Does Elder Ephraim teach anti-Semitism? (Seraphim Larson, 2005)

Seraphim Larsen is a convert to Orthodoxy and has been a pilgrim to St. Anthony’s Monastery pretty much since its beginning. Geronda Paisios is his spiritual father and also the priest who baptized him. Thus, as a lay person, he is in a very good position to refute accusations against the monastery as he knows more than the average person due to his unique relationship with the fathers there. In December 2012, he was elected chairman for the Pinal County Republican Party (Florence, AZ is a town in and the county seat of Pinal County). He was also the representative for Presidential Candidate Ron Paul the same year. He is currently a member of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots.

Seraphim Larsen's Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots Profile Pic.
Seraphim Larsen’s Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots Profile Pic.
As I mentioned earlier, I intend to address the issues raised by David Smith one-by-one.

The first issue he raises is anti-Semitism.  He accuses Elder Ephraim and the Fathers at Saint Anthony’s Monastery of being anti-Semites. Such a claim is absolutely unfounded.It is worth mentioning that the Elder’s own personal medical doctor in Phoenix is a Jew.  A lawyer that the Monastery uses is also a Jew.  In addition, there are a number of Monks who are from Jewish backgrounds, and at least one of the Orthodox Priests who regularly visits St. Anthony’s Monastery is a Jewish convert to Christianity.   I know two of these people quite well, and they have never complained of any anti-Semitic teaching coming from Elder Ephraim.

Fr. James Bernstein, Jewish convert to Orthodoxy.
Fr. James Bernstein, Jewish convert to Orthodoxy.

Smith provided some quotes from some of Elder Ephraim’s writings to try to prove that the Elder is anti-Semitic. For example:

One Sunday, a preacher delivered a sermon on “love your enemies.” On the Sunday after, he spoke against alcohol addiction – about the havoc it wrought among the Christian peoples. Incidentally, the infamous Zionists greatly boast about this in their notorious ‘Protocols.’

It is important to note, in the quotes cited by Smith, Elder Ephraim speaks against the Zionists, not Judaism or the Jewish people.

Zionism is not equivalent to Judaism — not at all. Zionism is “an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine, and later for the support of modern Israel” (Merriam-Webster). The ranks of the Zionists have included many who are not even Jewish — for example, many American Evangelicals identify themselves with the Zionist movement.

Many people of greatly varied political and religious views are opposed to Zionism for many different reasons, and it would be ridiculous to claim that all of them are anti-Semites. There are even Jewish people and organizations that oppose Zionism. Are they also anti-Semites? This is plainly ridiculous.

Thus, there is no foundation at all to the accusation that Elder Ephraim and/or the fathers at Saint Anthony’s Monastery are racists or anti-Semites.  This accusation simply has no basis.


christopher3rd said…
The part of this comment that is deemed offensive is not the reference to Zionists, but the reference to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which is a forged, anti-Semitic text that is not primarily concerned with Zionism. For background see:

This clarification should not, in any way, be taken as a denouncement of Elder Ephraim or his monasteries in the US. Ignorance concerning Elder Ephraim and Orthodox, Athonite monasticism has been the basis for much of the controversy surrounding Geronda Ephraim. The lack of clarity in this defense of Geronda’s comments concerning the Protocols simply adds to the confusion.

The Protocols of Zion are assumed to be fact in many quarters of the world, and perhaps this is the basis of Geronda’s comments. Then again, the reference to “the infamous Zionists” is not the focus of his comment but on the alcohol additiction “among the Christian peoples”. The reference to “the Zionists… in their notorius Protocols” can be taken in the same way that a reference to Hamlet, Zeus, Raskolnikov, or other literary and folk figures, helps to underline a point. Referencing Zeus or Apollo is not tantamount to admitting their historicity, nor is quoting “To be or not to be” an approval of Prince Hamlet’s murderous actions or of Shakespeare himself.

