ArikCome Hell or High Water – that seems to be the new catch phrase with respect to American support for Israel within both the US Christian evangelical movement and the White House (where it was reportedly uttered, verbatim, by President Bush himself).

This all came out after a recent meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a group of influential evangelical Christians who came to Israel to “show solidarity for Sharon.”

The use of Hell by Christian evangelicals as some kind of unit of measure is pretty odd. This, despite the otherwise forthright tone of Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals when he stated:

…that the official policy of the organization he represents is “to support the state of Israel come hell or high water. We are staunch supporters. We believe that you were chosen by God to lead the people of Israel in this difficult period. We fully support you, because we believe it is God’s will” … He said that Bush used those exact words – support for Israel ‘come hell or high water’ – during a meeting the President had with Evangelical leaders prior to November’s elections.

Christians can be so cute sometimes! What was not so cute was the attendance at this meeting of Jay Sekulow, a high profile Messianic Jew. Spokespersons at the Prime Minister’s Office played dumb of course, denying they had any idea that the little nebby guy in the corner wearing a Jews for Jesus Kippah and interjecting with occasional Yiddish jokes during the meeting, was in fact a Messianic Jew. Go figure – but I guess when you are an embattled Prime Minister, getting reamed on all sides, you take your support wherever you can get it.

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ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

94 Comments

  • When you wrote “Messianic Jew,” you meant to write, “Messianic non-Jew.” Right?

    By the way, is Arik attempting to remove a zit, or just stretching the skin for better tone?

  • He’s saying “look at me, I’m sooo cute! Pinch my cheeks!”

    The “hell or high water” phrasing makes sense considering Dubya’s Texas roots–it’s all about ranchin’ and drivin’ cattle ‘cross the range:

    The setting of many of the earliest examples strongly point to cattle ranching as the origin, in particular the driving of cattle to railheads in the mid West in the latter part of the nineteenth century. In 1939 Paul Wellman published a book with the title Trampling Herd: the Story of the Cattle Range in America in which he wrote: “ ‘In spite of hell and high water’ is a legacy of the cattle trail when the cowboys drove their horn-spiked masses of longhorns through high water at every river and continuous hell between.”

    Or, according to other sources, it’s “a variation of between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

    Dr. Etymology is done with her lecture now.

  • TM: No. Jay Sekulow is as Jewish as you or I. He’s just one of those Jews for Jesus dudes. I might say that his followers who were not born Jewish but were converted to Judaism for Jesus by him are not in fact Jewish. I might say that. But then I’ll be called reactionary.

    Back to the Kotel Cam.

  • FYI- here’s Jay Sekulow’s story– in Jay Sekulow’s own words- of how Jesus became his new homeboy. He’s the chief Counsel for The American Center for Law and Justice and a macher with C.A.S.E: Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, an organization that protects the civil rights of those teaching the gospel in airports. Sounds like he’s probably a lot of fun at parties.

  • Halachically the guy may be a Jew.

    But he’s still a meshumad. Until he abandons his apostasy, he can in no way be considered a functioning member of Klal Israel.

    Jay, If you’re going to be a Christian, then accept the consequences of your apostasy and just be one, OK? Stop halting between two opinions. In Ba’al is g-d, serve him. If G-d is G-d, then serve Him. You can’t have it both ways.

    Stupid prat.

  • Wow, Ephraim and I are thinking along the same lines, although as always he may be expressing matters a tad more harshly than I would. [insert smarmy emoticon here]

  • Well, I have a reputation to uphold, TM.

    Nothing makes me more unhinged than “Jews” for Jesus. If the guy was in the room with me you would have to keep me off him.

    These people are the worst kinds of traitors and turncoats, just the absolute scum of the earth, a complete and utter shande from every point of view.

    I don’t mind real Christians. But these ersatz “Jewish” stealth missionaries make me want to find the nearest pick-axe handle and start beating in a few heads.

    I mean, I hope he’s happy and spiritually fulfilled and yada yaday yada whatever. But pretending to still be Jewish while actively being a member of an avodah zara cult, that is attempting to destroy Jewish souls like termites attacking the foundation of a house, is just more than I can tolerate.

  • Ok, i’m totally not down with the way they missionize at hippy festivals in israel and what not, but other than that, while do we not have the angry visceral response to Jews for Buddah or Hanuman? I’m genuinely curious here. What is it about Jesus in particular that gets our goat?

  • I love how you guys fix my formatting. It adds a professional touch and makes me feel very special. Incidentally, Jay Sekulow seems to have diverted us from the topic at hand: what’s going on with Ariel Sharon’s face?

  • I don’t know who or what Hanuman is, but I think it should be pretty obvious:

    Buddhists didn’t murder and oppress us for 2,000 years in the name of their originally Jewish savior.

    The Christians are Edom. Going over to them means becoming a slave to the enemies of your people, the people who have spent the last 2,000 years either murdering you or stealing your children to turn them against you . It means giving up and giving in, saying “Yes, you’re right and we’re wrong. Our G-d is false and you understand the Torah better than we do”.

    It is the worst kind of abject, craven “I’ll become one of you, please don’t hurt me any more” cowardice. It means admitting that everything Jews and Judaism have stood for is false. Becoming a Christian means becoming a collaborator, a kapo who is willing to sell out his people to save his own miserable hide. It means replacing your Jewish soul with a Chrsitian one.

    Any kind of avodah zara is bad enough. But becoming a Christian is the worst kind of treachery precisely because their religion is predicated upon the belief that Judaism has been superceded by something better. Becoming a Christian means that you accept that idea.

