by Adi Chanoch
The period of the Jewish festivals provided the residents of Kiryat Shmona with an encounter with the Jews for Jesus” Organization, during which they distributed stickers and leaflets to passersby on the city’s streets in a propagandist manner.
The aforementioned activity is a part of the organization’s campaign in Northern Israel, designated to add local residents in the area to the Messianic Jewish Movement which is prominent in Israel nowadays.
“We arrived to the Galilee and to Kiryat Shmona in the framework of our activities, and as a part of our freedom of expression and religion. We live in a democratic nation in the 21st century,” said Dan Sered this week, president of the “Jews for Jesus” non-profit organization.
In a small office at the Rasco Junction, one can find some sort of headquarters of the non-profit organization, who increased momentum over the past season, and succeeded in arousing opposition amongst the religious community in the area. One person who expressed his opinion regarding this matter is the head of the Talmudic College (Yeshiva), Zfania Drori, who already referred to the issue during the Feast of Tabernacle festival and who warned the residents against deception, “This missionary activity has been continuing for a while, and lately they have begun reaching shopping centers. During Simchat Torah and the Feast of Tabernacles, they flooded the city. They harass the residents, operate with audacity, and utilize ‘shticks’,” said the Rabbi, and mentioned that this event is liable to result in severe action being taken by the public.
The religious community said that during the last season the State of Israel, who receives vast funds from Christian bodies, does not act against missionary activity. The non-profit organization representatives object to the criticism by religious authorities and mentioned that if these are not prepared to accept this, it is their problem and derives from fear and worry over their own faith. “They are not prepared to engage in dialog and the religious coercion actually comes from people such as Rabbi Drori.” The truth is that even from amongst those who support the idea, a hesitant opinion exists regarding the extroverted activity during the festivals and among the believers in the area; there were some who said, “This is a very individual and personal matter. I would not execute such a conspicuous operation on streets filled with people during the festivals. The diverse believers see Yeshu as a messiah who is meant to care about saving sinful humanity. Yeshu, who looks like a regular person, is the man of the Gospel, and his sacrificial death atones for man’s sins. Believers usually oppose rabbinical religious activity which is based on comprehensive parts of the Oral Law. Despite faith in Yeshu, known as “Yeshua,” since according to their faith this is the name given to him by his parents, the believers see themselves as Jewish. “According to the Bible [Tanach], a Jew is a person who belongs to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom He made covenant through Abraham, Moses, and David. God Himself is the one who made us Jews and therefore our Jewish identity is not dependent on what we think or do,” they said there. In the past a house of prayer of Messianic Jews was operated at the Goshrim Kibbutz and additional activities were mentioned to have taken place at guest houses in the area, and even baptisms in the Jordan River. “I had the sensation of being born again after a very difficult time in my life. I received answers to the most basic universal matters and to many questions that I have dealt with since an early age,” summarized a local resident who came to believe in this way over the past years.