What should we call them?

A funny thing happened to me the other day in the locker room at the JCC (Jewish Community Center). There was a little girl about eight or nine that had been swimming in the pool while I was doing my laps. I saw her in the locker room and we started talking. I asked her the usual questions such as what grade was she in and did she like being home schooled (an easy assumption, this was a school day); totally generic. She asked me if I knew what church she belonged to and I of course said no. Then, as only a little child can, she adorably said that she wasn’t sure. We finally figured out which one it was and then she told me that she belonged to two churches. Immediately, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up because I knew what was coming and I was right. She said, ” I go to Church at Hope of Israel on Saturday and the other one on Sunday.” If you have read my past posts you know that Hope of Israel is the largest messianic “Jewish” organization in Charlotte, NC. Had she been an adult, I would have responded differently but there is no way I would say anything to upset or confuse a child. I just said, That’s nice.” and changed the subject. This encounter started me thinking about how Christian members of these groups think of themselves. It seems clear that her family still thinks of themselves as Christians and refer to this so-called Jewish congregation as another Church.

I usually refer to the people who attend messianic “Jewish” congregations or organizations as messianic “Jews”. Jews for Judaism says we should call them Hebrew Christians. I’m not sure that either term truly describes what they are.

Do you know why I put Jewish or Judaism in quotes when it is preceded by the word messianic? It is because most of the members in these groups are Christian and those that were born Jewish are no longer practicing Judaism. Yet, I am not comfortable calling them messianic “Jews”, even in quotes because some people may not understand why the quotation marks are there.

So what about the title of Hebrew Christians? This too is not completely appropriate as Hebrew is often used as another term for Jewish. Those members of messianic “Jewish” congregations who were born Jewish are considered as practicing Christians because they have taken Christ or as they say Yeshua, as their savior. Should they choose to return to their faith (sincerely; not to try and convert other Jews as some I know have done) they would be welcomed. The term Hebrew Christian does not work for me because they are two diametrically opposed faiths. Yes, some of you will argue that they have more in common than not as they both pray to G-d. Jews believe in one G-d. Once you bring in a son or as some Christians are now trying to sell, a messiah (All the self-proclaimed Jewish messiahs have been proven to be false. We are still waiting for Moshiach [Messiah] to come.), you are talking a whole different ball game.

Now you know why I feel those titles are not fully appropriate and I should have come up with something better to replace them; but I haven’t, as yet. So I will rummage around in my brain to find something appropriate.
Phony-baloney Artists? No, too generic.
Christian Scammers? No, that takes in all Christians and not just the right-wing, ultra-conservative mostly Southern Baptists.

I’ve got it; Jew Scammers! That is a great fit because it is exactly what they do. They are just like the flimflammers of old as defined in the
Collins English Dictionary:
flimflam .. 1. nonsense; foolishness …. 2. a deception; swindle 3. …. to deceive; trick; swindle; cheat…

A scam is an attempt to defraud a person or group of people after first gaining their trust. Scammers are the ones that perform the scam. Jew Scammers, I like it.
If you have something better I would love to hear your input. Please, no cursing, foul language or hate terms. Just try and come up with something that truly describes what these Jew Scammers do. Maybe I’ll like your idea better than mine. Sue

Update On June 5th Posting –

This Shabbos there were three couples in my shul that I believe are still active members of Bella Torah, a Torah Observant Christian group. If you don’t want to go back and read my blog about these groups here is a synopsis. These are Christians that say they follow Judaism to where it is comfortable for them. They read a Chumash (Bible) that seems like the original until you hear everything referenced to Yehoshua (Jesus). They often dress as orthodox Jews; the men wearing tzitzit, and kippot, the women wearing long skirts and often covering their hair if they are married. Their goal is to “imitate” Jews so that they can more convincingly try to convert us by seeming to be Jewish or as they say, “Discipleship through imitation.”. If you go on their social media pages, you will see more Jewish expressions and references than most religious Jews would use. You may also see that they have a lot of real Jewish friends, be it on social media or in, ” real life.”

The couple I discussed in my last blog needed further investigation to find out if they were still with the Jew Scammers or not.  I found that they still are friended with many members of that community. I also found that relatives of theirs are still Jew Scammers. This is not tangible proof as they might have decided to leave on their own (though I doubt it) but still have family and friends  there. What was very disturbing was to see that one relative was social media friends with a Rabbi here in town and the son of another Rabbi.

At this point I cannot name them as Jew Scammers because I need more proof but I am getting there. Do I tell their “friends” of my suspicions? This I may have to do so that they can question these people to make their own decisions.

