Jewish group outraged over 'Jews for Jesus'

Palm Beach Post/November 1, 2003
By Scott McCabe

Palm Beach County is the perfect place for Jews for Jesus to spend the holidays, according to its Web site.

The weather is wonderful. The kids are home from school. And there are all those Jewish snowbirds who fly down for the winter, ready to receive the salvation of Jesus, the Web site touts.

"This might be the largest Jewish evangelistic effort since those first-century Jews for Jesus proclaimed the good news!" the Web site says in announcing the international "Operation Behold Your God" campaign that targets 66 cities over the next year.

Members of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County are outraged and will counter with Jews for Judaism, an organization "that exposes cults and missionaries' efforts and educates Jews before they become victims of conversion," according to a full-page advertisement that ran Thursday in The Palm Beach Post.

The Jews for Jesus message is misleading and misrepresents the Jewish faith, they say.

"It's very simple. You cannot be a Jew and believe Jesus is the messiah and the son of god," said Michelle Cohn, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council. "There's nothing Jewish about them."

Stan Meyer, of the Jews for Jesus office in Fort Lauderdale, said he's disappointed that the Jewish Federation would attack them for their personal religious beliefs.

Messianic Jews are Jews who accepts Jesus as the messiah. They worship in Hebrew and celebrate Jewish as well as Christian holy days.

"We're 100 percent Jewish and a 100 percent Christian," Meyer said.

Palm Beach County has Messianic Jewish synagogues, he said. There are between 75,000 and 200,000 in North America.

They hope to use the "Behold Your God" campaign to increase those numbers.

The campaigners will use street evangelism, phone calls, personal visits and Bible studies to draw people's attention to Jesus.

However, Meyer warns that Palm Beach County has some unique challenges.

There are few venues to distribute the gospel: Condos are in gated communities and shopping malls won't let them proselytize.

And the Christian community as a whole hasn't welcomed the Jews for Jesus ministry.

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