Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Kislev 5760 - November 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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The Crusades of 1999
by M. Samsonowitz

An ancient Christian dilemma is coming to a head now after a 2000 year reprieve.

The Twelve Apostles, the followers of J. who claimed he was the Moshiach, were rejected by the Jewish community in those days. Their claims seemed to totally collapse when their so- called Moshiach was put to death by the Romans without fulfilling any of the criteria required of a Moshiach by Jewish tradition.

But instead of falling to the wayside, their unsubstantiated belief in Yoshke's Messianism was revived by Paul, an apostle of the next generation. He, more than anyone else, developed the skeleton of the new religion by allowing gentiles to join the religion, promoting Yoshke from a Moshiach into the divine itself, obviating the fulfillment of most mitzvos, and emphasizing belief in Yoshke as the major doctrine in his new religion. This fledgling belief system with its few commandments and values plagiarized from the Torah proved to be an attractive alternative to a gentile world sunken in paganism.

Among the first to adopt the new religion was the Edomite tribe who lived in proximity to the Jews in the Second Temple Era. (Hence the identification by our sages of Christianity with Edom.) Its few Jewish adherents were no doubt attracted because it was an era of fearful persecution by the Romans, a time which has always been propitious in Jewish history for feverish Messianic prophecies and redemption ceremonies.

By the fall of Beitar in 135 C.E. the Christian believers had separated themselves from the mainstream Jewish community, and the Nicene Council in the third century codified their beliefs incorporating numerous paganistic ideas and eradicating specific Jewish practices including circumcision.

The Jewish Shabbos which is celebrated on the last day of the week was switched to the first day of the week and its prohibitions eliminated.

Un-Jewish concepts such as the inborn guilt of a human which must be eradicated by believing in Yoshke, and hell for all those who didn't believe in him helped lock believers emotionally to the religion and achieve submission to the religion's leaders.

A thorny religious dilemma still remained. Forced to explain away J.'s failure to fulfill the prophecies in the Bible attributed to the Moshiach, the Christian theologians came up with a theory of his anticipated Second Coming at the end of the Second Millennium. During the early centuries when Christian belief was being shaped, the end of the second millennium C.E. seemed far enough away to be unable to shake the foundations of Christianity. But the moment of truth has arrived, and history has caught up with Christian theology.

Christian leaders around the world are greatly concerned that the nonfulfillment of this Christian teaching could completely destroy the basis of their religious hierarchy and belief system -- and the loyalty of their millions of followers all around the world. If this prediction does not come to pass, many groups fear this will prove the theological bankruptcy of a religion which has held sway over large numbers of the world's population for nearly two thousand years.

How do we Jews figure in this Christian teaching?

A prime element in Christian belief is that the Jews, the sinful, rebellious element who refused to accept Yoshke during his first "coming" and even gave him over into the hands of the Romans to be crucified, will finally lose their stubbornness and convert en masse. They believe that this is a precondition to Yoshke's second coming.

One of the most "pro-Israel" Christian lobbies, the International Christian Embassy to Jerusalem, writes this openly on their website:


"When we speak of the redemption of Israel, first we can say that redemption is promised to Israel. We find in Zecharia 12:10 the outpouring of the Divine Spirit upon those who live in Jerusalem. He is very clear about where this will happen. It will not happen out there in the Diaspora somewhere but in Jerusalem . . .

"Secondly, when this nation is swept into the Heavenly redemptive purpose, she triggers the second coming of the Messiah. This is probably the most crucial thing upon the face of the earth because real peace will not come from the United Nations, nor from the European Union . . .

"Peter tells them . . . J. will stay in heaven until there is an invitation from Israel for Him to come back. And that invitation is by the outpouring of the Divine Spirit . . . The Book of Hoshea (Chapter 5) talks about the coming of the Messiah, His return to heaven and His coming again . . .

" . . . Let me tell you dear friends, the Bible teaches, mostly in the Tanach, He will bring all nations against Israel, but the Almighty will preserve her! She will triumph! But the pressure will bring her through into that wonderful spiritual recovery about which the Divine Word speaks, and usher in for the world and for Israel, that great and wonderful kingdom promised to David, of peace and of Messianic glory."

