Posted to Chabad News on

New Brooklyn Missionary Hub to Target Lubavitchers

Jewish Voice

An artist’s rendering of the forthcoming ‘Hebrew Christian’ missionary center in the heart of Flatbush, Brooklyn.

“Hasidic Jews are dedicated members of the Jewish community who are unreached with the Gospel. It is our hope and prayer that we might touch their lives through the new Messianic Center in Brooklyn.” Thus reads a statement on the website of the Chosen People Ministries, a prominent “Messianic Jewish” organization that is in the midst of renovating a building on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue P in the heart of Flatbush, Brooklyn, with one primary purpose – to serve as a base that will target the area’s large Orthodox Jewish community for recruitment to its services, and ultimately for conversion to its decidedly non-Jewish beliefs.

The idea of Christian missionaries attempting to lure Jews into their religion by blending Christian beliefs with Jewish rituals and motifs is nothing new, to be sure. Since 1894, when the American Board of Missions to the Jews was founded in Brooklyn, a slew of “Hebrew Christian” groups have utilized both the personal approach and the full range of available media to try and convince Jews that they can still “be Jewish” and at the same time maintain a belief in the Christian deity. And to some degree, they have been successful – many unsuspecting Jews have been gradually drawn into the movement over the years, believing that their adoption of Christian tenets has made them into more fulfilled Jews.

But the movement’s latest push to reach out to Orthodox Jews – who are generally regarded as rock-solid in their faith due to their thorough religious education and practice – has raised eyebrows even among professionals who are highly experienced in counter-missionary work. “Chosen People Ministries works hand-in-hand with Jews for J,” explains Ruth Guggenheim, Director of Jews for Judaism in Baltimore, a leading anti-missionary organization. “Because of the greater challenge involved, these groups feel that if they are even able to persuade a small number of Orthodox Jews to think along their lines, they have scored a major coup. Therefore, they have become increasingly sophisticated in their outreach to religious Jews, even employing a high-level Yiddish in some of their marketing material.”

Guggenheim goes on to note that the Hebrew Christian organizations are able to find an opening in the Orthodox community these days due to the greater prevalence of at-risk youth and families in crisis, who become vulnerable to the overtures of a group that offers a somewhat familiar Jewish atmosphere combined with an abundance of apparent “love” and personal warmth. “Jews for Judaism has actually handled such cases,” she notes. “We once dealt with an 18-year-old Chassidic young man who started to question the validity of his beliefs and was eventually thrown out of his home. Somehow a ‘Christian’ woman befriended him and got him to start attending a Messianic synagogue. At first, he loved the way the people there treated him – but when he found himself struggling emotionally with the situation, he contacted us, and we were able to help him.”

As Guggenheim delineates, the Hebrew Christian organizations go to extreme lengths to make their religious theology appear as Jewish as possible. “Most of the leadership of Chosen People Ministries is actually Jewish,” she says, “and 75% of them have some form of ‘rabbinical ordination.’ They fill their sanctuaries with many trappings of a regular shul, and utilize genuine Hebrew phrases during their services – saying ‘Rabbeinu (our rabbi)’ in reference to the Christian deity, for example – to attract Orthodox Jews.”

The anti-missionary leader’s concerns are thoroughly backed up by Chosen People’s marketing material. In one of its newsletters, the organization presents an analysis of the two largest Chassidic groups, Lubavitch and Satmar, and outlines why their followers would make ideal recruits to “Hebrew Christianity.” In the section on Chabad-Lubavitch, Chosen People points out how a significant portion of its Chassidim have taken on the belief that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe is the Jewish Messiah (Moshiach), and states that – to support this notion – Lubavitchers point to a passage in the Prophets that (according to Chosen People) speaks of the Messiah dying to atone for the sins of the people, yet coming back to life. “Their willingness to understand this passage as referring to an individual Messiah opens the door to speak about how J is the fulfillment of that prophecy,” the newsletter triumphantly claims. “Many of our staff members have shared this with Chabad Jewish people, and have had some very fruitful discussions.”

In its discussion of the Satmar community, the Chosen People newsletter notes how Satmar philosophy is opposed to the establishment of a state of Israel until the Messiah’s arrival, when the redeemer will restore the nation to the Jewish people. Chosen People then makes a comparison between this belief and its own, which is that the Christian Messiah will return to cleanse Israel of her sin and restore the kingdom. “With great thanks, we can report that there are indeed some believers in J among the Satmar community,” the newsletter shockingly boasts, “although most of them continue to live in the community as ‘underground’ believers.”

According to Guggenheim – while several individuals in the local community are beginning to sound the alarm about the coming Brooklyn center – there is too much complacency in the wider Orthodox Jewish world about the potential spiritual threat. “The missionaries are laughing at us,” she bemoans. “They raise $350 million yearly to target Jews for conversion, and we’re not taking them seriously enough.” The Jews for Judaism leader is heartened by those who have elected to get involved, citing presentations made at the recent Agudath Israel of America convention by Moshe Verschleisser, an anti-missionary activist, and Rabbi Moshe Shulman, executive director of the counter-missionary group Judaism’s Answer. But she emphasizes that much more is required to counter the danger.

