Frequently Asked Questions on Soc.Culture.Jewish
Part 9: The Holocaust, Antisemitism, and Missionaries
[Last Post: Thu Feb 5 11:07:09 US/Pacific 2004]
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer
questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family
of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the
various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to
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used to refer to the movements of Judaism. Outside of North American,
Reform is Progressive or Liberal Judaism; Conservative is Masorti or
Neolog, and Orthodoxy is often just "Judaism". Even with this, there
are differences in practice, position, and ritual between US/Canada
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reading lists. Similar questions can be found in the books
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There are also numerous other Jewish FAQs available on the Internet
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This portion of the FAQ contains answers to the following questions:
Churban Europa (The Holocaust)
1. Why do Jews seem to treat the Holocaust as their tragedy alone?
2. Where can I get information on the Holocaust?
3. How do I get tickets to see the United States Holocaust
4. Is there any online information available on Yad Vashem?
Antisemitism and Rumors about Jews
1. Why is antisemitism used to mean anti-Jewish?
2. Is there any truth to the myth of the Jewish American Princess?
3. What is the connection between Judaism and Freemasonry?
4. How do I counter antisemitic postings such as the infamous
5. Did the Jews kill Jesus?
6. Can you tell me about the Disputation at Barcelona?
1. Are groups calling themselves "Jews for Jesus" or "Messianic
Jews[sic]" Jewish movements?
2. Is belief in Jesus-as-G-d compatible with any Jewish movements?
3. Countering the Question: Why Don't Jews Believe in Jesus as the
4. What do missionary groups believe?
5. What sort of deceptive terminology do missionaries use?
6. How can these missionaries be countered?
7. Who is financing "Jews for Jesus" and similar groups?
8. Are the key Christian beliefs derived from Judaism?
Subject: Question 15.1: Why do Jews seem to treat the Holocaust as their
Jews don't, and in fact, a hefty percentage of articles on the
Holocaust go out of their way to mention the number of gentiles
murdered, as well as soldiers and civilians killed in the war itself.
Jews focus upon it for several reasons: (1) It destroyed a third (1/3)
of world Jewry, almost all of European Jewry, and obliterated the
entire European Jewish culture. (2) It was directed primarily at
Jews--Hitler himself wrote that his real war was against Judaism and
the idea of absolute morality, the antithesis of amoral nationalism.
(see his discussions with his friend, Hermann Rauschning) (3) It
happened just 50 years ago, which is recent.
It is important to mention other attempts at mass extermination or
national destruction, such as Armenian, Cambodian, East Timorese,
Kurdish, Native Americans, Stalin's purges, etc.
One should also mention other large scale injustices such as Black
African enslavement in America, but to make clear that even if it is
not the same as the Holocaust, it's still a moral problem.
Subject: Question 15.2: Where can I get information on the Holocaust?
Additional information may be found in the Antisemitism Reading
List, found at http://www.scjfaq.org/rl/ant-index.html/.
Information is also available on the newsgroup
soc.culture.jewish.holocaust, which is a storagehouse for all kinds
of information from various sources on the Holocaust in Europe that
occurred between 1942-1945 (along with the events leading up to it
that happened in the early 30's). In that group you will find
Holocaust materials from both personal testimonies of survivors and
their families and "hard" facts from historians and observers. The
newsgroup has a archive at http://www.holocausthistory.org/.
The Nizkor Project (An Electronic Holocaust Educational Resource)
[Home Page: <http://www.nizkor.org>] has also made the following
information on the Holocaust available; it can be used to answer the
* A two-part FAQ on Auschwitz. The URL for part 1 is:
The URL for part 2 is:
* A two-part FAQ on Operation Reinhard -- A Layman's Guide to
Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. The URL for part 1 is
>. The URL for part 2 is
* A two-part FAQ on the Institute for Historical Review. The URL for
part 1 is
URL for part 2 is
* A two-part FAQ that provides common answers to the various
revisionists claims that the Holocaust never occured. The URL for
part 1 is
1>. The URL for part 2 is
If you are using WWW or Mosaic, the relevant pointer is:
The Nizkor Project also offers a direct and well-documented response
to the IHR's "66 Questions & Answers About the Holocaust," at
The Nizkor Project's archives are now searchable, using URL
Alas, Nazi-ism didn't end with the Holocaust, and there has been a
resurgance of neo-Nazi groups in Germany. Between October 1992 and
April 1993, the Simon Wiesenthal Center
(http://www.wiesenthal.com/) conducted a covert operation to
determine the strength, financial base, and ultimate leadership of
Germany's neo-Nazi movement. Center officials also wanted to find out
the links between Germany's radical right and similar organizations in
the United States, and to determine the degree of commitment on the
part of German police towards the enforcement of laws passed by the
German parliament over the years to thwart the resurgence of Nazism in
the Bundesrepublik. The results of this operation are documented and
available on the net at the URL
A Holocaust bibliography is also available at the URL
<http://ftp.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi?bibliographies>. It contains thousands
of listings for those interested in research.
You might also contact the Simon Wisenthal Center:
9760 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Reference librarian/archivist: Paul Hamburg
Subject: Question 15.3: How do I get tickets to see the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum?
Opened in April 1993, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto
uprising, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington,
D.C., summons all who enter its portals to rise to an important and
extraordinary challenge: to remember and immortalize the 6 milion Jews
and millions of other Nazi victims of World War II--Gypsies, Poles,
homosexuals, the handicapped, Jehovah's Witnesses, political and
religious dissidents, Soviet prisoners of war--who were murdered in
the most horrifying event of our time: the Holocaust.
The main task of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is to
present the facts of the Holocaust, to tell the American public as
clearly and comprehensively as possible what happened in that darkest
chapter of human history. To this end, the Museum has reconstructed
the history of the Holocaust through multiple media: the meaningful
arrangement of objects as well as the presentation of documentary
photographic and cinematographic materials. This museum holds the
world's largest and most diversified collection of Holocaust-related
objects; but in its display it is a "conceptual museum" rather than a
traditional, object-oriented one: it's primary purpose is to
communicate concepts, complex information, and knowledge, rather than
merely to display objects of the Holocaust, unrelated to the
historical context of each individual exhibit.
A visit to the museum, or a tour through the virtual exhibition, can
be an interesting and challenging learning experience but, at the same
time, it also will be a thought-provoking, disturbing, and personally
upsetting one. And so it should be.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a free, Federal Museum
dedicated to presenting the history of the persecution and murder of
six million Jews and millions of other victims of Nazi tyrrany from
1933-1945. To accomodate large numbers of visitors expected by the
museum, and to ensure a meaningful experience for every one, the
museum is open on a time-ticket basis, which means that a ticket is
required for admission, and that tickets are marked with a specific
time and day in order to regulate the number of people passing through
the exhibits at any given time.
Tickets may be obtained in one of three ways: you can visit or call
Ticketmaster at 1-800-432-SEAT and purchase tickets for a specified
date and time using a credit card. Currently, there is a $3.50 phone
charge and a $1.00 per ticket handling fee. Tickets to the museum are
free, except for the handling charges which go directly to
Ticketmaster. A second method of obtaining tickets is to go directly
to the walk-up window and request them. Demand is heavy, and only a
portion of each day's tickets are set aside for walk-up business. The
last, and most difficult, method of obtaining tickets is to call your
elected representative and request assistance in finding tickets. The
Museum is not part of the Smithsonian system, and therefore some
Congressmen do not bother to request complimentary tickets from the
museum. Some do.
The Museum is open from 10:00-5:30 daily, except for Christmas (go
figure!) and certain Jewish holidays (to be determined). The telephone
number is (202) 488-0400. Their home page is available at
Subject: Question 15.4: Is there any online information available on Yad
Yad Vashem is the Holocaust memorial of the Jewish people. Located in
Jerusalem Israel, it was established in 1953 by an act of Parliament.
At the core of the Holocaust was the decision to kill the Jews--six
million of whom were murdered. These events are of monumental
significance for the contemporary world and, by directing visitors to
confront this history, we hope to stimulate them to grapple with
issues that strike at our basic nature as human beings and to gain
insights about our societies and about ourselves.
The name YAD VASHEM comes from a passage in the Book of Isaiah:
"And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial
... an everlasting name [a "yad vashem"], that shall not be cut
off." (chapter 56, verse 5).
Yad Vashem is available via WWW using the following URL:
Subject: Question 16.1: Why is antisemitism used to mean anti-Jewish? Aren't
Arabs Semites too?
The word "anti-Semitism" was coined in Germany in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr
as a more euphonious way of saying "Judenhass" (Jew-hatred), and has
always meant exactly that. Its antonym, "Semitism" connoted a positive
attitude toward the Jewish people. The word has become too sanitized
and too easily misunderstood, which is exactly what Marr tried to
accomplish with the word's creation.
