Campaign leaders: Aaron Abramson and Daniel Goldstein
For the first time in our history, an Israeli team of Jews for Jesus campaigned among the 200,000 Israelis in New York City. Clad in Hebrew Jews for Jesus T-shirts and carrying Hebrew broadsides and other gospel literature, they also placed gospel ads in local Hebrew newspapers, conducted surveys and used our specially designed Hebrew website. They phoned Israelis they met on the streets and had personal visits to discuss Y’shua (Jesus).
We asked Daniel Goldstein to describe the difference between reaching Israelis here versus at home.
“Since people are outside of Israel, outside of their normal culture, they are more open to new things,” Goldstein said. “Also, it is a narrower slice of the population. Most Israelis here are young and just out of the army. They came to have a good time and to try to make money. In fact, one of the places we have met many of our contacts is called ‘the meat-packing district,’ because of the businesses that were once located there. Today it is the neighborhood where everyone goes ‘clubbing.’”
Because so many Israelis hang out at clubs into the early morning hours, the Israeli team had a different schedule from the other campaigns. Rather than participating in the usual morning sortie (6:45-9 A.M.) they handed out tracts during the lunch hour, the evening rush hour and then at night from 7:20-11:30, with a 30-minute break. On Friday and Saturday nights, the younger ones went out from 10 P.M. till 2:30 A.M. with a half-hour break.
“Whether during the daytime or late at night, most responded to us with curiosity rather than an obvious spiritual hunger,” Goldstein said.
But God can use that curiosity, and there is often a hunger just a little deeper down.
That was the case with Ma’ayan (his name means “waterfall”) who approached Valerie Bouaziz. She had a sign in Hebrew that said, “Israeli? Free books!
“What kind of books?” Ma’ayan asked.
“Good books about Y’shua, the Messiah.” Valerie replied. They had a meaningful discussion and Ma’ayan gave Valerie his contact information.
“Why don’t you come to a BBQ we are having?” Valerie offered, “and we can continue the discussion.” One of the guys on the team called Ma’ayan a few days later to reiterate the invitation.
The day of the BBQ came and the team was despondent as the skies were cloudy and rain was forecast. It was not a great day for a BBQ. Nevertheless, the team fired up the grill and prayed for the best. Three Israeli seekers turned up at the last minute; Ma’ayan was among them. He was very open and had many questions. One of our Israeli staff, Shlomy, spent over an hour in deep discussion with him. Ma’ayan prayed with Shlomy to receive the Lord and wants to meet up again to learn more about the promises of God.
Throughout the month, several Israelis asked campaigners, “Did you come all the way from Israel to tell us about Jesus?!” to which they replied, “Actually, yes!” This opened hearts and many agreed to have team members call them, not just in New York, but back in Israel.
“Reaching Israelis in New York has given us a great opportunity to learn new and creative ways to reach our people. It has taught us what they are seeking when they leave Israel. I think that will help to reach people back home, because they are seeking the same things,” Daniel Goldstein concluded.