Missionaries Rejoice over High Holiday Opportunities in Israel

Well, it’s time for a High Holiday harvesting wrap-up. Evangelical missionaries from the overt to the covert were especially active in Israel over the past few weeks…

Twas the night before Erev Yom Kippur and missionary Ze’ev Porat was in Bnei Brak, disrupting kaparot and proclaiming the Christian gospel in front of Jewish children. He was run out of town by an alert and concerned rabbi.

Five weeks ago we covered Porat’s six-hour Jesus-spree at the Kotel on behalf of Bibles for Israel, and we noted that Christine Darg’s husband, Peter, speaks on behalf of that same project.
(thanks to JI member Shannon for the information and pics. on this)

Jews for Jesus was praying on Yom Kippur for success in their conversion efforts in the Jezreel Valley. Part of their prayer request on September 29th was to “pray for protection of the campaigners as many of the areas that we will be in are religious and hostile to the Gospel. “
Honestly, JI does not make this stuff up.

Throughout the week J4J Israel Director Dan Sered reported on scores of phone calls from Jews saying: "yes, I want to know more about Y'shua", although he repeatedly noted that “most of the calls” were “hostile”. A radio show was scheduled, but "somebody high up killed the interview."
(G-d works in strange ways)

Sered also reported that his missionaries were facing “much opposition on the streets and at busy street intersections” where they hold up their banners. “Our campaigners have been hit, grabbed, pushed, threatened, hit with water bottles and splashed with coffee, not to mention the verbal insults… For the most part the police have been helpful, but we have also seen some instances where the police have acted in ways contrary to justice and have ruled in favor of those who oppose us and the gospel message we bring. This is a continuing problem.”
(seems like Israelis just don’t like, need, or want the gospel).

Thus far, it seems the highlight of the J4J campaign was that one of their campaigners “was able to talk to President Peres and give him a copy of our evangelistic book, 'His Name Is Y'Shua'.”

You may find this sobering… Jews for Jesus was celebrating in their latest update, because an Ha'aretz editorial was published which accused the counter-missionary group Yad L’achim of being an “extremist, violent organization” of “thugs”. The Ha’aretz article also accuses the Interior Ministry of trampling on peoples “basic rights”. The editorial states that “any collaboration with Yad L'Achim is, in effect, a grave instance of persecution.”

Last August we reported that for an extended period of time, Ha'aretz was carrying a large paid-for banner ad for Jesus on their homepage, but all is not lost as Ha'aretz columnist Bradley Burston once wrote an absolutely brilliant article entitled: Why 'Jews for Jesus' is evil…

(thanks again to JI member Shannon for the information and pics)

Christian Day of Prayer

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief Rabbi of Efrat, spoke at the Christian Day of Prayer for Jerusalem - an event co-Chaired by Robert Stearns and missionary Jack Hayford – both great proponents of “messianic Judaism” in Israel.

Rabbi Riskin is quoted as saying, “Why do I believe God is with us? I have witnessed a new Christianity – one that observes the Covenant between God and Israel – between God and the Jewish people. It is a Christianity that proudly says to us that ‘you are the root and we are the branch’… You stand with us, and for this we are eternally grateful.”

Shomrei Emet's Penina Taylor tries, once again, to separate the root from the branches for Rabbi Riskin and others, who somehow managed to get tangled-up in this thorny theological notion which runs contrary to Judaism.

You can view an excerpt of Rabbi Riskin in the promotion for the event . This begs the question: is Rabbi Riskin suggesting that the Torah, in the Brit Bein He'Betarim (Covenant Between the Parts) between G-d and Abraham, specifically have the Christians in mind from the outset?

Perhaps Rabbi Riskin would gain some insight as to the real message behind these large global evangelical endeavors in Jerusalem by viewing missionary Lou Engle – an endorser of Stearn’s Day of Prayer - and Israeli “messianic believers, as they “tear down the wall between Jew and Gentile” at the 2008 Global Day of Prayer Celebration in Jerusalem. Riskin’s perceptions of “a new Christianity” may be premature as it seems like Israel’s “best friends” are preaching the same old stuff.