    That is precisely why these “Jews” for Jesus insist they are still Jewish instead of accepting the fact that they are just Christians. Deep down in thei kishkas they know that they are traitors and apostates, but they just don’t want to admiti it.

  • Could it be that he was a Jew who lived as a Jew but who has been used as a battering ram in those times in history where Jews have had it rough for being Jews in Christian lands?

    It has a lot to do with the whole daughter religion trying to kill off the mother religion idea. I think one consequence has been that the mother religion has built certain poison pills to protect itself and one is to reject any acceptance of Jesus as the messiah as acceptable.

  • Is it because Buddhists do not have a long and blood soaked history of relations with Jews?

    But Jay is still a Jew, just as Cardinal Lustiger is still a Jew just like Bob Novak – douchebag, but still a Jew. You cannot convert out of Judaism. You may not be part of klal yisrael, but you are still a Jew. Well at least those are the rules.

    But what the hey, go ahead and feel free to make up your own rules about who is and isn’t a Jew. Frinstance, i think the moon is a Jew, as is Mickey Mouse and frankly, since I am getting kinda tired of Natalie Portman, I declare Angelina Jolie Jewish too. And I don’t wanna hear any lip from any of you close minded reactionaries out there.

    I am ck of the Temple of the Ephemeral Jews! I want to save Judaism and I am going one step further than even Edgar Bronfman. No longer is the truly Liberal and open minded standard “Let whoever wishes to be a Jew be one” but rather let’s just assign Judaism to whoever we like. For instance, I also declare that everyone in Norway is Jewish. We can use the healthy blonde Nordic genes to offset the perenially allergic and asthmatic shtetl genes – plus those people are cute! Now the World’s Jewish population increases to almost 20 million!

    Think about it…. heh.

  • ok ck, but how about Jews for Allah?

    besides, isn’t Jews for Jesus like the last, final step of a desire to assimilate that started in Christian Europe? we wanted to dress like christians, worship like christains, smell like christians, and now certain people like whats his name above are just taking the final step and now actually BEING christians.

    and angelina? jewish? ck, do you know what kind of effect that has on me? 😉

  • The moon is not only a Jew, but a Jewish woman. Discuss.

    And I’m laughing about not giving you any “lip” over Angelina. She gives us all enough lip(s) as it is.

    Laya, in my world, Jews for Allah is like Muslims for Hashem, not like Jews for Jesus. And what do Christians smell like? Shrimp cocktail? Drakkar Noir? Lemon verbena?

    🙂

  • Jews for Allah is also very bad. Never heard of such a thing, though.

    If we’re nominating hot women to be Jews, I nominate Kate Winslet, Ashwariya Rai, Gong Li and Salma Hayek for starters (in addition to whoever that French actress was who starred in On Guard).

    Angela Jolie? No way. She looks like she walked lips first into a hornet nest.

  • Technically Jews are for allah for this is the reason a jew is allowed to pray in a mosque (not a church though) the muslims for the most part plagerized the concept of the creator pretty well. Jews for Muhamed on the other hand would be very controversial.

    Check out Rabbi Tovia Singer(sorry no link ) he does anti misionary work, hes a wonderful speaker and it’s really funny to hear him tear christianity apart(he makes me almost feel bad for them).

    The problem with christian missionaries particularly is that most of them dedicate their missionary work solely to converting Jews (all jews) because there are certain christian doctrines that proclaim if all Jews are converted to Christianity christ will rise again.

  • I dunno, but I believe Wine Guy has been drinking, making up for lost generations of Jews who were busy working the land in the shtetl instead of imbibing the fermented fruits of the land.

  • I laughed at your comments, CK and Ephraim and Esther.
    I agree with a lot of what you said.
    I used to get upset about Jews for Jesus, but although I still think they’re apostates, they don’t bother me any more.

    I’ve now developed my own attitude towards non-monotheist religions (I personally categorize only Judaism, Islam, Sikhism and Unitarianism as monotheistic religions)-

    I believe that it is self-evident that there is a Creator, and furthermore that this Creator is necessarily more Wonderful than anything we human beings can conceive, and therefore the Creator being unlike any created thing must necessarily be a Unity, an exalted Unity unlike any other unity. The wonderful thing about this belief is if you believe you will never be disappointed nor despairing because you believe in a Being that cares for you beyond all humand understanding.
    Therefore anyone who learns about the above concept and chooses not to follow- eg. a Jew for Jesus- is basically in denial and can never find true hapiness, and they are to be pitied.
    It is true though that one does feel “gizgild” (an Arabic slang word meaning aversion) toward someone who has been taught this wonderful belief and chooses to deny it.

    The wonderful thing about most monotheist religions (Judaism, Islam, etc.) is that we have all been taught so well about the concept of Unity that even our most secular adherents deep down believe or once believed in it, so they can always “come home to G-d”. It is more difficult with someone who has expressly denied this belief.

  • Like I said, Dave, I have no problem with Christians being who they are.

    I have a problem with Jews who become Christians and then come and suck up to Jews pretending to be MOTs so they can poison the minds of uneducated and unsuspecting Jews and steal their souls. Fortunately, most Jews can see through their lies, but they are still quite dangerous. I feel sorrow, horror, pity, and disgust for Jews who are either so lost, ignorant, self-hating or goy-worshipping that they have fallen for the lies of the gentiles. But I get very, very angry at the way they try to lure other Jews into their evil cult.

    They’re like the pods in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. They seem like Jews on the outside, but underneath they are spiritual invaders.

    So, yeah, total fucknuts.