What Exactly is "Spiritual Restoration"?

The Christian Embassy does not overtly reveal that the "spiritual restoration" of the Jews means their accepting belief in Yoshke. They prefer to quote vague phrases and verses from the Tanach which suit their purposes without openly offending Jews. Their friendship to Israel and Jews is not out of lovingkindness, but their desire to prove the veracity of their religion, and for this reason -- and this reason alone -- have they demonstrated their friendship with Israel and poured millions of dollars into different charity projects for it.

The Christian groups have achieved stunning success in recent years. Missionary groups have grown at a rapid pace. "Jews for Judaism" relates that twenty years ago there were not more than a few thousand Jews involved in Christian groups. It is estimated that since the 70s, as many as half a million Jews have become involved with Christianity.

The missionary fervor to accomplish the great "finale" has recently rallied numerous Christian and Messianic Jewish groups to target Jewry throughout the world and especially in Israel. Getting the Jews to convert has become THE project enthusing Christian communities the worldwide. Congregations all over the world are sending missionaries to Israel to help convert the Jews. Tens of thousands of Christian congregations are continuously being implored to donate money for the mammoth effort. The result is that a massive missionary onslaught has already begun and is building up momentum for the year 2000.

The methods to convince Jews have been refined by groups such as Jews for J. and Messianic Judaism, and adopted by some mainstream Christian communities.

The days when missionaries were pathetic, unconvincing soul-snatchers who could sway only ignorant Jews and those who needed an emotional anchor in their life, are gone. Today, the missionary groups reach out to the Jewish community with sophisticated and camouflaged brainwashing techniques that have eased the way for hundreds of thousands of Jews to step into the bosom of Christianity. The difference between the old methods and the new is that today the missionaries are willing to engage in sophisticated charlantry and duplicity to accomplish their goals, whereas before they were more candid and direct in stating their goals.

What Does a Missionary Look Like Today?

A contemporary missionary is just as likely to be a man wearing tzitzis, a large kipa, and payos. He will call himself by a Hebrew name, and his talk will be liberally sprinkled with Hebrew words. He insists that he is and wants to remain a Jew, but to be a "complete" Jew, it is necessary to believe in "Yeshua" the Messiah. Targeted Jews will often not hear a word about Christianity, J.C. the Trinity, the Virgin and other established Christian beliefs that have repelled Jews for centuries.

Julius Ciss, a former Messianic Jew who now works as a counter-missionary with Jews for Judaism, explained the methods which won him over. After he visited a regular church at the prompting of a Christian friend and walked out alienated from the experience, the friend suggested he try a Messianic congregation. The following are his own words:

"After speaking privately with [a member of a Jewish congregation who believed in J.], I agreed to attend a Friday night `Erev Shabbat' service.

"I walked into the meeting hall and sat down. The congregation was addressed by a very pleasant man with a large nose and a face as Jewish as the map of Israel. He wore a yarmulke on his bald head, and a tallis. Many of the male congregants that evening were also wearing yarmulkes and tallitot. Some of the women wore head coverings and one lit Shabbat candles while reciting a Hebrew blessing. This was followed by the recitation of kiddush blessings over a cup of wine and hamotzi over a challah; but each blessing ended with the expression "Beshem Yeshua Hamashiach." They sang Jewish songs such as "Od Yishoma" and "Hinei Ma Tov." The atmosphere felt very Jewish and I found the environment more stimulating than any synagogue experience I could remember.

"It was very reassuring to meet other Jews who believed in this new form of `Christian-Jewish' expression. The environment was not at all offensive; on the contrary, its Jewish flavor was quite appealing. I felt comfortable and wanted to return for more of these `Oneg Shabbat' meetings.

"The man leading the services who looked so Jewish was a Jewish-born Baptist minister. He was a gifted speaker, passionate and convincing, and I was extremely moved by his sermons. It was in the environment of this `Hebrew-Christian' church, or `Messianic Jewish Synagogue,' as its leaders preferred to call it, that my interest in my Jewish identity was rekindled.

