We’ve got mail – from missionary Shani Ferguson

Last Friday, Jewish Israel received an email response from Shani Sorko Ram Ferguson of yeshuaisrael.com in reaction to our posting, “The Anti-Semitic "Messianic" Apple doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree”. In that posting we link to an excerpt of one of Shani’s video blog postings which smears Orthodox Jewry.

Shani is the daughter of Tel Aviv missionaries Ari and Shira Sorko Ram of Maoz Israel, and the granddaughter of the late Pentecostal evangelist leader, Gordon Lindsay of Christ for the Nations.

You can read what Shani wrote to us, followed by Jewish Israel’s response.:

-----Original Message-----
From: Info [mailto:info@yeshuaisrael.com]
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 11:20 AM
To: info@jewishisrael.com
Subject: Recent Article

I'm writing in regards to your recent article that was brought to my attention.
While I obviously wouldn't agree with your conclusions, in the interest of being an honest blogger, I would be glad to listen to your civil input as to what specifically was incorrect with my statements about the Orthodox community.
My video blogs are a collection of news articles that I read, watch and listen to on mainstream media. I then summarize and simplify the concept in order to get a point across in the few minutes of my clip. Seeing that the religious community is often hard to
communicate with, it is difficult to get their take on things.
Though I realize that it would be tough to reconcile our world views, I have hold no hatred towards the religious Jewish community nor do I desire to misrepresent any community, and would be happy to correct anything specific information you could bring to my attention.

Shani Ferguson

Jewish Israel Responds:
From: JewishIsrael [mailto:info@jewishisrael.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2009 8:25 PM
To: info@yeshuaisrael.com
Subject: RE: Recent Article


Jewish Israel has no intentions of engaging missionaries in dialogue or debate. But please accept our sincere, frank and “civil” response to your email.

We take issue with your claim that the intention of your video blogs are to “summarize and simplify” news reports. The site which you are blogging from, and which you represent, is hardly a generic news outlet. In this particular case, we feel you are oversimplifying and stereotyping in order to further your missionary agenda and discredit those who are Torah observant Jews.

We understand that you’ve been in this country for quite a while. We find it very hard to believe that you have not seen Orthodox Jews, from every sector of society (with a full range of head coverings and varying levels of Torah observance), contributing to this country everywhere and in every way in the public, private, and social sectors. That you justify your prejudice by claiming that you’re simply summarizing what you “read, watch and listen to on mainstream media”, is indicative of your unwillingness and inability to discern, and to truly understand Israeli society and to respect the Jewish people.

But as an evangelizing Christian, you will never get to know and understand the Jewish community to your satisfaction. And adopting and adapting Jewish rituals, symbols, and the Hebrew language will not give you access to Jewish hearts and souls. The Jewish people have the right and obligation to retain, protect and preserve their uniqueness. Every Jew retains the privilege to cherish and develop an intimate relationship with G-d within the bounds of Torah - without outside forces infringing on, influencing, and disturbing that relationship. And that should be okay, as respect for privacy, for boundaries, and for differences, should potentially form the foundations of healthy relationships between all faith communities and all peoples.

Contrary to your report, Orthodox (Torah observant) Jews do consider Christians of all denominations to be human. But you obviously find it disturbing that Orthodox Jews – like the rest of mankind- are human. That the Jewish community and Israeli society –both secular and religious – has its flaws, is no secret. But it’s simply wrong and malicious for you, as a member of a very imperfect evangelical community, to flaunt and magnify very human shortcomings that you perceive among certain members of the Jewish community in order to further your agenda of distorting, corrupting and destroying the Jewish faith. That, Shani, is called Anti-Semitism.

For you and other members of the evangelical community to accuse the Orthodox Jewish community of attempted murder in an unresolved criminal investigation is unjust. There has been a court-ordered gag placed on the Ortiz case, and up until now the only party claiming responsibility for the incident has been a well-known Arab terrorist group. To take advantage of a media black-out in order to throw accusations at the Jewish community and present the evangelizing Christian community as being victimized is nothing short of a blood libel.

For what it’s worth, save for one secular staff member, the rest of the staff of Jewish Israel are Orthodox Jews from varying backgrounds. We and the members of our families work full time, pay taxes, serve in the army, donate blood, contribute generously to charitable causes, and take an active and productive part in Israeli society – and we even manage to get our Torah study in, too.

And truth be told, none of the Orthodox Jewish Israel staff voted for exclusive religious parties, nor did we vote for the same parties. Politically, Israel is divided into a number of factions and special interest groups. But all civilized nations regularly grapple with partisan politics, divisions and corruption. Political systems and the people who create them are imperfect.

You mentioned in your email that you do not “desire to misrepresent any community” and that you would be happy to correct any misinformation we could bring to your attention.

Well, Jewish Israel has brought your gross misrepresentation of the Torah observant (Orthodox) community and the misinformation you disseminated, via video blog, to your attention. Let’s see if you have it in you to make the appropriate and sincere corrections.

In closing, we would like you to understand that although most of the staff of Jewish Israel are Torah observant Jews, the members of the Jewish Israel online community categorize themselves as Jewish, Bnai Noah, and Christian. Our Christian members all honor and respect differences between faiths, and the right of the Jewish community to remain a separate faith community. As such, these Christians disavow proselytizing.