According to a (now discredited) nineteenth century theory that held
that racial groups and linguistic groups coincide, Semites are natives
of a group of Middle Eastern nations that are closely related in
ethnicity, culture and language. Under this theory, the modern day
Semites would be the Jews and Arabs. In ancient times, the Assyrians,
Canaanites, Carthaginians, Aramaeans and Akkadians (one of the
ancestors of the ancient Babylonians) were also counted among the
Semitic nations. It should be noted that many of these groups
contributed much to the development of modern culture, in particular
the Phoenicians (Semitic seafarers including Canaanites, Aramaeans and
northern Israelites), the Babylonians, as well as the Arabs and Jews.
One theory that has been voiced among the practitioners of ancient
history is that these groups emerged from a common home in Arabia
during the early Sumerian period. More likely, they were descended
from various waves of people who entered the Middle East, only the
last of which brought the Semitic languages. Like the Babylonian king
Hammurabi, Abraham appears to have been an "Amurru" or West Semite, a
group that spread out from the Levant to as far east as Ur and
Babylon. Hebrew and Aramaic are both West Semitic languages.
The modern day "Semites" all claim to trace their ancestry to Noah's
son, Shem, from whom they take their name.
Given that the theory of "semites" and non-"semites" is now
discredited, the preferred term to use is "Antisemitism", which has a
general connotation of "anti-Jewish". When written in this fashion, it
helps to eliminate the confusion with the discredited theory. (The use
of the non-hyphenated form is a suggestion of the distinguished
historian James Parkes). Emil Fackenheim, the Jewish philosopher, has
also adopted this spelling, explaining "... the spelling ought to be
antisemitism without the hyphen, dispelling the notion that there is
an entity 'Semitism' which 'anti-Semitism' opposes" (Emil Fackenheim,
"Post-Holocaust Anti-Jewishness, Jewish Identity and the Centrality of
Israel," in World Jewry and the State of Israel, ed. Moshe Davis, p.
11, n. 2).
Subject: Question 16.2: Is there any truth to the myth of the Jewish American
While there may be a few token women who fit the stereotype, it's a
cruel slur frequently directed at Jewish women in general, and not
always by Jews. (see William Styron's Sophie's Choice, especially
chapter 7, for some very offensive Jewish portrayals, including the
The most common use of the slur "JAP" is by Jewish men who rationalize
their habit of dating gentile women by slandering the Jewish women
whom they could be dating. Many who use the term are unaware of its
offensive nature, so if someone uses it innocently, politely ask them
not to use the term.
Subject: Question 16.3: What is the connection between Judaism and
The following is extracted from a paper by Paul M. Bessel of Arlington
VA that accompanied presentations in February 1989. The FAQ would
would like to thank David Kaufman (email@example.com) for
providing this information; the full text of the presentation may be
obtained from him. The full text is online at
Jews were actively involved in the beginnings of Freemasonry in
America. There is evidence they were among those who established
Masonry in seven of the original thirteen states: Rhode Island, New
York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia.
A Jewish Mason, Moses Michael Hays, helped introduce the Masonic
Scottish Rite in America. Paul Revere served under him as Deputy Grand
Master. There were several other Jews who held the masonic titles in
the late 1700's: Solomon Bush in Pennsylvania, Joseph Myers in
Maryland and later in South Carolina, and Abraham Forst of
Philadelphia in Virginia in 1781. Another Jewish Grand Master was
Moses Seixas in Rhode Island from 1791 until 1800. There were many
other American Jewish Masons in early American history, including one
in George Washington's original Fredericksburg Lodge.
Jewish Masons played an important part in the American Revolution,
with 24 of them serving as officers in George Washington's army. In
addition, several helped finance the American cause, including Haym
Salomon, a Philadelphia Jewish Mason who with others contributed and
raised money for the American war effort and loaned money to
Jefferson, Madison, Lee, and others for their personal expenses.
Salomon was imprisoned by the British and died in his 40's bankrupt
and with penniless heirs.
There is evidence that Jews, including rabbis, continued to be
involved in the Masonic movement in the United States. There have been
at least 51 Jewish American Grand Masters. Today there are many Jews
active in Masonry in America and other countries. Israel has about 60
Masonic lodges with 3,000 members.
Jews had also been involved to a small extent in the formation of
modern Freemasonry in the early 1700's in England. Until then Jews
were not permitted to participate in many of the ordinary activities
of life. Then the Enlightenment concept of the universality of all
people brought about a society where people's religious beliefs did
not affect their rights as citizens. Jews were gradually permitted to
exercise the rights of citizenship and to pursue their lives as they
Many Jews viewed joining Freemasonry as part of their "emancipation"
from the old legal and social exclusions. Modern Masonry was as much a
product of the Enlightenment as the emancipation of Jews. Many society
leaders were Freemasons and if Jews could join this fraternity that
would prove they were being accepted. They could also use the
opportunities presented by their participation in a social
organization with Christians to prove the two could prosper by their
association. Freemasonry's philosophy of the brotherhood of all people
indicated Masonry would accept Jews as members.
There are many common themes and ideals in Masonic and Jewish rituals,
symbols, and words:
* Belief in G-d, prayer, immortality of the soul, charity, and
acting respectfully to all people are essential elements of
Freemasonry as well as Judaism, and of course other religions too.
* Masonry and Judaism, as well as other religions and statements of
ethical standards, teach that we must discipline ourselves and
keep our passions in check. Jewish masons follow rituals in
synagogues and in Masonic lodges to help them develop this
* Judaism and Masonry give the greatest respect and support for
freedom of individuals. Judaism teaches that everyone is capable
of good or evil and attempts to help us use our free will to
choose the righteous path. Masonry teaches that those who are
morally fit can find "light" in Masonry if they desire it of their
own free will. The concept of exercising free will to accept the
law and atone for past transgressions is what Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur are about.
* Light is an important symbol in both Freemasonry and Judaism.
Contrast the holiday of Chanukah with the use of light in Masonry,
where it represents the Divine spirit, religious freedom, and
rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and of the spiritual
Temple within us all.
* One of the fundamental symbols of Masonry is the Temple of Solomon
and the Second Temple, which also figured as the central part of
the Jewish religion. King Solomon, one of the greatest figures in
Jewish history, is also one of the most important figures in
While there are many common aspects of Judaism and Freemasonry, it
also should be recognized that because of the history of attempts to
force Jews to convert they can be uncomfortable about being asked to
say Christian prayers or otherwise indicate non-Jewish beliefs. Some
parts of Masonry use New Testament prayers, references to Saints, the
cross as a religious symbol (although it is stated that the cross is
being used as a symbol of religion in general rather than the
Christian religion), and one Masonic organization requires aspiring
members to swear to support the Christian faith. Jews must deal with
these references to other religions by remaining quiet or not
participating in those parts of Masonry.
Did Masonry always welcome Jews? No. Although a Jew, Edward Rose,
became a Mason in a London lodge in 1732, this event apparently
excited attention and led to other lodges debating whether they should
permit Jewish members. Eventually, significant numbers of Jews joined
English Masonry where they were apparently welcomed. French Masonic
lodges, and those in different countries affiliated with the French
Grand Orient during the Napoleonic occupations, admitted Jews without
restrictions. In 1869 a Jew was Grand Master of the Scottish Rite in
Paris. However, later in the 1800's French society became more
anti-Semitic, culminating in the Dreyfus affair where a French army
officer was unjustly accused of treason mainly because he was a Jew,
and French Masonry unfortunately also became more anti-Jewish. Today,
some parts of French Masonry are officially neutral about religion and
do not even require a belief in G-d. In Scandinavia, according to some
sources, Masonry is officially Christian and does not accept Jewish
It is probably not surprising that the country with the longest
history of anti-Semitic prejudice in Freemasonry as well as in society
is Germany. Most lodges there did not permit Jews to be members, and
they even questioned visiting Masonic brethren about their religion at
the doors of their lodges and barred Jews even if they were Masons in
good standing in other lodges. This caused lodges in England, the
Netherlands, and the United States to protest but they did not
retaliate against visiting German Masons.
German officials feared secret societies as potential sources of
subversion, so the Prussian government became involved in Masonry as a
means to watch and control it. The future Kaiser Wilhelm I was the
patron of the three Berlin Grand Lodges for many years, and he decided
that Jews would only be permitted if there was unanimous agreement.
Since one of the Grand Lodges was known to be adamant against
accepting Jews, this forced the others who wanted to be more tolerant
to maintain anti-Jewish policies.
In Russia, Freemasonry was also suppressed because of the belief it
might be used to support political activity against the Csarist
regime, at the same time that Jews were prevented from obtaining
rights of citizenship in that country.
Various claims were made by those who wanted to keep Jews out of
Masonry. Some said Masonry was a Christian institution and Jews could
not become members unless they converted. Some said only Christians
could possess the good character necessary to achieve Masonic ideals.
Others said Masonry has Christian symbols and prayers but Jews could
become Masons if they simply complied with requirements such as
swearing on the Christian Gospels and eating pork at Masonic meals
(both violations of halacha), without having to convert. However,
there was also an argument that if a Jew voluntarily complied with
Christian practices he showed he was contemptuous of his own religion
and had a bad character, and was thus unworthy to be a Mason.
Another argument was that Jews preferred to be in their own social
groups. It was said they should not try to push their way into Masonic
lodges where they were not wanted, would be uncomfortable, and would
make others uncomfortable by their presence. Some Jews did join lodges
that were primarily Jewish and the B'nai B'rith organization in its
early days had a ritual parallel to Freemasonry.