“Regarding the new center in Brooklyn, I would recommend – rather than a group of angry demonstrators, which might just embolden the missionaries to proclaim that they are more genuinely loving – that we have ‘proactive counter-leafleters’ out there,” she says. “A group of Orthodox Jews should be giving out positive literature about our way of life, such as information about Torah classes and Shabbos meals.” As far as the threat posed by missionaries overall, Guggenheim feels that the Jewish community needs to create a central resource to focus on the problem of Hebrew Christian missionaries. “If we don’t come up with a strong collective response now,” she warns, “we may end up with a high percentage of frum converts to Christianity in the future.”




    in bais yaakov dallas tx they brought in fake j for j missionaries and had them walk around the school testing the water with the girls to see if they were well educated in terms of ignoring these people or maybe knowing what to say. afterwards they gave a whole lecture and speech about it.

  • 3. Warrior for Peace wrote:

    They can’t missionaize if they can’t……speak…..hahahahHAHAHAHA

  • 5. Not Coincidence wrote:

    Does anyone else see the real coincidence between Boteach’s book coming out at the same time this missionary is being built in Brooklyn?

  • 7. Srulik wrote:

    Bring them on! One taste of a haise cholent on Shabbos and they will be switching sides.

  • 9. get real. wrote:

    paronoia. self centered jews..
    yes, everything that is happaning is happaning to catch me and change me and take me away. get help brother.

  • 11. dun dun dunnnnn wrote:

    i know a few people in my shul who used to be missionaries and are now Lubavitchers..maybe we need to our spies to their house and change their horrid ways

  • 12. Andrea Schonberger wrote:

    Out of curiousity I went on their website and they’re already plugging that crummy new building and trying to con people for donations. Some people have no shame.

  • 13. ch resident wrote:

    tell this to shmuly boteach i’m sure he will be really pleased and maybe even join them and give them insights on who and where to target for the best results

  • 16. disasterous wrote:

    Don’t you think this is a serious problem? A good majority of our youth are already confused and testing the waters of the goyishe velt. Little by little they are are dropping the yiddishkeit that they were taught. Maybe first goes the tzitzes…then the peyos, the beard. Dressed like that they are visiting bars and rock concerts and worse. They see no reason to follow the “old ways” They can still be “good Jews” while having “fun” out there in the filth filled world. The addition of this missionary center in our community will be a disaster of epic proportions. Something has to be done. We need to get together to stop this from happening before it becomes a holocaust.

  • 17. Needs to be dealt with wrote:

    …and it’s time for co-operation here between us, Satmar, Aguda, etc.Every Jewish child and adult is ours

  • 18. Very much needs to be dealt with wrote:

    Don’t be complacent. They are dangerous. We have to be on guard, and we have to reach out with more ahava and acceptance of our children, whether they seem at risk or not. Their approach is more emotional than intellectual. Love, understanding, exploring treif places under their guidance, and yes,’expense’ money and various electronic toys have been used over and over.Right in Brooklyn Sheepshead Bay, for example. and yes, they will use Boteach’s book and will try to our politics against us.
    We need towork with our children and young adults with love and find a way to keep these out of our community, but we need to focus most within our community

  • 22. cost effective not wrote:

    if they are spending $350 million a year to get teh Jews, they are obviously wasting loads of money. Their rate of return is a good deal more expensinve than $1 million per Jew.

  • 24. DeClasse- Intellectual wrote:

    @#22, get real and everyone else.
    They are a dangerous threat and will not take no for an answer because they do not understand what “no means.”
    Where is Sperlin and company when the community needs their leadership.
    Sperlin and company should earn their keep by telling these people that any attempt to pressure residents will be regarded as out and out harrasement and will lead to criminal complaints and other legal measures. This should be a low key and privite enlightenment that their message is an aaffront and an attack on what we believed and we donot want their avado zorah.

  • 25. G-d will help! Ugh those cowards! wrote:

    just outsmart them and turn it into a Noachide center

  • 26. Ben Noach wrote:

    My initial reaction is that any attempt to convert Orthodox Jews to Xianity (or any other false religion) simply cannot succeed to the extent is has among non-Orthodox Jews. However, considering how strange the times are in which we are living, perhaps nothing is sure any more.

    I am a former Xian who is now a Noachide. Torah Jews need to do just more than educate themselves and other Jews. They need to reach out to non-Jews (including Xians) with the Noachide Laws and make them understand that the Torah is the Ultimate Revelation that judges all others and the Torah simply does not allow for Xianity or any other such religion. I know it seems impossible considering Xian stubbornness, but there are former Xians who have become Noachides or even Jews, so it can be done.

  • 27. Moshe wrote:


    What chutzpah! Maybe they’ll come with Shmuli Boteach’s book in their hands!

  • 28. Dovid K wrote:

    All you Shmuley knockers – these missionaries hate him because he ridicules the Christian belief in a divine Messiah, and shows how Christianity twisted Jewish Scriptures and belief. In fact, it might do you good to read his book and learn about this so you can inoculate your kids for when they meet devout Christians out in the real world.

  • 29. goysherebbe wrote:

    Bring ’em on. Historically missionaries who tried to convert frum Jews ended up being converted or radically changed themselves. The result would be that the chasidishe world would be more engaged and more involved in what the rest of the yidden have to deal with. Of course it would be another opportunity to bring back fellow Jews and teach Sheva Mitvos Bnai Noach to the world, getting some more hands-on practice at it.

  • 30. Concerned Citizen wrote:

    For the good of your website and the good of the community, it would be prudent to take down (and block in future) any comments that refer to arson… even jokingly.
    Thank you.


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