The Missionaries are Coming! The Missionaries are Coming!

Having seen a family member sucked in by messianic jews (and thankfully return to yiddishkeit), I am keenly aware of the danger and slick maneuvers of Jews for J and the like. Gil Student at Hirhurim has an important post about the summer plans of Jews for J and how we should react when we encounter missionaries.

It’s an important post, check it out.

28 comments on “The Missionaries are Coming! The Missionaries are Coming!

  1. So, to reiterate, who’s actually down for forming crews of Jews to counter-leaflet.

    All responses above lead to some good food for thought, but let’s get down to where the rubber meets the road.

    Only one person has emailed me regarding the counter-leafleting and counter-missionary activity.

    While, there are no definitive plans yet (they are being worked on), it would be nice to have a small army to start with, for when they invade NYC in July.

    Come on, fellow Jews, put your money where your mouth is. Religious, not-religious, Hasidic, Mitnagdim, whatever….let’s go!

  2. Anti-Missionary Websites

    Anti-missionary page


    Former Jewish Believers – What do they tell them?

    Hareshima: Counter-Missionary

    Jews for Judaism

    Links to anti-missionary websites

    Messiah Truth: A Jewish Response to Missionary Groups

    Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth

    The Anti-Missionary Gateway

    The Referenced Messianic Jewish Review

    WE ARE NOT GOING TO BURN IN HELL – A Jewish Response to Christianity

    What Jews Believe

    Counter-Missionary Education

    Outreach Judaism – responds directly to missionaries and cults. Responds to Jews For Jesus

    The Tovia Singer Show: Talk Radio on the Edge

    Jewish Response To Christian Missionaries MP3s

    Torah Life & Living Saving Jewish Souls. We are Global Anti-Cult, Cult Busters

  3. Many people who go to messianic churches are not Jewish. Only a few are.

    Many Christians go because they like it, or to recruit Jews.

  4. The main need is to go on offense (inoffensively!!) by giving all Jews the tools to understand what Judaism is and what it is not. This is more than providing information. We should work to be living examples that Judaism promotes true ideals and behavior.

  5. “do you think it might fuel a sense of sympathy & pity for the “underdog” missionary who was “attacked” by what appears in their eyes to be just another Orthodox “fanatic”?”

    Point well taken. It’s easy to get angry over the missionizing and even easier to lose one’s ability for logic and reason when anger takes over.

    Nothing hurts our cause more than our own faulty actions bred from simple mindedness. Of course action has to be taken but via calculated strategies and not hotheaded aggresiveness.

    NO ONE will give the Orthodox the benefit of the doubt so our margin for error is quite slim.

  6. B”H

    Having been a Chabad shliach on college campus for 3 years – I can well relate to the outrage felt at such missionary activity.

    Here’s what I did:

    I invited Benzion Kravitz from Jews for Judaism to give a 3 part lecture series –

    1 – in the Chabad House on campus [held jointly with the Hillel foundation [which resulted in one of the Jewish university students becoming a baal teshuvah & is now a Chabad shliach on a college campus in the US]]
    2 – in the community shul
    3 – a workshop on Microsoft campus.

    It was very successful and many Jews were strengthened in their Judaism because of it.

    It also was not without entertainment – one of the folks from J4J decided to get in the ring with Rabbi Kravitz and started weaving the standard missionary deceit. Rabbi Kravitz quickly shifted the flow to a series of questions that took the calm & composed missionary and turned him into a livid raging manic when he saw how quickly he was dispensed of using a proper understanding of Tanach.

    btw – let me ask a question – if you go and start turning over tables, creating a ruckus, etc – imagine some “liberal” peace loving Jew -whose been given a reform education and perhaps has some hang ups with “Orthodox Jews” – not to mention hearing some of the rock throwing stories of “ultra-Orthodox” Jews – witnesses this “violence” against a seemingly friendly & smiling missionary who just wants to pass out some brochures or maybe sing a few songs – do you think it might fuel a sense of sympathy & pity for the “underdog” missionary who was “attacked” by what appears in their eyes to be just another Orthodox “fanatic”?