Finally, there were the rawest antisemitic arguments. Some of those
who wanted to keep Jews out of Masonry said the Jewish religion was
inherently evil, or that Jews were racially and genetically evil and
could never be permitted in Masonry even if they converted.
In general, Freemasonry's attitudes toward Jews mirrors those of the
rest of society. Jews became more acceptable from the late 1700's
until the 1870's. From that time on, anti-Semitism increased in many
countries. This also occurred in Freemasonry, but by then Judaism and
Masonry were being jointly attacked.
Freemasons and Jews always had critics. Eventually the bigots realized
they could promote their ideas by tying Masons and Jews together as
objects of hatred.
Critics said Freemasonry and Judaism were dedicated to undermining the
institutions of existing society, including Christianity and the
State, and pointed to the secrecy associated with both as proof of
their evil intentions. Masons and Jews were said to be involved in, or
benefited from, radical efforts such as the American, French, and
Russian revolutions. Masonry and Judaism promoted free will of men,
contrary to efforts of those who sought to insure that people had the
"correct" thoughts. (This may explain why the Roman Catholic Papacy
has expressed its antagonism toward Freemasonry so frequently and
strongly since 1738, and why extreme conservatives in other religions
also oppose Freemasonry.) Gradually the charge was made that
Freemasons and Jews were both evil and they were purposely supporting
each others' radical schemes.
Ironically, Masons and Jews were also sometimes accused of being too
reactionary. Aristocrats often belonged to Masonic lodges, and some
German Masons promoted the return of the Kaiser after World War I
brought about a republic. Also, some Jews still dressed and acted in
the same conservative ways as their ancestors in the middle ages and
thus kept themselves apart from modern society.
Increasingly Jews and Freemasons were accused of being disloyal to
their countries, keeping strange secrets, and designing to take over
The ultimate form of this hatred was the sinister "Protocols of the
Elders of Zion", which originated in Russia and received wide
circulation after it was translated into German in the 1920's. Some
bigots claimed this document was a transcript of a meeting of Jewish
leaders plotting world domination, in partnership with Freemasons.
Although this document was not even a clever hoax, its influence was
unbelievably widespread and long-lasting in whipping up hatred against
Jews and Masons by many, including Henry Ford in the United States
during his long anti-Jewish campaign in the 1920's and 1930's.
It was a short step from this to the ideology of the Nazis. Hitler
attacked Masons as well as Jews, and after taking control of Germany
and other European countries Nazis used the slogan "All Masons
Jews--all Jews Masons", and persecuted Masons, Jews, and others. The
Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes have consistently attacked
Freemasonry, because they cannot tolerate an organization whose basic
beliefs are freedom of individuals and tolerance and generosity toward
Dictatorships have regularly attacked and persecuted Masons and Jews,
and these attacks on Masons and Jews together are not all in the past.
Last year a group called the "Islamic Resistance Movement--Palestine"
said that Freemasonry and other "Zionist-affiliated" organizations are
about to be liquidated.
Subject: Question 16.4: How do I counter antisemitic postings such as the
A good starting point is the web page
<http://www.igc.apc.org/ddickerson/protocols.html>. This site
contains a number of links with information on how to counter the
Another page that might be of use is
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/8815/. This Web site
provides refutations to various alleged quotes from the Talmud which
are distributed by anti-Semites as well as refutations of other
In a related issue, there is an urban legend circulating about Barnes
and Noble stocking the Protocols as a Jewish book. Here is a
refutation of that legend, from the fellow who started the protest,
Rabbi Eric Silver:
This will be (I hope) my final statement on the Barnes and Noble
issue, and because of its content, I would ask that it be given the
widest possible distribution. (I probably don't need to say that.
My e-mail box, my fax lines and my telephone have been jammed for
As many of you know, some weeks ago I contacted Barnes and Noble
over the fact that they were carrying "The Protocols of the Learned
Elders of Zion" under the rubric of "Judaica" (yes and no-depending
upon how and where one looked on the net and in the retail stores,)
and that their web site contained a review by a person purporting
to be a university professor, attesting to the historicity of the
book and claiming that many of the dire predictions and plots in
the book were already coming to fruition. Barnes and Noble told me
that they saw it as their mission to carry every title in print,
cited the First Amendment, and you can guess the rest, so I wrote
an e-mail describing the situation, sending it out to the various
lists on which I am a subscriber. Friday afternoon I received a
phone call from Gus Carlson who heads up the Communications and
Customer Relations Department at Barnes and Noble, and Laura Dawson
who manages the company's data base for the on-line and retail
stores. They had just gotten off the phone after a session with
ADL. That call was followed by a phone call from Tom Simon, Vice
President of Content Development at the company. They deeply
regretted the earlier response I had received, and both wanted to
assure me that at no time did any anti-Semitic intent color Barnes
and Noble's actions in this matter. I think they are to be
absolutely believed on this score. This company carries many books,
and each book has its adherents and its detractors. The company's
initial response to me was to cite First Amendment freedoms, and
indicate that they would carry even controversial books. I would be
the first to agree with that position. "Protocols," however, is in
a different category altogether, and the three B&N executives with
whom I spoke all agree with that. They made plain to me that the
company was not aware of the book's true nature at the outset of
all this brouhaha, and that had they been, the book would have been
classified differently. They also assured me that new company
policy would ensure that reviews would be carefully screened to
ensure that a spurious review does not pop up on their web site.
A bit of clarification is in order: very often a book will be
classified by its distributor, and Barnes and Noble will accept the
classification. An out of print version of "Protocols" that carries
the label "Judaica" will be classified that way on the Internet
site because no one at B&N knows any different. That's a far cry
from malice. Similarly, if it finds its way onto a shelf in a
retail store, there are obvious reasons why the manager would place
it in the Judaica area. The title itself is misleading, and pity
the poor store manager who obviously doesn't have the time to read
every single book in the store.
I think we're done with this issue, and in the best possible way.
Please-don't boycott Barnes and Noble. They don't deserve it. They
are honest book merchants who go out of their way to provide the
reading public with the best in books and service. At no time in
any of this was there even a scintilla of malicious intent.
Occasionally even a good company will slip up, but once B&N became
aware of the book's true nature, they acted with alacrity. The fake
review was pulled, and the book is being appropriately identified.
They have taken steps to ensure that spurious reviews don't pop up
on any book that might be controversial, and they have also taken
steps to prevent a vendor from classifying a book under a
particular heading (i.e., Judaica,) without that classification
coming under B&N's scrutiny. Moreover, Mr. Simon has asked me to
prepare a review of "Protocols" and he will post it on the web site
as the first review. He also proposed that I include URL's to sites
that would advise readers about the nature of propaganda, hate
literature, and so forth. Lastly, he advised me that the company is
considering setting up a new classification called "propaganda,"
"hate literature," or something like that. That would ensure that
hate literature (sic!) doesn't inadvertently pop up in the wrong
section. I want to commend Barnes and Noble for cleaning up their
own act, and I also want to commend the many of you out there who
have taken the time to let B&N know of your concern. More than
anything else, it proves that this is a company that listens to its
customers, and that's what good business is all about.
Rabbi Eric A. Silver
Similar comments were raised about Amazon.com, which prompted the
ADL to raise the issue to Amazon's corporate office. Here is the
result, as documented by the ADL at
New York, NY, March 28, 2000...
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said today that Amazon.com and
Barnes & Noble.com have agreed to prominently place on their Web
sites ADL's statement that The Protocols of the Learned Elders of
Zion is an anti-Semitic Czarist forgery. ADL said the online
booksellers would state that they do not endorse the views
expressed in the book or the publisher's description should one
appear, which Amazon.com has had instituted for some time. Abraham
H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We are pleased that Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have
responded positively to our concerns and those of the public, and
have instituted ways to alert their customers to the fact that the
Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is a forgery. Since we are
not in the business of banning books, no matter how reprehensible
they may be, we sought and achieved the best solution to inform
book buyers. Both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have
demonstrated corporate responsibility and we commend them for it.
Following is ADL's statement on the Protocols which will appear on
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com:
"From the Anti-Defamation League: The Protocols of the Learned
Elders of Zion, circulated by the Czarist secret police at the turn
of the 20th century, is plainly and simply a plagiarized forgery.
The Protocols has been a major weapon in the arsenals of
anti-Semites around the world, republished and circulated by
individuals, hate groups and governments to convince the gullible
as well as the bigoted that Jews have schemed and plotted to take
over the world."
In addition, Barnes and Noble bookstores will no longer shelve The
Protocols under "Judaica," but under "World History."
Subject: Question 16.5: Did the Jews kill Jesus?