  • CK, I laughed at your posting # 25. I agree with you completely.
    In fact as you know the Rambam said that in essence a Jew who
    denies G-d’s Unity and Incorporeality could do ALL the other mitzvot, they’d still be an apostate. Gee, that’s even worse than being Reform ha ha ha!

    Ephraim, I laughed at your posting # 26- Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Of course I agree with you.

    We have to combat the Jews for Jesus also on an emotional appeal- some of our forefathers/ foremothers died because they would not abjure the Unity of Hashem. Also why should I personally give up this spiritual-life-sustaining belief which gives so much meaning to my life- for what?

    We monotheists are like mountain climbers who are further up the mountain (spiritually) than everyone else. And then we bump into some Jews for Jesus guy who tries to pull us down the mountain !

  • how do you feel about christians who were not born jews, but are interested in the religion. i am a christian and still hold tight to my belief but i am so in awe of the deep rooted tradition of jewish culture. does that make jewish people feel angry? i am just curious

  • No. Like Ephraim said, most Jews have no problems with Christians per se, just Jewish apostates who try to sell Christianity as a Jewishly valid religion (which, in the end, it is not) to Jews who might not know better. Christians are fine — but we have our own deep-rooted tradition, as you put it, and we’d rather our people cleaved to it.

  • Hey! Some of my best friends are christians! Y’all don’t even need to have an interest in our religion. If you’re just a chill person, you’re ok in my books.

  • Jana, I’ve had some of the most interesting, challenging and faith-affirming discussions of my life with my non-Jewish friends. And yes, I have about two of them. Or at least I did until I started blogging–got tons of them now, and it’s enriched my life immeasurably.

    What I love about them is that they’re smart, open-minded, curious and respectful. They ask questions but worry that they’re being offensive (and they never are). They want to know how our faiths and practices are similar to and different from each other. And inevitably, they’re surprised by my knowledge of Biblical texts and Jewish law. They want to know why and often I’m able to tell them. An amazing process all around that I wouldn’t forfeit for anything. I even took a New Testament class in college.

    So to answer your question, Jana. No hatred. No anger. That leads to the Dark Side of the Force. Here, it’s all shiny, happy love. Welcome. And enjoy your visit with us!

  • on the contrary my dear TM while I work the land and slave away in the winery you sit at home and drink your four cups of wine at pesach without the faintest idea how it was made or how it got there. Lchaim :’P

  • Did any of you ever see these missionaries in action over in Brighton Beach with the Russian community?

    I’ve seen it.

    Hanukah party with Yarmulka and tzitzit hanging out talking about yeshua the messiah.

  • Joe Schmo, there is a minority view point somewhere in the Talmud saying that we have already had the messiah. I have decided not to believe in the messiah, because it is a slippery slope toward idolatry. If I believe in G-d why do I need the messiah to help me?

  • Dave, Would you know where in the Talmud?

    All the Messiah is, is a King I’m not sure what you are making him out to be a God?

  • J4J was created by an ordained Baptist minister because the traditional missionary methods weren’t working on us Jews. The problem with groups like J4J, other than the fact that they’re christian sects pretending to be Jewish are their tactics.

    These groups literally spend millions of dollars a year in their attempts to convert Jews to Christianity. They incorporate cult tactics: isolating young people from their families, targetting groups like Russian immigrants who often have no knowledge of Judaism, getting jobs in old folks homes and promising residents that they will have visitors daily if only the person accepts J.C., etc.

  • Joe Schmo, I am not making out the messiah to be G-d.
    The problem with the messiah is that it is a flawed concept, based on a time when we Jews were very oppressed so we developed this concept, which is history-based and event-based theology. Since I believe in G-d I must believe regardless in G-d of what happens or does not happen in history.

  • Oops.. I meant to say “I must believe in G-d regardless of what happens or does not happen in history”.

  • Jana:

    No need to worry. Most religious Christians I have met are quite respectful of Judaism. A couple have tried to convert me, and wile we had some, shall we say, lively discussions, once they saw that I was not going to waver, they backed off.

    I get more grief from irreligious Jews, who don’t respect their own traditions or are ignorant of them, than I get from Christians.

    If you want to know more about Judaism, I’m sure that the nice folks at Jewlicious can help you out.

  • On a somewhat related note, I found this article in this week’s Jewish Week. It’s about a new book called “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History,” by David Klinghoffer.

    Klinghoffer, who was adopted by a Jewish family, and converted to Judaism as a young adult, says he’s had this book in mind for 20 years, since a Jews for Jesus missionary confronted him on the UCLA campus. “In a 45-minute conversation,” he writes, “he convinced me that I didn’t really understand my own reasons for not being a Christian. There was a lot I didn’t know about Judaism, being, as I was, the product of a very typical suburban-liberal Jewish upbringing. That was why he could so easily disturb me with his challenges from the famous Isaiah 53 [that makes putative allusions to Jesus].”

    And that, he says, is why he wrote “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus.” After years of intensive study, he’s answering the questions he couldn’t 20 years ago. “I’m trying to reach lost Jews,” he says, Jews who know nothing more about Judaism than one fact — they don’t believe in Jesus. “They know they can’t accept Jesus, but they don’t know why.”

  • Not to get all theological or whathaveyou, but Epraim (@#12) is off the mark in attributing to all Christians the belief that Christianity “superceded” Judaism. To quote:

    “The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Convenant. To the Jews ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises . . . for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.'”

    Folks, remember– when it comes to Christianity, accept no substitutes. The Roman Catholic Church.

  • Thanks Tom, I’ll keep that in mind.

    That’s the kind of info that may be useful in the next Inquisition. 😉

  • Hmm, make that “Ephraim.” Sorry.