    FYI – a missionary from J4J actually had the insanity to stand before the Lubavitcher Rebbe one Sunday for “dollars” and give the Rebbe some book or brochure from J4J.

    The Rebbe took it and said to the missionary that the Rebbe was taking it solely so that it should not be given to another Jew. The Rebbe then turned and put the book/literature in the garbage can. [this exchange was recorded on video].

    Although it was recommended NOT to take literature – these people and their organizations lie anyway – who cares if they think they are being successful? Perhaps it makes more sense to “politely” collect as much of their literature as possible – and make a big bonfire later? At least that way you know you are saving 10s if not 100s of Jews from being confused and trapped by such deceitful information.

  7. At least once a year, they set up their table on the block where I work, which is a very multi ethnic area, made up of a great many immigrants from virtually all over the world, including their target – Russian and/or Bucharian Jews. I’ve always been tempted to just sort of “accidently” knock the stuff off the table as I walk by, but so far haven’t worked up the guts to do so. Then again, this block attracts a lot of weirdos. Lyndon LaRoche’s people are a common fixture here.

  8. I think it worked depsite poor rapport. The police saw that an 85 year old rabbi really meant it. I agree fully that it might not work for other people. But it is an important limud anyway. That is how upset we should be! There is a Rabbenu Yonah that says (paraphrase) that if one is riding in a carriage and sees someone doing an aveira, they should say out loud “That is assur!” even thought the doer of the aveirah won’t hear him. He (the witness) should say this to keep the aveira from impacting himself negatively by desensitizing him. If we just politely ignore missionaries, (again, that might be the necessary appraoch) we do run the risk of being desensitized, so we should at least scream out to ourselves.

  9. This only works in a context of good rapport between the Jewish community and the police. It also may not be something that one of us could bring off.

  10. Some very good ideas presented here. I want to mention an incident that occurred involving a very great Jew. Each person can learn what they want from it. I am not sure how to apply it. I heard the story from a friend that was personally involved. About 10 years ago, J4J set up a table on Kings Highway right near Ocean Parkway. There are a lot of Charedim there but apparently their target was the large Russian Jewish population. Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l was walking past. When he saw them, he became very agitated and instructed some yeshiva bochurim to knock over their table. They complied immediately and a ruckus ensued with shoving. Moments later the police arrived and attempted to arrest the bochurim. Rabbi Miller, about 5’4″ in his mid 80s, forcefully lunged himself, chest forward, infornt of the policeman, yelling “Arrest ME! Arrest ME!” In the end, no arrests were made and the table was dismantled.

  11. I did read that over 80% of J’s for J are not halachically Jewish. Either children of mixed marriages or their spouses and the like. Unfortuanately, not much different than many Reform synagogues :(

    I know 2 people involved in mesianic congregations – one is a son of a Reform convert, his wife and their children – not a halachic Jew in the bunch and the other is the mother of a frum convert with no connection to Judaism other than her daughter converted. Annecdotal, but tends to support the idea.

    I *have* encountered many Jews over the years who converted to mainstream X-ian denomenations in a silent attrition that few address.

  12. Regarding the article – I didn’t need to read it only because the J for J’s came to my city. I just have some VERY IMPORTANT POINTERS and ADVICE for all of you reading this (and please pass this on to everybody you know who doesn’t read this):

    First, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT take ANY literature from them – even if you think you’ll take a bunch of their flyers and toss them in the garbage. What they do is they count every single piece of literature that they distribute. If they see that they’ve distributed a ton of literature (even if you’ve taken them and thrown them away) they will deem it a success. Please listen to this advice.

    What you CAN do is, and do this ONLY if you’re planning on doing the following that by all means take ONE flyer and send it to Jews for Judaism. They collect missionary literature just so that they know what the “enemy” is saying.