Official Christian doctrine no longer holds that Jews killed Jesus,
although it once spread that lie. Where did the notion come from? In
the "New Testament", Jews are held in part responsible for Jesus'
death. Some of this position comes from the fact that the disciples
were Jewish, and it was a disciple, Judas, who betrayed him to the
Roman authorities. Some Christian sources depict a scene in which "the
Jews," given the choice of saving Barrabas or Jesus from crucifixion,
chose Barrabas. However, the text doesn't tell us who :"the Jews"
were; further, assuming this took place (which is historically
unlikely given the Roman's behavior), they all couldn't have been
gathered in one place. So, again, there is only indirect
responsibility. Finally, politically, we know that some Jewish leaders
(who were appointed by Roman Government) may have seen Jesus as a
political threat. However, the threat was more to the Romans, and the
Jewish leaders may have been pressured to silence him. The final
decision lay with the Romans, who alone used crucifixion as a means of
killing criminals and who alone had authority to impose the death
The New Testament accounts do not agree on the story of who killed
Jesus. The Encylopedia Judaica summarizes this as follows. In the
first three books, the Pharisees are not mentioned in connection with
the trial, and in John, only once (18:3). Only Mark (14:53-65;
followed by Matt. 26:59-68) records a formal, Jewish, "night" trial
with accusations, witnesses, and a sentence. Luke records a morning
hearing before the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71) without formal
sentencing, and John has separate appearances before Annas (at night)
and Caiaphas (in the morning) who conducts an interrogation (18:12-
24). In the entire book of Luke (not just in his description of the
Passion) there is no mention of the Sanhedrin's verdict against Jesus,
and John records nothing about an assembly of the Sanhedrin before
which Jesus appeared. Hence, it seems very probable that no session of
the Sanhedrin took place in the house of the high priest where Jesus
was in custody, and that the "chief priests and elders and scribes"
who assembled there were members of the Temple committee (see also
Luke 20:1): the elders were apparently the elders of the Temple and
the scribes were the Temple secretaries. The deliverance of Jesus into
the hands of the Romans was, it seems, the work of the Sadducean "high
priests," who are often mentioned alone in the story. A man suspected
of being a messianic pretender could be delivered to the Romans
without a verdict of the Jewish high court. In addition, the high
priests were interested in getting rid of Jesus, who had spoken
against them and had predicted the destruction of the Temple. Mark
offers some clues to the historical situation. The public reason given
in the placard on the cross (Mark 15:26), recorded in all four
Gospels, was that Jesus claimed to be a king, which for the Romans was
tantamount to sedition. Those crucified with Jesus are called
"revolutionary bandits". Jesus teaching on the kingdom, his
association with marginal groups in his society, and his attacks on
abuses associated with the Temple made him suspect to both Romans and
the Jerusalem aristocracy. Though some interrogation may have taken
place before Jewish authorities, the Romans bear the responsibility
for any formal trial. All the texts agree that the Roman prefect,
Pontius Pilate (a.d. 26- 36), ordered the execution (also attested by
the Roman historian Tacitus, Annals 15.44). The execution was in the
Roman way, by crucifixion. All the books indicate that on the third
day after the crucifixion Jesus' tomb was found empty. According to
Mark an angel announced that Jesus had risen, and the other books
state that Jesus appeared before his believers after his death.
Jewish laws on capital trials are found in texts almost two centuries
after the death of Jesus (M. Sanh. 4-11), so it is not known whether
they reflect first-century practice. By these norms the trial in Mark
is not legal, since according to the Mishnah capital trials could not
be held at night or on the eve of a Sabbath or feast day (M. Sanh.
4:1). The sentence of death could not be pronounced on the same day as
the trial (M. Sanh. 4:1); prior examination of witnesses, as well as
independent agreement of their testimony, was required (M. Sanh. 4:5;
cf. Deut. 19:15-18); the charge of blasphemy required the explicit
pronouncing of the divine name (M. Sanh. 7:5); and trials were to be
held in the official chamber, not in the house of the high priest (M.
Sanh. 11:2; cf. Mark 14:54). Also uncertain is whether the Sanhedrin
had the power to execute for capital offenses during Roman occupation
(see John 18:31). If so, Jesus should have been stoned, which was the
Jewish penalty for blasphemy.
We also know that the early Christians who wrote the story wanted to
make the Romans appear less guilty.
Another factor to consider: It was Jesus' resurrection that began
Christianity. If the Roman's hadn't killed Christ, he wouldn't have
had the opportunity to rise (if you hold with the resurrection). In
fact, in the texts, Jesus claims all responsibility, and is explicitly
the "willing Suffering Servant" Christian theology is that Jesus'
entire purpose was to come to die.
Subject: Question 16.6: Can you tell me about the Disputation at Barcelona?
This question refers to the disputation between the Ramban
(Nachmanides, not the Rambam) and Pablo Christiani, a Jew from
Provence who became a Karaite and later a convert to Catholicism.
Christiani had King James of Aragon's ear, and was able to convince
the king to host the dispute. It was written up in a polemic by R'
Chaim (Charles) Chavel, for which there is an English translation
published by Shilo (1983), titled "Disputation at Barcelona". It is
also the topic of Rabbi Dr. David Berger's PhD thesis and much of his
book "Jewish-Christain Debate in the High Middle Ages", published by
Aaronson in 1979. Some historical context is provided in from
"Barcelona and Beyond: The Disputation of 1263 and Its Aftermath" by
Robert Chazan, Berkeley: University of California Press (1992).
Lastly, "The Disputation", a play re-enacting the debate, is available
on video from a number of anti-missionary groups. (Try
First, the use of "the" is probably incorrect, as there were many such
disputations. They started around 1240 CE, when Nicholas Donin
(another convert) challenged the local Rabbis to defend the Talmud
against challenges of racism and anti-Christianity in the Talmud. They
won the battle but lost the war, they won the dispute but the Talmuds
were burned by the cartload anyway.
Another famous disputation ran for two years. The Tortosa
"disputation" (1413-14), between St. Vincent Ferrer and the apostate
Geronimo and the local Jewish leaders. In this disputation, they let
the Jews defend the gemara, but not attack Christianity. When the
French Jewish community fled in the 1300s, and the Spanish and
Portugese were force out in the 1490s, the trend of disputations
The dispute at Barcelona was near unique in that it let both sides
have equal say. The key topics were Christianity, the Jewish
definition of messiah, and proving the messiah hadn't yet come.
Nachmanides relied heavily on logic, rather than purely citing
sources. Again, Nachmanides won the battle, but lost the war--he had
to flee Spain. The issues discussed in the debate included:
* Whether Isaiah 53's suffering servant described Jesus.
* Whether the Talmud, when it speaks of the messiah being alive in
its day, meant that the messiah had come. In response to this,
Nachmanides distinguished between the messiah being born, and the
messiah coming. Moses didn't come until the declaration "Let my
people go!" and clearly nothing parallel has happened to start the
An interesting side impact of this disputation was the result of the
Ramban's willingness to use the Christian chapter system for citing
verses in the dispute. This played a large role in the acceptance of
the system amongst Jews, and its use today.
Note that Pablo Chistianity trained under the Dominicans, the people
behind the Inquisition. So the connection between the disputation and
the later expulsion is probably significant. Also, when looking for
books on Nachmanides in the Library of Congress, look under P for
"Bonatruc ca Porta", his Castillian name.
Subject: Question 17.1: Are groups calling themselves "Jews for Jesus" or
"Messianic Jews[sic]" Jewish movements?
No. Once you start reading their literature that they mail available
to members (and on their web pages), it is clear that they are
Christian organizations whose intent it to bring Jews to Christianity.
Sadly, for many of these organizations, their membership includes
persons who are technically Jewish, but who believe and practice
This is illustrated best by some examples:
* Jews for Jesus. The following is a description of the
Jews-for-Jesus ministry, from the member profile page of the
Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
Jews for Jesus is an outreach by Jewish Christian evangelists. Our
methods vary from conventional missionary work like personal
visitation and tract distribution to large display media ads
proclaiming Christ in secular newspapers and magazines.
* Messianic Judaism. Messianic Jews are organized into the Messianic
Jewish Alliance of America (http://www.mjaa.org/). The
description of this organization at the "About MJAA" page
(http://www.mjaa.org/about.ihtml) clearly states as a goal:
Most importantly--To introduce our Jewish brothers and sisters to
the Messiah Yeshua.
Both of these organizations, and other similar groups, are clearly
missionary organizations whose goal is to bring Jesus to the Jewish
Subject: Question 17.2: Is belief in Jesus-as-G-d compatible with any Jewish
No. There are many problems when one tries to reconcile belief in
Jesus as the Messiah or the "Son of God" with traditional Jewish
beliefs. A good description of the problems is found in the essay "Why
Jews Can't Be For Jesus" by Rabbi Shmuel Arkush, Head of Operation
Judaism in the United Kingdom. The essay may be found at
http://www.ed.ac.uk/~jsoc/chadash/jesus.htm; some of the key points
are repeated below:
* Christians believe in the Trinity, that G-d consists of the
Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. They say that this three-part
G-d is the same as the G-d worshipped by the Jews. However, Torah
says, "Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d the L-rd is One." This
is the watchword of our faith from Deut.. One cannot reconcile a
single G-d with a three-part G-d.
* Christians believe that one cannot approach G-d except through
Jesus; therefore, all prayers must be in Jesus' name. However,
Torah, in the Ten Commandments, says "I am the L-rd your G-d, who
brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me". By praying to Jesus as a
mediator, one is putting Jesus before G-d.
