Shock in Jerusalem community as ‘rabbi’ declared undercover Christian missionary
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood was in shock Sunday after a prominent member of the community was denounced as an undercover Christian missionary.
Beyneynu, a nonprofit that monitors missionary activity in Israel, said on Sunday that it had “been investigating the case of a secret missionary in French Hill for many years,” but had taken action to prevent it. ‘now expose’ because of the proselytizing of one of the missionary’s children. at school.”
Hebrew media said the man, who has not been publicly identified, posed as a rabbi and kohen (priest) and worked as a scribe and mohel, performing ritual circumcisions.
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However, it was discovered that the family was in fact not Jewish, but from a Christian family in New Jersey in the United States, and allegedly forged documents to show that they were Jewish in order to emigrate to Israel in under the law of return.
“We are confident that the Jewish leadership will act firmly against this threat and quickly put in place protective measures to protect the Jewish community,” Beyneynu said.
The ultra-Orthodox site Behadrei Haredim reported that when the man’s recently deceased wife fell ill with cancer several years ago, she told friends about things that did not make sense to them and triggered the investigation.
The wife allegedly falsely claimed to be the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
Investigators found that the relatives of the family in the United States were not Jewish and posted missionary material on social media, according to the newspaper. The man’s late father was buried in a non-Jewish cemetery. An obituary identified him as a member of the Mennonite Friendship Church.
Beyneynu said he had “taken great care to check every piece of evidence before exposing this case to the public,” but did not detail the evidence.
“Until now, we have been silent because we didn’t want the father to move to another neighborhood (to continue his work) and we wanted to work to get his citizenship revoked,” Yoni Kayman, a member of the community involved in the investigation, says Behadrei Haredim.
Kayman said the father had recently started trying to get rid of the evidence, removing material from social media, and had stopped sending his daughters to the local religious school, so they decided to let the community know about it. his activities.
Channel 13 aired snippets from 2011 news of the Father speaking on American television, acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah.
Speaking to Channel 13, the man denied working as an undercover Christian missionary.
“It’s a lie, I was born a Jew,” he said. However, he admitted to having worked as a missionary seven or eight years ago, but said he had “repented”.
Community members expressed shock, noting how involved the family was and the fact that after the woman died, the community created a fund for the family and helped support them.
“The family looked completely ultra-Orthodox, he had a long beard and a hat, the boys had side buckles, the girls went to Beis Yaakov schools,” Kayman told Channel 13.
“For five years, we have supported them, paying for their errands, their school buses, for everything, and they cheated on us,” he said.
Israel enjoys vigorous support from evangelical Christian movements in the United States, but keeps a lid on missionary work in the Holy Land.
While Israeli law expressly prohibits giving money or gifts to encourage conversions to another religion, missionary activities, in general, are closely watched by authorities and are offensive to many Israelis.
The law also prohibits “missionary or proselytizing activity directed against minors without the authorization of their parents”.