"I soon found myself attending meetings every week. The evangelical techniques used by this congregation lulled me into feeling more comfortable with the idea of accepting Christianity. Their symbols were clearly Jewish rather than Christian. A large Jewish star hung on the wall, ritual articles of clothing were worn, and Hebrew terminology liberally used. The New Testament was called "Brit Chadasha." Baptism was called "mikvah-bris." I found this Jewish environment and terminology much less abrasive to my ears and conscience. I soon began to feel that I had never been more Jewish in my life.

"It was at a Messianic `Rosh Hashana' service in the fall of 1976 that I formally committed myself to Christianity. At this service, the `Messianic rabbi' had preached a message of atonement, stressed the need for us to be forgiven for our sins through the blood of J. I was overwhelmed by a sense that everything he preached was true. I was overwhelmed by guilt for my sins. The opportunity to be forgiven for these `sins' and to secure myself a place in heaven was irresistible. The pastor announced that refusing to atone carried with it an eternity of burning in hell. I felt I couldn't afford the risk of not `atoning.'

"After I had stood up in front of this congregation and confessed my belief in J., the `Messianic' leader asked me to recite a prayer inviting Yeshua into my heart and requesting that he forgive me for my sins. After a tearful prayer, he addressed me, `Understand that when doubts regarding J.'s salvation enter your mind, such thoughts are not from G-d; they are, in fact, from Satan. When that happens, you have to cling close to your savior. . . .

"I was stunned and terrified. I walked away from the meeting extremely troubled. I was having doubts from the moment I walked out of there, wondering, `What have I done?' Yet I could not allow myself to brood about these doubts, because I had been infected with this new `doctrine of the Devil.' "

The Messianic groups are thus engaging in duplicity of the kind that if they would be businessmen selling a product with such misrepresentation, they would be indicted for business fraud. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, the Messianic Jewish leaders conceal all the hallmarks of Christianity, and clothe their religion in Jewish practices, terms and holidays while assuring the Jews who fall into their clutches that belief in J. only perfects their Jewish identity. Unsuspecting ignorant Jews are taken in by the charade and join the Messianic congregations. After falling for the deception, the Jewish victims are unwittingly indoctrinated with camouflaged Christian doctrines until they make a commitment to Christianity without even being aware of the significance of what they did.

Jews for Judaism relates that a number of sensitive Christians have condemned the deceptions of groups like "Jews for J." However, most Christian individuals and groups revel in the success of this approach, and continue to fund and promote this fraudulent induction into Christianity.

Deception in Denver

The Messianic Jews and Jews for J. are the vanguard of the missionary effort and they are funded to the tune of millions of dollars by different Christian groups. But it is a mistake to think that only they are involved.

Last spring, a shocking deception was discovered in Denver, when leading members of the Adat Elohim Chaim Church of Ft. Collins, Colorado, were discovered infiltrating the religious community in Denver.

Nathan and Temima had apparently been full members of the Orthodox Jewish community for 2 1/2 years. They kept Shabbos and only ate kosher food. They studied Torah with members of the community, had an Orthodox wedding and had performed circumcision on their son. Their clandestine plot was to enter the Jewish community, prove their "Jewish identity," and then immigrate to Israel where they would found a Hebrew-Christian community with other members of their church, that would be a center for proselytizing.

While maintaining their charade in the Orthodox community, Nathan and Temima would return to their church community and teach them how to wash their hands before saying the blessing over bread, and bentching after meals. They taught the men to wear tzitzis and the women to cover their hair. Temima had also spent time in Israel at an ulpan and came back to teach Hebrew to the congregation. The couple had already been given vouchers for airline tickets by aliya shlichim in preparation for their imminent move, when they were unmasked.

Their plan was exposed by a Jewish couple who had formerly been members of the church. Even when confronted by leading members in the Orthodox community as to their real intentions, Nathan and Temima initially denied any plot. When confronted with firm evidence though, they broke down and admitted they had infiltrated the Jewish community to promote their plan to move members of their community to Israel. Temima admitted that her father was the leader of the Adat Elohim church. Both had been "converted" to Judaism by Nathan Lerer, a charlatan rabbi whose requirement for conversion was not much more than a $1-3,000 fee.

This missionary couple had laid plans for their proselytizing program already 3 years back. Those involved in anti-missionary activities claim that other groups are employing the same tactics that these missionaries tried. And the closer it gets to 2000, the greater the number of missionaries and the more devious the strategies they are employing to achieve their goals.

