Over the past few months we’ve reported a flurry of coverage in the Jewish media—mostly local media where BYG campaigns have taken place. This month, two national Jewish publications, B’nai B’rith Magazine and Moment Magazine, have significant feature articles on Jews for Jesus. Actually, the B’nai B’rith feature is on Jewish evangelism in general. It is the cover story, and though it includes a wide array of organizations and individuals, the graphics (including magazine cover) feature Jews for Jesus most prominently. While the tone of the cover is snide (Marketing the Messiah: Inside the McJesus Machine,” with wind-up missionaries grinning and handing out tracts), the fact is that many words have been devoted to the subject of Jews believing in Jesus. This national Jewish publication even published campaign results from our web site. As a result, any readers who wonder if they are the only Jews considering Jesus should be encouraged to know they are not alone.
The other feature, “Behold their God: on the road with Jews for Jesus,” is also written with a mostly snide and sarcastic tone. The reporter, presenting herself as a journalism student who was interested in knowing the truth about Jews for Jesus, was given an entree with many of our staff and even accompanied campaigners on parts of the West Palm Beach BYG campaign. The writer, Jessica Ravitz, certainly paints the organization and most of those she met with a jaundiced eye; nevertheless, toward the end of the article she admits to warm feelings toward a few of the campaigners she met, and even something bordering on appreciation for their concern for her salvation:
“Saying farewell to my favorite team…isn’t easy. This ‘mighty army’ has welcomed…[me] with honesty and vulnerability. Some ask for information to keep in touch and I…share only my email address. Nikki reaches out for a hug, thanks me for ‘not coming with hatred and condemnation’ and slips me a blue envelope. Something to read later, she whispers. Inside is the first dose of scripture she’s directed at me…a bookmark of Psalm 23, handwritten verses from Corinthians and Philippians. And she signs, ‘Precious child of God, whatever you do, do it with love. May God bless you and guide you, with love in our Messiah.’ I’m not surprised…I knew the Gospel would come eventually. And in a way I never would have expected, I’m touched by her sweet and kind words.”
On the other hand, it would appear that Ravitz was intent on misrepresenting Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, who welcomed her into his home for the interview. She ends the article with his critique of Jews for Jesus as having grown too big and too serious, which anyone who knows Moishe can recognize as something he would say. But the shock comes in the last two paragraphs: “‘So Moishe, where do you see Jews for Jesus fifty years from now?’ I ask before leaving.
“Without skipping a beat, he shoots back, ‘Hopefully, gone!'”
As you can imagine, this raised some eyebrows among the community of Jewish believers, many of whom subscribe to Moment Magazine.
To set the record straight, we asked Moishe for an account of those “last words.” He says,
“When Jessica Ravitz introduced herself, I received her just as she presented herself. She told me that she was a graduate student working at the University of Berkeley on a master’s degree in journalism. She seemed younger than I remembered any journalist. Because she was a ‘student’ I was careful to give her as much information as I could, and to try to point out what was important.
“Generally, journalists are tough and non-committal, but Jessica declared her affection of Jews for Jesus, and all of the ‘wonderful people I’ve met.’
“It seemed as though she was trying to relate to Jews for Jesus. Toward us, she had a sweet, eager-to-learn, friendly face. She managed to hide her bias against Jews for Jesus so very well, that at times it was easy to believe she was sincere in liking us and wanting to know about Jesus. Nevertheless in her own mind, she [wrote the article as though she] accepted the worst and most cynical statements made against Jesus and those Jews who follow the Savior.
“Her last two paragraphs give her away, as she writes, ‘”So Moishe, where do you see Jews for Jesus fifty years from now,” I asked before leaving.’
“Actually, she asked me this in the middle of the interview, and I explained that our blessed hope was not in the growth of the Jews for Jesus organization, but in the return of Yeshua, who will catch us all up to be with Him. Then there will be no need for evangelists like us, because the whole world will know who He is. And then I said, ‘Hopefully, in fifty years, we’ll all be with the Lord.’ That statement was tortured into me saying that I hoped that Jews for Jesus would simply disappear.
“Well, I can congratulate her on one thing: she hid her cynicism and sarcasm so well that she had me fooled.”