    As for Jews for Jesus– why should you guys get so bent out of shape about it? Just another product on offer in the American marketplace of (religious and other) ideas. Judaism and Methodism and Zoroastrianism and everyone else will, from time to time, lose believers to other faiths–not to mention to secular unbelief.

    (Now, there’s something to worry about.)

  • T M, when they got that auto-da-fe goin’ and start giving you a hard time, just impeach ’em with their own prior inconsistent statements. And if you need a lawyer, let me know…

  • Tom:

    While I don’t keep up on all of the theological brouhahas that go on among Christians, I am aware that the Catholic Church has been doing a lot of soul-searching regarding their past theological positions and actions vis-a-vis the Jews, which I think is long overdue and for which I am very appreciative.

    However, do I take the above statement to mean that the Church views Judaism as a complete and legitimate theological system, that therefore Jews do not need to become Christians to be saved (in the Christian sense) and that therefore Jews are not going to be damned for rejecting Jesus? And that the promises made to the Jews in the Torah have not been rescinded or transfarred to the Church (the “New Israel”?), which means that they are still valid? If so, that’s a new one on me. Nice, but new.

    J4J is not just another religious product i the marketplace of ideas. As I have said repeatedly, I do not object in the same visceral way to Christians who do not hide who they are and are open and above-board about their desire to convert Jews. I ignore them or argue with them as the situation demands, but since they are being honest about who they are and what they are doing, I cannot hold it against them.

    J4J is problematic because they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. J4J missionaries are liars and deceivers who pretend to be Jews when they are not. Their whole scam is just an elaborate form of hitting below the belt. They lie and pretend to be Jews and they try to convince Jews of the fallacy that one can be Jewish and Christian at the same time. This is impossible.

    And, like I said, while I have no particular argument with Christians so long as they leave us alone, nothing makes me angrier than being selectively targeted by dissemblers who try to lie their way into our hearts. And there can be nothing worse than a Jew becoming a Christian. Not only is it a total rejection of our covenant with G-d, it is an insult to all of our martyrs who gave up their lives rather than submit to Christian attempts to force their religion on us.

    I hope that doesn’t offend you, but, hey, sometimes you just gotta say what needs to be said.

  • you know, that’s the second time today I’ve had the urge to watch History of the World, Part I.

    Miracle!

  • Tom, you think I’ll have a chance to defend myself before they shove that hot poker up an orifice?

    On a more serious note, I think the concern about Jews for Jesus and their ilk is that they target Jews for conversion specifically. In particular, they prey upon those whose knowledge and background are not all that strong when it comes to their faith.

    There is something very misleading and downright dishonest about informing an uninformed person that faith in Jesus as the son of god is a form of Jewish practice. Considering the challenges – in terms of resources, assimilation, the challenge of supporting Israel when it is depicted as a pariah nation that abuses human rights, etc., etc. – that are already facing the Jewish community, it’s hard to feel positive about a group that targets those who don’t have the tools to challenge the sophisticated barrage of proselytizing of groups such as this.

  • http://www.messiahtruth.com Rabbi Tovia Singer has started an organization to counter evangelical christian groups efforts to convert jews, he is also a big part of why my family is
    Baale te’shuva

    TM I was just kidding before the only thing you need to know about wine is which one you like

    only if it’s manishevitz please dont tell me

  • Wine Guy, trust me when I tell you I only enjoy Manischewitz in small sips around kiddush time.

    I’m not that literate when it comes to wines but with my simple wine understanding, I enjoy Kendall Jackson Chardonnay and a French line called Entre Deux Mers. For my reds I like to explore but I enjoy reds from the Montepulciano D’abruzzo area. Also, because of Sideways I have been trying California Pinot Noir wines and have enjoyed the three or four I’ve tried. Admittedly, I haven’t been trying kosher wines to any great degree, and you are welcome to make some recommendations.

  • T M, you want due process, you’ll get it. (I’m not as confident about any appellate rights, though….)

    Ephraim, thanks for the thoughtful response. To add a bit to the quote (‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’, Part I, Sec. 2, Chap. 3, Subsec. 4, to attribute it properly): the Church’s teaching is that no one can assume that G-d has revoked any of His promises, and that the convenants entered into, as set forth in the Torah, remain as valid as they were prior to the Christian era. Jesus Himself, as all good evangelicals know, explicitly stated that he did not intend to defy or replace the laws and other teachings forming the Judaism of his day.

    Now, the downside for Jews (it seems to me) in throwing their lot in with the Christian Right is that the above teaching, the product of 2000 years of theological reflection, never enters the picture– it’s always about a literal interpretation of Scripture. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” They read that passage, and that’s the end of the discussion. No nuance, no taking Jesus’s message as a whole, or weighing this passage against others.

    So– they love Arik, but beware, people.

    And as for Jews for Jesus– we should all be confident of our own beliefs, stand by them, and let others do what others will do. And, you know, T M, if some folks can’t deal with a sophisticated campaign of evangelizing, the burden’s on Judaism and Catholicism and other faiths that usually lose converts to take care of bidness in our own faith communities– education, etc.

  • Ephraim and others, in passing:
    and Tom Morrisey:
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    This is the crux of the issue. Jews are (willfully!) ignorant of the basic tenets of their own faith. We all know instinctively what has been statistically proven: the missionaries’ success rates drop sharply when they encounter Jews with strong Jewish backgrounds from home and school.

    Same graph for intermarriage.