This story should send a chill up the bones not only of the vulnerable non-Orthodox Jewish community, but the Orthodox community too. Missionaries have been making inroads to the Jewish community in numerous unpredictable ways, and they are doing it so cunningly that even Orthodox Jews do not detect it and might be a prey to them.

Jews for Judaism says that Christian churches continue to spend over $250 million annually in the United States alone to convert Jews to Christianity, with most of the missionary and conversionary groups affiliated with Protestant denominations. The most dangerous are the Southern Baptists and the Assemblies of God, both of whom have 15 million members all over the country.

Rav Bentzion Kravitz, West Coast director of Jews for Judaism, relates that he has discovered numerous cases of missionaries going to the Aliya office in California claiming Jewish lineage and seeking to immigrate. Today the Aliya office is on the alert and has implemented stiffer screening procedures.

He relates that radio commercials all over the United States advertise for Jews for J. During last Rosh Hashona, evangelical groups ran a campaign requesting members to pray for Jews to convert. Jewish reaction has been outrage. Jews phone in to radio stations and explain how offended they are to be targeted. But the movements are growing and are garnering success. Thousands of Jews are converting yearly.

Missionaries in Israel

The focus of missionary activity has been increasingly turning to Israel, which has the greatest concentration of Jews in a relatively small area and because of the Christian belief that the Land of Israel will be the stage for the Great Redemption. According to one estimate, the missionary groups have budgeted 150 million dollars alone to promote missionary work in Israel for the year 2000, and tens of thousands of missionaries will be converging upon the country to advance their agenda. The Christian communities can easily put together double that sum.

At this very minute, thousands of missionaries are preying on Jewish souls in Israel. The most successful are the Messianic Jews, J's Witnesses and the Jews for J. groups. They go out in pairs looking for prospective converts, talking to them in the streets, coming into their homes, hoping to attract their interest.

These groups have refined their brainwashing techniques over the years. They are extremely dedicated. They do not give up even when a door is slammed in their faces. They move methodically from neighborhood to neighborhood, contacting tens of thousands of Jewish homes in Israel. Material is distributed in home mailboxes, army camps, shopping malls, and university campuses. The unlimited money at their disposal allows them to hire workers, purchase and rent means of transport, and publish missionary propaganda in unbelievable quantities.

Russian-speaking missionaries are sent to communities in South Tel Aviv, Lod and Ramla. Western-educated and English- speaking missionaries are sent to Ranana. In Netanya, French is the language of choice.

The missionaries' methods vary according to the population they are trying to reach. High-class Israelis are invited to evenings of choral classic church music. The poor are offered financial relief and activities. Weekend seminars of religious indoctrination within the context of a vacation weekend are a common ruse. Participants are requested to pay only a nominal participation fee. Inexpensive restaurants and cafes are opened where visitors are offered missionary material and a friendly talk together with coffee and cake.

Even more effective is distributing charity to those in need to lower their defenses and make them beholden to their benefactors.

Joel Chernoff, the director of Messianic Jews in Springfield, Pennsylvania, wrote in a bulletin to his supporters:

"In the last year alone, we distributed over $15,000 to needy Jews in Israel, many of them new immigrants who live in slum conditions . . . Another project, Project Joseph, extends humanitarian aid to a growing number of the poor in Israel. Over 800,000 live on incomes of $314 a month and even less. The project also will extend humanitarian aid to over a million Jewish refugees which we believe will arrive from East Europe and Russia in the next two years. . . . Messianic Jews have also in honor of the Moshiach collected $10,000 to distribute among families of terror victims."

The culmination of these activities can be seen in the public baptisms carried out monthly in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and other places in which dozens of Jews take part.

The powerful Christian lobby applies pressure to the Israeli government and freezes all legislation and law enforcement which might inhibit missionary efforts. Religious Jewish anti- missionary activists are frequently arrested and kept overnight in jail despite the missionaries being the ones who have broken the law by bribing their targeted victims.

The missionary groups in the past sought to accomplish their work in a low-key manner. Baptisms were done privately or at night. Congregations were held in off-beat places, on second floors of buildings, in small cafes and galleries, and in small groups.