* Some Christians say that Jesus was a Prophet who came to change
the way it used to be. Torah says: "If there arise among you a
prophet or a dreamer and he gives you a sign or a miracle. And the
sign or miracle comes to pass and he calls you saying 'Let us go
after other gods, whom you have not known and let us worship
them.' You shall not listen to that prophet or dreamer. For G-d is
testing you, to see whether you love the L-rd your G-d with all
your heart and with all your soul." (Deut. 13:2)
All Jewish groups agree that organizations such as Jews for Jesus and
Messianic Judaism are not Judaism. Consider the following responsa
from the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform Rabbinic
Individuals who feel a vague attachment to one or another religion
pose no problem for those religious groups who leave identification
solely in the hands of the individual. Judaism, however, does not
do so. It is not the individual who defines whether she is Jewish
but the group. For us in the Jewish community anyone who claims
that Jesus is their savior is no longer a Jew and is an apostate.
Through that belief she has placed herself outside the Jewish
community. Whether she cares to define herself as a Christian or as
a "fulfilled Jew", "Messianic Jew," or any other designation is
irrelevant; to us, she is clearly a Christian. It is true that this
individual may be somewhat different form other Christians as she
continues to follow certain Jewish practices and folkways, but we
should remember that various Christian sects do likewise. For
example, the Seventh Day Adventists observe shabbat as their day of
rest. There are some Black Christian groups who also follow
specifically Jewish observances, and there have been other groups
like this in the past centuries.
The concluding paragraph of the responsa says:
[They] should be seen as outsiders who have placed themselves
outside the Jewish community. This should be made clear to them and
to the Jewish and general community, especially as many such
individuals are active proselytizers. Such individuals should not
be accorded membership in the congregation or treated in any way
which makes them appear as if they were affiliated with the Jewish
community, for that poses a clear danger to the Jewish community
and also to its relationships with the general community. We
certainly do not want these individuals to speak for Judaism in any
public forum. In conclusion, we should make the distinction between
ourselves and these individuals very clear to them, to the Jewish
community, and to the general community around us.
This is also the position within the state of Israel. According to the
law of the State of Israel, "Messianic Jews" are considered members of
another religion and therefore ineligible to make aliyah to Israel as
Jews. The "Messianic Jews" took their cases to the Israeli Supreme
Court on more than one occasion, and every time the verdict was loud
and clear - they're not Jewish!
Subject: Question 17.3: Countering the Question: Why Don't Jews Believe in
Jesus as the Messiah?
The question above is a typical one asked by Christian Missionaries.
The answer is easy, if one understands Jewish beliefs.
Jews do not believe that the Messiah is a part of G-d, or Divine in
any way, more than any other person. Jews look only to G-d for our
salvation, and when the time comes for G-d to bring the anointed king,
then it shall happen. Jews do not concern ourselves with the messiah's
identity, for the messiah is a person and the messiah's coming does
not change our relationship with G-d. Jews do not accept the notion
that Scripture "foretells" that G-d would robe Himself in flesh; in
fact, to Jews, this idea is idolatry, and we stand against it.
The reason why Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah is
straightforward: he did not meet the requirements in the job
requisition! G-d outlined these requirements in the Bible. The key
aspect of proof is in the state of the world.According to the Bible,
amongst the most mission of the messiah includes returning the world
to return to G-d and G-d's teachings; restoring the royal dynasty to
the descendants of David; overseeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem,
including the Temple; gathering the Jewish people from all over the
world and bringing them home to the Land of Israel; reestablishing the
Sanhedrin; restoring the sacrificial system, the Sabbatical year and
Jubilee. This simply has not happened. Judaism has no notion of the
messiah not doing these things on the first visit, let along needing a
second visit to do these things. Whenever these things are described
in the Tanach, the description says that the messiah will come and do
Oh, you want specifics? According to Torah, the Messiah will:
1. Ezekiel 37:26-28: Build the Third Temple
2. Isaiah 43:5-6: Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel
3. Isaiah 2:4: Usher in an era of world peace, and end all hatred,
oppression, suffering and disease. "Nation shall not lift up sword
against nation, neither shall man learn war anymore."
4. Zechariah 14:9: Spread universal knowledge of the G-d of Israel -
uniting the entire human race as one: "G-d will be King over all
the world--on that day, G-d will be One and His Name will be One"
Jesus fulfilled none of these messianic prophecies. Additionally:
* Jesus was not a prophet. Prophecy could only exist in Israel when
the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the
time of Ezra (~300 BCE) the majority of Jews refused to move from
Babylon to Israel, thus prophecy ended upon the death of the last
prophets (Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi). Jesus appeared on the
scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended.
* Jesus was not descended from King David. Per Genesis 49:10 and
Isaiah 11:1, the Messiah must be descended on his father's side
from King David. However, according to the Christian claim that
Jesus was the product of a virgin birth, he had no father -- and
thus could not have possibly fulfilled the messianic requirement
of being descended on his father's side from King David! The
Christian idea of a virgin birth is derived from a verse in Isaiah
describing an "alma" as giving birth. The word "alma" has always
meant a young woman, but Christian theologians came centuries
later and translated it as "virgin." This accords Jesus' birth
with the first century pagan idea of mortals being impregnated by
* Tradition teaches that the Messiah will lead the Jewish people to
full Torah observance. Deut. 13:1-4 states that all mitzvahs
remain binding forever, and anyone coming to change the Torah is
immediately identified as a false prophet. Throughout the New
Testament, Jesus contradicts the Torah and states its commandments
are no longer applicable. (John 1:45 and 9:16, Acts 3:22 and 7:37)
In Christianity, the role of the messiah was redefined in order to fit
the man's career as written by his followers. As Jesus was said to
have been resurrected, the Bible was examined with the purpose of
finding evidence that the messiah would be killed without bringing
peace to the world or redemption to Israel. There was therefore the
expectation of a second coming, at which time Jesus would carry out
the task expected of the messiah (because he obviously didn't do it
the first time). This also required creation of an explanation for the
first coming and its catastrophic end. The net result of all of this
was to shift the function of the messiah from a visible level where it
could be tested (as in Tanach, what Christians call the "Old
Testament") to an invisible level where it could not. As a result of
this reworking, the messiah's goal the first time around was changed
from the redemption of Israel to the atonement for "original sin". A
reworking of Biblical themes.
There were also mistakes with respect to Jesus's death and its
foretelling. Psalms 22:17 says, "Like a lion, they are at my hands and
feet." The Hebrew word ki-ari (like a lion) is grammatically similar
to the word "gouged." Thus Christianity reads the verse as a reference
to crucifixion: "They pierced my hands and feet." Christians also
claim that Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus. Actually, Isaiah 53 directly
follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption
of the Jewish people. The singular form is used because the Jews
("Israel") are regarded as one unit (this occurs elsewhere in Torah).
For Jews, if the Tanach's requirements for the messiah have not been
fulfilled, then there can only be one explanation: he has not yet
come. To Jews, who were often subjected to mockery and contempt when
asked where their messiah was, this was a painful statement to make.
But it was inescapable. As our forefather's said: Ani M'amin: I
believe with complete faith in the coming of the messiah; and though
he may tarry I shall wait for him every day."
Furthermore, Christianity contradicts Jewish theology. In
Christianity, the notion of "Trinity" breaks G-d into three separate
beings: The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).
However, the basis of Jewish belief is captured in the Shema: "Hear O
Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is ONE" (Deut. 6:4). Jews declare
the One-ness of G-d every day, writing it on doorposts (Mezuzah), and
binding it to the hand and head (Tefillin). This statement of G-d's
One-ness is the first words a Jewish child is taught to say, and the
last words uttered before he dies. In Jewish law, worship of a
three-part G-d is considered idolatry -- one of the three cardinal
sins which a Jew should rather give up his life than transgress. This
explains why during the Inquisitions and throughout history, Jews gave
up their lives rather than convert.
Furthermore, Christians believe that G-d came down to earth in human
form, as Jesus said: "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). However,
in Judaism, the fundamental idea is that G-d is Incorporial, meaning
G-d has no physical form. In Judaism, G-d is Eternal, above time,
Infinite, beyond space. G-d cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying
that G-d assumes human form makes G-d small, diminishing both G-d's
Unity and Divinity. The Torah says: "G-d is not a mortal" (Numbers
23:19). Judaism says that the Messiah will be born of human parents,
with normal physical attributes just like other people. He will not be
a demigod, and will not possess supernatural qualities. In fact, an
individual is alive in every generation with the capacity to step into
the role of the Messiah. (Maimonides - Laws of Kings 11:3)
In Christian belief, prayer must be directed through an intermediary.
Jesus himself is an intermediary, as Jesus said: "No man cometh unto
the Father but by me." In Judaism, prayer is a totally private matter,
between each individual and G-d. Torah says, "G-d is near to all who
call unto Him" (Psalms 145:18). Further, the Ten Commandments state:
"You shall have no other gods before me," meaning that it is forbidden
to set up a mediator between G-d and man. (Maimonides - Laws of
Idolatry ch. 1)
Lastly, in Christianity, the physical world is viewed as an evil to be
avoided. Mary is portrayed as a virgin. Priests and nuns are celibate.