Among our Jewish members are those who identify themselves as national religious, hareidi, hassidic, modern orthodox, conservative, reform, and secular. With all of the innumerable differences between us, we do enjoy one outstanding common denominator that unites all of us Jews. None of believe in Jesus as lord and savior. We all deem a belief in Jesus to be beyond the pale of Judaism, as such a belief would be a direct affront to our G-d and to our Torah, and would constitute and abandonment of our faith. And we all believe in our right and obligation as Jews to protect and defend our spiritual borders, our Torah, and our G-d.

Most Sincerely,
The Jewish Israel staff

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Comment by ellen on August 9, 2009 at 5:27pm
I agree about the word "Jewish" not belonging, but I think "Israeli Messianic" is very problematic, too.

You define yourself as "Chereidi", but I am more of a "religious Zionist" who prefers to keep the word "Israeli (and "Zionist" for that matter) as Jewish as possible. What about all of those Torah observant Jews who consider themselves "messianic", because they are awaiting - on a daily basis - for the Moshiach per Rambam's instructions? Surely they are offended by the evangelical use of the "messianic" label.

And then we have the recent case of a Jewish member of Fatah who was nominated for a spot on the party's Revolutionary Council. He was born to Jewish parents in Jerusalem, and describes himself as a "Palestinian Hebrew".

I think the term "messianic" needs to dropped and we should stick with " evangelical Christian" For those Christians with Israeli citizenship, I guess "Israeli Christian" will have to do. Labels should offer a clarification of identity and not blur the lines.
Comment by Moshe Shulman on August 9, 2009 at 4:13pm
The problem is a simple one, the word 'Jewish' does not belong with the meaning they have of the adjective 'messianic'. I think that a more accurate title is 'Israeli Messianic'. Just like there are Israeli Christians, Arabs etc. 'Messianic' being a type of Christian like Baptist, Catholic and Lutheran.

Baring our ability to convince her that she is following a religion that is a lie, we can at the least insist that she be honest in proclaiming her beliefs and not be deceptive about it. The cure for dishonesty is truth. If she and others in that group are afraid of the truth, then that should be pointed out. Why should she be ashamed of begin a Christian, if that is what she really believes? I am an Orthodox Jew, and part of what we call the Chereidim. I am not ashamed of it, nor feel a need to apologize, or hide it. I have no sympathy for those who try to hide their true beliefs, and be like chameleons. (I realize that she has a source in her book 1 Corinthians 9 but then let her admit openly that she is a follower of Paul and supports deception when it serves her purposes.)
Comment by Jewish Israel on August 2, 2009 at 5:16pm
Jewish Israel was careful to label her a Christian. Discrediting and eliminating the "messianic jewish" label is on one of the biggest challenges we face in Israel. It's becoming acceptable terminology and that's a huge problem. It would be great if we could simply stick with the "Christian" or "evangelical" brand, but with these people feigning Judaism and dressing the part, walking the walk and talking the talk, some feel we need something a bit more descriptive. Some have suggested going back to "Hebrew Christian", but that too has its problems. Your suggestions?
Comment by Moshe Shulman on August 2, 2009 at 3:49pm
I don't understand something here. Her mother is the daughter of Gorden Lindsey (non-Jew) She was raised a Christian. Why does anyone refer to her as Jewish at all? According to all groups (including Reform) they would not consider her Jewish because she was not raised as a Jew, even if her father was Jewish.

The proof of her lack of commitment to the Jewish people is shown by her having chosen a gentile Christian over a Jew as a husband. Her Christianity is more important then her Jewishness.

Rather than expose her hatred of Jews (which is obvious from the style of life she has chosen) we should be pointing out that she is not Jewish and has no more right to even speak on these matters, that an Arab would. The result of a Jewish person joining one of these Christian/Messianic groups is that their children and grandchildren are lost to the Jewish people forever.
Comment by ellen on July 29, 2009 at 12:21am
That is terribly irony here. I wonder how many people picked it up
Comment by Jewish Israel on July 28, 2009 at 10:17am
thanks, Lynn.
We actually took a deep breath and counted to 1110, before penning this.
The advantage of writing, is that you have time to collect yourself privately. But we can understand how the initial and spontaneous reaction to being confronted by a missionary would be one of anger and emotional outburst.

JI really strives to take a refined, wise and thoughtful approach to this issue (we use humor and sarcasm, too, to diffuse things), but it's not always easy.
Comment by Lynn Risor on July 28, 2009 at 3:34am
Beautifully written letter. My kudos to the writer. I might have taken a more angry/emotional approach which solves nothing. I commend Jewish Israel!!
Comment by Reuven Levinson on July 28, 2009 at 2:47am
You know, I found it entertaining that she complained about the lack of acceptance by Orthodox Jews of Messianic Jews as really being "Jews", considering that she has never, ever been Jewish. Oh, Christian missionary Carole Lindsay, what a daughter you gave to the world!
Comment by Jewish Israel on July 27, 2009 at 8:15pm
Thanks, Arik
It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction, if any, we get from Ms. Ferguson.

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