In the past few months I have attended two different church services (where I spoke on interfaith panels), spent time researching early Christianity for an article I was writing, wrote an article about intermarried couples and their children, and have ordered a book online about the historicity of Jesus.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, the omnipotent internet algorithms that rule our daily online lives have decided that I would be a good candidate for targeted ads for Jews who have married Christians.
It started with Facebook, then Instagram, and eventually Youtube. Ads for a counselling service that helps “Jewish Gentile Couples” navigate the difficulties of raising children in interfaith homes. After seeing enough of these ads my curiosity got the best of me and I “clicked”, trying to figure out which organization was behind the flurry of these targeted posts.
The website I was directed to had very little information. A couple of positive testimonials, their stated mission (which was extremely vague), and a link to sign up to speak to a free marriage counselor. Still confused, I did the only reasonable thing to do: create a fictional backstory of how I, a Jew, had married a Christian woman and there was frequent strife due to religious friction.
It didn’t take long before I discovered that this group had a very specific end goal. After a couple of emails with one of their guidance counselors where I asked increasingly pointed question, the counselor ended up telling me that he works for Jews for Jesus.
Make no mistake, Jews for Jesus is simply a contemporary instalment in a 2,000 year attempt by Christians to get Jews to accept Jesus. It just so happens that in 2019 Christian fundamentalists are unable to torture, expel, or forcibly convert Jews (as they did throughout the middle ages) so they need to do so via ecumenical and peaceful means. Many Christians today realize that for even the most uninvolved Jew, Christianity is one step too far, so they wrap up Christian theology in familiar Jewish lexicon and practice.
Enter Jews for Jesus. Masquerading as a part of the mainstream Jewish community, Jews for Jesus will often prey upon ignorant or distressed Jews - trying to convince them that accepting Jesus in no way contradicts Jewish practice. The targeted ad and subsequent interaction that I had with the counselor is only one such example.
A couple of years ago during a lower division religious studies class at UCLA, one of the assignments was to attend a religious service for a religion different than the one you currently practice. As there is a large Jews for Jesus community based in Westwood I decided that I would attend a service and the bible study that followed.
I walked in wearing a baseball cap (instead of my normal kippah) and I pretended to be quite ignorant regarding all things religion. I only told them that I was both a Jew and there to fulfill class credit.
As I conversed with a variety of members, all too happy to have a young Jew in attendance, I realized a couple of fascinating things. For one there were very few Jews present. Many of the congregants were there simply because it was the closest church to their homes. The few Jews that I did meet seemed to have completely relinquished their Jewish identity in every explicit way unless they were using it to say “Look! As a Jew I can accept Jesus” (similar to the way that Jewish Voice for Peace will act around demonizing Israel).
It is up to knowledgeable and involved Jews to expose Jews for Jesus for the fraud that it is. We need to publicize their methodology, tactics, and tricks for everyone to see. Learn the four biblical passages they use as supposed typological references to Jesus. Learn about how they try and hide their name as much as possible, posing as other organizations, while shielding their true goal. And, finally, learn about how this is truly a continuation of an age-old religious battle between Jews and Christians - one which has lead to the persecution of hundreds of thousands of Jews - only this time we can fight back.
Moshe Daniel Levine is a regular contributor of blog postings on Jewish Values Online.
Please note: All opinions expressed in Blog Postings and comments on the Jewish Values Online site and through Jewish Values Online are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, beliefs, or position of Jewish Values Online, or those associated with it.
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