A Feast of mixed messages

Rabbi Riskin isn’t the only one who has been imbibing a wee bit too much from the Christian cup of love - to the point where one has difficulty differentiating between the prophecy of Zachariah and the promises of jesus. And you can bet that all of this unnecessary and godless confusion is only adding to the “pilgrim’s progress” in Israel.

[Jewish Israel notes that there are many Christian tourists who are respectful and come to Israel without missionary intentions, and the presence of 8000 Christian pilgrims in Israel may very well be a worthy news item, but fair coverage and fair warning of potential problems should be included in those reports. ]

Last week Tovia Singer’s concerns were cited in the Jerusalem Post, but by the week’s end the main Jerusalem Post editorial, “Joined in Prayer” (Oct. 7th), “wholeheartedly” endorsed the ICEJ Feast and dismissed concerns of any “hidden agendas” on the part of the organizers and evangelical participants in Feast. The editorial declared, “ these thousands of Christians congregate here to realize the Prophet Zechariah's vision (14:16) of all nations gathering in Jerusalem during Succot.” The editorial made note of the fact that Malcolm Hedding’s “ ICEJ partners with The Jerusalem Post in producing our monthly Christian Edition.”

Whereas Arutz 7’s written coverage of the Feast was fair and cited legitimate concerns, INN television went all out to present Christian participation in the Succot parade as an enormous love offering. Jewish Israel contacted A7 about their one-sided television coverage. We have yet to receive a response from them.

What concerns us most is that last year INN Television made the big mistake of featuring and interviewing a Jews for Jesus missionary who was unabashedly sporting a “Jesus Loves You” T-shirt at the Succot Parade. Given the evidence - and history of rabbinic prohibition - for INN television to continue to present evangelical participation in the annual Succot parade as a benign love fest for Israel is akin to placing a stumbling block before the blind.

With all due respect to the Israeli economy, a good number of these throngs of Christian tourists and their organizations are not simply here to love and bless Israel. There are serious ethical and halachic implications, as well as political, religious and cultural repercussions which need to be addressed. The Israel media is not doing the Jewish people a favor by glossing over the challenges.

If you remain confused as to the real intentions of the Feast, just ask ICEJ Director Malcolm Hedding, or Christine Darg (who – like in past years - was a featured speaker at this year’s Feast.), or go back to JI’s original post the Guide for Those Perplexed Over ICEJ’s Feast.

If you can see past all of those tourist dollars and “love offerings”, you may come to the understanding that “the Feast” is primarily a religious Christian happening and networking opportunity for missionary groups in Israel. As such, the government of Israel and the Chief Rabbinate need to lay down some strict ground rules and laws.

In spite of all the stumblings listed above, Jewish Israel feels that the booby prize for this High Holiday season goes to… The envelope, please…

Hevron Jewish community leaders
Reverend Jan Willem van der Hoeven of the International Christian Zionist Center (ICZC) received honorary citizenship to the City of Hevron and the Hevron Jewish community leaders received a cash envelope from those accompanying van der Hoeven. The ceremony was full of worship and praise and can be viewed on David Wilder’s Arutz 7 blog.

The Torah observant leaders were “shepping nachas”, but they seemed oblivious to the fact that the Christian group – as fine and loving as they are – were raising their hands in prayer to their lord jesus (or some combination of the father, son, and holy ghost). Christians pray to , through, or in the name of jesus, who is clearly not the G-d of the Jews. This should present those Jews who were present with a halachic problem. But instead of demonstrating discomfort, Noam Arnon encouraged another rendition of their prayer song. How that money is to be used is also a question that will have to be answered by the proper rabbinic authority in Hevron.

In addition, Mr. van der Hoeven - Hevron's newest honorary citizen - claims that the Jew "does not know for whom he is praying" (while van der Hoeven knows all).

“There is no difference between me and a Jew when we are praying at the Wailing Wall
for we both pray for the Prince of Peace to come, who has the lock to fit the key, and peace will reign over the whole world. The difference is... that he does not know for whom he is praying and I know for whom he is praying.”

----Jan Willem van der Hoeven ( “The Root of Your Faith”, New Wine Magazine, Oct. 1969)

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