It’s Rosh Hashana and the trolls are out in the Jewish neighbourhoods of the greater Toronto Area. Tom Cantor from the Israel Restoration Ministries is visiting the Jews. Like the plague-or the angel of death. Financed from California this organization is loaded. A 100 page booklet, a DVD and enough Hebrew to get you to think – oh how nice -a new “Rabbi” in the neighbourhood reaching out. I wonder if this “rabbi” reached out to the Iranians in the area? The neighbourhood is around the corner from a huge mosque as well. Do you think he only targeted the homes with mezuzzahs?
This Tom Cantor spends more than $4 million a year to reach out to the Jews. He wants to convert Jews to fundamentalist Christianity via the Jewish messiah. He engages in creationism. Cantor’s followers don’t just leave packages on your doorstep. Sometimes they call ahead to be sure that Jews are living there and then offer to send some information.
Other times they send “modestly dressed” young women who have the appearance of orthodox women to knock on your door: Jehovah Witness style. But these people don’t come to the door to share the Gospel-the Good News.
They come clothed in in deception. They are out to convince Jews that you can accept Jesus while remaining Jewish.
This is Tom Cantor’s mission in life-from the day he discovered that Judaism wasn’t quite right for him. But married to Jesus he was fulfilled. And like all reformed… smokers, he decided to spread the word. Cantor insists he is a Jew. “I love my people. … I don’t want any of them going to hell” for not having accepted Jesus. He insists that “Christ is the Jewish Messiah that they wait for to come, and so we’re trying to convey that message to them whether they believe it or not.”
Jacob Damkani is another “Jew” who found Jesus and walks around Israel sharing the “Jews for Jesus” Gospel on the beaches in Tel Aviv and cafés in Jerusalem.Both men talk of being disillusioned by Judaism.
But not enough to give up the name “Jew.”
These men are part of a group of people, including millions of people from organizations like International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) and King of Kings Community KKCJ and FIRM (Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries)who believe that they are obligated to bring Jews to Jesus, even surreptitiously. They use social media to try and fool us. Take a look at the Refiners Fire page: refuting Jewish teaching about the Jewish messiah with their Christian interpretation hidden in Jewish casuistry as if they had some innate right to teach us about our beliefs. The Chutzpa is breathtaking.
But we sit back and say this too shall pass.
That deceitful missionaries, serpents in the garden, spread their stories in Toronto just weeks prior to our Holy Days reeks of disrespect toward Am Yisrael.
And that we stay kind and quiet is a shunda on us.
A good friend of mine sent me this note. “You must know that the Christian intention is to spiritually annihilate the Jewish people by ‘converting them.’ This is a spiritual ‘holocaust of love’ that is all the more insidious because it is couched in ‘love’ language.” To me it is much worse. It speaks to an evil intent-an evil intent that goes back 2000 years when Christianity first emerged from Judaism.
I just completed Simon Schama’s book “The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC-1492 AD.” The last chapter is titled Exile from Exile and it is heartbreaking. He shares stories of our people who were living in Spain, having wandered there from one exile to another. Some of our greatest Rabbis lived and worked there and assisted royalty. But as the Christian world turned again on our people, every attempt was made to eradicate us from the face of the earth; our books, our synagogues, our people.
Our children were taken from their homes on Passover, pulled from the arms of their parents and adopted out to Christians. Other Jews were forced into buildings, overcrowded, little food (forshadowing the Warsaw Ghetto?), often starved for days in an attempt to force conversions. “In that spirit, when the guards had a mind to it, they beat the starving, sick Jews until they tired of the entertainment. Large numbers perished from the maltreatment, and those who barely survived were dragged by their hair to the font, some of them clutching their prayer shawls about them as they were manhandled into Christianity.” (p417)
We are a people of memory. Our memories are inscribed on our collective soul.
WE remember when we were slaves to Pharaoh and we wandered in the desert for forty years. WE remember going into the Promised land with our Torah. WE remember building the Temple and WE remember our exile to Babylon where our tongues would cleave to the roof of our mouths if we forgot thee O Jerusalem. WE remember coming home and building our second Temple. And WE remember our longest exile from our home from the day the Romans destroyed our land and sent us wandering for 2000 years.
WE remember the horrors done to our people through the centuries.
WE remember when the The Crusaders, on their way from Rouen in Normandy to Jerusalem to liberate the Holy city from the Muslims, murdered us along the way, accusing us of being, “killers of the prophets, and murderers of the Lord.”
WE remember in 1146, the blood of Jews ran through the streets of the Maghreb.
WE remember the pogroms in the 13th century throughout Germany, in Mainz and Cracow; the rampages in the 16th century throughout Italy, Switzerland and Germany following the Passion plays.
WE remember the Cossacks and Poles in the 17th century led by Russian tyrants Chmielnicki and Krivonos murdering us. WE remember the Ukraine when 1.5 million of us were shot to death and then burned. WE remember seeing our mothers and daughters heads shaved, running naked through the forest to a pit already dug where they stood and waited to be shot and fall into the pit. Dead, nearly dead and wounded, we watched the earth move for three days until all died. WE remember World War II France: 76,000 of us deported to the Nazi concentration camps and incinerated.
Now we are home. We must hold those old memories close so that we remain vigil against those who wish evil on us. Those who look at us with evil intentions neatly wrapped in pretty ribbons.
This Rosh Hashana let us not be taken in by those who try to deceive us. Let us not embrace those who say they love us-but don’t respect us as the Jewish people, who hear and believe in one God. The publisher of Convivium, my friend, Peter Stockland wrote: “I would love it if there were an organization called Catholics Who Respect Jews for Being Jews.” Would there were an organization that was called “Non-Jews who respect Jews for being Jewish.”
Tom Cantor, Jacob Damkani, ICEJ, KKCJ FIRM, they are one and the same. We are their prize, their ticket, their stairway to heaven. Unless we stand up and say, “No.”
Because WE remember.
When we sit down at our dinner tables this Rosh Hashana, let us dip our apple into the honey and remind ourselves of the sweetness of Judaism and promise ourselves we will never bow down to evil intentions wrapped in so-called love.