We should remember to put the best construction on second and third hand information such as this, taken out of context, and mixed with vague suspicions of impropriety. These tendencies toward gossip are the basis of many of the accusations against Geronda Ephraim, as well as those against other “secret organizations” such as the Masons, the United Nations, and the “Elders of Zion” which are demonized without actual proof. Uninformed, anti-monastic, gossip is not appropriate to Christians- nor is fixating on who may or may not be wielding worldly power when our Lord’s Kingdom is not of this world.

12/13/2005 10:24 AM
Anonymous said…
Since Arabs can also be Semites, we cannot use the term anti-Semitism to describe someone who hates Jews as a people. The correct term would be “anti-Jewism” or perhaps “Jewphobia”, as a Jewish scholar suggested recently.

Apart from that, even if one supports the theory of the Protocols, this speaks against Zionism, which, beyond national borders, if seen as the belief system that it really is (the supposed 1000-year Jewish dominion etc.) is evidently against the teachings of the Orthodox Church. (For example read here

Unfortunately, I did not manage to find an excellent link that provides a 1000-page analysis (!!) as evidence to the contrary of the hoax theory by a serious scholar who has been in contact with Cohen and the others. Nevertheless, I do recall that the analysis admitted that the results, seen by all sides, are inconclusive, so one cannot claim that they have proof of the validity of the Protocols. At the same time however one cannot claim that they have proof that it is parody. If I find the link, I will send it here. (Apologies for this — but it is true).

"Every one is striving to ensure the creation of one religion.  And it will be accomplished in such a way – by claiming that 'all religions are the same;' that 'we shall form a new religion'… This is being done by something they call Zionism. " St. Porphyrios  the Kapsokalivite
“Every one is striving to ensure the creation of one religion. And it will be accomplished in such a way – by claiming that ‘all religions are the same;’ that ‘we shall form a new religion’… This is being done by something they call Zionism. ” St. Porphyrios the Kapsokalivite

Freemasonry however is a different fruit. There are no mysteries there; not today. It has been officially forbidden for Orthodox Christians by a regulation of the State Church of Greece Continuous Local Synod on more than one occasion. Many enlightened elders have spoken against the spiritually destructive nature of that organization, including recently by Elder Porphyrios, as can be found in Conitsiotis’ well-known book (now the third edition also available in English).

Even if one just takes into consideration the fact that they (as they themselves admit) start their sessions by a common prayer “each to their god”, in true violation of the Orthodox ordinances that anathematise anyone who does this, one can see clearly that Orthodoxy and Freemasonry are incompatible.

The well-known and respected father of blessed memory archimandrite Vasilopoulos wrote about the para-religious cult-like form of Freemasonry in the past. Many reporters, right or left wing, Greek and English, have written on the subject, the world over. There is well-established literature that discusses the para-religious nature of Freemasonry. This of course is also admitted by the older freemasons who were whistling a different tune before they were unmasked. See for example Pythagoras Lodge’s magazine, edition 1, January, 1930 (in Greece).

Archimandrite Haralmabos Vasilopoulos wrote extensively about the Protocols and Zionism.
Archimandrite Haralmabos Vasilopoulos wrote extensively about the Protocols and Zionism.

Returning to the issue of anti-Semitism, however. I *do* wonder. Why is it that we do not hear anyone calling some Jews as anti-Hindo-European or something?

Even black people can be labeled as anti-white and white of course as racists. But Jews are never seen as being in a position to be racist.

Yet when a religious orthodox Jew reads the Zohar (11, 64B)
and “learns” that “the births of Christians must be reduced”, or when he opens up Makkoth (7B) to read that he is “innocent of crime if the purpose is the murder of a Christian”; please tell me: would I be an “anti-Semite” when I ask the above question?

According to the ADL, the film “The Passion of the Christ” was anti-Semitic because it showed the Jews as murderers! Of course, as an Orthodox I disagree with the portrayal of God in movies, but the point is that the use of the word “anti-Semite” is totally in the hands of the rich and powerful American Jewish lobbies and ADL to receive any absurd meaning they want it to receive.

The Passion of Christ is blessed for Geronda Ephraim's  monks and nuns. Some of the monks and nuns have this movie on their IPODs.
The Passion of Christ is blessed for Geronda Ephraim’s monks and nuns. Some of the monks and nuns have this movie on their IPODs.