    Judaism must now compete in a free marketplace of ideas. The obvious starting point for transmission of Judaism is a fundamental belief that there is something worth transmitting (I have purposely NOT used the word “preserving” – that is Holocaust Memorial Judaism, and it’s a dead end). Unfortunately many Jews no longer can muster this baseline allegiance to Judaism – their (grand)parents’ ideological rebellion/desire to assimilate has led to their ignorance, we all know the story and can assign blame as we wish, but it’s a moot point to the vast numbers of American Jews who aren’t affiliated AT ALL, not even to Reform.

    These Americans-of-Jewish-descent – for that’s all we can really call them – are the missionaries’ fair game, unless our own outreach programs can (a) get to them first and (b) overcome the antipathy to Judaism that is often their only “Jewish” legacy from their parents.

    This is a painful and challenging situation – but it is part of the final redemption, which we are told will be brought about not by fear of G-d, but by love of G-d.

    As Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler points out, all the less-than-sincere motivations for staying Jewish have been removed – oppression that kept us in ghettos, communal peer pressure, even desire for honor has been diminished as a motivator for study and observance.

    This is a necessary, though painful, step in this process of redemption through love.

    The massive return to Judaism movement shows that Judaism – and particularly that authentic stream of Judaism that was vilified as outdated and irrelevant – most definitely has the chops to compete in the free marketplace of ideas.

    I am writing this just after Yom Ha-Atzmaut. I am one of the religious Israelis who see the victory of even aggressively secular Zioninism as “the first flourishing of our salvation”.

    Similarly, it may be necessary – and ultimately re-invigorating – for Jews to have to rediscover Judaism on its own merits, and make it their own with their own efforts.

    In the meantime those of us who DO know Judaism have to walkt the talk – sincerely, happily, openly, and invitingly.

    Ben-David

  • Sorry for messed up formatting. I meant:

    Ephraim and others, in passing:
    “preying on ignorant Jews…”

    and Tom Morrisey:
    ” Just another product on offer in the American marketplace of (religious and other) ideas.”

    – – – – – – – – – – –
    This is the crux of the issue. Jews are (willfully!) ignorant of the basic tenets of their own faith. We all know instinctively what has been statistically proven: the missionaries’ success rates drop sharply when they encounter Jews with strong Jewish backgrounds from home and school.

    Same graph for intermarriage.

    Judaism must now compete in a free marketplace of ideas. The obvious starting point for transmission of Judaism is a fundamental belief that there is something worth transmitting (I have purposely NOT used the word “preserving” – that is Holocaust Memorial Judaism, and it’s a dead end). Unfortunately many Jews no longer can muster this baseline allegiance to Judaism – their (grand)parents’ ideological rebellion/desire to assimilate has led to their ignorance, we all know the story and can assign blame as we wish, but it’s a moot point to the vast numbers of American Jews who aren’t affiliated AT ALL, not even to Reform.

    These Americans-of-Jewish-descent – for that’s all we can really call them – are the missionaries’ fair game, unless our own outreach programs can (a) get to them first and (b) overcome the antipathy to Judaism that is often their only “Jewish” legacy from their parents.

    This is a painful and challenging situation – but it is part of the final redemption, which we are told will be brought about not by fear of G-d, but by love of G-d.

    As Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler points out, all the less-than-sincere motivations for staying Jewish have been removed – oppression that kept us in ghettos, communal peer pressure, even desire for honor has been diminished as a motivator for study and observance.

    This is a necessary, though painful, step in this process of redemption through love.

    The massive return to Judaism movement shows that Judaism – and particularly that authentic stream of Judaism that was vilified as outdated and irrelevant – most definitely has the chops to compete in the free marketplace of ideas.

    I am writing this just after Yom Ha-Atzmaut. I am one of the religious Israelis who see the victory of even aggressively secular Zioninism as “the first flourishing of our salvation”.

    Similarly, it may be necessary – and ultimately re-invigorating – for Jews to have to rediscover Judaism on its own merits, and make it their own with their own efforts.

    In the meantime those of us who DO know Judaism have to walkt the talk – sincerely, happily, openly, and invitingly.

    Ben-David

  • You’re right, Ben David. Only the Jews can save themselves from missionaries, through educating Jews to be true to the Torah. t’s our problem and we have to deal with it. One way would be to stop building Holocaiust museums as memorials to dead Jews and start building schools to educate live ones, but that’s another rant.

    Hpowever, that doesn’t mean that I can’t hate J4J. And believe me, I do hate them, with a white-hot, incandescent hate that transcends the bounds of time and space.

    Tom, thanks for the update on Catholic beliefes on this subject. Quite educational.

    And, believe me, we are quite aware of the pitfalls of dealing with the evangelicals. We’ll take their support, even if it is offered for all of the wrong reasons. I fully expect that when their beliefs about us don’t pan out to their satisfaction that some of them will turn on us with a vengeance, but we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

  • I’m not sure how we ended up with the evangelicals as our friends, but it may have something to do with the fact that they seem to genuinely love and support Israel as a Jewish state. It’s a natural alliance that has a practical element to it.

    I agree with you that it is up to the Jewish community to “protect” itself from proselytizing. I wish I had a magic bullet response for this problem, but there are some objective difficulties. For example, we are 2% of the population in a culture where 80% identify as Christians. Surely that presents some obstacles for us, not the least of which is having the resources necessary to “combat” what is a prevailing culture.

  • Torah and mitzvot should do it, TM. Or, should I say, it’s the only way that has really proven to be successful. The 2% vs. the other 98% thning has been pretty much a constant throughout Jewish hstory. The difference now is that there are no obstacles to us if we want to assimilate, whereas in the past the ghetto walls pretty much took care of it.