Back to the three couples that dress and try to act like Orthodox Jews. Every week they attend services, every minyan they attend, every class they take, they are learning more and more about how to be Jewish. If they are (as I suspect) Jew Scammers then  we are assisting them. As followers of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) they are told to do this to achieve a very frightening goal; to make Israel the homeland of Jesus as the King of Israel. Okay it really isn’t too frightening, as it sounds ridiculous; too impossible to ever happen. Well dear readers, they are working diligently and with extreme patience to turn Israel into a Christian nation. maybe not in my lifetime, maybe not in yours. I promise you this; if the government of Israel does not start to reign in these Jew Scammers and enforce their laws that would guarantee their expulsion, they will continue to become more and more entrenched and convert more and more Jews. Unfortunately, these Jew Scammers give a lot of money to Israel and take care of a lot of the social problems by opening shelters and caring for the poor. That is how they get converts and the Israeli government turns a blind eye.

I cannot turn a blind eye and in my little corner of the world, I will do what I can to educate and protect my people from the Jew Scammers. It is the hardest non-paying job I have ever had but I am glad to do it. I will update my progress whether positive or negative on these young couples and either eventually embrace them or see them thrown out of our shul and outed to the Jewish community.

THIS MAKES ME SO SAD AND ANGRY

Today I discovered that at least one and most likely two very nice young couples are in reality, the worst kind of Jew scammers.

A few weeks ago, during the Kiddush after Shabbos services, I met two couples that are so young, I was surprised they were married.  They were dressed as Orthodox Jews right down to the tzitzit on the men (although the women’s heads were uncovered) but there was something, “off” about them. During our conversation I discovered that they were Christians that were looking to connect with and eventually convert to Judaism. I asked them if along their path they had ever been involved with any messianic “Jewish” organizations such as, Hope of Israel. They said no but they had been members of Bella Torah. I must have looked askance because they quickly disavowed the group. They said that they discovered it was phony Judaism and that was why they were here.

The following Tuesday I was at the JLI (Jewish Learning Institute) at Chabad and one of the couples was there as well. We spoke again and they were such a nice young couple that I let my guard down.

During Kiddush a week ago, my husband overheard the men making irreverent comments about what one of the Rabbis was saying. He later told me that he got a bad vibe from them, even thinking that they might be Jew Scammers.

It was the last JLI class last night and the placards with our full names on them were clearly visible. I copied down the names of the one couple that was there. The next morning I started my investigation. Sadly, I quickly found out that they were still active members of Bella Torah. I have written about Bella Torah and their connection to First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ). FFOZ is a Torah centric, educational clearing house for groups of messianic “Jews”. They teach them to do everything they can to be more like the Jews. It is a slightly different form of Messianic  “Judaism” as they tell the Jews they do not want to convert them, just study Torah together. This Torah however is not our Torah. They  then take their time bringing in the Jesus centered conversations.

Once I had gathered all my evidence, I called Chabad and spoke to one of the Rabbis. He asked me to send the information to him which I did. It was a very sad moment for me and for the Rabbi as well. He told me that Joseph Squiccharini had assured him that they had no intentions of trying to convert any Jews.

The first thing Joseph told me when I was introduced to him was that he was Jewish. When I commented that his name was very Italian sounding and asked if he might be Sephardic, he quickly backpedaled and said that his whole family was studying to become Jewish. When I met his wife moments later and asked how she was doing in conversion classes, she looked at me as if I had two heads. She emphatically stated that she, Joseph and her children were all Christian and had no intention of ever becoming Jewish. Joseph heard me talking to her and after giving his wife one of those “looks” said that they hadn’t started conversion classes yet but were hoping to in the near future. Rule one; like Doctor Who, Joseph lies. In fact, they all lie, all these Christians who devote their lives to make themselves seem Jewish to lure Jews into becoming Christian.

As I write this post I can feel my sadness turning to anger. How could I have allowed myself to be duped by these people? Every other time I have met one of these Jew Scammers the hairs on the back of my neck have literally stood up. Not this time. I was fooled by the obvious warmth of these four young people and ignored my own early suspicions. That will never happen again.

Here is my biggest fear; if I can be fooled, even for a short time, how many others will be as well. The evangelical Christians are spending millions, possibly billions of dollars to do one thing; get Jews to accept Jesus as their savior.They are fanatics and they will not be stopped. The only answer is to keep educating Jews, not only about the multitudes of Jew Scammers out there but about their own religion. Judaism is full of beauty and spirituality. It is there for you to learn. Judaism is our beautiful heritage and why any Jew would look for that light elsewhere is a question for which I have no answer.