    I recommend that if someone can organize several representatives from Jews for Judaism (it’s a wonderful organization) before the missionaries arrive, that would be great. I went to a session given by one of their representatives and saw an actual video taken of a J4J service. Believe me, if you saw this, you would be angry and very very sad.

    By the way, most J4J’s are NOT and I repeat NOT Jewish!!! They know some Hebrew, can quote from the Torah and they put in a lot of Jewish prayers into their service. But, then the clincher is who Moshiach is. I’m telling you, my heart was aching after watching that video.

    Ok, now for the second point: You MUST tell you children NOT to engage in dialogue with these people. Just IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE. You have to be extremely knowledgable to engage with these people and if you’re not, you’re best off not to get involved. Don’t agitate them, don’t be cruel to them and just be polite. Just act as though they’re not there. Afterall, the best way to not bring attention to them is just by ignoring them.

    I’m saying this because this is the advice that was given to me by someone from Jews for Judaism.

    Also, don’t have any rabbi engage in a public forum with one of these people. There was a rabbi (from another city) who did this in my city when the missionaries came and all the rabbis (including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) were very much against this. Again, why give them any attention at all!!!

    I hope this helps and again, just ignore these people. They’re dangerous in that they do get people into J4J who are emotionally vulnerable and who are on the fringes of Judaism. What we need to do is reach out to unaffiliated Jews. That’s our mission!!!

  13. When a person walks in to a “messianic congregation” for the first time, everyone greets him warmly, welcomes him, invites him for a meal, tells him they love him. When a person walks into a new shul for the first time, the first three words he hears are “You’re in my seat”.

    We should be afraid of the affect that this very prevelant attitude is having on our communities, missionaries or no missionaries.

  14. In regard to Chaim’s point:

    “I am frightened for our brethren from the former Soviet Union and their Children.”

    One of the things that was so frightening about the pdf on Gil’s post is how the J4J are targeting new immigrants from “Uzbekestan” and particularly mentioned Forest Hills as an area of focus. These guys have done their homework.

  15. What Gil is pointing out is so true. Rabbi Tovia Singer, a true expert in the field of anti-missionary work says this:

    When a person walks in to a “messianic congregation” for the first time, everyone greets him warmly, welcomes him, invites him for a meal, tells him they love him. When a person walks into a new shul for the first time, the first three words he hears are “You’re in my seat”.

    Funny but sad.

  16. What many disenfranchised young people want is a warm, welcoming smile and a place where they can feel at home. Sometimes they find that with missionaries. It’s sad but true.

  17. One of the Chasidic groups obliterated by the Hitlerites YMS was the Alexander Chasidim. They were the #2 group in pre-war Poland. It seems that there was no love lost between them and the Gerrer Chasidim.

    The joke goes that after the war two Alexander Chasidim met. Berel had kept his faith but Shmeril,as was the tragic case for so many survivors, had lost his. Berel was shocked to chance upon Shmeril clean shaven and smoking on Shabbos. He asked him “I just don’t understand it Shmeril,I know the hell you’ve been through. I went through something similar myself. But tell me, from all the fire and warmth of your upbringing is nothing left?” To which Shmeril replies “Just one thing Berel…It still makes my blood boil every time I see a Gerrer Chusid!”

    Yiddish speaking Chasidic youth are not merely inculcated with warmth and love for Torah and Mitzvahs they are also taught A) To be highly skeptical and distrustful of everything and everybody else (ie non-Chasidih) and b) to have a gut dismissiveness and fear and loathing of all things “Goyish”. It don’t get much more Goyish than Yoshka. I am frightened for our brethren from the former Soviet Union and their Children. I am frightened for ignorant spoiled kids from Wonder Bread suburbia. But I am not losing a instant of sleep over the Chasidim.