    I think some evalgelicals genuinely support Israel, while others see Israel through the lens of their own theology, where the ingathering must happen in order for the “End Times” to arrive. I have no idea what the ratio is.

  • Ephraim I am with you.

    I hate J4J too. I know many Russian jews hate them too.

    We should get together to take action.

  • Thanks for the link esther there really are some great kosher syrahs out there from california and israel, and they can compete with any syrah kosher or non kosher. I actually opened a bottle of Kiddush Hashem at the Jewlicious barbeque @the beach tasty stuff

    TM there will be some good kosher pinot noirs coming out soon in the mean time try some california syrah the kiddush hashem and the herzog reserve syrah are excellent. If you like Entre-deux-Mers then youre probobly a bordeaux fan there are some awsome cabernets out there try Recanati Reserve if you want to get something really nice there is a new wine called Covenant a Chalk Hill Cabernet produced by Jeff Morgan and if you are ever in southern California you should come by for a tasting.

  • Surely, evangelicals who claim to love and support Israel are quite sincere about it.

    Interesting comment about ‘ghetto walls’ and assimilation, etc., from Ephraim. When you remove coercion from the equation– external oppression, or obedience effectively enforced from within (e.g., old-style Catholicism)– religious faith truly becomes a matter of individual conscience. In such a setting, people are free to do as they like, go astray, fall away, etc. A consequence of freedom, I suppose, if a sad one.

    T M, the ‘prevailing culture’ isn’t so much a Christian one (here in the US, I mean), as a secular one that marginalizes, and often devalues, religious belief. The ‘dictatorship of relativism’ and all that… All belief systems share that challenge in this country– how to respond to secular culture.

  • I remember that wine we drank on the beach. But that winery name just makes me laugh every time I read it in print…and above…it sounds like something you’d say to boast about beating someone:

    “I opened up a bottle of Kiddush Hashem on his ass, and he never knew what hit him.”

    Or maybe that’s just me.

    But if Kiddush Hashem tastes that good, can you imagine what Chilul Hashem must taste like?

  • Surely, evangelicals who claim to love and support Israel are quite sincere about it.

    Interesting comment about ‘ghetto walls’ and assimilation, etc., from Ephraim. When you remove coercion from the equation– external oppression, or obedience effectively enforced from within (e.g., old-style Catholicism)– religious faith truly becomes a matter of individual conscience. In such a setting, people are free to do as they like, go astray, fall away, etc. A consequence of freedom, I suppose, if a sad one.

    T M, the ‘prevailing culture’ isn’t so much a Christian one (here in the US, I mean), as a secular one that marginalizes, and often devalues, religious belief. The ‘dictatorship of relativism’ and all that… All belief systems share that challenge in this country– how to respond to secular culture.

  • Anywhere but the coasts, Tom, its still Christain America, (like remember all those the red states?) people sometimes forget that America isn’t just NY and LA.

  • I am probably ‘hanging in the wrong pub’ (or likely, to the majority here, I’m the ‘wrong guy in the right pub’). But for the sake of ‘Ahavat Achim’ – or is it ‘sin-at chinam? – I shall chip in my two pence:

    Unity of G-d – I find this one the most perplexing when juxtaposed with hatred – would it not be reasonable to assume that if G-d is one, than somewhere in the oneness of it all the multiplicity of ideas and faiths can also find a peaceful spot? It is funny that this hated Jew himself (who, to anyone who bothered flexing their spiritual muscles on the path – any path – it should be pretty clear, wanted none of the strife and hatred perpetuated in his name) said “In my Father’s house, there are many mansions…”And note that the Gimatria (numerological value) for One and LOVE in Hebrew is the same. As you sow so shall you reap – so be careful who you hate, and let the heavens worry for their own integrity…

    The fact most evangelists are ardent supporters of Israel, might be a comforting short-term gain but real worry when considered in the light of the general intolerance their creeds espouse. In this I actually tend to agree with Efrayim: Many of these are generally (an indecent practice by itself, so for argument’s sake) narrow-minded, ethno-centric, ignorant people who think they have the lease on what’s moral and what’s not, and love Jews as part of some apocalyptic vision which has no Hollywood ending (for non-evangelists) and no sequels in the planning. Not that Kerry was my favourite human being but these are the people who think your moron of a president deserves a second term and largely contributed to the fact the US is spending this year 16 Billion dollars on development and 500 billions on war.

    And one more – I have clashed ‘pens’ with Ben-David before, so I hope (in the spirit of freedom – Yom Ha-atzma-ut etc.) he will not take offence:

    “Unfortunately many Jews no longer can muster this baseline allegiance to Judaism – their (grand)parents’ ideological rebellion/desire to assimilate has led to their ignorance, we all know the story and can assign blame as we wish, but it’s a moot point to the vast numbers of American Jews who aren’t affiliated AT ALL, not even to Reform.
    These Americans-of-Jewish-descent – for that’s all we can really call them – are the missionaries’ fair game, unless our own outreach programs can (a) get to them first and (b) overcome the antipathy to Judaism that is often their only “Jewish” legacy from their parents.
    This is a painful and challenging situation – but it is part of the final redemption, which we are told will be brought about not by fear of G-d, but by love of G-d.”