Monasteries are in remote, secluded locations. In Judaism, the belief
is that G-d created the physical world not to frustrate us, but for
our pleasure. Jewish spirituality comes through grappling with the
mundane world in a way that uplifts and elevates. Sex in the proper
context is one of the holiest acts we can perform. The Talmud says if
a person has the opportunity to taste a new fruit and refuses to do
so, he will have to account for that in the World-to-Come. Jewish
rabbinical schools teach how to live amidst the bustle of commercial
activity. Jews don't retreat from life, we elevate it.
So what do Jews say about Jesus, if he wasn't the messiah. The
historical Jesus (not the mangod Christianity made him into)
accomplished a great deal in turning people away from idolatry and
towards a more authentic knowledge of G-d. But he has no special role
to Judaism, in fact, no role at all.
Subject: Question 17.4: What do missionary groups believe?
Important Note: It should be pointed out that not all Christian groups
conduct missionary activities, and that not all missionary groups
target Jews. The questions in this section are focused primarily on
those groups that target Jews for missionary activities, and use a
Jewish basis for this targeting.
With respect to the beliefs of missionary groups, their own statements
express their beliefs. Although beliefs vary between the various
groups that missionize, clear examples of the goals of these groups
can be found in the ministry statements for such groups that are on
file at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountabily (ECFA)
* The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.: Friends of Israel
Gospel Ministry is an evangelical faith ministry proclaiming the
need for personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to
Jewish people and their Gentile
* Jews for Jesus: Jews for Jesus is an outreach by Jewish Christian
* Light of Messiah Ministries: Light of Messiah Ministries exists
for two purposes. First we want to overcome the misunderstanding
that Jesus is not for the Jewish people. We want to help our
people know that Jesus is our Messiah and that the most Jewish
thing that anyone can do is believe in Him. We also want to help
our brothers and sisters in Messiah understand the Jewish roots of
their faith in Jesus.
* Shoresh USA, Inc.: Shoresh teaches the Church to reclaim its
Jewish roots, so that it is encouraged in deeper discipleship and
equipped to share the Gospel with the Jewish people. Shoresh
reaches Jewish people with the Good News of their Messiah, Jesus
of Nazareth, so that they will receive Him with joy and fulfill
their unique calling to bear the Gospel message to the world.
* Chosen People Ministries: The purpose of Chosen People Ministries
is to serve the Messiah in fulfilling the Great Commission with
specific emphasis on the Jewish people.
The beliefs of the organizations are also clear once you start looking
at the doctrinal statemenst on the organizations websites. For
example, one can learn quite a bit about the real Jews for Jesus by
visiting their web page at http://www.jewsforjesus.org/, or the
home page of the Messianic Jewish Alliance for America at
http://www.mjaa.org/. Their statements found on these pages are
both candid and Christian:
* Jews for Jesus:
The Jews for Jesus statement of faith, at
http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/faith.htm, says that members
of Jews for Jesus believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments [emphasis added by FAQ maintainer] are divinely
inspired, contain no errors and are the final authority in matters
of faith and life. Although members of Jews for Jesus recognize
"the value of traditional Jewish literature," they do so only
insofar as "it is supported by or conformable to the Word of God."
(Note that, by their definition of the New Testament as divinely
inspired, this "Word of God" includes the words of Jesus).
However, Jews for Jesus regard this literature (including books
such as the Talmud) as "in no way binding upon life or faith."
According to this statement, although members of Jews for Jesus
believe only in one God, they believe it exists in three persons:
a father, a son, and a Holy Spirit (which goes counter to Jewish
theology). They believe that God had a physical son, and gave that
son for the redemption of the world (again, counter to Jewish
theology, but a key aspect of Christian theology). The doctrinal
statement goes on to express the belief that Jesus is the messiah
(according to Jewish theology, the messiah has not yet arrived),
and is "co-equal with God". They believe that Jesus was born
through "the virgin birth", led a "sinless life", and they hold
with the concepts of Jesus' atoning death, burial, and bodily
resurrection. All of these are key Christian theological elements,
but not part of Judaism.
The Jews for Jesus doctrine believes that all human beings, with
the exception of Jesus, are sinners by nature and practice, and
that Jesus died for the sins of humanity. Again, key Christian
* Messianic Jews:
The Messianic Jewish Alliance for America statement of faith, at
http://www.mjaa.org/StatementOfFaith.ihtml, says that the
Tenach and the later writings commonly known as the B'rit Hadasha
(New Covenant) are the only infallible and authoritative word of
God. It indicates that they accept the teachings of those
documents as their final authority in all matters of faith and
practice. These are the approximately the same words as Jews for
Jesus; as with Jews for Jesus, they include the words of Jesus and
his disciples as "divinely inspired". In terms of belief, although
they hold with God as defined by the Shema, they believe that God
exists as a trinity. More significantly, the hold with basic
Christian doctrine: "Messiah Yeshua's deity (Is. 9:6, John 1:1,4),
His virgin birth (Is. 7:14), His sinless life, His atoning death
(Is. 53, Ps. 22), His bodily resurrection, His ascension, and His
future return in power and glory." They also believe that all
Christians are Jewish: "Gentiles who place their faith in Yeshua,
are "grafted into" the Jewish olive tree of faith (Rom. 11:17-25)
becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Gal. 3:28-29)."
Remember these excerpts when a Hebrew-Christian tries to claim that
his or her practice is Judaism. The reality is that the belief is not
Jewish (the Jewish belief is one undivided God, and that the Messiah
has not yet arrived) and that the goal is to serve as a witness for
Christianity to the Jews ("....introduce to the Jewish people...")
If an MJ is technically Jewish, try teaching the MJ about Judaism,
which teaches that one should love one's neighbor as oneself, that one
should not bear a grudge, that the righteous of all nations have a
share in the world to come, that G-d is close to all who sincerely
call, and that the Messiah will usher in a time of peace.
Subject: Question 17.5: What sort of deceptive terminology do missionaries
First and foremost, groups such as these often usurp Jewish
terminology and practices. On the surface, the claim is that they do
this because they are "completed Jews". For example:
* They no longer call their places of worship churches, but use the
words like synagogue, "Beit Knesset", "Kehillah".
* They hide all the crosses and use Menorahs and Stars of David
* They often parade around with Torah scrolls while praying to
* Many wear "kipot" (Jewish head coverings) and prayer shawls.
* They celebrate Jewish holidays like the Passover Seder, but
pervert their meaning by claiming that theirs (Christian) is the
real meaning of Jewish customs and traditions. By doing this, they
negate, distort, or ignore their real origins and significance.
* They call their leaders 'Rabbis'.
* They refer to Jesus as Yeshua, to make him sound Jewish.
Why do they do this? Recall that such groups consider both the Tanach
and the Christian Gospel as the word of G-d. In the Christian Gospel,
I Corinthians 9:20, it says: "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win
the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law
(though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the
law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law
(though I am not free from G-d's law but am under Christ's law), so as
to win those not having the law. To the weak I have become weak, to
win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all
possible means I might save some." [New International Version]
In other words, they're trying to sell Christianity in the guise of
Christians believe that through faith in Jesus a person is saved. The
Christian has the perspective that this is such a singularly important
thing, above all and any other thing in life--or, for that matter, in
death--that any regard or concern for others (which is a fundamental
part of his commitment to and love for G-d) that he persuade others to
at the very least Hence, there is a strong emphasis to save people by
bringing others to Christianity. For many of them, messianic
synagogues are the answer. This allows, in their words, "Jews to
become Christians while still remaining Jews and cherishing their
Jewish ancestry. Swedish Americans cherish their Swedish ancestry.
Chinese Americans treasure their Chinese ancestry. Hebrew Americans
ought to cherish their Hebrew ancestry and remain strongly Jewish.".
Missionaries proclaim, "I am a Jew. I go to synagogue. I invite you to
my synagogue. It meets on Friday evening." They then make those to
attend those "synagogues" feel right at home. But recall their mission
statements: their goal is to bring the Jew to Christianity.