  18. Chaim (#8), you bring up some very valid points. In this case, we’d all have to hope that our friends in BP would take to the streets to drive these miscreants out! I vividly remember that Williamsburg event, because at the time someone had ret me a shidduch with a Lubavitch fellow who wouldn’t eat in any pizza shops outside of Crown Heights. However, that said, I still feel that there might, chas v’sholom, be some souls who while they may be shunning our own way, could be suckered into this simplistic hogwash – you know the, “all you have to do is believe in you-know-who, because he loves ya” story. Almost everyone has some spiritual need. The Jews for J strike when one is weak and unsure.

  19. This is very scary stuff indeed. Since they only need a to grab one or two and they will pay that to the hilt. My understanding is the their leader Brickner is ordained as a Christian Minister. Does anyone have information on that?

  20. Charnie,

    I think the vast majority are kids who feel oppressed and repressed and are attracted by the glitz of secularity and hedonism. (Cp Hella Winston’s Unchosen: The Secret Lives of Chasidic Rebels).

    Maybe 1% of these are spiritual seekers who want to consider the validity of other religions. Sadly, to be rebels with a cause they’ve talked themselves into the notion that all religion is a crock, having grown up with Torah that just happens to be their most convenient target. And so I think that the missionaries are in for a Yiddisha waterloo in BP or other Chasidic enclaves. Ess vet zich oislozin ah Feig!

    Besides the same mind-set that has the locals rioting about police brutality will not allow for shmad to go unnoticed or unpunished, even if it means more vigilantism. Yes they can grow beards and infiltrate but once the locals ID them and get wind of what they’re up to…. watch out! Just look at what happened to a fellow teaching Tanya in Williamsburg some 20 odd years ago! And that was one jew exposing Chasidic youngsters to a VALID expression of Chasidic Judaism that they were unfamiliar with! Trust me, those fake beards won’t last long.

  21. Reply to #3 – Unfortunately there are disillusioned people in the “Ultra-Orthodox” (as it’s described in the documents) community. There are people who live in Boro Park who are community activists who’ve told me that there is almost one “about to go off the derech” child per large Chassidisha family. As someone who became observant as an adult, totally of my own free will and desire, it’s very difficult to personally understand how or why someone would want to give up a Torah lifestyle. And this really isn’t the right forum to explore this aspect of our world. However, given all this, yes, the missionaries could have success. It doesn’t take that much effort to grow a beard, wear a hat, or whatever, to “look the part” and therefore be able to infiltrate even our most insular communities.

    Thanks for this vitally important post. Perhaps all of our shuls should be aware of this.

  22. Chava,
    I think they want the frum for the same reason the NAZI Y”S did. If the frum chas v’shalom would go, they know that there is nothing left with any real ability to sustain itself. Also, they can show off a few trophy “real Orthodox Jews” that bought into their nonsense. H’ yerachem.

  23. Last week I received a DVD in the mail, called Yemos Hamoshiach in hebrew. To see scan of the DVD label, follow this link: The DVD came with no information other than the label on the DVD itself. The movie was a well made film narrated in a very well spoken YIDDISH. It went through the story of Bereishis, the Avos, Yetzias Mitzrayim and so on but then veered off to tell the story you know who. I beleive it was made for children, not adults….

  24. Maybe this is a stupid question, but WHY would they waste their time focusing on the Orthodox? Surely they aren’t deluded enough to think that they will have even minor success?

  25. Gavriel Sanders, myself and some other counter-missionaries are assembling a team of energetic Jews who want to participate in activities such as counter-leafleting Jews for yushke & Chosen People this July.

    If you are interested, email me.

  26. Once I read You Take Jesus, I’ll Take God, I had no desire to ever speak to a Christian missionary about anything. But that guy, and I forget what the author’s name is, had so much patience to lay out the Jewish position and it was like talking to a wall. I agree with Gil- never give those guys an opening. That being said, I did pick up a couple of mormon kids on and give them a ride in a downpour. They were very nice and appreciative, and didn’t even try to hassle me about being Jewish. So you never know.

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