    I am not sure why all deserve to fit in your final redemption scenario, but personally I am definitely all out for the love of G-d. Alas in my dictionary that means love of all beings – Jews or otherwise – and the considered notion that I cannot know the truth when it is told by someone else, be it a book, a Rabbi or a culture. I have my own spiritual understanding to carve and explore and as ignorant as it may seem to you it is actually a much contemplated choice for me. At the end of the day, in my limited understanding, it is in the Love of G-d as manifested in my attitude to all that is his making – Arabs and Homosexuals inc. for example – which is where my spirit is tested. I whole-heartedly agree with your point a-la Dessler about the necessary sincerity to keep one’s faith, but how does that exclude the possibility one can sincerely choose to believe differently to you and not automatically be branded ignorant. How do you know that your truth is absolute bar your belief that what you have been told promises so? Could it not be that the Love of G-d is grand enough to embrace other belief systems? I wonder…

  • Michael– Looks like you’re able to bring the “love of G-d” to “Arabs and homosexuals,” but not to the “narrow-minded” and “intolerant” evangelical. Guess there’s no “mansion” for him.

    Evangelicals are people, too.

    That “hated Jew” also said: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure shall be measured out to you.”

  • I have to agree with Tom. Let’s not disrespect people for their faith. This discussion was about inappropriate proselytizing, not about the validity of one’s faith.

  • We are located in Ventura County just south of ventura it’s about 45min north of LA. We’ll be open for tastings and tours in early July and we are also going to have at some point a kosher restaurant. Previously we were more or less renting out space at another facility in santa barbara county so there was no tasting room and no tours. Everyone is welcome to come and drink some Jewlicious wine hmm maybe you guys should think about doing your own label.

  • I personaly feel entitled to make fun of Christianity I went to a Lutheran highschool so I think I’ve earned it

    Missionaries dont take it personaly either even when people get really insulting(they think it’s part of the job) my Aunt and Uncle just started a Mission in Uruguay and are sort of in an ongoing thoelogical dialog with my family, I don’t think it’ll go anywhere but it’s good to talk about things, even if you dissagree and even when the other party is totally wrong.

    Strangely enough my Aunt and Uncle played a major role in my family becomeing religious. They approached my Grandmother to convert her, of course this upset her, and my Father so we got in touch with Rabbi Singer, and this began our journey to becoming Shomer Mitzvot

  • “Everyone is welcome to come and drink some Jewlicious wine hmm maybe you guys should think about doing your own label.”

    Um, that’s a great idea. Ck, would you like to launch a food product line?

  • Hmmm… it may mean putting my “Cheeses of Nazareth” idea aside for now – I was gonna talk to Khaled about that, but sounds like an idea.

    We can start with Brakha’s Jewlicious Matbucha, some packaged Hummus that is actually good, etc. and NO Reform Hashgachah! No offense to anyone, but Jewlicious Foods Inc. will not sell shrimp encrusted Fish sticks.

    And of course…

    The Baron de ck presents
    Chateau Jewlicious

    Hmmm … see next post …

  • Non Reform hashgacha is cool by me. But what’s with all the ethnic foods? Think big, dude!

    JEWLICIOUS MACARONI AND CHEESE.

  • Tom, touche, though my comment to BD was in specific reference to subjects raised before, indeed I am finding it hard to tolerate intolerance, but I shall try. Thanks for the reminder. and peace to all.

  • Hey Michael,
    I guess its important in this world to have somebody tolerate murder, fornication and idolatry.

    I suppose you are that guy.

    Sorry but I can’t be with you. I’m not crazy.

  • JS, don’t really get your point – are you saying that trying to tolerate the evangelical crowd is by default tolerating murder, fornication and idolatry? Anyway, I have no aspirations to be with you (in what sense did you mean that?) either. So we are in agreement – how wonderful 😉

    And if trying to be a more compassionate human being is crazy, so be it. I can think of someone who said – “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result” (Einstein?), and maybe make some reference to the historical futility of hatred and anger as contributing to conflict resolution, but I will be wasting my time and your wrath. So be it. May we all live in peace.

  • Well I was also refering to what you wrote:
    “in my attitude to all that is his making – Arabs and Homosexuals inc.”

    You tolerate:

    murderers: arabs (since nobody has anything against an arab if they wouldn’t be trying to kill. So apparently you tolerate them even while being shot at or after they kill someone you know.)

    Idolatry: evangelical crowd

    Fornification: Homosexuals

  • Michael– Best of luck to you in trying to deal with the foregoing…

    JS, why not widen your critique to include the rest of humanity?

  • Wow, Tom, just so you know, we do not condone nor do we always agree with our commenters’ comments. In this case, please know that the Schmo is speaking for himself.

  • Joe, why are you such an angry man? I am listening to you too, even if your opinions differ to mine. What’s the point of listening only to people who hold the same opinions? Might as well be silent… May you be happy and kind. “Love thy neighbor as thyself. All the rest Zil U-Gmor”

  • T_M don’t be mislead Tom is a missionary.

    Michael I appreciate you listening and responding as you should.
    Its nice to be tolerant but its really not nice to be tolerant of bad because then you allow them to be successful in what they do.

    Tom is a missionary and its wrong to be tolerant of him.

  • Joe– I’ll confess to being a Red Sox fan, but a missionary? Hmm.

    Is that a paying job?

    No worries. I have a lifelong record of failing to persuade other folks to agree with me.

  • “I have a lifelong record of failing to persuade other folks to agree with me. ”
    -and thank G-d for that.

  • Joe, Is that a conciliatory tone in your voice? Don’t you go all soft on me here I expect a fierce argument 😉

    Seriously. Whatever Tom’s belief system should not bother one who is firmly rooted in their own faith. Should we not welcome ideas that might make us look and re-examine our believes? That is not to say that coercion by force or trickery is a fair game but if someone presents an idea that is different it can make us look and reason our own afresh. I would vouch that this is healthy.
    I imagine there are fairly strong passages with regards to the dangers of proselytizing in the Jewish codex and that is quite understandable in historical terms. And although ‘Katonty’ in more then one way, to have a learned opinion on the matter, I still think that nowadays the issue of inter-religion dialogue must be a healthy notion. If you seriously believe in your faith (I have no doubt you do), then you have as much merit, opportunity and strength to convince Tom of your convictions. Tolerating Tom (if indeed he is a missionary) is not just a generally good idea because of the basic decency every human deserves. It is a good way to sharpen your understanding and love of G-d.

