CASPARI CENTER MEDIA REVIEW……………………………..MAY 2001, #1
In the period covered by this media review, 53 articles appeared on the subjects covered by this review – Messianic Jews, Christianity, and the Mission. Of these:
- 12 articles dealt with Messianic Jews and the mission
- 10 articles dealt with the visit of the Pope to Syria
- 9 articles dealt with Jewish-Christian relations
- 4 articles dealt with Christian tourism
- 3 articles dealt with the status of immigrants and non-Jews
The remaining 15 articles dealt with Christian or Jewish matters on their own merit.
Boy Taken to Church Against His Will (Shisha Yamim, April)
This religious paper proudly reports the story of an eight-year-old boy who was being forced by his mother to participate in “cult” activities. A Yad L’achim activist noticed that the child was attending these meetings rather unhappily. The activist reported this to the head of Yad L’achim who immediately ordered an investigation into the history of this (new immigrant) family. It was discovered that soon after the father of the child had died, the mother became entangled in a missionary cult. The child could not tolerate or accept his mother’s frequent visits to church in light of what he was being taught in his religious Jewish school. Yad L’achim set to work and managed to speak to the child without his mother’s knowledge. After a brief interrogation, the child broke down and sobbed saying, “I don’t want them! I don’t want to go to the mission.”
After this confession, Yad L’achim organized a series of meetings with the mother. They dressed as social workers (to hide their true identity) and after many conversations with her, they finally detected the source of the problem. The mother claimed she needed attention, and the missionaries gave her that (as well as financial aid). Yad L’achim immediately began reconstructing and renovating the mother’s house, adding new furniture and buying her fashionable new clothes. The child was given a new computer, and both mother and son were hosted at different religious homes for the Sabbath meal. Yad L’achim “did not spare any expenses” involved in the saving of these two Jewish souls.
Controversial Mission Center (B’maavak, April-May, Hamodia, 27/04/01, 03/05/01, Yated Ne’eman, 02/05/01)
These religious papers report the outrage of Yad L’achim and other religious Jews at the permission granted to a messianic congregation to build a “mission center.” The papers report that the messianic congregation “Chesed Ve’Emet” (in Rishon L’zion) have their financial support for this project from Germany, and with the aid of German architects, are planning to build a center in the heart of the industrial zone of Kanot. The center will include lecture halls (for youth and adults), teaching centers, and (most provocatively) baptismal rooms. Rabbi Lifshitz has said that “apathy to this act will produce, heaven forbid, a spiritual holocaust.” He compared this mission work to the extermination of the Jews in Auschwitz and Birkanau during WWII.
Yad L’achim has begun an international campaign against the building of this center, focusing first and foremost on gaining public opinion and subsequently, support for their campaign. Legal steps are also being taken, and Yad L’achim has hired a lawyer with the purpose of exploring the legal right the messianic Jews have to own land.
The struggle to prevent this center from being built has reached the Knesset, where Knesset member Rabbi Halpert has raised the issue. He apparently has the support of twenty-five Knesset members. During discussion in the Knesset, Halpert remarked, “if Israel cannot prevent this project it will be a shame… It will not be! We will stand in the Knesset as a rampart.” The Knesset discussion concluded with the commitment that the situation would be thoroughly examined, including the legality of the building permit.
(Editor’s note: This item relates to the ongoing media coverage of the building of Grace and Truth congregational center. Information relating to this item has appeared in previous editions of this media review but since the matter continues to be current and relates to Messianic Jews and the law, we have decided to follow the progression in the media review reports.)
Missionary Chain Letter (Yom L’yom, 05/04/01)
Fifteen new immigrant families received a threatening missionary chain letter in the mail this week. The letter told the families to take the contents seriously. The recipients were to make copies of the letter and sent it to friends and acquaintances within nine days. If this was properly done, they would receive a surprise gift. The letter ended with a warning: “do not keep this letter or a copy of it in your house!”
Missionaries Expanding Their Work (Yom L’yom, 19/04/01, 25/04/01, Shisha Yamim, April)
In a recent Yad L’achim meeting some information was produced regarding the expansion of missionary activity (this information includes the Jehovah’s Witnesses group since they are often grouped together with Messianic Jews).
The article reports that missionary activity has “gone wild” in Kiryat Gat where missionaries tried to proselytize a group of religious Jewish youth. The latter promptly reported the incident to Yad L’achim who took the necessary preventive measures. It is claimed that the missionaries distributed pamphlets to every household in the area. Yad L’achim also claims that them Messianic Jews in Netanya meet together every Friday evening to welcome the Sabbath and preach anti-Jewish propaganda. Three new missionary organizations have recently been opened in the same area.