Today this has all changed. In the past year, Messianic Jews arranged mass baptismal rites in the most public manner off the coast of Tel Aviv on Shabbos, and in open view on the Kinneret shore.

They recently purchased the Histadrut-owned Beit Brenner building in Tel Aviv to set up their Congress Hall. The huge building, which covers 1-7 Brenner Street and has at least 7 floors, will be used as a massive missionary center that will host a part of the Christians expected to come this year. The Shas party had been negotiating with the Histadrut to purchase this building for the party's headquarters, but when they couldn't promise to pay the fee in cash right away, the owners decided to sell the building to the Messianic Jews, who were able to pay up front.

In the past year, feverish construction has been going on to completely renovate the building and give it a grandiose facade. Three floors down, the missionary group has built a large baptismal pool for the many Jews they are planning to convert there. The location of Beit Brenner had advantages for them: it is near Sheinkin street, a known hang-out where thousands of bored, bohemian Israelis aimlessly loll the streets. The building borders the major Tel Aviv artery, Allenby street, on one side and faces the Sheinkin park on the other. It is close to the bustling Carmel market, and the busy Balfour-Rav Klishner-Rambam-Ha'Avoda-Nachalas Binyamin- Yavne streets.

After the purchase of Beit Brenner, the Messianic Jews also purchased the building across from it, at 6 Beit Brenner. They are renovating it to be a hostel for the Jews who will be coming to use the baptismal pool. Gullible Jews will now be invited into the grandiose structure where experts will utilize slick brainwashing techniques to beguile them into Christianity.

In addition to their usual techniques, missionaries have been laying the ground for a massive proselytizing effort that will reach its peak in the coming year. They have combed slum areas in Yaffo, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim and Haifa, among others. Pretending to be gathering information for an anthropological survey, missionaries have covered tens of thousands of homes and gathered detailed personal information about the residents. Families who potentially can be persuaded to convert to improve their material situation were pinpointed, and this year, with the help of the thousands of the missionaries who are arriving, a heavy campaign will be run to convince the parents to send their children to mission schools and to convert themselves.

Missionary soul-baiting will be intensified during 2000 by utilizing new, attractive gimmicks, such as bringing the best international entertainment groups to perform for free. (Performances are also being arranged in hospitals, senior citizen homes, and youth and adult clubs.) The audience will be seeded with specially trained youths who will strike up conversations and befriend the teenagers in the crowd. After making the initial contact by conversation, they will follow up by writing letters. They will ask innocent-sounding questions about so-called harsh, restrictive practices in Judaism and compare it with enlightened Christian practices. Ignorant Israeli youths may, chas vesholom, fall like ripe fruit into their hands.

Activitsts have tried to warn the government about the missionaries' insidious plans, but no high-ranking official has taken it seriously. "The secularists don't understand the missionaries' true aims. The earlier secularists knew what Shema Yisroel was and is today -- what Judaism is. Today's secularist knows nothing. The Education Ministry has insured that the majority of today's Jewish youth doesn't have the slightest inkling what Judaism is other than it is primitive and repulsive. He is defenseless before the missionaries's plans."

Missionaries are utilizing every attempt to infiltrate Israel and accomplish their aims. A Jewish initiative calling on Jewish homeowners in the Galil to rent a room in their homes to Christian pilgrims (since all hotel rooms are reserved at least a year in advance), is being seized by missionaries as another opportunity to gain access to Jewish minds. The backers of the initiative are publishing a book of homes who are willing to rent out beds and rooms to Christian pilgrims. They charge 400 shekels to each family to advertise their name in the book, guaranteeing they will be able to make 15,000 shekels a month. Anti-missionary organizations warn that missionary groups will take advantage of this offer to send trained missionaries to gullible Jewish homes for the purpose of indoctrinating them.

Been There; Done That

Our religious readers are probably thinking -- What's all the fuss about? Missionaries are not a new phenomenon. The year 2000 will pass with perhaps a few Jews falling into their nets as has happened before, and once the Christians realize that they haven't accomplished their great vision, they will give up and leave us alone.