    Most times I visit Israel (my parents live in Jerusalem) I go to the Kotel, just to sit. Hardly a moment before I am surrounded with well-intentioned Yeshiva-Bochers who want to convince me I am yet to see the light because I don’t practice their way. I have my own belief and convictions – should I tolerate (or better – welcome) them or not? They think they have something to give me which I will be happier with – and they get to do a Mitzva. I imagine that the missionaries of the world come from the same spot – they found something that made them happy, they think it could make others happy too, and often (though by all means not always) part of their conviction is that other SHOULD see the light their way.

  • “Should we not welcome ideas that might make us look and re-examine our believes?”
    -yes but its your next phrase that explains it:
    “That is not to say that coercion by force or trickery is a fair game”

    -Tom’s only success will come when he tricks ignorant people. I welcome any challanges but what about those who don’t know better who are fooled?
    Missionaries are vultures who prey upon the ignorant.

    Tell me what would you say if an organization has convinced your cousin who knew very little that Abraham worshipped the sun, G-d forbid, and that your cousin should do the same.

    Say that you have no contact with your cousin at thispoint but only these missionaries know where he is now.

    Now you know that its a fake – but your cousin doesn’t; if you had the power to stop the missionaries would you?

    Simple question what would you do?

  • Well, for a start, that’s going a bit far by the power of Hypothesis, isn’t it? Mostly, people who hear missionaries do have access to other streams of information and choose their belief by the degree the caller have touched their heart. It is up to you to touch their heart more passionately, a feat which you should easily accomplish, as (if I understand your views right), there is only one truth for the Jewish born – the Jewish Truth. Surely if you speak the truth, and a missionary lies, than the listener will hear where the truth resides and be convinced.

    One has to admit that this is all fairly far-fetched in this day and age… but say that a situation arise where an ignorant listener hears a missionary, has no access to anyone else, is urgently desperate to make up their mind now, AND for some odd reason you have access to the missionary (BUT not to the listener). What is your proposition? That violently opposing the missionary is permissible? Does it not stand for reason that since we hold the truth, using force to protect it is somehow odd? Does G-d not know that his truth is being distorted? Is G-d not patient and grand enough to see the story unfolding – indeed, to direct it as such – and let the truth prevail? Could you not engage the missionary with the power of your convictions and the passion in your heart that your truth shines? Could you not catch up with the listener later and enlighten him/her? I thought that in any case “Israel af al pi she-chata, Israel hoo…” (Israel, even though he has gone astray, is still consider Israel), so there is not even a case of the congregation’s fate at stake. All I’m saying is that we should welcome – or at least tolerate – other opinions, and that generalizing a whole group for the existence of individuals with bad attitude/habit/persona does no service to a better and more peaceful world. To borrow from our cousins – ‘he who live by the sword will die by the sword’. Jews have been branded with all sorts of evils and been persecuted mercilessly by exactly the same mechanisms, and we know better.

  • quote: “One has to admit that this is all fairly far-fetched in this day and age…”

    Michael,
    Have you ever gone to Brighton Beach where the mssionaries are active?-apparently not.

    There Russian Jews who were forced to live without religion. They come here and are set upon by deceiving missionaries who make out as if they are Jews.

    So this is no far-out hypothesis. No, this is reality today.

    quote: “Does G-d not know that his truth is being distorted? ”
    –yes and that is why YOU Michael, not just me, better do something to stop it and encourage others to do so – not discourage others as you are doing.
    Why should you be blamed later by G-d for not caring?

  • Joe– Don’t take this the wrong way, but there’s something about the above that reminds me of one of my ex-girlfriends… ‘Prove to me that it’s not true you don’t love me any more,’ that sort of thing. Always tough to prove a negative, don’t you think?

    Anyway, what, exactly, is a missionary? A broad definition might include someone who is open about his beliefs (e.g., Michael and toi-meme, Joe, mon sembable, mon frere). Not just the loud, ill-dressed guy at the streetcorner, or the colporteur at the front door.

    Perhaps most everyone on this blog is a missionary of a sort.

    Anyway, I can’t do better on this subject than Michael (truly eloquent at 91). He’s a good, John Stuart Mill kind of guy.

    We Catholics have (mercifully) given up on prostletyzing Jews. The long, tragic history of that effort is well-known to all. In the majority-Jewish community in which I live, the local parish instead works with local synagogues to promote good interfaith relations.

    The U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, in a document entitled ‘Reflections on Covenant and Mission’ (2002), states: “[C]ampaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.”

    ‘Campaigns’ aside, individually, we’re tested in our beliefs all the time. The very presence of those who don’t agree with us is a test of a kind.

    (Perhaps this is one of the roots of anti-Semitism: it was inconceivable that people existed who were not Christian: their very existence was, for some, intolerable. Our Muslim brothers and sisters seem to struggle with this sort of cognitive dissonance at the moment.)

    Perhaps we can even learn from those who are different. (I’m not advocating conversion, or syncretism, but respectful listening.)

    So, Joe, I hope you’re reassured. To close with that noted thinker, James Brown:

    “The way I like it
    Is the way it is,
    I got mine
    He got his.”

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