Note that it is not just Jews that feel the practices of these groups
are deceptive. The following are some quotes from a FAQ on such groups
by Yad Lachim (http://www.yadlachim.org/messianic/messianic.htm):
* In 1977, the Board of Governors of the Long Island Council of
Churches (New York) accused "Jews for Jesus" of "engaging in
subterfuge and dishonesty," and of "mixing religious symbols in
ways that distort their essential meaning." "Jews for Jesus" filed
a suit in a State Supreme Court in Manhattan against a 600-member
Council. The Rev. Jack Alford, the executive director of the
Council, said the suit "proves the point we were making about
their tactics." He added: "The mentality of 'Jews for Jesus' is
the kind of mentality that has been spawn in some fascist and
communist countries." Eventually, the lawsuit was rejected by
court. (The New York Times, July 2, 1977)
* In the summer of 1987 in Washington D.C. (USA), there was held an
Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. Partaking in the
conference were representatives of various Protestant churches,
Roman-Catholics, together with Moslems and representatives of
Jewish organizations. The Conference concluded with an official
statement (published in "Interfaith Connector" Vol. 8, No. 2)
"We condemn proselytizing efforts which delegitimize the faith
tradition of the person whose conversion is being sought. Such
tactics go beyond the bounds of appropriate and ethically based
Examples of such practices are those common among groups that have
adopted the label of Hebrew Christianity, Messianic Judaism, or
Jews for Jesus. These groups specifically target Jews for
conversion to their version of Christianity, making claim that in
accepting Jesus as the savior/messiah, a Jews 'fulfills' his/her
faith. Furthermore, by celebrating Jewish festivals, worshipping on
the Jewish Shabbat, appropriating Jewish symbols, rituals and
prayers in their churches, and, sometimes, even calling their
leaders 'Rabbi', the seek to win over, often by deception, many
Jews who are sincerely looking for a path back to their ancestral
Deceptive proselytizing is practiced on the most vulnerable of
populations - residents of hospitals and old aged homes, confused
youth, college students away from home. These proselytizing
techniques are tantamount to coerced conversions and should be
Subject: Question 17.6: How can these missionaries be countered?
Numerous books have been written on the subject, see the
Antisemitism portion of the reading list. Above all else, be
prepared. Support Jews for Judaism(r) and other counter-missionary
organizations. Jews for Judaism(r) is a Jewish organization worldwide
(with branches in Canada, South Africa, and soon-to-be branches in
Australia and Israel) which opposes cults and missionary efforts
directed at Jews. Jews for Judaism(r) is North America's only full-time
educational, outreach and counseling organization dedicated to
countering the multi-million dollar efforts of groups such as Jews for
Jesus. Their offices serves as Crisis Intervention Centers to help
those in need and promote Jewish continutity. They are not specific to
a single movement in Judaism; they unite Jews of diverse backgrounds,
and have earned the endorsement of a wide sectrum of Jewish community
agencies, leaders, and rabbis. Their contact information can be found
JEWS FOR JUDAISM
* Canada, Ontario, Toronto
Julius Ciss & Rabbi Michael Skobac
PO Box 41032
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6B 4J6
Voice: (905) 761-0040
FAX: (905) 761-0070
* South Africa, Raedene
Rabbi Graeme Finkelstein
PO Box 51525
* USA, California, Los Angeles
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz & Mark Sanders [Main Office]
Los Angeles, CA
Voice: (310) 854-3381
FAX: (310) 854-3662
* USA, District of Columbia, Washington D.C.
Voice: (301) 649-5494
* USA, Illinois, Chicago
Voice: (630) 415-1874
* USA, Maryland, Baltimore
Mark Powers & Scott Hillman
P.O. Box 15059
Baltimore, MD. 21282
Voice: (410) 602-0276
FAX: (410) 602-0578
* USA, New York, New York City
Address: PO Box 117
Forest Hills, NY 11375
* USA, Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
* USA, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Voice: (215) 627-2272
In general, missionaries are closed-minded, obstinate, and illogical,
relying upon memorization rather than reason. Debate with missionaries
takes place on the alt.messianic newsgroup, not
soc.culture.judaism or any s.c.j newsgroup.
There are a number of other resources available. First, consult your
local federation council, and see if they have a Task Force on
Missionaries and Cults. Some other organizations that have a web
* Torah Life and Living (http://www.tll.org/). TLL also provides
a National Anti-Cult Anti-Missionary Hotline at 1-800-572-0372 or
1-877-ANTICULT. TLL provides anti-cult, anti-missionary exit
counseling that helps re-expose Jews to their Jewish Heritage, and
helps to heal families shattered by messianics, missionaries, and
* The Jerusalem Institute of Bible Polemics
(http://jibp.israel.net/index.html). This is an organization
that reaches out to the Jewish Community worldwide and offers its
expertise in dealing with the problems caused by missionaries who
seek to win Jewish souls.
* Yad L'achim (http://www.yadlachim.org/). This organization
offers guidance, advice, direction, and solving problems of
Israeli citizens, young and old, who have become trapped in the
clutches of missionaries and mystic cults.
* The Task Force on Missionaries and Cults
(http://www.tforce.org/). The leading counter-missionary and
cult organization in North America and is the leader in providing
information and assistance to individuals and communities in the
U.S., Europe, and Israel
* Derech Emet (http://www.DerechEmet.org). A group working to
save Jews from missionaries and cults. Support is provided in both
English and Russian.
* Outreach Judaism (http://www.outreachjudaism.org/). An
organization dedicated to bringing Jews back from the Church.
* Jews Not For Jesus.
Lastly, the Being Jewish web page (http://www.beingjewish.com)
maintains a list of Anti-Missionary Web Sites at
http://beingjewish.com/anti-missionary-links.html. Dafna Yee also
maintains a list of over 80 anti-missionary sites at
Note: Jews for Judaism(r) is a registered trademark of Jews for Judaism
Subject: Question 17.7: Who is financing "Jews for Jesus" and similar groups?
The Evangelical Council for Financial Responsibility
(http://www.ecfa.org/) is a wonderful resource for seeing what some
of these organizations are spending, for the 1997-1998, 1998-1999, and
1999-2000 fiscal years:
* Jews for Jesus:
FY ENDING FY ENDING FY ENDING
12/31/1998 12/31/1999 12/31/2000
Total: $13,628,190 $16,566,060 $11,653,220
Donated: $ 9,670,903 $11,875,600 $12,742,930
Program Services: $ 9,273,284 $10,306,600 $11,272,260
General/Admin: $ 1,923,136 $ 1,847,503 $ 2,123,040
Fund Raising: $ 649,963 $ 914,775 $ 1,166,985
* Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.:
FY ENDING FY ENDING FY ENDING
12/31/1998 12/31/1999 12/31/2000
Total: $ 7,670,172 $ 7,323,415 $ 7,684,293
Donated: $ 5,959,927 $ 5,886,419 $ 5,944,681
Program Services: $ 5,167,787 $ 5,287,971 $ 5,769,062
General/Admin: $ 1,466,107 $ 1,466,253 $ 1,490,062
Fund Raising: $ 211,058 $ 235,566 $ 275,042
* Chosen People Ministries:
FY ENDING FY ENDING FY ENDING
6/30/1999 6/30/2000 6/30/2001
Total: $ 5,087,207 $ 5,855,787 $ 5,678,173
Donated: $ 4,453,785 $ 5,293,154 $ 6,010,797
Program Services: $ 4,178,096 $ 4,926,066 $ 4,902,867
General/Admin: $ 1,044,101 $ 966,480 $ 762,426
Fund Raising: $ 439,296 $ 687,733 $ 1,335,241
* Messianic Vision, Inc.:
FY ENDING FY ENDING FY ENDING
12/31/1998 12/31/1999 12/31/2000
Total: $ 1,823,514 $ 1,905,287 $ 2,011,678
Donated: $ 1,246,100 $ 1,345,072 $ 1,355,198
Program Services: $ 1,116,585 $ 1,393,008 $ 1,456,944
General/Admin: $ 471,663 $ 486,793 $ 519,746
Fund Raising: $ 43,694 $ 59,099 $ 43,694
* Shoresh USA, Inc.:
FY ENDING FY ENDING FY ENDING
12/31/1998 12/31/1999 12/31/2000
Total: $ 812,777 No Data Found
Donated: $ 226,095 No Data Found
Program Services: $ 579,669 No Data Found
General/Admin: $ 33,920 No Data Found
Fund Raising: $ 3,405 No Data Found
* Light of Messiah Ministries:
FY ENDING FY ENDING FY ENDING
12/31/1998 12/31/1999 12/31/2000
Total: $ 314,878 $ 420,180 $ 464,260
Donated: $ 261,541 $ 373,115 $ 401,694
Program Services: $ 120,375 $ 154,527 $ 232,077
General/Admin: $ 87,444 $ 110,910 $ 153,419
Fund Raising: $ 38,778 $ 48,142 $ 66,729
Some other considerations:
* The amount of donated funds does not equal the total income from
the group. What are the other sources of monies?
* Every member of the board of the UMJC (Union of Messianic Jewish
Congregations) is ordained and a member of a mainline Christian
church. Most are either AOG (Assemblies of G-d) or Baptist.
Subject: Question 17.8: Are the key Christian beliefs derived from Judaism?
Let's look at some of these beliefs:
1. The coming of G-d as man. This belief is clearly pagan in origin.
It's Osiris, or Zeus who are gods who appear as a man. There is no
basis for this in Judaism.
2. Children carrying the sins of their fathers. In truth, Children
de-facto carry the sins of their fathers. Aside from this being a
verse, it's a psychological fact. Someone raised by parents who
habitually sinned in some way has that "baggage" with them even
though the act isn't the child's. Someone raised by pickpockets
isn't going to see the evil in it that you or I would.
3. G-d as the father of the Jews. In the Torah, in Exodus, the Jews
are called "My firstborn". Note that this does not imply that Jews
alone are the children of G-d. A firstborn child is given the most
responsibility and for that has the greatest potential for
privilege if they are met. Much as the Jews have more commandments
to fulfil, but have a special covenant with G-d if they do. (And
are punished worse if they don't.)
