Jewish Journal

Letters to the editor: Missionaries, Kindertransport and more

Posted on Nov. 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Addressing the Bigger Wrong

Rob Eshman is right to question George W. Bush’s decision to address the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (“Why Bush Was Wrong,” Nov. 15), but I feel there is another issue that he should have addressed in this context: the Jewish position toward Evangelical Christian movements. On this second issue there has been no debate: Israeli prime ministers, some observant rabbis, and even Jewish entertainers have emphasized their gratitude to Evangelical Christian movements for their support of Israel. Yet those movements, like their messianic Jewish cousins, seek to supplant traditional Judaism with a vision that is heretical to it.

The reason commonly given for this otherwise strange Christian-Jewish alliance is political: Since Israel has tended to be politically isolated in the world, it needs all the allies it can obtain, from any source. According to this thinking, we should embrace any group, including messianic Jewish groups that support the State of Israel. As Eshman indicates, the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute supports the State of Israel by spending money in it.

I would argue that, given the long-term threat that messianic Jewish and Christian groups pose for Jews, the State of Israel should work harder to be less politically isolated, so that it can more easily obtain support from organizations and countries that do not represent a challenge to Jewish beliefs and survival.

Barry H. Steiner, political science professor, California State University, Long Beach

The Real Danger of Christian Missionaries

Dennis Prager wrote a very important article on the dangers of Christian missionaries who try to convert Jews by telling them that “you can believe Jesus is the Messiah and still stay Jewish” (“Jews for Jesus,” Nov. 22). The problem, however, goes way beyond this deception. What missionaries conveniently leave out in their deceptive scheme is the Christian belief that Jesus is ... God. Yes, it is this idea, above all, that crosses the line for virtually every Jew: Not just that Jesus is the messiah, but that the messiah will be God in a body.

In my four decades of dialoguing with Jews who have converted to Christianity, my No. 1 argument for bringing Jews back to their faith has been that very point: Jews can believe a human being is the Messiah but never that he is God. That is beyond the Jewish pale. It is idolatry of the highest order. The founder of Jews for Jesus was well aware of this danger when he told his followers, “Make sure you don’t tell them that Jesus is God until much later.” 

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, Jews for Judaism

Dennis Prager responds: 

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz makes an important point. Years ago I wrote a column in which I suggested that Jews make a deal with Jews for Jesus: If you continue to believe that Jesus was the Messiah but drop belief in Jesus as God, we will embrace you as fellow Jews. Jews have believed in any number of Jews as the Messiah – from Bar Kokhba to Shabtai Tzvi – and have always been considered Jews. But they never believed that anyone was God. 

Having said that, I also want to clarify that I do not believe that Christians are idolaters.

Now Is the Time to Preserve Jewish History

As an English Gentile, I first became fascinated about the Kindertransport after seeing the memorials at Liverpool Street Station in London (“Survivors to Mark 75th Anniversary of Kindertransport,” Nov. 22). The Holocaust was not really covered in our history lessons at school, and it has only been [depicted in] the documentaries (“Into the Arms of Strangers” and “Auschwitz: The Nazis and ‘The Final Solution’ ”), various books and the films like “Schindler’s List” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” This chapter must be kept alive. I am moved by it and I feel that we all have to be reminded about it more and more as those who were part of the Kindertransport grow older. Memories will fade, the message will lose impact with time, but whilst it is still possible, there must be a serious attempt to make the Holocaust a permanent part of world history, so that it will never happen again — something that unfortunately has happened since the demise of the Eastern Bloc.

Richard Hood via jewishjournal.com

Beautiful ‘Walk’

I can’t wait to see it (“ ‘Walk’ Changes a Life,” Nov. 22). I was in the congregation when Rabbi David Wolpe told this profound story. I knew then that I would never, ever forget it. Mesmerizing and absolutely inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with the world!

Jennifer Malvin via jewishjournal.com


The byline on an interview with author Mitch Albom (Nov. 22) should have been Dora Levy Mossanen.

An incorrect photo accompanied chef Michel Ohayon’s recipe in the story “Eight Chefs’ New Chanukah Delights, One for Each Night” (Nov. 22). This is the correct photo.

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