We would be naive to assume this. Missionaries today are targeting a Jewish populace of whom the majority have a tenuous Jewish identity, latent anti-Jewish feelings, and/or are indoctrinated in a post-Zionist philosophy. Seeing their own country's leaders leading the battle to dismember their hard-earned State and revise Jewish history to cast the Jews as the aggressors and criminals, so many Israeli Jews have lost their bearings and are desperately looking for something to fill the void.

The missionaries themselves are motivated to a degree that they never were before. Many feel it is either "now or never." They possess deceptive and camouflaging techniques which have been refined to obtain maximum effectiveness. And with the power wielded by the electronic and written media in Israel, it could be just a matter of months or a year to brainwash the population with a pro-Messianic philosophy if the few people in control have enough motivation to do so. The Christian missionary groups certainly do not lack the money to effect such a change of heart and in their postings to their adherents, they boast of their forays in the major Israeli newspapers.

Nor will the missionaries and many of the Christian visitors go away. Even if they aren't able to fulfill all the "preconditions" for the Second Coming in the year 2000, they will conveniently rationalize that it is an on-going process, and "we can't stop now while things are going so well."

Ministry of the Interior officials are aware that many Christian tourists are planning to remain in the country after their short visit comes to an end. The ministry secretly talks about hundreds of thousands who will probably decide to stay on, and who they will not be able to boot out because of international pressure. These illegal immigrants will join the million Russian immigrants, Christian Israeli Arabs and foreign workers to further chip away at the Jewish character of the State and provide an alternative culture and religious milieu to the rootless secular Jewish population.

After a year of promoting Israel's "Christian heritage," establishing major Christian centers, and focusing on Christian tourists and ceremonies, Christianity will not have the foreign, abrasive ring to it that it always had to Jewish ears. The repetitive propaganda will achieve the effect declared by Goebbel that the greatest lie when repeated enough will be believed as the truth.

Many readers may think this is a mere exaggeration, or that we are getting influenced by the runaway apocalyptic talk that is becoming popular in Christian writings. They would be advised to consider this.

The falsehood of the Palestinians' claims to East Jerusalem and the Land of Israel was historically shown in such acclaimed documentaries as "From Time Memorial" by Joan Peters. Nonetheless it just took a few short years of Palestinian propaganda with U.S. collusion to create a situation that there is hardly a country in the world that does not believe in the justice of the Palestinian cause, and Israel is forced to give in to one demand of theirs after another or risk the wrath of the State Department, NATO and the European Union. Even worse, the Israeli leaders themselves have fallen under the sway of the international barrage and have become pro-Palestinian.

Defending Our People

There are organizations that are trying to defend Jews of all persuasions from the efforts of the missionaries. In Israel it is mostly organizations that address a broad range of issues but have an anti-missionary department, such as Lev L'Achim.

Based in the U.S. however, is a full-time counter-missionary organization that operates worldwide. Jews for Judaism has been working to counter the missionary threats for 30 years and they are certainly in the thick of things today.

Writing in a recent issue of The Jewish Observer (October, 1999) Mark Powers, National Director of Jews for Judaism, described some of their varied efforts and noted that his organization has prepared a comprehensive program to give a community "the tools they need to effectively respond to missionaries in their midst." Entitled CPR for the Jewish Soul -- A Community Prevention and Response Program, it includes such things as "practical guidelines on what to do if someone from the local Hebrew-Christian congregation wishes to register his child for the community day school; or how to respond to the listing of the Hebrew- Christian group under `Synagogues' in the Yellow Pages."

Missionaries, Apostates and the Reform Collaborate in Israel

by Betzalel Kahn

Just like its American counterpart, the Israeli Reform movement has been arranging encounters between Christian missionaries and Jews.

The Manof organization noted an invitation in the latest edition of Melech Hamelachim, the magazine of the Israel apostate (Christian) organization. In the announcement, members of the apostate community are invited to attend a concert given by Steve Schneider, an apostate and well known figure in Israel's Messianic Christian missionary movement. The concert was to be held at Hebrew Union College, the main center of the Reform movement in Israel.

Experts on the history of the Reform movement note, "This phenomenon is an additional symptom indicating that membership in the Reform movement is the Jew's first step toward Christianity."

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