Elder Ephraim, by being Orthodox, cannot by default BE anti-Jewish since our Christ according to the flesh was a Jew! And we are to love our enemies, even those of the Jews who openly oppose Orthodoxy.

When the US media (newspapers, channels and some major magazines) are all in Jewish hands, together with Hollywood, do you really expect anything different for the propaganda of the public opinion?

As for the existence or not of “conspiracies”. Well, certainly some MUST take place since we had 9/11 carefully orchestrated around our head.

Again, one-sided information was provided by the media in order that Jewish people do not get under the gun of suspicion. Yet very few people bothered to find out on their own that the Associated Press recorded that a short while before the explosions, Scotland Yard sent a telegram to the Israeli Secretary of Treasury Mr. Benjamin Netaniahu not to go to the hotel where he was going to give a speech but to stay at his hotel.

This is a fact; and yet, if one mentioned it today insinuating that certain Israeli groups (and in fact British groups) had foreknowledge of the attacks would most likely once again be labelled as an “anti-Semite”.

Well, I love all people, for all people are images of the Holy Trinity. And whatever they do wrong under the influence of the Devil is not a matter for hatred but sadness. “If God is with us, who is against us?”

However, I do not like to fall victim to the empty and well-known propaganda of “anti-Semitism”, in the same way I do not like any time of propaganda, whether of a sociopolitical or of a religious nature.

The Elder is not a racist, for that would undermine all he ever wanted to be. Religious Zionism, whether people like to hear it or not, is anti-Christian by default and in many ways similar to the ultra-nationalist Greek “Hellenists” that have recently emerged. In both cases phyletism is the underlying issue and phyletism has been FORMALLY condemned by the Orthodox Church.

The Elder has named his black pets, or pets with lots of black color, "Arapi", which is the Greek equivalent of 'Nigger.' Sometimes the monks Basilios, Mattheos, etc. are referred to as "Arapi" behind their backs.
The Elder has named his black pets, or pets with lots of black color, “Arapi”, which is the Greek equivalent of ‘Nigger.’ Sometimes the monks Basilios, Mattheos, etc. are referred to as “Arapi” behind their backs.

Thank you.

1/04/2006 3:29 PM
Anonymous said…
The link, as promised.

Myers is a serious and honest scholar who is however non-Christian. Nevertheless, he provides some significant pieces of information that refute some of the common arguments in favor of the “hoax story”. (dead link)

Of course, there is always the former Rabbi Benjamin Freedman’s explicit revelation, who, deeply knowledgeable in the Talmudic teachings being a professor, in 1954, after converting to Christianity, wrote an open letter to the arch-rabbi of Boston Dr. David Goldstein, LL. D, dated 10th October 1954. There, for the first time, Americans learnt the deep hatred that the Talmudist Jews hold for us. Iore Dea (148, 12H) for example, also quoted in that letter, remind us of the Pharisaical hypocrisy we meet in the Bible: “Hide your hatred against the Christians during their festivities.”

Orthodox Christians love and get on well with both Moslems and Judaizing Jews. However, both Islam and Supremacist Zionism as religious systems are against the spirit of the Orthodox Church.

For example, take St. Kosmas the Aetolos. Both Christians and Moslems in Greece (circa 1765) respected greatly this monk, but some Judaizing Jews hated him. Thus, the Jews of Ipiros in Greece slandered his name — that he was supposedly an instrument of the Russians and was preparing the revolution of the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire.

St. Kosmas Aitolos frequently refers to Jews as "children of the devil" in his sermons.
St. Kosmas Aitolos frequently refers to Jews as “children of the devil” in his sermons.

Thus, while he was preaching the word of God in the village of Kolikontasi of Beratius in Albania, he was arrested on 23 August 1779, by issue of Kurt Pasha, and the next day hanged by a tree by the river Apsus. His body was thrown to the river, from where it was eventually picked up by the village priest.

These are facts. Even if they may not be politically correct. The Elder speaks in love and humility, not with hatred. Christians are to love their enemies. That is the best defence against all the hatred we face. Amen.



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