4. The concept of the sprit or the angel of the Lord. G-d has a Will,
in the sense that G-d is not understood as a blind force or law.
In that sense of "spirit", this is a Jewish belief. If that's what
you mean by "spirit", I'd agree.
As for Angels. Angels exist in Judaism. They all serve G-d. With
no free will. An angel must complete its mission in the same way
as a rock dropped above the ground will fall. In fact, natural
forces like gravity are themselves mediated between the Will of
G-d and the physical action by an angel. As the Talmud says it,
"not a blade of grass lives without an angel standing over it
saying 'grow! grow!'.
5. The concept of a trinity. Not Jewish at all. Judaism has an
indivisible G-d, which is incompatible with the trinity. Judaism
teaches that every person has three parents: a mother, a father,
and G-d, but none of us are deified. It's not "natural" that the
child of G-d be a god. What early Christians did was take the
Canaanite and Phoeician trinity of Ba'al, Asheirah and Moloch
(Ba'al, Ishtar and Marduk), which later became the basis of the
Greek and therefore the Roman pantheon and grafted that into
Judaism to appeal to the polytheistic non-Jews of the Middle East.
They also changed a religion that was about law, self improvement,
decisions, and man's struggle to redeem himself, and made it about
G-d, turning to G-d for salvation from man's inherent fallibility
(the original sin).
Subject: How do I obtain copies of the FAQ?
There are a number of different ways to obtain copies of the FAQ:
* WWW. If you are reading this on Usenet, and would like to see an
online, hyperlinked version, go visit http://www.scjfaq.org/.
This is the "web" version of the FAQ; the version posted to Usenet
is generated from the web version. Note that the www.scjfaq.org
version is a copy of the actual master version; if you want to
access the master, visit http://master.scjfaq.org/.
* Email. Scjfaq.org also provides an autoretriever that allows one
to obtain a copy of the FAQ by return Email. To use the
autoretriever, you send a retrieval request to
firstname.lastname@example.org with the request in the body of the
message. A more reliable way to retrieve these files is through
the FAQ autoretriever
(http://www.mljewish.org/bin/autoresp.cgi). For the FAQ, the
request has the form:
send faq partname
For the reading list, the request has the form:
send rl partname
"Partname" is replaced by the name of the part, as shown in the
general index. The following is a short summary of the mapping to
partnames for the FAQ:
+ 01-FAQ-intro: Section 1: Network and Newsgroup
+ 02-Who-We-Are: Section 2: Who We Are
+ 03-Torah-Halacha: Sections 3, 4: Torah; Halachic
+ 04-Observance: Sections 5, 6, 7, 8:
Jewish Holidays; Jewish Dietary Law and Kashrut; Sabbath and
Holiday Observance; Woman and Marriage
+ 05-Worship: Sections 9, 10, 11: Jewish
Worship; Conversion, Intermarriage, and "Who is a Jew?";
Miscellaneous Practice Questions
+ 06-Jewish-Thought: Section 12: Jewish Thought
+ 07-Jews-As-Nation: Section 13: Jews as a Nation
+ 08-Israel: Section 14: Jews and Israel
+ 09-Antisemitism: Sections 15, 16, 17: Churban
Europa (The Holocaust); Antisemitism and Rumors about Jews;
+ 10-Reform: Section 18: Reform/Progressive Judaism
+ 11-Miscellaneous: Sections 19, 20: Miscellaneous;
References and Getting Connected
+ 12-Kids: Section 21: Jewish Childrearing Related
+ mail-order: Mail Order Judaica
The following is a short summary of the mapping of partnames for
the Reading Lists:
+ general: Introduction and General. Includes book sources,
starting points for beginners, starting points for non-Jewish
readers, General Judaism, General Jewish Thought, General
Jewish History, Contemporary Judaism, Noachide Laws, Torah
and Torah Commentary, Talmud and Talmudic Commentary,
Mishnah, Midrash, Halachic Codes, Becoming An Observant Jew,
Women and Judaism, and Science and Judaism.
+ traditional: Traditional Liturgy, Practice, Lifestyle,
Holidays. Includes Traditional Liturgy; Traditional
Philosophy and Ethics; Prayer; Traditional Practice; The
Household; Life, Death, and In-Between; and The Cycle Of
+ mysticism: Kabbalah, Mysticism, and Messianism. Includes
Academic and Religious treatments of Kabbalah, Sprituality,
and the Jewish notion of the Messiah.
+ reform: Reform/Progressive Judaism
+ conservative: Conservative Judaism
+ reconstructionist: Reconstructionist Judaism
+ humanistic: Humanistic Judaism (Society for Humanistic
+ chasidism: Chassidism. Includes general information on
historical chassidism, as well as specific information on
Lubavitch (Chabad), Satmar, Breslaw (Breslov), and other
+ zionism: Zionism. Includes Zionism and The Development Of
Israel, The Founders, Zionistic Movements, and Judaism in
+ antisemitism: Antisemitism. Includes sections on
Antisemitism, What Led to The Holocaust, Medieval Oppression,
Antisemitism Today (Including Dealing with Hate Groups),
Judaism and Christianity, and Judaism, Freemasonry and other
+ intermarriage: Intermarriage. Includes sections on "So
You're Considering Intermarriage?", The Traditional
Viewpoint, Conversion, and Coping With Life As An
+ childrens: Books for Jewish Children. Includes sections
on Birth and Naming, Raising a Child, Family Guidebooks,
Upsheren, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, Holiday Books for
Children, Liturgy for Children, Bible and Torah for Children,
Jewish History for Children, Jewish Theology for Children,
Israel, Learning Hebrew, and Jewish Stories.
Alternatively, you may send a message to
email@example.com with the following line in the body
of the message:
Where (portionname) is replaced by the appropriate subdirectory
and filenames; for example, to get the first part of the reading
list, one would say:
* Anonymous FTP: All portions of the FAQ and of the reading lists
are archived on rtfm.mit.edu and are available for anonymous
FTP from the pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/FAQ directory (URL
Similarly, the parts of the reading lists are stored in the
pub/usenet/news.answers/judaism/reading-lists directory (URL:
ts). Note that the archived versions of the FAQ and reading lists
are the posted versions; that is, they are each one large ASCII
Subject: Who Wrote the FAQ?
The original version of the Frequently Asked Questions was developed
by a committee consisting of Mike Allen, Jerry Altzman, Rabbi Charles
Arian, Jacob Baltuch (Past Chair), Joseph Berry, Warren Burstein,
Stewart Clamen, Daniel Faigin, Avi Feldblum, Rabbi Yaakov Feldman,
Itzhak "Jeff" Finger, Gedaliah Friedenberg, Yechezkal Gutfreund, Art
Kamlet, Joe Kansun, CAPT Kaye David, Alan Lustiger, Hillel Markowitz,
Len Moskowitz, Colin Naturman, Aliza Panitz, Eliot Shimoff, Mark
Steinberger, Steven Weintraub, Matthew Wiener, and headed by Robert
Levene. The organization and structuring of the lists for posting
purposes was done by Daniel Faigin, who is currently maintaining
the lists. Other contributors include Aaron Biterman, A. Engler
Anderson, Ken Arromdee, Seymour Axelrod, Jonathan Baker, Josh Backon,
Micha Berger, Steven M. Bergson, Eli Birnbaum, Shoshana L. Boublil,
Kevin Brook, J. Burton, Harvey Cohen, Todd J.Dicker, Michael Dinowitz,
Rabbi Jim Egolf, Sean Engelson, Mike Fessler, Menachem Glickman,
Amitai Halevi, Walter Hellman, Per Hollander, Miriam Jerris, Robert D.
Kaiser, Yosef Kazen, Rabbi Jay Lapidus, Mier Lehrer, Heather Luntz,
David Maddison, Arnaldo Mandel, Ilana Manspeizer, Seth Ness, Chris
Newport, Daniel Nomy, Jennifer Paquette, Andrew Poe, Alan Pfeffer,
Jason Pyeron, Adam Reed, Seth Rosenthall, JudithSeid@aol.com, David
Sheen, Rabbi John Sherwood, Michael Sidlofsky, Michael Slifkin, Frank
Smith, Michael Snider, Rabbi Arnold Steibel, Andy Tannenbaum,
firstname.lastname@example.org, Meredith Warshaw, Bill Wadlinger, Arel Weisberg,
Dorothy Werner, and Art Werschulz, and the
soc.culture.jewish.parenting board. Some material has been derived
from other sources on the Internet, such as
http://www.jewishwebsite.com/, http://www.jewfaq.org/, and
http://www.menorah.org/. Comments and corrections are welcome;
please address them to email@example.com.
A special thank you... Special thanks for her patience and
understanding go to my wife, Karen, who put up with me hiding at the
computer for the two months it took to complete the July/August 2000
remodel of the entire soc.culture.jewish FAQ and Reading Lists. If you
think the effort was worth it, drop her a note c/o
Please mail additions or corrections to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions should be sent to email@example.com.
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