Photo: Zvika Tishler
MK Lia Shemtov
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Haredi organization Yad L'Achim is launching a struggle against 1,000 Christians' intent to convert to Judaism, make aliyah, establish cooperative kibbutzim beyond the 1967 lines – and settle there.
Following the publication of a Ynet article outlining the initiative, the organization's chairman Rabbi Sholom Ber Lifshitz claims that those involved in the initiative are missionaries whose goal is to bring Jews closer to the Christian faith and belief in Jesus, and called on the government to fend off the attempt.
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According to Yad L'Achim, hundreds of Christian missionaries use a similar method to infiltrate the country every year but this time the plan is "destructive and concerning on a much greater level".
Yad L'Achim activists claim that they have a thick dossier with information on the man behind the initiative; Baruch Abramovich from Portland which they believe proves that the man is unequivocally an "active veteran missionary".
The activists quote Abramovich saying that his declared goal is to bring Jews closer to believing in Jesus, during his local radio show. They also note that his wife is the editor of various Christian publications.
Jewish publications published ads over the weekend with pictures of Abramovich showing him covered in a Jewish prayer shawl, holding a Shofar with a caption stating the picture was taken after a baptism ceremony.
Tighter supervisionThe ads called on the Jewish residents of the West Bank to join the struggle against the "devastating enterprise" claiming that Christians are seeking to undergo a conversion the "nature of which is unclear", so that they can freely engage in missionary activities.
Yad L'Achim has called on the Chief Rabbinate and official conversion elements to tighten conversion supervision in order to "prevent the issuing of phony conversion documents". Rabbi Lifshitz has asked that those wishing to convert be forced to fill out detailed questionnaires with hopes that the religious prohibition to lie about their belief in Jesus – will reveal their true intentions.
The ads also include a personal attack on Knesset Member Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu) alleging that "the plan to bring 1,000 missionaries to settle the Shomron got a boost last week, when its advocates met with MK Lia Shemtov".
Rabbi Lifshitz himself appealed to Shemtov writing: "In light of this despicable, dangerous phenomenon, we ask you: Please, don't cooperate with this group; do everything in your power to prevent their coming to Israel, for the sake of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael."
'No missionary intent'In response to the claims, Shemtov said that Christians asking to make Aliyah to Israel and settle in the West Bank commit themselves to a full orthodox conversion to Judaism, subject to the approval of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
"I am astonished by the fact that the activists of the extremist haredi organization have no problem with the basic fact that all the people they are calling 'missionaries' wish to undertake the paramount process in the road to becoming Jews. These are people with a Jewish past who wish to return to the religion of their forefathers."
MK Shemtov added that the converts wish to enlist in the IDF and become Jews and Israelis in every way. "This is a wealthy and educated segment of society with no missionary intentions. The claims made by Yad L'Achim are based on partial sentences ascribed to one man's radio and internet show out of thousands of American converts."
According to Shemtov, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon the rabbi of the Elon Moreh settlement also expressed his support for the group's Aliyah – with the condition that they undergo all the phases of an orthodox conversion. She added that the Yad L'Achim organization was "seeking headlines in every way possible".
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