Yad L’achim summarized the tactics that the missionaries used to bait innocent souls: audio cassettes, video cassettes, radio broadcasts, free after school activities for children, free sports activities, free weddings, and the distribution of free clothing. Yad L’achim claims that the number of people belonging to “that cult” (Messianic Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses) has grown by 200%, numbering 20,000 members.
In addition to the latter information, one of the articles relates the story of a new Jewish immigrant whose soul was saved from the clutches of the missionaries. A man turned up at the Yad L’achim office not long ago claiming that a Jewish relative of his was participating in messianic Jewish activities, and was trying to convince others to do likewise. Yad L’achim carried out a secret investigation and found that the Jewish immigrant regularly attended lessons taught by a messianic preacher. Yad L’achim immediately set to work, sending one of their activists to the aforementioned class dressed as a new immigrant in search of the truth. About half way through the lesson, the activist began asking the preacher very difficult questions, bringing to light the man’s folly, leaving him bewildered and confused. The activist walked out of the classroom triumphantly and was followed by the new immigrant. He was in tears when he told the activist that he could no longer attend the lectures. Thus another Jewish soul was saved from the missionaries.
The Christian Nature of Jewish Israel (Yom L’yom, 24/04/01)
This two page article appeared in a religious weekly in “honor” of Israel’s Independence Day. The author brings to light what seems to be a growing concern: 74% of those immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return are not Jewish. Of these, nearly 100% of the younger generation is completely gentile. According to this paper, these are the latest official statistics.
The author writes sarcastically: “a few months ago, some of these gentiles did not even know that there is a nice country that answers to the name “Nation of Israel.” He bitterly criticizes Israel for opening her gates and allowing these people to come in. Not only are they allowed in, says the author, but their emigration is greatly encouraged by the Israeli government. The Jewish people of this country are responding to this wild and disturbing development with sheer apathy, “as a part of life that cannot be prevented.”
The author goes on to describe the different reactions of religious leaders to this phenomenon. One of the political parties that represents the religious community in Israel (Shas) has issued warnings and has begun to take action. “Our Exalted Teacher” (Maran Shalita) expressed his sorrow over these developments and said that the number of non-Jewish immigrants might potentially ruin the Jewish character of the country. He claims that this is the most important struggle of the nation of Israel. Many other rabbis have apparently spoken out against this, and one has even said that the country is “committing suicide. I cannot understand what is happening here in this country. I am standing here and giving warning, like the few Jews who gave warning when Hitler came to power. Judaism has never been so threatened.”
Another article deals with the same problem, specifically as it relates to immigrants from South America. The author writes that they are not refugees from a totalitarian state who had to flee and were taken in by Israel, but just “regular” gentiles who want to take advantage of Israel’s generosity to people who want to make Israel their home. The author concludes by stating that Israel has to deal with enough hate from the enemies “at home.” These added gentiles, who at times profess to hate Israel, are not needed or wanted. Israel has enough trouble to deal with as it is.
Warning – Missionaries! (Hamodia, 25/04/01)
Rabbi Arkosh issued a warning against the missionaries (Catholics and Messianic Jews) who are active in England. These missionaries exploit the fact that many Jews are more inclined to be “religious” around the holidays. Arkosh warned that the missionaries target families who are in financial difficulty, and students who come from a difficult educational and social backgrounds. According to Arkosh, the Messianic Jews have about twenty congregations throughout England.
Controversial Ad (Yated Ne’eman, 27/04/01)
An Evangelical group (not named) has been running ads in national magazines for free videos that tell the story of several Holocaust survivors who “later chose spiritual shmad (destruction).” The ad was run in seven papers, but “major television and cable networks refused to air the commercials.”
Anti-Semitism in Israel (Yated Ne’eman, 03/05/01)
As a result of the increasing waves of anti-Semitism in Israel, the religious community has set up a new organization to help those victimized by anti-Semitic acts. The paper reports that violent acts against Jewish people on the basis of anti-Semitism have increased significantly in the past few years as a result of the many non-Jewish immigrants being admitted into the country.
Many well-known rabbis have signed a letter calling on religious Jews to support this new organization. This support is necessary for the victims, says one rabbi, because the government of Israel and the police department have done nothing to prevent this phenomenon. The new organization will give victims legal and psychological advice on how to deal with their victimization.