Shuki Ben Ami and Shuki Yariv Ben-Ami). Ben-Ami flew from his native Israel to Washington for a press conference after the story broke, where he announced that only Moon has been interested in Israeli/Palestinian peace, so “I crowned, with my ten fingers, with white gloves, Father Moon, and I wish to do it again.” (Here on mp3). Unification Church press releases and other reports describe Ben-Ami as dean of the Emil Frank Institute in Jerusalem, afiliated to the University of Trier. The Trier Emil Frank Institute website makes no mention of this link (perhaps if someone could do a search in Hebrew more could be found).

Ben-Ami is also given the title of “President WMA, Israel” in this news report from Moon’s Interreligious and International Peace Council, where there is a photo. WMA is the World Media Association, another Moon concern directed by Mike Marshall, editor-in-chief of Moon’s United Press International. According to a Unification Church news report, Ben-Ami considers Moon to be the Second Coming, and at church events gives testimony “about giving Jesus the crown”.

I could not find out whether Ben-Ami is related to David Z Ben-Ami, founder of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation, who has also made comments in support of Moon.

PS: Although a bit off-topic, I cannot resist noting that this UPI report (via Moon’s Washington Times) places Yorkshire in Australia: Moon clearly has great powers…

UPDATE (4 July): Gorenfeld provides a link to an Ambassadors for Peace account of the press conference, which took place at the National Press Club. Here there are pictures of many of the religious figures involved. Waldman gets a quote, but no new details, while a slightly different profile for Ben-Ami is given:

Professor of Theology at Emil Frank Theological Institute in Germany, specializing in early Christian history and the Dead Dea Scrolls. Currently, Dr. Ben-Ami is president of the Israeli Chapter of the World Media Association. Formerly he served as the President of Mitchell College in Jerusalem. Dr. Ben-Ami is author and publicist of many books and essays, including, “Faith of God in Man According to Jewish Tradition,” “Jerusalem Stories,” and “Native American Culture in South Dakota.”

This is confusing: he’s no longer head of an Israeli branch of the Emil Frank Institute, but is working at the main German part – although absent from the Institute’s website. Mitchell College has no web presence (although I can’t search very well at all in Hebrew), except as part of the address of a German cultural centre. I eventually sussed how to search for Ben-Ami in Hebrew, but all I found was one of his Native-American themed works, for sale here.

2 Responses

  1. […] previous entry on Moon can be seen here) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Farah: WND Column was “Satire”5th […]

  2. […] has featured on this blog before – back in 2004 he took part in a remarkable ritual in a US senate office, during which he placed a crown upon the […]

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